California State University, Fullerton

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Edison Funds CSU Scholarships for STEM Students

Fullerton, Dominguez Hills, Los Angeles, Northridge and San Bernardino to Match

Dec. 3, 2012

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Edison Scholar Manuel Nieto, a mechanical engineering student who sought a college degree later in life, addressed attendees.

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Edison International has awarded a $200,000 gift to the California State University system for the CSU Edison Scholars Program. The funding provides scholarships for disadvantaged community college transfer students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as STEM.

At a celebration lunch Nov. 30 at the Fullerton Marriott, Cal State Fullerton officials lauded Edison International for its support in helping first-generation college students attain a college education.

Cal State Fullerton is the lead campus in the program, which includes CSU Dominguez Hills, Los Angeles, Northridge and San Bernardino. Each campus has agreed to match the Edison International funds on a one-to-one basis for the 2012-14 scholarship cycle.

This year, CSU Fullerton and all but one of the other campuses will award scholarships to 14 students at each campus. At Cal State Dominguez Hills, 10 students will receive scholarships. The recipients will be first-generation, low-income students, and the average scholarship is $3,000 per year for two years.

In 2007, Edison International provided a five-year gift of $750,000 to five participating CSU campuses, resulting in scholarships to 215 community college students who transferred to CSU Fullerton, Channel Islands, Dominguez Hills, Los Angeles and San Bernardino. Over the past five years, each participating CSU campus matched the funds given by Edison International, resulting in a total of $1.5 million in scholarships awarded. Edison's latest gift will fund scholarships for 2012-14.

At the recognition event, Cal State Fullerton President Mildred García thanked Edison officials for their continuing support, characterizing the company as "more than a donor."

"They are true friends and supporters of our campus and students," said García, adding that the gift will make a lasting impact in the lives of those pursuing higher education.

"As a first-generation college student myself, I know the impact of higher education; it reaches well beyond the students we are touching," she said. "It touches their family and entire generations after them when they earn a college degree and go on and do great things."

Southern California Edison's Henry Martinez, vice president for safety, security and compliance, who in 1975 earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering at Cal State Fullerton, was among Edison officials at the gathering.

Also the first member of his family to earn a college degree, Martinez said the Edison gift will help students realize that "college is attainable" and will give them opportunities and avenues to achieve success in life.

Martinez noted that the CSUF education he received "was excellent. The university provided valuable information for me. I walked out of this university with some great skills and tools" to compete favorably in his field.

Student scholarship recipients who benefited from Edison's previous gift also attended the event to personally thank Edison officials.

Edison Scholar Manuel Nieto, a mechanical engineering student who sought a college degree later in life, addressed attendees.

The Huntington Beach resident started college at age 35, earned an associate degree from Golden West College and is on track to graduate from Cal State Fullerton in 2014.

Nieto's father and grandfathers were engineers, and as a young boy, he had dreamed of following in their footsteps. But after his father passed away when he was in high school, that dream seemed unattainable because his family could not afford to send him to college.

Today, at 45, the father of four sons said he is grateful for the scholarship. "Edison believed in me; they invested in me. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for them."

Biological science student Gloria Blanquel, who wants to pursue a career teaching high school science, also said the Edison scholarship has given her the chance to reach her college goal.

"It's helped me to realize that I can finish college and earn my degree," said the Hacienda Heights resident, whose family emigrated from Guadalajara. "I'm proud to be an Edison Scholar."

The CSU Edison Scholars Program is intended to help students complete their undergraduate degree and seek careers in the sciences and technical fields, said Kandy Mink Salas, CSUF associate vice president for student affairs and project director of the CSU Edison Scholars Program.

"We are so grateful to Edison International for being such an excellent corporate partner," Mink Salas said. "The CSU Edison scholarship truly assists transfer students in the STEM fields to achieve their dream in completing their four-year degree."

In addition to Mink Salas, who oversees the CSU program, Victor Delgado, assistant dean of the CSUF College of Engineering and Computer Science, coordinates the scholarship program. Rochelle Woods, interim director of the University Learning Center, previously served as coordinator for the 2007-12 program.

The 2007-12 Edison Scholars were chosen from those studying in the STEM fields of:

  • mathematics
  • physics
  • chemistry
  • geology 
  • engineering (civil, electrical, computer, chemical or mechanical)
  • ecological biology
  • technology
  • materials science
  • computer science/information systems

The ethnic and racial composition of the scholarship recipients were:

  • 48 percent Hispanic
  • 24 percent white
  • 14 percent Asian/Pacific Islander
  • 6 percent black
  • 2 percent American Indian/Alaskan native
  • 6 percent unspecified

By: Debra Cano Ramos, 657-278-4027

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