First Alumni Scholarship recipients share a love of learning
Manuel E. Mestas and Ashley Davis are the inaugural recipients of the Alumni Association Scholarship. Both are the first in their families to work toward college degrees and both have overcome challenges to getting the educations they want.
Mestas is the undergraduate recipient and is working toward a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology at the Santa Maria campus. In addition to being diagnosed with dyslexia as an adult, Mestas said Brandman University was is his “Last ditch effort in pursuing an elusive dream of graduating from college.” Without the help of assistive technology provided by Brandman and the patient and thorough help of an executive coach, Mestas doubts that he would be able to overcome the hurdles he has faced since birth, including a mother disabled by being hit by a drunken driver, an alcoholic stepfather, growing up in the San Joaquin Valley with its high unemployment rate and having to make a living as a farm worker.
“I will be the first and only one in my family to have done so. Even though my parents have passed away many years ago finishing my degree would make them so proud of me. I could then live as a tribute to them that they did the best they could and it wasn’t all in vain,” wrote Mestas in applying for the scholarship.
In his essay, Mestas wrote that he plans to work with the most defenseless in society: children in the foster care system and the elderly, especially those in hospice. He sees social workers as “change agents” and wonders about the difference a social worker, which he hopes to become, would have made in his parents’ lives.
“I find great meaning and fulfillment in somehow helping other’s get a better opportunity to succeed in life and have a better quality of life. I plan to not only work in a conventional service organization but because I have such an entrepreneurial motivation, I plan to author books and conduct seminars on Marriage and Conflict Resolution. I also have an interest in becoming a life coach as well. Graduating means to me that it pays to persevere, no matter what cards; “life” deals you.” he wrote.
Davis is the graduate student recipient and is working toward her master’s in education at the Roseville campus. She wanted to study to be a teacher when she started college at California State University, Chico, but adults in her life, who feared she wouldn’t be able to get a job, talked her out of pursuing that goal.
“I set aside my goals of becoming a teacher and instead graduated with BA in Social Work from CSU Chico. It’s been a long road to coming back to college, but it has only made me more passionate about becoming a teacher,” she wrote in her essay.
It was while working as a social worker educating students on public health in the Oak Park community of Sacramento that Davis realized she really wanted to be a teacher.
“I don’t want to be just any teacher; I want to be the teacher that demonstrates a commitment to my students and a passion for the content I’m teaching them. That’s why I want my Master of Education degree. I don’t want to be just good at teaching; I want to be great.”
Davis hopes to work in a Title I school serving students from low-income homes. “I, too, came from a low-income family with multiple outside stressors and am a great example of how perseverance pays off,” she wrote.
Davis grew up in a single-family household where college was not an expectation and schooling was not a priority. Now married, she said returning to college was not an easy choice because her family doesn’t have much money.
“On the first day of my credential program I delivered my son, who is now 18 months old. I remind myself constantly that I’m getting my teaching credential and Masters of Education for me and for my family as well as the students I will teach. Teaching won’t pay me the greatest, and it’s definitely not easy to have a job that matters every day. It will, however, make me happy,” wrote Davis.
Each winner of the Alumni Association receives $500.
“We’re so pleased to be able to offer these deserving students help with their education,” said Janine Lombardi, president of the Alumni Association board “With an additional $5,000 in donations, we could award even more scholarships.”
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