Stories

Christina Bush
Michael Bush
Kevin Dumler
Kenna Arana
Sarah Gomez
Candace Johnson

 

CHRISTINA BUSH

 
Christina-Bush
Graduate 2013
UC San Diego
2009 Scholarship Recipient
 

At a young age, I loved going to the firehouse to visit my dad. I was that child who wanted to play with all the medical equipment and learn what it did. This early fascination with pre-hospital care developed into my love for medicine today. I am thankful that I was a recipient of the LAFD Merit Scholarship because the road to medicine is a long and expensive one. 

This scholarship allowed me to focus on my academics, volunteering and being a member pre-health organizations at UC San Diego. While in undergrad, I was the VP of Philanthropy in my sorority, Delta Gamma, President of a pre-med club, and volunteered at the San Diego Braille Institution. Having the scholarship, meant I had the financial stability to engage in campus opportunities rather than work full time. 

After graduating from UC San Diego with a B.S. in Human Biology and minor in Theatre and Dance, I got my Advanced EMT license to gain hands-on patient experience. Working in pre-hospital and emergency room settings made me thankful for all the members of the LAFD. 

Getting into the field of medicine is competitive and without the LAFD Merit Scholarship reducing my financial burden, I wouldn’t have been a competitive graduate school applicant. While working, I completed a Master of Science at San Francisco State University, bringing me one step closer to my end goal of becoming a Physician Assistant. 

Beginning in January of 2021, I will be attending PA school at Canisius College, in Buffalo, NY. I cannot wait to become an advanced practice provider and Trauma Surgeon PA in 2023! 

 

 

MICHAEL BUSH

 
MICHAEL BUSH
Graduate 2015
UC Berkeley
2011 Scholarship Recipient
 

"The uncertainty for teens on where to spend the next four years (or five in my case) of their life creates unnerving tension and unimaginable jitters. Add financial stresses to that, and it becomes clear why many high schoolers question if higher education is the correct choice for them.

Fortunately, I had the first dilemma sorted the day I received my tour of UC Berkeley’s campus and facilities. My high school passions of Academia and Rugby allowed me the opportunity to secure admittance into Cal, and LAFD’s Merit scholarship provided the foundational confidence boost to pursue those passions without looming financial hardships. At Cal, I received a B.A. in Economics, with a minor in Public Policy, while earning a 5-time Varsity letter competing on the University’s longest tenured athletic team, Cal Rugby. I returned for a fifth year to pursue a M.A. in Education, with a unique program titled Cultural Studies of Sports in Education, and secure Cal’s 31st National Championship in the sport. My thesis was focused on the topic of Amateurism and the structural influences it has on the educational purpose of collegiate athletics.

After graduating, I pursued a career in an excitable and highly relevant field, cybersecurity. I have been with my firm, Darktrace, for as long as I wore the Blue and Gold rugby jersey, and wake up with equal excitement every day. Working in an industry that is so dynamic has enabled me to continually learn, as well as exhibit my leadership skills developed over the years. In 2020, I relocated to Seattle to open Darktrace’s first Pacific Northwest office, where I serve as the Regional Director supporting approximately 20 employees and 300 customers.

The discipline taught to me through years of exposure to the great men and women of the LAFD family is the main attributor to my career success. Moreover, I am continually grateful for the Foundation selecting me for the opportunity to represent the program through the scholarship, and I hope to be in a position someday to provide the same financial clarity to an aspirational high schooler about to make their own leap of faith into Higher Education."

 

 

KEVIN DUMLER

 
Kevin-Dumler
Graduate 2015
University of California - Davis
2012 Scholarship Recipient
 

I graduated in 2015 from the University of California - Davis thanks, in part, to the LAFD Merit Scholarship. My time there was a combination of late nights in the library studying towards my Bachelor of Civil and Environmental Engineering degree and building community with friends. 

Outside of classes, I served as President of the Ski Team, where I led practices and managed our budget. I also volunteered as a Project Manager for Engineers Without Borders.  In this role, I developed my interest and ability to lead teams on complex projects.  Our most significant contribution was the design and implementation of a water distribution system for the community of Quincucirca, Bolivia.  I spent two summers with the community, getting to know the residents and seeking to design a sustainable system that could be operated and maintained long after we left.  While the project hasn’t been without challenges, today it serves the community of 60 families with running water for those who previously went without.

Post-graduation, I joined Cunningham Engineering as a consulting civil engineer in Sacramento for four years.  The type of work aligned well with my interests and increased my ability to work collaboratively on multidisciplinary teams. Today, I am a licensed Civil Engineer in California.

In order to dive deeper into pressing issues facing our cities, I enrolled in the Master of City Planning Program at UC Berkeley. The program prepared me for my current position working at Community Housing Partnership as a Real Estate Development Intern.  In this position, I manage the construction and rehabilitation of permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals in San Francisco.  I graduate from the Master’s program in June and currently live with my wife in the Berkeley area.  Based on the same values exhibited by my father with his 37-year dedication to LAFD and the residents of Los Angeles, we look forward to giving back to our community and serving others.

