Dec 12, 2018
Courtesy of University Communications

New scholarship honors deceased Fresno State student

A new scholarship for graduate students in public health was created to honor the memory of deceased Fresno State student Ana G. Tapia.

The endowment of $100,000 is to fund the memorial scholarship in her name.

Tapia was a Fowler High School graduate and a first-generation college student pursuing a master’s degree in public health at Fresno State. Tapia was focusing on understanding Latino health issues and needs. She died Nov. 7, 2014 in a car accident.

Dana Lucka, director of development for the college of health and human services, said they will have the scholarship ready to give out to students for the fall 2016 semester.

The Los Angeles law firm Panish Shea & Boyle LLP established the scholarship endowment.

“We are so pleased that Panish Shea & Boyle have chosen to establish a scholarship in Ana’s name,” Lucka said.

Lucka said the Ana G. Tapia Memorial Endowment Fund is intended for graduate students in public health who have a similar path to the public health student. Those who have an interest in Latino health, are graduates of Tapia’s alma mater and show financial need are eligible for the scholarship.

“Ana was an exceptional student and really so incredibly talented and passionate about healthcare and health disparity in our community,” Lucka said. “It would be really fabulous to have some great students that can carry on her legacy.”

Brian Panish, a Fresno State alumnus and partner in the law firm, represented Tapia’s family in a wrongful death case after the accident. Panish was able to help the family by winning a $5 million insurance settlement. Panish said from speaking with her family, they got to learn a lot about how hard she worked and how she helped people.

“We wanted to give back something to remember her, but to also keep her family involved,” Panish said. “It was really an inspiration, and we wanted to inspire others to be like her and for her not to be forgotten.”

Panish said he hopes the scholarship will live on and continue to grow in Tapia’s name along with the memory of her. Panish said how important he thinks it is for others to have that same passion that Tapia had.

“It’s a very important aspect in our society,” Panish said. “Certainly, public health is very important and to have young people getting involved and being passionate about it like Ana was, that would be great and that’s what we want to encourage.”

Dr. Helda Pinzon-Perez, professor of community health for the Department of Public Health said she knew Tapia for two years and was a professor for one of Tapia’s classes. Pinzon-Perez said what she thinks of the scholarship and that Tapia was a great student and human being.

“I think it’s a wonderful way to enhance the legacy that Ana has left,” Pinzon-Perez said. “It’s a very valuable contribution to our students to have that financial support to go on with their studies and is a very honorable way to remember Ana and impact education.”

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