Empowering Dreams

The Fay Sasser MAC Employee Scholarship

Pictured above: Fay Sasser MAC Employee Scholarship recipients Jennifer Holzapfel-Hanson, Elli Higginbotham, and Kristian Peev. Not pictured: Ali Noel Gunesch.

In the heart of Portland’s vibrant community lies a scholarship program that embodies the spirit of empowerment and celebrates the pursuit of knowledge and excellence. The Fay Sasser MAC Employee Scholarship, a joint effort between the Multnomah Athletic Foundation (MAF) and MAC, stands as a testament to the values that define both institutions: dedication, resilience, and a commitment to community.

“At MAC, we understand the strength in unity and its impact on people’s lives. Our community is extraordinary because of the remarkable individuals who form its backbone — our passionate and dedicated staff members. They embody the values that drive us forward, making our vision a reality, and touching lives immeasurable ways,” shared Richard Maxwell, Vice President of MAC’s Board of Trustees.

Fay Sasser, a model MAC employee who served the club for an impressive 44 years, was not just a beacon of dedication but also an ardent advocate of lifelong learning. It is in her honor that the scholarship was established, carrying on her legacy of nurturing the potential of others.

“Throughout my life, I have come to realize that education is not merely a stepping stone; rather, it is an integral part of mental well-being. It is the fuel that ignites our passion, empowers us to grow, and enables us to flourish in every aspect of life,” stated Jennifer Holzapfel-Hanson, one of the 2023 scholarship recipients, at MAF’s Scholarship Celebration Event in July.

Holzapfel-Hanson’s speech at the celebration echoed the core values of the program, emphasizing the importance of education in a lifelong journey of growth. With her own journey having taken her from UC Berkely to Northwestern to teaching yoga at the club, she continues her pursuit of knowledge through a professional health and wellness coach training program with Duke this fall.

This year’s four scholarship recipients, each receiving a $5,000 award, embody the diverse and dynamic community that thrives within MAC. Among them is Ali Noel Gunesch, excelling in medical studies at OHSU and as an All-American ski racer at Brown University. Beyond personal achievements, Gunesch has discovered her passion in mentoring and empowering young athletes to reach their full potential. Her dedication to uplifting others exemplifies the values of the MAC community.

Elli Higginbotham, a recent Southridge High School graduate, blends academic excellence with dedication to community service. She’ll take her passion for compassion and social awareness with her to pursue a nursing degree at the University of San Francisco this fall. Her commitment to creating positive change is a testament to MAC’s mission of enriching lives.

Kristian Peev represents perseverance and leadership. As Lewis and Clark Varsity Men’s Tennis team captain, he has displayed an impressive ability to lead and inspire others, embodying MAC’s spirit. Continuing his journey with the club, Peev will also be attending Portland State University to pursue a master’s degree in finance. His dedication to personal growth reflects the essence of the Fay Sasser scholarship.

Each recipient’s unique journey, as part of the broader community, exemplifies the scholarship’s emphasis on embracing diverse education paths, from college to graduate school to professional certificates. The scholarship celebrates not only academic achievements but also the determination to follow one’s passions and make meaningful contributions to society.

As the 2023 recipients take their next steps in their academic pursuits, the MAC and MAF communities stand united in celebrating their achievements and embracing the uncertainty of “what’s next.” The scholarship is a reminder of MAC’s belief in staff potential and capacity to create a brighter future.

“The significance of scholarships cannot be overstated,” Holzapfel-Hanson reiterates. “They are not just financial aid; they are symbols of belief and support in our potential.”

The Fay Sasser MAC Employee Scholarship encapsulates the essence of the Multnomah Athletic Club and its commitment to fostering growth, resilience, and community impact. Inspired by the remarkable woman it honors and supported by the Multnomah Athletic Foundation, this scholarship program continues to empower dreams and shape the lives of its recipients, inspiring them to make a difference in the world around them.

Written by the MAF Communications Team.

Originally published in the September issue of The Winged M magazine.