This scholarship is available to incoming students to help defer the cost of attending the first year of graduate studies at Fielding.

Fielding alum (HOD’98) and Trustee Emerita Karin Bunnell, PhD, honors her mother, Dolores (Dee) Bunnell, by establishing a scholarship for early childhood educators and professionals.

Mrs. Dolores Bunnell with her students, class of 1978

Mrs. Dolores Bunnell with her students, class of 1978

Human development begins the day a child is born. The experience of early childhood has the most significant impact on one’s life. Birth through age six is a golden opportunity to help children become compassionate and curious youngsters. “Early childhood educators understand the importance of positive development at a young age. Unfortunately, these teachers are most often hourly employees, whose salary does not reflect the impact they make on our society. Graduate education offers opportunities for personal and professional growth but is also extremely expensive for teachers,” says Dr. Bunnell.

The inspiration behind the Dolores Bunnell Scholarship is the desire to help early childhood professionals advance their careers in this critical field. Further, the Dolores Bunnell Scholarship is inspired by the understanding that successful completion of doctoral study offers insights and creates opportunities for dedicated individuals to achieve positive change in national and global early childhood education systems.

Dee Bunnell knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was eight years old. When she graduated from high school, her brother encouraged her to consider college. Dee took a year off and worked as a secretary to save money to pay for tuition. She graduated from Arizona State University with teaching credentials and is a lifetime member of the American Association of University Women. After graduation, she taught first through fourth grades in public schools in San Diego and Oakland, California. In 1953, Dee married, moved to New Jersey, and worked as a secretary for Continental Can Co. She then joined her husband in enrolling at the American Institute for Foreign Trade (later named Thunderbird International School of Global Management) and completed a Spanish language certificate. In 1959 she moved to Lodi, California, had two children, and resumed her teaching career, this time as an early childhood educator of children ages three and four.

“My brother, Todd, was in a cooperative preschool, and Mom became involved with this school first as a parent, and later as a teacher,” remembers Dr. Bunnell. “She was asked to fill in for the preschool’s Director for three months and ended up staying for thirty years! On Sunday afternoons, Mom would spend time preparing for the week. I remember felt cutout animals, buttons in boxes sorted by color, and other engaging projects she planned for her students,” says Dr. Bunnell. “Our whole family got involved in the preparations, and the pet guinea pigs, turtles, and fish came home to our house for school breaks.”

Dr. Bunnell knows first-hand the quality of graduate education that Fielding offers. Student-centered learning is a transformative experience designed for scholar-practitioners. Dr. Bunnell believes that early childhood educators can benefit from a doctoral degree, and supporting them with a scholarship is a great way to honor the legacy of Dolores Bunnell and her love of young children.

To learn more about the scholarship, please contact Erica Fichter, Director of Recruitment (call: 805-898-4026).

To make a gift to the Scholarship, click here

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