News Release| Early Entrance Program; Cal State L.A.

Note to editors and news directors:  For a group photo of the Early Entrance Program grads at Cal State L.A., please contact the CSULA Public Affairs office at (323) 343-3050.

20+ early entrance grads in CSULA’s Class of 2012

EEP grads range in age from 16-20 years old

Los Angeles, CA Twenty-one Early Entrance Program (EEP) students—most of them still teenagers—will receive their baccalaureate degrees at Cal State L.A.’s two-day Commencement ceremonies Friday-Saturday, June 15 and 16

EEP admits extraordinarily gifted youngsters, some as young as 11, directly into Cal State L.A. and provides them with monitored evaluation, counseling, and the opportunity to study with like-minded peers.

Here is EEP’s Class of 2012, ranging from 16-20 years old (listed alphabetically):

Ajay Bhandari (Valencia), 19, biological sciences major. Bhandari, who is a graduating magna cum laude, was recently accepted to Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science to pursue a master’s degree in biomedical sciences in the fall. His goal is to become a physician. At CSULA, he served as president of the G.E. Honors Club, vice president of EEP Club, historian of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Club, and public relations chair for the American Medical Student Association. In the community, he has volunteered at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital and Olive View UCLA Medical center. He is also a recipient of the General Education Honors Scholarship and the College of Natural and Social Sciences Certificate of Honor.

Priscilla Dao (Monterey Park), 17, philosophy major with a pre-law option. Dao, who will be graduating cum laude, has been accepted into Teach for America, a program that works to eliminate educational inequality by enlisting “high-achieving college grads” to teach for at least two years in low-income communities throughout the country. After teaching in the Houston Independent School District, she plans to apply to law school to specialize in educational policy. Dao served as public relations chair for the Mock Trial Club; associate justice for the Associate Students, Inc.; and as a student representative for the America Council on International Programs for the CSU System. She is also a recipient of the 2009 American Mock Trial Witness Award.

Tiffany Frank (Woodland Hills), 19, math and political science double major with a minor in English. Frank, who plans to pursue a career in international law or intellectual property law, will attend the University of Texas Law School in Austin this fall. Frank is graduating magna cum laude and is a member of the Golden Key and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. She is also an active member of the Mock Trial Club and the Pre-law Society at CSULA. She served as president of CSULA’s Model United Nations Club for the term 2010-11, and received first- and second-place honors as part of the award-winning Model United Nations team. She is also a recipient of the Harvey Cranow Community Service Award for her work in the greater Los Angeles Jewish community.

Sarah Gao (Arcadia), 18, chemistry major. Gao, who will be graduating magna cum laude, will head to Yale Medical School in the fall. Her goal is to become a medical doctor. Gao is a member of the Golden Key and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. At CSULA, she has served as president of the Cancer Awareness Club, president and social events chair of Humanitarians on Campus, and president and secretary of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Club. She is also involved with the EEP Club and has volunteered at Huntington Memorial Hospital. For her research, entitled “Antiproliferative Effects of the Novel Anti-cancer Agent, Chlorambucil-Tempol, and its Use in Drug Delivery Research,” she was presented CSULA’s 2011 Phi Kappa Phi Travel Award of $1,000. Her accolades include the Golden Eagle Award of Excellence, the General Li-Jen Fang Memorial Award, and the General Education Honors Award.

Angela Guerrero (Downey), 18, chemistry and biochemistry major with a minor in music.  Guerrero, who has been accepted to Stanford School of Medicine, will be graduating magna cum laude this June. Her goal is to become a physician-scientist. A Dean’s List student, she was named the 2012 EEP Graduate of the Year. For her research on “Photooxidation of the antioxidant trans-resveratrol,” she received first-place honor at the CSULA Student Symposium on Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity and second-place honor at the 2012 CSU Student Research Competition. She is a participant of the Minority Access to Research Careers-Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (MARC-U*STAR) Program at CSULA. She is also a recipient of California Institute of Technology’s 2010 Amgen Scholars Fellowship. On campus, she has served as president of the CSULA American Medical School Association, president of the CSULA Music Appreciation Club, and academic chair of the EEP Club. In addition to being an active community volunteer, she also played the violin for the Olympia Youth Orchestra and the CSULA String Orchestra.

