The YWCA of North Orange County
215 E. Commonwealth Ave., Suite F, Fullerton, CA 92832
(714) 871-4488
©Copyright The YWCA of North Orange County, 2007-2013, All rights reserved.
The scholarship was started by Ruth Thurmond in the 1980s, when she began working with the YWCA to secure basic essentials like food and shelter for foreign students. In her work, she learned of few funding resources for women trying to go back to school, said her son, Don Thurmond.

Mrs. Thurmond’s passion for educating women was planted at a young age. During her senior year of college - around 1938 - she met the man she later married, but when they first met her father did not allow her to wed until she finished college and spent one year working in her chosen profession - teaching, said Don Thurmond, who continues his mother’s mission and scholarship even after her death.

In 2010, he was the first man appointed to the YWCA of North Orange County’s board of directors in 84 years. He serves as the association’s treasurer and in his role, he oversees investments made to generate the income from interest that funds the scholarship.
The Thurmond Scholarship
Previous Recipients
Serena Porter
Alondra Hucks-Willingham
Jaren Koelzer
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2012 Recipients
Thurmond Scholarship Recipients 2012
Thurmond Scholarship Recipients 2012

Left to Right: Diane Jones, Fengfei Bao, Mahsa Razeghi, Shawn Robison, Ruth Burton, Helene Morel, Kelly Burt, Katia Berokoff, Solmaz Fahimi, Don Thurmond

Fullerton, CA:  Six women receive Thurmond Scholarships to attend Fullerton
College and/or California State University. “The Thurmond Scholarship was
established by my mother, Ruth Thurmond, to help re-entry women, 24 years or
older, to achieve their academic or career training goals,” stated Don Thurmond, who
is a member of the board of directors, YWCA of North Orange County.  “My mother
is not here any longer and in her memory I am proud to be able to continue her
legacy and belief in empowering women.”

Scholarships were reviewed by a panel including Catherine Van Riette, Adult Re-
entry, CSUF, Lorraine Jones, Captain, Fullerton Police Department, and the
Honorable Nancy Wieben Stock. The six Thurmond Scholarship winners are: Leslie
Campos, Kathy Thi Olvey, Mai Ngo, Miryam Hernandez, Robin Placencia, and
Marisol De La Cruz.

Leslie Elizabeth Campos currently attends Fullerton College where she will be
receiving an Associates of Art Degree in Business Administration. She will be
attending California State University, Fullerton in the Fall to seek a Bachelor of Arts
Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finances/Accounting.
When asked, “What is your biggest challenge in attending college?” Leslie replied, “I
am a single mother with two children that have become my source of inspiration. It
is hard to care for them, become their personal teacher, friend, playmate and mother
all at the same time.  Because of them I push myself every day.  Leslie will spend
the Thurmond Scholarship on books for the fall 2013 classes, once she transfers to
California State University Fullerton. 

Kathy Thi Olvey graduated from high school in 1995. To help support her family she
began working in an office right after high school while her peers pursued their
education. Thinking she was too old to go back to school, she came to terms with
her place in life and wanted to do better. Now attending Fullerton College with 12
units, she works three part-time jobs and volunteers.

Mai Hungh Ngo is attending Fullerton College with an interest in working in law
enforcement. She will apply to California State University Fullerton or the University
of California Irvine to complete her Bachelor’s Degree.  Mai is a single mother of two
children, one son and one daughter.  Last month Mai lost child support as her ex-
husband lost his job pushing her into financial difficulties.  Mai will be the first
generation in her family to earn a college degree and comes from a historically
under represented background (Vietnamese and Female).

Miryam Hernandez will be the first in her family to receive a college degree.
Attending California State University Fullerton with a major in History, Miryam’s
educational goal is to attend law school and become a corporate attorney. Her
biggest challenge is working full time, attending college part time and taking care of
her daughter as a single mother.  
Miryam will use the Thurmond Scholarship towards purchasing books, gas, and car
repairs as she drives from Lake Forest to Fullerton twice a week.  She will also use
the scholarship towards paying for the national exam for paralegals, which has been
on her list of goals to accomplish.

Robin Plascencia currently attends California State University Fullerton with the goal
of graduating in Spring 2014 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. She has been
accepted into the Master’s Degree in Gerontology, beginning Fall 2014. Robin wants
to work with older adults and to provide a safe and caring environment so that they
know and feel that they are not alone.  When asked, “What was the biggest
challenge in attending college?” Robin relied, “Being away from my children so
much and after leaving an abusive marriage, I still struggle with post-traumatic
stress disorder.”  She sees herself as a good mother and friend working really hard
to do her best in all that she does.  Robin will use the Thurmond Scholarship to
purchase books for the fall semester

Marisol has faced numerous challenges in completing her education and is a good
role model for her four children. She is attending Fullerton College earning an
Associate’s degree in Psychology and a second Associate’s degree in Chicano
Studies. She plans on attending California State University Fullerton in the fall to
earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with the ultimate goal of working as an
HIV counselor and advocate. Her dream job would be working at the Orange County
AIDS Foundation or AIDS Project Los Angeles. When asked, “What is your biggest
challenge in attending college?”  Marisol replied, “I am the single mother of four
children. The children’s fathers are incarcerated and neither of them has ever paid
child support. I am a full time student without a job because my children and school
work takes up so much of my time. Marisol would like to use the Thurmond
Scholarship to purchase a computer and buy herself a brand new pair of
running/walking shoes because she does not have a car and walks to take public
transportation to school.  Marisol mentioned that she hasn’t had a brand new pair of
shoes of any kind in two years as she usually buys new items for her children and
buys her items at second hand stores.  This is just a small glimpse of just how big
Marisol’s heart is.

For over 87 years the YWCA of North Orange County has been meeting the needs
of women and their families through the Depression, world wars and through
dramatic social changes.  The YWCA of North Orange County is dedicated to
eliminating racism, empowering women and promote peace, justice, freedom and
dignity for all.
Thurmond Scholarships Help Six Women Achieve Their Academic Goals
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