Campus: Los Angeles -- June 8, 2006

At 19, He's Off to Med School from Cal State L.A.

Biochemisty Major Rex Cheng Earns Phi Kappa Phi Honor

Cal State L.A. biochemistry major Rex Cheng (Arcadia) has been awarded a Phi Kappa Phi Graduate Fellowship for the 2006-2007 academic year. Cheng is one of only 60 students nationwide to receive the $5,000 Graduate Scholar Award from The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. He is the eighth Cal State L.A. student in the past nine years to be selected for the Phi Kappa Phi graduate fellowship.

Cheng will graduate with honors from Cal State L.A. on June 10, 2006, at the age of 19, with a bachelor's degree in biochemistry. Cheng will next be attending Duke University School of Medicine.

Phi Kappa Phi is the oldest and largest national honor society dedicated to the recognition and promotion of academic excellence in all fields of higher education. Its fellowships are based on applicants' undergraduate academic performance; leadership and service on the campus and in the community; evidence of graduate potential; a personal statement of educational, purpose; and performance, citizenship and character.

With a joy for learning and the desire to grow academically at an early age, Cheng was admitted to Cal State L.A.'s Early Entrance Program (EEP) after his freshman year in high school. EEP admits extraordinarily gifted youngsters-some as young as 11-directly into college, providing the early entrants with monitored evaluation, regular counseling sessions, and the opportunity to study with like-minded peers.

Since his freshman year at Cal State L.A., Cheng has participated in the University's General Education Honors (GEH) program, which provides highly qualified students with enriched intellectual activities through a challenging curriculum that includes honors classes, seminars, and research. He served as vice president and social secretary for the G.E. Honors Club.

"Besides his academic accomplishments, I think that Rex's greatest strengths are his leadership and community involvement," says Margaret Jefferson, professor of genetics at Cal State L.A. "Besides serving as president of the Epsilon Theta chapter of the National Biological Honor Society, Rex has been the vice president of the General Education Honors Club, and academic chair and social chair of the Early Entrance Program Club. He has also participated in events such as the Chemistry/ Biochemistry Club's 'Terrific and Scientific,' an outreach program for surrounding elementary schools."

Cheng, who discovered a keen interest in biochemistry after his first year at Cal State L.A., begin challenging himself by being involved with research projects in chemistry labs. He is currently working as biochemistry student research assistant, devoting 15 hours a week to determine the effect of dietary lipids in order to reduce atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. His research project has been presented at a professional conference.

In addition to his honors classes, laboratory research and leadership activities, Cheng volunteers at Huntington Memorial Hospital and trains in Tae Kwon Do, which he admits has helped build his confidence to assume many leadership roles on campus. He has also volunteered at the Arcadia Methodist Hospital.

Raymond Garcia, professor of biochemistry and chair of the Academic Senate, said, "I discovered very quickly that Rex has a keen intellect, an inquisitive mind, and a genuine interest in science, particularly the biomedical/health sciences. His excellent academic record at our campus, his outstanding scientific work in my laboratory, and his extraordinary commitment to community service convince me that he has the ability needed to succeed in medical school and to become a truly outstanding medical doctor."

According to Richard Maddox, director of the Early Entrance Program at Cal State L.A., "In addition to his scholastic prowess and purely brilliant analytical mind, Rex is also a true servant and humanitarian."

Sean Kearn, Media Relations Director, (323) 343-3050 or Margie Yu, Public Affairs Specialist, (323) 343-3047

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