Billie Hsieh (Duarte), 18, biology major and economics minor. Hsieh, whose goal is to become a medical doctor, will be heading to El Salvador this fall as a recipient of the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children Fellowship. Currently, she is an intern at the COPE Health Solutions Clinical Care Extender Program. She was formerly a volunteer in the Surgical Oncology Department at City of Hope Medical Center and former cardiology volunteer at Kaiser Permanente Hospital. She also traveled to Bumwalukani, Uganda, for a direct medical expedition. Locally, she has led fellow students in team events, including AIDS Project Los Angeles Walks, Walk for Kids for Los Angeles Children’s Hospital and Walk Now for Autism Speaks. A Dean’s List student, her accolades include the Golden Eagle Award of Excellence, CSULA Alumni Scholarship, and the California 9th Annual Leadership Summit Scholarship. Working as a writing tutor and teaching assistant in the University Writing Center, she also served as president and founder of CSULA’s Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children, vice president of Amnesty International, and treasurer of People for Animal Care and Kindness (PACK) Club on campus.

Trenton Lee (Seal Beach), 16, biology major. Sixteen-year-old Trenton Lee—the youngest graduating senior at Cal State L.A.—has been accepted to Boston University and American University this fall. His goal is to become a physician, specializing in the cure of kidney disease. A Dean’s List student, he has served as a web master and news editor for the Golden Key honor society on campus. He is also a member of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Mock Trial Club at CSULA. He was previously a volunteer at the Rosemead Dialysis Center, and an intern at the Academia Sinica-Institute of Biomedical Sciences in Taiwan. Under the direction of CSULA Professor Yong Ba, he has conducted research on the potential applications of antifreeze proteins through their shapes using protein spectroscopy and protein labeling. In the community, he has presented piano and violin performances at local senior centers.

Sanmit Narvekar (Arcadia), 19, computer science major with minors in math and physics. Narvekar, who will graduate summa cum laude, will pursue a Ph.D. in computer science at University of Texas in Austin this fall. He is a recipient of the 2012 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship and named the University’s Computer Science Student of the Year for 2011. At CSULA, he served as treasurer of the Association for Computing Machinery, vice president of communication for the Golden Key honor society, and secretary for the Mock Trial Club. Additionally, he has worked as a summer intern and held a part-time position at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, working on autonomous remote sensing and telemetry processing, as well as a summer research intern at the USC Information Sciences Institute, working on the detection and classification of activities on Twitter and social media. 

Cristiana Puiu (Santa Clarita), 20, biology major. Puiu, who plans to gain some job experience during the summer, will be applying to medical school to pursue a career in genetics. A Dean’s List student, she has served as secretary of the EEP Club and president of Amnesty International. In the community, she has volunteered at the Olive View UCLA Medical Center.

Daniel Pyon (Montebello), 18, business administration major with a pre-law option and a minor in economics. Pyon, who is graduating summa cum laude, was selected for the University’s Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship for the 2011-12 academic year. He will pursue a Juris Doctor degree at Harvard Law School starting next fall. After graduation, he will explore various opportunities, such as volunteering for an electoral campaign, and working at a courthouse, law firm, or financial institution. Pyon has also received the Golden Key Business Achievement Award, the Korean American CPA Society of Southern California Scholarship, the Youngnak Academic Scholarship, first place in Pi Sigma Alpha Undergraduate Paper Contest, and “Outstanding Delegate” at UC Riverside’s 2011 Model United Nations Conference. He served as vice president for finance for Associated Students, Inc. (ASI), academic chair of the EEP Club, and chief justice and associate justice for ASI. Off campus, he has volunteered for LOVE LA: Food for the Homeless and AWANA (church youth group).

Ben Saiyasombat (Monterey Park), 18, chemistry major and psychology minor.  Saiyasombat, who plans to apply to medical school after graduation, has conducted research in CSULA Professor Alison McCurdy’s chemistry lab, focused on calcium signaling. A Dean’s List student, he served as treasurer of the Chinese Cultural Club, and treasurer and vice president of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Club. He is an active member of the G.E. Honors Club and the Music Appreciation Club on campus.

