Soroptimist group gives $6,000 in scholarships

Recipients overcame many obstacles
By: Jenifer Gee, Journal editor
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A woman who was once homeless and pregnant and young girls working to make a difference were among the honorees at the annual Soroptimist International of Auburn awards banquet.
The longtime Auburn service group gave out $6,000 in scholarship and award money to women working to improve their lives and the lives of women and children around them.
Helping women through cancer
Sutter Auburn Faith employee Amy Beazizo was given the Ruby Award for her work helping patients diagnosed with breast cancer work through the process. Beazizo sees 200 to 300 patients a year in the Auburn area and walks them through the steps of diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
“To her patients, she is an angel,” said Soroptimist Susan Reuther, who presented the award.
Beazizo said it was a privilege to work with the women every day and ensures that they are not going through the disease alone. She also acknowledged others in the field.
“I’m not alone,” Beazizo said. “There are many others like me helping women in this capacity.”
Teen ‘superstar’
Teen Laura Reddig was selected for the Violet Richardson Award for her service with the Auburn Area Animal Rescue Foundation. The Violet Richardson Award is given to a girl between the ages of 14 and 17 who volunteers in her community.
For almost two years, Laura has worked with the medical staff at the foundation’s site in Auburn. She’s a “superstar” junior volunteer, according to Cassie Reeves, secretary for AAARF. Reeves said that Laura “doesn’t shy away from blood draws like the other junior volunteers.”
“I’m looking forward to the day I can take my animals to her,” Reeves said.
Soroptimist Jeanette Yetka presented Laura with a $250 scholarship and a $250 check for Laura to give to AAARF. Laura said she appreciated the support and experience at the foundation.
“It’s made me realize I want to go into veterinary science and help animals the rest of my life,” she said.
Women of distinction
Rock Creek Elementary teacher Beckie Lopez and local parent Chris Bunnell were recognized as honorable role models with the Women of Distinction Award.
Soroptimist Kathie Harris spoke to each woman’s accomplishments as she presented them with the distinction.
Lopez’s list of extracurricular activities was lengthy and highlights included her work setting up a school garden first at Skyridge and later at Rock Creek. The bilingual teacher also set up free community breast exam screenings for parents and teachers at Rock Creek and has written several grants proposals for the North Auburn school.
“It’s just something you do with small children,” Lopez said. “You teach them how to give to others at a young age.”
Harris introduced Bunnell as a fellow mother who lost her child. Bunnell’s son, Tracy, took his own life.
The Tracy Bunnell Memorial for Suicide Prevention now runs a crisis hotline in Placer County with the message that suicide is a permanent response to a temporary problem.
“If one life can be saved through what we do … then Tracy didn’t die in vain,” Bunnell said.
College wasn’t a thought – at first
A girl who once didn’t consider herself “college material” received a $1,000 scholarship to help her continue her education at Sierra College and later California State University, Chico.
Hannah Ramey was the winner of the Sierra College Scholarship, which was presented by Soroptimist April Hidalgo. In the spring the straight-A student will graduate with an associate’s degree in agriculture. She’ll pursue her education at Chico with the hopes of becoming an international agriculture ambassador.
“Scholarships like these have made it possible for me to take several units and be on the student senate at the Nevada County campus where I am the only girl on the senate,” Ramey said.
Placer High teen
‘talented’ leader
A teen with a 4.33 grade point average and myriad extracurricular activities won the $500 Placer High School Scholarship.
Soroptimist Michele Tuggle handed the award to senior Paige Maberry based on the teen’s grades, her after school activities including softball, golf, student government and key club, and her volunteer work with Acres of Hope, Operation Mom and the March of Dimes.
“She is a determined, talented and empathetic leader,” Tuggle said.
Fights so others don’t have to
Placer High student Kelly Soto was given the $500 Ruth Johnston Scholarship to help her continue her education beyond high school.
Soto was selected based partly on her past of taking care of her mother, who was ill with Leukemia and for overcoming abuse. She was also honored for her work to hold a fundraiser for abused children.
Soto said she draws on her past to help others.
“My mom, she’s my inspiration and gives me strength to move on,” Soto said. “I don’t want to see any more kids go through what I went through.”
‘Resilient and
Three women who overcame the odds were given the Women’s Opportunity Award, presented by Soroptimist Kristi MacIntosh.
“The Women’s Opportunity Award recipients are amazing women,” MacIntosh said. “They’re resilient and dedicated to improving their lives and the lives of their families.”
Vickie Dunn received $1,000 to help her pursue medical education. Dunn has a husband who is on disability and an adult daughter who is developmentally disabled. She said she is inspired by her daughter to go to school to learn how to help her and others like her.
Along the way she is succeeding and helping others.
“I have a 3.7 GPA and I’m a mentor because I know what it feels like,” Dunn said about entering the education world after a long absence.
Tale’a Viscarra was emancipated at the age of 16 and had temporary custody of her two younger siblings. She also survived a long-term domestic violence situation.
“She is another story of courage and strength,” MacIntosh said.
Viscarra said last year she and her three daughters struck out on their own and she now supports them after going to school to become a massage therapist. She received a $1,000 check from the club.
Alyssa Hauguel was homeless and pregnant for nearly six months. Now she is mother to a 3-year-old daughter and has a 4.0 GPA in college.
Hauguel first obtained a medical assistant’s degree and this week started her first class toward obtaining an associates degree. She hopes to eventually become a nurse.
“I love my daughter and I hope she can look up to me as a role model,” Hauguel said.
Hauguel received $1,500 and her application was forwarded the Soroptimist’s regional level for further consideration.