Hispanic Scholarship Fund | Spotlight

Cal State L.A. finance major is ‘champion for education’

Chiquito named Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s Student of the Year

Photo of finance major Jonathan Chiquito.

Cal State L.A.’s junior Jonathan Chiquito was named “Student of the Year” at the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s (HSF) Second Annual Leaders in Education Awards Luncheon, held recently in downtown Los Angeles. The award, presented by Toyota, includes a $5,000 scholarship.

HSF, the nation’s leading provider of college scholarships to outstanding Latinos, honored Chiquito for being a “champion for education” in his community.

Chiquito, who is currently working on his bachelor’s degree in finance, along with a minor in economics, began serving his community in the 12th grade, and is excelling academically in spite of having to live with the effects of a stroke.

In the HSF award announcement, it states: Chiquito’s “hard work and determination has not only placed him in the Dean’s List as an international scholar laureate, but has instilled in him a commitment to inspire others to succeed, and a strong desire to help find cures for developmental disabilities in the future.”

Exceeding expectations

In 2007, Chiquito’s life drastically changed. He suffered a stroke due to a blood clot in his head caused by Factor V Leiden, a specific gene mutation disorder. After going from an active soccer player, to being hospitalized in intensive care, he admitted, “I was preoccupied with the grave predicament I found myself in at that moment.”

However, after months of therapy sessions, and through his faith, persistence and perseverance, he began plotting his course back to school. Determined not to be defeated by his condition, he committed to exceed everybody’s expectations.

Despite the inability to grasp concepts as easily as before, he has proven to himself and others that he can overcome the challenge. Chiquito shared, “I spent countless number of hours reading textbooks, re-reading textbooks, going over lecture notes, meeting with tutors, going to my professors’ office hours and working a part-time job.”

“I am exceedingly happy for Jonathan,” said Margaret Jefferson, director of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program. “Jonathan started working for me as one of my office staff for the LSAMP before the start of his freshman year at Cal State L.A.”

“During each academic year, Jonathan worked 20 hours per week while maintaining a high GPA. He has been one of the most reliable and organized students that I have ever had the opportunity to work with. This honor is well-deserved.”

Photo of Photo of finance major Jonathan Chiquito.

Shining academically

A Dean’s List student, Chiquito has been recognized for his academic achievements, having garnered the United Latin Students Academic Excellence Scholarship, the CSULA Alumni Association Scholarship and the Adelante Fund Scholarship.

This summer, Chiquito will be in New York City working in a paid internship position at U.S. Trust through the support of Sponsors for Educational Opportunity. He said, “I must give thanks to Professor Jean Loo who wrote a letter of recommendation for me, which helped me acquire this professional experience. She was one of many faculty members instrumental in inspiring me to focus on my academic journey.”

Upon completing his bachelor’s degree in spring 2013, Chiquito’s goal is to pursue an M.B.A., so he can one day manage a portfolio that would benefit multiple philanthropic causes. Eventually, he hopes to start a foundation that would help fund research to find new treatments and cures for developmental disabilities. Chiquito believes that what happened to him five years ago had a major impact on his life and nurtured his desire to help others.

Giving back to others

At CSULA, Chiquito currently serves as president of Circle K International, having served previously as its founding vice president. He is also a member of the Hispanic Business Society and the Golden Key International Honor Society. Off campus, he is involved with the Los Angeles chapter of the Association of Latino/a Professionals in Finance and Accounting.

As a leader of Circle K, he has helped organize events to help prepare and distribute food to the homeless, and has volunteered in helping the sick and disabled children at the local Ronald McDonald House.

A Pasadena resident, Chiquito said, “It is truly incredible the sense of accomplishment and happiness that one gets whenever one volunteers. It does not matter whether you helped in a big or small way, you helped make someone’s life a little better, and that is truly commendable.”

Hispanic Scholarship Fund honors CSULA alumna

At the same event, Suzanna Guzman, an internationally-renowned opera singer, was recognized as “Mentor of the Year” by the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. A CSULA alumna, Guzman is director of community engagement at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA). Strongly supporting arts education, she hosts, organizes, and chaperones events by herself, and during after-school activities. Guzman has been honored as the 2011 Mexican American Opportunity Foundations National Woman of the Year. She was also named the 2011 Bank of America Local Hero for her work with emerging artists, for donating performances to the community, for mentoring young musicians and helping underserved high school students with preparing for college interviews and auditions.

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