The David Eccles School recently honored scholarship recipients and donors at its 68th annual Scholarship Luncheon. This year’s event coincided with First Generation Student Day, and to celebrate, some of the Eccles School’s First Ascent Scholars were student speakers, along with first-generation alumna Kimberly Maez Johnston, now a national tax partner with EY.
Johnston spoke powerfully about how receiving the Ruth Eleanor Bamberger and John Earnest Bamberger Memorial Scholarship allowed her to graduate with her degree in Accounting in 1991.
“My extraordinary journey of breaking through generational poverty came because of generous donors,” she said, recounting her childhood that was “poor, but rich in happiness and love.”
Receiving the scholarship, named in honor of the two Bamberger children who died as teens, inspired Johnston to create a legacy for Ruth and John. Her successes became their successes, and she encouraged the students receiving scholarships to take advantage of this incredible opportunity.
“Seize the gift of higher education,” she urged. “With a diploma, you will possess the powerful key of knowledge. That key will open pathways.”
Student speakers also gave thanks to the donors who have made it possible for them to attend college. John Eggleston described himself as a previously homeless kid who got picked on for wearing dirty clothes. Now a First Ascent Scholar and triple scholarship recipient, he has had the chance to study abroad in Chile and plans to go to Japan in April.
“Before me, college wasn’t really a topic of discussion,” said student speaker Eric Jara, talking about his “huge, hardworking Mexican” family, most of whom considered themselves lucky if they finished high school. “I’m not supposed to be standing here, I’m not supposed to be dressed like this. I’m supposed to be working in construction.”
Jara has completed four internships during his time as a First Ascent Scholar, and visited nine countries. He is currently working part-time in the Office of Student Inclusion while he works to finish his degree in Quantitative Analysis of Markets and Organizations.