Donor Profile: Marianne Bacigalupi

Supporting Guardian Scholars in their educational journeys

By Gail Mallimson, University Development

The daughter of a single mother, Marianne Bacigalupi was forced to move frequently to avoid heavy bombing in her native Germany as a child during World War II. Her family’s struggles meant that she had to work from a very young age and was unable to attend college. It was this experience that contributed to Marianne and her husband Andrew deciding to fund an endowed scholarship at San Francisco State University. They chose the Guardian Scholars Program, which engages current and former foster youth in attaining college degrees, stable housing, and career path employment as recipients.

“When we heard that many teens are on their own, and they sometimes really struggle, and how many of them give up, then we thought, ‘Maybe a scholarship could help them get over the hump, so they can graduate.’”

Since its inception in 2016, the Bacigalupi University Scholarship Endowment has awarded 23 scholarships ranging from $3,000 - $5,000 to 16 GSP student scholars. For many students, these awards bring a feeling of belonging and of being cared for in addition to financial support. This aspect is one of the most rewarding for Marianne, who often tears up when she reads the thank you notes from Bacigalupi University Scholarship recipients.

“This scholarship award allows me to pursue my dreams and uplift those in my community. If I can do it, so can they.”
-Bacigalupi University Scholarship awardee and Communications major David Parsons

When Marianne was 23 years old, she became a Lufthansa flight attendant - a dream that she had had since she was a teenager. The competition for the job was formidable, and Marianne studied hard to become fluent in two foreign languages and gain nursing experience. While her mother was not able to help her financially, she was very supportive of her daughter’s dreams, and Marianne was accepted into the third cohort of flight attendants in the airline’s history.

Being a flight attendant opened the world to Marianne, and she eventually met her husband Andrew when he was a passenger on one of her flights. Marianne moved to the United States, began a 30-year career in real estate development in San Jose, and had two sons, Guy and Greg. In recent years Guy has also become a donor to the Bacigalupi University Scholarship Endowment.

“Lately, I have been going through a rough patch but being awarded this scholarship helps to motivate me to get through the school year. Thank you for supporting me when it feels like I have no one.”
­-Bacigalupi University Scholarship awardee and Visual Communication Design major Jacqueline Perez

Having been blessed with two satisfying careers, Marianne’s hopes for the GSP scholars are also focused on their finding success after graduation, “I hope the students will graduate, and be able to take the job that they really like. Whatever makes them happy because they deserve every bit of happiness in their life.”

In addition to the Bacigalupi’s donations to the Bacigalupi University Scholarship Endowment, Marianne has recently made a large planned gift to the endowment, ensuring that it will support GSP students of the future. “I’m fully behind the program,” says Marianne. “I think it’s fabulous, and that it’s got a great future because the need will always be there.”

For more information about the Guardian Scholars Program, contact:

Anjali Billa ( She/Her/Hers )
Associate Vice President
University Development
(415) 405-3625