Leading the Way
Originally published in Penn Priority 2017
Last February, students gathered together in the Steinberg Conference Center for the Aresty Scholars Dinner and a night of connec-tion and camaraderie. Hosted two times each academic year by brother and sister Robert (Bob) J. Aresty, W’63 and Jane Aresty Silverman, GCP’70, these dinners serve as an opportunity for the Aresty Scholars to continue fostering their important peer bonds, and include the participation of LEAD Program and Wharton staff who serve as an impor-tant resource to each of the undergraduates.
“I always look forward to coming back to campus for this dinner and learning about what the students are studying and what they are engaged in outside of the classroom,” reflected Bob.
The Julian J. Aresty Scholars Program is approaching its 20th anniversary of providing undergraduate financial aid to students who have participated in the groundbreaking Leadership and Development (LEAD) Program. LEAD is a comprehensive three-week pre-college program held each summer for accomplished high school juniors from underrepresented minority groups. The program was founded at Wharton in 1980 by Harold J. Haskins and Bill Whitney, and has grown to serve approximately 500 scholars annually at LEAD’s Summer Institutes.
“The support of the Arestys has ensured that LEAD and its students can continue to have a long-term impact on Penn after the end of the summer program,” said Harold.
As the LEAD Program itself has grown, so has the Aresty Scholars Program. Originally designed to serve those students who completed LEAD at Penn, today the scholarship supports students who have completed the program at all LEAD institu-tions. Over the last two decades, the scholarship has benefited 134 students, and in the 2017-18 academic year, 15 students will be awarded the scholarship.
Reflecting on the success of the Julian J. Aresty Scholars Program, Bob and Jane are proud that the scholarship has supported high-achieving students while honoring the memory of their father, Julian J. Aresty, W’29, who during his life was involved in the early days of LEAD.
“Before we started the scholarship, I served as an instructor in the LEAD Program for many summers, so I saw first-hand the depth of talent that these students possessed,” said Jane.
The Aresty Family has deep roots at Penn. Julian was the first person in his family to graduate from college, and he would go on to be a leader in the retail business sector. He gave generously to Penn throughout his life, including the transformative endowment of the Aresty Institute of Executive Education at Wharton. Julian and his wife Esther also donated the Esther B. Aresty Collection of Rare Books to the University, an impressive and cherished feature of Penn’s libraries.
When they were creating the scholarship, Bob and Jane realized that there were many LEAD alumni who wanted to attend Penn, and who would thrive here, but they lacked the financial resources to do so. Bob and Jane understood deeply that a scholarship designed specifically for these students would serve as a catalyst for bringing them to the University, and would prevent the loss of these incredible students to peer institutions. With such an established family legacy at Penn, helping the University to take this bold new step in bolstering diversity was truly the perfect fit.
“Before we started the scholarship, I served as an instructor in the LEAD Program for many summers, so I saw first-hand the depth of talent that these students possessed.”
As part of the Aresty Scholars Program, students are given more than just financial resources. They are supported by a cohort of their peers on campus and Penn LEAD staff who serve as a bridge between the pre-college program and the students’ college careers, providing mentorship on everything from courses to extracurricular activities.
As Aresty Scholar Ashley Castillo, W’18 embarks on her senior year, she reflects on what this schol-arship has meant to her.
“I love being a part of a community of like-minded people who share many of the same interests, but also have different perspectives and stories to bring to the table,” said Ashley. “Being able to meet with Bob and Jane often has been a great experience as they constantly cheer on our success and urge us to reach higher.”
As Bob and Jane think about what they envision for the future of the Aresty Scholars Program, they both speak about how they would like the program to continue to grow and serve students, both financially and otherwise.
“We are so proud of our family legacy at Penn, and are delighted that this scholarship has helped the University to not only attract top talent, but also support these students while they are on campus,” said Jane.
Both Bob and Jane hope that students who have benefited from the scholarship are inspired to come back and give to Penn, sharing their commitment to helping the next generation.
“We are so proud of our family legacy at Penn, and are delighted that this scholarship has helped the University to not only attract top talent, but also support these students while they are on campus.”
With the impressive groundwork that has been laid in the last 20 years, these exceptional students are well-equipped to continue to lead the way— at Penn and beyond.