A remarkable scholarship that began with one woman’s generous spirit continues to grow through a family’s commitment to education and service. More than 50 UC Santa Cruz students have benefited from this fund, which started long before the campus was founded.
It was 1933 when Winifred Steiner graduated from Long Beach Community College. She was offered scholarships to continue her education at four-year institutions, but the awards weren’t enough to cover all the expenses, and her family couldn’t make up the difference. The U.S. was deep in an economic depression and Steiner had been helping to support her family while she attended college. "I got in touch with various men’s service organizations in Long Beach that had scholarships programs," said Steiner, who is 91. "All of them turned me down because they felt that a woman was a poor risk and sure to get married before graduation."
Winifred "Wini" Steiner
Wini Steiner, founder of the Jessie Rau Anderson Scholarship, passed away peacefully in her sleep on October 21, 2014 at the age of 101. Read her obituary.
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There was one woman in Steiner’s life who believed in her and had the means to help: Jessie Anderson, who taught in the Modern Languages Department at Long Beach Community College and was Steiner’s adviser in a scholastic honor society. On her own initiative Anderson loaned Steiner $500, which enabled her to continue her education and graduate with a B.A. in literature from UC Berkeley in 1935. "For the next three years I worked and repaid all of the money I had borrowed," said Steiner, who later learned that as she sent the money back, Anderson in turn gave it to other students.
Steiner went on to complete a second degree and have a career as a home economist with the UC Cooperative Extension. She and Anderson remained lifelong friends, staying connected throughout their moves, marriages, and retirements. When Anderson died in 1963, she bequeathed to Steiner the exact amount she had loaned her 30 years earlier. This final act of generosity from a supportive friend gave Steiner an idea. She used the bequest, increased with an additional gift from Anderson’s widower, to establish a scholarship in Jessie Anderson’s memory at UC Berkeley. "It seemed appropriate to use it as Jessie herself had used monies which were returned to her: to help other students," said Steiner.
The Anderson Scholarship, which supports entering first-year women students with scholastic promise and demonstrated ability, was transferred to UC Santa Cruz when the campus opened in 1965. "We felt it would be easier to keep in touch with the recipients," said Steiner, who was living in Los Gatos at the time. She recalls visiting the new campus "when it was one college, a lot of bulldozers, and we were given hard hats!"
Steiner has continued to support the scholarship, meet the recipients, and correspond and visit with them after they graduated. She sometimes took them out to lunch in Santa Cruz, and beginning in the 1980s, met new and returning Anderson Scholars at a yearly luncheon honoring the recipients. "I think Mother wanted to try to reach out to young people and say, ‘People over 30 can be your friends,’" said Mary Beth Train, Steiner’s daughter, who began bringing her mother to campus for the annual events when Steiner was no longer able to drive herself.
"I am inspired by the Anderson Scholarship girls, who must work and often juggle other responsibilities while attending UC Santa Cruz," said Train, a librarian in San Jose, who benefited from scholarship support herself as an undergraduate at Stanford University. Her daughter, Mary Catherine Williams (Porter ’91), followed in her grandmother’s footsteps, earning a B.A. in literature.
Impressed by the Anderson Scholars’ achievements, Train made a generous gift to support the scholarship, endowing it to provide student support into the future. "I’m also touched by Jessie Anderson helping my mother out," said Train, "and I wanted to do my part to help."
The generosity extended from Jessie Anderson more than 70 years ago has inspired decades of support for UC Santa Cruz students. "I think Jessie would be very pleased," said Steiner.