Sacramento Couple Honors Son's Life Through Scholarship
By Jonathan Morales
The morning after her stepson, Calvin Feder, died from a pituitary gland tumor that had been discovered just a few weeks earlier, Liz Luttrell knew exactly how she wanted to memorialize him.
She told her husband and Calvin’s father, David Feder, she wanted to create an endowed scholarship in Calvin’s name at his alma mater, the University of Puget Sound. David agreed but had one suggestion: Create the scholarship at Sacramento State instead.
“Calvin grew up here. We’re Sacramento people,” David says, adding they were motivated to contribute to a university that provides opportunities to a large number of underrepresented students. “There is so much need and so many people who are trying to excel and who don’t have the resources. To be able to help with that need, that’s satisfying.”
In 2017, the couple donated money to establish the Calvin Gregory Feder Memorial Endowed Scholarship to support Sacramento State students in the College of Engineering and Computer Science who are majoring in computer science. In addition, they asked friends and family to donate to the scholarship in lieu of flowers in the wake of Calvin’s passing, raising enough funds to support a full scholarship.
Calvin received his degree in computer science and was working for a Bay Area-based start-up company when he passed away.
“It’s a way to give back and to keep his name alive,” Liz says. “I saw what that major and degree did for him and for his life, for him achieving his goals, and I feel like it’s important to help others achieve their goals.”
The scholarship is the couple’s second at Sacramento State, where Liz received her master’s degree in counseling in 1996. In 2012, they started the Elizabeth Anne Luttrell and David Feder Educational Counseling Scholarship to support master’s students in the counseling program and have contributed every year since.
This November, David and Liz met the first recipient of Calvin’s scholarship, Ehsan Hosseinzadeh Khaligh, a first-generation college student from Iran who will graduate this winter with a degree in computer science and plans to take a year off to work before applying to graduate school.
Ehsan, whose family immigrated to Sacramento six years ago, says his ultimate goal is to develop software that can provide free educational resources such as video lessons and online courses to individuals in countries such as Iran where there are fewer educational opportunities.
“Knowing that I can pay for my school and expenses helps me to not worry about money, and not worrying about money helps me to concentrate on studying,” he says. “I hope that more students get these kinds of scholarships and grants. A lot of students, because of having financial difficulties, have to work more hours and concentrate less on school work.”
As Ehsan described in detail the work he has done in internships with NASA and Intel and the work he hopes to do in the future, Liz couldn’t help but notice similarities between the scholarship’s namesake and the recipient.
“You and Calvin would have made a tremendous connection, the two of you guys,” Linda told Ehsan. “Just talking the same language.”