The 2012-13 California State University, Dominguez Hills Presidential Scholars were introduced to local corporate and community leaders who support the university’s most prestigious scholarship and were among about 200 guests, including beaming family members, university faculty, staff, and students, during the annual President’s Scholarship Reception held on April 25 on the fifth floor of the University Library South Wing.
“The stellar leadership and academic success of our Presidential Scholars raises the bar for everyone at Cal State Dominguez Hills. From the classmates who work with them to our faculty who mentor them, who teach them, who engage in civic programs with them, and do research and creative activities with them,” said University Interim President Willie J. Hagan. “They are extraordinarily impressive.”
A competitive full-ride scholarship open to first-time freshman and transfer students, the Presidential Scholars Program includes paid tuition and fees, early registration, research opportunities, and other benefits. Corporate and private donations have supported the program since its inception in 1990, and today, 16 of the university’s brightest students are able to give their full focus to their academics as a result.
“I would like to thank all of the donors for giving us this amazing opportunity, because honestly, I don’t know how I would have been able to strive for a higher education without all your support and help,” said Christina Henderson, who is a freshman majoring in computer technology and graphic design.
Expressing similar sentiments, other scholars shared details of their journey.
“For me, this award has lifted an enormous financial burden [off] my family, since at the time I started college my sister was also in college,” said senior clinical science major Patrick Fuentes. “Getting this award means so much because it is an affirmation that I did something right academically [while I was] in high school.”
Sarah White, a senior majoring in child development who will graduate in fall 2013–a semester ahead of time–has been a Presidential Scholar since she was a freshman at the university.
“Dominguez Hills has truly become a second home to me, not only because I lived in the dorms, but also because of the amazing support system I received through the scholarship,” she said.
For at least one of the 16 Presidential Scholars, the university may very well be like part of the family. Nicole Leonard, a junior business administration major who transferred from Marymount College this fall, is a second-generation CSU Dominguez Hills student.
Leonard’s father, Aden, earned a bachelor’s degree in in chemistry from the university in 1993, and her mother, Denise, earned a master’s in education administration in 2002. Denise said that she wasn’t aware of such opportunities like the Presidential Scholarship when she was a student at the university. But she admitted she wasn’t as resourceful as her daughter.
Dodging the compliment, Leonard gave credit to the university’s culture for instilling a sense of philanthropy in students, regardless of the generation they come from or field of study they go into.
“There’s kind of a common theme. Even though [my parents] came at a different time and [my fellow scholarship recipient] Kadetra Peals and I are in different majors, it all seems to lead back to helping people. I think that really comes from the [campus] community,” Leonard said. “We want to give back. We want to do everything we can to make sure that the world’s a better place.”
Leonard’s parents both work in public service and she is looking toward the same. In August, through to November, she will be participating in the Panetta Institute’s Congressional Internship Program, serving in the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.
First-generation college student Candice Cochran, a senior majoring in psychology, is setting the tone for her siblings.
“I have the opportunity to teach my younger brothers and sisters that they can get [a college] education, too,” she said.
Samantha Marin, a junior who transferred from Fullerton College to major in history and social science, said it was her experience in a San Diego charter high school that has inspired her to become a history teacher.
“When I was in high school, I had a history teacher who just made history come alive for me. I was going through a hard time–financially and emotionally–with my family. And that class was an escape for me.”
Marin said the scholarship is helping to make her dream possible.
“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m so grateful,” she said.
The uplifting event, which raised a record $225,000 for the university’s signature academic scholarship, also provided an opportunity for the university to present its annual community awards.
Alumna Congresswoman Karen Bass (Class of ’90, B.S., health science) was recognized with the 2013 Katherine B. Loker Friend of Education Award. Named in honor of the late philanthropist whose commitment to CSU Dominguez Hills dated back to the university’s founding, the award honors an individual’s or organization’s contributions to higher education.
While she served as speaker of the California State Assembly, Bass, among her many achievements, helped protect academic courses from being cut system wide and worked with then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to stabilize funding for higher education. Now as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives she continues her commitment to education. This March, her bill before Congress to address student indebtedness was passed and became the Student Loan Fairness Act of 2013. It is set to take effect July 1.
“I’m honored to be an alumna of this distinguished university and you should know that as long as I am in Washington D.C. you have a friend here,” Bass, who could not attend the event, said in a video address. “I am extremely honored to be a recipient of this year’s award.”
In recognition of support to the university through the years, Kaiser Permanente was presented the Corporate Partner of Education Award. Kaiser has also been a key partner in the School of Nursing and the Clinical Science Program, providing internships to students and allowing their employees to serve as volunteer clinical instructors and consultants. Receiving the award on behalf of Kaiser Permanente was Bob Blair, chief administrative officer for the Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center.
“Cal State Dominguez Hills plays an important role in preparing future health care leaders in the South Bay and is an incredible asset in this community,” Blair said. “I know that the partnership between Kaiser Permanente and Cal State Dominguez Hills will continue to grow over the months and years. Thank you for this recognition.”
Hagan noted that the corporate sponsors are involved beyond their financial contributions by also partnering in job fairs, making equipment donations, engaging in a wide range of campus activities, and recruiting graduates for employment.
“Without your generosity, some of our best and brightest would not be here,” Hagan said of the sponsors.
For more information on the Presidential Scholars Program, visit www3.csudh.edu/president/presidential-scholars.
2012-13 Presidential Scholars:
Lindsey Armstrong – pre-physical therapy, Class of ’16
Emily Boege – health science, Class of ’16
Candice Cochran – psychology, Class of ’13
Corinne Cowan – art design, Class of ’13
Timothy Ericson – finance, Class of ’14
Patrick Fuentes – clinical science, Class of ’13
Katherine Geesing – religious studies, Class of ’14
Christina Hernderson – computer science, Class of ’16
Nicole Leonard – accounting, Class of ’16
Veronica Lepez – information systems, Class of ’14
Samantha Marin – history and social science education, Class of ’16
Kadetra Peals – pre-physical therapy, Class of ’16
Julia Ramirez – psychology, Class of ’14
Sarah White – occupational therapy, Class of ’13
Clifford Yap – accounting, Class of ’14
Matthew Yu – computer science, Class of ’16