Celebrate 2014 Graduates and Support SJSU Alumni Association Scholarships

Quang Le, ’14 Civil Engineering

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

“I never thought I’d be here,” says Quang Le, ’14 Civil Engineering. Since transferring from an East Bay community college, Le has completed two internships and was elected SJSU chapter president for the Associated General Contractors of California. This year, he received the Alumni Association Dean’s Scholarship for the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering.

“At SJSU, there are lots of ups and downs,” says Le. Luckily, Spartans take care of each other. Supported by donations, the SJSU Alumni Association Scholarship is awarded to two outstanding students from each of SJSU’s colleges each year. Selected based on academic excellence and community service, these students exemplify the Spartan spirit: they use what powers them to impact SJSU, their communities and the world. “Receiving this scholarship gives me the motivation to keep going—academically and professionally.”

Now, along with becoming “the best project manager out there,” Le hopes to mentor students who will impact their communities with innovative ideas for a sustainable future. Down the line, he dreams of endowing a scholarship in his name for other students like him—students who, he says, “you’d never think could be engineers.”

“Success isn’t just about being successful yourself, but also helping others achieve success,” says Le. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for some mentors I’ve had. I’m thankful and I want to give back.”

Give $20.14 and vote for the program that the Senior Gift will fund!

The SJSU Alumni Scholarship Program is one of three options for this year’s Senior Gift. To make a gift and vote for this year’s program recipient, download the Senior Gift form [PDF] or contact Carolyn Canete in SJSU’s Office of Annual Giving at 408-924-1782.

1. SJSU Alumni Scholarship Program
2. Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)
3. The Student Emergency Fund

Celebrate 2014 Graduates and Support the Student Emergency Fund

Students affected by the San Bruno fire received a $500 grant from the Division of Student Affairs. (Flickr photo / smi23le)

Students affected by the San Bruno fire received a $500 grant from the Division of Student Affairs. (Flickr photo / smi23le)

“We receive many requests for help,” says Monica Garcia, assistant to the VP for Student Affairs. Garcia’s office oversees the SJSU Student Emergency Fund, which provides financial assistance when students need it most.

What can students do if their car is stolen, along with personal items inside, and they have no way to get to class or work? Or worse, what can they do if they’re in a car accident and need money for temporary transportation or uncovered medical expenses? The Emergency Fund provides monetary support for out-of-pocket expenses to students involved in unforeseen, emergency events or situations that affect their ability to function as a student.

“We fund as many requests as we can,” says Garcia, who names sudden catastrophes from severe illness to funeral travel as examples of funded appeals. “We’ve funded students who are currently homeless and living in a shelter or car, and victims of house fires that resulted in loss of clothing, books and, in one case, even a house.”

Students may apply for an Emergency Fund award for out-of-pocket expenses on a one-time basis for up to a maximum of $500; an application [PDF] can be found on the Student Affairs website.

Give $20.14 and vote for the program that the Senior Gift will fund!

The Student Emergency Fund is one of three options for this year’s Senior Gift. To make a gift and vote for this year’s program recipient, download the Senior Gift form [PDF] or contact Carolyn Canete in SJSU’s Office of Annual Giving at 408-924-1782.

1. SJSU Alumni Scholarship Program
2. Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)
3. The Student Emergency Fund

 

Daniel Harris Lucas speaks at the I AM EOP event.

Celebrate 2014 Graduates and Support EOP

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Photo: Brandon Chew, ’14 Photojournalism

“If you’re from a high-crime city and all you hear is that you’re not going to make it, know that it’s not true,” says Daniel Harris-Lucas, ’14 Public Relations. Harris-Lucas was raised in foster care in Oakland after his mother became addicted to drugs. Today, thanks in part to the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), a group designed to improve support of first-generation, low-income and historically disadvantaged students, he is about to graduate from San José State.

