Women & Philanthropy held a scholarship reception at Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach May 10 where it recognized 11 CSULB scholarship recipients. Photos by Stephanie Rivera.

While their stories were diverse and their hardships difficult to imagine, each woman shared the same goal: complete their undergraduate degrees.

A total of eight Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) students—some who have returned to college after a 20-year hiatus—were honored May 10 at the Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach with scholarships from Women & Philanthropy at CSULB, a group of like-minded women and men whose main goal is to support students re-entering college to complete their degrees.

The group was founded in 1998 and not only donates funds but also their time to support CSULB students, serve on advisory boards, mentor students, meet with professors about student needs, participate in campus events and support other school initiatives. It also provides grants to juniors and seniors that complete research and creative activities required for their majors.

Women & Philanthropy has funded scholarships for over 300 students totaling over $400,000 during the last 20 years, according to the group.

A board showcasing a research project currently underway by CSULB scholarship recipient Yohanna C. Brown. 

“This is honestly the best organization I know of to directly and meaningfully impact people’s lives and help students who have overcome a tremendous amount in their own lives and be able to become contributing members of society and achieve their goals,” said Mary Miller, who has been a member for about three years.

Miller, who had previously donated to the President’s Scholars Program at CSULB, said she was invited to an event similar to the scholarship reception earlier this month and was able to hear from recipients.

At the most recent event students shared stories of juggling work, school and parenting—sometimes as single mothers—as well as overcoming personal struggles including drug abuse, homelessness and neglect.

CSULB President Jane Close Conoley speaks during Women & Philanthropy’s scholarship reception.

With the increase of college fees and housing in some areas coupled with low wages, students are even experiencing homeless, noted CSULB President Jane Close Conoley at the reception.

“The role of scholarships has become increasingly important,” Close Conoley said. “In that whole mix, your investment to students is so important.”

One of those students benefiting from the scholarship is Elizabeth McBride who is majoring in human development. The single mother to three young children said suffering from back pain led to her addiction to opioids. The breaking point was when she overdosed and got into a car accident with her 4-year-old child in the car.

She said she is at a good point in life now because of women like her professor who lets McBride bring her daughter to school, and her former elementary school teacher who took her in when McBride had no place to stay.

Recipient Elizabeth McBride speaks during Women & Philanthropy’s scholarship reception. 

“As I stand here today I think of more women to put in my corner—you, Women & Philanthropy,” McBride said.

Since joining the executive committee, Miller said she has been working actively to bring in new and younger people to help sustain the organization. While relying mostly on word of mouth in the past, Miller has plans for membership drives and more marketing.

“We haven’t been very active on social media or electronic communication and if we want younger people that’s what they all use,” Miller noted.

For those interested in applying for a scholarship or becoming a member of Women & Philanthropy click here.


Stephanie Rivera is the community engagement editor. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter at @StephRivera88.