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STAFF STORIES: Chuck Allen ,Sandy Allen, and Daughter Jennifer

Chuck Allen ,Sandy Allen, and Daughter Jennifer

While I never personally attended any classes at Fullerton College, amazingly it has been a large part of my life for almost forty years. My Fullerton College story begins in 1977 when my wife Sandra announced to me that she had quit her secretarial job and enrolled at FC with her ultimate goal to earn a bachelor’s degree and become a newspaper reporter. Needless to say, that was not well received by me since we had two young daughters, a mortgage, etc. In the end, I was no match for her determination to achieve her dream and off she went to Fullerton College. She often said that she was very intimidated by the much younger students that she encountered in her first classes but she hung in there and settled in to get the job done. As a “returning student” she received a great deal of support from a counseling program sponsored by Mary Shaw. I believe that this program has helped many hundreds of students with similar “reentry” challenges to successfully achieve their educational goals.

My wife relished the educational opportunities at Fullerton College including ultimately being the student editor of the Hornet Newspaper. Her earlier fears of being thrown in with younger students were gradually overcome and she built life-long relationships with both faculty and fellow students. She went on to graduate with honors from Fullerton College and Cal-State Fullerton as well as build a successful career as a journalist and editor for a number of local newspapers.

My oldest daughter Jennifer was also a student at Fullerton College in the mid-eighties and she too benefited greatly from Mary Shaw’s counseling and guidance. Jennifer was a member of the College’s Symphonic Winds group led by Professor Larry Lauder and went on to earn her bachelor’s degree at San Francisco State University.

In many ways I would like to say that my Fullerton College story ends with Jennifer’s transfer to SFSU. That was not to be the case. In late 1990 Sandra was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and given eighteen months to live. After much research she chose Stanford University Hospital for her treatment and we moved to the Bay Area. The Stanford University doctors put her on a newly developed drug called Tamoxifin which extended her life until 1997. While at Stanford she, and the family, were also part of a research study led by Dr. David Spiegel dealing with terminally ill women. Sandra became the “unofficial” spokesperson for the group and appeared on many local and national television and radio shows including the Bill Moyer’s “Healing and the Mind” PBS series. An article she wrote about her struggles with the disease was published in the San Francisco Examiner about the time the series was shown on television. She was passionate about living each day fully and was an inspiration to many women facing the same fate.

In early 1993 she asked me to set up a Fullerton College Foundation journalism scholarship after she died. She wanted the scholarship to go to returning students with a passion for print journalism. We were able to get it started in 1993 and she awarded the first “Sandra Baird Allen Journalism Scholarship” in June, 1993. Through the years the endowment has grown to a point now where the Foundation awards in excess of $5,000 a year to one or more journalism students. In 2012 the scholarship was renamed the “Sandra Baird Allen/Julie Davey Journalism Scholarship” to also honor her mentor, friend and donor Professor Julie Davey. Through this scholarship she has had, and will continue for many years to come, a tremendous influence on future journalists.

My Fullerton College story continues after her death in 1997. I moved back to the Fullerton area and in 1998 joined the Fullerton College Foundation Board of Directors. I served as a director and Board President until 2007 and in February, 2008 became the Foundation’s Executive Director.

The Foundation was founded in 1959 by then College President, Dr. H. Lynn Sheller. Through the years the Foundation has awarded over $3 million dollars in scholarships and grants to over 10,000 students. Shepherding this wonderful legacy is quite a challenge but it is enormously rewarding. The ability to partner with the College and be part of helping students achieve their educational goals is a wonderful experience. For me, the Fullerton College journey started with my wife’s announcement of her return to college which in turn opened doors of opportunity for not only her but for me and my family as well.