Los Angeles-based law firm Panish Shea & Boyle LLP donated $100,000 to the California State University, Fresno Foundation to establish the Ana G. Tapia Memorial Endowment Fund. Ms. Tapia was in her first year of the Master of Public Health program at Fresno State when she died from a car accident on Nov. 7, 2014.

Law firm partner Brian Panish, a Fresno State alumnus (1980), and attorney Dan Dunbar represented Ms. Tapia’s family in a wrongful death case arising from the accident.

“Ana Tapia was a remarkable young woman whose life was taken far too soon,” said Mr. Panish. “We are proud to honor her through the creation of this scholarship fund that will provide others with an opportunity to serve the community in the same way that Ana did.”

Ana Tapia in May 2014. Photo Credit: Tapia Family
Ana Tapia in May 2014. Photo Credit: Tapia Family

To memorialize Ms. Tapia’s legacy and commitment to education and her community, the endowment will support Fresno State public health students from the Central Valley. Undergraduate and graduate scholars with a demonstrated interest in, and a passion for, health issues and challenges in the Latino community, particularly Latina health issues, will be considered. Those from Fowler High School, Ms. Tapia’s alma mater, and those with a demonstrated financial need, will have priority.

“The Ana G. Tapia Memorial Scholarship will create opportunities and provide inspiration to students who want to make a difference in our region through health research and policy analysis,” said Dr. John Capitman, executive director of the Central Valley Health Policy Institute at Fresno State, where Ms. Tapia interned. “This scholarship is a great starting point for Hispanic students in the Valley who have a passion for higher education in general, and especially for someone like Ana who not only had the passion for learning, but also for applying the learning to advance life chances for her community.”

Ms. Tapia graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in public health, with an option in community health, in May 2014. Actively involved on campus with many honor societies, clubs and internships, she was nominated for Fresno State’s Undergraduate Dean’s Medalist award for the Division of Student Affairs. She entered the graduate program later that fall with a desire to enhance her studies in health education.

“Ana embodied all the core values we strive for in our students,” said Dr. Vicki Krenz, chair of the Department of Public Health and Ms. Tapia’s undergraduate adviser. “She had a strong commitment to providing research on women’s issues, teen pregnancy and access to health care for all. She was so dedicated and fully invested to her education and always wanted to grasp on to everything.”

Ana presenting her CVPHI project.
Ana presenting her CVPHI project.

Ms. Tapia had a passion for helping the underserved. While at Fresno State, she was an ambassador for the Education and Leadership Foundation and a peer mentor in the Educational Opportunity Program, providing mentoring services to first-generation, low-income and educationally disadvantaged students on campus.

She transitioned this passion into her studies, where she displayed a strong commitment to educating the community in health issues impacting the region. Ms. Tapia was hired at the Central Valley Health Policy Institute after completing her undergraduate work, and was involved in projects that catered to the underserved population, particularly Latinos. As a first-generation college student and daughter of immigrant farmworkers, these were causes close to Ms. Tapia’s heart, said Krenz.

The Tapia Family in May 2014. Photo Credit: Tapia Family.
The Tapia Family in May 2014. Photo Credit: Tapia Family.

“We feel happy that something like this is being done in memory of our daughter,” said Artemio and Irma Tapia, Ana’s parents. “We know there are many students who, like Ana, want to continue their education and make a difference in other people’s lives. We hope that a gift like this will make it easier for those students who want to continue their education and give back to their people and communities, just like our daughter did.”

The first recipient of the Ana G. Tapia Memorial Scholarship will be awarded in fall 2016.

For more information, contact Angela Bailey, director of public relations at Panish Shea & Boyle LLP, at 909.286.4040 or Dana Lucka, director of development for Fresno State’s College of Health and Human Services, at 559.278.5590 or danaz@csufresno.edu.

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Related links: https://fresnostatelivewellblog.com/2014/12/05/ana-tapia-remembered-as-exceptional-student-leader-and-friend/