Campus: San Francisco State University -- August 6, 2004

SFSU Grad Student One Of 14 CSU Students To Win Statewide Scholarship

Cara Statucki, of Santa Barbara, maintains 3.9 GPA despite debilitating back injury

San Francisco State University student Cara Statucki was recently named one of 14 CSU students to win the prestigious William R. Hearst/CSU Trustees' scholarship for outstanding achievement in 2004.

Despite sustaining a debilitating injury to her lower back which severely limited her mobility and motor skills just a year into a master's program in adult education, Statucki maintained a 3.9 grade point average and is working toward her second master's degree at age 26.

After graduating from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Statucki spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guyana, where she provided HIV/AIDS and Red Cross training to teachers in the area.

Statucki's time in Guyana was cut short after a year and nine months because of security issues, so she returned to California and began a graduate program in adult education at SFSU. But in July 2001, Statucki tore a disk in her lower back and found herself confined to her bed for most of each day. Neither Statucki nor her doctors know exactly what caused the disk to tear.

"Overnight I went from being an active student, volunteer, athlete and teacher to being trapped in my bed for the majority of each day that passed," Statucki said. "I couldn't go grocery shopping, I couldn't make my bed, I couldn't do the laundry, I couldn't do anything."

Faced with the choice of moving in with her parents in Santa Barbara or staying in San Francisco and continuing her studies, Statucki chose to stay.

"I'm stubborn. I didn't want to move home and I didn't want my back injury to derail my life," she said. "I wanted to keep my life as close to how it should have been as possible. So I started fall semester unsure of how I would attend class full-time or complete my school work."

Despite the hardships she faced, Statucki was dedicated to school. Though she had to lie on a mat in the back of the classroom, she attended as many classes as possible, relying on friends and fellow students to help keep up with the workload by taking notes and typing papers for her. Statucki also dictated many papers into a voice activated computer.

Statucki completed the adult education program in 2003 and is now working toward a master's degree in English, which she plans to finish in May 2005. She can now stand and sit in class, and her mobility and motor skills are gradually returning. Her doctors expect a full recovery.

After graduating, Statucki hopes to return to her hometown and teach English at the community college level.

Media contact: Matt Itelson, (415) 338-1743; (415) 338-1665; matti@sfsu.edu


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