To her very last breath, Laura Segura was caring—and fighting—for us all.
Laura, who died June 9, 2022, was a beloved “justice warrior” who spent her life fighting for the opportunity and dignity of others. Just a few days ago, Community Foundation Santa Cruz County issued the first three awards of $4,000 each from the Laura Segura Scholarship Fund to Pajaro Valley students involved with the juvenile justice system and/or foster care.
Setting up this scholarship was Laura’s last wish. Just six days before she died of cancer, Laura called me from her hospital bed. She said she wanted to meet with me and her two daughters Reyna and Sara about starting a scholarship fund.
I have the honor of being Laura’s friend and helping generous community members give to the causes they care about now and help them plan for future giving. Laura felt strongly that she wanted to start a scholarship to help the youth of Pajaro Valley—the community she spent her life in service to.
We started to plan for what Laura wanted to call the “Segura Family Scholarship.” Laura was a strong, elegant, brilliant and fierce woman and her daughters are the same. They said to her as a united front, “No mom. This is your scholarship and your legacy. It needs to be called the Laura Segura Scholarship.”
Laura was clear eyed that she was dying. She approached her death with the same faith that guided her life. Laura was a proud Chingona and the only one of her six siblings to graduate college, attending San Jose State University and courses at Harvard Business School. Reyna said to me recently, “Mom knew the struggles that came with pursuing higher education in her community. She wanted to make it accessible. We talked about the injustices within the foster care and juvenile justice system and how youth are impacted by lack of family support, stability, and academic preparedness and deserve a unique amount of care.”
Sara added, “She always believed that education was a right and that it shouldn’t just be a privilege.”
Applicants did not have to be high school graduates, there were no GPA requirements. It was important to Laura and her daughters that applicants wouldn’t be intimidated by barriers so the application could be submitted in any medium that best reflected their experience—video, spoken words, song, narrative poetry, or another medium.
I’m honored to introduce you to the first recipients of the Laura Segura Scholarship.
Lexus Grace Castrejon-Cervantes graduated from Aptos High and is heading to San Francisco State to pursue Criminal Justice Studies. She said, “This award will help ease my anxiety about my financial situation and allow me to put more of my brain power into my academics. You won’t regret giving me this award. This award gave me such a confidence boost.”
Reyna Maharaj graduated from St. Francis High School and is going to UC San Diego to study Computer Science. She said, “This award will assist me in taking care of my basic needs and will help take off some of my student loans. One day I hope to give to my community just as you’ve given to me.”
The third awardee requested to remain anonymous. They said, “This award will help me so much financially and push me harder in school because I know that you guys believed in me.”
Reyna, Sara and I would like to thank the entire community for making these awards possible—for giving generously, honoring Laura, and providing this year’s three awardees a sign that we believe in them and their education.
Sara said, “Mom really taught me what it means to be compassionate, what it means to live in a community, and how to care for a community. She dedicated her whole life to that.”
Reyna added, “I look at this scholarship as her last act of community service. My sister and I are proud of our mom and proud to be her daughters.”
The Laura Segura Scholarship is Laura’s legacy, but it’s ours too. She knew that we would all need something to do when she was gone. She gave us a purposeful way to remember her, to stay connected, and continue to care for the community she loved so much.
Susan True is the CEO of Community Foundation Santa Cruz County. To donate to the Laura Segura Scholarship fund, visit cfscc.org/laurasegura. True’s opinions are her own and not necessarily those of the Pajaronian.