Campus: CSU Northridge -- July 9, 2003

CSUN Student to be Honored as a Hearst/Trustees' Scholarship Recipient

Cal State Northridge deaf studies student Shannon Starr is one of six California State University students selected for the prestigious William Randolph Hearst/CSU Trustees Award Scholarship.
Starr, 24, will receive the honor at the CSU Board of Trustees’ meeting, Tuesday, July 15 in Long Beach.

The awards provide $3,000 scholarships to students with financial need who demonstrate superior academic performance, community service and personal accomplishments. The awards are funded by an endowment from the Hearst foundation and individual contributions from the CSU Board of Trustees.

Starr, who received her bachelor’s degree in May, has been accepted into the university’s graduate program in linguistics. She plans to become a university professor teaching deaf studies and sign language.

Starr said she was stunned when she received the letter informing her of the award.
“I was in shock, I couldn’t speak, my mouth dropped open and I couldn’t speak,” she said. “My roommate came and I kept pointing at the letter. For me, that was the sign that I could go into graduate school, I always wanted to go to grad school. Without it I wouldn’t be able to go.”
Starr’s educational journey has not been easy.

In 1996, Starr was exposed to a potentially deadly virus while on a church mission to the Philippines. The virus caused her to have flu like symptoms, seizures, amnesia, stomach pains, blurry visions and organ failure.

After returning from the Philippines, she attended Palomar Junior College in San Diego to learn sign language, complete her general education and receive interpreter training.

But the illness still haunts her. Doctors told Starr twice that she was going to die, including at the start of her first semester at CSUN in spring 2002 when she was told she had four months to live because parasites were attacking her heart.

Starr has been able to triumph over her illness and graduated in May with a cumulative grade point average of 3.98. She is the treasurer for the Deaf Studies Association, a representative and liaison for Deaf CSUNians and works on campus as a professional sign language interpreter for the National Center on Deafness. She also volunteers for her church and the deaf community.

Starr said dropping out of school and not getting involved in extra curricular activities while at CSUN were not options, despite her medical problems. “I need to always be involved in school and activities in helping others. That is what helps me to keep going.”

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130,

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