Community Leaders Association

2013 CLA Scholarship Recipients

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

Incoming freshmen awardees are Ryan Cohen of Moorpark, CA, Julia Kearns of Simi Valley, CA and Andrew Lior of Newbury Park, CA. Continuing students are Michael Berquist of Lakewood, CO, Flavio Guzman of Arleta, CA, Alicia Nunez of Canoga Park, CA, Jae Park of Torrance, CA, and Paige Piper of Valencia, CA.

I, Michael Berquist am a sophomore at CLU, double majoring in Theatre Arts and Communications with emphases in performance and broadcast journalism. During my first year at CLU, in addition to maintaining a full course load, I performed in three theatrical productions on campus including The Trojan Women, which was honored at the 2013 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. In addition to acting during my freshman year, I also worked on the CLU Theatre Publicity committee and house managed the spring play. Although theatre is my first passion, I am grateful for all of the fantastic opportunities that CLU has given me. I am also a member of the CLU Choir and participated in the ensemble's tour of my home state of Colorado in the spring of 2013. 

Supplementing my various performance ventures, I am also a member of the Honors program at CLU. In May 2013, I was a representative for the presentation of the honors class, At Home in the Universe at the Festival of Scholars, where we discussed and displayed innovations in 3D printing technologies that we had created in class.

While I am a true Kingsman at heart, the best part of my year is spent in Colorado with my favorite campers. For the past six summers, I have had the unbelievably amazing opportunity to work as a counselor at Camp Paha, a summer camp for children and young adults with physical and developmental disabilities. As a counselor, I try to ensure that campers have the best summer of their lives. Although my job is to inspire the campers, it is they who inspire me. 

I have been blessed both by my campers and by the opportunities that the CLU community has given me. I would love to thank the Community Leadership Association for the true gift of this scholarship, which will allow me to flourish as a student, performer, and community leader during the next years at CLU.

My name is Ryan Cohen, and I'm 18 years old. I spend most of my time volunteering at Holy Cross Church in Moorpark. I'm there almost 10 hours each week, and for the past two years I have been serving as an usher, peer minister, young adult, actor, selected member of the retreat team, and anything else that I can help with. I volunteer at Holy Cross to lead by example and inspire the other peers and teens to be involved in their community like those who inspired me to start volunteering.


Hello my name is Flavio Guzman. I was born in Colima, Mexico. At the age of six I moved to the United States. I have come a long way since I first got to this country I now call home. When I got here I had no idea how to speak, read, or write any English and school was extremely challenging as I had no idea what was going on. I am a proud graduate of Arleta High School, Go Mustangs, where I played football all four years, basketball two years, ran track one year, and was involved in numerous other activities such as student government. Now I am the first in my family to attend college. I am extremely proud to be heading into my third year at California Lutheran University where I am double majoring in Political Science with an emphasis in Law and Public Policy and Spanish.

During my two years at CLU I have had the honor of being on the Dean’s List for my academic achievement every semester. Football has always been one of my passions and I have been lucky enough to continue playing football at CLU as I have played my two years here. I have also been a part of MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan) my entire time here at CLU and this will be my second year as co-president of the club, as our club itself heads into its third year. Working with the Spanish department this past year was something I really enjoyed. I had a very special year this past year as I became the student organizer for the food service workers here at CLU. Being the student organizer was challenging at first but after a fair contract as won it was all worth it. Interning with the Center for Equality and Justice and putting on an event of my choice, the problem with the drug war and drug laws, was also a major highlight of this past year.

