CSU Names Hearst/Trustees' Award Winners

Contact: Clara Potes-Fellow, cpotes-fellow@calstate.edu, (562) 951-4806

(July 6, 2004) -- The California State University has selected 14 student winners of the 2004/05 William R. Hearst/CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement. The systemwide award provides $3,000 scholarships to financially needy students who demonstrate superior academic performance and outstanding volunteer community service. These outstanding students have overcome profound personal challenges to achieve academic success. The winners, who will be honored at the July 13th Board of Trustees meeting, are

Deanna Heikkinen, CSU Bakersfield, is an anthropology and art history major. A first generation college student, Heikkinen returned to the academic world after the unexpected death of her mother. Drawing upon her knowledge of art history, she volunteers in a community after-school program, and this summer she will travel to Egypt to take part in an archeological excavation.

Elizabeth Coudright, CSU Chico, is a psychology major who plans to study social work. At 41, she has overcome living in poverty and being raised by a mentally unstable parent. Her work as a substitute teacher for disadvantaged youth at the Sierra Nevada Job Corps fed her interest in social work and she actively supports community programs to benefit women and raise awareness about domestic violence.

Jimmy Kirby, Jr., CSU Dominguez Hills, majors in Africana studies with a minor in communications. As a child, Kirby attended 12 different schools in as many years, and was raised in a single parent home. Now 36, Kirby hopes to return to Dominguez Hills to teach. An outstanding student, Kirby was the founding president of the Organization of Africana Studies and is an active member of the National Council for Black Studies.

Amy Sweeden, Fresno State, is a junior dietetics major. Recognized as one of the top 75 students entering Fresno State, Sweeden intends to pursue additional degrees in kinesiology and dietetics. She has tutored struggling students at the on-campus University High School and has supported the summer foods camp that teaches underprivileged children about healthy eating. Her dream is to become a personal dietitian for a professional sports team.

Tuy Thi Nguyen, CSU Fullerton, is a gerontology major. Nguyen fled Vietnam 10 years ago with her husband and two young children. Nguyen and her family struggled as immigrants, working to overcome language barriers and economic hardship. Her work as a volunteer at senior day centers sparked her passion working with the elderly. She later served as a caseworker at the Feedback Foundation, which serves seniors and their families in Orange County, and she is active in campus community service programs.

Nathan Curtis, CSU Hayward, is a music and business major. Music is one of the university’s most difficult curriculums, but Curtis has maintained an impressive academic record, while having six of his own compositions performed, recorded and published, and playing with the University Wind Ensemble. An active student leader, he has worked with students from the Peninsula Technikon University in South Africa on integrating new technology to improve community life.

Dion Davis, Cal State L.A., is a psychology major with a career goal of becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist. Davis’s difficult childhood was filled with violence and economic hardship, leading to involvement with gangs. Eventually, through his religious faith, he turned his life around and returned to school. Working in homeless shelters and providing support to those battling addictions, he has been called a “beacon of light.”

Becky Berger, Cal State Northridge, is a psychology and child development major. She has been called “the icon for resiliency,” for her accomplishments in face of a difficult early life: an abusive orphanage, homelessness, the loss of her first husband in the 1967 Six Day War, and, later, suffering a stroke that paralyzed half of her body for several years. An honor student, a peer tutor, and a service volunteer, she has emerged as a campus leader and role model.

Nexon Sun, Cal Poly Pomona, is a business administration major. A hard-working honor student and “future leader of America,” Sun has dedicated himself to making the difficult lives of immigrants, like his parents, better by creating a business that will hire first generation immigrants, giving them a place in society. Sun also volunteers at the local public library and serves as webmaster for the Cal Poly World Traders Club.

Avery Malby, CSU Sacramento, is a social work major whose goal is to work with children from disadvantaged, troubled backgrounds or those in foster care. A learning disability made Malby’s early educational experiences challenging, but her hunger for learning combined with her parent’s support has contributed to her superior academic achievements. Known as a caring listener, she has interned with the campus program for Families First, a psychiatric residential treatment program for boys.

German Loustaunau, Cal State San Bernardino, is an English and liberal studies major. From a family of Mexican immigrants, he grew up in a poverty-stricken, violent neighborhood, and as a troubled teenager he joined a gang. A high school teacher helped turn him around and get him back on the education track. His goal is to earn a teaching credential, then a doctorate in American literature. In addition to his studies, Loustaunau works with organizations that help at-risk children.

Cara Statucki, San Francisco State, is an English major with a concentration in teaching English as a Second Language. She also holds a master’s degree in Adult Education. Statucki discovered her passion serving in a community literary program. Her later experience as a Peace Corps health education volunteer in Guyana solidified her interest in adult education and community-based programs. She plans to work in the field of adult literacy and has helped train students to serve as tutors in low-performing schools.

Lisa Ward, San Jose State, is a social work major. A single parent with three young children, Ward has suffered tremendous setbacks, including the death of her first child. She has overcome a range of hardships: bipolarity, physical abuse, divorce, homelessness and suicide attempts. Her impressive strength of character kept her going and achieving. Her goal is to work in family and children services to assist families that face the same challenges she has encountered.

Julie Martinez, Sonoma State, is a Spanish major. Driven by her own experience with language disabilities, she is dedicated to working with the Latino community. Actively involved with the university’s JUMP program (Join Us Making Progress), she serves as a volunteer visiting the elderly in convalescent homes, and has served as a translator and tutor to non-native English speakers.

The awards are funded by personal contributions from the CSU Board of Trustees and an endowment created by the Hearst Foundation. Since its inception in 1974, the award has honored 108 students. For more information about the students, please contact the campuses.

The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 409,000 students and 44,000 faculty and staff. Since the system was created in 1961, it has awarded more than 2 million degrees. The CSU is renowned for the quality of its teaching and for the job-ready graduates it produces. Its mission is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of the people of California. With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California. See www.calstate.edu.

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Last Updated: July 6, 2004

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