News Release| CSULA, Cal State L.A.; 61st Commencement; outstanding graduates; Class of 2008

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Pride, perseverance permeate

Cal State L.A.’s Class of 2008

  •          Biochemistry grad off to medical school—at 16
  •          Doctoral duo focuses on autism, special education
  •          EPIC volunteer, HIV researcher, others to ‘walk,’ too

Los Angeles, CA –  They overcame personal challenges. They balanced study, work and family. They achieved the heights of academic success their families have never known. They are the many of thousands of graduates receiving their degrees at California State University, Los Angeles.

Culminating the University’s 60th anniversary year, Cal State L.A.’s 2008 Commencement will be a two-day festivity—Friday, June 6, and Saturday, June 7.  The Friday 5 p.m. ceremony will honor graduates in the Charter College of Education; College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology; and College of Health and Human Services. The Saturday 8 a.m. ceremony will honor the graduates in the College of Arts and Letters; College of Business and Economics; and College of Natural and Social Sciences.

Here are some of the outstanding students in Cal State L.A.’s Class of 2008:

Youngest graduating senior, 16, off to Yale for doctorate

While most of her peers are attending high school, biochemistry major Danielle Krasner (Malibu resident)—at 16 the youngest graduating senior at Cal State L.A.—will be heading to Yale University this fall to pursue her goal of becoming a research scientist. Admitted to Yale Ph.D. program in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, she was also accepted to Ph.D. programs at University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California and University of California, Davis.

With the advantage of starting college early, Krasner was admitted to Cal State L.A. at the age of 13 through the University’s Early Entrance Program (EEP).

Krasner, a member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Golden Key Honor Societies, was also involved with the American Medical Student Association, Chemistry & Biochemistry Club and EEP Club. Despite her busy schedule, she enjoys dancing, scuba diving, swimming, tennis, and playing piano and violin.

Cal State L.A.’s EEP admits extraordinarily gifted youngsters—some as young as 11—directly into college, providing the early entrants with monitored evaluation, regular counseling sessions, and the opportunity to study with like-minded peers. Krasner, who will be marching in the Saturday Commencement, will be joined by more than 20 other EEP graduates receiving their baccalaureate degrees.

EPIC volunteer majors in giving

With a giving spirit, Bronzcey Sulton (Long Beach resident) has donated many hours to helping others despite his busy school load. Currently volunteering at the Alhambra Retirement Community, Sulton has also volunteered at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, Union Rescue Mission and St. Francis Center. He is currently a student service learning coordinator for Cal State L.A.’s Educational Participation in Communities (EPIC), a program that promotes community service by creating opportunities for university students to implement classroom theory in real-life situations. Sulton has been involved in EPIC’s Community Service Learning Component, Summer Youth Employment & Training Program, and the EPIC Toy and Food Drive. Sulton was also a member of the CSULA Forensics Squad and Partnership for Academic Learning and Success (PALS) Club.

On Saturday, June 7, Sulton will become the first in his family to complete a bachelor’s degree. His will be in communication studies. Although his ultimate goal is a career in public relations, he plans to keep giving back to the community. He said, “When you volunteer to help others, you really learn a lot about yourself and those you are providing services to.” 

Anh Hong, EPIC Community Service Learning Coordinator at Cal State L.A., calls him “a person whose intellect, pleasant character, and dedication to service become evident to anyone who has the fortune of meeting him… He serves as a catalyst to make positive, value-added change happen in the program.”

An HIV researcher—and a role model for young Latinas

Graduate student Alvina Rosales (Pasadena resident) has conducted award-winning research into the psychological aspects of HIV. One of the first in her family to attend college, Rosales has already been admitted to the Georgia State University Ph.D. program in clinical psychology. As she pursues her doctorate, she hopes to encourage young Latinas that an advanced college degree is attainable.

Rosales worked extensively in Professor Ramani Durvasula’s research lab as part of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) scholars program at Cal State L.A. Rosales’s master’s thesis examined neuropsychiatric data collected from HIV positive men and women at UCLA.

