Scarlett Aufmann: Triumph Against Domestic Abuse Leads to Hearst Scholarship, Path to Doctorate
Like many parents, Scarlett Aufmann often has to supervise and help her four young sons with their homework. Then, like many students at California State University, Dominguez Hills who are also parents, she has to tend to her own studies.
As a result of her diligence, the single mother was the campus recipient of the 2009 William Randolph Hearst/CSU Trustees' Award for Outstanding Achievement and was recognized at the CSU Board of Trustees meeting on Sept. 22. The system-wide award recognizes students from all 23 CSU campuses of who have demonstrated excellent academic achievements, community service, financial need and the ability to overcome adversity.
Aufmann, who received a $3,000 scholarship and a Sony laptop says that the ability to further her education is “living a dream for which I am very grateful.” Having survived an alcoholic parent and domestic violence in her own marriage, she set out seven years ago and persevered to make a life for herself and her sons. She is the sole support of her family and works fulltime at Houston’s Restaurant in Manhattan Beach.
“My children and I were living in a dysfunctional family environment, where we were broken physically, emotionally and spiritually after years of living with domestic abuse,” the San Pedro resident recalls. “One day I found the courage to take my first step out of the darkness. The next several years were very challenging for all of us. We lived in fear daily for our safety and had to start our life over from the bottom up, one day at a time.”
“Although I have faced many challenges in my life, I see these challenges as the building blocks for personal growth and the confidence I now possess,” Aufmann says. “Today, my four sons and I have a wonderful life filled with joy and peace but many lessons were learned by our experience during those years. Life has been difficult at times for all of us but with every day we become stronger and stronger.”
Chase Aufmann says that he and his younger brothers are glad to see their mother happy in her academic success.
“It’s her just reward for all the work she’s done,” he says. “She’s worked for a long time. We’re really happy for her.”
The oldest of the four brothers, Aufmann graduated from Palos Verdes High School last year and is currently a student at Los Angeles Harbor College working on his general education requirements and planning to major in computer sciences at the university level. He hopes that watching his mother and himself pursuing higher education will influence his younger brothers to do the same.
“I hope my mom and I are an example for them to continue, to go to college and become successful,” he says.
In 2005, Scarlett Aufmann earned her certification in alcohol and substance abuse counseling from CSU Dominguez Hills and her Associate of Arts degree from Los Angeles Harbor College. She transferred to CSU Dominguez Hills after graduating from LA Harbor College on the dean’s list. Currently a senior earning her undergraduate degree in psychology, the San Pedro resident is a student in the Ronald McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, which grooms undergraduates for advanced degrees and graduate school. She is also a member of the Dominguez Hills chapters of Psi Chi Honor Society and Phi Kappa Phi.
As a researcher and educator, Aufmann hopes to help children in the future who are living through the same dysfunctional situations that she has succeeded in conquering.
“By receiving [the Hearst Scholarship], I will be able to continue my education, take care of my children, make a difference in another child’s life through my research and soar to new heights that I never imagined possible,” she says.
For more information on the CSU Hearst Scholars, click here.
- Joanie Harmon
Photo above: Scarlett Aufmann and her four sons at the Hearst Scholars Awards ceremony at the CSU Office of the Chancellor. L-R: Brock Contreras, Scarlett Aufmann, Chase Alm, Jake Contreras, and Luke Alm
Photo by Joanie Harmon