A communal swell of pride and optimism for the future flooded the room last week as Attallah College of Educational Studies students, parents, faculty, and community members gathered for its Scholarship and Award Luncheon.
In her welcome speech, Attallah’s Dean Margaret Grogan said, “We come together today to honor the scholarship of Attallah College students and to celebrate the work of our partners and community members.”
The annual celebration is a special opportunity for Attallah’s scholarship donors to meet with their students and hear about their work and plans for the future.
Attallah Associate Deans Kelly Kennedy (Graduate Education) and Michelle Samura (Undergraduate Education) took turns presenting the scholarships and fellowships. All the scholarship and fellowship recipients then briefly introduced themselves and explained how the scholarship and fellowship resources will allow them to pursue their goals.
The students highlighted a range of fields and areas where they hope to make to impact, from human rights and politics to higher education, school psychology, and educational policy.
Arantxa De Anda, a student in the Attallah Ed.S. in School Psychology program and the recipient of the Leo J. Schmidt, Ed.D., Award, said she plans to use “research-based practices in the school setting and hopes to be an advocate for mental health awareness in the schools.”
Katherine Ragan, a junior undergraduate student in the Attallah Integrated Educational Studies (IES) program and a political science minor, received the Marcia Louise Sharpless Scholarship, which is a special circumstances scholarship for outstanding students in education.
“I currently work at Higher Ground Youth and Family Services, a community organization for local teens,” Ragan said. “That is something I hope to continue doing once I finish my undergraduate education, advocating for youth and their pursuit of higher education. There were so many people who did that for me, and without this scholarship, I wouldn’t be able to be here at Chapman. It’s very meaningful for me to be here today.”
Darliene Zepeda-Field, an IES major in her final semester who plans to pursue a graduate degree in library and educational sciences later this year, received the Donna Ford Attallah Scholarship, which supports students in the Chapman teacher education program.
Zepeda-Field became emotional when thanking her the college’s namesake in person: “The only way I will be able to graduate is because of Donna Ford Attallah,” she said.
In addition to 17 continuing Attallah scholarships and fellowships, two new scholarships were introduced at this year’s luncheon. The Patrick J. McGovern Foundation Scholarship supports graduate students in Chapman’s Ph.D. in Education program, with a focus on diverse learners. This scholarship reflects the growing need to study the challenges of and opportunities for students with different learning abilities and styles.
“I plan to use this award and my degree to continue to research best practices and implementations of school-based mental health services and to use my role working in the school districts to implement positive system change,” said Michael Doria, an Attallah Ph.D. in Education student and one of this year’s two McGovern Scholarship recipients.
The second addition, supported by the Warne Family Charitable Foundation, is a special circumstances scholarship awarded to graduate students who are making a difference in the community through progressive and research-oriented work with the special needs population.
All eight recipients of the Warne Scholarship, who are students in either Attallah’s special education (SPED) or school psychology (SP) graduate programs, attended this year’s luncheon: Sarah Bae (SP), Del Dolen (SPED), Katheryn Munguia (SP), Braden Parker (SPED), Annie Trail (SPED), Alissa Cohen (SP), Andrea Perez (SPED), and Anaiza Valladolid (SP).
Changing the World Award
In addition to celebrating the scholarship of Attallah students and the generosity of its supporters, each year the annual Attallah luncheon also celebrates the work of a transformational community leader with the Changing the World Award.
This year’s recipient is educator and philanthropist Erin Gruwell, who was recognized “for her relentless commitment to social justice and service, for her personal and infectious passion to collaborate across any all boundaries, and for her unfaltering love that has produced individual, community, and organizational transformation.”
The general public became familiar with Gruwell’s early story as a teacher with the release of the 2007 feature film “Freedom Writers,” starring Hilary Swank. Since the film’s release, Gruwell joined with many of her original students to form the Freedom Writers Foundation. The foundation’s projects and outreach, including the Freedom Writers Podcast launched in spring 2018, strive to take her teach-from-the-heart approach to a broad audience.
On a local level, through an internship and mentorship program, the Freedom Writers Foundation has made a difference in the lives of our Chapman students, several of whom now work for the foundation and joined her at the lunch.
Bryce Cyrier, who graduated from Chapman in 2017 with a BFA in Creative Producing and a minor in Leadership Studies and now serves as the foundation’s Director of Digital Media, explained that Gruwell “consistently demonstrates that she is committed to my personal growth. I’m so grateful for her leadership and guidance and for the countless ways she serves and uplifts wherever she goes.”
Josh Berger ’18 (BS in Business Administration and minor in Leadership Studies) also now works as the foundation’s Director of Development.
“Erin’s keen ability to engage, enlighten, and empower people to transcend their circumstances and become the best versions of themselves is both inspirational and noble,” said Berger.
Display Image at Top: Attallah College Dean Margaret Grogan presenting Erin Gruwell with the Attallah Changing the World Award