“EOP had a huge impact on me,” says Harris-Lucas, who was named SJSU’s first-ever African-American Homecoming King in fall 2013. “It’s a family. We support each other in major ways. When one of us wanted to drop out of school, everyone rallied around him. Last semester, my mom passed away, and my EOP family checked on me every day.”

From mentorship programs to career counseling, EOP provides enrichment opportunities as well as admission, academic, and financial assistance to help disempowered students find their power. “Without EOP I would have missed out on a lot,” says Harris-Lucas. “We have some tight bonds because we’ve been through a lot of the same things.”

As an EOP peer mentor himself, Harris-Lucas is committed to helping and advising other students. “If I help one person graduate, I’ve done something worthwhile,” says Harris-Lucas, who is applying to Georgetown University and Syracuse University for graduate school. “If people hadn’t helped me, I would not be where I am today,” says Harris-Lucas. “A gift to EOP goes a long way.”

Give $20.14 and vote for the program that the Senior Gift will fund!

EOP is one of three options for this year’s Senior Gift. To make a gift and vote for this year’s program recipient, download the Senior Gift form [PDF] or contact Carolyn Canete in SJSU’s Office of Annual Giving at 408-924-1782.

1. SJSU Alumni Scholarship Program
2. Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)
3. The Student Emergency Fund

The Power of Gratitude: Practicing Compassion

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

ThanhThuy Luu, ’13 Nutritional Science, ’16 MA Public Health

When donors help students achieve their goals, they are practicing compassion.”

Just three months after ThanhThuy Luu, ’13 Nutritional Science, ’16 MA Public Health, arrived in San Jose from Saigon, Vietnam, in 2008, she started her first semester at San Jose State. “I worked in the food industry in Vietnam and I burned out. I fell in love with nutrition,” says Luu. A first-generation college student, Luu already held a two-year degree in chemistry from a university in Vietnam when she decided to follow her heart into nutrition science.

In no time, she was excelling. In 2011, Luu was named a President’s Scholar, and this year she received an Alumni Association Dean’s Scholarship for the College of Applied Sciences and Arts. “It is financial support but, more importantly, it is great motivation,” she says. “I came here not long ago and it is great to be recognized. I feel accepted into the academic community.”

Now enrolled in the master’s in public health program, Luu’s goal is to work as a health educator with English- and Vietnamese-speaking adults and seniors and ultimately teach as a university professor. “I am grateful for the cultural diversity at San Jose State,” she says. “The traditions, beliefs and values here are from all over the world. I enjoy that because it helps me prepare for my career.”

“I grew up in a Buddhist family; compassion is what I was taught as a child,” says Luu, who was nine years old in 1975 when Saigon was captured by the North Vietnamese forces and her brother, a soldier fighting for South Vietnam, was imprisoned. “Public health is more than nutrition. My passion for public health is built on the compassion I have cultivated in my life. When donors help students achieve their goals, they are practicing compassion.”

View The Power of Gratitude series.

Power of Gratitude: A Winning Attitude

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

David Fales, ’13 Psychology

I’m so grateful for everything I’ve received here. It’s something I’ll remember forever. It’s been a great time.”

“If I hadn’t gotten a scholarship,” says David Fales, ’13 Psychology, “I probably wouldn’t be going to school here.” Which would be too bad for the Spartans. Since the quarterback came to San José State on a football scholarship in December 2011, he has become a single-season record holder in seven categories. In the 2012 season, Fales led the Spartans to an 11-2 record—throwing more than 4100 yards and 33 touchdowns with a pass completion rate of more than 72 percent—that culminated in a Military Bowl win and a move to the Mountain West Conference. Fales has not disappointed this season either: the Spartans are once again bowl-eligable following their last win, during which Fales threw for a school-record 547 yards and six touchdowns to spoil the Fresno Bulldogs’ perfect season.

“I always tell everybody that I don’t know what exactly I would be doing without the scholarship,” says Fales, who transferred from a junior college where he shouldered the cost of his education. “I’m very fortunate. Life is a lot easier now.”