John M. Sanchez (Torrance), 19, biology major.  Sanchez, who will be graduating magna cum laude, plans to continue his research into the development of neuronal circuitry at Caltech under Dr. Patterson after graduation. He has been involved with ovarian cancer research with Dr. Dorigo at the UCLA School of Medicine and with cardiology research with Dr. Budoff at the UCLA School of Medicine. A Dean’s List student, he served as the College of Natural and Social Sciences representative for the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI), as environmental affairs commissioner for ASI, president of Amnesty International, president of the EEP Club, and vice president of the Horticulture Club. He is also a member of Phi Kappa Phi honor society and a recipient of the 2010 U-SU Student Involvement Scholarship.

William Tsai (Arcadia), 18, biochemistry major. Tsai, who will be graduating magna cum laude, has been accepted into the Teach for America program to teach in New York City. He plans to apply medical school to become a doctor in the future. His accolades include the 2011 Leadership Award of Excellence, the 2011 Student Appreciation Award, and the 2011 John Spielman Freshman in Chemistry Scholarship. At CSULA, he has served as chief justice, associate chief justice, and public relations for the Associated Students, Inc. elections. He is also a member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Golden Key honor societies, G.E. Honors Club, Music Appreciation Club, and the Chemistry and Biochemistry Club.

Winston Vuong (Rosemead), 18, biochemistry major. Vuong, who is graduating magna cum laude, will be applying for a research post-baccalaureate position at the National Institutes of Health after graduation. His goal is to become a physician-scientist with a focus on toxicology. Under the direction of Chemistry Professor Ray Garcia, he has conducted research on reverse cholesterol transport metabolism. At CSULA, he has served as vice president for the Chemistry and Biochemistry Club and the American Medical Student Association. A recipient of the Rashad Razouk Scholarship, he is also a member of the Golden Key and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. In the community, he has volunteered at the California Hospital Medical Center and the California Mission Inn convalescent home.

Amy Wat (San Gabriel), 20, mechanical engineering major. Wat was recently selected as one of only five undergraduates nationally—and the only CSU student—to attend the 2012 Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Bridge to the Doctorate International Workshop in Grenoble, France. She will be graduating cum laude this June. A recipient of the Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholarship and the LSAMP Scholarship, she plans to apply for an internship at the U.S. Department of Energy and Science’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the fall. Her goal is to pursue a Ph.D. in materials science with an emphasis on nacre microstructure and nanofabrication. At CSULA, she is working as a research assistant in a lab that is focused on studying the design and development of a microfluidic direct methanol fuel cell using modified nafion membrane. Additionally, she was a founding member and president of Association of Student Biomedical Engineers, and a founding member and vice president of People for Animal Care and Kindness.

Jaquelyn Yeh (Monterey Park), 18, chemistry major. Yeh, who is graduating magna cum laude, plans to apply to medical school after graduation in order to pursue a career as a surgeon. Under the direction of CSULA’s Biochemistry Professor Vellanoweth, she has conducted research on preventing senescence of arabidopsis thaliana. She is a member of the Golden Key and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. At CSULA, she has served as vice president for the G.E. Honors Club, president and social chair for the EEP Club, secretary and vice president of the Music Appreciation Club, and vice president of Humanitarian on Campus. She has also volunteered for outreach events, such as the Sally Ride Festival and the Terrific Scientific.

***Details on Adam Bess, Samuel Chen, James Norwood, Seth Nunez, and Caitlyn York were unavailable at press time.

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EEP Graduate Student: Constance Jiang (Orange), 20, computer science major. Jiang, who earned her bachelor’s degree in computer science at CSULA, will be promoted to a full-time employee at Internet Brands upon graduation. A Dean’s List student, she was vice president and president of CSULA cospLAy club; webmaster, events coordinator and president of PACK; the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology Representative for the Associated Students, Inc.; vice president for computer science for the ECST Student Council; and secretary for the Association for Computer Machinery. A member of the Golden Key and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies, she has also participated in the ProgFest and Loebner Prize Competition.

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