Impact Stories

Stories of Philanthropy, Alumni and Community

Learn more about students who have been the recipients of our giving programs, and also read about our donors – some of whom are former students – and why they’re grateful for the education and support offered at Sierra College.

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Stories of Making a Difference

Sierra College Foundation works to support students so they can be successful in school. Watch this video to meet a few Sierra students and staff as they share their stories. 
Jake Malerbi Headshot Meet Jake Malerbi, a hardworking Sierra College student who is part of the Guardian Scholars program. Guardian Scholars assists former foster youth so they can be successful in school and career. Watch Jake's story. 
Maria Brannon headshot Meet Maria Brannan, a proud veteran who is also a Sierra College alum. She works in Sierra's Veteran Success Center to assist other veterans who are furthering their education at Sierra College. Watch Maria's story
Sierra College Foundation awards more than $300,000 in scholarships every year. Watch Savanna Turner and Natalie Rowland's story, to learn how scholarships have helped them. 

Andi* was a meth addict at age 14. Expelled from high school, she had no family support and ended up staying with friends. She attended continuation school, but high school graduation was a big “if” for her. Attending college was never in the picture.

Through Sierra Promise, Andi took a field trip to Sierra College. She toured many departments but was especially inspired by the Nursing Village. Suddenly, for the first time in her life, she knew what she wanted to do.

She wasn’t sure how to make it happen, but she worked hard in high school and successfully kicked her drug addiction. Despite earlier worries that she wouldn’t graduate, she did – and ahead of schedule.

With the assistance of Sierra Promise staff, she focused on how to attend Sierra College. Her Sierra Promise counselor helped with every stage – from filling out the application to completing her FAFSA application, and even driving her to take assessment tests.

Andi was overwhelmed and a bit terrified, but she began college at Sierra and has already successfully finished her first semester. She said it has been tough, but worth it. She’s excited for her future.

Learn more about how you can support Sierra Promise through the Student Assistance Fund Endowment (SAFE).

*Last name not used to protect student's identity.

Headshot of Jason Loscalzo

When Jason Loscalzo graduated from Golden Sierra High School in the ‘90s and began gearing up for the next stage in his life, he said that while he couldn’t afford a 4-year college, his parents encouraged him to enroll at Sierra College.

“My brother went there, and I wanted to play football,” he said. “It just made sense.”

Jason played fullback for Sierra College for a few years, then he went on to Humboldt State where he earned his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology in 1999. In 2001, he earned a master’s in athletic administration from Nevada.

From there, he went on to a successful 21-year collegiate career as a strength and conditioning coach with Washington State (2012-17), Boston College (2007-11), Auburn University (2003-06), Marshall (2001-03), University of Nevada, Reno (1999-01) and Arkansas (1999).

Today, Jason is beginning his second year as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Chicago Bears, but looks back fondly on his days at Sierra.

 “I’m still in touch with some of my Sierra teammates,” he said. “We played under Rex Chappell.”

Sierra College was a great first step for Jason and prepared him for a four-year school.

“I had the same education at Sierra that I received at Humboldt State, and the best part is that I graduated without taking out a loan.”

He added, “School is what you make of it. The important part is having your name on a diploma.”

We applaud Jason on his impressive accomplishments. His success is an inspiration to the thousands of students preparing to begin their college career at Sierra.

Jason and his wife, Nicci, have two sons, JP and Luke, and one daughter, Gianna. 

Headshot of Rick Nelson As Rick Nelson tells the story, he “won the lottery” when he received several scholarships that helped him attend Sierra College after graduating from Roseville High School in 1973.

At the age of 10, Rick’s father passed away. As the eldest of three children, Rick worked numerous jobs before and after school to help his mother and sisters. No one in his family had ever gone to college, but when he was finishing high school, several local service clubs offered him scholarships, and he jumped at the chance.

After earning an Associate’s degree from Sierra College, he went on to BYU where he earned a degree in Business, and eventually had a very successful, 30-year career with Morgan Stanley.

Rick recognized the incredible value of his original scholarships.

“Two of my scholarships were for $500, which was a lot of money to me back then. But really, it was worth so much more than that,” he recalled. “What they gave me, what came out of my education – it saved me. And I wanted to help other students the same way someone once helped me.”

In 1999, Rick and his wife, Sandi, began awarding the Raymond S. Nelson Memorial Scholarship (named after his father) to Sierra College students. He personally reads every application and is always looking for ways to make a positive impact on each student.

Looking back over the years, the Nelsons estimate they have awarded nearly 100 scholarships to deserving and financially disadvantaged students. Many of these students continue to write thank you letters expressing a strong desire to do the same to help future students when they are financially in a position to do so.

We applaud Rick’s selfless dedication to helping others. He knows the true meaning of “paying it forward.” He is not only a notable alum but continues to empower many other students to benefit from Sierra College.

Headshot of Jason Davis

Jason Davison is Captain of the Nevada County Consolidated Fire Department, and a Sierra College 2006 alum.

“In my line of work, giving back to the community is part of the job,” he said. “It’s also part of who I am.”

He added, "Being a Colfax High School graduate, I, like thousands of other high school graduates in our region, have benefited from a Sierra College education." 

Grateful for the Fire Technology training he received at Sierra College, he is giving back through SCF GIVES, which is Sierra College Foundation’s initiative to address the greatest needs on campus.

Gifts to Sierra College Foundation are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. The contribution deductible for tax purposes is limited to the amount that exceeds the value of any goods and services received by the donor. Tax ID #23-7241877