UConn Magazine: Esther Pahl is Still Making a Difference

At age 97, Esther Pahl ’52 MSW is still very much making a difference.

Esther Pahl sitting on her deck

(Contributed Photo)

Esther Pahl’s parents ran a neighborhood grocery store in Springfield, Massachusetts, in the 1940s. While they made ends meet, there was not much left for anything else, let alone money to help their daughter pay her graduate school tuition.

That’s one of the reasons Esther Pahl ’52 MSW was motivated to create an endowed fellowship to support graduate students at UConn’s School of Social Work.

“I realize there are students who are struggling now as I did when I was a graduate student,” the 97-year-old says over a Zoom call from Potomac, Maryland, where she lives with her daughter Jamie Borns and her family.

“I wanted to set up a program for students who are marginally making it so they can study without the stress of worrying about paying the bills that are involved in basic living.”

In 1946 Pahl was one of UConn’s first eight MSW graduates. “It was a bit of a pioneering experience,” she says. “At the time, the School did not have its own building, so we met at Hartford [Public] High School. Most of our professors were visiting professors from Trinity College, the University of Chicago, Boston University, and Yale.”

Read on for more.