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President’s Scholars inspire CSULB alumnus to give back

Published March 3, 2021

Father Dan was a Catholic priest who spent much of his religious life raising money for scholarships that would enable disadvantaged students to attend college. He helped with his nephew’s college costs at Loyola Marymount. 

“My dad went to college and half was paid by my great uncle,” said Cal State Long Beach alumnus Dan Keenan, ‘78, referring to Father Dan’s help. “That opened up opportunities for him that went beyond boundaries that anyone of us imagined.” 

dan keenan
Dan Keenan

Two generations later, Keenan, inspired by his great uncle and namesake, has adopted the same spirit of giving through the President’s Scholarships program. He and his wife, Judy, annually support the Dan and Judy Keenan Scholarship for business students.

“Giving really does touch people,” said Keenan, who received his B.A. in business/human resources. “It’s not just living for today … you’re also living to serve and help people.” 

Keenan said he learned the value of giving while working in his father’s insurance brokerage company, where his father enabled the 700 employees to purchase employee stock options that were invested in the company. Keenan said that if an employee invested $100 in the company, they would receive $350 if it was sold, which helped the company's success.

“The employees owned 45% of the company, so they benefitted,” Keenan said. “That move was something that he not only was able to share with our family, but with a wider family. 

“The way he set it up, it was a very positive thing for a lot of people.” 

After his father’s passing, the company was sold, and every employee received their share of the stock. Keenan put his money into a charitable trust to help others, such as the honors students at Cal State Long Beach. 

“I realized that a lot of good in my life had come from what I learned at CSULB,” said Keenan,  whose oldest daughter also graduated from CSULB. “You can argue against college for a number of reasons, but the fact is college can give you a leg up. 

“So, when (the 49er Foundation) presented to me as an annual contribution to the President’s Scholarships, I thought if I could do it for one year, I guess I could do it for four years and get someone through CSULB to enjoy some of the support I received myself.” 

President’s Scholarships, which recently celebrated its 25th year, is the most prestigious merit award granted by Cal State Long Beach. Each of the yearly 30 incoming scholars are accomplished high school students, having been leaders across their respective campuses and communities. 

These forward-thinking scholars receive financial support in the form of individual packages, such as the Keenan Scholarship. 

mariah ramirez
Mariah Ramirez

“Scholarships can ease a lot of stress,” Keenan said. “School is nerve-wracking enough without having to worry about extra things. I was lucky when I went to school because I lived at home and had the support of my family.” 

Mariah Ramirez, a President’s Scholarship recipient, said she made earning a scholarship her goal at an early age when her mother told her that if she wanted to go to college, she needed to find the financial means. Ramirez said this award “eases a lot of stress.”

“I often think about the fact that if I didn’t have that President’s Scholarship, I doubt I would have had the same opportunities to do the many different jobs I’ve done in the past and currently,” said Ramirez, a third-year finance major, who also is minoring in communications. “I would have had to work to pay for tuition and fees rather than work for my future and save for a master’s program and business certifications. 

“I don’t feel the stress that a lot of my peers feel because they are working a lot of jobs to try and support themselves. I’m really grateful that I was able to accomplish what I set out to do and be able to keep planning instead of worrying.”

Ramirez is the type of student Keenan had in mind when he decided to give to the President’s Scholarships, calling it a great opportunity.

"I just feel there are so many kids out there that need an opportunity,” Keenan said, adding that making a four-year scholarship available was the right move. 

“Who knows that the future will bring,” he said. “However, my wife and I are optimistic and grateful we can help.”