With more than two years of sobriety behind her, and with a little help from the CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement, California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) computer science major Dominique Dalanni looks forward to continuing her successful college education, and reconnecting with her 7-year-old son.
The Trustees’ Award is bestowed on students—one from each of the 23 California State University campuses—who have overcome tremendous challenges in pursuit of their college degree and demonstrate superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service, and financial need.
“Throughout my late teens and early 20s, I struggled with addiction and everything that comes with a problem like that, including legal trouble. I am now proud to say that in the two and a half years since I began my sobriety I have accomplished many different goals that have definitely had a positive impact on my life,” said Dalanni, who successfully completed a six-month drug and alcohol outpatient recovery program in October 2013.
Dalanni is the Trustees’ Award’s “Cisco Scholar.” The $6,000 scholarship is funded by Cisco Systems in support of an outstanding student majoring in information technology. On Sept. 8, the CSU Board of Trustees will honor Dalanni and the other scholarship recipients during a recognition ceremony held at the CSU Office of the Chancellor in Long Beach.
“The scholarship is amazing and it will really help. Now I’ll be able to better focus on my classes, on my internship, and focus more on my family,” said Dalanni, a Long Beach resident who transferred from Long Beach City College to CSUDH in August 2014. “I now know that my fall and spring semesters will be covered so I don’t have to worry so much. I look forward to being able to pay off some of my loan debt. It will also help with rent, books—everything.”
Dalanni’s dedication to her education forced her to make a “difficult decision,” but one that she believes will ultimately result in a brighter future for her family.
“I had to make a very difficult decision to stay behind and finish college when my family, including my 7-year-old son, relocated to Washington D.C. because my step-father accepted a promotion at the V.A. Hospital [Washington DC VA Medical Center],” said Dalanni. “Due to financial reasons, I was unable to attend college on the East Coast, and decided that it was best if I stayed behind in California to finish college with the hope of providing a better life for my son in the future.”
While entrenched in her studies, Dalanni began an internship with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California in its technology department, an internship she found working the CSUDH’s Career Center. She is also president of Women in STEM, an organization that helps women majoring in the sciences stay on track and receive motivation, support, and internship opportunities.
Dalanni’s long-term goal is to finish graduate school with a dual master’s degree in computer science and cyber security, and seek a career in the software engineering or the information security industry. She expects to graduate with her bachelor’s degree in spring 2018.
“I chose computer science for a few reasons: the financial security that comes with a career in technology, and the unemployment rate in the field is extremely low,” she said. “With the salaries that are offered [in the field], I will have no problem paying off my student loans while still being able to support my son. And, our world is increasingly reliant on technology. I would like to know how it all works and be a part of all the innovative changes that will come down the road.”