On Jan. 31, the Roy and Roxie Campanella Foundation, Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and CSUN Department of Physical Therapy presented awards to the 2020 cohort for the Roy and Roxie Campanella Scholarship, at a luncheon held at the Orange Grove Bistro. This year, CSUN and the foundations awarded 10 scholarships to physical therapy students, and it marked the largest financial awards to individuals in the program’s history.
Many of the scholars said they were relieved to receive the award because it alleviated a major financial burden on their families.
Thuy Duong Jacobson fought back tears as she spoke at the scholarship luncheon. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Jacobson’s family immigrated to America from Vietnam after the Vietnam War. She learned she had won the scholarship in early January, while on a trip to Vietnam with Janna Beling, Department of Physical Therapy chair; Peggy Roller, the department’s graduate coordinator; and nine other Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program students. The trip was part of the doctoral students’ “Physical Therapy in an International Setting” elective, where they completed a three-week clinical placement at the Da Nang Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Hospital in the Vietnamese coastal city. On that formative trip, Jacobson also spent time visiting her grandmother’s small farm.
“[The scholarship] means so much more to me now, after that experience,” said Jacobson, who is the first in her family to attend college and graduate school. “It gives me so much honor and confidence to receive this award because I never thought I deserved anything more — my parents went through so much, and I felt like anything I [got] was better than what they ever got.”
The scholarship recipients come from myriad backgrounds. Two other scholars, Christine Matsuda and Zachary Atienza, came to CSUN from Hawaii. A third-year student in CSUN’s physical therapy program, Melanie Cabanayan, will be interning with the Dodgers at their Spring Training in Arizona. Another, Andrew Donnelly, is a United States Marine Corps veteran, after serving two deployments in Afghanistan. While there, he saw first-hand the positive effects physical therapy had on members of his platoon who had injured their backs.
Former Dodger Roy “Campy” Campanella was the first catcher of color to play in Major League Baseball, starting in 1948, paving the way for generations of athletes of color. In 1958, Campanella was involved in an automobile accident that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down.
“He felt his life was over,” said Joni Campanella-Roan, Roy Campanella’s daughter and benefactor of the scholarship.
Campanella-Roan described this event as the highlight of her year, and she recalled the benefits her father received from physical therapy after his accident.
“My father always credited the physical therapist as the person who helped him gain his will to live again,” she said. “The physical therapist helped my father become independent. He helped him regain some of his movement through exercise and determination. He helped my father see that he could have a second life, and that he did.”
Farrell J. Webb, dean of the College of Health and Human Development, noted that he sees students walk through the halls and classrooms in the Department of Physical Therapy each week. It isn’t often that he gets to learn about their stories in-depth, however — which made the annual scholarship luncheon a special opportunity, he said.
“[This scholarship is] very special because it demonstrates what we all know in higher parts of the university — that our students are very caring and supportive people,” Webb said. “We don’t always get to say that aloud, and people don’t understand it. When you see this kind of thing, they get it right up front.”