Highlighting their exemplary leadership, commitment to inclusion and student support, and the impact they have had on the campus community, California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) honored five students with the Presidential Award for Outstanding Student during the 2019 President’s Student Leadership and Service Awards Ceremony on May 7.
The annual event also celebrates and showcases co-curricular experiences through student organizations, and recognizes outstanding faculty and staff who support them. The university is home to 115 student organizations with more than 2,300 students involved in various clubs.
Presidential Award for Outstanding Student
Alejandro Campos, kinesiology major, was honored for his leadership and commitment to equity, support, and advocacy for undocumented students. Campos helped launch CSUDH’s Toro Dreamers Success Center, playing an instrumental role in helping develop and execute events to raise awareness of the center. He is a leader in the Undocumented Student Ally Coalition, and has worked with Joanna Perez, assistant professor of sociology, on the UndocuScholars project. Campos is also a member of Espiritu de Nuestro Futuro: Immigrant Student Alliance, and has served as a lobbyist in Washington D.C. for the organization United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led network in the nation.
Gabriela Karaivanova, a recent graduate who double majored in criminal justice and computer science, was recognized as a scholar and leader who balances academics and extracurricular life, while actively helping students achieve and bettering the lives of those within local communities. She currently serves as president of the Mozilla Club and as a leader for other student organizations. For the past three years, Karaivanova has led the committee that manages the Cyber Security Club’s “Toro.Hack” cyber conference, with its more than 200 participants and corporate presenters. She has also volunteered more than 200 hours with AmeriCorps to help homeless and military veterans.
Itzel Marin, a graphic design major, is a popular campus tour guide and team leader in the New Student Orientation Program, and is the social media coordinator and graphic designer in CSUDH’s Outreach and Recruitment Department. Marin is active in student organizations, serving as vice president for the Dominguez Hills Arts Collective, and worked closely with the Queer Culture and Resource Center to implement a new “preferred name” campus policy. Marin currently serves as Associated Students, Inc.’s (ASI) representative for the College of Arts and Humanities, and is the incoming ASI director for student services.
Earth science major Scarlett Zamora has made an important impact on both CSUDH students and the campus community. As president of the Sustainability Club, she has been a committed steward across campus for recycling, waste management, water conservation, and food recovery projects. As vice president of the Food Recovery Network, Zamora and a group of student volunteers are also helping fight food waste by redistributing surplus food to campus food pantries and other departments.
Graduate student Laura Miller, an occupational therapy (OT) major whose research has focused on Cochlear implants, is known as a leader who seeks to empower others. She serves as president of the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA), and works with her fellow members to create a better sense of community on and off campus through a variety of events. This past year, Miller managed the KDHR FriendsGiving dinner in November 2018, and SOTA’s participation in ASI’s Halloween Haunt. She also coordinated a campus visit of OT students from Japan, a donation drive for the CSUDH Food Pantry, and a fundraising effort for the Boys and Girls Club of Long Beach.
Watts Commemorative Award for Social Justice
The award honors a student for advocacy on campus or in the community to create a more just, equitable, and inclusive society free of racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, and other forms of oppression.
Monica Avalos, a business administration major, is a social justice advocate, community builder, and mentor who supports and advocates for undocumented students. A creative event planner, Avalos has developed and implemented empowering events with the Toro Dreamers Success Center, the Queer Culture and Resource Center, and Multicultural Affairs. Her events include graduate school panels, local school presentations on college access for undocumented students, coming out of the shadows events, and healing circles. She also participates in local protests and demonstrations. Avalos has been recognized for her efforts by California Assemblymember Mike Gipson and Congresswoman Nanette Diaz-Barragan.
Presidential Award for Advisor of the Year
The award honors a student club or organization adviser who has demonstrated outstanding support and personal commitment to a student organization.
Kristen Stagg, assistant professor of mathematics and faculty adviser of the Mathematics Club, was awarded for her tireless commitment and hands-on approach to helping students achieve. She consistently attends club meetings and events, and serves as an advocate for the club in her classes and among her peers. Stagg is also a great resource for the club, actively seeking new speakers and presenters for events and is a sought after mentor, coach, and cheerleader who helps students feel connected, supported and inspired.
Presidential Award: Staff
Raul Rubio: Marilyn Brady Award for Distinguished Service
The award honors the life and legacy of CSUDH alumna and long-term staff member Marilyn Brady. This award recognizes a staff member for their exemplary dedication to students above-and-beyond their work responsibilities.
Raul Rubio, coordinator of the Department of History, was recognized for his commitment to “going beyond his responsibilities” to support students’ academic endeavors. Over the past two years, Rubio created a new “Quiet Study Hall” and the “Lending Library” for students, and launched the “May 21st Initiative,” a day for graduating seniors to meet with him to discuss their career goals. He is one of the founding editors of The Toro Historical Review, an online journal that provides students the opportunity to publish their work. Rubio also launched a food drive that collected more than 450 pounds of food in support of the CSUDH Food Pantry.
Presidential Award: Student Organizations
Pre-Health Society: Presidential Award for Community Service
The award honors a student organization that has planned and implemented an outstanding community service or awareness program that positively impacted the community.
The Pre-Health Society is consistently recognized for its commitment to education and community service. Last year, the student club took part in the Los Angeles Breast Cancer Walk and AIDS Walk Los Angeles, and worked with Fred Jordan Missions on Thanksgiving Day to help provide meals and living essentials for hundreds of low-income families. This spring, Pre-Health Society members worked with the organization Sustainable Asia through Medicine and Education Medical Mission, traveling to the Philippines during spring break to help its medical staff by taking vital signs, distributing medicine, checking for diabetes, and assisting with physical therapy.
Peace Club: Presidential Award for Outstanding Organization
The award honors a student club or organization that has demonstrated exemplary leadership through a wide array of programs resulting in increased involvement in campus life, campus collaboration, and student sense of belonging on campus or in the community
The Peace Club is known for its organization of multiple campus events and community volunteer opportunities, while helping its members develop conflict resolution skills—hosting a conflict resolution seminar and the “What Makes You Special” series—while fostering belonging and resilience within its ranks. In March 2019, the Peace Club created a story sharing event called “There’s Beauty in the Struggle, Look I’m Gorgeous.”
Presidential Award for Outstanding Program
Mathematics Club: “Women Mathematicians of the Ancient World: Celebrity, Artisans, and Astronomy”
The award honors a student club/organization that has planned and implemented an on-campus event that positively impacted the campus community by substantially contributing to the quality of student life through social, academic, or cultural education.
The Mathematics Club’s program “Women Mathematicians of the Ancient World: Celebrity, Artisans, and Astronomy” was a lecture and presentation in Spring 2019 at CSUDH co-sponsored by CSUDH’s Mathematics and History Departments and featuring USC mathematics Professor Nathaniel Emerson. The talk focused on artisanal women from antiquity in terms of their social status and the mathematics that they practiced. Most of the presentation focused on Hypatia (born c. 350–370; died 415 AD) from Alexandria, Egypt, who is considered the first female mathematician.