Scholarship Focuses on First-Generation Students

Colette and Jerry Coleman

Colette and Jerry Coleman

One of the more touching moments during Sacramento State’s Commencement ceremonies is when the President asks students how many are the first in their family to graduate. As the first in her family to attend college, Colette Coleman can relate.

“I thought that was really impressive and showed that the University was making a difference in the community,” says the emerita speech pathology and audiology professor who taught at Sacramento State for 30 years.

Colette and her husband Jerry have contributed to the University’s general scholarship fund over the years, but decided to establish an endowed scholarship for speech pathology and audiology students. They named it after their parents: Uelva and Verion LaVanture, and Clara and Robert Coleman.

Not only are the Colemans current donors, they are also members of the Legacy Circle, having included Sacramento State in their estate plans.

“Education is very important to us. We were also fortunate to receive grants as students too,” Colette says.

Colette added that she and Jerry admire working students who are tasked with the challenge of concentrating on their studies while holding a job. She says they are very impressed each time they meet with current Hornets.

“They are very mature and responsible. Just the kind of young people you can feel proud of,” she says.

Joseph Petruzzi ’14 (Speech Pathology and Audiology) is this year’s recipient of the Coleman-LaVanture Memorial Scholarship. The speech pathology and audiology graduate student understands the value of a scholarship.

“It means a great deal to me because it’s hard to balance graduate studies and a work schedule,” he says.

Petruzzi says he spends hours working in the Maryjane Rees Language, Speech and Hearing Center with clients who have advanced needs. Receiving the scholarship allows him to spend more time outside of the classroom researching and gathering reports.

Although the Colemans split their time between Oregon and Hawaii, they still find it important to support students who study at California’s capital university.

“I have a lot of former students in Sacramento,” Colette says. “We have a lot of friends there and still have a lot invested in the Sacramento area and feel very close to it.”

To learn more about supporting scholarshipts at Sacramento State, please visit or contact Lora L. Hollingsworth at (916) 278-6115 or