Honors Convocation Recognizes Top Academic Achievers

Photo: David Schmitz

Photo: David Schmitz

When Kenney Chiu, ’15 Business Finance, joined 4,127 Dean’s and President’s Scholars as part of the Honors Convocation in the Event Center on April 15, someone special shared a seat with him — his baby boy Abraham Charles.

“I snuck him in to sit on my lap,” Chiu said with a laugh. “All the honorees that sat around me were playing with him and they just loved it, too.”

Chiu joined a record number of 3,714 students honored with recognition for earning a 3.65 or higher GPA in at least two contiguous of the past three semesters at San Jose State.

Although Chiu credited his honor with the exceptional teaching found in his home Lucas College of Business, he stressed the impact that his baby boy has had on his academic accomplishments.

“That’s where my motivation comes from,” Chiu said. “I just want to show my kid that he can be proud of his dad.”

Supporters

Interim President Sue Martin took a moment during the ceremony to praise the “unsung heroes,” including family members, friends and spouses who helped support and guide the student scholars.

Photo: David Schmitz

Photo: David Schmitz

For Emily Vann, ’16 Public Relations, her President’s Scholar recognition was a testament to her mother Olivia and her coaches both on and off the basketball court.

Vann joined a record setting 59 student-athletes recognized for academic excellence, including eight student-athletes who maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA for at least two contiguous of the past three semesters.

“You have to kind of go into another gear to kind of get this distinction,” Vann said. “I know firsthand how much it takes and how much time, dedication and effort it takes to go through the everyday process of waking up and having to wear two hats as a student and an athlete.”

Vann, a forward on the SJSU women’s basketball team, said she could not have reached the academic milestone without the support of her mother.

“My mom is a teacher and I just feel really blessed to have had her in my life. She helped me and coached me from the time I was little,” Vann said. “[She’s] always letting me know that my academics come first even though I’m an athlete.”

Provost Andy Feinstein said such support by loved ones and faculty members alike married with personal sacrifice helped usher in the record number of honored scholars this year.

“These students have shown a commitment to their studies, through personal, economic, social and educational circumstances, to be among the top one percent at this university,” Feinstein said.

Sacrifice

Kenneth Peter, 2016 Outstanding Professor, said in his keynote speech that students should be fueled by the various sacrifices they make in their quest for higher education.

Photo: David Schmitz

Photo: David Schmitz

“Your talents are not only exhibited in your academic success, but are profound when viewed in light of the struggles you have overcome,” Peter said. “When many of you are first generation college students, when most of you worked more than half time, when many of you have family obligations, when most of you come from public schools with inadequate resources, you are remarkably talented and you have proven this by being in this room tonight.”

Peter’s assertion rang particularly close to home for Jamil Elbanna, ’16 Mechanical Engineering, who spent most of his academic career working two jobs in addition to his schoolwork.

In order to finance his way through college, Elbanna took a job as a courtesy clerk at Safeway and a security officer at a hospital, all while pursuing a degree.

“It’s definitely not the easiest thing but having passion for my major and what I want to study is important,” Elbanna said. “There were times where it almost felt impossible, but I just keep at it and pushed at it day and night.”

Peter concluded his keynote speech by reminding the student honorees that by receiving recognition for their academic accomplishments, they are also receiving an important responsibility.

“Your talent must not be wasted. Each of you should leave SJSU with the kind of education you will need to fight for greater fairness and equality than this world has yet seen fit to offer,” Peters said. “You have likely experienced some hardships. Let those light the fire within.”

 

Alumnus Receives NCAA’s Highest Honor

Peter Ueberroth

Peter Ueberroth (right) continues to support the SJSU men’s water polo program (photo: Terrell Lloyd).

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from an NCAA news release posted on Dec. 16. 

Marking a successful career in business and sports, Peter Ueberroth will be recognized in January at the NCAA Convention with the NCAA’s highest honor, the Theodore Roosevelt Award. Named after the former president whose concern for the conduct of college athletics led to the formation of the NCAA in 1906, the award is given annually at the NCAA Honors Celebration to an individual who exemplifies the ideals of college sports. Ueberroth was previously named a 1984 NCAA Silver Anniversary Award honoree commemorating the 25thanniversary of his graduation from college.

The young man peered at a striped yellow ball – he had never encountered one like it before.

It was four weeks before his graduation from Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, California, and Peter Ueberroth was about to be presented with a life-altering opportunity. After swimming a few laps, a cinch given his background as a lifeguard, he fired that ball into a target, again and again.

Six decades later, Ueberroth still remembers trying that strange new sport in front of San Jose State University water polo coach Ed Rudloff. The meeting was arranged by Ueberroth’s high school football coach, Ken Stanger, a former San Jose State football player who recommended Rudloff take a look at the strong-armed football and baseball player.

If not for the opportunity provided by the water polo scholarship that resulted from that tryout, the future Time magazine Man of the Year said he wouldn’t even have attended college. Ueberroth’s experience at San Jose State served as a springboard to a career spent at the highest levels of business and sports.

Read the full release.