Pay it Forward

The women who were the first to attend SCU from first year to senior year are supporting today’s women on campus.

The first women to graduate from Santa Clara left their mark when they came on campus in 1961.

“Tradition Shattered,” blared the student newspaper, The Santa Clara, when the decision to allow women to earn degrees was made.

During the first few weeks of their undergraduate experience, the women faced jeers, according to a University-issued press release at the time the first full class to include women graduated in 1965. “Two, Four, Six, Eight, We don’t want to integrate!” the release says the women heard. But by the time 90 of them, the first women to complete all four years at Santa Clara, 800 more women were filling the undergraduate ranks.

Today, about half of the University’s students are women. Those pioneers want to pay it forward and have endowed a scholarship to support women studying for an SCU degree of their own.

For recipients like Dayana Chavez ’26, the scholarship is a game changer. “Without it, I would have to work and not fully focus on school,” she says. And it’s a gift that goes beyond helping Chavez study, the first-generation student says: “I saw how hard my parents worked for me to have opportunities. I wanted to do this for them.”

Inspired by the women of the class of 1965? You can support SCU students, too. Visit

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