Students reap rich rewards at scholarship event

La Sierra University President Randal Wisbey presents a student with a scholarship during the university's annual awards luncheon.
La Sierra University President Randal Wisbey presents a student with a scholarship during the university's annual awards luncheon.

July 27, 2009
By Darla Martin Tucker

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( )Iris Escudero found out a week before the Annual Endowed Scholarships and Awards Luncheon that she was among student honorees who would receive a check to help with educational expenses. “When I saw the e-mail I’m like, I can’t believe I got it,” said the La Sierra University art major with a smile.

Escudero received $1,000 from the Atanas and Sasha Alexandra Katchamakoff Scholarship during the May luncheon. She is considering teaching elementary school where she can use art to bolster students’ comprehension. “Through art we can communicate with kids a lot better,” she said.

Her La Sierra art classes have instilled unique ways of thinking and creating. One of her favorite art projects involved making book art in a class with Susan Patt, an art department professor. Using a discarded library book called “The White Monkey,” Escudero created a three-dimensional jungle in the book by cutting shapes of leaves and of a monkey out of the pages. “I would never have thought of making art out of an old book,” she said.

All told, La Sierra University handed out more than 160 awards to 154 students during the luncheon. The amount given totaled approximately $230,000. For the scholarship recipients, the donors and their representatives who attended the event, the presentations represented opportunity for educational advancement and gave public recognition to the university’s generous benefactors.

In his luncheon address, La Sierra University President Randal Wisbey encouraged students to remember their alma mater in future years and consider contributing scholarships “so future generations will know someone cares about them just as you know today someone cares about you.”

“Without the scholarship we wouldn’t have been able to come here,” Germeen Yousry said following the luncheon. She and several other students immigrated to the United States from Egypt where they attended Nile Union Academy. Yousry and the others, John Yousry Yousef Nassif, Joseph Wasif and Joseph Helmy each received the $10,000 Middle East Scholarship. Wasif and Germeen Yousry also received the Yacoub and Ellen Nashed Scholarship of $1,516 each and Wasif won a $370 scholarship from the James Cooley Endowment.

“We felt God wanted us here. We love the campus so much. We feel like God brought us here,” Nassif said. This past year he was a computer science major and religion minor. Wasif studied accounting and pre-engineering as did Helmy. Yousry was studying math and religious studies, but was considering dropping math for liberal studies. La Sierra’s scholarships and efficient forms processing through its International Student Services office drew the group to LSU, they said.

Joan Pierce, a Banning resident and La Sierra alumna presented scholarships to three students from the Willard J. and Irene Humpal Scholarship fund. The fund was established approximately 15 years ago to honor Pierce’s parents and to ultimately honor students challenged with learning disabilities who show determination in striving toward academic achievement.

“Those with learning disabilities know they’re not going to get As,” and it’s harder to get jobs, Pierce said. “For me, it’s rewarding to see the kids say it [scholarship] was enough to encourage them to keep going,” she said.

Her family instituted the scholarship program in part because of the struggles faced by family members burdened with learning problems. For example, one family member had to learn orally, by listening to tapes. Some handled the rigors of academics by studying through La Sierra’s Learning Support and Testing Center. The center each year selects recipients for the Humpal scholarships.

“This is a scholarship to award tenacity and stick-to-itiveness in the face of adversity,” said Richard Pierce, Joan Pierce’s husband. “We’re rewarding people who find a way to learn in difficult ways.”


PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University
Riverside, California
951.785.2460 (voice)

  • Last update on  December 07, 2009