Campus: CSU Fullerton -- October 24, 2001

Fall Brings New Participants to Guardian Scholars Program at Cal State Fullerton

Now in its fourth year, the Guardian Scholars Program welcomed 14 new scholars for the fall semester at Cal State Fullerton. Developed in collaboration with the Orangewood Children's Foundation, the program - the first of its kind in California - encourages and supports promising and motivated young people who are exiting the foster care system and striving to earn a college degree.

The students and their majors are, from Fullerton: Joanne Armstrong, child and adolescent development; Krystle Bybee, mathematics; Amy Choe, liberal studies; Jason Darr, psychology; Ruben De La Cruz, undeclared; Peter Gorton, music; Raylene Graham and Robyn Harney, theatre arts; Karen Julian, political science; Adam Sharuk, liberal studies; and Daniel Sheby, undeclared.

Also in the program are: Hilda Chavez of La Habra, child and adolescent development; Jayette Hightower of Tustin, communications; and Amber Peek of Placentia, psychology.

Currently totaling 32, guardian scholars receive financial assistance in addition to on-campus housing and employment opportunities, counseling, peer and faculty mentoring programs, financial aid application assistance, health insurance coverage and enrollment in the university's Fullerton First Year program.

Through such circumstances as endangerment, estrangement and abandonment, guardian scholars typically are former wards of the court, emancipated minors and/or without parental/adult support. Lacking even basic resources during the transition to adulthood, they are willing but not yet able to help themselves fully - often struggling without the financial, emotional and psychological safety nets that other college students rely on, according to program administrators.

"The students have a resiliency that is unbelievable," says Jessica Schutte, acting director of the Guardian Scholars Program. "They have beaten the odds by focusing on their goals instead of their
misfortunes. As children they were forced to realize that life is a challenge, but instead of giving up they got up and got moving," she added. "They have the motivation to achieve. The role of the Guardian Scholars Program is to assist them in navigating the services and opportunities offered by Cal State Fullerton to help them accomplish their educational pursuits."

An advisory board composed of community leaders, faculty and staff members, plus Guardian Scholars representatives provides advice and input regarding the program. Alumnus Ronald V. Davis of Laguna Beach, chairman of Davis Capital and retired chairman of The Perrier Group of America, chairs the board. He is joined by: Anaheim resident Allen Boerner of Granite Investment Group; alumnus John Dolan of Irvine, attorney; Irvine resident Gene Howard, executive director of the Orangewood Children's Foundation; alumnus Robert Jechart of Irvine, president of RJE International; alumnus Peter D. Kelly of Hermosa Beach, attorney, Kelly, Lytton, Mintz & Vann LLP; Carlos Leija of Fullerton, University Advancement; guardian scholar Amber Peterson of La Palma; Schutte of Diamond Bar; George E. Saint-Laurent of Placentia, emeritus professor of comparative religion; guardian scholar Aaron Terreri of Fullerton; and alumna Vikki Vargas of Laguna Niguel, NBC/4-TV's Orange County bureau chief.

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