When Santa Ynez local Gillian Micale joined the Engineering Bowling Group at Santa Barbara City College, she never imagined it might be an activity that got her into Stanford. Actually, bowling didn’t get her into Stanford—her grades did that—but the sport is helping her pay for her Ivy League education.
Thanks to the love of bowling that she shares with one of our most recent family of donors, we were honored to select Gillian for the first Greg and Erika Cooper Bowling Scholarship this past May.
The Cooper family has lived in the Santa Maria area since Greg was transferred to Vandenberg Air Force Base in 1974. Greg had a 30-year career in the Air Force, including a one year tour in Thailand during the Vietnam War. He retired as Chief Master Sergeant in 1978.
While in the Air Force, the Coopers and their two children lived in Colorado, Germany, Nebraska, Northern California, and North Dakota prior to settling on the Central Coast. Bowling was always a cornerstone of the family. At each place they were stationed, Greg and Erika made it a priority to form leagues in an effort to bring Air Force families together and create a strong sense of community.
Although Greg played many sports growing up, he fell in love with bowling because it is fun and social. He bowled for over 60 years, winning the California State Doubles Title in 1963 and becoming the first person to bowl a perfect game at the old bowling alley in Orcutt. In recent years, he coached a number of players at Rancho Bowl in Santa Maria.
In March, when he began facing life-threatening health challenges, Greg shared his dream of creating a scholarship with his son Danny. Danny contacted the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara and soon after the Greg and Erika Cooper Bowling Scholarship was established.
In addition to bowling on a team or as a hobby, recipients of the Cooper’s scholarship must be majoring in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM); enrolled at a four-year university; and maintain at least a 3.0 GPA.
In May, Gillian Micale of Santa Ynez was selected to receive the first award. Gillian has earned an impressive 3.90 GPA while studying engineering and physics at Stanford University. She successfully transferred to Stanford from Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) where she graduated with honors and four associate’s degrees.
The scholarship is a dream come true for Greg and Gillian. Now in the twilight of his life, Greg is assured that his legacy of hard work, service to others, and love of sport will be handed down to the generations that follow. Gillian can continue her education with fewer financial worries and more time to focus on her studies.
In a letter to the Coopers, Gillian wrote, “Thank you so much for the immense support you have given me in this incredibly important time of my life.”
If you would like to learn more about establishing a scholarship fund, please contact Nicole Jones at (805) 687-6065.