By Olivia Garcia
This is a story about believing.
It is about dreaming big.
And, it is about seeing the future within grasp and doing what you can to make it reality.
That is how you can describe the Roadrunners Scholarship Fund as they work closely with CSUB athletics to soon kick off the annual volunteer Fund Drive.
I recently caught up with Alan Wade, the president of the Roadrunners Scholarship Fund Board, Norma Diaz, fellow board member, Ziggy Siegfried, senior associate athletics director for the CSUB athletics department and Karen Langston, CSUB's associate athletics director for advancement and director of the Roadrunner Scholarship Fund.
If you get in a room with them, chances are you will feel a sense of energy and inspiration as they talk about raising scholarship funds for CSUB athletes who now compete in the prominent NCAA Division 1.
"During the drive, the Roadrunner Scholarship Fund Board and CSUB staff will be asking for donations to the scholarship fund to support the education of Roadrunner student athletes," said Karen Langston, CSUB's associate athletics director for advancement and director of the Roadrunner Scholarship Fund. "We may not use state funds for scholarships so community support is vital."
More than 350 student athletes attend CSUB, Siegfried said, and of those, about 70 percent receive some form of scholarship help.
Aside from that, these student athletes "achieve higher GPAs and graduation rates than the CSUB student population average," Langston said, "and they do community service, and they represent CSUB and Bakersfield nationally in a very positive way - all while managing grueling practice and travel schedules."
As part of the drive that runs through June 30, the Roadrunners Scholarship Fund seeks to raise about $550,000, Siegfried said.
"If we meet our goal, it will be the largest amount of funds raised for the scholarship fund in CSUB's history," added Langston. And making history is what the four desires.
"What is Bakersfield known for," Wade asked. "What is going to be Bakersfield's legacy?"
For them, it's the CSUB athletic program and student success. They envision future wins, including a prediction that one, possible two CSUB teams, will be in the hunt to go into the NCAA tournament next year.
And they note that 60 percent of the student athletes settle in the area after graduation. Siegfried and Wade named off former athletes, such as Jeff Wiliams, who were recruited to play for CSUB and later earned a degree and settled in Bakersfield. Williams is president and director of operations of Lengthwise Brewery.
Diaz, who is a new board member, said she is excited at what may unfold in community support and athletic wins.
"I'm looking forward to see what CSUB baseball Division 1 can create in Bakersfield," said Diaz, who owns La Rosa Fruit Bars and Ice Cream, Inc. "The momentum and talent of our incredible players can certainly accelerate them into greatness. "As a business owner, I consider community support to be the utmost tool to drive any endeavor forward. We need to rally together and (help) our athletes take a dream and make it a reality."
Wade, who retired from State Farm, and Siegfried agreed.
"We know we are on the verge of something great," Wade said.
Added Siegfried, "It's all about people believing. We do have a chance."
Mark your calendars for additional activities planned this week at CSUB. The popular CSUB Theatre for Young Audiences will present "The Imaginators" by Dwayne Hartford and directed by Kamala Kruszka, theatre professor, at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, March 16 and noon and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 17, at the Dore Arena Theatre. This production, which follows a youth make-believe adventure, is recommended for ages 7 and older. Cost is $5, general admission, and free for children 12 and younger. For reservations, call 654-3150.
The CSUB Chamber Singers and CSUB Chamber Orchestra will join together and perform, "Mozart, Beethoven, and Beyond," 4 p.m., Sunday, March 17, at the Dore Theatre. General admission is $10, $5 for seniors and students, and free for CSUB students with ID.
Also, the Kegley Institute of Ethics will present a lecture, featuring Rich Harwood of the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 12 inside the CSUB Dezember Reading Room of the Walter Stiern Library. The event is free.
Olivia Garcia is editor of Bakersfield Life and BWell magazines and a columnist of The Bakersfield Californian. These are her opinions, not necessarily those of The Bakersfield Californian. Send her tips at firstname.lastname@example.org