Fay Sasser Scholarship Recipients Follows Their Passions (Part 2 of 4)

By Jake Ten Pas

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. For 44 years at Multnomah Athletic Club, Fay Sasser was the employee who knew the most members’ names, helping to give the club the homey feeling for which it’s still known. She created community one interaction at a time, and her name lives on in MAC and Multnomah Athletic Foundation’s awarding of the annual scholarships in her name.

It doesn’t take a memory like Sasser’s to remember the names of this year’s MAC Employee Scholarship Program recipients, who all have unforgettable tales to tell. Each one of them received $5,000 to help them further develop their stories by pursuing higher education opportunities. These dreamers envision a better world, and MAC and MAF are helping them to realize their full potential as they pursue their passions.

Jaida Jeter

“Gap year” can be a loaded term. Taking time off between high school and college can be hugely beneficial, but it can also disperse focus and be perceived as simply a vacation from reality. Not for Jaida Jeter, though.

The Fay Sasser Scholarship recipient spent her gap year living with her grandparents in Ajijic, Mexico, not far from Guadalajara, working as an assistant English teacher for first- and second-grade students at a local bilingual school. She says the experience not only strengthened her second language, but also provided an invaluable immersion in another culture.

“My mom is half Hispanic, so it’s a big part of my life that I identify with the culture,” she explains. “When we understand other people, we can understand our own culture and ourselves better. I think it’s really important to be open to new ideas and how other cultures do things, such as governmental policies, ecological changes, sustainability, topics like that. That’s how we’re able to expand and grow.”

Now in her second year at University of Oregon, Jeter is putting her broadened perspective to use working toward her bachelor of arts in general social sciences, after which she wants to get a masters in curriculum and teaching. She’s also been working in MAC’s Youth Programs Department, gaining valuable on-the-job experience.

Getting recognized and rewarded with a MAF scholarship has freed her mind further by allowing her to focus on learning, rather than on how she’s going to make ends meet.

“Being a first-generation student, it’s kind of difficult for me because I don’t have people I can turn to and ask for college advice, or how to work things out financially,” she says. “This kind of help makes me feel a sense of relief and I’m very grateful for the push forward in my education. There’s so many things that I’m balancing, not just school, but work and home life, that this is one less thing I have to stress about.”