Community Leaders Association

2014 CLA Scholarship Recipients

Ten California Lutheran University students have received scholarships from the University's Community Leaders Association.

Incoming freshmen awardees are Cosette Compton of Ferndale, WA, Samantha DiMaggio of Canyon Country, CA and Danise Kluss of Newbury Park, CA. Continuing students are Ryan A. Fleming of Moorpark, CA, Lauren L. Petta of Castaic, CA, Elise Schumacher of Puyallup, WA, Grace Stepien of Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, Megan Elizabeth Tiu of West Hills, CA, Juliana Jones of Aliso Viejo, CA and Lauren Marie Witman of Simi Valley, CA.

Hello! My name is Megan Tiu, and I am currently a sophomore at CLU studying Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. I graduated from Chaminade College Preparatory in West Hills, CA where I received awards for Laureate Honors, National Honors Society, and California Scholarship Federation. I was one of the founding members of the Interact Club sponsored by Rotary International at my high school where we were able to make a difference in the local and global communities. Some of our accomplishments include raising money for an orphanage in the Philippines, sending school supplies to underprivileged children in North and South Dakota, and giving goodie bags to the children at Tarzana Hospital for Halloween. Besides working part time at a financial firm and studying for school, I also spend the majority of my time volunteering at my local parish. I direct a children's choir every year that sings for a special Easter Mass, and I also sing in the choir, and cantor for some of the services. I have a passion for helping those less fortunate, and I do everything in my power to help those around me. That is why I have chosen to become a biomedical engineer. Combined with my love for building things, this field will allow me to help many people and hopefully make an impact in the medical field.

Elise Schumacher is currently a junior at CLU, and will be graduating with a BA in psychology with an emphasis on children and families, in the year 2016. Along with a full school schedule, she is a behavioral interventionist for children with Autism and Downs syndrome in Ventura County, and has also volunteered with the Special Olympics adult volleyball team. Elise is very grateful for the community connections CLU has given her, which help fulfill her passion for working with those who experience special needs. She is now employed at the new cafeteria’s Starbucks and is also a receptionist for the Graduate School of Education. She is an avid member of Common Ground, a campus Christian organization, and is an intramural enthusiast.

During the school year, Elise enjoys attending every home soccer and football game to cheer on the Kingsmen. One memorable CLU experience was helping a small club called “Active Minds” raise student awareness around issues such as eating disorders and depression. Elise was in charge of the technology outreach for this group, spreading the word, working to involve students around campus in “Active Minds”, and taking part in special events.

A native of Washington, Elise enjoys the adventure and sunshine California brings, and is very thankful to CLU for helping her grow in her faith, find amazing and irreplaceable friends, and providing opportunities to grow into a well-rounded adult. As you can see, Elise is passionate and excited about her future after CLU.

My name is Danise Kluss, though I often go by Dani, and I recently graduated from Newbury Park High School and am starting at CLU as a freshman this year. I've been a Girl Scout since I was 5 years old, for 13 years, and I recently completed my Girl Scout Gold Award: The highest level of award that can be accomplished in girl scouting. I achieved this award by creating and running a 5 day theatre workshop for a local elementary school that didn't have a theatre program. There school curriculum focused mainly around math and science, with very little involvement in the arts. Throughout these 5 days I was able to involve these students in the performing arts, open there eyes to the possibilities for an artistic future, and watch them grow and find an interest in theatre and expressing themselves.

I have also been very involved with the theatre department at my high school for the last four years. I was the Head Production Stage Manager for countless productions as well as having assisted and headed up departments such as lights, sound, spot lighting, costuming, props, and stage crew. At the beginning of my senior year of high school our department was in a lot of debt from having transitioned through 8 teachers within the last 3 years. I decided to create a fundraiser for our department and successfully put on the NPHS 1st ever Zombie Run: Dead Rising. Through this fundraiser I set up an obstacle course around campus where our victims were chased by zombies while trying to not become infected. We raised over $1,000 for our department which brought us out of debt, which I am very proud of. The fundraiser will be repeated this year, and I have been invited to come back and help with it.

At my high school I was also a part of many clubs such as the American Sign Language club, Connection Club, and Drama Club. At CLU I hope to try a lot of things to help me decide what to major in, including theatre, stage management, American Sign Language, and Communications. I also hope to stay involved in my community and continue to volunteer and benefit others.

