Cerritos Collage Alumna Creates Endowed Scholarship to Honor Her Parent’s Legacy
Martha Rosilie Rushing was born in San Pedro CA, but her heart remained in San Francisco where she was raised. She fell deeply in love with a handsome sailor named Joey who loved her with all his heart. Their love lasted a lifetime (three months shy of their fiftieth anniversary) until “her Joey” went to be with the Lord in 1996; but if ever there was a love that lasted through all eternity, theirs would be it.
When my mom passed on May 4, 2020, I knew I wanted to do something special that would honor her and my beloved dad Joey Rushing. It didn’t take long to decide the best way to do this would be through a scholarship in their names at Cerritos College, an institution that was a part of their lives for over 35 years.
Martha worked in various positions in the Liberal Arts Division from the 1970s until her retirement in 2010. She loved each of her different jobs, but she found her calling when she accepted the position of Writing Center Coordinator. Martha was a Mother Hen who was her happiest when she was helping someone. And after her children left the nest, her position in the Writing Center allowed her to “mother” thousands of students whom she loved as much as they loved her—as the many thank-you notes and gifts she received can attest—and she kept them all.
One example of the many kindnesses that Mom and her “partner-in-crime” Dad did was in the 70s. Dad, who later in life retired from an executive position at UpJohn Pharmaceuticals, had been working for a company that decided to close their California location, and money was tight for them at that point in their life. Mom came home from work one day and told Dad about a student who needed some financial help. Dad told her to see what they could do in their budget, and they quietly gave him $40.00. In the 70s, that was enough for the student to buy some supplies and a required book for one of his classes. They both cared so much for people who needed help, even though they couldn’t afford to do much. It simply feels right to continue their efforts through a scholarship in their names for students who have a desire to get their AA degrees but may need a little financial help to reach their educational dreams.
Mom at some point dedicated a drawer of her desk for treats for anyone who wanted a snack. The basket she had on the counter got a little bigger over time. Through the years, the drawer evolved into a couple of shelves in her storage room, offering various things such as crackers, Lunchables, potato chips, and always lots of candy—free for anyone who asked. Students, staff, and faculty knew about “the stash”; and everyone was welcome to stop by to grab a bite. She had a request list set up, so that every Friday when she went grocery shopping, she would buy everything on the list for the week. And she would fret if she ran out of someone’s favorite before her Friday shopping spree.
Anyone having a rough day would come up to the counter, much like at a bar, order something and then tell her their woes. And she would listen and keep what they shared to herself. The fact that she listened may have meant more to them than the snack. Occasionally, she would mention a student’s first name when she was particularly worried and would ask me to put him or her on my prayer list. I never knew what I was specifically praying about; I just knew to pray for that person.
Along with all the students she treated like “her kids,” Martha had three children of her own, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. At one point in time, Martha and her three children (Renee, Tim, and DeShéa) all worked at Cerritos College while they were earning their AA degrees. One friend once jokingly said that “you couldn’t go three feet on campus without running into a Rushing.” Renee, who earned her degree in Art and Design, worked in the Vice President of Academic Affairs’ office; Tim, who earned a History degree, worked in Admissions; and DeShéa, who earned degrees in French and English, worked in the Liberal Arts Division office and in the Reading Center. Renee and Tim went on to work in other business-related professions; and DeShéa, who earned a B.A., M.A., and M.F.A, went on to teach English Composition at California State University San Bernardino.
Mom and Dad’s love was indeed a gift to us all, and this gift to the Cerritos College Foundation pays their love forward to students they would want to support if they were still here. I can just hear Mom using one of her favorite expressions: “For Heaven’s sake, yes, let’s keep helping.”
– DeShéa Rushing