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Campus Honors Graduating Guardian Scholars

May 15, 2014

This week, faculty and staff members, donors and friends gathered for Cal State Fullerton's annual Guardian Scholars Recognition Dinner to honor eight graduating seniors.

The Guardian Scholars Program awards former foster youth a full scholarship to the University and provides additional assistance to help them succeed in their educational endeavors. The program is a working partnership between the private sector and public agencies.

The program, the first of its kind, was established at Cal State Fullerton in 1998. Since then, more than 90 Guardian Scholars have received earned CSUF degrees. And eight new scholars will be added to their ranks this weekend at this year's commencement ceremonies.

"It is with a grateful heart and happy spirit that we are here tonight," said Berenecea Johnson Eanes, vice president for student affairs. "We are humbled and overwhelmed by our Guardian Scholars, and we hope you know how much you all mean to us."

"Congratulations to our graduating seniors," said President Mildred García. "Many of you have triumphed against overwhelming odds. I particularly like one quote from a former Guardian Scholar when asked why she went to college. She said, 'I wanted to be more than what my circumstances allowed.' What a profound statement. We know that education is the great equalizer and that's why we, at Cal State Fullerton, work so hard to provide access to a high quality education. We are honored to host this event with our scholars and their supporters."

As graduating scholars described their experiences at Cal State Fullerton, one of the graduating seniors, Summer Bleich, summed it up this way: "Damaged people are dangerous. They know what they can survive. To my fellow graduates, congratulations!"

But the students recognize that they couldn't do this alone. This year, more than $565,000 was donated to the program to support scholarships and programming. A community service component was added this year and the students donated more than 800 hours of volunteer service to such organizations as Together We Rise, the Lestonnac Clinic and Habitat for Humanity.

Members of the Class of 2014 include:

Summer Bleich (B.A. psychology)
Erika Browell (B.A. psychology)
Daysi Espinoza (B.A. Latin American studies/Spanish)
Jennifer Hixon (B.S. child and adolescent development)
Crystal Lopez (B.S. health science)
Erica Martinez (B.S. human services)
Nichole Robinson (B.A. communications)
Martina (Tina) Rodgers (B.S. human services)

Other awards presented went to continuing Guardian Scholars:

"Rookie of the Year" award to Joey Wisdom for showing personal, social and academic growth over the past year
"Guardian Scholars All Around" award to Tim Alexander for embodying true leadership, resiliency and integrity
"Academic Achievement" award to Jacob Biloki for his commitment to the program and working hard
"Rising Scholar" award to Tonya Parker who proved that in the midst of adversity, one's hard work and dedication can help overcome challenges and achieve academic success
"Spirit of Volunteerism" award to Erica Ontiveros for a scholar who values the importance of giving back to the community

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