Emeriti Fellowships and Scholarships Awarded
at the Fall 2019 Emeriti Luncheon
On Friday, September 27, 2019 10 graduate fellowship and two undergraduate scholarship recipients were honored at the annual emeriti fall luncheon held in Golden Eagle Ballroom 1 on campus. Each recipient spoke about how the award will help them achieve his or her personal and professional goals.
Emeriti Association Fellowship for Academic Excellence Awards
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Amy Vasquez, who is pursuing her M.S. in environmental science, spent many of her summers along with her sister in the Dominican Republic, their parents’ homeland. It was during those summers that she developed a strong interest in a wide range of animals and their habitats. In college, she took every opportunity to work with animals, eventually expanding her interests to the ecosystems in which they live. During a study abroad program in Tanzania, Vasquez learned how field research could be used to influence policy and shape management practices to benefit wildlife and humans. This experience convinced her to pursue a master’s degree. Encounters at Tufts University as an undergraduate also led her to become more involved with social justice movements on campus, as she witnessed and learned about environmental and racial injustices affecting her community. Based on these experiences, her goal is to earn a Ph.D. and pursue a career as an urban wildlife ecologist. Vasquez is a member of the Cal State L.A. Naturalist Club and the Black Student Union. In 2017, she was the recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Award.
In 2013, having already worked as a cookbook editor and authored a book about living well on a tight budget, Califia Suntree realized the dream of a lifetime, a contract to publish her own cookbook. In preparation for that book, she started to develop and test recipes and research the health benefits of cooking for oneself instead of eating out. As she recalls, “up to my ears in government health statistics, safe food-storage charts, and macronutrient and calorie analyses,” she discovered her true calling—nutrition. This realization led Suntree to start taking classes, which eventually led her to the coordinated dietetics master’s degree program at Cal State LA. As a registered dietitian, she will build on her passions for cooking and food culture, customer service, and communications to fulfill what she sees as the core responsibility of dietetics: reconnecting health and diet. Her reference writes that Suntree is methodical, smart, and rises to any occasion. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Vassar College.
Gore Kachatrian, who is pursuing a master’s degree in healthcare management, is the recipient of the James M. Rosser Emeriti Fellowship for Academic Excellence. His interest in healthcare management was deeply influenced by the loss of several family members when he was young. The losses took not only an emotional toll but demanded that he take on a great deal of responsibility at a young age to help the family. Kachatrian’s experiences made him aware of the critical need for people to be aware of healthcare opportunities, decision making, guidance, and leadership that can and should be available and provided to patients and their families during these times. His goal is to provide leadership to a healthcare organization to deliver high quality, compassionate services that respect the individual and family and keep them informed and active participants in the decision-making process. Kachatrian has done extensive community service and extracurricular work, served as the president of the Cal State LA Armenian Student Association, and is a member of the Cal State LA chapters of Phi Kappa Phi and Golden Key International.
Recipient of the Carol J. Smallenburg Emeriti Fellowship for Academic Excellence is Jewelyn Mims, pursuing both a master’s degree in history and a secondary teaching credential in the Charter College of Education. She comes from a line of educators—both her parents and grandparents taught at various levels of the education system—and has been a substitute teacher in the Pasadena Unified School District since 2009. Mims received her B.A. in history in 2008 from UC Riverside, with a concentration in ancient Greece and Rome, while dealing with sickle cell disease. A bone marrow transplant in 2009 has made a difference in her life and allowed her to pursue her goal of earning a master’s degree and becoming a full-time teacher. She recently presented at the 2019 Student Symposium on Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities and the Significations 24th Annual Graduate Student Conference. She was asked by a history professor to be a research assistant and co-curator of an art exhibit co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, titled The LA River: The Past, the Present, and the Future. Mims was on the dean’s list at UC Riverside multiple times and is a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society and the Alpha Lambda Delta National Academic Honor Society.
