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Alumnae establish SOS Fund to help more CSUEB students graduate

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Thanks to Cal State East Bay's SOS Fund, students like John Matthews are able to complete their degree. (Photo: Garvin Tso)

  • June 13, 2014

As they saw state support for public higher education drop and student fees rise in 2011, Cal State East Bay alumnae Luanne Rotticci (B.S. Business and Kinesiology,’87) and Liza Jane MacNaughton (B.A., Spanish,’90) were appalled to think what it would mean for CSUEB students who were close to graduation, but would be forced to drop out for financial reasons.

Rotticci and MacNaughton took action by founding the “Save Our Students” (SOS) scholarship fund, starting it with their own money while reaching out to friends and fellow alumni.

Three years later the SOS Fund, with $58,000 in gifts and individual scholarships ranging from $500 to $1,500, has enabled 56 students previously in danger of dropping out, to remain and graduate. While a tremendous accomplishment for SOS, the need for help proved much bigger; between 2011-2012, there were six to seven times more applicants seeking assistance than scholarship dollars available.

How helpful has the SOS Fund been? John Matthews, a U.S. Navy veteran who fought in the Iraq War and was one of those students in need after losing his job, was able to return to CSUEB to complete his degree.

“I was working at NUMMI when it was closed down,” Matthews said. “My family of four faced many challenges as I returned to school. The SOS scholarship gave me a second chance in life… it gave me the opportunity to stay in school and complete my degree in industrial engineering. With that degree, I secured a job at Tesla. I was very proud to be able to make my own gift to the SOS Scholarship Fund this year.”

In 2014, Rotticci and MacNaughton have announced a $20,000 SOS Scholarship Fund challenge. In order In order to support 21 additional students with $1,400 SOS Scholarships, they will donate an additional $10,000 if the university can raise $20,000 for the fund by June 30, 2014.

If you would like to join others in helping Cal State East Bay students stay in school, graduate and reach their potential, go to, or contact Penny Peak, director, Alumni Relations & Programs, at (510) 885-4156, or at

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