Right now Fales is focused on football, but he has other plans in the works following his graduation in December. “I want to see how long I can play football and hopefully ride it out for a little bit longer. After that, I want to get involved in sports psychology.” Fales was first exposed to the profession during a brief semester at Wyoming. “They had a sports psychologist there and he really got me interested in working with teams.”

“I’m so grateful for everything I’ve received here,” says Fales. “Being with the football team, the different experiences we’ve had, the relationships I’ve built in the two years I’ve been here. It’s something I’ll remember forever, and the relationships I have now I’ll have for the rest of my life. It’s been a great time.”

View The Power of Gratitude series.

Power of Gratitude: Being Inspired

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

Gary Ortega, ’12, ’14 MA Jazz Studies

“Teaching challenges you to be a better person, for yourself and for others. Thank you to all of my teachers for keeping me inspired.”

“The music department is close-knit,” says Gary Ortega, ’12, ’14 MA Jazz Studies. “You are dependent on each other for ensembles; your music and your livelihood are reliant on it. It’s a community—a music family.”

Ortega has the opportunity to study, work and play with this family in part due to the Katherine Peterson Alumni Association Scholarship. Awarded on the basis of academic achievement, need and community service, this scholarship has allowed Ortega to say goodbye to the days of waiting tables so he can focus on more important things, like running his music lessons business, teaching instrumental music to third through eighth graders at St. Leo the Great School and staying involved with the nonprofit organization, San Jose Jazz.

“This award will be contributing to the success and completion of my master’s degree this spring with a lighter financial burden,” says Ortega, who is currently teaching jazz improvisation at SJSU. He plans to continue teaching to children and adults after he graduates. “Teaching challenges you to be a better person, for yourself and for others. And you get to help other people be better. Thank you to all of my teachers for keeping me inspired.”

The Power of Gratitude: Shooting High

Ta’Rea Cunnigan in uniform and basketball in-hand.

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

Ta’Rea Cunnigan, ’15 Psychology

Basketball is only temporary but the relationships you make with people can last a lifetime!”

Ta’Rea Cunnigan, ’15 Psychology, is known for her skills on the basketball court, where she’s been helping lead the Spartans to victory. But the 5’9” guard is far from being all brawn and no brains. She has made the most of her San Jose State Athletics scholarship, as a Dean’s Scholar, Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar, Capital One Academic All-District VIII honoree and Academic All-WAC honoree for two years running.

As a psychology major with a kinesiology minor, Cunnigan has big plans for her future. She is shooting for a career in sports psychology, working with children and collegiate athletes to help them develop the mental stamina to balance the demands of being a student-athlete. “Through my scholarship, I’ve had the chance to inspire and work with young girls who want to play collegiate sports and get a college education,” she says. “I understand and can help them reach success, not only in academics, but in their sport as well.”

“I am most grateful for the friends and relationships I have made while being at San Jose State,” says Cunnigan. “Basketball is only temporary but the relationships you make with people can last a lifetime!”

View The Power of Gratitude series.

The Power of Gratitude: Sharing Success

Quang Le, ’14 Civil Engineering

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

Quang Le, ’14 Civil Engineering

Success isn’t just about being successful yourself, but also helping others achieve success. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for some mentors I’ve had. I’m thankful, and I want to give back.”

“I never thought I’d be here,” says Quang Le, ’14 Civil Engineering. Since transferring from an East Bay community college, Le has completed two internships—with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and with The CORE Group construction company, where he served as lead estimator on a hospital project. This year, he was elected SJSU chapter president for the Associated General Contractors of California and he received the Alumni Association Dean’s Scholarship for the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering.

“At SJSU, there are lots of ups and downs,” says Le. “Receiving this scholarship gives me the motivation to keep going—academically and professionally. It gets hard.”

