January 17, 2021

Six Stanislaus State credential candidates with student teaching assignments in San Joaquin County are the first to receive scholarships from the University’s recently established Ocella Riley Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Jennifer Ramos, Ranae Handel Merrill, Deanne Mendoza, Kayla Wise, Amritpal Maan and Kayla Borders have each been awarded $1,250 to cover expenses while they train to be teachers.

Gifted to Stan State in February 2020, the $50,000 Riley fund will award scholarships to as many as eight credential candidates each year over a five-year period. Awardees are required to maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA and be training in San Joaquin County.

Riley was a longtime teacher in San Joaquin County who died in 1966 at the age of 90. She left her estate in a trust that has been supporting education students for about 50 years.

For Kayla Wise, a resident of Manteca assigned to Banta Elementary School near Tracy, the scholarship brings welcome financial relief because student teaching assignments are unpaid and require a major time commitment.

“When you’re in a student teaching placement, you’re teaching 40 hours a week, not including the time you spend preparing materials, grading, communicating with parents and guardians and taking whatever classes are required of you,” she said. “As a result, it’s incredibly difficult to find time to work for a paycheck while you student teach.”

Jennifer Ramos, also a resident of Manteca, is finding that the scholarship helps her stay focused on her goals, despite the uncertainty of the world around her.

“Due to COVID-19, this has been a tough time for us all,” said Ramos, a student teacher at Manteca’s East Union High School. “With the scholarship, I’m able to have one less worry. It will help me finish up my credential and continue to pursue higher education.”

Wise and Ramos agree that earning a credential is hard work, but their love of teaching makes the work and time commitment worth every minute.

“I love helping students expand their minds, both in education and life skills,” Ramos said.