Math scholarship helps pro soccer player

Bruce W. Woolpert Scholarship adds up to successful life for pro soccer player

Posted by Graniterock on Dec 20, 2023

Article from Foundation of California State University Monterey Bay

For Adrian Rebollar, who graduated from California State University Monterey Bay in 2021, the addition of a scholarship had an exponential impact on his ability to succeed.

Today, the Watsonville native plays midfield with the region’s professional soccer team, the Monterey Bay Football Club of the USL Championship league, and runs a soccer program business with his teammate.

Rebollar attended CSUMB because they offered the mathematics major he wanted, he was given a scholarship to play in the men’s soccer program and he could stay close to his family. His parents worked in Watsonville’s agricultural fields, picking strawberries and raspberries. Over summers in high school, Rebollar joined them, picking raspberries and blackberries in the cold early mornings.

He recalls his first semester at CSUMB as deeply challenging. “I remember working at Wendy's and then at Home Depot, all while balancing my class assignments and soccer training and games,” he said.

Things changed when he received the Bruce W. Woolpert Scholarship, a scholarship for math majors at CSUMB that prioritizes youth from Watsonville and participants from the Bruce W. Woolpert Algebra Academy. For Rebollar, having the scholarship to cover the costs of his tuition meant he could stop working outside jobs.

“After receiving the scholarship, I remember feeling that I could completely focus on just my academics and soccer,” he said. “The Bruce W. Woolpert scholarship assisted in giving me the freedom to study and play, which I continue to do now at the professional level.”

Rose Ann Woolpert created the scholarship in memory of her late husband, Bruce, who had been a big supporter of CSUMB, especially the math program, and who wanted to create pathways for Watsonville youth to pursue higher education. Bruce, the president of Graniterock, had formed a close friendship with CSUMB math professor Hongde Hu. Together the two created the Algebra Academy, a summer immersion program for middle school students to learn and advance in the field of mathematics. Tragically, Bruce’s life was cut short in a boating accident in 2012, but the Algebra Academy and mathematics scholarship keep Bruce’s spirit alive. 

“To see someone like Adrian, who excels in math, earn a degree with help of this scholarship, become a star athlete — it's a success story in every way!” said Rose Ann.

Excelling both academically and on the field still took a lot of effort, but the scholarship also helped Rebollar feel connected to a supportive community.

“Receiving the scholarship also opened up relationships to the fellow recipient as well as other staff from the university. The scholarship gave me a sense of having a friendly ‘mathematics’ community,” he said.

This sense of community helped during challenging times, when Rebollar had to miss class due to soccer games and find ways to learn the material on his own or with one-on-one help from the professors.

“One of the most significant challenges I faced during my education was the balance of my academics and soccer.  If I did not have the help from the scholarship and I had to have a job to continue to pay for tuition, then balancing the workload from class and the team would be even harder.”

“Education is the foundation of a strong community, but it is not easy for students to afford good education,” noted Rose Ann Woolpert. “Our business has been based in Watsonville for 124 years. No one has deeper roots in the region than Graniterock, and we feel a connection and responsibility to our community, to give back, to create good jobs and lives for people in our region. One of the ways we can accomplish that is to remove the economic obstacles to education.”

Even as a student, Rebollar gave back by teaching the middle-schoolers who followed his footsteps in the Algebra Academy.

“Apart from supporting me financially, the scholarship gave me the opportunity to connect with young students who showed interest in mathematics and attending the university once they got older. This gave me the chance to see how important community is to the Bruce W. Woolpert Scholarship program,” he said.

Now as a professional athlete, he continues to encourage young people to follow their dreams.

“I have gone to multiple schools and soccer programs to speak on my journey and hopefully inspire the next generation to continue to grow and achieve anything they can imagine. One of my biggest aspirations is to become someone in my community who young people can come for assistance and guidance on their journey to success,” he said.

Adrian and his teammate/business partner are already planning on creating scholarships through their business.

“I think that scholarships are a necessity. There are numerous young adults aspiring to become exceptional leaders who without assistance may fall short. Giving them the opportunity to become who they aspire to be can be one of the greatest gifts anyone can give.”

Rose Ann Woolpert agrees, which is why it has been so rewarding to see her husband’s memory live on through the scholarship program.

“[The students] are able to take this experience, all they’re learning, and transfer it into successful careers as well-educated, accomplished people in the workforce. For our family, that's what it's about. It gives us an opportunity to make a difference in that way.”

“My biggest advice for future scholarship recipients is to take advantage of the opportunity at hand,” said Rebollar.


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