Spring Emeriti Fellowships Awarded

Emeriti Fellowships Awarded
at the Spring 2016 Emeriti Luncheon

The Emeriti Association has awarded six outstanding graduate students fellowships for the 2015-16 academic year. While implementation of a new online application system delayed the review and selection process, and required us to limit the number of awards that we could make, the quality of applicants remained high and those selected continue to be outstanding students. The awards were presented at the Emeriti Spring Luncheon on May 20, 2016. (Photographs, below, by Dr. John A. Kirchner, Emeritus Professor of Geogaphy and Transportation)


The 2016 Emeriti Fellowship Recipientss (L to R): Dr. Alfredo Gonzalez, Chair, Fellowships Committee, Jose A. Perez, Claudia Camacho-Trejo, Meher Beigi Masihi, Amalia Castaneda, Leah Zeller, James Steele, Dr. John Cleman, President, The Emeriti Association


The David Cameron Fisher Memorial Fellowship in Biological Science has been awarded to Meher Beigi Masihi. Mr. Masihi’s goal is to earn a Ph.D. and to teach and do research at a university. After earning his bachelor’s degree from Azad University in Tehran, Iran in microbiology, Mr. Beigi Masihi developed a more focused interest in cancer and cell biology. He pursued that interest by attending the Pasteur Institute of Iran, one of the leading institutions in Iran providing innovative programs in basic and applied medical sciences.  He ultimately decided to continue his education in the United States. His research interests are in “…identifying novel anticancer drug targets through examining cell signaling dysfunctionalities in tumor development and translating these findings into potent therapeutics.” His interest in teaching dates back to his time as an undergraduate tutoring high school students. He enjoyed the interaction with students and finding ways to get them to better understand and remember the material. He found that one of the most effective ways was to relate the material he was teaching to their own lives and experiences. He writes that he would like to inspire students with “…the same kind of passion that my professors inspired me …”  

Jose A. Perez and Leah Zeller were each awarded a Jane Matson Memorial Fellowship for students pursuing a master’s degree in counseling. Both Mr. Perez and Ms. Zeller are in the Charter College of Education, Division of Special Education and Counseling.




The goal of Mr. Perez is to become a family psychologist in order to help others foster positive family relations. His interest is in helping individuals and families that have been negatively impacted by personal and/or social factors find ways to effectively deal with those experiences and mitigate their effect on the family unit, especially the children. His volunteer work has included serving as an assistant to the intervention specialist at an area high school, assisting the facilitator of parenting classes for probations and foster youth, recruiting and doing intake interviews for CSULA’s Counseling and Assessment Clinic (many of them in Spanish), under the supervision of a professor working with several families in the Clinic, and tutoring youth at Boy’s Republic. One of his professors writes that Jose “…has shown himself to be an excellent student, has enriched the lives of children and parents here in the Clinic and in our local schools, and has made a significant contribution to CSULA and its surrounding communities.”


“My personal mission statement,” writes Leah Zeller, “simply put, is to help people.” She goes on to say that “I want to use my talents and education to help better my community, specifically its children …” It is apparent that Ms. Zeller is passionately committed to doing everything she possibly can to ensure that all children are able to grow up in a safe and nurturing environment and experience all of the joys, wonders and excitement that childhood should be. As an undergraduate at West Virginia University Ms. Zeller received a full tuition waiver for her academic performance and extracurricular involvement, the Blue and Gold Academic scholarship, and was admitted into the University’s top honor society each of her four years as an undergraduate. Among other extracurricular activities and volunteer work, she currently serves as the President of the School-Based Family Counseling Association, a CSULA student organization, as a walker, fundraiser, and board member for the Maryland, Virginia, and Los Angeles chapters of the Out of Darkness Community Walks for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and recently was invited to serve on the board of Globescope Arts and Entertainment, Inc., a home to citizen artists, entertainers and underrepresented cultures. One of her professors writes that Leah Zeller “…is an excellent example of the resilience, quality and caliber of students in our program and the university.”


The Mary Gormly Memorial Fellowship in Native American Studies for 2015-16 has been awarded to Claudia Camacho-Trejo, who is working on her Master’s Degree in Anthropology with an emphasis in Meso American Studies. Ms. Camacho-Trejo first came to the United States when she was four years old, only to return to Mexico a year later and not return again for eight years.  As a high school student in the United States she was enrolled in remedial English classes as well as AP classes in Spanish and calculus. She began her college studies in Mexico, but again returned to the U.S. to earn her A.A., and in 2013 her bachelor’s degree from Cal State Los Angeles. As an undergraduate Ms. Camacho-Trejo was active in and held leadership positions in a number of student organizations and played key roles in organizing numerous events including the first International Mesoamerican Symposium held at Cal State L.A. by the CSULA Art History Society. The event, supported by the Mexican Consulate, attracted over 600 attendees including several of Central Mexico’s most prominent archeologists. As an undergraduate she was invited, and served in, several prestigious internships in Central Mexico that provided her invaluable research experience. One of her goals is to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania where the most prominent Mesoamerican lithicist teaches.

Amalia Castaneda and James Steele were each awarded a William E. Lloyd Fellowship for students pursuing a master’s degree in history or public policy.




Amalia Castaneda’s goal is to earn an MLIS and work as a museum/archival professional in a cultural institution. Her academic and volunteer experiences at Cal State LA influenced her transition into public history. Through archives and museums, she is confident she can continue working on the social justice work she grew passionate about as an undergraduate. Ms. Castaneda received her bachelor’s degree from UCLA with a double major in Political Science and Gender Studies. At her commencement she was conferred the departmental achievement award for her commitment to feminist issues through service and academic excellence. Some of her many honors and awards include the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellowship, UCLA 2009-11, the CSU Sally Casanova Fellowship, The Institute of Museum and Library Services Rare Book School (RBS) Fellowship, the Eugene Fingerhut Award for outstanding graduate student in the Cal State LA History Department and Phi Alpha Theta, History Honor Society. Her volunteer work is extensive and is both influenced and motivated by her background. She currently serves as a board member at The Museum of Social Justice, is an assistant at the Cal State LA Department of Special Collections and Archives and is Co-Editor-in-Chief for the History Department's academic journal, Perspectives. In 2015, she co-curated "African American Civil Rights Movement in LA" and this year she is helping develop an exhibition highlighting the undocumented student movement in LA. Most recently, she was selected to intern with the University of Chicago Preservation Program, where she will gain hands-on professional training in special collections digitization

In 2009, James Steele made a decision to pursue something he had not been able to years earlier; he returned to college to complete his degree in history. As Mr. Steele writes, “I graduated in 2014 with honors and haven’t looked back.” Indeed he has not, having been named to the Dean’s List and become a member of the Phi Alpha Theta, Phi Kappa Phi and Golden Key Honor Societies. Perhaps the delay was a mixed blessing, for as he writes: “I believe strongly that this detour has allowed me to learn to appreciate the opportunities that I am afforded now far more than I would have at the age of eighteen.” Concerned about the community, and especially the educational experience of young people, he works with the Autry National Center’s education outreach program which allows him to go into some of the most at-risk elementary schools in greater Los Angeles to try and help students succeed. Since 2014 he has served as a Resident Life Coordinator at Cal State L.A. In the fall of 2016, without looking back, Mr. Steele will begin applying to Ph.D. programs.