WEntcher Memorial Awards


The Wentcher Foundation seeks to honor the memory of two dynamic individuals who contributed significantly to the development of the Wentcher Foundation Scholarship program and enhanced the lives of colleagues and scholars alike by establishing a pair of Memorial Awards.  

Wentcher Scholars in their final year of award renewal may apply for the memorial awards offering ‘finish-line’ support of an additional $1,000-$2,000 above their $10,000 scholarship award. The award in honor of Elena Couto Bastable is available to Oakton Wentcher Transfer Scholars and the award in honor of Norma Berfield is available to CPS Wentcher Scholars. Minimum requirements include a 3.5 cumulative GPA and significant financial need at their school choice, scholars must submit two short essays as part of their application. 


Wentcher Staff identify eligible scholars at the point of their final renewal and they are invited to submit an application for the award. If you are a current Wentcher Scholar, entering your senior year, and you feel you meet this eligibility requirements listed above, please contact cassie@wentcherfoundation.org for an application.



Born in Campinas, Brazil, Elena came to the United States for her college education at Clark University in Worchester, Massachusetts. She was filled with energy and genuine enthusiasm for everything she did and everyone she met. She had an infectious laugh, a huge smile and a warm personality. She moved to Chicago in 2009 and became the Senior Manager of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations at the Oakton Community College Foundation, where she met her husband, Todd Bastable.


In her role at Oakton Community College, Elena raised funds for student scholarships and other critical needs. She worked closely with the Wentcher Foundation and other donors for seven years. She was extraordinarily dedicated and worked tirelessly to ensure Oakton Wentcher Scholars and the Wentcher Foundation received the finest support possible. Elena was a treasured colleague and friend who is greatly missed. 



Having successfully raised four children followed by two decades of a great career as an Executive Assistant, Norma Berfield and was in the process of beginning a well-earned retirement when she met Ernie Wentcher. Ernie had another idea for what Norma should do next –  she must come and work with him. He would not take no for an answer and on the following Monday morning, Norma started a new adventure, working as the Executive Assistant to insurance executive, investor and entrepreneur, Ernie Wentcher.


As Norma would tell others, “It was quite a ride! No two days were alike, always new, different and interesting businesses – there were many challenges, surprises, ups and downs.” Ernie operated intuitively, based on his assessment of people. Norma’s cautious and conversative approach to business created a balance to the informality and subjectivity with which Ernie made big decisions.



As Ernie’s key advisor, Norma was an integral part in the formation, launch and management of the Wentcher Foundation, where she worked until the age of 90. For 24 years, Ernie Wentcher was blessed to have Norma as his Executive Assistant, his advisor and, most importantly, his friend.

Jocelyn Aranda-Ortiz
University of Illinois Chicago

Salma Barhoumeh
Northwestern University

Wendy Jung
University of Rochester

Steven Li
University of Illinois Chicago

Madeline Mortell
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Ly Nguyen
Illinois Institute of Technology

Isabella Nuno
Lake Forest College

Pratik Patel
Illinois Institute of Technology

Shree Patel
Northern Illinois University

McClaran Shirley
Occidental College
Daniel Vogwill
University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign