Parties: Dollars for Scholars

by Catherine Bigelow | Photography by Carmen Holt

Just as she did 52 years ago, Donna Miller Casey sat at the ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists) check-in table on April 28, ticking off the names of the 450 guests as they arrived at the Palace of Fine Arts for An Affair to Remember: Celebrating the Minds of the Future, which raised $1.4 million to support 76 ARCS Scholars with $10K scholarships each.

The event belatedly recognized the 50th anniversary of the ARCS Northern California chapter — founded in 1970 by Casey’s mother, late social lioness–turned–cloistered nun Ann Russell Miller — which announced a new partnership with UC Merced to identify future scholars. (Casey’s grandfather Donald Russell established the Stanford Research Institute.)

During a cocktail reception, scholars from S.F. State, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCSF and UC Santa Cruz presented symposiums and roundtable discussions on their graduate STEM theses. The evening, led by cochairs Deborah Mann and Kris Forbes, with ARCS President Elizabeth Callander, also featured a McCalls dinner.

Dr. Jeremy Reiter, UCSF Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics chair, emceed the awards program and noted that ARCS Scholars are working on life-changing issues — “from buildings that will survive the ‘Big One’ to controlling where immune cells go within our bodies.” Keynote speaker and Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel engaged in a lively video interview with UC Regent and Gazette co-owner Janet Reilly.

Casey, a national ARCS trustee, recalled her mom’s devotion to the nonprofit and shared childhood memories of licking ARCS envelopes and stamps with sisters Janet, Leslie, Marian and Elena. “The joy of fundraising for these scholars is the main thing,” enthused Casey, “enhancing their science studies and hope for the future of our world.”

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