Public Affairs

23 Faces of the CSU

June 20, 2012
By Stephanie Thara

23 Faces of the CSU

The CSU graduates nearly 100,000 students every year, with each student traveling a unique journey toward a higher education. From first generation students and foster youth to battling addiction and facing homelessness, CSU students have triumphed over obstacles to obtain a degree.

Noteworthy scholars among the 2012 graduating class include:

After overcoming an eating disorder, CSU Bakersfield graduate Lindsey Watkins strives to help people “the way my life was saved."

Jose Medina, a recent CSU Channel Island graduate, uses his chemistry expertise to help underrepresented minority students learn science.

Michael Fitzpatrick, who graduated last month from Chico State, inspires the community by sharing his stories about tackling two tours in Iraq as a sergeant in the U.S. Army through documentaries, guest blogging and speaking at local conferences.

After losing two brothers, being kidnapped and living on the streets, Pamela Lane persevered and graduated from Cal State Dominguez Hills’ School of Nursing MEPN program with a 3.84 GPA.

As an immigrant, CSU East Bay graduate ThanhPhuong (Mindy) Le has worked hard to learn English and adapt to the American culture; she is now the first in her family to have earned a university degree.

In addition to discovering the first-ever globally known case of hairy fleabane (a herbicide-resistant weed), Marcelo Moretti earned the 2012 Graduate Medal—the top Fresno State honor to a graduate student.

Former foster youth and Cal State Fullerton graduate Talitha James has been honored for her work with the homeless and dedication as a peer mentor.

Chyna Balonick was honored for her extensive volunteer service, commitment to mentoring others, stardom on the women’s crew team, and excellence as a kinesiology scholar during Humboldt State University’s graduation ceremony.

Being named the most promising professional by her department, Cal State Long Beach graduate student Patrice Collins is living up to the title through her leadership on campus, maintaining a 4.0 and receiving numerous awards including a scholarship to support her research for advancing childhood education.

Not only is 16-year-old Trenton Lee the youngest member of the Cal State L.A. 2012 graduating class, but he is a member of numerous honor societies, a pianist and violinist for local senior centers, and hopes to become a physician to cure kidney disease.

After representing the United States and Cal Maritime at the Student Yachting World Cup, being a resident advisor and tackling two majors, Sarah Himes will jumpstart her career as a management trainee at ABF Freight System, Inc.

Math whiz Christina Depweg graduated from CSU Monterey Bay and obtained a fellowship that covers all the costs for her master’s degree in math education and her teaching credential at the University of Southern California.

After losing her parents to health problems and being diagnosed with hepatitis C and hyperthyroidism, La Ronda Jones hopes to someday set healthcare policy for the nation using her health administration degree from Cal State Northridge.

Steve Tran is using his Cal Poly Pomona sociology degree to help stop and prevent domestic violence and sexual assault again women.

As a Cal State San Bernardino student, Camelia Fowler has endured two major brain surgeries to remove a tumor and its regrowth. She persevered, became a member of CSU Bakersfield’s 2012 graduating class, and plans to pursue a master's degree in business administration at the university.

After completing training at Air Force bases around the United States, Jeffrey Jordan sought his degree from Sacramento State, and flew high in May 2012 when he received his bachelor’s degree in business and was commissioned as an Air Force second lieutenant.

Ellese Carmona developed her love for science in the Compact for Success Program, a San Diego State-Sweetwater Union High School District partnership designed to offer at-risk students guaranteed admission to the university. She will now make strides in microbiology at Harvard University where she will begin a Ph.D. program for biological and biomedical sciences.

After an eight-year period of domestic abuse, drug addiction and homelessness, San Francisco State graduate Marilyn Bunag was inspired by her children to turn her life around and obtain a degree in health and human services.

Graduating with a 3.87 GPA from San José State, Killol Acharya served as a peer advisor in the Engineering Student Success Center and was president of Project Enable (an organization committed to designing and modifying devices for the disabled).

Paul Marchetti calls Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s “Learn by Doing” philosophy crucial to his landing a prestigious job at Lab 126—the company that designs and engineers the Kindle for Amazon.

CSU San Marcos President's Award winner and former Marine Dalziel Soto, hopes to use his recently granted kinesiology degree to help rehabilitate people with spinal cord injury.

In Sonoma State graduate Punya Droz’s quest to better prepare and enable teachers and parents to work with blind and deaf Cambodian children, she provides an example of the ideal role model for future teachers of California.

Moving from Germany to California at age 12, Sarah Schraeder not only mastered the English language, but became a history star and Model UN representative at CSU Stanislaus.