California State University Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program for Recognition of Undergraduate Distinction (PROUD)


The CSU-LSAMP Program for Recognition of Undergraduate Distinction (CSU-LSAMP PROUD) is a program designed to recognize and highlight the achievements of our outstanding CSU-LSAMP students. Each year, the Statewide Office will request that campuses select four students based upon their achievements such as outstanding academic performance, research accomplishments, service, leadership, or personal triumph. These PROUD Scholars are featured in the annual CSU-LSAMP PROUD publication.

Please click links below to see the CSU-LSAMP PROUD Publication that showcases the talents of LSAMP undergraduate student across the CSU-LSAMP alliance by year.



For the 2015 CSU-LSAMP PROUD Program, Cal State LA recognized the following four PROUD Scholars for their outstanding academic performance, research accomplishments, service, leadership, or personal triumph.

erik avila

Erik Avila
California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA)
B.S. Civil Engineering, scheduled to graduate June 2016

Erik Avila joined the LSAMP at CSU, Los Angeles with a major in Civil Engineering in spring, 2013. During his tenure at CSULA, Erik demonstrated academic excellence by maintaining an overall GPA of 3.545. In fact, during this current AY 2014-2015, Erik has been able to raise his GPA further by receiving a 4.000 GPA each quarter. Erik has been able to achieve this accomplishment while taking numerous upper division engineering courses, and being actively involved in research and service activities. Erik is currently doing research with the vice chair of structural engineering at UC San Diego. Prior to this, Erik participated in the George E. Brown Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) REU program. Erik was able to present his findings at the Young Researchers’ Symposium at the University of Nevada, Reno and at the 26th Annual HEENAC conference in New Orleans, Louisiana October 2-5, 2014.  He received a presentation award, as well as had his technical paper and poster published online at https://nees.org/. In addition, Erik serves on the executive board of the CSULA chapter of Chi Epsilon, the civil engineering honor society. Erik also volunteers in the community with the MESA program and as the college captain for the Great Minds in STEM Organization. In the role as college captain, Erik serves as a mentor for young high school students and volunteers once a month to share his experiences of being a minority in engineering. After graduating, Erik plans to further develop his research skills and knowledge in Civil Engineering by obtaining a graduate degree in Civil Engineering. CSU Los Angeles takes great pride in recognizing Erik Avila as a CSU-LSAMP Proud Scholar for excellence in academics, STEM research and service/leadership activities.

maritza sanchez

Maritza Sanchez

California State University, Los Angeles

B.S. Mechanical Engineering, scheduled to graduate June, 2016

Maritza Sanchez joined LSAMP in fall, 2013 when she transferred to CSULA from UCSB. She participated in the yearlong LSAMP Undergraduate Research Training Program, where she focused in the laboratory of Dr. David Raymond on the development of a valid model for fracture formations in certain bones to aid forensic scientists on clearly diagnosing a cause. Maritza has been engaged in other research projects, and has presented her research at several national research conferences. She participated in a 10-week research internship at UCSB in the laboratory of Dr. Carlos Levi, where she investigated the toughness of various compositions used for thermal barrier coatings on gas turbines and jet engines. In summer, 2014, she received a REU fellowship from Princeton University to conduct research in the laboratory of Dr. Jay Benziger, where she focused on understanding the physics behind water formation and movement in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells. Recently she was accepted into the Northwestern University Materials Research Science & Engineering Center REU Program for summer, 2015. She has maintained an overall CUM GPA of 3.572 and a CUM major GPA of 3.867. Her outstanding GPAs have led to scholarships and memberships in various honor societies. Her leadership and community outreach roles have been demonstrated through her involvement with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). Every year she has participated in 15-20 Noche De Ciencias, a program that teaches younger students about the STEM fields.  Currently Maritza serves as the Region 2 Regional Student Representative (RSR) for SHPE. Her role as RSR is to oversee all the undergraduate SHPE chapters in southern California, Arizona, and southern Nevada. Altogether she leads 40 student chapters at various institutions. CSU Los Angeles takes great pride in recognizing Maritza Sanchez as a CSU-LSAMP PROUD Scholar for excellence in academics, research, and service/learning.

isabel vasquez

Isabel Vasquez

California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA)

