Bryan Pollard ’85 (CLAS) and Alice (Melville) Pollard ’83 (CLAS) were undergraduates when they first met in the Wilbur Cross Library, at a reception for recipients of a scholarship program coordinated by Dr. H. Fred Simons. A mutual friend thought perhaps the pair could carpool from their homes in Southeastern Connecticut to their summer jobs in New Haven and suggested they connect.
“At the reception, I asked to meet Alice Melville, and someone pointed her out to me across the room,” Bryan says. “I was so impressed by her beauty and her warmth, and I thought, ‘Wow, I want to marry that woman.’”
Bryan and Alice did end up carpooling that summer and it turned out they had a lot in common. They continued to commute together to various events that were part of the scholarship program, and their relationship blossomed as they worked towards their degrees.
As an undergraduate, Alice studied math, at a time when it was uncommon for women—particularly women of color—to do so.
“There weren’t a lot of women in STEM courses at the time, but we stuck together, and our professors supported us so that we could be successful,” says Alice, a retired high school teacher who worked in the corporate world prior to her teaching career. “The program prepared me for my career by being able to be on the cutting edge. I had the skills and background to be able to contribute to making a better corporate environment.”
Likewise, Bryan, who majored in political science, says that his education at UConn set him up for success in law school and his career by helping him learn how to analyze and assimilate information, skills that are critical to his work.
“UConn also gave me a broad range of exposure to a lot of different subject matters, and I learned how to research and delve deeply into subjects,” says Bryan, an attorney with Raytheon Technologies. “This has helped me in my career immensely.”
Today, the Pollards’ love for one another is still going strong—and so is their shared love for UConn. The people, the place, and the academics are among the many things they love about their alma mater.
“Some of the best friends that I have in life I met at UConn. And, most importantly, my wife,” says Bryan. “I love the campus. It’s beautiful and has always been a special place to me. And the academic environment… it’s a place where I can feel the people thinking and creating and coming alive.”
Alice agrees. “The friends that I made here are lifelong friends,” she says. “Even if we don’t see each other for years, the connection we made when we were here… it comes back like it was yesterday. When we come back to campus, it just feels like home.”
It is important to the Pollards to give back to the school they say gave them so much. Inspired by their experience in the scholarship program, they established The Bryan K. and Alice M. Pollard Scholarship, which supports scholarships for underrepresented students and students of color in political science and STEM fields as well as mentoring and networking programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
It was important to both Pollards to include a mentorship component in their scholarship program.
“Sometimes it’s not just the financial concern that students have, it’s understanding what opportunities they can have,” Alice explains. “If this scholarship can help broaden their understanding of what is possible, that’s something we would like to support.”
“We benefited from a scholarship that was life-changing for us. The mentorship component was invaluable; Dr. Simons was a phenomenal mentor to us both,” says Bryan, who also serves as an alumni representative on UConn’s Board of Trustees. “When Alice and I decided to get married and sent the invitations, Doc Simons was the first to respond. That’s the type of relationship that is possible when you have a real mentor. If we can do that through our scholarship, that’s something that is very important to us.”
Juli Wade, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, says the mentoring program established by the Pollards will be impactful for CLAS students.
“Research shows time and time again that mentorship is key to success for students and professionals alike,” Wade explains. “The Pollards understand that key component of higher education, and I’m so grateful they’ve worked to provide these experiences for CLAS students.”
Bryan knew, when he laid eyes on Alice across the Wilbur Cross Library, that their relationship was destined to be something special. And now, thanks to their scholarship program, future UConn students can be a part of their story as well.