|Faculty in the Department of Ethnic & Women's Studies have reached into their own pockets to provide three scholarships a year to deserving students.|
Most were first-generation college students from working-class families who overcame significant social and financial barriers to succeed. So it might not be surprising that the faculty are not only committed to their students' academic success, they are committed to helping them financially as well.
"We understand in profoundly personal ways the struggles and barriers they are facing," says Terri Gomez, the department chair. "We really want to help them financially and even more so to acknowledge their efforts and the fact that despite all these obstacles, they are succeeding. That's the core of it. We see ourselves in them."
Most faculty members in the department contribute either through payroll deductions or direct contributions to an annual scholarship fund for the gender, ethnicity and multicultural studies (GEMS) majors and minors. Every year, the department awards a $500 academic scholarship to a senior who is pursuing a graduate degree. The scholarship is named for Charles Irby, the first chair of the department whose wife donated money for scholarships after he died. The department maintains the tradition of the founding chair. Smaller scholarships ranging from $100 to $400 go to promising freshmen, activist scholars and others. A scholarship committee determines the winners.
Nicole Forrest Boggs, director of development for university advancement, says she hopes the recognition will inspire other faculty members to adopt a culture of giving.
"They are so commited. It's not just a job. It's a personal endeavor to see their students succeed," Boggs says. "The level of caring they show for their students has been a powerful and positive influence to the campus culture."
Patricia de Freitas, interim associate dean, says the contributions have created a sense of community among the faculty and encourage the students to strive for academic excellence so they can qualify for the scholarships.
"It helps them know that the faculty cares about them and is really interested in their success," de Freitas says. "The amount is nothing compared to what their financial needs are, but at least it's a gesture."
The fund got a boost when Professor Emeritus Richard Santillan donated $5,000 for scholarships and other department projects.
"He is going to try to get other emeritus faculty to continue that tradition of giving back to the students," de Freitas says.
Lucia Soriano, who is attending Claremont Graduate University, received the $500 academic scholarship in June. Soriano is working toward her Ph.D. in cultural studies and plans to become a college professor. She used the money to buy books.
"It was a great honor to receive the scholarship because it really made me feel like the faculty believed in my academic success," Soriano says. "As a transfer student, it wasn't until I started in the ethnic and women's studies department that I really felt I was where I was supposed to be as far as a career and where my passion was."
For Josephine Ho, who graduated in 2010, the faculty scholarship was the first one she had ever applied for.
"It was more the idea of the scholarship than the scholarship itself that made the difference," says Ho, who later won a prestigious, schoolwide President's Council Scholarship. "It really boosted my confidence and led me to apply for more scholarships."
Ho is working as a data analyst for Green Dot Public Schools, a nonprofit, after graduating from Harvard's Graduate School of Education.
She is grateful to the ethnic and women's studies faculty not only for the scholarship but for the support she received throughout her undergraduate years.
"The EWS department is really close to my heart," Ho says. "Every year when students call for donations, I donate. It's not too much, but I try to do what I can."
The College of Education & Integrative Studies
prepares California's future public school teachers
through basic and advanced credentials, a graduate program in education and an emerging independent doctoral program. It also offers programs in gender, ethnicity and multicultural studies; liberal studies; and interdisciplinary general education.
Funding of the college's campaign goals will
support early childhood education, scholarships
and myriad programs that advance future educational leaders.
M.G. "Peggy" Kelly, Dean
Nicole Forrest Boggs, Director of Development