CAL STATE L.A. COMMENCEMENT--SAT., JUNE 9
54th Commencement Ceremony
Los Angeles, CA - The 54th Commencement exercises at California State University, Los Angeles will take place on Saturday, June 9, 2001, in the Jesse Owens Stadium, located at the southeast corner of the campus. The academic procession will start at 8:15 a.m. and the formal exercises are scheduled to end at approximately 10 a.m. Commencement speaker will be CSU Trustee William Hauck. Department and program receptions in various campus locations will follow the ceremony.
More than 20,000 people are expected at this year's graduation to witness the conferral of more than 1,121 master's degrees and 3,199 bachelor's degrees.
Among the students receiving degrees are: the University's Phi Kappa Phi national honor society graduate fellowship award winner Leana Wen, who has received full fellowships to eight prestigious M.D./Ph.D. programs; sight-impaired rehabilitation services major Jesus Perez, recently honored by Cal State L.A. and the CSU for outstanding community service achievement; child development major Nancy Chau who-between working 30 hours a week in her parents' doughnut shop and taking up 23 units per quarter-has managed to maintain a 3.7 GPA and graduate in three years; business administration/accounting major Kasey Jungwirth, who has achieved All-American academic honors in volleyball and a near-perfect GPA; Natalie Pereida, on her way to become a credentialed elementary school teacher, successfully balanced her studies with single-parent responsibilities; and Vanessa Sheldon, at 16, Cal State L.A.'s youngest 2001 graduate, who has completed her music studies in three years and will graduate alongside her mother, returning student and music major Julie Evans.
William Hauck-CSU Trustee
Trustee Hauck is a product of the California State University system. He received a B.A. in Social Science from Cal State L.A.'s sister campus, San Jose State University, where he was president of the Associated Students and, at the same time, president of the systemwide Student Presidents Association.
As a student at SJSU, he also participated in the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs-recognized nationally as one of the best training grounds for public sector leaders. Later, Mr. Hauck went on to serve as director of the Coro Foundation of Southern California and then, as a member of the Coro Foundation National Board of Directors.
National Graduate Fellowship Recipient-Leana Wen
Wen will graduate from Cal State L.A. this June with a B.S. in biochemistry with honors from her department and the General Education Honors Program and a near-perfect 3.958 cumulative grade point average. She will be eighteen.
In 1996, Wen entered the University as a thirteen-year-old through the Early Entrance Program for exceptionally gifted students. From 1996-98, she participated as a research trainee in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Biomedical Professional Development Program. In her junior year, she was selected as one of the University's first four Beckman Research Scholars, part of a prestigious national program funded by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. In the summer of 2000, Wen was selected as part of the National Institute of Health to serve as a research assistant at the Glycobiology Institute at Oxford University.
On the National Dean's list since 1997, Wen is listed in Who's Who Among American College Students 2001, was a 2000 United States Achievement Academy All-American Scholar, is active in student government, received the University's 2000 Eagle Pride Award for community service (the University's recent replacement for Homecoming Queen award), and was 2001 General Education Honors Program Student of the Year. Wen initiated and coordinated the University's first and second Annual Blood and Bone Marrow Drives, was president of Cal State L.A.'s American Medical Student Association Premedical Chapter, and brought together more than 100 premedical students to coordinate various community service initiatives.
This year, Wen is one of only 51 students nationwide selected to receive the $7,000 National Graduate Fellowship from The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.
Youngest Undergraduate, Class of 2001-Vanessa Sheldon
Sheldon, a music major who turned sixteen at the end of May, is a professional concert harpist who performs at numerous social events and in ensembles in Southern California, both on and off the Cal State L.A. campus. Sheldon has had her own business, teaching the concert and Celtic harp since 1997, and is a member of the Venice Youth Pops Orchestra, the South Bay Youth Orchestra, the American Harp Society and the Los Angeles Harp Society, and has appeared as guest soloist with the Whittier String Ensemble, the La Mirada Symphony, and the American Harp Society Honorary Recital at UCLA. She has performed for residents at nursing homes throughout the Los Angeles area, and is active in a variety of other community services. On campus, Sheldon participates actively in the GE Honors program. Program director and associate professor of education Kathleen Costantini writes of Sheldon: "Vanessa is one of the finest, most gifted and active students we have ever had."
With her career goals to be a professional harpist and teacher firmly in place, Sheldon credits outstanding music professors like musicologist JoAn Kunselman-"a fascinating lecturer, inspiring teacher and wonderful person"--and the Early Entrance Program, for "the most wonderful experiences of my life...and lots of fun, too." About to receive a Bachelor of Music in Instrumental Performance, she has been accepted to graduate programs at USC, the University of Arizona and Cal State L.A., where she has chosen to pursue a Master of Music.
Sight-Impaired Service Learning Award Honoree-Jesus Perez
Perez, 42, has been legally blind since his late teens in Mexico, where he married and started a family. In the late 1970s, Perez, his wife and children, joined his father in the United States. Although he had been a drummer with a band in Mexico, once in Los Angeles, Perez was able only to make a living as a street vendor. His family was stricken with one seemingly insurmountable tragedy after another-one child born with spina bifida, and the death of one child by accidental drowning. Despite this, Perez refused to give up.