Described by Professor Durvasula as “an amazing and hard-working young woman,” Rosales received the 2007 Western Psychological Association Travel Award and the Sally Casanova Predoctoral Fellowship. After placing second in last year's CSULA Symposium on Research and Creative Activity, she went on to win first place in this year's campus event as well as at the statewide research competition at CSU East Bay. Rosales will be marching in the Saturday Commencement.

Clearing hurdles of anxiety, sociology grad student has Ph.D. options

June H. Sun (Canyon Country resident), who will be receiving a master’s degree in sociology at the Saturday Commencement, had to overcome anxieties of returning to college in mid-career.

Though she has worked her way up from a position as a researcher to become an associate director of research, Sun felt she was at a career roadblock—unhappy with the employment prospects in sociology with only a bachelor’s degree. She said,” I knew I wanted an advanced degree in sociology, perhaps a doctorate, eventually, but I lacked direction in terms of what I really wanted to do. My desire to return to school was great, but my worries about financing my education were even greater.”

Now, two years later, Sun has been admitted to the doctorate program at University of Notre Dame with full funding and a stipend for living expenses. She was also accepted to doctorate programs at other universities.

Reflecting back, Sun admits she achieved more than she expected, crediting CSULA Professor Hyojoung Kim for his mentorship and guidance. She said, “I’ve developed confidence as a student” and “a heart for sociology.”

While pursuing her degree at Cal State L.A., she worked as a teaching assistant and served on the editorial board of the California Sociology Forum student online journal. Her coauthored research on Korean American population will be included in a forthcoming publication.

Sixth class of President’s Scholars range from artificial intelligence to social work

Graduating with the distinction of being a Cal State L.A. President’s Scholar, Lister Yu will receive a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Yu, selected as a President’s Scholar based on his excellent high school records, received a four-year $20,000 scholarship upon entrance to Cal State L.A. An active member of the University’s Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology Student Council, Yu has served as chair and activities coordinator for the CSULA student chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. After marching in the Friday Commencement, Yu plans to conduct a summer research project at NASA’s Langley Research Center and then pursue his master’s degree at USC. He looks forward to working in the space-exploration industry and furthering research in the field of artificial intelligence. Yu, who attended Mark Keppel High School, is a Monterey Park resident.

Other CSULA President’s Scholars graduating this year include the following:

  • Candie Bautista (Monrovia), biochemistry

  • Morgan Chew (Highland Park), geography

  • Angelica Garcia (Maywood), social work

  • Raci Ignacio (Los Angeles), history

  • Gloria Lam (Monterey Park), nursing

  • Christine Schroth (Los Angeles), nursing

  • Ashley Soto (Pasadena), liberal studies


Joint Ph.D.s in Special Education—both focus on autism

Faye Carter and Mihyun Grace Cho will be conferred CSULA/UCLA joint Ph.D.s in special education. The doctoral hooding ceremony is planned for the Friday Commencement.

Carter’s dissertation is titled “Exploration of Sibling Explanatory Models of Autism.” She holds a B.A. in education from University of Delaware and an M.A. in special education from CSU Fullerton.

Cho’s dissertation is titled “Emotional Understanding and Social Interaction of Caregivers and their Children with Autism, Down Syndrome, or Children without Disabilities.” She holds a B.A. in special education from Taegu University in Korea and an M.A. in special education from Vanderbilt University.

The joint doctoral program, offered by Cal State L.A. and UCLA, prepares graduates for teacher education or leadership positions in special education.

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Working for California since 1947: The 175-acre hilltop campus of California State University, Los Angeles is at the heart of a major metropolitan city, just five miles from Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center. More than 20,000 students and 200,000 alumni—with a wide variety of interests, ages and backgrounds—reflect the city’s dynamic mix of populations. Six colleges offer nationally recognized science, arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and humanities programs, among others, led by an award-winning faculty. Cal State L.A. is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Jazz Orchestra and to a unique university center for gifted students as young as 12. Programs that provide exciting enrichment opportunities to students and community include an NEH- and Rockefeller-supported humanities center; a NASA-funded center for space research; and a growing forensic science program, housed in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.