After recovering from a near deadly car crash, returning to college posed an even greater financial strain for Brianne Applegate ’11 and her family. The Amy Silvers Memorial Scholarship was the answer to their prayers.
Meaghan Haugh

MaryAnne Applegate, Dr. Arlene Silvers and Brianne Applegate '11, recipent of the Amy Silvers Memorial Scholarship

Brianne Applegate ’11 had just transferred to Rider to pursue her dreams of becoming an actor when, while driving home from school in a rain storm, her car hydroplaned and lost all contact with the slick road surface. Her car veered off the road and slammed into a ravine, where Applegate remained unconscious for 45 minutes before she was able to find help.

Applegate sustained significant frontal lobe damage to her brain and fractured the C2 vertebra in her neck, which was inoperable because of bone fragments pressing on her vertebral artery. She also sustained four broken ribs on her left side, as well as a punctured lung. Her situation worsened in the first 24 hours when she developed lesions on her brain following a stroke, brought on by massive hemorrhaging. Applegate would spend the next nine months in an aggressive rehabilitation program for cognitive and occupational therapy at the Kessler Institute in Chester, N.J.

As the medical bills piled up, returning to college posed an even greater financial strain for Applegate and her family. The Amy Silvers Memorial Scholarship was the answer to their prayers.

Applegate, a graduating senior in the Fine Arts program, shared her own story during a video presentation at the Scholarship Stewardship Luncheon on April 14 at Greenacres Country Club in Lawrenceville. Drs. Norman and Arlene Silvers created the Amy Silvers Memorial Scholarship in memory of their daughter who lost her life following a tragic car accident.

“I am deeply touched by receiving this scholarship,” explained Applegate in the video. “It’s meant the world to me and I can only hope that I can make them proud. I am absolutely amazed and my heart goes out to them. I feel like if they can give me a little piece of their life, I can hope and only hope to be able to return the favor and to live and love and do well in whatever it is that I do.”

Applegate’s moving story captured the essence of the annual event, which was organized by Meaghan Crawford, assistant director of Scholarships and Stewardship, and where more than 50 student recipients of Rider scholarships were able to meet their benefactors and express their gratitude for helping them pursue their dreams.

“Thank you very much for joining us today for this celebration of our scholarship donors and the talented students they so generously support,” said Jonathan Meer, vice president for University Advancement, to the benefactors during the opening remarks.

Rider President Mordechai Rozanski said scholarship donations come from a broad spectrum of donors, including alumni, faculty, staff, parents, foundations, business firms and friends. In fact, these donations, combined with the University’s resources, have helped increase the scholarship and grant fund from $27.1 million in 2004 to $45.5 million in 2010, an impressive 68 percent increase.

“Through your generous scholarship support, you partner with us to promote the highest quality education for our students. Your support is transforming lives and opening doors of opportunity for our leaders of tomorrow,” Rozanski said to the scholarship benefactors in attendance. “In these very challenging financial times, your support is even more significant because it is making a university education possible for many who could not otherwise afford it.”

In remarks to the scholarship recipients, Rozanski said these scholarships provide them with an extraordinary gift and a wonderful opportunity to advance their education.

“We have every confidence in your success,” he said. “We very much hope that, in the future, when you have achieved personal and professional success, you will remember your donors’ example and do everything you can to give back to the University’s scholarship program to help continue the cycle of philanthropy that has helped make your Rider experience possible.”

Justine Aronson ’11 and Marcus Jordan ’11, two students from the Master of Music in Voice Pedagogy and Performance program at Westminster Choir College, entertained the audience with song, with Nathan Hurwitz, assistant Professor of Theater and Music Theater, as the faculty accompanist. Aronson and Jordan performed a show tune from the musical Carousel, entitled “If I Loved You” by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. 

Following the luncheon, MaryAnne Applegate watched proudly while her daughter, Brianne, presented Dr. Arlene Silvers with a gift — a beautiful painting by Brianne of the Silvers’ beloved daughter, Amy.

In the video, Drs. Norman and Arlene Silvers describe how the generosity of scholarship recipients, like Brianne, brings back memories of Amy.

“It would not have happened unless we gave that scholarship. So when you give, you receive, and this scholarship has given us back a tremendous amount of pleasure,” Dr. Arlene Silvers explained.