March 29, 2019

The conference table at St. Vincent de Paul meeting room was filled even before the 9am start time for the LA5 Scholarship Committee. As the picture shows, the 21 members are a diverse group, each bringing our own background, experience and passion to the task at hand. 

The effort is ably co-chaired by Josh Mandell and Gina Doyle who put in untold hours. This year they automated the application process, and again prepared the printed applications for the committee to review and rate. For phase 1 of this multi-phase process, Josh and Gina reviewed the 129 applications received this year. They then eliminated those with lower SAT, GPA, or activity thresholds. 

This March 27 committee meeting was phase 2, a detailed review and rating of the surviving 42 applications. Working in teams of two we read five or six applications, rating each on a point system.  To close the meeting, each team described their top picks. It is awesome, amazing and inspiring to have read then heard about these young students’ lives, challenges and most of all their academic and life accomplishments. All take AP classes, are involved in school and outside activities and many work full or part-time. Almost all live in very low income households with perhaps with one wage earner and most will be the first family member to attend college. And yet, as we have learned year after year through this program, the young scholars are motivated to survive, thrive and succeed despite long odds. Many already have received admissions to schools including Harvard, Dartmouth, Brown, Yale, and UC Berkeley as well as traditionally black colleges and other institutions.     

For Phase 3 the committee will meet on April 29 to interview a narrowed field of about 30 applicants based on our ratings to determine the final recipients.  This all culminates at the LA5 Scholarship Program gala luncheon on Friday, June 14th with the scholars and their families attending to receive their scholarship and the well-deserved accolades of Rotary members.  For anyone having attended this meeting, it is hard not to feel moved and inspired.  If you haven’t done so, please make sure to put June 14 on your calendar – it is not to be missed as one of LA5’s highlight meetings of the year!