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Gratitude, Inspiration at Donor-Scholar Reception at Steins' Yoffi Farm

When scholarship donors and recipients gathered at Marty and Marlene Stein’s Yoffi Farm on Saturday, July 12, they enjoyed one another’s company in a unique setting. The barn structure has a courtyard encircled by stalls holding animals that the Steins have rescued, including alpaca, goats, and miniature donkeys. This farm, sitting high on Sonoma Mountain, reflects its hosts’ lofty vision and generosity of spirit.


Three speakers inspired guests–—two planned and one spontaneous.

Featured guest Edward Hawthorne was a former protégé of Marty’s when both were at Bank of America. Over the years, Ed earned his own leadership post at B of A and the two became like brothers.



(l-r) Marlene and Marty Stein, Edward and Gi Hawthorne.

Edward started as a part-time teller at Bank of America, and retired after a 33-year career, as Senior Vice President and Global Sales and Service Executive, with over 6,000 associates across six countries and a budget of over $250 million.  He was in the top .18% of leaders at the bank and of 300,000 staff–500, at the senior level–only 48 were people of color, and of that number only 12 were African American. Edward is a U.S. Patent Holder, currently a partner in his own boutique-consulting firm, and he and serves on the board of the San Francisco Museum of the African Diaspora.

Edward said that he related to the students because of both the “curve balls and bumps in the road” he faced and the opportunities he was given, most especially by Marty Stein.

“I was fortunate to meet Marty because he saw something in me that I did not see in myself. He gave me opportunities to build confidence and prove to myself that I was a capable and talented leader.  He pushed me like I had never been pushed before, while at the same time providing the support and mentoring I needed. Marty continues to be my brother, friend, confidante, mentor, and my life coach.  I owe my success to Marty and learned so many lessons from him. But since he asked me to keep this short, I will share six of my most important key life lessons with you.

(for the full text of the following, please click here)

  1. Learn to trust yourself.
  2. Focus on what you’re learning.
  3. Ease your expectations.
  4. Open up to someone you trust.
  5. Use hope to drive positive action.
  6. Look for the beginning in every ending.”

Edward closed with some final thoughts.

“Life isn’t always going to be fair, but it is still good. It doesn’t always come wrapped in a pretty box and tied with a bow, but it is still a gift.  It is sort of like a camera. So focus on what’s important, capture the good times, develop from the negatives, and if things don’t work out … Just Take Another Shot!!!”

Institute alumna and current Sonoma State student Denia Candela followed up with her own powerful story.

Degree of Influence

“Throughout my childhood I had always been a dreamer.  I had high expectations of myself, and everyone else around me. I was an interesting child. How could I not be? I was raised by the most amazing two women I had ever met: my mother and my grandma. I had learned from that in order to have bright future I had to aim high.”

Despite setbacks–including being separated from her mother for seven years while her mom established her family in America and then having difficulty in school because she didn’t know enough English—Denia persevered. She headed her counselor and inspirational mentor, Betzy Chavez, who told her, “Don’t give up,” she said.  “You will conquer the language in no time.”

Denia graduated middle school and was placed in Honors English her freshmen year of high school. Her life took another turn.

“In 2010 I applied to an amazing organization, interviewed, and got accepted to Summer Intensive Institute of 10,000 Degrees. Little did I know that my whole life was about to change. For a whole week I got to experience college, where I could live, read and first the first time understand college material!  I finally was able to see that MY dreams could be as big as I wanted them to be. I knew that my education was a priority; I knew what I wanted, and I refused let it go.

In June of 2012 I very proudly wore my cap and gown. I got accepted to UC Santa Cruz (my dream school), and made the decision to attend Sonoma State University. I proudly say that I am now in my third year at SSU as an Applied Statistics major with a concentration in economics.

Dear students: I cannot tell you it will be easy, there will be some obstacles. Take it from someone that went against all odds. As for you all truly amazing people who have become donors, I promise that every single student here today will not disappoint you. We will not give up. We are the future. We are each One Degree.”



(l-r) Manuel and Nayeli Ramirez, 10,000 Degrees College Advisor Taylor Colvey, and Nayeli’s brother.

At the end of the program, a gentleman from the audience raised his hand and asked if he could speak.  Manuel Ramirez then took the microphone and explained that his daughter, Nayeli Ramirez, and was an Institute student who will be starting her second year of college. He was inspired by his daughter’s academic ambitions to go and complete his GED at the SRJC.  He wanted to thank the staff at 10,000 Degrees as well as the generous donors for not just keeping “the goodness” that they have earned for themselves, but instead “for making dreams possible for those who don’t have the same resources.”