Cal State L.A. anthropology student earns prestigious CSU Trustees award

Samantha Lorenz

Cal State L.A. graduate student Samantha Lorenz will be honored by the California State University Board of Trustees with its 2015 CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement.

The CSU Trustees’ Awards are the highest recognition of student achievement and provide scholarships to CSU students who are in financial need, have experienced personal hardship and exhibit exemplary scholastic performance and community service.

Lorenz is among 23 students who will be recognized on Tuesday, September 8, during an event at the CSU Office of the Chancellor in Long Beach. She will be presented a $6,000 award and named as a Trustee Rebecca Eisen Scholar.

Lorenz, 32, has overcome economic hardship and other challenges in her quest for academic excellence. She is completing her master's degree in anthropology with an emphasis in bioarcheology at Cal State L.A., focusing on the evolution of violence. Her research at Cal State L.A. deals with ancient Mayan sacrificial victims in Belize.

“Samantha exemplifies the qualities that set our students apart,” said Cal State L.A. President William A. Covino. “We’re proud of what she has accomplished and how she’s made the most of the opportunities we offer our students.”

Lorenz is a recipient of a Graduate Equity Fellowship, an Alumni Association Scholarship, the Raul Henderson Spirit Award, and the Golden Eagle Award of Excellence. She has also been selected as a 2015-16 Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholar by the CSU California Pre-Doctoral Program.

Lorenz was accepted into the anthropology graduate program in bioarchaeology at Cal State L.A. in 2012. She worked as a forensic anthropology intern for a year with the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.

Samantha LorenzIn 2013, she took advantage of an opportunity to work for a month with the International Field Initiative and Forensic Training and the Fundacion de Antropologia Forense de Guatemala. She helped excavate the remains of massacre victims in the village of San Juan Cotzal in Guatemala.

“I felt my work was giving a voice to people who have been silenced, and I fervently hope that it will aid in transitional justice and prevent future atrocities,” said Lorenz, who is a downtown Los Angeles resident.  

While at Cal State L.A., she also conducted archaeological investigations at the Naval Air Weapons Station in China Lake and with the Sacred Landscapes Archeological Project at the Maya site of La Milpa.

Additionally, she volunteered at the La Brea Tar Pits, Page Museum, and the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law.

As part of her graduate thesis, Lorenz is currently helping to identify and catalogue 10,000 human bones recovered from the Midnight Terror Cave in Belize. The cave was discovered by archeologists as a site where ancient Mayans were sacrificed and ancestral worship was conducted. Lorenz’s study on the teeth of the sacrificial victims belonging to children is mentioned in a Collectors Weekly article.

“Samantha is a bright and hardworking student who is carrying out important research,” said Cal State L.A. Professor James Brady, who is Lorenz’s graduate thesis adviser. “I have absolutely no doubt that Samantha will continue to excel as she moves on into a doctoral program.” 

As an undergraduate, Lorenz attended University of New Mexico majoring in anthropology with an emphasis on physical anthropology. There, she thrived in her studies and was fascinated by the osteology collection at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology on campus. She also participated in a Forensic Facial Reconstruction Workshop at Case Western Reserve University. 

Lorenz plans to continue her research and pursue a doctoral program in bioarcheology after graduating from Cal State L.A. in spring 2016.

The CSU Trustees’ award program began nearly three decades ago with scholarships endowed by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. In 1999, the generosity of current and emeritus CSU trustees allowed the program to expand. CSU Trustee Rebecca Eisen serves as a partner in the international law firm of Morgan Lewis in its San Francisco office. She represents and counsels employers in all facets of employment law.

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