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Generous Gift to Support College Dreams for Generations

May 7, 2013
Donors Fred and Mitzie Ruiz creating endowment to honor the legacy of matriarch Rose Ruiz that will help students for years to come

Longtime UC Merced supporters Frederick R. and Mitzie Ruiz have made a generous gift to help generations of students through an endowed scholarship, named in honor of the woman who had a major impact on their lives.

The Rose R. Ruiz Endowed Scholarship and Fellowship Fund will support highly motivated undergraduate and graduate students who face obstacles such as financial difficulties, being first-generation college students and meeting California Dream Act standards.

“The Ruiz family’s generosity enables UC Merced to continue its mission of serving the underserved, and helps make higher education a possibility for all,” said UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland. “Their gift ensures Rosie Ruiz leaves an enduring legacy.”

The California Dream Act allows private and limited public support and in-state-tuition rates for undocumented students who attend California high schools for at least three years and have or are willing to apply for legal immigration status as soon as they are eligible.

Grateful to their mother, Rose R. Ruiz, for her strong work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit and belief in higher education, the Ruizes gave $262,000 in her name to establish the fund and create a legacy of support for newly enrolling and transfer students for years to come.

The Ruiz family hopes the fund will inspire, encourage and support students to realize their dreams, as Rose Ruiz did for her children.

Fred and Mitzie Ruiz are iconic leaders who value the role the University of California plays in transforming lives. They have championed the establishment and growth of UC Merced from the beginning. Fred Ruiz has also served as a UC Regent since 2004.

“We wanted to do something lasting that would demonstrate the kind and generous nature of my mom,” Fred Ruiz said. “Her strong work ethic and belief in higher education were always an inspiration.  She would be excited about a legacy that could serve to inspire, encourage and support students to realize their dreams.”

Their gift will touch the lives of many who aspire to create brighter futures for themselves through higher education.

Undocumented students have been eligible for in-state-tuition rates since 2001, provided they attend a California high school for three or more years, graduate or attain their equivalency certificates and apply for or prove intent to apply for legal immigration status as soon as they are eligible.

But the California Dream Act, passed in 2011, allows those students to receive scholarships that come from private funds, obtain Board of Governors fee waivers and get institutional student aid. They would only be eligible for competitive Cal Grants if there was money left after all eligible California residents received their grants.

UC Merced is home to a number of California Dream Act students. Of the fall’s 5,300 undergraduates, about 100 are undocumented. About 85 percent of UC Merced’s students receive aid in one or more forms, and about 60 percent of UC Merced undergraduates are the first in their families to attend four-year college.