“I’m Starting Tonight … and Plan to Keep Giving for Many Years to Come”


Fact: the costs of higher education are through the roof, be it in California, out-of-state, public, private…there’s no escaping the fact that to reach a level to become competitive in the job market, you first have to pay. And pay and pay some more. Anywhere from $7,500 to $24,3000 per year in tuition alone according to the U.S Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics. We routinely say that the JVS Scholarship Program helps recipients make their educational dreams come - the key word being “help.” Our students receive scholarships of $2,000 or $5,000, sometimes to fund a year or two of their undergraduate studies; sometimes through the entire course of their undergraduate and graduate school tenure. Our recipients are required to demonstrate significant financial need, which they do. In certain cases, the donor gives substantially more than the $2,000 or $5,000 allotted by the JVS Scholarship Committee.

All the same, this is “help,” not a full free ride. Our students “get” this concept, and they get the need to help others as they themselves have been helped. Every summer, the recipients of the JVS Scholarship for the upcoming academic year gather for a dessert reception during which many of them meet and thank their donors face to face. On this occasion, many pledge to “pay it forward,” to donate to the JVS Scholarship Program once they are out of school and in the workforce. JVS even provides an avenue to endow a student of their own via the JVS Alumni Scholarship.

This year’s reception is July 25 at Temple Sinai. On that occasion, the Scholarship Committee will award $492,000 in scholarships to 163 deserving students, our largest yearly totals (both in numbers of students and in total dollars) to date in the program’s 41 year history.

We’ll also hear from an alumni, Ilya Zolotnik who was funded for all four years of his medical school education at Wayne State University in Michigan. Having recently started his medical residency in neurology at Loma Linda University Medical Center, Dr. Zolotnik is looking to follow in the professional footsteps of his grandfather Leon, who was a doctor in Russia.

Leon passed away recently at the age of 80 and Zolotnik keeps his grandfather’s stethoscope as inspiration. Utterly swamped by the demands of his neurology residency – which gives him only four days off per month – Zolotnik requested the night off to address fellow JVS Scholarship awardees at the annual dessert gala on the 25th.

When he addresses the awardees, Dr. Zolotnik will emphasize the value of perseverance and hard work. And he’ll make a pledge: a portion of his first paycheck will go to pay it forward to the JVS Scholarship Program.

“My grandparents didn’t have much, but when someone needed help, they always helped. It’s what we do,” says Zolotnik. “I don’t see myself not helping. The intention is that I’ll be able to help pay it forward and help others the way I was helped. That’s common sense to me.”

Learn more about the JVS Scholarship Program here.