On April 18, 2018, Soroptimist International of Long Beach (SILB) held its tenth annual scholarship dinner. SILB’s annual philanthropic commitment culminated in the bestowing of $16,000 to local individuals who are pursuing their dreams and educational goals. All who attended were inspired by the awardees’ stories of overcoming obstacles of poverty, violence, and loss.

The evening began with a welcome from President Julia McConaghy and invocation by Judith Pednault. President McConaghy welcomed invited dignitaries: Executive Director Elizabeth McCann and Associate Director Shrya Compton of the Long Beach Community College Foundation; Jennifer Moore, Director of CSULB Development, College of Health and Human Services; and Jackie O’Day, Women and Philanthropy liaison, CSULB University Relations and Development.

Past President Susan Berkman highlighted Soroptimist’s Dream It, Be It program at Jordan High School and introduced Jordan High School teachers and Dream It, Be It club advisors, Stephanie Espeleta and Stacey Dahlquist. The program has grown in its second year with twelve freshman girls attending the seminar, most of whom have now joined the Dream It, Be It on-campus club.

CASTLA staff member, Ivette Barcena, presented a plaque in recognition of SILB’s philanthropic project “Shower of Love” which provided household goods for twelve apartments for rescued human trafficking victims.

Rosalie Rowe introduced the recipients of the Long Beach City College Scholarships. Together with the Long Beach City College Foundation, SILB awarded three scholarships this year to Heidi Alsangak, Sandra Khim-Pamanian, and Luigi Torres. Heidi shared her story of quitting school to support her family then returning to school to study communications and marketing. Luigi was raised by a single mother along with his four siblings. After serving four years in the military, Luigi enrolled at LBCC. The transition has been a challenge, but he is diligently pursuing his Fire Science degree.

Lori Brault presented this year’s Soroptimist Women & Philanthropy Scholarship Awardee, Rosa Bustillos. Rosa is a single mother who has returned to college after 10 years. Although Rosa has faced many difficulties, she has remained committed to her studies and plans to complete a B.S. in Engineering this year. Rosa’s husband and four children attended the event.

The Dr. Katherine White Award is bestowed on a previous SILB scholarship recipient. The award honors the memory of Dr. Katherine White, a dedicated leader in SILB for 43 years, and is made possible by a generous donation from Dr. White’s family. Renee Simon presented this year’s Dr. Katherine White Award to Johana Aviles. Johana will graduate this May from CSULB with a degree in biochemistry. She announced that she has been accepted to Brown University where she plans to earn a PhD in chemistry. Her long-term goal is to work in the field of cancer research. What a wonderfully appropriate recipient of an award that honors a compassionate physician, Dr. White.

The Soroptimist Live Your Dream award provides a monetary award for women who are the primary wage earners in their families and are pursuing education and/or career training. Nadia Vega-Sharrar presented four women with the awards.

First place Live Your Dream winner, Jacqueline Padilla-Pacheco, is a first generation full-time student in her family, a single mom of a special needs son, who is studying Sociology at UCLA. She shared some of her hardships and triumphs as well as her gratitude for her parents, immigrants from Mexico, whose work ethic she has emulated.

Second place Live Your Dream winner, Araceli Martinez, is studying Human Services at CSU Dominguez Hills. She began working to help support her family at 16 years old, became a single mom at 17 years old, and helped raise her younger sister. In the midst of many obstacles, Araceli remains committed to being a good student, employee, mother, and her goal to live her life helping people.

Kaleigh Stacy was the third place winner of the Live Your Dream award. Kaleigh plans to be a registered nurse and is currently a LBCC student and will transfer to CSULB. She is a single mom who has encountered several losses but is motivated by her daughter for whom she is a hard-working role model.

Christina Evans was our fourth place Live Your Dream winner. She is a dedicated mother and student at Cerritos College. Christina, too, has experienced many hardships but is pursuing her studies in Dental Hygiene and is looking forward to giving back to the community.

Overall, SILB awarded $16,000 in educational awards and scholarships this year–$3,000 for LBCC scholarships; $1,000 for Women & Philanthropy Scholarship at CSULB; and $12,000 to the Dr. Katherine White and Live Your Dream Awards.

Attendees were incredibly moved by the awardees’ stories of hardships and the actions they have taken to surmount them. SILB is honored to be a part of these students’ journeys to create better lives for themselves and their families.

Live Your Dream awardee, Kaleigh Stacy with daughter

Alison Reid receives plaque recognizing SILB service from Ivette Barcena of CASTLA

Renee Simon, SILB member, and Johana Aviles, Dr. Katherine White Award recipient

SILB members enjoy the inspiring program