Big Chill Weekend provides scholarship relief for students in need

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KINGSTON, R.I. – January 5, 2011 – Amanda Hauser is on target to graduate with her nursing degree this spring, thanks in large part to a scholarship she received from the University of Rhode Island’s Alumni Association.

Not too long ago, staying on track for graduation did not seem possible for the Coventry resident. Hauser’s parents both passed away recently, presenting her with hardships she never anticipated facing.

“Both of my parents are recently deceased, so this scholarship allows me to stay in the nursing program,” Hauser said. “It helps me to continue to make my parents proud. Without this scholarship, I do not know if I would be able to keep up with all the responsibilities I now have. I am very thankful to have received this scholarship.”

Hauser is just one of thousands of URI students who have received alumni scholarships from the University. One of the biggest scholarship fundraisers URI holds each year is its Big Chill Weekend, which has raised more than $125,000 in the last two years to help students like Hauser.

“Big Chill Weekend is a way for the URI community to come together for a fun time while also helping support the students who represent the University’s future,” said Gina Simonelli, assistant director of alumni relations at URI. “Through the generosity of our alumni, we are able to assist today’s students to finish their own educational experience.”

Last year alone, Big Chill Weekend raised more than $75,000. With declining state funding having an adverse impact on tuition costs, the need for scholarship funding is at an all-time high.

“It means a lot that someone donated money to help alleviate some of the expense of my tuition,” said Randall Mastny, a pharmacy major from Stoughton, Wisc. “Hopefully one day I will also be able to give back to the University, which will help the community. “

This year’s Big Chill weekend runs January 21 through 23 and features the swinging sounds of New York City’s premier Eturnity Band Orchestra. Eturnity Band has performed for the likes of Bill Clinton, Quincy Jones, Steven Speilberg and Bill Gates. On Saturday, January 22, they are bringing their talents to URI. With high-energy sets featuring funk, rhythm and blues, disco, Motown and rock and roll, Eturnity Band will have the dance floor of the Newport Marriott rocking all night long.

Big Chill Weekend includes something for everyone in the URI Community. It starts with the URI Athletics Hall of Fame Dinner and Induction Ceremony on Friday, Jan. 21 at Quidnessett Country Club and continues Saturday, Jan. 22 with the men’s basketball game against La Salle University at the Ryan Center, and the Big Chill Scholarship Evening and Auction, including the Blue Tie Wine Pairing at Newport’s Rosecliff Mansion and A True Blue Affair featuring Eturnity Band at the Newport Marriott.

For more details about Big Chill Weekend, visit or call 401.874.2242.

Pictured above

Amanda Hauser and Randall Mastny

URI Photos by Nora Lewis