Our Amazing Mentors


Each scholarship recipient is assigned a Dollars for Scholars mentor. Mentors and students form connections that have an amazing impact on academic success.

In January, mentors and board members gathered for a pot luck dinner to celebrate their sense of fulfillment.

“Many of us feel that our mentees could mentor us. In terms of determination, gratitude, sheer will, and hard work, they are making a better life for themselves and their families,” says long time mentor Carol Stager.

Just read what they say:

• “I know my mentor supports me and is rooting for me.”

• “My mentor has really helped me stay focused on my goals and has been my support whenever I doubt myself.”

• “My mentor is providing me guidance toward a career.”

• “My mentor motivates me and enables me to do better than I did the year before.”

• “Having a mentor motivated me and reinforced my hunger for success.”

• “Knowing that someone other than my family cares about my success motivates me to perform my best in my classes.”

If you would like to join our mentor team, please contact: mrsjerroldg@yahoo.com

A College Bound Workshop

DSCF7494A workshop was held Saturday, November 14, for high school seniors, participating in the Migrant Education Program (MEP) who are interested in attending college. The students met at Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School and information was provided by Jose Pimentel, Counselor to MEP secondary school students.

A group of 12th graders arrived by bus from several high schools. They listened attentively to the guest speakers, Lila Silvern and Heliberto Cano, who encouraged them to follow their dreams and take advantage of all scholarship opportunities available to them.

DSCF7501The students shared their hopes to be accepted into the University of California schools, Cal State University campuses and even colleges in other states. Their career aspirations ranged from Architecture to the Sciences. They were eager to get the best advice on the college application procedures.

Mr. Pimentel gave students computer tips on scholarship applications available through Dollars for Scholars and a list of other scholarships to be checked out on-line.


He also provided a Power Point presentation entitled “Writing Effective Personal Statements.” It included prompt themes, common writing problems, and information on how the essays are reviewed. He pointed out the importance of getting feedback on the essays before submitting them to the colleges.

This very special group of highly motivated students expressed appreciation in their evaluations of the day. Mr. Pimentel once again demonstrated his belief in their abilities and his dedication to helping them realize their dreams. Mr. Pimentel did a good job encouraging students to apply on-line to Dollars for Scholars.


The Board members, who met February 27 to select this year’s recipients, were impressed with the quality of their writing, the recommendations they received from their high school teachers, and their academic achievement.

The board was also affected emotionally by the challenges the young people dealt with and their determination to get the college education that would enable them to improve the lives of their families.

Mentors Make a Difference

It has taken several years to develop the mentoring component of the Drew Silvern Scholarship. In my early attempts at recruiting mentors I concentrated on finding college graduates whose careers matched the students’ goals.

I assembled a group of willing volunteers waiting for a guidance I wasn’t yet prepared to offer. I was still figuring out how to make the idea work.

Frances Goldstein was one mentor who persevered and led the way. She never gave up waiting for students to call her back. She came up with some new ideas for getting together with students. Her trips to museums and LA landmarks have encouraged others to be creative and inventive in enhancing educational experiences as well as offering opportunities to talk about college classes and personal lives.

Lucille Gechtman joined Frances on the all-day metro trip to the Norton Simon and even planned a follow-up meeting on Olvera Street with another mentee.

Jay and Lynda Hartman opened their home and office to their Cerritos sophmore, Ruben Herrera. New mentors Joan and Dan Lavery are excited about meeting Edgar Barboza.

Helen Worthen, Carol Stager, Carole Rosner, and Lizzie Aguilar have stayed in touch with their mentees and have provided encouragement, sound advice, writing assistance and an assurance that someone other than their family cares about their success and college life.

I arranged to meet with my mentee, Laura Leyva at the Skirball Museum and asked Dr. Sobel if he and M’Lou Guzman would like to join us. To round out the afternoon, Rosemary Rubin, was eager to meet My Gem Lee for the first time.

We had the opportunity to chat about college classes, summer vacation, and future plans over pizzas, sandwiches and salads. The highlight of the afternoon was not the expected tour of the Bill Graham Rock and Roll exhibit, but a visit to Noah’s Ark where our very capable students pulled on ropes, rang bells and had a wonderful time being kids.


Mentors lunch at Skirball with Rosemary Rubin and My Gem Lee Guzman
Mentors lunch at Skirball with Rosemary Rubin and My Gem Lee Guzman
My Gem and her brother M'lou Guzman
My Gem and her brother M’lou Guzman


A Visit to the Norton Simon Museum

Suzeth Alonso small sizedIt was a fun adventure going to the Norton Simon Museum with my mentor, Mrs. Goldstein, Andrea Romero and her mentor, Mrs. Gechtman.

At the same time I was excited and scared because I had to meet Mrs. Goldstein at the Union Station and I didn’t know how to get there. Along the way I did ask people for help and I didn’t end up getting lost. I was happy when I saw my mentor because I had a lot to talk about. Especially since summer was coming to an end, I was excited to talk about my summer and my plans the upcoming school year.

I had never been to the Norton Simon Museum but I have to say I really enjoyed being there. There were so many paintings that I found interesting and caught my attention. One of the painting artists that I personally liked was Van Gogh. He had a unique way of painting with a brush and mixing the colors.

Not only was I in great company with Mrs. Goldstein but with the other mentor and the student that I met. I had a really good time spending time with Mrs. Goldstein and want to thank her for taking me on this trip. I also want to thank Mrs. Silvern for giving me the opportunity of being part of the Dollars for Scholars program and for giving me a mentor that has guided me.

Suzeth Alonso

An Exciting New Year for Scholarships

The Drew Silvern Dollars for Scholars chapter is once again gearing up for our grand Fiesta, May 30. Board members have been busy preparing for the big event.

