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New scholarship to honor the memory of Ryan Palludan,’The Gentle Giant’

Last month, Philip and Deborah Palludan heard the news that no parent ever wants to hear.

Their son, Ryan Palludan, 18, had died suddenly in his sleep from a ruptured aorta. Ryan is thought to have had an undiagnosed disorder called Marfan syndrome, which is a disorder of the body’s connective tissue that can affect the heart and blood vessels.

In celebration of their son’s life and to honor his memory, Mr. and Mrs. Palludan are establishing the Ryan Palludan Memorial Scholarship at UALR.

RyanThe scholarship will provide assistance to UALR students for the purchase of textbooks, with award preferences given to male students from Bryant who show financial need, declare a major in biology or nursing, and have demonstrated academic achievement.

“What the Palludans have done with establishing this scholarship is going to make a profound difference in someone’s life,” said Vice Chancellor for Alumni and Development Bob Denman.

The Palludans said they realized how hard it was for some families to deal with the rising costs of textbooks when they first sent their older daughter, Katherine, to UALR.

“We were fortunate that both our children received scholarships to cover their tuition, and we only had the books and supplies to worry about, ” said Mrs. Palludan. “But we realized there may be some students who are not so fortunate, and it could make a difference in whether they enroll or not.”

“Textbooks alone can add up to hundreds and hundreds of dollars,” she said. “We’d rather see someone receive this gift and give them a little boost, in Ryan’s honor.”

Before he passed away, Ryan, a 2013 graduate of Bryant High School, had enrolled in UALR as a freshman and planned on enrolling in the nursing program after he had completed his first semester. He was making new friends, looking forward to the first day of college classes, and preparing for his duties as a member of the Chancellor’s Leadership Corps.

Ryan stood out in a crowd for many reasons. It started with the fact that he was 6-feet, 6-inches tall, had a smile that was contagious, and believed in enjoying life to the fullest.

Mrs. Palludan added, “Still waters run deep, and Ryan had unfathomable depths that were waiting to be discovered and shown to the world just like the oceans that he loved so much. He brought so much joy into this world and left a lasting impression on all that he came into contact with.”

He did not “go with the tide” but made his own currents and whirlpools in everything he did, including his love for the Florida Gators football team and his eclectic taste in music that ranged from the Zac Brown Band to Drake, his favorite rapper.

“The scholarship is a wonderful way to honor the life and legacy of someone so special to so many,” said Denman.

To contribute, send a check payable to Ryan Palludan Memorial Scholarship, c/o UALR, 2801 S. University, Little Rock, AR 72204. Persons wishing to donate online may also go to