When he was nine, UB junior Dominick Pereira was told he didn’t have much time to live. It turned out that treatment for ulcerative colitis worked, though he still suffers from the disease. During his freshman year at UB, his mother died.
Yet Pereira’s determination to make the most of the time he was given has only strengthened. “I was given a second chance at life when I was nine, and I feel like my destiny is to help out as many people as I can,” he said.
On Thursday, the University of Bridgeport Alumni Association recognized Pereira’s tremendous positive impact on and off campus, his superlative academic record, and his dedication in the face of personal hardships, and awarded him the Alumni Association Scholarship.
The award is worth $10,000 award and is given each year to an upper-classman who has a demonstrated financial need, has earned top grades, participates in University activities or performs in community service.
Peirera was the perfect candidate.
A double major in psychology and human services, he admits that his current 3.74 GPA is “very important” to him. He serves as speaker for the Student Government Association, leads the men’s lacrosse team as its captain, and serves as a student ambassador and a peer mentor at Student Support Services.
When he’s home in Nutley, New Jersey, Pereira serves as a team captain for the local Relay for Life campaign, which raises money for cancer, and also fundraises for the Colitis Foundation of America. He devotes several weekends a year at Comfort Zone Camp as a counselor to help grieving children who’ve lost a parent or sibling.
He also spends a week in the summer at Camp Oasis, mentoring children who have irritable bowel disease. As he talks about his life—and his ultimate goal to get a PhD and counsel children who suffer from illness or tragedy—it’s clear where Pereira finds his drive. “I got the chance to see that life can be taken away from you, so I look at how valuable it is. Every second is a gift,” he said.
Pereira was joined by his father Jack when he received the scholarship on Thursday night. Saying he was “honored and happy that my hard-work was recognized,” Pereira admitted he did think of his mother, too.
“She wasn’t just my mother,” he said. “She was my best friend who inspired me to do what I love and that I could be anything I want to be.”
Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625, firstname.lastname@example.org