Scholarship Shoutout Saturday – Fay Sasser Scholarship Recipient: Ava Damis

Many Roads Lead to Sasser

Annual scholarship funds compassionate students’ goals.

People join MAC for many reasons, from social to athletic to professional. Regardless of why they become members, during her tenure as the attendant behind the Main Entrance Front Desk, Fay Sasser welcomed them to their second home with a smile on her face and their names on her lips.

Such was her reputation for dedicated service over the course of 44 years, that Sasser’s name is still spoken as a shining example of what prioritizing member experience means. It’s also spoken by employees and their families when they dream of a better future and take active steps to achieve it. The Fay Sasser MAC Employee Scholarship provides $5,000 toward one academic year, and it’s given to students pursuing degrees from associate to graduate level.

Individuals apply for many reasons, from bettering themselves to making the world a better place to a bit of both, and the Multnomah Athletic Foundation supports their ambitions. The following four 2020 recipients have different stories to tell, and all are welcome additions to club history.

Ava Damis

The last name Damis will be familiar to MAC Group Ex afficionados. Instructor, actress and stunt woman Michelle Damis has led some of the most challenging classes at the club, bringing full-throttle enthusiasm to all she touches.

Her daughter, Ava, appears to be following in her footsteps. Inspired by MAF’s commitment to building strong minds capable of motivating others, she’s attacking the opportunities provided by a Sasser scholarship with a passion fueled by leading and inspiring others.

“The emphasis on using leadership to empower youth by building their confidence and other life skills through athletics resonates with me because, as a former gymnastics teacher, I’ve seen just how much athletics impacts youth,” she explains. “While teaching, I saw kids of various ages overcome challenges, like doing a pullover by themselves, learning how to communicate in healthy ways and developing other awesome skills. For me personally, playing soccer for more than 10 years increased my confidence in using leadership skills on and off the field, and developed a discipline that I’m able to draw from when setting and attaining goals.”

Right now, those goals center on education, and not just her own. Damis is driven to be an academic life coach, and recently switched majors from secondary education, with history and special education endorsements, to sociology with an education minor. “As an academic life coach, I’d get to help students identify their strengths, core values and goals; develop emotional intelligence and other skills that are important for establishing healthy habits concerning school and other areas of life; and be in a position to empower students to realize their full potential,” she says.

Realizing her own full potential is key to aiding others in doing the same, and Damis says MAF’s assistance in that regard is very much appreciated. “These funds mean a lot because getting an education is extremely important to me. It’s no secret that the cost of higher education is becoming increasingly unaffordable for many students. Receiving this scholarship means that I can move forward in my education with less stress since I’m able to lower the amount I will owe in student loans post-graduation.”

She first learned about the scholarship from her mother, and became intrigued after reviewing the requirements. In addition to the funds helping to propel her, the process of applying itself deepened her perspective. “I discovered a love of applying for scholarships because they often require applicants to share their passions and to reflect on experiences that shaped who they are today. This specific scholarship sparked my interest since I’m currently enrolled in a leadership program through the University of Portland. It allowed me to dive deeper into what leadership means to me, what kind of leader I have been in past experiences and what my leadership goals are moving forward.”

The Sasser Scholarship provides a $5,000 award to four outstanding MAC Employees, or dependents of MAC employees that are currently or plan on attending university or graduate school.

To learn more about the scholarships offered at the foundation visit our scholarship page.

Originally published in the October 2020 Issue of The Winged M magazine.