A vivacious 26-year-old, Beatrice Lunday was the production manager at Cal Poly Chocolates and a research assistant to Cal Poly nutrition Professor Peggy Papathakis before she died of brain cancer in February 2017.
Lunday’s family and Papathakis have partnered together to create the Beatrice Lunday Memorial Scholarship Endowment, to provide a lasting legacy in her name.
Lunday, who earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition in 2013 and then pursued a master’s degree in nutrition, was diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma in the second quarter of her graduate studies. Glioblastoma is a fast-growing, aggressive type of tumor of the central nervous system that forms in the supportive tissue of the brain. She was experiencing the typical symptoms of persistent and debilitating headaches, nausea, vomiting and weight loss in her ﬁrst quarter of graduate studies. In spite of this she achieved a 3.7 GPA, while also working part-time at Cal Poly Chocolates and Mama Ganache Artisan Chocolates to support herself. She placed a priority on her commitment to her studies.
After her diagnosis, she withdrew from Cal Poly and underwent brain surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. She persevered to return to her dream of a professional career in nutrition and resumed her studies in the fall of 2015. She pressed on to ﬁnish taking classes and doing independent study to earn her master’s degree in spite of continuing monthly chemotherapy treatments.
“She mentioned that after a few meltdowns after diagnosis and treatments, she decided that cancer was not going to deﬁne who she is,” Papathakis said. “In her optimism, she chose to look for a silver lining. This optimism inﬂuenced her to use her disease and treatment process to help others by completing her graduate studies and aiming to become a registered dietitian focused on nutritional management of cancer.”
In the midst of her studies and treatment, Lunday organized graduate students in the Food Science and Nutrition Department to request that more graduate courses be offered since very few were offered at the time. Today, the department offers a robust master’s nutrition program. In March 2017, one month after she died, Cal Poly awarded Lunday a posthumous master of science degree in agriculture with a specialization in food science and nutrition.
The endowment will be used to provide scholarships in perpetuity to students pursing their master’s degree in nutrition – and provide a tribute to Lunday’s resilience
in the face of adversity and passion for nutrition studies.
The $25,000 endowment is only $3,500 away from being fully funded. To donate, contact Kelly Owens-Davalos at 805-756-6235.
Return to the Giving Report to read more.