 

 

KENNA ARANA

 
Kenna-Arana
Graduate 2017
Columbia
2013 Scholarship Recipient
 

In the spring of 2013, my senior year of high school, I was carefully considering the college options I had before me. As I weighed various factors--academic rigor, campus culture, distance from home--I knew that the financial factor was an extremely important one. When I was selected to become an LAFD Merit Scholar, I was excited and grateful because I knew that the LAFD scholarship would provide a source of needed financial support as I prepared to start my first year at Columbia University. Not only did the scholarship help provide for my college education, it also allowed me to purchase the most important school supply I needed--a laptop.

At Columbia, I majored in English and concentrated in Hispanic Studies. Aside from the books I read for my classes, I completed the majority of my readings and coursework on my laptop. The support I received from the LAFDSF also enabled me to take advantage of the numerous extracurricular opportunities that surrounded me. During my time in college, I served as a New Student Orientation Program Leader and as the Co-President of Columbia Catholic Ministry, and I joined the team of a non-profit that was committed to helping high school students get to college by providing free tutoring. After graduation, I knew that I wanted to further my own education, but that I also desired to continue serving students in under-resourced communities.

After I graduated from college in 2017, I joined ACE Teaching Fellows at the University of Notre Dame. During my two years as an ACE Teaching Fellow, I taught high school Spanish and English in Denver, Colorado, while also completing coursework to earn a Master of Education degree. As both a master’s student and a teacher, I spent many hours writing papers and planning lessons on the same laptop that had powered me through college. In the summer of 2019, I graduated from Notre Dame, where I now work as an Associate Program Director for ACE Teaching Fellows. Because of the initial support that the LAFD and Jean Perkins Foundation provided me, I have been able to receive a high-quality education and I am able to work to ensure that students across the country receive the same opportunity that I was given.

 

 

SARAH TAYLOR GOMEZ, MD

 
SarahGomez 
Graduate 2011
MIT
2007 Scholarship Recipient
 
Receiving one of the inaugural LAFD Merit Scholarships in 2007, set me on solid footing as I began my academic journey.  I am forever grateful for the opportunity to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the LAFD scholarship was instrumental in providing me with the means to accept that challenge.  Majoring in Biological Engineering, I graduated from MIT in 2011 with my Bachelors of Science degree in that field.  I attended medical school at the University of San Francisco, and received a Medical Doctorate from there in 2015.  I then continued my studies as a Resident of Emergency Medicine at Oregon Health Science Hospital in Portland, Oregon.  In June of 2019, I graduated from OHSU Residency program and am currently continuing my education with a Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship position at Rady’s Children’s Hospital in San Diego.

My husband and I travel when we can, including trips to Europe, China, Japan, Central America, and we are heading to New Zealand in 2020.  This part of our lives has been focused on many years of education, and we are both looking forward to settling down someplace in the near future and starting a family.

After 41 years on the LAFD, my father, Ray Gomez, retired this year.  I feel privileged and grateful to have belonged to, and received assistance from the Los Angeles Fire Department family. 

 

 

CANDACE JOHNSON 

 
Candace-R-Johnson
Graduate 2017
Columbia
2014 Scholarship Recipient
 
In the fall of 2014, I attended Columbia University in the City of New York, thanks to the generous support of the Perkins Foundations and LAFD. In January of 2014, the financial burden of college hung heavily on my parent’s shoulders, since they had just finished supporting two children through college. Thankfully, just a few months after I had gotten into Columbia, I received news that I had indeed received the LAFD Merit Scholarship. The scholarship allowed me to relax and fully immerse myself in the wonderful feeling of embarking on a life changing, four-year adventure in New York.

While at Columbia University I studied Computer Science and fostered lifelong friendships. During my first few years at college, I joined the National Society of Black Engineers and went on to become both the Telecommunications Chair & Senator. A few months later, I joined the Undergraduate Recruitment Committee, where I gave tours to prospective students once a week and was picked by the Admissions Committee to be the official face of the virtual tour guide on Columbia’s main website. My last two years, I joined a Consulting Group that worked with non-profits in Manhattan called 180 Degree Consulting and auditioned to be in a play for the Black Theatre Ensemble, where I got the lead role! Immersing myself in theater was one of the most worthwhile experiences of my college career. 

After interning in a wide range of roles from Network Security Analyst to Cyber Security Advisory, I accepted a Software Engineering Role at Workday in 2018. After a year and a half, I was promoted to Software Engineer II. The LAFD Merit Scholarship gave me the chance to pursue the most intellectually stimulating and exhilarating four years at Columbia.  I will forever be grateful to LAFD and the Perkins Foundations. 
 

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