LA Military Charitable Fund awards scholarships to local students

  • Published
  • By James Spellman Jr.
  • Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs

For many local school children, the months of May and June turn to thoughts of vacation time and idle summer days at the beach with friends and family. For a handful of young adults whose parents are in the military or federal civil service, it means planning for college and the associated costs that come with obtaining a higher education.

For this reason, the LA Military Charitable Fund’s scholarship program recently honored 10 local high school, and two post-secondary students during an awards ceremony at the Space and Missile Systems Center. In all, 21 monetary awards totaling $25,750 and varying in range from $500 to $2,500 were handed out.

‘The Fund’s core mission is to provide scholarships to the children of military families and Department of Defense civilians," said Nancy Hodgkiss, LAMCF president of the non-profit organization. "These young men and women have endured 32 moves, attended 59 schools in 15 different states, Canada, Germany, Italy, and Portugal. Three of them are first-generation college students."

According to Cindy Horejsi, LAMCF scholarship chair, the Fund has a heritage going back decades to the times of the Fort MacArthur Officer’s Wives’ Club.

"Over the last 50 years, LAMCF and its predecessors have given nearly half a million dollars in scholarships with the income generated from sales by the Thrift Shop located on Los Angeles AFB, as well as donations from our military and local communities, including aerospace-related companies and organizations across the region," said Horejsi. "What united all these organizations was a belief in the value of education, both for the improvement of individuals as well as for the strength of our nation."

Serving as special guest speaker was "payback" for Brig. Gen. Philip Garrant, vice commander of SMC.

"My daughter had the honor of sitting in that front row two years ago. I’m happy to report she’s now an academic junior at the University of Denver and on her way to the University of Heidelberg in the fall," said Garrant. "The scholarship she received from the LA Military Charitable Fund got her started on her journey. As a grateful parent, Thank You."

Garrant told the audience how SMC and LAMCF’s roots are interconnected to education.

"In 1954, Brig. Gen. Bernard Schriever founded the Western Development Division responsible for building our nation’s first ballistic missiles and national security satellites," said Garrant. "His first office was in an old church schoolhouse just up the street in Inglewood. His team was known as ‘The Schoolhouse Gang’. There’s a rock by the flagpole in the Schriever Courtyard that came from that original property."

Garrant went on to present an alternative view on education where more important than knowledge is appreciating that college teaches one how to think and learn, and how to get along with strangers. He also touched upon how to be successful, citing ten simple three-word phrases he’s personally collected over the years, from "Be on Time" to "Shake the Pig" (live a thrifty life), to "Attitude reflects Leadership" and "Help others Succeed."

"More than thirty years ago, I sat where you are now. It’s tough to make choices as a young adult. If you were to have asked me then if I’d be a senior officer in the United States Air Force, I would have told you that you were crazy," said Garrant. "I know many of you wonder what your future holds. I don’t know. But I do know that the education you are pursuing will be your roots. Some day you may be teaching children, colonizing Mars, designing flying cars, or curing cancer. My hope for you is the scholarships you receive tonight help you take another step on that journey."

This year’s 2018 scholarship recipients and their future plans are:

Aja Taylor – Pellissippi State Community College, Tennessee (Nursing)
Chad Francis – University of California, Berkeley (Computer Science)
Daniel Uyematsu – California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Civil Engineering)
Donnell Tinsley – California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Architecture)
Emalie Satti – California State University Fullerton (Kinesiology)
Jonathan Hernandez – University of California, Los Angeles (Chemistry)
Justine Woo – University of California, Irvine (Computer Science)
Marcus Herndon – California State University, Long Beach (Computer Science)
Mary Kate Cooper – Stanford University (Engineering)
Neil Homstad – University of Wisconsin at Madison (Business)
Savannah Robert – Washington State University (Psychology)
Sierra Crane – Utah State University (Mechanical Engineering)