AAUW celebrates 40th anniversary of scholarship program

For four decades, the Willow Glen-based branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) has awarded scholarships to local women who have overcome obstacles to complete their educational goals. This year’s recipients include women who had to balance their education with family responsibilities.

Ciena Buckner, a widow with two children, is one such scholarship recipient.

“I attended San Jose City College during the day when my children were in school,” she said.

She plans to transfer to UC-Davis to major in microbiology and would like to research viruses.

Another recipient, Katedia Alcordo, cared for her grandparents and still attended classes. She said she considers education to be a gift in her life.

Yaneth Gutierrez is the first in her family to attend college. “My example will inspire my daughter to continue her college education,” she said.

Jessica Miranda is working to complete her bachelor’s degree in nutritional science at San Jose State University and is hoping for a six-month internship at a hospital. She plans to become a registered dietitian and said she is thankful that the AAUW scholarship will help pay for the internship.

The San Jose branch of AAUW started its scholarship program in 1980. The scholarship committee considers applications from women of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities who reside in San Jose, Campbell, Santa Clara and Milpitas. They focus on providing assistance to women who have completed two years of college. Committee members live in Almaden Valley, Willow Glen, Campbell, Los Gatos and elsewhere.

Margaret Bard, a resident of the Cambrian area, is a member of both the San Jose and Los Gatos/Saratoga branches of AAUW and serves on the scholarship committee. When an applicant couldn’t contact any of her teachers due to the pandemic, it fell to Bard to write her recommendation letter, something she said she felt honored to do.

“When I joined the interview committee, I did not realize the obstacles these women had to overcome,” she said. “What a major difference we can make by giving these women scholarships. They just need a little helping hand to achieve their goals.”

As Peg Carlson-Bowen, president of the San Jose branch, put it, “We are changing the world, one woman at a time.”

The San Jose AAUW is holding a virtual fundraiser Dec. 1-5 for its 41st round of scholarships next year. To donate, visit bit.ly/HolidayAAUW.



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