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Cerritos College benefits from gift to woodworking program

Cerritos College benefits from gift to woodworking program.
Students working in the Cerritos College woodworking shop.

Students working in the Cerritos College woodworking shop.

The Cerritos College Foundation has received a $2.3 million gift from the late John B. Smith, Jr. to support the school’s woodworking program. Smith, an alumnus of Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif., designated the gift for woodworking scholarships. It is the school’s largest financial donation to date.

“We are truly humbled and inspired by Mr. Smith and his family’s generosity,” Dr. Jose Fierro, president and superintendent of Cerritos College, said in a statement. “Mr. Smith’s gift will help students attain advanced skills in woodworking and master the artistry of woodcrafts for many years to come.”

The foundation will establish the John B. Smith Scholarship Fund to benefit students enrolled in woodworking courses at Cerritos College. Scholarships will be available starting later this year.

Cerritos College has offered woodworking courses for more than four decades. The program emphasizes hands-on training and real-world experience in more than 40 classes, including face frame and frameless cabinet construction, CNC woodworking, architectural millwork, table and casegood construction, hand tools, woodturning, and veneering.

“Woodworking can be a very rewarding career for students who are just graduating from high school or people looking to develop a highly skilled hobby,” said Reuben Foat, chair of the college’s woodworking program. “The job market for woodworking is very strong with careers that range from cabinet makers, furniture finishers, machine operators, and craft woodworking artists. Students who complete the program generally are incredibly satisfied working within this meaningful and gratifying vocation.”

Smith established a trust to create a woodworking scholarship fund at the college following his and his mother’s death. He was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, and graduated from North High School in Torrance, Calif. in 1962. He worked as an engineering draftsman in the aerospace industry for ten years. He took woodworking courses at Cerritos College before moving to Paso Robles, Calif., where he lived at the time of his passing. He also donated his woodworking equipment, including a drill press and bandsaw, to the college.

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This article originally appeared in the December 2019 issue.

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