Student Stories

The Joanne Gray Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship was created by Joanne's daughter, to honor her mother, who went to college at the age of 16 to become a nurse. Her dedication to her nursing education was remarkable as she pursued degrees throughout much of her life even as she moved from state to state. During the course of her career she was a school nurse, public health educator and a grant writer. She dedicated her life to the field of nursing - she loved it and she lived it. This scholarship supports a nursing major student.  



Scholarship Recipient 2014:

Melanie is the first of her family to attend college, and she's at Saddleback training to be a certified nurse midwife. She came to the college five years after graduating high school; during that time she gave birth to twin boys who are now four years old. She worked after high school in a local birth center, where she realized how much she enjoyed working with expectant mothers. She maintains a 3.9 GPA, driven by the belief that “I could give that same gift back to other women, that the respectful care I will deliver to them may give them the self-worth to fulfill their own dreams.” She credits gaining this scholarship as a gift to her boys, as they are just starting out on their educational journey.





The Karen Merced Willner Endowed Scholarship

This scholarship was created by the students of Karen Merced Willner, a very gifted teacher of Film at Saddleback College. Members of the Laguna Woods Film Club generously contributed to this scholarship to ensure that Karen's dedication to teaching and film will be honored in perpetuity. 


Scholarship Recipient 2014: 

Jamie is now a TV & Broadcast Journalism Major at Chapman University with a 3.68 GPA. Jamie faced the challenge of being bullied as a child, and credits theater arts with raising his confidence and his sights! He was formerly a Dana Hills High School student where he worked his way onto the high school honor roll as well as receiving a theatre arts achievement award. He hopes to one day be a storyteller, to encourage both inspiration and imagination. He said ‘Reading off the teleprompter for the very first time was something incredibly scary. However, a wise quote that I follow greatly states, "The biggest mistake you can ever make is being afraid to make mistakes"’ His dream, on finishing school, is to be a talk show host. Receiving this scholarship really lifted the burden of money worries from Jamie and his Mom. 


The Dr. Steve Sworder Memorial Mathematics Endowed Scholarship

Steve Sworder began his education by earning an AA from Fullerton Community College - he went on to a B.S in electrical engineering from UC Berkeley, followed by a M.S. in engineering, an M.A.T. in mathematics, a Ph.D. in engineering from UCLA and an Ed.D. in higher education from Nova Southern University of Florida. He was employed as a control systems engineer at Ford Aerospace and Hughes Aircraft Corporation. After a career in industy, Dr. Sworder joined the Saddleback faculty in 1977 and was the Math Department Chair. Dr. Sworder was diagnosed with brain cancer but continued to teach through the physical challenges of his illness, inspiring his students and colleagues. He passed away in summer 2013 and this scholarship was named in his honor.



Scholarship Recipient 2014: 

Anahita is a former Laguna Hills High School student, now a sophomore honors student, hoping to go on to the UC system after she leaves Saddleback. She is a singer as well as physics major and finds time to tutor other students in mathematics for the Learning Resource Center. She is a member of the Saddleback College chorale program and finds that “Creative thinking and the utilization of techniques from various fields—such as theatrical arts—is not only possible, but tremendously fruitful in developing a deep understanding of mathematics.” She has presented research projects at the Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research (SCCUR) 2012, Honors Transfer Council of California (HTCC) Conference 2013 & 2014, the IVC/SC Student Research Symposium 2013, and the Bay Honors Consortium 2014.

The Walter "Wally" Johnson MemorialScholarship

This scholarship was created in loving memory of Wally by his family and friends. The scholarship assists a student involved in any aspect of sports development, sports management, kinesiology or sports journalism. 



Scholarship Recipient 2014: 

Peter Laurente is majoring in kinesiology due to first-hand experience of the benefits physical therapy can have. He hopes to earn his Ph.D. in physical therapy. Peter works 10-29 hours each week to help with money at home so that his parents don’t have to pay for his education. He was inspired to start this course of study when, working as a certified nurses’ assistant, he saw therapists in action, and knew that he too would like to be able to help others get back on their feet. ‘I love to be proactive, and just the reward you get from seeing someone that you've helped with improved mobility is so memorable. I really appreciate those who gave to this scholarship for allowing me to receive the extra help.”




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