B.S. Biochemistry and English, scheduled to graduate June 2017


Isabel entered CSU, Los Angeles in fall, 2011 and joined LSAMP fall, 2012. Isabel is currently a dual major in biochemistry and English. During her first three years, Isabel maintained an impressive GPA of 3.601 as a dual major. While her GPA dropped slightly due to personal hardships the last two quarters, Isabel was still inducted into the Epsilon Theta chapter of Beta Beta Beta (Tri-Beta) National Biological Honors Society and the Golden Key International Honors Society. Isabel has shown her perseverance and motivation to succeed by thriving in other activities, such as the LSAMP Undergraduate Research Training Program. As a participant, Isabel is working with Dr. Amelia Russo-Neustadt investigating the possibility of dendritic growth in embryonic hippocampal neurons due to Withania somnifera. In addition, Isabel is heavily involved in service and leadership activities at CSULA and in the surrounding LA community. She is currently treasurer for both Tri-Beta and Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Inc., and an active member of Chicanos/Chicanas for Community Medicine. Isabel also is a part of the Leadership Academy on campus as well as a student assistant at the Center for Student Involvement, where she helps execute on campus involvement events for CSULA students. In addition, Isabel actively volunteers in her community with the Reading to Kids Program and the Burrito Project. During fall, 2014, Isabel helped organize the Cal State LA Burrito Project where CSULA students made burritos, as well as gathered other resources, for the homeless community of Downtown LA. Isabel also volunteers for various run/walks and health fair. She clearly enjoys organizing and taking part in events, which help make a difference in the community, whether big or small. CSU, Los Angeles takes great pride in recognizing Isabel Vasquez as a CSU-LSAMP Proud Scholar for excellence in service/leadership activities.

ceclila zurita lopez

Dr. Cecilia Zurita-Lopez, Outstanding Alumna

California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA)

BS Biochemistry; graduated June, 2004

PhD Biochemistry & Molecular Biology – UCLA; graduated June, 2011

Currently, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry – CSULA, September, 2014 to present


Dr. Cecilia Zurita-Lopez joined the CSULA LSAMP undergraduate program in Fall Quarter, 2000 and participated in various activities until she graduated with a BS in Biochemistry in June, 2004. She completed her PhD in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at UCLA in June, 2011. She is currently completing her first year as an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at CSULA. Prior to this appointment, she was a postdoctoral researcher, where, under the direction of Dr. Andrea Armani at the University of Southern California (USC), she took part in the development of a non-invasive detector for early-stage cancer cells. Having lost her mother to breast cancer, she was excited to contribute to the development of a device capable of detecting epigenetic markers prominent in cancer. Her research is centered on the crosstalk between arginine methylation and phosphorylation of histone proteins. She is convinced that these types of interactions are critical to understanding fundamental processes and can lead the way to greater therapeutics and individual analysis of patients. In addition, her group is also investigating the effects of UV light on protein arginine methyltransferases. She is committed to sharing her knowledge, skills and love of science with enthusiastic students. One of her goals is to make her research interdisciplinary so that students from a variety of backgrounds ranging from biology, biochemistry, physics and chemistry can benefit. As an under-represented minority of Latino descent she has benefited greatly from programs that have explicitly embraced diversity. She does not believe she would currently be an Assistant Professor without the positive experiences she received as an undergraduate student and without programs such as LSAMP that offer support to minorities in science. She is excited to be back at CSULA, whose diverse community will allow her to reach out and do what others have done for her.


For the 2014 CSU-LSAMP PROUD Program, Cal State LA recognized the following four PROUD Scholars for their outstanding academic performance, research accomplishments, service, leadership, or personal triumph.


