Mike Groff, the retired CEO of Toyota Financial Services and the namesake of the Mike Groff Scholarship.

Mike Groff

As a management student in Cal State Fullerton’s business college, Mike Groff struggled financially and faced first-generational challenges. In the decades after his graduation, Groff served 35 years with the world’s largest automaker, including as president and CEO of Toyota Financial Services. But he never forgot the needs of college students from underprivileged backgrounds.

Upon his retirement from Toyota in 2018, Toyota introduced the Mike Groff Community Impact Scholarship. With the support of his longtime employer, $25,000 is awarded to deserving undergrad students from underprivileged demographic backgrounds who are headed to grad school and are involved with philanthropic endeavors, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs or Toyota’s many nonprofit endeavors. Groff is a national trustee of the Boys & Girls Club of America and is currently serving on the Dean’s Advisory Board of Mihaylo College.

Thanks to the Mike Groff Scholarship, a Titan Alumna Looks Forward to a Career Helping Others

In 2019, Cal State Fullerton human services alumna Monica Gutierrez ’18 was the inaugural recipient of the Groff Scholarship. She rose above academic challenges as a transfer student from Fullerton College to make it to the dean’s list and serve as the branch director for the Boys & Girls Club of Fullerton throughout her undergraduate career.

Monica Gutierrez, a Cal State Fullerton grad now working on a master's degree at Azusa Pacific University

Monica Gutierrez

Gutierrez is currently pursuing a graduate degree in college counseling and student development at Azusa Pacific University, the largest and oldest evangelical Christian higher education institution on the West Coast. She is looking forward to supporting today’s diverse student populations in discovering their passions and interests through higher education.

“My passion lies in education and empowering students to be the best version of themselves,” says Gutierrez. “I aspire to work in higher ed as a counselor and advocate for students in marginalized groups. I am mostly passionate about supporting first-gen students, transfer students and women. My goal is to ultimately work in a community college setting to be a mentor for those who need encouragement and validation the most. I am extremely appreciative of the Boys & Girls Club and Toyota for their support of my life and career journey.”

Groff recognizes that the scholarship is an example of the impact companies and organizations can make on the lives of young people while working together. “I think this shows the power of support and mentoring from organizations like the Boys & Girls Club and the role corporations like Toyota can play in helping talented and hardworking students such as Monica pursue their passions.”

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