LMU School of Education graduate student Daniella Serna ’24 is the youngest of eight and a proud first-generation student. The first of her siblings to go to college, she will also be the first to earn a master’s degree. After earning her undergraduate degree in sociology and communications, she found her calling working with kids on the autism spectrum. That’s when she decided to go into school psychology and chose LMU for her master’s degree.
“I began researching universities that had a school psychology program and realized LMU’s School of Education could be an option for me,” said Serna. “Also, I’m Latina and I knew that LMU was about helping our community, and kids who are from Hispanic descent. I knew right away that this is what I want to do and where I want to go.”
After paying for the summer semester on her own, Serna began to worry about how she would afford the remainder of tuition.
“I started looking for financial help in every way that I could,” she said. “I called the School of Education seeking scholarship support, spoke to the Financial Aid Office about loans, and then my best friend, Jasmine Quezada ’20, told me how to apply for donor scholarships.”
Serna immediately filled out the application and was notified two weeks later that she would receive the recently established Robert T. Walsh, S.J., Memorial Scholarship, given to a graduate student in the School of Education with demonstrated financial need.
Father Walsh dedicated his life to education, serving at several Jesuit institutions, most recently as LMU chancellor from 2018 to 2020. He also held posts as executive director of the LMU Center for Catholic Education, principal and president of Loyola High School, and president of St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco.
Eddie Siebert, S.J., rector of the LMU Jesuit Community knew Father Walsh for more than 20 years and said the decision to establish a scholarship in the School of Education in memory of Father Walsh took “a nanosecond.”
“Father Walsh saw education as the path to a fulfilled life,” said Father Siebert. “We felt like this was an opportunity to focus on his passion in the hope that a scholarship will ease the burden for those students who are pursuing education as a career.”
For Serna, the scholarship was a blessing. “The scholarship came at exactly the right time,” she said. “I was just beginning to think that I should have gone to a different school, when I was notified. It means that I’m where I’m supposed to be.”
After graduation, Serna plans to work as a school psychologist for an elementary school in her community of Orange County. “I hope to make it clear that we all need to see kids as individuals for their own strengths and weaknesses. There shouldn’t be a cookie cutter response to how we teach kids,” she said.
To support the Robert T. Walsh, S.J., Memorial Scholarship or the LMU School of Education Endowed Scholarship, visit here. To support programs in the LMU School of Education, contact Vanessa Benya, director of development, at 310.258.8752 or Vanessa.Benya@lmu.edu.