Campus: CSU Los Angeles -- June 02, 2003
Cal State L.A.'s Commencement includes 15-year-old
Biology Major, Her 17-Year-Old Brother and Her Mother
Among the Youngest Grads
In 1999, Verena Firpo (Hawthorne-L.A. resident), now a biology major,
entered a Cal State L.A. program that enables gifted youth to participate
fully in University life—Cal State L.A.’s Early Entrance
Program (EEP)—the only program of its kind in the nation. This
year, 12 of 100 youngsters in the program will graduate from Cal State
L.A. on Saturday, June 14, with Verena among the youngest.
At eleven years old, Verena Firpo “transferred” to Cal State
L.A. after completing eighth grade at Desert Junior-Senior High School
at Edwards Air Force Base. Now fifteen, her career goal is to become
a pediatrician, and she has applied to several medical schools. To gain
some hospital experience, Verena volunteers at Garfield Medical Center
Emergency Room. She also uses her considerable piano skills to entertain
patients at the Del Amo Garden Convalescent Home. In the area of academic
research, she has been working with Dr. Krishna Foster in Cal State
L.A.’s Chemistry and Biochemistry department since Winter 2001.
Her current project involves the detection of reduced phosphorous in
natural water sources.
On campus, Verena is serving as secretary of Beta Beta Beta Biological
Honors Society. Her interests outside biology include music (she plays
percussion with the Cal State L.A. Wind Ensemble and has performed with
the University’s Symphonic Band and Symphonic Orchestra) and karate
(she will have her brown belt by June).
She was named All-American Scholar Collegiate and is a member of the
national honor society Phi Kappa Phi and Golden Key International Honors
Society. Verena’s accolades include the University’s General
Education Honors Special Recognition and Scholarship, the Elias-Exposito
Scholarship, and the Alumni Certificate of Honor. She is on the National
Dean’s List and Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities
This year, Verena and her brother—17-year-old Daniel Firpo, a
computer science major—were both recipients of the Certificate
of Merit from the campus chapter of Phi Kappa Phi national honor society.
Daniel, who shares many of the same interests, involvements and honors
as his sister, is additionally a General Motors Scholarship recipient
and lists drums and piano as his musical instruments.
Making Cal State L.A.’s Commencement a real family affair for
the Firpos, Verena’s mother, Ngoc-Dung Firpo, a former teacher,
will receive a Master of Arts in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers
of Others Languages) this year. She will not be marching in the procession,
however. Preferring her children take the spotlight on graduation day,
Mrs. Firpo and her husband, Rodolfo, will be among the more than 15,000
spectators in attendance to cheer family and friends graduating in Cal
State L.A.’s Jesse Owens Stadium on June 14.
Contact: Carol Selkin, Media Relations Director, (323)
or Margie Yu, Public Affairs Specialist, (323) 343-3047