Earlier, Perez had been told about L.A.'s Braille Institute. Determined to learn Braille-at that time taught only in English, a language he could not speak. He enrolled in ESL classes at Los Angeles City College, eventually earned his A.A. degree and transferred to Cal State L.A. By then a legal permanent resident, he became a United States citizen in 1996, only a year after his son's death.
At Cal State L.A., Perez was aided by staff in the Office of Students with Disabilities, who encouraged him to participate in the University's Service Learning program through EPIC (Educational Participation in Communities). The program allowed him to incorporate the many hours he was volunteering at the Braille Institute into his rehabilitation services courses-"giving back to his community while supporting his academic development," noted EPIC director Jorge Uranga. Using his bilingual skill as a tutor, Perez began to teach new Braille students how to read and write in Braille and facilitated an independent living skills class at the Braille Institute.
Perez, who has applied for the master's degree program in counseling at Cal State L.A., will receive a bachelor's degree in rehabilitation services during Cal State L.A.'s commencement ceremony on June 9.
Model Student Teacher in a Model Program-Nancy Chau
Designed to prepare exemplary elementary school teachers in and to address the critical shortage of qualified teachers in the Los Angeles area, MTEP and other new "blended" programs combine courses in one's major with instruction in teaching methods, classroom observation and student teaching, providing graduates with a preliminary credential in four years rather than the traditional five.
Chau, who says she was "eager to get out there and use what I've learned," has already begun teaching second grade on an emergency permit at Abbott Elementary School, part of the Lynwood Unified School District. Besides teaching full time, and completing her coursework at Cal State L.A., Chau works at her parents' doughnut shop 30 hours a week and helps to look after her little brother, who is in pre-school. Chau managed to balance these responsibilities and complete the rigorous program in only three years.
Commending Chau's intelligence and remarkable time management skills, associate professor of education Cheri De Jong Hawley said, "Nancy will make a great contribution to the teaching profession and to the lives of the children she teaches."
After graduation, Chau intends to complete her clear credential and earn a master's degree in public administration and, eventually, her Ph.D. A public administration degree gives her more flexibility for her future career, she says: "I want to be able to teach at all levels... I can start at elementary school and work my way up to college."
Rosemary Low Scholarship Recipient-Natalie Pereida
Through her daughter's childhood illnesses, Pereida persevered, taking care of her daughter while maintaining her grades and working at two part-time jobs.
Although she was on the road to success in high school-she was junior class vice president, senior class president, and played varsity soccer for 4 years-Pereida acknowledges that she was a "typical high school senior, worrying about books, boys and bad hair days." Her goals in life have matured since her daughter was born: "When I was young, I only wanted to be a millionaire," she admits. "That changed the day I had my daughter. I realized I want to be a part of my daughter's life, not just the bank account that supports it." She has decided to become a teacher, she says, because she's more aware now of how many children are deprived of a good education.
Pereida is currently working in the LAUSD as a second grade reading tutor through Cal State L.A.'s America Reads project. She notes, "Helping kids to read empowers them with a tool that they will use for the rest of their lives."
In March, she helped arrange a Dr. Seuss' birthday celebration-part of the national "Read Across America Day" to promote reading-at Harrison Elementary School in City Terrace. Pereida helped arrange for an artist, a police officer, a fire fighter, and mayoral candidate Antonio Villaraigosa to read to the children. On her own, she collected books as prizes: "for some of these children, those books will be the only ones in their whole house" she reflected. The event aired on KABC-TV Channel 7 news, and prompted the mayor's office to donate more than 100 new books to the school's library. "In the midst of planning this event, I was able to complete my senior thesis," wrote Pereida, adding that she received an A.
This year, Pereida received Cal State L.A.'s Rosemary Low Scholarship, and was the keynote speaker representing other scholarship awardees at the University's annual Scholarship Luncheon. This coming fall, she plans to return to Cal State L.A. to pursue a master's degree in education.
All-American Student Athlete-Kasey Jungwirth
One of Cal State L.A.'s most accomplished student-athletes, Jungwirth led Cal State L.A. to two-straight conference titles. On June 9, she will graduate with a bachelor's degree in business administration and accounting. She holds a near-perfect 3.9 GPA.
A dean's list student, Jungwirth is listed in Who's Who Among College Students. She was named to the 2000 Verizon Academic All-District team, as voted on by the College Sports Information Directors of America-the third straight year Jungwirth earned the honor.
In Nov. 2000, Jungwirth was named first-team All-CCAA for the second straight year. She has been on the all-conference team all four years during her career, earning second-team honors in 1997 and honorable mention in 1998. She also has been named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division II All-America second-team and All-Region first-team. The volleyball team completed the 2000 season ranked no. 5 in the final AVCA coaches' poll.
Additionally, Jungwirth was California Collegiate Athletic Association Women's Volleyball Player of the Week and American Volleyball Coaches Association/Sport Imports Division II National Player of the Week for the week of Sept. 4-10, 2000. The National Player of the Week is the first for a CCAA athlete since Cal State Bakersfield's Jennifer Carr earned the honor in 1998.
After graduation, Jungwirth will be working towards the exam to become a Certified Public Accountant.
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