Two Alumni Families Show Their Support for SNRE Students

July 26, 2022

We celebrate two husband-and-wife teams: Wim Van Leeuwen and Sara Chavarria, of Tucson; and Fran Colwell and Sandy Koizumi, of Placentia, California.

Image of Sara Chavarria and Wim Van Leeuwen

Sara and Wim’s Story

Wim and Sara met in the 1990s, when they were pursuing their doctorates at the University of Arizona: Wim in CALES’ Department of Environmental Science, and Sara in the College of Education. Today, Sara serves as assistant dean of research development in the College of Education. Wim is a professor in SNRE, and he’s also serving as the school’s interim director since September 2020.

In 2021, Wim and Sara decided to do something that went beyond the considerable professional time they give to the university’s education and research mission. They created two endowed scholarship funds to financially support students in perpetuity: The Upward Bound Scholarship in SNRE, and the Upward Bound Scholarship in the College of Education.

Every year, the payout will support first-generation students or students who participated in the federal TRIO Upward Bound program, which increases college access for students who are the first in their families to attend college and whose families have low incomes. These students are personally important to Sara and Wim, who were the first in their families to attend college. In Sara’s case, she was also in Upward Bound when she was in high school. 

“We wanted people to know that students in the Upward Bound program commit to extra-curricular college prep work through afterschool programming, weekend activities, and six weeks of summer academic programming for their four years in high school,” Sara and Wim said. “We felt it was important for our units to recognize their dedication to their higher education aspirations through a scholarship that would continue to recognize their commitment to their future.”


Fran and Sandy’s Story

In 1977, Fran became one of the first students to graduate with his bachelor’s degree from CALES’ new Forest Watershed Management Program in SNRE. He went on to have an impactful, decades-long career in the U.S. Forest Service. Sandy shares Fran’s enthusiasm for outdoor adventures, conservation, and giving back, and while she did not attend the university, she is a full-fledged member of the CALES family.

Over the years, Fran and Sandy have supported many SNRE students with scholarships, and they’ve also shared their giving story and inspired others to join them. In 2021, Fran and Sandy, like Wim and Sara, decided to create an endowed fund to support SNRE students in perpetuity. Named the Director’s Award in SNRE, the fund’s annual payout will support exceptional undergraduate or graduate students chosen by the school director.

"As initial contributors to the SNRE Director's Award, Sandy and I wanted to honor Wim's leadership of the school's natural resource management program and of course support student success by recognizing the achievements of outstanding scholars,” Fran said.

The first Director’s Award winner, Lea Schram von Haupt, is a returned Peace Corps volunteer and graduate student whose goal is to become an environmental planner for a federal agency like the U.S. Forest Service. The extra financial support came when Lea was taking four hands-on courses in remote sensing, water policy, law, and conflict management in the public sector.

“I am so thankful and honored to be the first recipient of the Director’s Award,” Lea said. “It means a lot to receive this award and will go a long way towards supporting my educational career.”