The college experience throughout 2020-21 was anything but typical, but what makes the past academic year that much more unique is Yanet Gutierrez and her daughter Eunice Romero — who were both recently named Dean’s Scholars in recognition of their academic excellence during the year.
“My mother played a huge role towards me becoming a Dean Scholar,” says Romero. “It was her constant motivation and determination that really inspired me to push through the semester with great accomplishments.”
“It is truly an honor to continue achieving our educational goals alongside one another,” she added. “I am extremely excited for what the future holds for the both of us.”
Twice a year, SJSU honors undergraduate students’ outstanding academic achievements by including them in the Semester Honor Roll. The Honor Roll includes two special designations, Dean’s Scholars and President’s Scholars, which are reflected on the student’s transcript in recognition of their accomplishment.
To become a Dean’s Scholar, students must earn an SJSU GPA of 3.65 or higher for the spring and/or fall semester. President’s Scholars must achieve a 4.0 GPA for the spring and/or fall semester.
It’s not every day that a mother-daughter duo has the opportunity to share this type of accomplishment, and it’s not the first time they’ve marked a milestone together in their education. In 2018, they shared a memorable moment when graduating together from De Anza College in Cupertino.
Yanet Gutierrez credits her daughter as her source of inspiration, even more so during the COVID-era when she struggled to concentrate and keep up with her coursework.
“By giving up easily I would be sending a wrong message to my daughter,” said Gutierrez.
“I wanted her to see that even during difficult times, we can still succeed, but only if we believe in ourselves and the changes we can make amongst us and our communities.”
In addition to the transition to remote learning, the past year was full of chaotic events and stressful challenges for Gutierrez and Romero. Gutierrez praises her SJSU professors not only for helping make learning enjoyable during these hard times but also challenging her to think beyond the problems our society faces.
And when Gutierrez faced unforeseen personal tragedy during the pandemic, her professors provided an outpouring of support. “My father lost his battle to COVID-19 on February 3, and [SJSU faculty] supported me, checked on me and encouraged me to do my best.”
Gutierrez will graduate this spring with a BA in Political Science. Romero is currently working toward a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and helping her father expand his welding company — which she plans to one day take over.
“[At SJSU] I have discovered an interest in entrepreneurship, and I have plans to pursue other business opportunities because I now have the necessary building blocks to pursue my career goals,” expressed Romero.
After graduation, Gutierrez plans to pursue law school, so she can help those who can’t afford legal representation.
“To me, a degree has no worth if it is not used for the betterment of everyone,” said Gutierrez. “My mother taught me that it is important to care for all, not just for a few.”
Honoring academic success
This year, SJSU students proved not even a pandemic can dampen their dedication to their academic scholarship. More than 7,900 students earned Dean’s Scholars designations and over 2,700 were named President’s Scholars — the largest number for both groups in the university’s history.
On April 23, the university hosted its 59th Annual Honors Convocation ceremony to acknowledge those undergraduates who earned the distinction of President’s Scholars. The event was canceled in 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19 but resumed this year with a live-streamed virtual ceremony to commemorate these students’ achievements.
President Mary Papazian and Provost Vincent Del Casino served as hosts, with a keynote address by 2020-21 Outstanding Professor Lionel Cheruzel and congratulatory remarks from Associated Students’ Director of Sustainability Jocelyn Jones-Trammell, in addition to the Deans’ presentation of the honorees.
“Recognizing the academic success of San José State University’s top-performing students is always a delight,” said President Mary A. Papazian.
“The achievements of these scholars are an important indicator that they will make significant contributions to our society and serve as tomorrow’s civic, business and community leaders,” she added. “They are to be commended for their accomplishments and future promise.”