All work, no play
Sometimes, 30 grand is all you need. A $30,000 transfer scholarship by Chui L. Tsang, president and superintendent of Santa Monica College, strives to provide the winning student with enough money to enjoy pursuing a bachelor’s degree.
Tsang introduced the scholarship in light of his own personal experience as a community college student trying to juggle life and studies.
“I think if a person doesn’t have to work or has to work less hours, then they can enjoy their upper-division education more and also focus more time on their education,” Tsang said.
Tsang received his bachelor’s degree in linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, and his doctorate at Stanford University. While studying to attain his bachelor’s degree, he worked hard and forfeited his student life. Even though he enjoyed the experience he received from his jobs, he knows how difficult it can be to focus on school with heavy financial responsibilities.
Even though the funds are coming from the college, the scholarship is named after the superintendent as the Dr. Chui L. Tsang Transfer Scholarship.
“I am grateful for that because I’ve been in community college education for many, many years, and I see that this is really my recognition of my work of a lifetime,” he said.
The scholarship is available to any student who is finishing up his or her education at Santa Monica College and is transferring to a four-year university, including international students and those under the DREAM Act.
“Their immigration and visa status are not determining factors,” he said. “We are a college that accepts all of the students, students all over the world. We accept students who do not have a clear residential status. We accept them. They are part of us, and if they are part of Santa Monica College, they have the right to apply for the scholarship.”
However, students have to be nominated by a faculty member or college personnel, Tsang said.
After the students are nominated, a committee made of faculty from different departments selects a few students who will then be reviewed by Tsang.
Last spring, the committee chose five students, who were then reviewed by Tsang for the final round. He chose three students and interviewed them before choosing Richard Jimenez as the recipient of the scholarship.
“They were all outstanding and very deserving,” he said. “That was one of the hardest decisions I had to make. Which one should be the recipient for the scholarship? And finally I decided on Richard. I found his story and his struggle impressive in every way.”
Tsang was impressed with Jimenez’ independence despite missing a high school education due to his need to work, at times becoming homeless or involved with gangs.
Now, Richard is studying at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is aiming to become a psychologist.
“What we do, too, with the scholarship is that I want to continue monitoring the progress of his academic work,” Tsang said.
To make sure that the money is used for educational purposes, the college gives it in two installments of $7,500 every six months, to amount to $15,000 a year. Such monitoring helps not only to make sure that the student is doing well in school, but also provides them with needed support.
Tsang said he wants Richard to come and help him select the next scholarship recipient in the upcoming year.
In case a student does not do well in their first year after transfer, SMC is dedicated to helping the student overcome the difficulties he or she may face by keeping in touch and providing guidance and resources.
“I am looking for evidence that these students will be leaders in the future, leaders that can contribute to the world in the ways that they have chosen to or they plan to,” Tsang said. “We hope that through this scholarship we can help them achieve their dreams.”