A Special Day Honoring 12 Special Women

By Linda Wagner, FWSF MarCom Co-Chair

On Friday, June 8, over 200 guests came together at the City Club to honor Financial Women San Francisco’s (FWSF) 2018 scholarship recipients. Since the scholarship program began over 30 years ago, FWSF has awarded over $2.5 million to over 300 deserving women. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and donors, this year FWSF increased the scholarships by $5,000 each, resulting in $10,000 for undergraduates and $15,000 for graduate students. The larger scholarships will be available for the next two to three years.

2018 FWSF Scholarhip winners

In addition to the scholarship itself, each winner is paired with a mentor, or as one previous winner said, “a personal cheerleader” to support her journey. As former scholarship winner (2015) Ami Arroyo said, “Not only did the funds arrive at a crucial point in my education . . . it was the mentorship that opened my eyes to a new side of finance and launched me into a network of wonderfully successful women who wholeheartedly love to give back.”

The inspiring day was highlighted by hearing directly from the 12 winners about their personal journeys and accomplishments. These women will be a powerful force in shaping the future of finance and financial services and the FWSF is proud to support them and advance their careers.

Several themes emerged from the speeches.

  • The scholarship winners already believe that they have a right to a seat at the table. It is not just an aspiration. They know that they have much to contribute.
  • Many have overcome great obstacles including language and cultural challenges, yet this has not stopped them or even slowed them down. They knew what they wanted to achieve and set their goals and priorities. As one winner put it, “I am not what happens to me, I am what I choose to become.”
  • For many of the recipients, their mothers were their first mentors, stressing the importance of education, financial independence, and dreaming big. Their mothers often made great sacrifices to make sure they could achieve these important life goals.
  • They realize that making a difference in the world goes beyond success in their careers. They are passionate about giving back to their communities and many have already committed their time to causes such as creating social awareness programs in the community, raising funds for orphanages, eliminating discrimination and harassment in the workplace, primary education, international post-secondary education, self-empowerment for youth, working with seniors, international refugee rescue, empowering immigrants through the civics exam, empowering women, increasing Latino representation in business, and mentoring high school students.
  • Several women saw FWSF as a ‘platform’ that provides a foundation for their careers — a community of women, and men, who lead, mentor, and inspire.

In addition to recognizing the scholarship winners, the FWSF announced a special award, called the “Lela Jahn Make a Difference” grant. This award, which began in 2016, was made possible through the generous donation of the late Lela Jahn, the 2000 Financial Woman of the Year honoree, and her husband, Don Bayer. Lela lived a purposeful life focused on advancing women with “passion, concern, and commitment.” For her dedication to improving the lives of others through education, this year’s recipient is Monica Rin, a graduate student at the University of San Francisco. Born in a Thai refugee camp into a family of survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide, Monica has always had a hunger for education. In Cambodia, where she spent her youth, Monica has already co-founded two social enterprises, one focusing on primary education and the second with an emphasis on international post-secondary education.

Thank you to all of FWSF community: FWSF members, board members, university partners, volunteers, team leads, interviewers, donors and sponsors for making this day possible. Your combined time, guidance, resources, dollars and support provide the foundation that gives these women the confidence to make a positive change.

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