Pam Petro Pawlowski Scholarship Fund
Beginning in 2020, a young woman graduating from Shelton High School will reach forward to accept an award from John Pawlowski, his son Chris, and daughter Lauren for the Pam Petro Pawlowski STEM Scholarship Fund. As the young woman accepts that award, she will learn about the extraordinary and inspirational woman that John, Chris, and Lauren want to memorialize.
John and Pam had been good friends of the Valley Community Foundation (VCF) since the VCF took over the management of a scholarship fund to honor his mother, Lillian Pawlowski, a school teacher of 30 years at Elizabeth Shelton Elementary School in Shelton. Then, in 2018, a fund was established in honor of Pam’s mother, Ann Petro, a former principal at Sunnyside Elementary School in Shelton.
When Pam suddenly passed in October 2019, her family reflected on her passion for advocating for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education for Shelton Intermediate and Shelton High School students and mentoring young engineers. Inspired by Pam’s passion, her family set up another fund, in her memory, to support Shelton female graduates pursuing STEM in higher education.
Pam graduated from UConn with a degree in chemical engineering and was a process engineer at Unilever where she designed and made consumer products. John recalled how her hands-on approach and problem solving skills made her highly respected by her colleagues. Her blend of creative thinking and caring for others resulted in focused and meaningful changes for the community. “Pam promoted Hand Washing Day at Perry Hill School, volunteered at Shelton Intermediate School to talk about science careers, judged the Shelton High School science fairs, and distributed Unilever products to nonprofits in need, all without skipping a beat,” he said. She balanced all of this while being a wonderful wife and mother.
Pam spent 15 years as a founding member of the Commodore Hull Thanksgiving 5K Road Race Committee, which benefits the Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley. She also served on the Spooner House Board and the Advisory Board for Griffin Hospital. Pam additionally advocated for students as a member of the UConn Engineering Advisory Board.
As a testament to the contributions Pam made to her community, the race committee permanently dedicated the finish line in her name. Unilever also named an annual internal award after Pam and she was the first recipient, that acknowledges her volunteer spirit by recognizing the same generosity in someone who supports the community in the area of STEM.
The family has been joined by hundreds of others in the Valley and beyond to support the fund created in Pam’s memory. John noted, “We’re still getting donations and are so impressed by the generosity of the community. VCF made it possible to not only set up this fund, but for donors to give online, which has been tremendously helpful for people who live remotely. The staff also notifies us when donations are made to the fund so we can send a personal message in addition to VCF’s acknowledgment.”
John is looking forward to being present alongside his children when the scholarships in memory of Pam, Lillian, and Ann are awarded to graduating Shelton High School students. “This is an excellent way to honor these three extraordinary women – and to ensure that their commitment and contribution to the community they loved, will live on forever.”