News Release| The Honors College; Cal State L.A.

September 12, 2011

Cal State L.A. to welcome this fall the first cohort of freshmen to the new Honors College

Los Angeles, CA — Being “the first” on a university campus is always significant, and the approximately 40 students who will be the first cohort of freshmen in the new Honors College at Cal State L.A. are no exception. Arriving this fall, their successes will set standards for future cohorts.

To be eligible for the Honors College, freshmen must have earned a cumulative high school GPA of 3.5 or higher, a combined minimum SAT score of 1,100, or an ACT score of 25 to even apply.

Honors College student Marlene Villegas-Ortega, a graduate of Whitney High School who lives in Hawaiian Gardens, is familiar with the success and rewards that result from working hard academically.

“I come from a school where loads of homework was assigned on a daily basis. It’s almost second nature to me,” said Villegas-Ortega, a criminal justice major. “Besides, I like a good challenge. I’m attending college to take classes that challenge my beliefs. If that means skipping out on the easy classes and getting more homework, then so be it. It doesn’t mean I have to give up my social life, it just means I have to manage my time.” 

Villegas-Ortega organized the “Raise the Roof” fundraiser while in high school, which raised over $4,000 to help pay for the building of a multi-media center. Both a scholar and athlete, she played varsity volleyball in high school and was asked by her coach to help teach children how to play this summer. She was also on the boy’s baseball team.

Providing another mechanism to help CSULA close the achievement gap, while reflecting the diversity of the University, the Honors College offers an academically enriched and socially supportive environment that inspires students to become creative and critical thinkers, and leaders. With core learning goals focused on knowledge creation, social innovation, and global citizenship, the College prepares students to address the most pressing challenges of the 21st century.

The Honors College also offers opportunities for students to actively participating in intellectual, social, and community-based programs, and other forms of civic engagement. Students are selected based on a comprehensive review of application materials including written essays, letters of recommendation, and SAT scores.  

“We are looking forward to welcoming the new freshmen and juniors to the Honors College – it is a terrific, talented, and diverse group, committed not only to academic success but also to making a difference in the world,” said Michelle Hawley, interim director of Honors College.

Scholarships are awarded to incoming Honors College freshmen who have demonstrated great potential, motivation, and a commitment to education. The funds are distributed over four years in increments of $2,000 per year.

 Sharon Zhu, a Walnut resident who ran cross country while attending Alhambra High School, has already garnered several awards. The Honors College student took 1st place in Team Math Quest in 2009, and was honored with the AP Scholar with Distinction award in 2010. An immigrant from China, she was also a volunteer in the Academy of Future Educators high school program.

 “I am definitely looking forward to the challenges as well as the diverse curriculum that the Honors College will add to my college education and experience. I have always enjoyed the complexity of the sciences, and biology has always been a subject I enjoy learning,” said Zhu, who plans to study biology and looks forward to contributing in the field of medical research. 

The Honors College staff is prepared to help students achieve their goals and prepare for graduate and professional schools. The students will also benefit from the encouragement of their high-achieving peers within the College to reach their full potential.

 Jimmy Aguirre will be such a peer. He just graduated from Cathedral High School where faculty members have praised his academic achievement and strong character. He also participated in the Lasallian Youth program, which included working with 8th graders to help them prepare for high school aptitude tests.

 “I look forward to being in the Honors College because it will give me a chance to befriend people who show a great desire to excel academically,” said Aguirre, a mechanical engineering major from Altadena. “The staff is more than willing to help students, and I have heard that ECST [College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology] is a great community of scholars. I have also heard a lot of good things about its highly-acclaimed solar-powered car program.”

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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 220,000 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 the Honors College for high-achieving students, opening in fall 2011. Programs that provide exciting enrichment opportunities to students and community include an NEH-supported humanities center; a NASA-funded center for space research; and a growing forensic science program, housed in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.