Orange County Register

Titan Voice: Math-Intensive Summer Transformed a Teen's Life

Professor Pagni Cristian Bueno

Class of 2011 grad Cristian Bueno recalls her life-changing experiences on campus, writing about the pivotal influence of CSUF/CSU Outstanding Professor Award honoree David Pagni in creating a pathway for pursuing her dreams. The former President's Scholar is the first in her family to earn a college degree.

A few weeks ago at a conference, I was asked to describe my favorite teachers. The first one who came to mind is math professor David Pagni. Though never actually my teacher, he has been my mentor since I was 15.

When describing him to my peers, I realized that there are three qualities that truly represent him: high expectations, caring and tough love. Thinking about him took me back to the summer of 2005, when I told him that my dream was to get a doctorate in math. He was the first person ever to take me seriously on that — so seriously, in fact, that to this day he has not forgotten it and insists that I pursue the dream I’ve dreamed since I was a teenager.

I had only been in this country for four years when I met the professor. Being an immigrant with a single mom, I knew that the road to college would be a difficult one. At the time, I was not eligible for federal financial aid and clearly remember being told that there was no other way for me to go to college. That summer, I was fortunate to attend Cal State Fullerton's Mathematics Intensive Summer Session, also known as Project MISS, for the pre-calculus class. At the time, I had no idea that it would change the course of my life. Continue reading.

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