Student applications were received at an earlier date to give us more time to apply for matching grants at local universities. We were pleased with the number of students wishing to renew their scholarships and thrilled with the quality of the new high school graduates we interviewed in March.

Six board members attended the Scholarship America conference held in Costa Mesa in January. We arrived with many questions and unresolved issues about the relevancy of some on-line requirements and the missing personal information we used to cull from our paper applications. Most of our concerns were addressed by the Scholarship America team. A video which included several of our students and board members was viewed and applauded.

I am very happy to announce that two very positive outcomes resulted from the conference. After hearing about the importance of including recent graduates on our board, I wasted no time in contacting Lizette Aguilar, one of our earliest recipients and a graduate of CSUN Business School. She agreed to join us for the interviews, mentor undergraduates, and serve on the board. Lizette understanding of young Hispanic students and willingness to help them has already proven effective.

The other positive outcome of the conference was being given more updated instructions about Collegiate Partners offering matching grants to students. After applying three years with no success, we finally hit the jackpot. Two of our very gifted and hard-working University of California students will be receiving matching grants.

The mentor program has finally taken off. Connections have been made over lunches, dinners, trips to museums and in business offices.

To meet some of the students and mentors who are improving the world through education, join us at the Fiesta for food, music, and inspiring conversations.

Lila Silvern,


Katie Couric celebrates Scholarship America

Katie Couric and Dollars for Scholars founder Dr. Irving Fradkin

Katie Couric recently featured our Scholarship America founder, Dr. Irving Fradkin, on her nationwide daytime talk show, Katie! In addition to a video profile and in-studio interview, the show provided Dr. Fradkin a surprise: scholarship recipients from 1961 to the present came out to thank him for his life’s work.

Katie and Dr. Fradkin also spoke with Hannah Truong, the 2013 Scholarship America Dollars for Scholars Student Volunteer of the Year. Hannah was an active volunteer with Bellingham Dollars for Scholars in Washington state and is now attending college at Yale.

Here at Drew Silvern Education Fund / Dollars for Scholars, we also have some amazing volunteers and students. Dr. Phyllis Lautman shines particularly bright. Please see her experience, along with that of her mentee, Magdalena Lopez, here.

We are so grateful to Katie for her support of Dollars for Scholars and our national organization, Scholarship America. To help us support our local students and continue the legacy started by Dr. Fradkin, click here for volunteer opportunities.

Summer Social 2013

Helpers arrived at my door August 4 at exactly three o’clock bearing platters of watermelon, homemade cookies, cheese, chips, dips and cupcakes and stepped right in to set up for the first ever Drew Silvern Dollars for Scholars Migrant Education Fund SUNDAY SOCIAL specially arranged for scholarship recipients to meet each other, the Board members and accomplished adults who had volunteered to be their mentors through their college years.

Many of the scholarship recipients arrived soon after. We were all a little shy at first. Name tags and introductions were needed before we started the ice breaker games. People Bingo got everyone out of their chairs and looking for someone with gray hair, or someone who knew how to salsa dance. MLou Guzman was the first to fill the page and be declared the winner.

Before anyone could return to their seat, they were asked to form a line starting with Jeri Vargas who lives across the street and came the shortest distance to Catherine Bramhall who traveled from Oxnard and may have tied with Nellie Barrientos from Cucamonga.

We finished mixing with a game of finding the match-up to a song lyric cut in half. Some of our retired school administrators surprised us with their renditions of Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Justin Bieber’s One Time. Thanks to Carole Rosner for mixing old Sinatra favorites with Britney Spears and more mod tunes.

Finally we all gathered on the patio with plates of goodies to hear Rebecca Leach who had been awarded a Dollars scholarship as a Foster youth in San Diego several years ago, speak about the encouragement she received from a mentor with her since high school. Now she told us, she is enjoying being a mentor to Gardenia Benecio, a young college student.

The best part of the afternoon, was seeing the student/mentor pairs getting to know more about each other, exchanging information about their backgrounds and hobbies and writing down phone numbers and E-mail addresses.

We wanted to assure the group of hopeful young students that besides the financial grant we provided them, we also want to offer moral support and assistance through an important period in their lives.

There were warm embraces and expressions of gratitude from the students as they left with a gift of a book light and wishes for a very successful year in college.


Mentor Meeting

On a recent Sunday, we offered the opportunity for new mentors to learn about our Drew Silvern Dollars for Scholars chapter and the afternoon for them to meet the students they would be mentoring. Mentor Meeting

By late morning I feared no one would drive through the torrential rain storm and I’d be stuck with a platter of cakes and cookies.

I was very pleasantly surprised to see that the new mentor volunteers are a hearty bunch and appeared at my door with umbrellas and rain boots. Most of the students I had invited came and some with their parents.

Mentor Meeting

We warmed up with an ice breaker that gave everyone a chance to move about and get to know each other.

Board members, Frances Goldstein, Phyllis Lautman and Eric Silvern were able to introduce their mentees and tell about their experiences as mentors. Roxana Romero and Magdalena Lopez in their senior years at Cal State Fullerton and Mt. St. Mary’s impressed the audiences with their accomplishments and self-confidence.

Mentor Meeting

Rebecca Leach, who had been mentored when a foster child in San Diego, is now mentoring a college student. She described her experiences and had some good advice for new mentors. I have four mentor volunteers patiently waiting to be paired with a scholarship recipient.

Students interested in working in the health services are encouraged to call me so I can arrange for them to meet with someone who has achieved success in a field they wish to pursue.

Maureen Osborn took pictures, Lee Steele donated a box of delicious cupcakes. A fire roared in my fireplace and hot apple cider was served.

It was wonderful event.