Le is quick to share the credit for his success. “A lot of people helped me out,” he says. Now, along with becoming “the best project manager out there,” Le hopes to mentor students who will impact their communities with innovative ideas for a sustainable future. Down the line, he dreams of endowing a scholarship in his name for other students like himself who, he says, “you’d never think could be engineers.”

“Success isn’t just about being successful yourself, but also helping others achieve success,” says Le. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for some mentors I’ve had. I’m thankful, and I want to give back.”

View The Power of Gratitude series.

The Power of Gratitude: Coming Home

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

Dylan Wondra,’13 Behavioral Science/Anthropology

“This scholarship does something extra to help soldiers coming home. It makes us feel appreciated.”

Two weeks after Sept. 11, 2001—on the day after his 17th birthday—Dylan Wondra, ’13 Behavioral Science/Anthropology, enlisted in the Navy. His heart filled with purpose and patriotic duty, he rose rapidly through the ranks as an airman, covering the globe by sea and land, and eventually, deciding to pursue a college education—something he never thought he’d do.

“To go from excelling at military life to being the lowest and the oldest student in remedial classes is incredibly difficult,” says Wondra. But a year into San Jose State, he was back at the top of his game. Newly married, he had just been recognized as a Dean’s Scholar in 2011 when he received word that he was to deploy—this time to Kuwait for 15 months. With his life “flipped upside down,” Wondra once again put his education on hold.

After returning to SJSU in spring 2013, Wondra received a veteran’s scholarship, funded by Cisco. “I believe that all student veterans deserve the scholarship money due to their unwavering dedication to the United States of America,” he says. With a pregnant wife at home, the scholarship was especially useful. “It’s so nice that there is a scholarship program just for veterans. Finding a job is the hardest part for vets,” says Wondra, who turned down a job in law enforcement to pursue new passions through education. “This scholarship does something extra to help soldiers coming home. It makes us feel appreciated.”

View The Power of Gratitude series.

Power of Gratitude: The Gift of Confidence

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

Klarence OuYang, ’13 Management Information Systems

I had mentors, and you realize later what a big impact they had on you. One day I hope to be able to contribute to the next generation of students.”

When Klarence OuYang, ’13 Management Information Systems, first read the description of the MIS major he thought, “It was like it was written for me.” He packed up his belongings and left San Diego for San Jose—but not without help.

“I wouldn’t have been able to afford school if it weren’t for scholarships and aid,” says OuYang, who has received the Danny Fortune Memorial Business Scholarship, the Friends of Jack Holland Business Scholarship, and the Alumni Association Dean’s Scholarship for the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business. “It has greatly lightened my financial burden, allowing me to concentrate on my coursework and stay active on campus.”

The benefits of receiving scholarships go even deeper for OuYang. “A big part of their impact is in terms of self-confidence. Even the act of writing the application essay is valuable for looking back and reflecting on your accomplishments,” he says. He also recognizes that support comes in more forms than money, and currently works in the Career Center and as a mentor for the Gary J. Sbona Honors Program. “I had mentors, and you realize later what a big impact they had on you. One day, I hope to be able to contribute to the next generation of students.”

The Power of Gratitude: Saved by the Music

Music major and Spartan, Jessica Nuygen

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

Jessica Nguyen, ’15 Music Education

Music saved my life. I could finally be myself with music; I could make my own path. It’s a special thing and I want to share it with others. I can’t be selfish and keep that gift to myself.”

Discipline, teamwork, fine motor skills, expression, a way to connect cross-culturally and without language—these are just some of the reasons why Jessica Nguyen, ’15 Music Education, believes her field is important. A recipient of this year’s Alumni Association Dean’s Scholarship in the College of Humanities and the Arts, Nguyen plans to pursue a career teaching band, choir and orchestra to elementary and middle school students. “I connect with the younger kids—plus I’m taller than them,” jokes the diminutive musician, singer and conductor.