Ernesto Emilio Covarrubias

California State University, Los Angeles

B.S. Mechanical Engineering, scheduled to graduate June, 2015

Ernesto Emilio Covarrubias is enthusiastically involved with the LSAMP program at CSU Los Angeles. As a fourth year mechanical engineering student, Ernesto has actively recruited new engineering and computer science students into LSAMP so they can benefit from the same opportunities he did. Ernesto’s long term educational goal is to pursue a graduate degree in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) field. In doing so, he believes it will allow him to achieve his ultimate goals to help others and to give back to this community. Ernesto believes that “someone who can lead by example can demonstrate the importance of being a leader.” With this perspective of life, Ernesto is already making strides towards these goals as he is actively engaged in multiple leadership and service opportunities on campus and within the local community. Not only is he an active member of the LSAMP program, he also is heavily involved in campus organizations in both an officer and member role. Ernesto is currently president of the Pi Tau Sigma Mechanical Engineering Honor Society, Vice President for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), and members of other organizations, such as the Society of Automotive Engineers and the Eco Car 2 Team. Ernesto also is actively engaged in service to the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Technology (ECST) and to the University. As the ECST representative for the Associated Students, Incorporated (ASI) Board of Directors at CSULA, Ernesto represents the voice of the students and takes actions on policies and fees that will impact his college and the university. He serves as a bridge for the students and his college to share their ideas and concerns with the university and its administration. Ernesto also volunteers in the local community. Through SHPE, he has been able to volunteer time in the community promoting the STEM fields to middle school and high school students. He also volunteered with the Crystal Cuevas Foundation to help families with Down syndrome and with Habitat for Humanity, which is an organization focused on providing housing opportunities to families struggling to find affordable housing. In addition, Ernesto is an extremely bright student who despite having all these activities on his plate, still managed to maintain academic excellence leading to receipt of multiple scholarships, such as the TELACU Education Foundation Toyota Scholarship, 2013 HENNAC Raytheon Scholarship, and National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) Scholarship. He credits his parents as his greatest inspiration and motivation to succeed. They have always taught him the importance of working hard at every task he undertakes. CSU Los Angeles takes great pride in recognizing Ernesto Emilio Covarrubias as a CSU-LSAMP PROUD Scholar for excellence in academics and service/learning.


Eileen Gonzalez

California State University, Los Angeles

B.S. Microbiology - graduated June 2014

Eileen Gonzalez started her undergraduate studies at CSU Los Angeles as a nursing major, but eventually discovered that the world of microbiology and research were more intellectually stimulating. Once she became engaged in scientific research, Eileen blossomed into a promising young scientist. For the last three years, Eileen worked in Dr. Katrina Yamazaki’s cardiovascular metabolism lab at CSU Los Angeles investigating the role of mitochondrial dynamics in the setting of type 2 diabetes. Eileen has received a number of travel awards from the conferences or from LSAMP @ CSU Los Angeles to disseminate her research, both orally and as a poster, at multiple local, state and national scientific conferences and has won multiple 1st place presentation and abstract awards. In addition to presentations, Eileen was an author on a published manuscript for work she did at CSU Los Angeles. Aside from performing research at CSU Los Angeles, Eileen also participated in two summer research programs. The first program took place Summer 2012 when she traveled to Oxford University, UK to intern in the lab of Dr. Kieran Clarke. Here, Eileen spent half the summer metabolically characterizing a new type 2 diabetic rat model and the other half of the summer developing a permeabilized muscle fiber protocol to measure mitochondrial respiration in mouse cardiomyoctes. Her efforts led to another publication. During the second summer research program (Summer 2013), Eileen interned in Dr. Asa Gustafsson’s research laboratory at UC San Diego School of Medicine investigating the functional important of Parkin in pathological hypertrophy and heart failure development using cardiac tissue from both Parkin knock out and cardiac specific overexpression transgenic mice. Eileen was selected by Dr. Gustafsson to present the results of the project at the National American Heart Association meeting in the Late-Breaking Sessions in November, 2013. Because Eileen has been successful presenting at national conferences, LSAMP @ CSU Los Angeles invited her to run a workshop titled “Preparation and Presentation of a Research Poster” for other LSAMP undergraduate students who are just starting their research activities. In addition to all this, Eileen has taken the time to participate in numerous LSAMP events at CSU Los Angeles. Eileen has served as a facilitator for biology and chemistry BREEZE workshops, which are intensive two-to three week workshops offered during the quarter breaks or prior to the start of the fall quarters in our major STEM bottleneck courses. Overall Eileen’s three major research experiences have led to two second author journal publications, 12 poster presentations, 6 oral presentations, 3 first place presentation awards, and multiple travel awards, all of which clearly display Eileen’s dedication to her field and passion for science. CSU Los Angeles takes great pride in recognizing Eileen Gonzalez as a CSU-LSAMP PROUD Scholar for excellence in research.


