Twenty-eight members and guests came La Palma-Cerritos Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) luncheon fundraiser for the AAUW Fund on Saturday, February 8, 2020 at Mimi’s Bistro & Bakery in Cerritos. Everyone enjoyed a wonderful lunch with soup or salad, coffee, tea, lemonade or a soft drink, and a choice of entrée. With enticing entrees of Smoked Salmon Baguette, a Cranberry-Walnut Salad with Chicken, French Dip Beef, or a Creamy Chicken & Mushroom Pasta offered as choices, most of the guests chose the Cranberry-Walnut Salad with Chicken as their entrée. They also came to remember and honor, their beloved member and friend, the late Alberta Brose, and to hear guest speaker Elsie Carbajal, an AAUW Fund Grant winner.
La Palma-Cerritos AAUW President Harriet Moses and AAUW Fund VP Faith Herschler were pleased to welcome the members and special guests who came to honor Alberta Brose, and meet Elsie Carbajal. Elsie was the winner of the 2019 AAUW Fund Career Development Grant of $12,000. The La Palma- Cerritos branch contributed $5,000 of the AAUW Fund Grant, through donations received from Alberta’s family and branch members, for the Alberta Brose Memorial Scholarship.
The Alberta Brose Memorial Scholarship was designated to be given to a woman who returned to college to study for higher degrees, after five or more years absence, just as Alberta returned to school late in her life. Six other AAUW branches contributed towards Elsie’s grant, including California AAUW branches in Laguna Beach, San Diego County, Los Angeles, San Clemente-Capistrano Bay, Redlands, and Somerset Hills in New Jersey.
Tobi Balma, a founding member of the branch and friend of Alberta Brose, shared some information she received from Alberta’s daughter, Chris Cassidy, about Alberta’s life and inspiring accomplishments. Members may not have known that Alberta began playing the violin at age six and later studied piano. She received a music scholarship to attend college, but she dropped out of college in her sophomore year, at the age of 19 when her mother died of leukemia. She then married at age 20, and she and her husband had three children.
Alberta returned to school to study for her college degrees when her youngest child started high school. She got her teaching degrees, and later worked for 10 years to receive a Ph.D degree. She received her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology at UC Riverside in 1982 at the age of 50. When she was not able to find full-time work as a college teacher, she started an Allstate Insurance Agency. She also helped her husband with his home-based production business by making and marketing bounce juggling balls until she was 85 years old. Alberta died at age 86 about three years ago.
After listening to all that Alberta accomplished in her life, Elsie Carbajal was overcome with emotion as she expressed her appreciation for receiving the Alberta Brose Memorial Scholarship through the AAUW Fund Career Development Grant. She said that it was a divine blessing to receive the grant, because she was rejected the first time she tried for a grant. She said that she taught in New Jersey for 13 years before coming to California and had to go back to school to get her California Teaching Credential. She lives in Ontario and is a Special Education teacher in a high school in Riverside County. She received her M.A. degree in Education Leadership in June of 2019.
Elsie said that she has a daughter who has ADHD and is passionate about empowering people with special needs. She also had an aunt with disabilities, who died last year. She said she wanted to show how much she appreciated the AAUW Grant that she received herself by “paying it forward.”
She started a fund in her aunt’s name, “Chuly’s Scholarship,” for her Aunt Nereida “Chuly” Rodriguez. She said she hoped to raise $500 for a scholarship to present to a senior at John W. North High School in Riverside County in May of 2020. She said that she wanted to especially help girls with special needs, who need help the most, so that they will exceed their own expectations.
When asked what she does currently as a Special Education teacher, she said teaches beginning literature. She supports students with mild to moderate functional disorders by teaching them how to organize their classwork. She also prepares high school seniors to transition to adult life by teaching them to write resumes and prepare for interviews. Elsie said that each of her students has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) which is reviewed every three years. Elsie then answered individual questions from those present.
Members and guests applauded Elsie’s speech and felt that Elsie truly deserved to receive the AAUW Fund Career Development Grant and the Alberta Brose Memorial Scholarship. They were pleased to meet her in person and felt that Alberta would have been glad that she won the grant. Special family guests included Alberta Brose’s daughter, Chris Cassidy, and her daughter, Keri Cassidy Busino, who came from Escondido in San Diego County, and Alberta’s granddaughter-in-law, Katherine Cassidy, who came from Oceanside. Other special guests included Carlyn Hemminger, a Past-President and former member of the La Palma-Cerritos AAUW branch Andrea Speredy from the former Rio Hondo/Huntington Beach AAUW Branch.
President Harriet Moses thanked everyone for coming to support the AAUW Fund Career Development Grants, and honor Elsie Carbajal and the late Alberta Brose.
She also announced that the AAUW Los Angeles County Interbranch Council invites everyone to come to a Tea Party on Sunday, March 8, 2020, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. in Pasadena celebrating International Women’s Day. For more information, contact Harriet at 714-994-1487.
Thanks to the generosity of everyone who came to the luncheon, the fundraiser at Mimi’s was a great success! According to La Palma-Cerritos AAUW branch Treasurer Marilyn Forsstrom, the AAUW Fund fundraiser raised a total of $973. These funds will help more graduate women complete their degrees with AAUW Fund Grants.