Santa Paula Times

VCCF invests in local students, awarding $1.2 Million

August 15, 2012
Santa Paula News

The Ventura County Community Foundation awarded more than $1.2 million in scholarships to local students at the recent 2012 Scholarship Awards Reception, attended by more than 400 students, their families and donors who made the awards possible.

The Community Foundation gave 325 awards to 253 students who will attend such universities as Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, California Lutheran, Pepperdine and Cal State Channel Islands.

“These scholarships are made possible by the generosity of people who believe in investing in the future of Ventura County,” said Hugh J. Ralston, president and CEO of the community foundation. “The opportunity for just one student to attend college can transform that person, a family and a community.”

The Merfeld Family Foundation Scholarship was awarded for the first time to four students whose parent has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Started by the late Conejo Valley resident Greg Merfield - after his ALS diagnosis - the scholarship is open to all U.S. students who meet the criteria, with a preference given in the selection process to those from Southern California or Merfeld’s native Iowa.

Michael W. Caston Jr. of Escondido - the only Merfeld scholar who was able to attend the reception - accepted the award from Merfeld’s widow, Sheri. Caston, whose father was diagnosed with ALS in 2011, studies global business at the University of Redlands.

Simi Valley residents Isabel C. Stumfall and Narre M. Assatrian won the new Semtech Corp. Scholarship, which helps support Ventura County students who plan to study physics, engineering, chemistry, math or business. With operations in Camarillo, Semtech also provides internships to these awardees.

In a rare sweep, Iraq War veteran Richard Molina of Thousand Oaks won all five scholarships he applied for. While serving in Iraq in 2006, Molina discovered he thrived in stressful situations and had an affinity for healthcare. He is working toward a degree in nursing at California State University, Sacramento, and eventually hopes to attend medical school.

Since its founding in 1987, the Ventura County Community Foundation has awarded more than $8.8 million in scholarships and is the local leader in granting financial aid to Ventura County youth.

The scope of this annual undertaking would not be possible without dozens of unsung volunteers who have worked behind the scenes since the January application deadline, Ralston noted. A team of 24 volunteers processed the more than 2,000 applications received, and 16 volunteers screened the applications to make sure they complied with the guidelines set by donors. A committee of 57 volunteers reviewed and rated the 1,059 eligible applications and made recommendations, which were approved by the VCCF board of directors in early May.

For more information on VCCF’s scholarship programs, go to or contact Virginia Weber, program officer scholarships, at (805) 988-0196, Ext. 119

Santa Paula 

Scholarship winners

Marisol Alamillo, SAGE Scholarship Fund ($2,000), Angela M. Bautista, John and Agnes McFarlane Scholarship Fund ($5,000), Gustavo Castillo, Stanley E. Cohen Memorial Education Fund ($750), Antonio Cisneros, James C. Basile Scholarship Fund ($20,000) and Sepulveda/Garcia Latino Town Hall Scholarship Fund ($2,500), Irisela Contreras, ˇAdelante! Scholarship Fund ($4,000), Sabrina Espino, James C. Basile Scholarship Fund ($20,000) and Soroptimist of Santa Paula Scholarship Fund ($1,000), Ryan P. Garcia, James C. Basile Scholarship Fund ($20,000), Emily F. Hobson, Leo and Rita Vanoni Scholarship Fund ($1,000) and Milton McKevett Teague Scholarship Fund ($2,000), Sunderlin D. Jackson, VCCF Scholarship Grants Fund ($1,000), Lorena N. Martinez, William and Cynthia Fairburn Memorial Scholarship Fund ($2,000), Heidi B. Oehmke, Association of Water Agencies of Ventura County Scholarship Fund ($500), Heidi B. Oehmke, Orfalea Scholarship Fund ($2,500) and William P. Reiman Memorial Scholarship Fund ($800), Erica J. Preciado Rincon, James C. Basile Scholarship Fund ($20,000), Cesar Ramos, Ventura County Agricultural Scholarship Fund ($600), Martin Rubio, Alfonso and Dora Romero Scholarship Fund ($850), Alfredo A. Sanchez, James C. Basile Scholarship Fund ($20,000), Tanner J. Shelton, VCCF Scholarship Grants Fund ($1,000), Kimura A. Yamamoto, Milton McKevett Teague Scholarship Fund ($2,000).