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Alumni couple gives back to Waterbury Campus

by John Sponauer - March 17, 2008

A couple who met while they were undergraduate students at UConn have committed $100,000 to support scholarships at the Waterbury campus.

Dorothy Bessette-DeSomma ’66 and Martin DeSomma DDS ’66 have established an endowment to assist financially challenged students, a decision that they attribute to their working-class upbringing.

“UConn has helped us move through life, and it was a wonderful experience for both of us,” Martin DeSomma says.

“Because of where we came from, and having developed a work ethic early in life, supporting students who have a financial need just makes sense to us.”

The DeSommas attended UConn’s Waterbury campus from 1957 to 1959, and met while serving on opposing parties in student government.

They both graduated from Storrs in 1966, after Martin DeSomma was drafted into the U.S. Army and had served in Europe for several years.

Today, he operates a successful dental practice in Woodbury, Conn., and the couple frequently travels back to France for vacations. One of their children also attended UConn.

“We’ve been very lucky and fortunate in our life, and there comes a time when you have to think about others, not just yourself,” DeSomma says.

“In 10 years’ time, I hope our gift will allow young men and women to possibly gain their footing to get into the middle class,” he adds.

“Hopefully, they’ll use their education to do something productive for society.”

Originally from the Town Plot section of Waterbury, the DeSommas believe that the University’s presence in the city was a major factor in their decision to give.

“The Waterbury campus is outstanding,” he says.

“When I was growing up, Waterbury was a strong industrial town, with lots of different groups living and working together. Today, some of that has changed, but the campus – with the renovations – has become an even bigger boost to the city. We’re very impressed with what we see.”


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