‘My life has been changed forever:’ Students share powerful impact of scholarships

Cynia Manning speaks at a podium during the luncheon.

Cynia Manning

Growing up on the southside of Stockton in a blended family of 13 children, political science major Cynia Manning ’24 never imagined attending University of the Pacific. 

“Watching my family do their best to make ends meet meant I had to step up in my role,” Manning said. “From a young age I was a babysitter and tutor to my siblings while my parents worked long hours to provide for us.”

A scholarship through Pacific’s Community Involvement Program made it possible. “It sealed the deal for committing to Pacific,” Manning said. 

She shared her story at the university's Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon. The annual event brings together scholarship recipients and donors to show the powerful impact of philanthropy. 

In 2022, the university distributed $10.5 million in donor-funded endowed scholarships to nearly 1,200 students—a huge increase from ten years ago when endowment distribution was $3.3 million.

“It has been one of the most life-changing decisions I have ever made. Being able to receive such a prestigious education at an affordable cost is a dream come true,” said Manning, who also has received the Stockton, Rogers and William K. Chase Memorial scholarships.

Tristan Allen speaks at a podium during the luncheon

Tristan Allen

Biochemistry major Tristan Allen ’25 also shared his path to Pacific. Raised by a single mom, he distinctly remembers the flood of emotions when he was awarded the Powell Scholarship. 

“I rushed home to tell my mom and I knew that she wouldn't have to bear the financial burden of college for me,” Allen recalled. 

Since coming to Pacific, which his grandfather and great-grandfather also attended, he has found a second home with tremendous opportunity. 

“When I talk to my friends at other universities, they are shocked that I have been able to enter into an undergraduate research lab,” said Allen, who also is a recipient of the Edith and Emerson Cobb Endowed Chemistry Scholarship. “My life has been changed forever because of my experience at Pacific.” 

The difference a scholarship can make in a student’s life is the reason donors such as alumnus and former Director of Athletics Ted Leland ’70, ‘74 are committed to give back. 

“I was lucky enough to go here on a football scholarship, and I always wanted to pay it forward,” Leland said. “I couldn't have come to Pacific if I hadn’t gotten a football scholarship. I didn't have the money. So I want to make that scholarship possible for somebody else.”

Filo Ebid performs a song during the luncheon

Filo Ebid

The luncheon also featured a stirring rendition of “The Impossible Dream” from the musical “Man of La Mancha” by music performance major Filo Ebid ’23, a recipient of the Faye Spanos Scholarship, the Elford-Roy Endowed Scholarship and the Michael James Rooke Hall Endowed Fund for Music. 

Almost all Pacific students receive some form of financial aid, with many supported by scholarships.

“Scholarships provide life-changing opportunities for students, letting them know that they matter. That someone they’ve never even met believes in them and wants them to succeed,” said Scott Biedermann ’05, ’20, vice president of University Development and Alumni Relations. 

The investment pays off for Pacific students. The university is ranked in the top 2% for alumni earnings among all 4-year colleges and universities in the United States and is No. 1 in the nation for career earnings for low-income students.

Donors interested in creating an endowed scholarship can contact Senior Associate Vice President of Development Molly Byrne at All new endowment gifts at Pacific are doubled through the university’s Powell Match program.