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Graduating With Distinction

2014 President's Scholars Honored at Celebration Dinner

May 14, 2014

Thirty-five years ago, the President's Scholars program was launched at Cal State Fullerton. Today, about 400 scholars have graduated from this merit-based program.

On May 12, 10 graduating scholars were honored for their achievements at the President's Scholars Celebration Dinner.

"This is our favorite time of the year," said Berenecea Johnson Eanes, vice president for student affairs. "We get to celebrate our students and their accomplishments. It's bittersweet because as we welcome a new incoming group of scholars, we say goodbye to another. But I want all our students to know — you are everything to us."

Cal State Fullerton's President's Scholars spend up to four years in a comprehensive, rigorous program that offers experiences and opportunities in academics, leadership, service and mentorship.

"As our senior class of President's Scholars leaves for exciting new opportunities — grad school, travel, wonderful jobs — I'd like to share a quote from Benjamin Franklin," said CSUF President Mildred García. "He said, 'An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.' You have made a wise investment in your future, and I know that you will go on to become leaders in your fields. We wish you only the best as you continue your journey."

Among the accomplishments of this year's graduates are: providing 5,291 hours of community service, working with students to build bikes for foster youth, dedicating two Saturdays to help build homes for Habitat for Humanity, and developing a growing partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Fullerton and the Richman Teen Center.

"As one of the veteran President's Scholars, I want to thank all everyone here tonight," said Chris Mellard, one of the graduating scholars. "I spent four years in the Navy and served two tours overseas. But here, I feel the same sense of community that I felt when I was in the military. Of course, with an average GPA of 4.2, you folks set the bar pretty high. But, for me, you are all my brothers and sisters, and I thank all of you."

"This fall, I will start my studies at Des Moines College of Osteopathic Medicine," said Asha Mada. "When I came into this program, I was introduced to a plethora of programs and opportunities. So many people helped me, professionally and personally. Being a President's Scholar has truly been an honor."

The 2014 Class of President's Scholars are:

  • Reina Acosta of Fullerton (B.S. nursing, cum laude)
  • Amy Bates of Anaheim (B.A. mathematics, magna cum laude)
  • Chelsea Bennett of Corona (B.A. liberal studies, cum laude)
  • Cassandra Carpenter of Long Beach (B.S. biological science, cum laude)
  • Scott Hookey of Hawthorne (B.A. sociology, summa cum laude)
  • Asha Mada of Brea (B.S. biological sciences)
  • Christopher Mellard of Chino Hills (B.A. communications, cum laude)
  • Danette Cassandra Salas of Buena Park (B.A. communicative disorders, summa cum laude)
  • Heather Schoch of Fullerton (B.A. psychology, B.A. communications, summa cum laude)
  • David Wooding of Menifee (B.A. business administration, cum laude)

Reina Acosta was selected as the recipient of the Verne Wagner Passion Award, which is named for Class of '77 alumna Verne Wagner, a longtime supporter and donor, who also serves on the President's Scholars Selection Committee. The recipient of the award t is selected based on his/her commitment to the President's Scholars program, leadership, community service and involvement on the campus.

"I can't imagine what my life would be like without this program. I've made lasting friendships and memories. I appreciate all the work of the faculty and staff who help us. I feel so lucky to have been selected as a President's Scholar."

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