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Robert Bentlyewski '13 Robert Bentlyewski '13
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Robert Bentlyewski '13

Transitioning from a public high school in New Jersey to Brown wasn't easy for Robert Bentlyewski '13. He describes his hometown as "working-class," although he acknowledges that he wouldn't trade his upbringing and education for anything. Robert applied to Brown not believing he would get in; so when he did, he was ecstatic. His mother was equally excited when they received the financial aid package because it meant that their family wouldn't need to take out a second mortgage on their house.

When Robert arrived on College Hill, he recalls being nervous about everything. He was transitioning from taking English classes with students who lacked a full mastery of the English language to being a literature concentrator in one of the best English departments in the country. In addition, Robert was going to be graded alongside students who had been educated at top tier private schools for the first time. Having been active in high school football, he was interested in joining the rugby team but he decided against it, fearing his small size would make him ineffective.

Robert's first semester was rough. He took some philosophy and economics classes that didn't interest him at all. He struggled through them, barely passing. Discouraged, Robert became convinced that everyone around him was brilliant and that he didn't belong at Brown. Things changed when Robert was unexpectedly awarded a Brown Annual Fund Scholarship at the end of his first semester. He realized that others recognized his potential and perhaps he had just been taking the wrong approach.

Robert seized the opportunity for a fresh start, choosing classes that he really wanted to take and joining the rugby team. These choices led Robert to hit his stride at Brown and have a new outlook on his future. "My Brown Annual Fund scholarship, combined with a Bruce Springsteen 'BornToRun' optimism that my New Jersey upbringing instilled in me, has led me to believe that I have a shot to do something significant with my life." Bentlyewski said. Robert now earns mostly A's and, despite his size, is one of the most valued players on the rugby team. He acknowledges that his success at Brown is largely due to the generosity of Annual Fund donors whose gifts make opportunities for students like him possible. "All people need is an opportunity. Brown University has given me that invaluable opportunity, and this scholarship program gave me the jump start I needed to get on my way."

Nearly half of all Brown undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. These talented and deserving students depend on your gift to the Annual Fund to give them the opportunity to contribute to and participate in a world-class learning environment. Click here to make a gift that supports financial aid at the University, motivating students from a variety of backgrounds to succeed.


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