Scholarship Winners
The 2016 Scholarship Recipients
(from left) Brian O'Donnell, Slavik Babchanik, Andrew Obrigewitsch,
Rebecca Mejia. Missing: Christopher Dobbs, Lucinda Navarrete
Photos by Jeff Hendy


The Renaissance Society Scholarship program began in 1993 with two $500 awards. Over time, the amount grew to three $1,000 awards. In 2007, the Board of Directors increased the awards to three $1,500 scholarships. In 2011, they were scheduled to rise to four $2,000 scholarships. However, since Renaissance was celebrating its 25th anniversary, the board added another, for a total of five $2,000 scholarships.

For 2012, there were four scholarships of $2,000 each. That increased to five scholarships of $2,500 each, beginning in 2013. In 2015, scholarships grew six of $3,000 each, the same for 2016.

Originally, applicants were sought in fields related to gerontology, but that has been expanded to include other disciplines, including graduate students.

Since 1993, Renaissance has given scholarships to 73 students for a total of about $125,000.

Want to donate to the Scholarship Fund? Donations are tax-deductible. Make out your check to Renaissance Society, putting "Scholarship Fund" in the Notes. Send the check to Renaissance Society, CSU, Sacramento, 6000 J St., Sacramento, CA 95819-6074. Donations can be made in the memory of someone.

The 2016 Scholarship Recipients

Slavik Babchanik Rebecca Mejia
Slavik Babchanik, Rebecca Mejia
Andrew Obrigewitsch Brian O'Donnell
Andrew Obrigewitsch, Brian O'Donnell
Christopher Dobbs
Christopher Dobbs, Missing: Lucinda Navarrete

Slavik Babchanik came to the United States from Ukraine when he was four. He started piano lessons at age nine and graduated from a rigorous Russian music program. One of his jobs during college was working at a retirement center and he saw the value of physical therapy for seniors. He plans to graduate in spring 2017 with majors in music and kinesiology and is applying to the physical therapy doctorate program at CSUS. His GPA is 3.83.

Christopher Dobbs has always been interested in animal life, inspired by many museums, zoos and rescue programs with his grandmother. He has rescued sea turtles in Costa Rica and been a docent at the California Academy of Science. His major is bio-medical science and he plans to apply to the veterinary medicine program at UC Davis. He is working on a research project on the breeding habits of the ball python. His GPA is 3.47.

Rebecca Mejia struggled to achieve her education goals after a mental illness diagnosis six years ago. She graduated with honors from American River College with an associate degree in psychology and is studying gerontology at CSUS. She wants to focus on aging and mental illness and learn how older adults lived successfully with their illness and what support they wish they had. She talks about her experiences as a speaker for Stop Stigma Sacramento. Her GPA is 3.04.

Lucinda Navarrete is the first in her family to graduate high school and be accepted at a university. She has helped her mother, a single parent, raise her five siblings. A social work major, she wants to get a master's in social work and work in a middle school. She volunteers as a tutor and mentor to students at Will C. Wood Middle School. She feels Renaissance helps fill a social work gap for older adults. Her GPA is 3.34.

Andrew Obrigewitsch, married with a four-year-old son, lost his job in 2013 and decided to go back to school and study computer science. He worked full time while completing an associate degree at American River College. He runs his own web development business for clients who sell vitamins online. His goal is to work in artificial intelligence and robotics, which is feels is the future of computer science. His GPA is 3.54.

Brian O'Donnell graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2014 with degrees in music composition and French horn performance. At CSUS, he is pursuing a master of music in orchestral conducting. He is an active member of the CSUS Orchestra and the Wind Ensemble and also is assistant conductor with the Auburn Symphony and the Rancho Cordova Light Orchestra. He has published a choral arrangement of Paul Simon's Sound of Silence. His GPA is 4.0.