Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Rewarded for Resiliency

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Rewarded for Resiliency

Article excerpt

Recipients of the East Bay College Fund scholarships receive much more than money.

OAKLAND, Calif.

From the time she was 10 years old, Katie Jay was in and out of homeless shelters with her mother, eventually attending a total of 32 different elementary and high schools.

But Jay overcame the chaos in her life and is now a senior studying criminology at San José State University, thanks in part to a scholarship from the East Bay College Fund.

"It's not like a typical scholarship where they just write you a check," she says of the program, which also provides students with a mentor. "It's more personal. We all come together on holidays and breaks. My mentor is available for me whenever I need to talk to her. That's a major thing knowing somebody's there to assist you who really has a passion for it."

Jay praises the East Bay College Fund, but fund volunteers say it's Jay and other scholarship winners who should be held in high esteem. The fund is specifically aimed at students who show resiliency, and they say Jay certainly fits the bill.

The fund provides scholarships for Oakland, Calif.-area students who maintain a B or B+ high school GPA while dealing with severe financial and environmental challenges. Applications have come from single mothers who graduated at the top of their class, students who were born in refugee camps and those who have lost parents to violence or addiction.

The scholarship fund was started in 2002 when Andy Fremder, a former chief financial officer at a large investment firm, asked seven friends and colleagues for $1,600 each to help send students to college. Today, each donor sponsors one student, contributing $4,000 a year for four years to pay for tuition, books, housing or any schoolrelated expense not covered by financial aid.

The donors immediately see the benefits of donating their money to support an actual person rather than an unseen cause, says Fremder.

"A lot of time when people give money they don't see the results," he says. "They assume it's being used for good things, but with this you get instant gratification and long-term results."

Since the first seven Great Expectations Scholarship awards were given out in 2003, the program has more than doubled. There are 43 students at schools such as San Francisco State, Smith College and Morehouse College. …

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