My name is Samantha DiMaggio and I graduated from Canyon High School in Santa Clarita, CA. In high school, I was a cheerleader for four years, involved in many clubs, including California Scholarship Federation, National Honor Society, and Key Club, and I was also an ASB member during my four years of high school. Some of the jobs I've held include: Freshmen Officer, Sophomore Class Treasurer, ASB Executive Treasurer, and Senior Class President. The many positions I've held in my ASB class have made me the responsible, young adult I am today. The clubs I was involved in at my school all gave me the chance to become more involved in my community. I volunteered most of my time in high school to SCV Safe Rides and to my church, St. Clare of Assisi, during our annual Lenten Fish Fry. I was a server and a busser at the Fish Fry for six years and it gave me a chance to get to know my fellow parishioners. SCV Safe Rides is a program that provides a free, confidential ride home for teenagers who are not in a condition to drive, and for those who do not want to ride with an unsafe driver; the service is offered on Friday and Saturday nights from 10PM-2AM. I have been involved in the Safe Rides program for three years now and I find great joy in knowing that I can help reduce the number of teen alcohol-related collisions by volunteering a small portion of my time. A few fun facts about me are that I was born in Winthrop, Massachusetts, I am a huge sports fan, I especially love the Boston Red Sox, Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics, and the New England Patriots, I have an older sister who shares my love for gymnastics, and I come from a large Italian family. While at CLU, I hope to graduate as a Marketing Communications major with a minor in Public Relations and hopefully obtain a job at the Walt Disney Company in their Marketing/Public Relations Department. Thank you again to the Community Leaders Association for helping me further my education and career goals and becoming a part of the CLU family.

My name is Lauren Petta. I am currently a senior at CLU and will be graduating with my B.S. in Biological Science this December. A few years ago I became a certified medical assistant and basic phlebotomy technician. Since this time, I have been volunteering each week at The Westminster Free Clinic, which offers basic, non-invasive healthcare to the uninsured throughout the Conejo Valley. In addition, I am a biology departmental assistant tutoring in human anatomy and physiology. I am also president of CLU’s Phi Tau Chapter of Beta Beta Beta, a national biological honor society.

I recently submitted graduate school applications and am hoping to be admitted into a physician assistant program.

My name is Grace Stepien and I am an incoming senior. I am completing my last semester here at California Lutheran University, and this December I will be obtaining my B. A. in Psychology with an emphasis in Child and Family Development. I have always wanted to help people and I have a particular interest in helping children and adolescents. I volunteered at a psychological private practice as a behavioral specialist, which consisted of me helping in child group therapy and leading my own one-on-one therapy sessions with children who have behavioral issues. Since working with these children, I would greatly enjoying working as either a teacher or social worker after graduation. I was a Resident Assistant for a year and a half and learned how to be a leader in a situation where I might have felt uncomfortable. I gained many great friends and mentors during my time as an RA and believe I have grown as a result. Last fall semester, I studied abroad in Leiden, the Netherlands and enjoyed every second of it. While I was abroad, I learned a lot about myself, the potential I have as life’s student, and as a woman entering the real world. Since coming back, I want to continue traveling and experiencing every corner of this planet. Throughout my time here at CLU, I was challenged through my coursework, my time as a behavior specialist and as an RA, and during my abroad experiences. Nevertheless, I will continue to challenge myself and search for ways to grow as both a student and individual.

My name is Lauren Witman, and I am a senior at CLU. This spring, I will be graduating with a B.S. in Psychology, with an emphasis in Health and Wellness Applications. With this, I hope to go on to graduate school in order to earn a Master's of Occupational Therapy (MOT) and become an Occupational Therapist. I am looking forward to the opportunity to walk alongside patients in that role as they work towards a full and successful life. I will also be receiving a minor in Theology and Christian Leadership. For the past three years, I have served as an Adult Worker with Youth at the Simi Valley United Methodist Church, where I was also active in the youth group prior to college - volunteering and leading various activities. I love mentoring the middle school youth there and hope to continue youth work in the years to come. I am also an intern in the Community Service Center on campus, and I help plan our Alternative Break trips. I enjoy serving as a leader in that capacity as well, engaging students in service beyond their local communities. This position as well as an internship served as a part of my minor have stretched the leadership skills that I developed earlier in life to new levels. CLU has provided me with an excellent foundation for understanding myself in relation to the world and prepared me well for my future endeavors, and I could not be more grateful.

View past recipients: 2013 | 2012

The proceeds of charitable events such as Hats and High Tea and the Annual Golf Tournament are sponsored by the CLU Community Leaders Association to support the University's academic progams and its students. Over the years, the support of the Community Leaders Association has resulted in the donation of nearly $2 million toward enhancements in equipment and technology. In addition to providing funding for the academic departments at California Lutheran University, the Association also awards scholarships each year to students who excel academically and show committment to community service.

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