The Welcome Home Fund recently announced its first two scholarship recipients at Pasadena City College (PCC). John Pipia and Betty Ma established the fund with Pasadena Community Foundation in 2021 in support of full-time student veterans at PCC. The students must demonstrate serious academic ambition and progress, as well as a plan to transfer to a four-year college or university or complete an AA Degree or Certificate Program. The two selected scholars – Changze Liu and Saul Diaz — are both Army veterans.
Changze Liu was deployed to Iraq for 9 months and is now a business major at PCC with a 4.0 GPA. When he graduated from high school in 2015, he enrolled at PCC but soon dropped out when part-time employment proved difficult and he did not want to rely on his parents. He notes that his experiences in the Army and with subsequent employment exposed him to different perspectives and cultural backgrounds, which led him to fully appreciate that the quality of life was exceptional in the United States. “I realized that everything we have here and now (is) created and (had been) built over a long period of time to get to where we are now. Essentially it all started with education. . . I heard lots of stories, and I came to a conclusion: You would never go wrong with education.”
Saul Diaz is an engineering and technology major at PCC. He joined the Army in 2015 and served six years with deployments to Syria and Iraq. Saul remembers a close call that made him reconsider his future. “After ISIS militants made their way onto our small firing base and detonated, I completely rethought my future. I came within feet of them and made me realize life is short. After my deployment was over, I immediately enrolled in school while serving. I am now chasing my education with dreams of graduating from UCLA.”
John Pipia and Betty Ma are thrilled that two exceptional scholars will receive extra funding for their educational goals. “All veterans have earned the eternal gratitude of our country through their sacrifices and selfless actions,” John says. “They deserve nothing less than our complete support. The Welcome Home Fund is pleased to provide a small measure of assistance to these two deserving combat veterans as they transition to civilian life, continue their educations, and pursue new paths in life.”