Stories

Christina Flores (Johnson)
Tamara Hauser (McCarty)
Michael Rodriguez
Derek Brangham
Mathew Freeman
Allison Reitmayer

 

 

CHRISTINA FLORES (JOHNSON)

 
MBA Graduate 2013
Massachusetts Institute for Technology
2007 Scholarship Recipient
 
I was blessed to receive one of the inaugural LAFD Merit Scholarships in 2007. Reflecting back over the last decade, I couldn’t be more grateful to the Fund. As a high school senior, I knew that I wanted to learn and grow in a new environment away from the comforts of the California sunshine. I had selected Massachusetts Institute for Technology as the site for this new adventure but wasn’t sure it would be economically feasible. The scholarship provided the opportunity to make my dream a reality.
 
During my time at MIT, I studied Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, all the while still exploring the art, history, food and culture of the city of Boston. I was able to interact with students from all over the world and fuel my passion for serving others. I participated in a number of different activities from gospel choir to mentorship in the STEM fields to even serving as Dorm President. After my four years of undergraduate studies, I still felt a desire to increase my knowledge, particularly in the area of business. I stayed at MIT and attended the Sloan School of Management, where I received my MBA in 2013.
 
Currently I work at Capital One as the Head of Talent Strategy for the company’s Financial Services division. I’ve been able to leverage my technical foundation, strong operational expertise and analytical rigor across various industries at companies such as Amazon and Deloitte Consulting. I will forever be appreciative and humbled by the opportunity of being a LAFD Merit Scholarship winner. It truly served as a catalyst for what has now become a blossoming career driven by a passion to contribute and improve the lives of others.

 

 

TAMARA HAUSER (MCCARTY)

 
Graduated 2013
California State University, Long Beach
2009 Scholarship Recipient
 
I graduated in 2013 from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. Thanks to the support of the LAFD Merit Scholarship, I was able to primarily invest my time and energy in my studies, art form, and service to my department. While at CSULB, I completed the Honor’s Program, which included a thesis in Renaissance dance, and I also choreographed a contemporary dance that further explored my research through the dancing body. Within the Department of Dance, I performed in multiple concerts, served as a Peer Advisor, and helped implement a tour program for prospective students and parents on audition days.
 
After graduation, I went on to perform with dance companies in Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York City while also teaching children’s dance classes at local studios. In New York, I transitioned to fundraising in the non-profit sector as the Development Assistant at the School of American Ballet. At SAB, I helped raise funds for student scholarships to help young dancers pursue their artistic dreams. I found my work at SAB to be highly rewarding, especially as a former beneficiary of scholarship support, but ultimately, I decided that I could best serve my field of dance studies through my passion for research and teaching. Last fall, I began my graduate studies at Ohio State University in pursuit of my PhD in Dance. After completing my doctorate, I hope to continue to research, publish, and teach at the collegiate level.

 

 

MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ

 
Graduate 2012
University of Southern California
2008 Scholarship Recipient
 
The LAFD and Jean Perkins Foundation allowed me to attend my dream school, the University of Southern California, where I graduated with a B.S. in Industrial & Systems Engineering. The scholarship provided me the opportunity to take on leadership roles during my time in undergrad instead of pursuing part-time jobs to finance my education. I was able to become President of my major’s professional society, a teacher for Engineering 101, and compete with the Trojan swim team; experiences that made my time at USC unforgettable.
 
After graduating I accepted an offer with NBCUniversal to join their two-year leadership development program, where I was able to rotate around the company and manage strategic projects for the TV, News, and Film businesses. Most recently, I oversaw Strategy & Operations for Universal Studios, a division of the company that provides production, post production, and broadcast services to all our Film and TV Shows.
 
After spending five years learning the media and entertainment landscape, my dreams came true when I was accepted to Harvard Business School to pursue my MBA. Halfway through my first semester, I am overwhelmed by the diversity of thought and energy of my classmates to learn and challenge each other. I could not have gotten here without the love and support of my family and everyone who has stood by me every step of the way. Looking ahead, I hope to one day run my own media company to create content that inspires change on a global scale, and generates awareness and dialogue around pertinent issues.

