Scholarship Alumnae Corner

from Anne Lynch, Director of Scholarship

February 7, 2022

Bernice Conley, Ebell Scholar

The Scholarship Committee is currently busy developing an Alumnae Corner page on the Ebell Website, where information from former scholars can be found describing how the Ebell/Flint Scholarship changed their lives.  This year, the Committee will award $319,000 in scholarship funding for 65 scholars.  Applications for the 2022 scholarship class are being accepted until 4 April, 2022.

Here is one Ebell Scholar and her story…

“My name is Bernice Conley.  I would like to share what the Ebell Scholarship, which I received 32 years ago, meant to me as a student at USC, and the difference it made in my life.

“In 1988, at the age of 25, I decided to return to college as a full-time student. I had worked full-time since I had graduated from high school, in 1981, which meant I was accustomed to a decent income and living expenses commensurate with that income.

“In order to return to college full-time and finish in four years, I had to figure out how I could transition from one full-time job to several part-time jobs in order to meet my financial obligations.  Needless to say, this was very challenging.  The first two years I attended Long Beach Community College full-time, and I didn’t know if I was ‘coming or going.’ I started my first job at 3.30 am, attended class during the day, worked two other jobs in the late afternoon, and took night classes until 9.00 pm. I was able to achieve a 3.5 GPA, was accepted to USC, and applied for scholarships, grants and student loans to get me through the next two years.

“I knew I could not continue to work three jobs when I transferred to USC, and I was not ‘low income’ enough to qualify for most financial aid. In the midst of all this work and academic transition, my father was dying.

“I was blessed to receive an Ebell Scholarship in 1990, which provided me with a much needed $200/month for two school years.  This enabled me to quit one of my part-time jobs so I could focus on academics and spend time with my father.  I graduated with honors from USC in the Spring of 1992.

“I was hired by US Customs (Federal Government) through the ‘Outstanding Scholar Program.’  I began my federal career in 1992 as an Import Specialist and received several promotions throughout my career and, in 2017, I was promoted to the position of Assistant Port Director, Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport (the largest seaport in the USA, the fifth largest in the world). At any given time, I am responsible for the oversight and management of over 600 Customs Officers and support staff.  The teams I have managed achieved the highest levels of performance in supply chain security and trade enforcement.

“Throughout my career I have traveled the world to represent the US, trained foreign government officials, and have spoken at numerous national and international conferences and events sponsored by private industry and governments.

“It is important to note that during my career I have had the pleasure of getting to know and become friends with Mary Cathy Roe (Cathy), who has been one of my greatest champions and mentors, personally and professionally.  We were colleagues in the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program, where we jointly developed a publication entitled C-TPAT Supply Chain Security Best Practices.  It was not until shortly before Cathy retired that I discovered she was a member of The Ebell and was planning to work on the Scholarship Committee (and still serves on the Committee!).  As the Disney ride says: It’s A Small World After All…!

“The impact that the Ebell Scholarship had on my life was to help me get through a very difficult financial and personal period.  It allowed me to spend time with my father and be academically successful, which ultimately led to an amazing career.  I am eternally grateful for the Ebell Scholarship and will never forget this generosity.”