Paul Drotch Memorial Scholarship
The Drotch family established the Lt. Paul Drotch Memorial
Scholarship for undergraduate Biology majors forty years ago
in memory of Paul, a 1957 graduate of the UConn Bacteriology
Department. It is a testament to this family's devotion to
their lost loved one and its gratitude for UConn's contribution
to their lives.
Paul attended UConn when there were several biological sciences
departments, including Bacteriology, a discipline later combined
into the Department Molecular and Cell Biology. Paul was a
serious and confident student, but also knew how to balance
this with his playful side. He graduated in 1957 and planned
to further his education in a biology Masters degree program.
At the time, the military draft was in effect, so he enlisted
in the Marine Corps, joining its officer candidate school
to make his military service more rewarding. He was admitted
to flight school and trained as a fighter pilot, an exciting
and still relatively new job in the military. While Paul was
stationed in South Carolina, his wing was sent to California
in winter 1959-60 for winter survival training. These were
tense times in US relations with Cuba; by spring 1960, Fidel
Castro was establishing close ties with the USSR and the US
bolstered its forces at the Guantanamo naval base. Paul’s
wing returned to South Carolina and was then sent to Guantanamo
in May for training. Paul flew an A-4 jet, an aircraft designed
to support ground forces by flying at only a few hundred feet
or less. The hilly Cuban terrain was challenging. In late
May, Paul’s aircraft was lost during a training exercise.
The Lt. Paul Drotch Memorial Scholarship was created by the
family in 1960 to recognize Paul’s accomplishments at
UConn and UConn's role in his aspirations. Originally an award
was made to a single student in Bacteriology, but the scholarship
fund has grown, in part from generous contributions by Paul's
brother Peter. Now the awards are made annually to several
high achieving students in MCB, EEB, PNB or Biological Sciences.
Application process takes place each spring.