EastBay Today

Feature
Posted January 14, 2019

How to Promote Peace

Alumna creates Carol Sughrue Scholarship for International Peace and Understanding

Cal State East Bay alumna Carol Sughrue (‘69, Social Science) is a retired journalist, activist and humanitarian.

These days she’s also supporting the next generation of good-hearted world citizens with the newly-formed Carol Sughrue Scholarship for International Peace and Understanding by turning her required IRA distribution into a gift and a planned bequest.

Designed to support first-generation students who have committed to working with refugee and immigrant populations or promoting international peace, the initial $25,000 scholarship received more than 130 applications. Recognizing the need and to support more students, the amount was split into four scholarships, each of which will cover almost the entirety of the recipients’ tuition for a year.

After a panel of 14 alumni volunteers reviewed the dozens of essays submitted last fall, Elaine Perez-Cabrera, Joselyn De Leon Rodas, Karla Perez-Diaz and Luis Ledesma were ultimately selected as recipients and awarded $5,937 each.

Inspiration then and now

Sughrue, who now lives in Sacramento, said it was her then-Cal State Hayward professor John Gothberg who convinced her not to drop out of college. The professor also helped set her up with her first job as a reporter at the Argus in Fremont, which she says changed the trajectory of her life and demonstrated how vital student-faculty relationships can be.

“These students are the future, I can't control the future I'm not going to be around.”

After reconnecting with the university years later, she was happy to hear it was still the life-changing place she remembered.

“[I heard about Cal State East Bay’s] diversity, its devotion to its students, its commitment to helping students in every way possible,” Sughrue said. “I hadn’t stayed in touch, and I was really impressed by the amazing work being done there.”

She said it’s the students she heard about that ultimately led her to give, inspired by their drive and commitment to serving their communities, a value that hit home for her.

“These students are the future, I can't control the future I'm not going to be around ... but they're our future and they need to be prepared,” Sughrue said. “These are good kids who want to better themselves and our country.”

The four students who received the scholarship each sent Sughrue letters thanking her for the gift and she said she found herself moved by each one.

“I cried reading those letters,” she said. “They are such wonderful human beings, I could not believe it. I couldn't believe how articulate they all were, how they were looking toward their future with plans in mind.”

 A life of service

 After graduating from Cal State Hayward, Sughrue worked as a journalist for local newspapers and at Sunset Magazine for many years, later transitioning to corporate media. And although she retired several years ago, she never stopped finding ways to be involved in causes that moved her.

Most recently, after following the crisis in Palestine for some time on the news, she began searching Facebook for ways to help and stumbled upon a group promoting a free Palestine. She got to know the page administrators and ultimately became one herself, keeping the more than 80,000 followers up to date on the conflict there. She’s also currently housing a Sri Lanken refugee who recently received asylum in the U.S.

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Prior to this, Sughrue volunteered for six years with Project Open Hand in San Francisco preparing and delivering food to people living with AIDS. And she volunteered with the ACLU, which ultimately honored her with its Lola Hanzel Courageous Advocacy Award for her “extraordinary accomplishments as a volunteer.”

When asked what motivates her to give her time and money, Sughrue said she sees it as a duty and honor.

“I think most people want to help other people, they just don't know how or in what capacity,” she said. “I believe we have to reach out and help other people and I'm just going to do as much as I can.”

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