Renaissance Scholars Advisory Board Installed, Scholarships Awarded to Emancipated Foster Youth


Renaissance Scholars Advisory Board Installed, Scholarships Awarded to Emancipated Foster Youth
President Michael Ortiz delivers his charge to the Advisory Board members during the Renaissance Scholars Advisory Board Installation and Scholarship Awards Dinner on Feb. 25.

Renaissance Scholar Enrique Montiel receives his scholarship from President Ortiz.

Members of the Renaissance Scholar program and administrators at the Renaissance Scholars Advisory Board Installation and Scholarship Awards Dinner.

Seven members dedicated to supporting Cal Poly Pomona?s emancipated foster youth in obtaining a university degree were the first group inducted into the Renaissance Scholars Advisory Board at an installation and scholarship awards dinner on Feb. 25 at Kellogg House Pomona.

Members of the advisory board ? comprised of donors, community leaders, alumni, students and university representatives ? include:

  • Berisha Black, emancipation ombudsman for Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services
  • Toni Cooke, senior associate director of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative
  • Sarah Ludwick, president of the Ludwick Family Foundation
  • James M. Norfleet, the university?s associate vice president for Student Services
  • David M. Speak, professor of Political Science
  • Amber Stroman, a psychology student and Renaissance Scholar
  • Koji M. Uesugi, acting associate director of Educational Equity Services and coordinator of Renaissance Scholars

University President Michael Ortiz formally installed the board and presented each member a gift basket as a token of appreciation.

?I know that the effectiveness of any board is dependent on the collective efforts of its members,? said Ortiz. ?In view of your talents, resourcefulness, and commitment to improving the lives of young people, I am confident that you will make significant and lasting contributions to Renaissance Scholars and the university.?

Ortiz told the advisory board that it can ?count on my support and the support of the university community as we work together to empower emancipated foster youth through higher education.?

Each year, more than 20,000 youth ?age out? of the foster care system and are expected to make the transition to adulthood independently. Cal Poly Pomona established the Renaissance Scholars program in January 2002 to assist foster youth in making this transition successfully. In addition to receiving financial aid and scholarships, Renaissance Scholars are eligible for on-campus housing, employment opportunities, academic advising, tutoring, mentoring, health care and other services to help them complete their education and make a positive difference in the world.

At the installation and award dinner, nine Renaissance Scholars received a scholarship of up to $5,000 each made possible by a two-year $100,000 grant from the S. Mark Taper Foundation through Bienvenidos Children?s Center, a non-profit agency serving abused and neglected children and at-risk families throughout Los Angeles County.

Scholarship recipients included:

  • Makeda Bostic, a fourth-year psychology major
  • Maria Carmen Gil, a first-year transfer majoring in technology & operations management
  • Sze Hsiung, a first-year accounting major
  • Melinda Leekin, a third-year computer information systems major
  • Enrique Montiel, a second-year sociology major
  • Sara Pernillo, a fourth-year liberal studies major
  • Amber Stroman, a third-year psychology major
  • Laura Timbrook, a first-year psychology major
  • Mallory Williams, a first-year political science major

Montiel, 19, entered the foster care system at the age of 8 and moved through 11 homes before becoming emancipated. Today, he feels ?privileged and excited? to be in the Renaissance Scholar program.

?Privileged because I feel safe, like part of a family,? he said. ?Renaissance Scholars is my guidance. It?s a group of people who know what I?ve been through and I know what they?ve been through. They?ve helped me mentally and financially. They made college life easier for me.?

For more information on the Renaissance Scholars program, contact Renaissance Scholars program coordinator Koji Uesugi at (909) 869-4690.