Month: August 2016

Planting the Seed: The Impact of Scholarships

By Ryan Foy | August 17, 2016

As a kid, Danny Mauricio only saw his father a few minutes a day as he left their south Modesto home to go to work. From temp jobs to janitorial and warehouse work, Danny’s father worked as many as 12 hours a day to support his wife and five children so their mother could focus on raising them.

“He told us, ‘I don’t think you want to be just like me, having to work a couple of jobs, barely seeing your kids,’” Danny recalls. “My parents said to definitely get an education and a career where you don’t have to be breaking your back.”

Danny took that to heart. As he secretly struggled with depression from fourth through eighth grade, studying served as his outlet. He excelled in school, so no one even realized the inner turmoil he battled.

At the end of eighth grade, things started to look up. He was promised two scholarships – one from a Stanislaus Community Foundation fund – as long as he graduated from high school and enrolled in a college or university.

“Receiving the scholarships made me realize, ‘Here’s the seed, just water it. Let it grow,’” Danny said. “I don’t know if life would’ve turned out the same if it weren’t for that small seed that grew and blossomed.”

That seed blossomed thanks to college and career preparation classes, like Advancement via Individual Determination, also known as AVID, and TRiO classes throughout his four years at Downey High School in Modesto. Programs like these expose students – most of whom are the first in their families to go to college – to financial aid and scholarship opportunities, college field trips, and tools to complete college applications and personal statements.

Those resources, combined with the scholarships, empowered Danny to pursue a four-year university. In April of 2014, he got his acceptance package from UC Merced.

“I was excited because I really wanted to get into a UC,” Danny said.

With tuition, books, supplies and living expenses, going to UC Merced would cost him a total of $27,000. Thanks to federal and state grants, plus various scholarships, Danny had all his expenses covered for his first year without having to get a job.

“The money lasted exactly till the last day of school, but it got me through,” said Danny. “I felt a sense of relief because my parents aren’t necessarily financially stable. It’s the least I can do for my parents. They don’t have to stress about me trying to succeed further in life.”

Through Stanislaus Futures, low-income students, like Danny, who attend seven pilot high schools will receive college advising and can apply for scholarships ranging $1,000 to $3,000. Scholarship recipients will be tracked throughout their college career.

As a junior at UC Merced now, Danny hasn’t forgotten about the kids in south Modesto. He volunteers with students from his former middle school and hopes to empower them to pursue college themselves.

“I tell them, ‘School is what opens doors and helps you get out of the situation you’re in.’ I let them know I’m a college student and I went through my own patches in life, but school is what pulled me out. I would like to provide them that sense of hope and let them know their future is what they determine. The world might seem like it’s out to get you and you might trip and fall once in awhile, but stand your ground and continue moving forward.”

Evelyn Hanshaw Scholarship Fund: 
Empowering Students to Beat the Odds

By Ryan Foy | August 13, 2016

If you asked long-time educator Evelyn Hanshaw to describe her ideal student, she probably wouldn’t just pick someone with straight-As and perfect attendance. Resilience, leadership and perseverance mattered most to her, especially at the middle school named after her in south Modesto.

“Mrs. Hanshaw was mesmerized by the resilience of the students in her school,” said Evelyn Hanshaw Middle School’s first principal, Charles Vidal. “It took more than a GPA to break out of the challenges and barriers confronting you each day living in south Modesto. It took character.”

Notorious for its crime and poverty, south Modesto can be a difficult environment for children to grow up – a place where they often end up in gangs or dropping out of school. Evelyn Hanshaw Middle School became a haven of safety and hope for many of them. Evelyn Hanshaw herself became their matriarch.

When Evelyn passed away in 2005, Charles – who is also the executor of her estate – established a scholarship fund with money Evelyn had bequeathed to award to deserving graduates of her namesake school to go to college. Since she had no children of her own, these students became her children and her bequest was, in a way, her college savings account for them.

“The students at Hanshaw Middle School are smart – and not just book smart – street smart,” Charles said. “They have extracted an intelligence from the challenges and circumstances they were born into and, as Mrs. Hanshaw described to me, with a little financial boost can go the distance.”

For the past ten years, that financial boost has added up to more than $100,000 to 118 students to attend colleges and universities, including Stanislaus State, Modesto Junior College and UC Merced.

Like the Evelyn Hanshaw Scholarship Fund, Stanislaus Futures recognizes students’ challenges and resilience, not just their grades like most traditional scholarships. While students with high achievement deserve recognition for their success, merit-based scholarships may miss an opportunity to provide support to low-income students who have the potential and drive to succeed in college, but lack the means.

As the Evelyn Hanshaw scholars grow in number and experience, Charles asks for one favor in return – to go back to their alma mater as role models for younger generations living in south Modesto and serve as a reminder that resilience can lead to a boundless future.

Ambeck Mortgage Scholarship Fund: 
Enhancing Our Home Community

By Ryan Foy | August 13, 2016

Ambeck Mortgage Associates has provided people the opportunity to make Stanislaus County their home for more than 26 years. As a Modesto native, company President Patty Amador is proud of her home community and has found a way to say thank you.

“This is the community that has always been my home and has supported me in my business,” Amador said. “I am and will always be grateful for that support and to be in a position to donate funds, improve lives, and give back to this community.”

In 2003, Amador established the Ambeck Mortgage Scholarship Fund. Since then, she’s awarded more than $25,000 in scholarships to 36 students attending universities around the country, including Sacramento State, UC Berkeley and UCLA.

“By providing financial assistance to those who want to further their education we are ultimately enhancing life for all of us,” said Amador. “Assisting individuals to obtain higher education not only benefits the individual, but their community as well, by the contributions they make with their chosen careers.”

Because of Amador’s thoughtful giving, the Ambeck Mortgage Scholarship Fund will continue to support students and strengthen our community for years to come.