UVU’s 31st Annual President’s Scholarship Ball Raises Funds to Help Students 'Rise'

At the news of becoming a recipient of the UVU Presidential Scholarship, Holli Saperstein cried all the way home in the car, overjoyed that she could go back to school.


Holli Saperstein, a working actress, nonprofit manager, and UVU alumna, was raising four children alone on public assistance several years ago. She had to sell her only piece of living room furniture to pay for her first semester of college. With no money left after that semester, she expected to forfeit her dreams of finishing school. But at the news of becoming a recipient of the UVU Presidential Scholarship, she cried all the way home in the car, overjoyed that she could go back to school.

That is what the annual President’s Scholarship Ball is all about: to help students like Saperstein receive an education and RISE to achieve their dreams. This year, the theme of the ball was “Rise.”

At this black-tie gala, several hundred guests — local and state government officials, business owners, and other friends of UVU — are dressed to the nines and enjoy performances by UVU students and a decadent five-course meal provided by the UVU Culinary Arts Institute. But it isn’t just a fancy event for the sake of fanciness. Donations from the ball’s attendees and other supporters go to provide needed financial aid.

“My goal is to keep education accessible and affordable,” said President Astrid S. Tuminez at the 31st Annual President’s Scholarship Ball on October 23. “We want to provide opportunities for every student. The more we give this evening,” she told guests, “the more opportunity UVU is going to have to offer these presidential scholarships.” She reminded everyone that by donating, they were contributing to someone’s story and dream.

Saperstein is one such story, and she was asked to share it at this year’s ball. “We’re never too old to stop learning,” she said during her speech. “Life is full of incredible, joyful moments to embrace. But we need opportunity. And that is what UVU gave to me. The opportunity to rise from the cycle of poverty — to rise and succeed.”

Throughout the night, guests had the opportunity to bid on several Experience Auction items, including a helicopter ride over Mt. Timpanogos, a UVU Iron Chef Experience, and an opportunity to be featured as a cover story on a Bennett Communications magazine, such as Utah Valley Magazine. Top bids became funding for scholarships.

“We are honored to support UVU,” said UVU Board of Trustees Chair James Clarke. “It all starts with education, so the ability to educate and allocate scholarships is the core of the core of what we do at UVU. We are a teaching institution that really focuses on our students. There is no better place on the planet, in my humble opinion, where the allocated resources are put to better use.”

UVU raised $306,105 from ticket sales alone. An anonymous donor gave an additional $75,000, and with bids from the auction and other donations, UVU surpassed its goal of half a million dollars to $540,000 total. That money will provide a whopping 24 four-year, full-tuition scholarships for students like Saperstein — to help them rise. 

“You gave us hope for a brighter future,” she said at the conclusion of her address. “I cannot thank you enough for what you’ve done — not only in my life, but in the lives of every person that you’ve helped and changed through this scholarship. Each of you are heroes.”

Holli Saperstein

Scholarship recipient Holli Saperstein

UVU Symphony

President Astrid S. Tuminez

UVU students performing