How Scholarships Change Donors’ Lives
Scholarships are a door to opportunity—and one that opens in both directions. When scholarship recipients and donors meet, it’s more than putting a face to a name; there’s a personal connection that touches giver and receiver, enriching both. Here are a few of their stories.

An Unexpected Legacy
When New York attorney Joan Lieberman was a girl, she heard stories from her mother, Ruth Rubin Wiesen, about her career as an administrative assistant to famous financier Bernard Baruch in the 1940s and 1950s. It was a life-changing job for Ruth, who was by her boss’s side not only in the office but also at Congressional hearings, White House meetings with President Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, and the 1953 renaming of City College’s business school as the Bernard M. Baruch School of Business and Public Administration.

So when Ruth passed away in 2010, Ms. Lieberman decided to donate the documents and photos her mother had saved from her time with the legendary Mr. Baruch to the institution that bears his name. Meeting with Baruch College staff led to an epiphany. “I was so impressed with the energy at the school and with the great mix of students of many races and nationalities,” she recalls, “that I knew I wanted to donate more than the memorabilia. Suddenly, funding a scholarship just made sense.”

Lieberman knew her Ruth Rubin Wiesen Scholarship would benefit deserving students, but what she didn’t anticipate was the bond that her gift would create. “My husband and I have met every student that our scholarship goes to,” she says. “We’ve been amazed at their determination.”

One of those students is finance major Jeffrey Romano (’16), whose résumé is already impressive. The Brooklyn native has completed three internships; cofounded start-up Intern Action, a sort of Yelp for students to review internships; and secured a job at Merrill-Lynch. Of her gift to Baruch, Lieberman says, “Fate pushed me in this direction, and it has been a great confluence. My mother would approve 100 percent.”

Mutual Mentors
Growing up in the Bronx is a bond between business consultant and former Pathmark CEO Kenneth Peskin (’62) and accountancy major Yancy Victoriano (’16), a Kenneth Peskin Scholarship recipient. So is the importance of having (and being) a mentor.

While at Baruch, where he studied accountancy and became president of the Intrafraternity Activities Council, Mr. Peskin benefited from the mentorship of two professors. “Irving Greger, the faculty advisor to Lamport Leaders Society, helped me develop real leadership skills,” he says. “And History Professor Fred Israel encouraged me to get my MBA, even when I had doubts about my abilities.” Now Peskin is passing their legacy on.

“When I decided to go to Baruch, it was looking really bleak, because my family couldn’t make it financially,” says Mr. Victoriano. “Mr. Peskin’s scholarship came through in the ninth inning.” Peskin has come through in other ways as well, mentoring the student on various facets of accountancy and helping him network.
Of his scholarship recipients, Peskin says, “Baruch students work extremely hard. But we find time to sit and have coffee, talk about their families and their studies. For me, this personal connection is the real pleasure of giving.”

Family Values
Philanthropy may be genetic for Debra Bernstein, marketing pro, Baruch College Fund Trustee, and scholarship donor. Even a quick look around the Baruch campus offers evidence of the incredible generosity of her parents, William (’47) and Anita Newman: A world-class library and the Vertical Campus building bear their names.

“My parents instilled in me the importance of giving back. For me that’s about meeting students and making a connection,” says Ms. Bernstein. “Their stories are beautiful and heartwarming, and I’m grateful that they share them with me. Being able to go to college has had such an impact on their families.”

The students feel this connection as strongly as she does. Stelios (Steven) Giannoulis (’18), who has received a Bernstein Scholarship for the past two years, says, “She’s motivated all of us with her own stories and inspired us to work hard, be kind, and enjoy life.” The human resources management/music double major credits Bernstein with his becoming more involved in student life. “I joined the Baruch College Choir and the A Cappella group, which I’m helping to grow. It means a lot to me to know Debbie believes in me.”

For Bernstein, that belief is the essence of what a scholarship can be. “Having these relationships with students is more rewarding than I could have imagined. It’s like family.”
Of his scholarship recipients, Peskin says, “Baruch students work extremely hard. But we find time to sit and have coffee, talk about their families and their studies. For me, this personal connection is the real pleasure of giving.”

Be in the Life-Changing Business:
Click here to support the Baruch College Scholarship Fund.
For more information, please contact Jessica Leitner at
(646) 660-6074 or

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