CSU Names 2005/06 Hearst/Trustees' Award Winners

Contact: Clara Potes-Fellow, cpotes-fellow@calstate.edu, (562) 951-4800

(September 20, 2005) -- The California State University has selected 12 student winners of the 2005/06 William R. Hearst/CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement. The systemwide award provides $3,000 scholarships to financially needy students who demonstrate superior academic performance and outstanding volunteer community service. These outstanding students have overcome profound personal challenges to achieve academic success. The winners, who will be honored at the September 20th Board of Trustees meeting, are

Shannon M. Pooser, Bakersfield, is an exemplary student in the Master of Science Program in Counseling Psychology. She is currently a volunteer facilitator of a community grief support group for parents who have suffered the tragedy of losing a child. Shannon wants to continue her volunteer work and has as her long-term goal being a marriage and family therapist in the Bakersfield community.

Deidre D. Knighten, Dominguez Hills, is a public administration major. A former alcoholic and now a mother of four, she is the Service Coordinator at U.S. Vets-Compton, which is working to reintegrate homeless veterans into society through job training, substance abuse treatment, and other services. She sees her mission as helping others recover from substance abuse and providing a safe haven for such efforts.

Kamar O’Guinn, East Bay, is pursuing a special major in Democracy, Arts and Cultural Studies. In addition to his leadership on campus, including work with at-risk students in the university’s Summer Bridge Program, he has served as a mentor and tutor at his local middle school. His future aspirations include attending graduate or law school and continuing to help improve his community.

Micah Ornelas, Fullerton, is a double major in business administration and psychology. He is president of the Mesa Cooperative, the umbrella group for all Latino student clubs, and is currently an instructor for Credit Smart En Espanol, which helps students and their families for whom English is a second language learn how to build and preserve good credit.

Deborah O’Banks, Humboldt, entered the credential program after earning her bachelor’s in liberal studies/elementary education. A mother of four with a perfect attendance record, she is building a home in an isolated mountain region without electricity or phones lines where winter storms can drop six feet of snow on the roads. She has long been active in community service to children, including classroom work in special education.

Daniel De La Cruz, CSU Monterey Bay, is an information technology major. Orphaned at 12, he dropped out of school and later was diagnosed with the same disorder that claimed his mother’s life. Not giving up, he enrolled in computer courses and used the Internet to locate a research geneticist who provided him with experimental, lifesaving therapy. His goal is to use information technology to help others overcome barriers in society.

Valentino Ifeacho, Cal State San Bernardino, is a biology major. Born and raised in Nigeria, he came to America when he was only 16 years old. Despite the difficulties of adapting to a new culture and a hard struggle with cancer, he graduated from high school and went directly to the university as the first in his family to do so. His dream is to become a medical doctor.

Emilie Hanlon, San Diego State, is studying microbiology with the goal of entering a doctoral program in pharmacy. She grew up in a community enriched by cultural and economic diversity, but also plagued by increasing violence and the fear created by gang activities. A mother at 17, and later a single parent, she has struggled to stay in school and realize her dream of becoming a clinical pharmacist.

Robert Swart, San Jose State, an English major with a minor in history, is now seeking a MFA in Creative Writing. His childhood was marked by divorce, death, and separation, leading to long-standing depression and short-lived jobs until therapy and success at a community college helped him refocus his life. He hopes to write a book of poetry, teach at the community college or university level, and eventually earn his Ph.D.

Lindsay M. Johnson, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, is an architecture major at San Luis Obispo. Originally a student at another CSU campus, she was forced to withdraw due to injuries she suffered after a brutal physical assault. A talented designer, she hopes to become a licensed architect. She is a community volunteer at a battered women’s shelter and at a program to build homes for the poor in Northern Mexico.

Alfredo Coria, Sonoma State, is a communications major with a minor in Spanish. Born in Mexico, he grew up in California and experienced social and academic challenges because English was his second language. An exceptionally active club member, service volunteer, and organizational leader, he has been involved in academic outreach to high school students as well as teaching English to day laborers.

Pamela L. McElhaney, CSU Stanislaus, is a liberal studies major. She returned to college when she received a kidney transplant after 10 years of kidney dialysis. She has been involved in a prison outreach program for over 20 years, providing encouragement and educational services to prisoners, and will be seeking a teaching credential and work as an elementary school teacher.

The awards are funded by personal contributions from the CSU Board of Trustees and an endowment created by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. Since its inception in 1974, the award has honored 120 students. For more information about the students, please contact the public affairs offices at the campuses.

The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 400,000 students and 42,000 faculty and staff. Since the system was created in 1961, it has awarded more than 2 million degrees (more than 82,000 last year). The CSU is renowned for the quality of its teaching and for the job-ready graduates it produces. Its mission is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of the people of California. With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California. See www.calstate.edu.

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Last Updated: September 20, 2005

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