There were plenty of smiles to go around at the 8th Annual Reach for the Stars Scholarship Dinner hosted by the College of Health and Public Affairs.

Donors to scholarships in the college met the latest beneficiaries of their generosity — the 2015-16 scholarship recipients — during an elegant reception, dinner and ceremony held April 7 at the FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.

It was both a joyous and moving experience for many.

The event provided speaker Paul Lewis with an opportunity to share memories of his esteemed colleague and friend Kevin Tyjeski, for whom he helped establish The Kevin Tyjeski City Planning Endowed Scholarship. Lewis, the chief planning manager for Orlando, also had the opportunity to meet this year’s recipient of the scholarship, Hector Guerrero, a graduate student in urban and regional planning.

Speaker Kamillia Crawford, a recipient of three of the college’s scholarships this year, talked about the impact of scholarships during her college studies. “[They] alleviated a heavy burden that enabled me to focus on my academic, leadership and career goals,” said Crawford, who will graduate in May with a degree in legal studies.

Crawford enjoyed dinner with the donor of one of the scholarships she received, retired Associate Dean Pamela Kirby, who established the Robert and Pamela Kirby Endowed Scholarship in memory of her husband.

Twenty-five years ago, when the college was established, there were no college-based scholarships to award; however, since then many donors have established and contributed to scholarship funds in the college, shared Dean Michael Frumkin.

“As of today, the college has awarded 432 scholarships, bringing the total amount of dollars awarded to nearly $500,000,” he said.

“Scholarship gifts help the college attract and retain the best students,” Frumkin told the guests. “They also lessen the financial burden so academic pursuits can take priority. Thank you to each and every one of you in the room who has made an investment in our students.”

See additional photos from the event.

Watch a video honoring the donors and recipients.