Where I spend the most time outside of school is volunteering with College Summit. College Summit is a national non-profit organization, founded in 1993 on the belief that all students have the potential to continue their educations beyond high school. They usually work with minority, low-income, typically first in their family to go to college students. Earlier this year at the College Summit awards for Southern California I was awarded with the College Summit Alumni Leader of the year award, which is the highest honor one can receive, for having volunteered more than 70 hours throughout the school year. I volunteered for events such as FAFSA nights, college application nights, attending quarterly meetings and simply using my story to show students that is possible to go to college. This summer I also had the honor of becoming the Alumni Leader Coordinator for College Summit where I was not only in charge of managing a group of 20 Alumni Leaders; I also worked with over 200 rising seniors from more than 10 schools all over Los Angeles County in four day College Summit workshops to inspire, motivate, and prepare students to go to college while at the same time giving them the tools to succeed and the tools of peer leadership so that they can not only help themselves, but those around them. I went through the College Summit program as a rising high school senior myself and know the life changing impact the program had on me. That is why I go back every summer. Every summer my favorite part is when I am at College Summit workshops. I have the honor of saying that I changed peoples lives for the better and I am working to make my community better.  While I do give a lot to the community through College Summit I would say I get back as much as I give. The students that go through the program inspire me and motivate me. The bond that is built between those that go through the program is indescribable. We go in being complete strangers and four days later we become family, College Summit family. Because of College Summit I am constantly growing as a leader, a student, a son, a brother, a friend, and an individual.

As I mentioned before I am going into my third year at CLU. This will also count as my senior year as money problems have made me develop a fast track to graduation. I am extremely blessed to attend CLU as the faculty and staff has been there to support me every step of the way. Every year that I am unsure about returning to CLU because of financial hardships they all do anything they can in order to help me come back. This year was no different. I still don’t have all the money I need to attend CLU the entire year and that is why this scholarship is so important. It allows me to get closer to achieving my dreams and goals. Thank you so much Community Leaders Association!

Once I graduate from CLU there are various things that I would love to do. I want to become a high school college counselor because my high school college counselor, Ms. Beth Winningham is a major reason why I am where I am today. Another high school college counselor that has had a major impact on my life and success is Ms. Rachael Livingston. I want to be able to share the gift that they have given me. After being a high school college counselor for some years I would like to become a community organizer to fight for equality and justice for all. I would love to work for a nonprofit such as College Summit after that, while going to law school. My ultimate goal is to become a member of congress and serve as a public servant while providing a voice to underrepresented communities. As a congress member, I would focus on immigrant rights, worker’s rights, fixing our education system, and overall equality and justice for all. A lifetime career of service and devotion to others would represent the greatest success of my life.

For now I will continue my involvement in the things that I am passionate about. This is thanks to those that have supported me emotionally and financially. Thank you all for making an investment in me. I will continue to do what I have done as success means nothing if I cannot help others be successful and in turn make my community, our state, and our nation better.

My name is Julia Kearns and I graduated from Royal High School in Simi Valley, CA. I chose CLU because it is close to home, has a beautiful campus, great academic program, and also an outstanding athletic program. I am proud to be playing on the Regal's soccer team next semester. 


In high school, I was extremely involved in my school's leadership program. I was an ASB member for four years, gaining new experience each year. Some of the jobs I've held include, class secretary, overall class secretary, committee chair of student achievement, committee chair of community service, and finally, senior class president. While holding these responsibilities I learned how to delegate jobs, manage my time, and organize school wide events. As committee chair of student achievement, I planned rewarding events for students with extraordinary grades. As committee chair of community service, I was able to get involved with people in Simi Valley who needed help. Through this chair position, I was captain of my school's Relay for Life team. At this Relay my school earned top donating awards. I also planned dinners for the homeless, volunteered at local senior centers, and organized school wide shoe and clothing drives. This position taught me a lot about the community, and giving back.


Lastly, I was senior class president my last year of high school. I organized and planned all the senior activities ranging from class field trips, dinners, tailgates, spirit days, prom, ice cream social, and more. My senior class also held our third annual Mr. Highlander Pageant, which is a silly beauty pageant filled with senior boys trying to raise money for a specific cause. The cause this past year was Skyler Lembo. Skyler Lembo actually attended Simi High School (our rival) but we decided to raise money for this young man who had been in a horrific riding accident. The event was a success, and we raised over $3000 for Skyler and his family. 


Even though I have done so much for my leadership class, my true passion is soccer. I've played soccer at Royal High School for four years, and the last year I was varsity captain. I've earned awards such as Captain's Award, Overall MVP, Coaches Award, and first-team all-league. I led my team to an undefeated season my final year at Royal.