Carlos Sanchez

California State University, Los Angeles

B.S. Chemistry and Physics - graduated June 2014

Carlos Sanchez started his undergraduate career as a community college student at Citrus College with a major in chemistry. He transferred initially to Pasadena City College where he completed his introductory physics requirements. He remained on the Dean’s List each semester while at both Citrus College and Pasadena City College. In September, 2011 he transferred to CSU, Los Angeles as a dual chemistry and physics major. He quickly joined the condensed matter physics lab of Dr. Oscar Bernal. Carlos’s research focused on investigating heavy fermions, specifically the magnetic properties of UCu3.95 Ni1.05. Each year from 2012 through 2014, Carlos has received invitations and travel awards to give several oral presentations at the California-Nevada chapter and at the National meetings of the American Physical Society (APS). The National APS meeting is recognized as the most prestigious meeting of physicists worldwide. He has also given oral presentations at the Southern California Conferences for Undergraduate Research (SCCUR) and at the CSU Los Angeles Research Symposium. As a dual chemistry and physics major, who has carried 5 courses each quarter, Carlos has maintained an overall CUM GPA of 3.618, and has been on our Dean’s List nearly every quarter that he has been at CSU Los Angeles. Despite his very busy schedule, Carlos has served as a facilitator for physics, chemistry, and mathematics LSAMP Academic Year Workshops and for our BREEZE Workshops, which are intensive two to three-week workshops offered during the quarter breaks or prior to the start of fall quarters in our major STEM bottleneck courses. Carlos has been an excellent facilitator and has received outstanding evaluations from other LSAMP undergraduates. After graduation, he plans to further develop his research skills in condensed matter physics by first obtaining a Master of Science degree in Physics and then a PhD in Physics. CSU Los Angeles takes great pride in recognizing Carlos Adrian Sanchez as a CSU-LSAMP PROUD Scholar for excellence in academics and STEM research.


PROUD Allison

Alison Scott, Outstanding Alumna

California State University, Los Angeles

BS Biology -  graduated June 2010

PhD Botany – University of Wisconsin; expected graduation May 2015

Alison Dawn Scott started at CSU Los Angeles as an electrical engineering major, but eventually transitioned to biology. She joined the plant ecology and evolutionary biology group with Dr. Stacey Lee Thompson and Dr. Kirsten Fisher at CSU Los Angeles, where she conducted fieldwork and completed her honor’s thesis project that focused on clonal reproduction in natural populations of Thuja plicata (the western red cedar). In summer, 2008, Alison was a recipient of a research fellowship through the LSAMP International REU program funded by NSF. She spent the summer as part of an international research group at the Universidad de São Paulo, Brazil with Dr. Hugo A. Armelin, studying FGF2-triggered stress responses in malignant cells. Her current PhD thesis work examines the evolutionary history of coast redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens) of northern California using both the fossil record and molecular sequence data. She has presented many oral and poster presentations at numerous research conferences such as SACNAS, NCUR, and the Botanical Society of America National meetings. She has also received numerous travel awards to present at these meetings. Academically, Alison has received numerous awards and recognitions as both an undergraduate and graduate student. She graduated with Honors in Biology and cum laude from CSU, Los Angeles representing the top 5% of students in her college. Upon graduation, she entered the PhD program in Botany at the University of Wisconsin. She was the recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for 3 years at the rate of $30,000 per year plus $10,500 per year for tuition, fees, travel and supplies. Additionally, she received two fellowships from the University of Wisconsin, one for $15,000 from Save the Redwoods League and one for $10,000 from Flora Aeterna, a Department of Botany research fellowship at the University of Wisconsin. She passed her prelims and advanced to candidacy during the fall semester of 2012. Alison has many examples of outstanding community service and leadership both at CSU Los Angeles and at the University of Wisconsin. Despite Alison’s very busy schedule, she has returned to CSU Los Angeles several times in past year to conduct workshops or panel discussions for LSAMP and LSAMP-BD students, who are interested in applying to PhD programs. She organized and ran a series of workshops on how to write a quality NSF graduate research fellowship application. She was also part of a panel discussion that focused on Life as a PhD student. She has served as a graduate student representative to many committees. She has developed and coordinated outreach for elementary, junior high and high school students as well as various community outreach activities like the annual Darwin Day. CSU Los Angeles takes great pride in recognizing Alison Scott as our outstanding alumna for a CSU-LSAMP PROUD Scholar for excellence in academics, STEM research and Service/Leadership.

CSU-LSAMP is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant # HRD-1302873 and the CSU Office of the Chancellor.