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Alumni and Friends

Sassorossi Family Establishes Scholarship for Paper Science Majors

Deanna Sassorossi (left) and Sarah Sassorossi (right) with their golden retriever, Kip.

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

“This is a full circle moment,” Deanna said. 

Deanna and Sarah met while serving as CNR Ambassadors, 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 flourished along with their studies and careers, and they married after graduation in 2019. 

Deanna, a scholarship recipient who majored in natural resources, was front and center at the unveiling of the Giving Grove Donor Tree in Biltmore Hall in 2014, where she spoke passionately about what her scholarship meant 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 construct a personalized 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 that year. 

Both believe that 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 craft a life that has helped them make their dream come true.

“We recognize that this is a privilege to even be able to have this conversation,” Sarah said. “But we graduated without debt and really were able to prioritize saving early on. And we wanted to be able to benefit students as early as we could.” 

The couple agreed that they don’t want any student to have to limit themselves from attending NC State because of financial need. They hope this scholarship will be a small part of an overall solution to help increase the affordability of an undergraduate degree.

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

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

Sarah is a plant superintendent for Sonoco in Holyoke, Massachusetts. She oversees the production department. Deanna is principal sustainability analyst for the Electric Power Research Institute, where she conducts research projects to develop tools and resources to help utility companies become more sustainable. The couple lives with their golden retriever, Kip, in western Massachusetts.

Asked for advice they would give new graduates looking to give to their alma mater, both suggested taking a long-term approach. Start by giving $10 or $20 a month, while you are building your career, Sarah said. As time goes by and paychecks grow, you can increase your giving to support the school and students who can’t afford to go without financial help.

“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 I had through a scholarship.”

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