Fairfield Awards Dinner: Making Student Scholarships Possible, April 3

Fairfield Awards Dinner: Making Student Scholarships Possible, April 3

Aliyah Seenauth ’24 will be this year's scholarship recipient speaker.

Over the years, the annual Fairfield Awards Dinner has raised more than $21 million for the Alumni Multicultural Scholarship Fund and other scholarships to help students realize their full potential through a Fairfield education.

On Wednesday, April 3 at New York City’s Cipriani 42nd Street, Fairfield University will once again host the annual Fairfield Awards Dinner. The Awards Dinner has served as a cornerstone in the University's fundraising efforts to expand diversity on campus through the Alumni Multicultural Scholarship Fund and other scholarships.

Since 1988, the Fairfield Awards Dinner has raised more than $21 million for the Alumni Multicultural Scholarship Fund and other scholarships to help students realize their full potential through a Fairfield education, regardless of economic or social barriers. In Fall 2023, 19 students received awards — averaging nearly $38,000 each — from this fund.

At this year’s awards dinner, the scholarship recipient speaker will be Aliyah Seenauth ’24. When Seenauth was finishing public high school in Queens, New York, she didn’t picture herself going away to college. Continuing her education was a priority for her and her family, but as a first-generation college applicant with limited resources, she thought, “going away to college meant money that we didn’t have.” But Seenauth was ready to try something different, and the scholarships that Fairfield offered made the choice to enroll doable. She received the St. Ignatius Loyola Scholarship, the Fairfield Tuition Grant, the 1983 Memorial Scholarship, and the George and Grace Long Foundation Scholarship. Seenauth still had to take out loans for room and board, but the scholarships covered her tuition. “Without the scholarships, I wouldn’t have been able to come to Fairfield,” she said.

Getting involved helped Seenauth find her place at her new school. “I was lonely my first year and didn’t know any other students of color. I also wasn’t prepared for the rigor,” she said. Joining the Fairfield University Student Association (FUSA) was her way into a more fulfilling experience. She served as FUSA’s associate director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) as a sophomore, vice president during her junior year, and became the first woman of color to be president of FUSA as a senior. Serving in the DEI space became her purpose, representing and supporting other students. She worked with the Office of Student Engagement as a new student leader for two years, mentoring other students of color and assisted the Office of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs every summer with its Academic Immersion Program, a bridge program for underrepresented students. It’s not surprising that the bustling hub of activity at the Barone Campus Center is one of her favorite places on campus.

Seenauth started as a biology and pre-med student, but switched to a public health major with health studies and Black studies minors because of her passion for supporting others and social justice principles. “Being in the Egan School for Public Health has been the best decision ever.” Seenauth said she is always supported and pushed to be her best. That support has been critical for her success and is one of the reasons why she works so hard to help other students like her. “I had to find my place, and it didn’t come naturally,” she said.

Seenauth is grateful for the opportunities she has worked hard for at Fairfield. “Being the first woman of color FUSA president was life-changing for me.” As a representative for the many diverse voices at the school, Seenauth hopes to inspire other students of color to be fully involved members of the Fairfield community and its many traditions, like the events on the First Fairfield Friday and FUSA’s Presidential Ball in September. “I also love the holidays at Fairfield, including the annual tree lighting. It’s a great way to take a step back from finals and enjoy time with the campus community.”

Seenauth has been accepted to several Master of Public Health programs, including at Fairfield. She wants to combine her experience and interest in DEI and supporting underserved communities by pursuing leadership roles in public health — perhaps at a local health department or in hospital administration.

Through her gratitude for Fairfield and affection for all that she has experienced, Seenauth emphasizes the role that scholarships have played in her story. “There are a lot of students who dream of making something of their lives. We are taught that the only way to do that is getting a degree, but we can’t afford it. It feels unfair when you don’t have access to something like higher education simply because your family hasn’t paved that way and hasn’t made it yet. Scholarships help take some of the burden off. Even something means everything.”

For more information about Fairfield Awards Dinner, please contact event director Jen Kane at 203-254-4000 ext. 2464 or jkane1@fairfield.edu.

Fairfield Awards Dinner

Date: Wednesday, April 3, 2024
Time: Cocktails begin at 6 p.m. | Dinner and program from 7 to 9 p.m.

Cipriani 42nd Street 
110 E 42nd St
New York, NY 10017

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