2008 Distinguished Alumni Award: Bonnie Sarno Vontell

Ms. Sarno Vontell grew up in West Redding, Connecticut, and decided to pursue her undergraduate education at the University of Connecticut where she was admitted into the Honors Program. During the course of her four years at the University, Ms. Sarno Vontell was admitted to Alpha Lambda Delta, Phi Alpha Theta, Mortar Board, Phi Kappa Phi, and Phi Beta Kappa Honor Societies. She was also named an Albert N. Jorgensen Alumni Scholar, a Richard L. St. Lawrence Centennial Alumni Scholar, and a Connecticut Scholar. Of the many awards that Ms. Sarno Vontell received, her crowning achievement was graduating summa cum laude as both an Honors Scholar and a University Scholar.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in history, Ms. Sarno Vontell entered the University of Connecticut School of Law to pursue a Juris Doctorate. While at the School  of Law, Ms. Sarno Vontell served as a judicial clerk in the West Hartford Probate Court  with the Honorable Judge John A. Berman presiding. After graduating from the School of Law in 1984, she continued her academic ambitions at the Yale Divinity School.

In 1987, Ms. Sarno Vontell began serving as the Trumbull Town Council Representative for the 4th District, and after serving a term as a representative; she became the youngest person elected to the position of Chairman of the Trumbull Town Council. After five years in public office, Ms. Sarno Vontell decided to enter the real estate market as an investor  and earned her license as a life and health insurance broker for the state of Connecticut. She serves as the co-owner of Charter Oak Insurance Services, LLC with her husband. The firm, which deals mainly in health insurance for small business, is one of the largest health insurance brokers in southern Connecticut.

In 2001, Bonnie Sarno Vontell was diagnosed with breast cancer, and on the advice of doctors, she learned how to row in order to rid her upper body of toxins. After a two-year struggle with the disease, doctors determined that the cancer was in remission. Ms. Sarno Vontell’s experience as a breast cancer survivor inspired her to establish the Breast Shield Foundation, one of four philanthropic organizations that she has founded. In addition to her professional and philanthropic accomplishments, Ms. Sarno Vontell has become a masters rower at local, national and international regattas, and has won several championships as a member of U.S. Rowing and the Saugatuck Rowing Club team. In  2005, she became a certified U.S. Rowing coach and was a member of the team that won  the 2005 FISA World Rowing Masters Regatta Women’s Quad in Glasgow, Scotland.

Bonnie Sarno Vontell has had a tremendous impact on society and has affected the lives of many. It is for all of these reasons that the University of Connecticut Honors Program is proud to present Bonnie Sarno Vontell with the 2008 University of Connecticut Honors Program Distinguished Alumni Award.