Family—a word familiar to participants in the Azusa Scholars program. But to them, this word is not confined to immediate family.
“This scholarship has been more than financial help, it provided a family and a support for us,” senior communications major Ahmed Sedam said. “The support system and mentors have been a huge help.”
Sedam was one of two scholarship recipients to speak at the April 14 lunch to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Nancy Moore Azusa Scholars scholarship program. The event included several speakers: Terry Franson, senior vice president for student life and dean of Students; Inez Gutierrez, an original investor in the program; Joe Rocha, mayor of Azusa; Joe Denny, one of the first Azusa scholars; and Matt Visser, director of the office Ministry and Service. Members from the Azusa school board as well as family and friends were also in attendance.
Each year, Azusa Pacific University gives five students from the Azusa Unified School District and two transfer students from Citrus College the $5,000 renewable scholarship to help pay for their education at APU. Currently, 24 Azusa scholars are enrolled at APU.
Many of the speakers discussed the hope the program and its participants give to the Azusa community.
“You are the hope for this city and its kids,” Mayor Rocha said. Rocha truly believes that God is at work in the city of Azusa, and this program is a big part of that work.
“The students are role models to the rest of the community,” said Ginny Dadaian, director of community relations. “It’s really neat that the program continues and [its members] are inspiring others.”
Joe Denny, one of the first Azusa scholars, was a student who moved on to inspire others. Denny applied for so many scholarships that his entire education at APU was paid off. Denny left APU after a year, however, to pursue engineering. He now teaches engineering in Mt. San Antonio College. Denny and the program’s other inaugural scholar have both had siblings attend APU.
Sedam seeks to spark hope into Azusa’s youth as well.
“You guys can do it too,” Sedam said. “We’ve been through so much, and we got an education. You can do it too.”
Social work major Kristina Wolford ’11 was another outgoing scholar to speak at the event and provided her colleagues with advice.
“Maintain a balanced life, and don’t forget to have fun,” Wolford said.
Visser has seen the program grow in size and impact.
“I’ve seen it grow from a retention program to a leadership development program,” Visser said. “It’s not a one-way street anymore. The students are contributing to the community and the campus.”
Visser is excited to be a part of a university that cares about its students and is excited about the future of the program.
“It’s humbling to be a part of a university that’s about investing in people,” Visser said. “We look forward to many many more years of this program.”