Nguyen is a member of the Concert Choir, Marching Band, Symphonic Band, Jazz Band and the Choraliers, with whom she’s traveling to Europe in a few months for a concert tour—a dream come true. “Winning this scholarship made Europe possible,” she says with a wistful smile. “I’ll get to sing in the cathedrals where my favorite music was born! I’m so thankful.”

View The Power of Gratitude series.

Jordan Gonzales

Overcoming Odds to Earn His Degree

Jordan Gonzales

Jordan Gonzales, 2013-14 Trustee William Hauck Scholar (Christina Olivas photo)

For many years, Jordan Anthony Gonzales was having such a tough time battling dysautonomia, a malfunction of the autonomic nervous system, that he couldn’t leave home to go to school.

Now an SJSU student, Gonzales has received the California State University system’s highest honor for students who overcome incredible odds to attend college.

Gonzales has been named the 2013-14 Trustee William Hauck Scholar, one of 23 CSU Trustees Awards for Outstanding Achievement. He flew to the chancellor’s office in Long Beach on Sept. 24 to pick up the award and meet the other recipients.

While their commitment, drive and perseverance are extraordinary, these students are not unlike the thousands of students who look to the CSU each year for high-quality, accessible, affordable educational opportunities.

An art major minoring in psychology, Gonzales’ long-term plans include earning a master’s in art therapy so he can help people use artistic expression as a way to deal with grief and loss.

“Combining art with psychology allows me to share my experiences and reach out to others,” he said.

Gonzales also helps raise funds for the Make-a-Wish Foundation and he has served two terms on the Youth Commission for the city of Sacramento.

William Hauck, who graduated from SJSU in 1963 with a bachelor’s in social studies, endowed the scholarship in 2010. The endowment now provides $3,000 annually.

Hauck has served as deputy chief of staff to Governor Pete Wilson and chief of staff to Assembly speakers Bob Morretti and Willie L. Brown, Jr. At SJSU, Hauck was student body president.

Alumni Association Scholarships

Meet the students who will receive more than $90,000 in scholarships this year from the SJSU Alumni Association.

“I’m grateful to the alumni who support the scholarship program as members and donors. The awards have a transformational impact on the lives of San Jose State students,” said Brian Bates, Alumni Association executive director.

Recipients will be recognized at a reception 4 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library. The Alumni Association has provided scholarships to SJSU students since 1974.

Learn more about the scholarship program. 

Alumni Association Scholarships

Brenda Vasquez received the Starek Family Scholarship (Alumni Association photo).

Living Legacies

Included this year are the inaugural recipients of the Gerald M. Starek Family Alumni Association Scholarship and the Alan and Phyllis Simpkins Alumni Leadership Award.  All told, 42 students will benefit from the support of these awards.

Brenda Vasquez, a transfer student from Cabrillo College, plans to focus her studies in corporate financial management.  She received the Starek Family Scholarship, which is designated for students studying accounting and finance. The $7,500 award is renewable for up to four years.

Jolene Hom, a freshman from Millbrae, is the recipient of the Simpkins Leadership Award. The award was created by the Alumni Association Board of Directors to honor the extraordinary legacy of Alan and Phyllis Simpkins. The $5,000 one-time award goes to an incoming freshman that exhibits tremendous leadership qualities.

Alumni Association Scholarships

Jolene Hom received the Simpkins Leadership Award (Alumni Association photo).

Across the campus, the Alumni Association provides the dean in each college the opportunity to select two recipients for a $3,000 one-time award.

Special Programs

The association’s Santa Cruz Area Chapter provides $20,000 in support to students who come to SJSU from Santa Cruz County high schools or transfer from Cabrillo College. The association has partnered with the San Jose Woman’s Club to recognize their three recipients, as well.

The association also sponsors a student’s participation in the university’s Salzburg Program, which includes an intensive week of study at the Salzburg Global Seminar in Germany and projects on campus that help San Jose State’s diverse constituencies–faculty, staff, administrators and students–become better global citizens.