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Cal State LA graduate student receives CSU Trustees' Award

September 20, 2016

Los Angeles, CA -- Cal State LA graduate student Amalia Castañeda has been selected by the California State University as a recipient of the 2016 CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement.

The awards are the CSU’s highest recognition of student achievement and provide scholarships to students who demonstrate superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service and financial need.

Raised in Lynwood, southeast of Los Angeles, Castañeda is among 24 students who will be honored today, Sept. 20, during the CSU Board of Trustees meeting in Long Beach. She will be presented a $6,000 award and named a Michael A. ​and Debe Lucki ​Scholar.

“This honor brings me closer to my aspirations and motivates me to continue my work in archives and museums, for in both these types of institutions...people of color are heavily underrepresented,” said Castañeda. “It is important that we help tell the stories of our communities.”

Castañeda is a first-generation college student who received her undergraduate degree in political science and women’s studies at UCLA. She is now completing her master's degree in history at Cal State LA with a goal to become a Los Angeles public historian.

“We’re proud of Amalia and everything she has accomplished,” Cal State LA President William A. Covino said. “Her stellar academic performance, strong work ethic and volunteer activities will provide the foundation necessary to launch her into the bright future that she has worked tirelessly to achieve.”

At Cal State LA, Castañeda has been actively involved as co-editor-in-chief for the history journal Perspectives. She also works in the University Library’s Special Collections & Archives, where she helps process collections, assists faculty and students with their research projects, and digitizes photos and documents highlighting the rich history of the university.

Castañeda was recently awarded the Institute of Museum and Library Services-Rare Book School Fellowship. The fellowship includes funding to take a course at the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School, which will be taught by a chief preservationist from the Library of Congress. 

This past summer, she interned at the University of Chicago through the support of the CSU’s Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholarship. During her internship, she digitized a collection of rare books and materials from the 1888 Republican National Convention. She also interned previously at the Museum of Social Justice in downtown Los Angeles, where she currently serves as a board member.

Castañeda is the daughter of immigrant parents from Mexico who only have second and third grade educations. At UCLA, Castañeda said she experienced financial hardship as well as the Imposter Syndrome, in which college students feel they do not belong at their schools. But a research program for first-generation college students helped her overcome and alleviated her doubts. She excelled and eventually graduated from UCLA cum laude and with college and departmental honors.

Now at Cal State LA, with astounding confidence and a desire to share her knowledge with others, Castañeda plans to pursue a master’s degree in library and information science after achieving her master’s degree in history.

The CSU Trustees’ Award program was originally established by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation as an endowed scholarship fund to honor William Randolph Hearst, founder of the Hearst newspaper chain. In 1999, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation partnered with the CSU Board of Trustees to supplement the endowment with contributions from CSU trustees and private donors. Today, more than 120 donors have supported the program.

Photo: Amalia Castañeda. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)

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Cal State LA is a university dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 27,000 students and 247,000 distinguished alumni, who are as diverse as the city we serve. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, Cal State LA has long been recognized as an engine of economic and social mobility. Led by an award-winning faculty, the University offers nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and the humanities.

Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex, TV, Film and Media Center and the Center for Engagement, Service, and the Public Good. For more information, visit