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Student Affairs

A Light That Won’t Fade: Julie Valentino Detro

Julie Valentino Detro

When Marilyn Hudson Darracq (History, ’72) and Ethelyn “Eddi” L. Looy (Statistics, ‘74) talk about their dear friend Julie Valentino Detro (Home Economics, ‘73), they describe her as someone who lit up any room she walked into. “Cal Poly is where our lifelong friendship began,” says Marilyn. “Eddi, Julie and I were college roommates in the early 1970s and lived in the off-campus Valencia Student Apartments on Broad Street."

Marilyn Darracq (top), Ethelyn “Eddi” Looy (middle), and Julie Valentino Detro (bottom)

“Julie was the kindest, sweetest person you would ever hope to meet,” continues Marilyn. “Anyone who entered her circle left a better person. She was selfless, saw the good in everyone and always put other’s needs before her own. Our precious Julie would have been 73 this May 9, 2023.”

Marilyn, Eddi and Julie maintained a long-lasting friendship and continued to enjoy life together as dear friends. The uniquely devoted group of college girlfriends stayed close to each other and spoke on the phone every month to stay connected about life’s many events and updates. The friendship that was born at Cal Poly 50 years ago strengthened over time. Marilyn and Eddi often reflect on their cherished friend Julie and remember her kindness, energy and love as a highlight of their time at Cal Poly.

Julie had coped with diabetes since childhood. Sadly, she passed away in July 2020 at the age of 70 due to complications related to the disease. Inspired by her lifelong generosity and caring nature, Marilyn and Eddi established the Julie Valentino Detro Endowment. “This endowment will forever honor Julie's legacy,” says Marilyn. “Anyone who knew her knew that she was the most caring person ever.”

Marilyn Darracq (left), Julie Valentino Detro (center), and Ethelyn “Eddi” Looy (right)

Now, with an established endowment, the Julie Valentino Detro Scholarship has begun to benefit students during their most challenging times. Recipients of the Julie Valentino Detro Scholarship are chosen based on high financial need and a demonstration of resilience in the face of adversity. Cal Poly’s dean of students evaluates candidates and administers the scholarship each year.

This year's inaugural scholarship recipient is a fifth-year mechanical engineering major from the Bay Area and is scheduled to graduate in spring 2023. The scholarship made a significant and positive impact on their life during a very challenging and troubling time. The scholarship payout was $2,100 and offered the awardee emergency aid to use for their most fundamental needs. As with many scholarships and emergency grants awarded through the Office of the Dean of Students, this scholarship provided financial assistance to a recipient who faced hardship related to an unexpected situation and who clearly demonstrated resiliency in the face of adversity.

Julie Valentino Detro (left), Marilyn Darracq (right)

The scholarship recipient shares, "The impact of this scholarship is one that I cannot encompass entirely with only words. People who say money doesn't buy happiness have never been without it. As someone who grew up on community food and Salvation Army toys as my Santa Claus, I am incredibly grateful for any amount that is bestowed upon me. I was able to move out of an uncomfortable housing situation to enjoy my last remaining months in undergraduate school. I was also able to rent a couple of books for my course this quarter (even though I do not like the idea of renting, it was less expensive). Although it may seem a bit dramatic, this scholarship convinced me to stay and finish my degree this spring quarter. Among many others, this scholarship is a reason I will be graduating. I sit here, tearing up as I write this, and think about how resilient and beautiful Julie must have been for her family and friends to continue her legacy this way. I hope any amount of peace can be brought to her and her family knowing they helped someone like her. I cannot wait to continue learning and growing to get to a place to pay it forward."

Each year, the Office of the Dean of Students will administer a Julie Valentino Detro Scholarship to one chosen student. The scholarship is open to all eligible students with a preference for those who are prior recipients of a Cal Poly Cares grant. Students interested in learning more about scholarship eligibility and candidacy for the upcoming academic year should contact the Office of the Dean of Students.

“Thank you, Julie, for showing us how to meet adversities with optimism, hope, joy and faith in our Lord; for teaching us to find the rainbow in every storm; to rise like a kite against the blowing winds; to see, in the darkness, the jewel-like stars above. We miss and love you.” – Thomas Valentino (Julie's brother)

The Julie Valentino Detro Endowment is actively seeking donations of any size to ensure that future Cal Poly students can benefit from this impactful scholarship in their time of need. Please consider giving today through the link below to help honor Julie’s legacy.

“We love and miss Julie every day,” says Marilyn and Eddi. “To quote Mahatma Gandhi, ‘There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in [our] heart[s].’”