Alumni donate $32,000 to the theater arts scholarships fund for students

Nick Spinarski

Fullerton College alumni gathered for a gala in support of the scholarships offered for students in theater arts. Exceeding the targeted $10,000, alumni and friends ended the evening donating a total of $17,555. With matching donations, the counting total since the Mar. 12 gala is over $32,000.

The event was put together by Bob Jenson, a retired Dean of the theater arts department. The goal of the event was to raise money for the current five theater scholarships provided by the college.

“We would love to get to a place where we could have emergency funding,” said Jenson, “So that kids in trouble, whatever that trouble is, that there are resources to help them continue their education or deal with whatever the crisis is that is currently happening to them. If we can help them stay in school, we would like to do that.”

Alyssa Dodson and her husband Stephen Nelson offered a matching grant of up to $10,000 for donations specifically to the Bronwyn Dodson Scholarship. Alyssa Dodson is the sister of the late Bronwyn Dodson.

The Bronwyn Dodson Scholarship is the largest one offered. This scholarship was named after Bronwyn Dodson, a theater student at Fullerton College, who passed away in 1991 on her way to school in a traffic accident.

Other scholarships available are the Esther Hatch, Marvon Levine, Anita and Everette Farnsworth, and the Theatre Arts Alumni Legacy Scholarship.

The scholarships are designed to help new and returning students, and those moving on to university study or further professional training.

You can donate and help Grow the Fullerton Theater College Scholarships here.

“This is a looking forward fundraising campaign to take the five theater scholarships, rebuild them, restore them, grow them, hopefully to a number where they will be able to sustain themselves in perpetuity,” said Jenson.

A number of past Fullerton College production posters sprawled out on the tables for guests to take home.
Tables displayed past production photos from the Fullerton College Theater department. Photo credit: Nick Spinarski

The evening’s festivities, which ended with a performance of Fullerton College’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

The outdoor gala took place at the college’s quad. The patrons of the event gathered together beneath a large canopy where they enjoyed drinks and appetizers under stringed lights.

Claire Sparr was beyond excited to find the poster of one of her productions on display.
Claire Sparr holds up a poster from her 2013 Fullerton College production of "Metamorphoses." Photo credit: Nick Spinarski

“Fullerton College’s Theater Arts Department will always be one of the most well-rounded curricula that I have taken part in,” said Claire Sparr. “They are willing and eager to take chances, not only with their productions, but on their students as well.”

Sparr played the rolls of scientist, narrator, and nurse in Fullerton’s 2013 production of “Metamorphoses.” Since leaving the college, she started her own theater company called Post Giraffe Productions, which specializes in new and re-imagined works.

“Gary Krinke was my mentor during my time at Fullerton College, from 2012 to 2014,” said Sparr, “and his faith in me has changed my life for the better.”

Heather and Matt Brown with their son Morgan, enjoying the family friendly event supporting the college.
Heather Brown and Matt Brown with their son Morgan, enjoying their evening at the Fullerton College alumni reception. Photo credit: Nick Spinarski

Heather Brown, and husband Matt, met as Fullerton College students. Their son, Morgan, 7, joined them for the gala.

Reminiscing over past professors, Heather Brown said, “The instructor that really guided me to stay within theater was Steve Pliska with lighting. I always said, ‘I don’t want to do lighting.’ But I took one of the classes, and I took it as much as they would let me. Semester after semester.”

The donation table at the gala is the most crowded as alumni and friends gather to support the arts.
The donation table at the gala is the most crowded as alumni and friends gather to support the arts. Photo credit: Nick Spinarski

There was a constant crowd at the donations table with alumni and friends of the Fullerton community stood their support for the Theater Arts Department and its students.

Though the college surpassed the $10,000 target, donations will still be accepted. The new mark to hit is $50,000 by June 1.

“Our alumni felt they had a highly valued education when they were here,” said Jenson. “Being smaller than a university, we gave them more freedom, leadership, and production management, and they really started feeling ownership of the productions.”

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