SMC Rotaract student awarded $1,000

After completing a 30-minute application, Santa Monica College student Jeanette Pichardo walked away with a $1,000 scholarship.

Pichardo, a member of the SMC's Rotaract Club, which is a branch of the Rotary Club, received the reward from Tom Loo, a noted lawyer and member of Santa Monica's Rotary Club.

Pichardo is majoring in accounting and plans to transfer to California State University, Northridge next year. She has been attending SMC for four years.

“I had no idea I was going to win,” said Pichardo. “It wasn’t until later that I found out that I was the only one who applied.”

The Tom Loo Scholarship, a first of its kind, will be presented to Pichardo on June 7 at the Riviera Country Club in Santa Monica.

Loo is a member of the Santa Monica Rotary Club and attorney for one of the top law firms in the United States. Loo graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern California.

“The Rotary Club is a community service organization,” said Loo. “The purpose of our organization is to help others, encouraging students and support the community.’’

A 3.0 GPA is not needed to qualify for a scholarship.

“Students can join the Rotaract Club if they want to rub shoulders with doctors, lawyers and a host of other professionals in the business community,” said Kelly Zhoo, president of SMC's Rotaract Club.

SMC's Rotaract Club offers business opportunities and internships for students when they graduate, said Zhoo. Students can build their resume by becoming a member of the college branch.

“The Rotary Club provided thousands of dollars in scholarships to thousands of students at Santa Monica College over the years, for as long as I can remember working for the college,” said Marcia Fierro, a staff member at SMC's scholarship department, who has been working in the SMC student scholarship office for 24 years.

“This year, around 700 students applied for scholarships, and more than 50 percent of the students who applied were approved,” said Fierro. “The scholarships range from $250 to $2,000, but can be as high as $12,000 if a major corporation is writing the check.”

Rotary International is a worldwide organization of professionals who provide humanitarian services in their communities. There are a little over a million members in more than 32,000 Rotary Clubs in 200 countries. The Bill Gates Foundation donated over 200 million dollars to the Rotary Club in their partnership to stamp out polio worldwide.

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