“Thank You for Investing in Me:” A Special Day Honoring 13 Special Women

By Anne Evers, FWSF MarCom Co-Chair

On Friday, June 7, over 200 guests came together at the City Club to honor Financial Women San Francisco’s (FWSF) 2019 scholarship recipients. Since the scholarship program began over 30 years ago, FWSF has awarded over $2.5 million to over 300 deserving women. This year FWSF awarded $10,000 to seven undergraduates and $15,000 to six graduate students. In addition to the scholarship itself, each winner is paired with a mentor and receives a three-year FWSF membership.

2019 Scholarship Winners

FWSF President Kathy Wheadon welcomed the luncheon attendees and said that she was “awestruck” by the winners’ capabilities and accomplishments. Then Monica Rin, winner of the 2018 “Lela Jahn Make a Difference” grant, gave an update on her work to develop a technology platform to increase the number of students who successfully complete the student loan (FASFA) process.

Lela Jahn RecipientThis award, which began in 2016, was made possible through the generous donation of the late Lela Jahn, the 2000 Financial Woman of the Year honoree, and her husband, Don Bayer. Lela, as Monica said, was “bold, fierce, supportive and hopeful” and lived a purposeful life focused on advancing women. Kathy Wheadon announced that Keelia Murphy, a graduate student at Mills College and 2019 scholarship winner, would receive the 2019 grant.

The 13 winners then took the stage to receive their awards and spoke briefly about their personal journeys, accomplishments, and goals. They were an impressive group, and several themes ran through their comments:

  • Their passion for education helped them overcome many odds. Many of them did not have role models growing up, and found mentors to help them navigate the system. Many have overcome great obstacles including language, cultural challenges, and financial insecurity, yet this has not stopped them or even slowed them down. They knew what they wanted to achieve and set their goals and priorities. As Berenice Higuera, California State University, East Bay, put it, “My passion for education is greater than any label.”
  • They feel strongly about giving back to their communities and many have already committed their time to causes such as financial literacy, understanding the risks of predatory lending, increasing Latino representation in business, economic development in Rwanda, and women’s health.
  • Their mothers often made great sacrifices to make sure they were able to achieve these important life goals and encouraged them to go beyond the opportunities that had been offered to the earlier generation. They stressed the importance of dreaming big and pushing out of their usual comfort zones, even if that meant emigrating.
  • Several women saw FWSF as an “amazing community of impactful, change-making women.”

These women know that they have much to contribute. They will be a powerful force in shaping the future of finance and financial services.…and hopefully FWSF!

Thank you to all of the FWSF community: FWSF members, board members, university partners, volunteers, team leads, interviewers, donors and sponsors for making this day possible. Your combined time, guidance, resources, dollars and support provide the foundation that gives these women the confidence to make a positive change. See award winner bios here.


FWSF has other exciting events coming up, check out our Events Calendar.

Also, we are always looking for attendees who want to provide a summary of the event. If you volunteer, you can attend free of charge. Contact Marianne LaPorte, co-chair of MarComm, if interested: mariannepri@hotmail.com.

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