 

 

DEREK BRANGHAM

 
Graduate 2012
Cal Poly
2007 Scholarship Recipient
 
As a high school senior the financial burden of college can seem daunting, but thanks to non-profits such as the Jean Perkins Foundation that burden can be alleviated. The LAFD scholarship had a great impact on my college experience at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. With the financial assistance of the LAFDSF, I was able to devote my time to school and also get involved in campus life extra-curriculars (which can greatly enrich the college experience). I was able to become involved in Greek life (serving multiple terms as our Philanthropy Chair and eventually chapter President), be selected for the Cal Poly Open House Committee (serving as Event Chairman), and join Poly Reps (the university ambassador group).

 

I graduated in June of 2012 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering; the “learn-by-doing” philosophy of Cal Poly prepared me to jump right into a profession where “the rubber meets the road” for engineering. Since graduation I went on to work for Occidental Oil & Gas/California Resources Corporation in the Technical Services team as an Operations Improvement Engineer. While there I pursued and obtained my license as a Professional Engineer. After nearly 5 years I relocated to the bay area and began my career at Lawrence Livermore National Lab, being hired on as a Mechanical Technology Field Engineer. I currently reside in the East Bay with my lovely wife (who I met while at Cal Poly) and our beautiful daughter.

 

 

MATHEW FREEMAN

 
Graduate 2014
Penn State University
2010 Scholarship Recipient
 
It seems like yesterday that I was filling out the application to take part in the LAFD Merit scholarship journey and now 8 years later, I am honored to say I was able to attend Penn State University, where I graduated with a B.S. in Marketing and a focus in Information Systems Management. Not only did the scholarship provide me the foundation of funding needed to attend my dream school, it gave me the opportunity to represent the LAFD fire family while pursuing goals and aspirations which at the time seemed beyond reach. Soon after completing the process to become an LAFD merit Scholar I auditioned and was selected to represent the University on many levels as the Feature Twirler for the Penn State Blue Band. While at Penn State, I was elected president of my class for my professional business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi and became an active student mentor for the Smeal College of Business and proposed to my now wife, a captain for the Penn State Majorettes. Penn State exceeded my expectations on all levels and gave me a one of a kind education setting me up for success in my professional development and personal life.
 
I graduated from Penn State with a full time offer with Target and moved back to California and became an Executive Team Leader, where I was able to hold many roles in store management, logistics/operations and human resources.  After two years of working for Target in California I relocated back to Pennsylvania where I oversaw the remodel process of the Target location in Central PA. While working on this project I was recruited by Amazon where I currently work on the Amazon Campus Team specializing in pick up services for customers across the country. Amazon has developed my skills and assets and continues to challenge me every day to be innovative and think outside of the box. 
 
In addition to working at Amazon my wife and I have now created our own baton twirling team in central PA. Baton twirling has been a huge part of both of our lives and together we thrive on providing our youth with opportunities to develop on many level just as the LAFD and Jean Perkins Foundation gave me. Our team has now won several national championships and continues to develop year over year and we now have had numerous students who have made the twirling team at Penn State. This past year I also accepted an offer from the director the Penn State Blue Band to join their staff as the Feature Twirler Advisor. 
 
Life has come full circle since receiving the prestigious honor of representing the LAFD as a 2010 Merit Scholar. I would not be where I am today without the endless love and support of my family. I am forever grateful for the opportunities that this scholarship has provided me and would like to thank everyone who continues to make this scholarship possible. On August 16th, 2018 my wife and I welcomed our daughter Macy into the world. We continue to live by the LAFD core values and now have the opportunity to instill these values into the new addition to our family. 

 

 

ALLISON REITMAYER

 
Graduate 2014
US Naval Academy
2010 Scholarship Recipient
 
I received the LAFD scholarship in 2010, and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2014 and commissioned as a Marine Corps Officer.  Although, my bachelor’s degree in in Chemistry I am a Communications Officer, and I work with computers and radios most days.  I am currently a Captain currently stationed at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Ca, studying Information Warfare Systems.  The scholarship allowed me to take advantage of additional leadership training while I was at the Academy.  Most notably, it enabled me to participate in a month long outdoor leadership school.  I received incredible leadership experience and training during my time at the Academy, but this training was by far the most memorable and impactful.  It instilled a sense of adventure in me that inspired me to become a Marine, and I could not have done it without the scholarship and support of the foundation.

 

 

 

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