Liliana Camacho, who is pursuing a master’s degree in English, is the recipient of the Sidney P. Albert Emeriti Fellowship for Academic Excellence. She plans to earn a doctorate with a focus on children’s literature. As a professor, she would like to use picture books to help students enhance and develop their reading and critical-thinking skills. Camacho notes that children’s literature is inviting to both its child and adult audiences, and thereby addresses reading fluency issues in college students by engaging them in non-intimidating texts while still being academically rigorous. Her interest is strongly influenced by what she saw around her while growing up in public housing in Los Angeles. At the earliest ages, children, including many of her peers and members of her family, did not have reading material to engage them and keep them connected. She states, “I want to write multilingual picture books that introduce children and adults to various fields—math, reading and writing, science, history—in engaging and accessible texts.” Camacho teaches English 1005A and 1005B at Cal State L.A. in addition to working as a tutor in the Writing Center and serving as vice president of the English Graduate Student Association. She is the 2019 David L. Kubal Essay Contest winner and has presented at five professional conferences.
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Influenced by her upbringing in a predominantly low-income neighborhood where she witnessed the psychological and physical impact of family violence, trauma, and abuse on friends and peers, Rebecca Ruiz chose to pursue her master’s degree in social work. She observes that the victims “… were kind-hearted souls who received no help and often turned to negative coping strategies, including drugs, gangs and violence. A lot of them ended up in jail or dead….” Her goal is to work with at-risk youth and individuals involved in the criminal justice system through community prevention and intervention efforts to reduce crime and violence. She currently interns as a group facilitator for court-approved treatment groups for men who have been arrested for domestic violence. The youngest in her family, Ruiz is the first to attend college. While an undergraduate at CSU Long Beach, she used public transportation to get to and from school, a three-hour commute each way. Nonetheless, she maintained a 4.0 grade-point average and received an Outstanding Senior in Psychology award for superior academic performance and service to the department, was on the President’s Honors List in 2015-16 and 2016-17, and received an Exceptional Student Achievement Award in 2017. She continues to work as a research assistant at CSU Long Beach in the Culture and Violence Laboratory.
After completing his master’s degree in biology, Tyler Powell plans to earn a Ph.D. in immunology. The major factor influencing his pursuit of higher education is his mother, the youngest of six children and the only one to earn not just one, but two, college degrees—bachelor’s and master’s. She provided her son with the support and encouragement to make education a priority that she did not have as a child. His own personal experiences having contributed to his career and professional interests, Powell’s goal is to work in the biotech industry in order to find ways to eliminate some of the long-term side effects experienced by cancer patients after CAR T (chimeric antigen receptor) cell therapy and to develop autoimmune disease therapeutics, antibiotics, or vaccines. He is vice president of the Cal State LA student chapter of the American Society for Microbiology, a member of the Chemistry Club, and a tutor at the University Tutorial Center, as well as a volunteer in Edith Porter’s laboratory. Powell has been selected as a fellow in the highly competitive Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Bridge to the Doctorate program and he recently won first place in the biological sciences poster session of the 2019 Student Symposium on Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities.
Emeriti Association Endowed Scholarship and Fellowships
Recipient of the Brodwin Family Fellowship in Rehabilitation Counseling is Katrina Stanley, who has faced challenges that few students have had to face. At the age of 23, about to begin college for the second time, Stanley learned that she was losing her eyesight. Initially overwhelmed when she learned of this life-changing condition, she began to take charge of her life rather than allow her condition to take charge of her. She began taking classes at Los Angeles City College, and while there were challenges, she made important supportive connections and even formed a club to raise awareness on the campus about student disabilities. Other challenges ensued, but she persevered and eventually transferred to Cal State LA where, despite feeling terrified, Stanley met a wonderful group of students and faculty. She soon became active in the Rehabilitation Counseling Association and found a position as a resident assistant in student housing. Now nearing the end of her master’s degree program in counseling with an option in rehabilitation counseling, Stanley has found her purpose. Her thesis project examines students who are homeless and disabled to help advocate for better support for this population. Following graduation, she plans to obtain her doctorate so that she can continue to advocate, teach, and research special populations.
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The 2019-20 David Cameron Fisher Memorial Graduate Fellowship is awarded to Simone Benjamin, who is working on her M.S. in environmental biology after earning her B.S. degree in biology with a minor in Pan-African studies. Her passion for this field began in grade school when her single-parent mother enrolled her in a biological magnet school. Her choice to pursue a career in environmental science was made after doing work for an environmental laboratory testing for semi-volatile organic compounds in surface water, soil, and groundwater present throughout industrial parks. In addition to school, Benjamin works as a Scientist II for an environmental consulting company. She believes that “more companies should provide incentives to create or develop more sustainable, repurposed, and overall environmentally friendly products.” Her goal is to earn a Ph.D. and become a college professor, where she can be a role model and inspiration for first-generation, historically underrepresented students. Benjamin’s extensive record of community and extracurricular service includes serving on the Environmental Policy Committee of Associated Students, Inc. She is a member of Phi Kappa Phi and two-time recipient (2017 and 2018) of the Johnson and Johnson Earthwards Award.
