Whether by making a major gift that results in a part of MBKU’s physical campus bearing their family name, or by establishing an endowed scholarship, donors like the ones featured in these pages leave an indelible mark on the future of MBKU. Their names become forever associated with acts of generosity and a desire to support high-quality health care education. MBKU is profoundly grateful for the partnership of these donors, as their gifts help provide assistance to students, resources for faculty, and an innovative and welcoming campus for all.
The heart and soul of a campus is the students. We are committed to ensuring a lasting institutional value through the integrity of our infrastructure where our students are learning in the most up-to-date facilities with cutting-edge equipment. Over the years, our alumni and benefactors have stepped forward to give generously to support projects like Ketchum Health. Our continued growth and enhancement of physical space will provide new opportunities for our alumni and donors to make a difference through private support.
The Hamada Family
Drs. Kenjie Hamada and Weslie Hamada, ’01, are proud to be optometrists, and the father/daughter team have both been committed to the continued success of optometry students at SCCO for many years. Kenjie is proud of his role as past member of the SCCO Board of Trustees, “As a member of the board, I was always committed to the support of students and the continued growth of the campus.” He feels strongly that “Students are the future leaders who carry on the profession, so generously providing for them as students is a way of investing in and protecting the profession.” His professional contributions and service throughout the optometric community have been extensive, with a highlight being his induction into the National Optometry Hall of Fame in 2015. He continues his busy schedule through a deep commitment to “Camp Courage,” a program of the Helen Keller Experience for visually and hearing-handicapped youngsters.
It was not easy for Weslie Hamada, OD, ’01, to follow her father Kenjie Hamada, OD, into the profession of optometry. Dr. Kenjie Hamada’s career is so accomplished in its depth and breadth, and there is so much admiration for what he has done for the profession, that Weslie initially hesitated. In the end, however, she chose to become an optometrist as well, and after graduating from the Southern California College of Optometry, she began a career that has resembled her father’s in every way, from professional success to a strong urge to give back.
Both Kenjie and Weslie, as well as the rest of the Hamada family, continue to support students at SCCO. In honor of Weslie’s formative years as an SCCO graduate, the Hamada Family Trust gave a $100,000 gift to establish the Drs. Hamada Student Lounge at Ketchum Health. Establishing the Student Lounge at Ketchum Health was deliberate, as it is a space that reflects the very core of the Hamadas’ values. “The student lounge is where students come together as like-minded people to share and exchange ideas and to learn from each other,” says Dr. Weslie Hamada. “It’s where students are able to fellowship together and receive support that resembles a family. We’re very proud to have our name on this important student gathering place.”
Carol Low and Warren Harvard Low, OD, '52
“It would bring him great joy to know that he and I were able to provide SCCO students with scholarships for years to come and a more enjoyable student experience with the remodeling of the Student Union.” Carol Low recently shared about her late husband Warren Harvard Low, OD, ’52. “And our family is still thrilled about the growth of the campus” because Warren had an incredible love and devotion for all things optometric. He was proud of his service on the SCCO Board of Trustees and enjoyed seeing the transformation into MBKU. – Carol Low
Dr. Raymundo & Mrs. Carmen Garcia
When Dr. Raymundo Garcia became a preceptor for MBKU’s School of Physician Assistant Studies and invited an MBKU student to serve as an intern in his office, he was impressed by the student’s skill and manner. It was clear to him and his wife that this student was receiving a great education at MBKU. As a first-generation college student whose education allowed him to achieve great success, Dr. Garcia knew well the value of individuals investing in the academic goals of others. By having student interns at his practice and acting as a close mentor to them, Dr. Garcia was already involving himself in the education of future health care leaders, but he and his wife Carmen decided to do even more.
They established the Dr. & Mrs. Raymundo Garcia Scholarship in the School of Physician Assistant Studies at MBKU, only the second endowed scholarship for the SPAS program, with a gift of $33,000. Dr. Garcia and his wife have dedicated themselves to providing medical care to their community and are proud of giving back to patients of all backgrounds at their practice in Orange. The Garcias recently shared, “We believe that knowledge and education can open any door for you.” Their scholarship will be awarded to first-generation SPAS students, or to students who desire to give back to underserved communities when they begin to practice.
Morris, OD, '68 and Arleen Applebaum
“My fondest memories of being clinic director were working with the students. They were wonderful, so bright and a lot of fun to be with. And they were very good to me. SCCO did so much for me, it’s my pleasure to give back to it and to help the students and the college succeed. We’ve tried to be very generous in that respect and I think we’ve succeeded.” –Dr. Morris Applebaum
“Philanthropy means to me that you can give back to others so that they may have the same opportunities you did.” – Arleen Applebaum
Dr. Michel Daher
The success of an academic program is contingent on a multitude of factors, almost too many to name. Leadership, vision, faculty, curriculum, a campus and excellent students are all essential pieces, but perhaps one of the most inspiring requirements for a program to remain prosperous are individuals who believe in its mission and endow a scholarship so that long into the future, they give something that will help others succeed.
With a gift of $25,000, Dr. Michel Daher, PharmD, RPh, APH, established the Dr. Michel Daher Student Leadership Award, which is the first endowed scholarship in the College of Pharmacy. This endowment is a natural expression of the place MBKU and its first class of Pharmacy students holds in Dr. Daher’s heart. He was initially contacted by MBKU as the owner of a pharmacy to be a potential preceptor site, which he accepted, but this also led him to teach at the College as well, so he has been a part of COP’s story since the beginning.
The son of a beloved pharmacist, Dr. Daher has vivid memories of visiting his father’s pharmacy, and of witnessing the love and care he enjoyed from his parents also expressed in the way his father helped people as a medical professional. His own path to success as a pharmacist is generous with mentors, professors and leadership opportunities. Now, he hopes his gift will do the same for others. “I have always believed that you should remember where you came from, what it took to get you there, and then help others do it, too – without expecting anything in return,” says Dr. Daher
Joseph, OD, '72, and Jennifer, OD, '97, Mallinger and Family
“My father and I always appreciated what a great environment SCCO created for us and how much better our lives are due to our profession, but we also remember how hard it was going through optometry school and supporting ourselves financially. We hope that this scholarship will help students feel a little more empowered and able to focus on studies rather than getting their immediate bills paid for. I myself received a number of scholarships while attending SCCO and they were a great help to me.” – Jennifer Mallinger
Gene, OD, '68, and Kathleen Calkins
“SCCO has not only provided a livelihood, but also a rewarding career. We feel it’s time to give back so that the profession stays strong and others can enjoy the benefits. We hope our gift will help students in the achievement of an SCCO degree and a successful start in a rewarding career.”
Lorraine Voorhees, OD, '71, Professor Emeritus
“My 44 years at SCCO were filled with the opportunity to know many wonderful young students who were committed to their education, their profession and their patients. I chose to give my financial support to scholarships and projects, which directly impacted students as they pursued their education. As the cost of education skyrockets and student debt increases, the impact on the profession grows, especially in the choices graduates must make. Anything that those in the profession can do to support the future of our profession is worthy of consideration.”
David Sackin, OD, '66
“I am grateful to SCCO for the education it has afforded me. My optometric education has allowed me to provide so much for my family, and my annual contribution is a way of returning the favor. I feel that my support of SCCO helps make optometry the best profession that it can be, and I would encourage other alumni to donate to SCCO because it will make you feel good knowing you are helping your alma mater.”