I have four older sisters, one of which graduated CLU in 2009. I enjoy being active, playing soccer and working hard. 


I am excited to move on campus at CLU and become involved with the athletic program and more. 

My name is Andrew Lior.  I graduated from River Oaks Academy in Westlake Village, CA.  I enjoyed playing saxophone in the marching band, assisting and participating in talent events, and serving as the Student Representative for the Ventura County Indian Education Parent Consortium. 

Boy scouting has been a major non-academic part of my life.  I have had countless adventures and learned numerous skills that I will use throughout my life.  I am an Eagle Scout and have participated in many community service activities.  These include Eagle projects, MANNA food collection, flag ceremonies, trail work, and working to help clean-up Camp Ronald McDonald (a special camp for kids who are suffering from cancer).  I also continue to have the honor of assisting a blind friend and a disabled family member with shopping, gardening, and household projects. 

I've had many people who have helped guide me on my journey and I know that without them, I probably wouldn’t have been successful.  I plan on staying active in Boy Scouting as a leader and to continue helping in my community so that I can make a difference in someone else’s life.

I’m looking forward to a career in Biomedical Engineering beginning with a bioengineering degree from CLU.   Many advancements have been made in the area of prosthetics for both limbs and organs, and I'm excited about furthering the progress.

My name is Alicia Nunez and I am currently a junior at CLU, double majoring in Spanish and Psychology with an emphasis in Psychobiology. I have actively participated in many CLU school events, but I am very proud of my time abroad this past Spring semester. I studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina for over five months. I not only tried to fully immerse myself in the Spanish language and Argentine culture, I feel like I become and strong and independent individual as well. CLU promotes the idea of being a global citizen, one who respects others and who spreads compassion and support to everyone. With my experiences at CLU and abroad, I want to work as an International Psychologist with an specialty in Neuropsychology.


This summer I have also worked as a student assistant for the research conducted by Dr. Wigginton (Department Chair of the Languages and Culture) in her efforts to develop a district wide school curriculum for the Oxnard School District's Mixtec population. I will continue to do research in this topic this coming Fall semester and will hopefully play a vital role in developing this school curriculum in order to help children of Mixtec heritage who don't speak Spanish or English.


I would like to thank CLU for all the opportunities given to me. This university continues to show me, semester by semester, that the faculty and staff believe in all of its students. There isn't a more heartwarming campus that promotes its students' academic and personal development like CLU, and I am looking forward to my last two years here. 


From Torrance, California, Jae Park is a senior majoring in music with double emphases in education and technology. He has sung with the CLU Choir since his sophomore year and enjoys going on choir tour every spring. For two years as a Peer Advisor, Jae welcomed first-year students to CLU and guided them through New Student Orientation. During the summer of 2013, he took a more active role in Orientation through his position as Student Orientation Coordinator by planning and implementing several Orientation events. Also actively involved with Campus Ministry, Jae co-leads Common Ground, a student-led worship service on Wednesday nights, and coordinates 3G Network, small gatherings of students who grow and gather in God. He is also the ASCLU Executive Recorder, serving the student body of CLU by managing minutes, legislations, social media, and website for ASCLUG.

Outside of class and other involvements, Jae enjoys making others laugh, watching Chopped on Food Network, and taking a nap in the library.

After graduation, he hopes to earn his teaching credential in music, teach for a few years, and further his education towards Master’s degree in music. He aspires to one day become a choral conductor.

Paige Stropkai is a Junior at California Lutheran University. She hails from Santa Clarita, California. Paige began volunteer work at age 13 through the Assistance League as the Philanthropic Chair person for the teen-league. Paige has been on Programs Board and Senate at Cal Lu, and has been involved in student government since Junior High. Paige hopes to become a Marketing Coordinator for a nonprofit organization in the future, once she has attained her degree in Marketing Communications from CLU.



2012 scholarship recipients Erin Morningred and Emily Werman with Vice President of the CLA John Short III.

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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