There are many advantages to being a California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) Presidential Scholar. The university’s most prestigious scholarship, after all, comes with full tuition, book allowances and priority registration. And then there’s lunch with the president.
This was news to President Willie J. Hagan, who upon his arrival to campus three years ago found out that lunch with him was considered a benefit of the program. After that, Hagan has made sure that the lunch happens yearly.
On Nov. 2, Hagan, along with his vice presidents and special advisers, sat down with 22 of the 24 current scholars for lunch in 1910 Café and Lounge in the Loker Student Union.
“The real purpose of this lunch is to introduce ourselves, the administration, and to thank the presidential scholars,” Hagan said. “The presidential scholars program is a very important program for this university. The students have a lot of talent, drive and energy, and that actually infects the entire campus.”
The presidential scholars program is a very important program for this university. The students have a lot of talent, drive and energy, and that actually infects the entire campus. -President Hagan
The Presidential Scholars Program’s newly appointed director, Gayle Ball-Parker, had the chance to meet several of the scholars in person for the first time during the lunch. As a CSUDH alumna and previous director of Alumni Relations, Ball-Parker is already a part of the Toro family and excited to jump into her new role.
“We have some incredible students in our program,” Ball-Parker said. “I look forward to getting to know each of them over this upcoming year and working together to enhance the program for future students.”
To be considered for CSUDH’s premier scholarship, students — first-time freshmen or transfer students — must show excellent academic capabilities, leadership qualities and a desire to succeed. The university invests in the awardees not only in a monetary sense, but also in time and events. Scholars are able to attend specific workshops and forge relationships with administrators that are not easily available to the rest of the student population.
The lunch was as much an opportunity for the scholars to meet the president and his cabinet as it was to get to know each other, a point Hagan made, suggesting that new scholars should take the opportunity to meet and learn from those who have been in the program a while. He also talked about the importance of internships, research projects and the possibility of study abroad, urging the scholars to take advantage of all the opportunities made available to them.
Monica Warner, a two-year program veteran who plans on graduating in the spring, said that the Presidential Scholars program changed her college experience entirely.
“I went to college years ago and I hated it,” she said. “It was a never-ending fight of ‘how am I going to pay for this?’ But now, my stress is studying, which is what it should be.”
First-year Presidential Scholar and recent transfer theatre arts major, Deion Paysinger remembers the phone call he received telling him that he received the scholarship. “Are you sitting down?” they asked. As a single dad, he feels it is important that he shows his daughter what hard work can accomplish. This scholarship is as much for her as it is for him, he said.
“My goal is to receive a 4.0 when I graduate,” Paysinger said.
As the luncheon ended, Hagan presented this year’s awardees with laptop computers to use in their studies. The laptops, which are loaded with all the software that students might need for their classes, is another perk of the lunch– and becoming a scholar.
Presidential Scholarships are awarded in the spring to freshmen and transfer students who are invited to participate. For more information on the Presidential Scholars program, or details on how to apply, please visit here.