Woodworking students ‘blown away’ by $2.3M gift left by alumnus


Kianna Znika

Due to a $2.3 million gift left by Cerritos College alumnus John B. Smith, Jr., the program will now offer scholarships to students later in the year. The grant was announced on a Cerritos College press release on Oct. 14, 2019.

Kianna Znika, News Editor

The Woodworking department recently received a $2.3 million grant from late Cerritos College alumnus John B. Smith Jr. that will provide scholarships for enrolled students and encourage students to join and expand the program.

The grant is the largest financial gift the college has ever received in history.

Nicole Martellino, a woodworking major, stated the gift is a blessing to the program.

“[Woodworking] is such an amazing program,” Martellino added. “I’m happy that someone else was able to recognize it.”

The student also mentioned that she was “blown away” when she heard the news. Taking 3 semesters of woodworking courses so far, she believes the gift will give more students like her a chance to participate without having to worry about costs.

Many of the students within the program did not know who Mr. Smith was before receiving the gift but is grateful that it will help many aspiring woodworkers and allow more growth within the department.

A press release provided by The Cerritos College Foundation on Oct. 14 stated that the alumnus also donated his woodworking equipment, which included a drill press and bandsaw.

The Foundation will establish the John B. Smith Scholarship fund for woodworking students, making scholarships available to the students later in the year.

Dr. Jose Fierro, president/superintendent of Cerritos College, stated “Mr. Smith’s gift will help students attain advanced skills in woodworking and master the artistry of woodcrafts for many years to come.”

“Something like this doesn’t happen too often,” Reuben Foat, department chair of woodworking manufacturing technologies, stated. “It’s going to change the way we do business around here.”

He believes this gift will be an opportunity to encourage students to consider woodworking as a career, as it is fun and meaningful work.

“Career technical vocations are coming back in a big way,” Foat stated. “Woodworking can be a very rewarding career for students who are just graduating from high school or people looking to develop a highly skilled hobby.”

Cerritos College offers more than 40 woodworking courses, and has offered them for more than four decades.

Mr. Smith took woodworking courses at Cerritos College before he moved to Paso Robles, CA, where he lived at the time of his passing.