A record-breaking $720,000 in scholarships was awarded to more than 400 deserving students at Saddleback College’s 38th Annual Scholarship Ceremony on Friday, May 16th. More than 800 were in attendance to honor both the scholars and the donors, including family, friends, and Saddleback College faculty, staff, and administrators. The scholarships were donated by business, organization, and community members; additionally the Saddleback College Associated Student Government donated $69,500 in scholarships and underwrote the expenses for the ceremony.
PIMCO founder Bill Gross and his wife, Sue, were named Scholarship Donors of the Year for their generous $240,000 donation to establish the Sue and Bill Gross Scholars Program to help students in the “forgotten middle” – students who have an unmet financial need yet are ineligible for a full Pell Grant or other government assistance – successfully complete education and career training at Saddleback College and secure skilled jobs. With the initial donation, Saddleback expects to support a minimum of 40 students over a two-year period to students in select CTE programs (automotive technology, cinema/television/radio, medical assistant, medical laboratory technician, and nursing).
Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, stated, “On behalf of our students, faculty, staff, and administrators, thank you to Bill and Sue Gross for their generous donation that will help deserving students pay for college while training for gainful employment. I congratulate all of the students who were recognized with a scholarship for their academic achievement, service to the community, leadership, and talent. The generosity of our donors made the entire event possible, and I thank them for their support of Saddleback College and our students, who benefit greatly from the kindness of those who give so much to our college.”
The ceremony continued with a presentation by honors student Lydia Natoolo, who thanked donors for their invaluable help to Saddleback students. “You never know whose life you are about to change forever. I am a witness to your kindness,” Natoolo said. Born in Uganda, Natoolo, the youngest of 28 children, was awarded the Gillian Marie Sabet Memorial Scholarship, given to deserving underprivileged students with interests in cancer research.
Awards were presented by Michelle Brough, Saddleback College Foundation treasurer; Dr. Christopher S. McDonald, dean of mathematics, science, and engineering; and Dr. Barbara Cox, professor of business and management. Music was provided by the Saddleback College Jazz Ensemble. In addition to the presentation of scholarships, Jacqueline Gabert and Matthew Nunnally, alumni of the college, shared their personal stories.
The Saddleback College Scholarship Ceremony is an annual event that started in 1976, when 45 donors contributed just over $12,000 to some 60 students. Over the past 37 years, the foundation has awarded more than $4.8 million in scholarships to deserving Saddleback College students.