What if, at 26-years-old, you were a slightly older student looking to pick up some needed classes at Glendale Community College? What if you were a minority student, not of the majority ethnicity on campus? What if you had to negotiate the many highways and byways on campus via a walker? What if you had cerebral palsy since you were a toddler? What if, in spite of these obstacles, you maintained a 3.78 grade point average in naturopathic medicine and had already received a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara? Paola Tapia's hard-won accomplishments were lauded with cash and applause at the Glendale Latino Association's Scholarship Awards Breakfast. Tapia, anything but “disabled,” reflected on her scholarship award, “I had a good upbringing. My parents pushed me to do the best and concentrate on the positive and on my belief in God.”
The Oakmont Country Club was the venue for some 250 members, guests and generous folks on Thursday. To kick off the breakfast, association President Nancy Guillen recognized city VIPs. First at the podium was Glendale Mayor Frank Quintero, a founding member of the association, who offered a heart-felt welcome from the City. “The GLA Scholarship Breakfast is one of my favorite events,” Quintero said. Members of the Glendale Community College Board of Trustees and the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education also were recognized.
Association officers wasted no time in getting right to the scholarship awardees. They attended Clark High School, Crescenta Valley High School, Glendale High School, Hoover High School and Glendale Community College. Awardees came from varying backgrounds, ages, genders and ethnicities. The three scholarship winners from the college, besides Tapia, were Mayra Alvarez-Ramos, 21, majoring in interior design and planning to transfer to Cal State Long Beach in the fall; and Pedro Kim, 20, a chemical engineering and materials science major. This whiz kid from Brazil will transfer to the University of California, Berkeley in the fall.
Scholarship awardees were also recognized with specific scholarships. Jessica Navarro, 18, a senior from Crescenta Valley High School, was presented with the “Chief's Scholarship” by Glendale Community College Police Chief Gary Montecuollo. The chief is also a member of the association. Navarro, who has a 3.75 GPA, will attend Cal State San Marcos in the fall. She will major in nursing. Her scholarship, with an amount to be determined later as for all the awardees, came as a big surprise. Having been invited to the breakfast, she found out she was a winner when she saw her name on the program. Asked how she liked posing for pictures with the chief, Navarro said, “I had butterflies; I was so nervous.”
The Glendale Arts Scholarship was awarded to Crescenta Valley High School senior Nikolas Gutierrez-Kovner, 18. Glendale Arts Interim CEO Elissa Glickman did the honors. Gutierrez-Kovner plans to major in film and TV production at USC in the fall.
Toward the end of the morning's program, association members gave a Special Farewell Recognition to the departing Dr. Dawn Lindsay, Superintendent/President of Glendale Community College. A bouquet of yellow roses was just the right touch. “Mercy [Velazquez] took me under her wing to introduce me to Latino concerns in the community,” said Lindsay. Velazquez is a past president of the association. College Board of Trustees President Anita Quinonez Gabrielian took the podium to also laud Lindsay. “Her flowers pale next to the beauty and legacy she leaves behind,” Gabrielian said.
A total of $16,000 in scholarship funds were raised in the past year to be dispersed among the awardees.
Dozens of party-goers looking for a little relaxation found their “InSPArations” from Glendale's Intuitive Touch Massage. On Sunday, free healthy lunches of chicken, rice and veggies, courtesy of Phillida Miller, were available for those who indulged in massages, manicures, pedicures and/or eyebrow shaping.
Owner Jaime Preston and her sister, office manager Debra Preston, were hostesses to dozens of customers during the 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. hours of the Spa Party. Vendors offering the spa treatments, clothing and jewelry are already looking forward to the next party held every six months at Intuitive Touch Massage. So are the customers. Each went home with a free swag bag of various creams, lotions and potions fit for a queen.
RUTH SOWBY may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.