UMES 2012 Gala stars arrive in Ocean City

  • Saturday, March 3, 2012

    UMES Gala stars arrive in OC

    OCEAN CITY -- (March 3, 2012) -- The spotlight has officially flipped on this weekend's UMES Gala, shining on more than seasoned celebrities in film, stage and television invited to help draw support for the signature student scholarship fundraising event at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

     Interim President of UMES Mortimer Neufville looks on as actress and UMES alumni Starletta DuPois, right, greets S. Epatha Merkerson, a veteran of TV's "Law and Order," during the celebrity reception Friday at the Courtyard Marriott in Ocean City. The event was held prior to the UMES Gala, which is today.Interim President of UMES Mortimer Neufville looks on as actress and UMES alumni Starletta DuPois, right, greets S. Epatha Merkerson, a veteran of TV's "Law and Order," during the celebrity reception Friday at the Courtyard Marriott in Ocean City. The event was held prior to the UMES Gala, which is today. / AMANDA RIPPEN WHITE/ THE DAILY TIMES Seventeen-year-old Sarah Bernstein of Salisbury swept the accolades at Friday's opening reception that greeted Hollywood stars at the Courtyard Marriott in Ocean City. She has a YouTube video online of original music, and the buzz is that her body of works is in the Top 10.

    "I am honored to be able to sing before such influential people," said Bernstein, an 11th grade student at the Salisbury School. Her parents, Kevin and Petra Bernstein, accompanied their daughter. Her grandfather, Eastern Shore businessman Richard "Dick" Bernstein, also attended.

    "This is my first big event in this area. People said I'm going places," she said.

    Celebrity guests for the weekend event are actors S. Epatha Merkerson, a veteran of the hit NBC police and courtroom drama, "Law and Order;" Tippi Hedren, remembered for her award-winning performance in Alfred Hitchcock's classic movie thriller, "The Birds;" broadcast legend Larry King of CNN's "Larry King Live" talk show; and the husband-and-wife singing duo, Billy Davis and Marilyn McCoo, of the famed musical group, The 5th Dimension.

    Interim UMES President Mortimer H. Neufville reminded the audience of the weekend's primary purpose: to raise dollars that help educate UMES students.

    "With the support of donors like you, we are raising funds to provide need-based scholarships to deserving UMES students," Neufville said in an official Gala statement. "The event will help enhance the educational experience of many students and we are most grateful to you for helping to make dreams come true."

    The gala has awarded 60 need-based scholarships through the Gala Endowment Fund since the event launched 13 years ago, each ranging between $500 and $4,000, said Veronique Diriker, event coordinator and director of development at UMES. Actress Melanie Griffith, an invited celebrity unable to attend, lent support