The Sassorossi family is establishing a scholarship for Paper Science majors

Deanna and Sarah Sassorossi began dreaming of giving to NC State’s College of Natural Resources long before they graduated in 2016 and 2017, respectively. That dream has since grown from small gifts to an endowed scholarship in support of the 2024 Day of Giving.

“It’s a full-circle moment,” Deanna said.

Deanna and Sarah met while serving as ambassadors for CNR, a group of student leaders who passionately collaborate to serve and promote the College of Natural Resources by engaging with prospective students and their parents, alumni and industry partners. Sarah, a paper science and engineering major, also served on the Pulp and Paper Advisory Board.

Their romance blossomed alongside their studies and careers, and they married after graduation in 2019.

Deanna, a scholarship recipient who majored in natural resources, was the focus of the 2014 Biltmore Hall Giving Grove unveiling, where she spoke passionately about what her scholarship means to her.

The couple said one of their favorite memories on campus was the 2014 Shackathon, an annual fundraising event for the NC State Habitat for Humanity chapter. Students design and build a custom shack representing their organization—in this case, a log cabin representing the College of Natural Resources—and inhabit the shacks for a week to raise funds for Habitat. They raised about $8,000 this year.

Both believe their ability to give back to the school they love is a gift in itself. The education and support they felt from their professors and friends at NC State helped them create a life that helped them achieve their dream.

“We recognize it as a privilege to even be able to have this conversation,” Sarah said. “But we ended up debt-free and were really able to prioritize saving early on. And we wanted to be able to benefit students as early as possible.”

The couple agreed that they don’t want students to be limited from attending NC State because of financial need. They hope that this scholarship will be a small part of an overall solution to help increase the affordability of a bachelor’s degree.

The Sassorossi Family Scholarship will support students majoring in paper science and engineering. Preference will be given to students with demonstrated service and/or leadership in the Paper Science and Engineering Program, the Department of Forest Biomaterials, or the College of Natural Resources and/or students who are employed full-time or part-time.

Sarah and Deanna have great memories of their years at NC State and give full credit to the professors and mentors for guiding and supporting them, helping them build a life they love.

Sarah is a plant supervisor for Sonoco in Holyoke, Massachusetts. She heads the production department. Deanna is the Principal Sustainability Analyst at the Electric Power Research Institute, where she conducts research projects to develop tools and resources to help utilities become more sustainable. The couple lives with their golden retriever, Kip, in western Massachusetts.

Asked for advice they would give to new graduates looking to give to their alma mater, both suggested taking a long-term approach. Start by giving $10 or $20 a month as you build your career, Sarah said. As time goes on and salaries grow, you can increase your donations to support the school and students who cannot afford to go without financial aid.

“A lot of people think of philanthropy as something they’ll do one day when they’re more established,” Deanna said. “That’s why I feel it’s important to give. I want students to have the same opportunities that I had through scholarship.”

This article was written by Beth Grace for the College of Natural Resources.


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