Robert Arévalo, recipient of the Roland Carpenter Memorial Scholarship, is a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) student who emigrated from El Salvador when he was nine. He is working on his B.S. in physics, with coursework preparing him to reach one of his goals, a Ph.D. in astrophysics. In addition to teaching and doing research, he plans to write science fiction novels and nonfiction books on distant life on other planets and the relevance of philosophy to science. Both of Arévalo’s parents had science and engineering backgrounds and instilled in him a passion for science. In high school, he joined the MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement) program that further stimulated his interest in physics and engineering and helped him realize the significance and importance of physics. Arévalo has worked as a researcher for the Service Employees International Union, a professional union site organizer, and a leader in the Fight For $15 movement. Currently, he tutors in physics and calculus courses at the Los Angeles City College (LACC) STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Academy and is a supplemental instructor, mentoring the calculus and linear algebra courses. He has received numerous awards, including the Cal Bridge Scholarship Award and two LACC Foundation awards: the President’s Scholar Award (2015) and Edison STEM Scholar’s Award (2017).
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The William E. Lloyd Memorial Fellowship is awarded to Cyrene Cruz, pursuing her master’s degree in history, who plans to obtain a Ph.D. in ancient history with an emphasis in archaeology. One of the factors that motivates her is the lack of historical representation of women and other minority populations resulting in a lack of diversity in the fields of ancient history and the classics. She states, “While historical silences primarily stem from a dearth of written and archaeological evidence, I believe that students with diverse backgrounds such as my own can engage with existing evidence in new ways, returning agency to groups traditionally silenced by a lack of diversity in the field.” She plans to use an interdisciplinary approach to concentrate on the question of women’s agency in the highly patriarchal societies of the ancient world. In addition to community service and volunteer work, Cruz works as a student assistant in the University Library, Special Collection and Archives, where she helped to curate two library exhibits. She previously worked as a teaching assistant and as a tutor in the University Writing Center. As an undergraduate, Cruz was on the dean’s list each term for three years, graduating summa cum laude in 2017. She has received a number of scholarships, including the Michigan Humanities Emerging Research Scholars Scholarship, Howard Starret Memorial Scholarship in History, and Dr. and Mrs. David Miller Scholarship in History, all in 2018.
Recipient of the Vicente Zapata Undergraduate Scholarship is René Paredes. After earning a B.S. degree in public health, Paredes plans to pursue a master’s degree in nutritional science. While Paredes is the first in the family to attend college, the family always spoke of the importance of education and expressed encouragement. However, during the early years in college, Paredes felt disorganized and confused, like many first-in-the-family college students. While the family was as supportive as they could be, they could not help with the specifics and details of being a college student. But as time went on, Paredes writes, “I have grown increasingly strong-willed and confident in my pursuits.” Paredes intends to use a passion for learning, personal experiences, and “intersecting identities in the pursuit of justice in relation to health, wellness, food access, and nutrition.” Paredes’ extensive volunteer work and community service includes the Farmer’s Market Recovery Program at Food Forward, Safe Zone training at Los Angeles Pierce College, Somos Familia, and Silverado Hospice. Honors include President’s and Dean’s Honor recipient at Los Angeles Pierce College, as well as the Cal State L.A. Dean’s list each term from Fall 2016 through Fall 2018.
Special thanks to the following individuals who participated in the review of the many outstanding applications and made the difficult decisions that led to the selection of the 12 Emeriti Association 2019-20 fellowship and scholarship recipients: Bill Taylor, Carl Selkin, Costello Brown, Dorothy Keane, Gary Novak, Janet Fisher-Hoult, John Cleman, José Galván, Kathy Reilly, Martin Huld, Martin Brodwin, Mary Falvey, Steven Felszeghy, and Vicente Zapata.