Westmont Magazine Scholarship Adds Up for Athletes
Charles Burns, founder of the Charles and Barbara Burns Athletic Scholarship, and Ilissa Matthews '11, recipient.
Charles Burns ’67 served as a pastor for 17 years before he transferee to Westmont. Although he enjoyed counseling parishioners at Goleta Foursquare Church, he began to believe his gifts lay in teaching. His wife, Barbara, encouraged him to apply to Westmont, and she worked at UC Santa Barbara during the three years it took him to earn a degree and credential.
“As an older student, I sat in the back of the room and didn’t get very involved with the class,” he says. “I had a wife and three children at home, so I didn’t bond with other students. When I go to reunions, I have to introduce myself to people.”
Charles found it challenging to split his attention between his family and his classes. “In some ways I cheated them both,” he says. Despite the difficulties, he appreciates his Westmont education and the attention and support he received from professors. After attending community colleges, he welcomed the commitment to integrate faith and learning.
The minute Charles stepped into a classroom, he knew he’d found the place where he belonged. For 25 years, he taught math at La Colina Junior High School, and he never lost his enthusiasm for working with students. “It was hard to retire,” he says. During his last 12 years, he taught gifted students and coached youth competing in a variety of math contests. “A good math teacher can make a difference for students who struggle with the subject,” he says. “You have to be part teacher, part song-and-dance man — and you must always be excited about math.”
Charles is also enthusiastic about the Warriors, climbing up the bleachers in Murchison Gym as often as he could to watch the basketball team play. In addition, he faithfully attended hearings reviewing the college’s requests to increase enrollment in the 1970s and to build faculty housing in the 1990s.
In recent years, Charles and Barbara have found another way to support Westmont: establishing an endowed athletic scholarship. Not only have they provided initial funding, but they’ve made provisions through a charitable remainder trust and their estate to add significantly to it when they’re gone.Watching Westmont struggle to compete with teams able to offer more athletic scholarships convinced Charles to take this step.
“I like the fact that an endowed fund will provide continuous support for Warrior athletes,” he says. “With our endowment, we’ll be contributing to the college every year just like we were making an annual gift, and the value of the fund will appreciate and keep pace with inflation. We know our scholarship will make a long-lasting impact on Westmont’s athletic program.”
This year, Ilissa Mathews ’11 received the Charles and Barbara Burns Athletic Scholarship. A talented tennis player who started lessons at the age of 5, she became a serious competitor in junior high school and a successful high school athlete. She had always wanted to attend Westmont as her parents, Doug ’84 and Sandy Heinrichs ’85 Mathews both graduated from the college. She visited campus with them as a child, attending Homecoming and other events. “But I couldn’t afford to be here without the scholarship,” she says. “It played an important role in my ability to come to Westmont.”
Ilissa loved her first year with the Warriors. “I’ve made some great friends on the team,” she says. She also appreciates Coach Kathy LeSage, who invited the women to her home for dinner just a week before the Tea Fire destroyed it.
Watching her coach deal with this disaster gracefully has inspired Ilissa. Like most Westmont students, she spent the evening of Nov. 13 sheltered in the gym. “The fire brought people together,” she says. “I’ve been stunned at how giving everyone has been. I’ve also developed a whole new level of appreciation for the beauty of the campus.”
Ilissa thinks her major in economics and business will provide lots of options for careers after she graduates. For years, she has wanted to start her own business as a wedding planner, and she hopes to do an internship in this field next summer.
“Westmont is more than I expected,” she says. It’s more of a community than I ever realized. I’ve found everything here I wanted, including a balance of what’s important to me: sports, academics, quality friendships and spiritual growth.”
For more information about creating an endowment, visit our Web site, www. westmontlegacy.org, or call us toll free at 800-565-7250.