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Seven Guardian Scholars to Graduate With Class of 2006
Overcoming life's greatest challenges, seven Guardian Scholars will graduate with the Class of 2006.

May 19, 2006 :: No. 251

They have overcome some of life’s greatest challenges and, with commencement just ahead, will achieve one of their greatest goals. Motivated to bettering their lives, seven Guardian Scholars will graduate with the Class of 2006.

Established in 1998, the Guardian Scholars program is more than just a scholarship; it acknowledges the accomplishments of students who have left the foster care system, were wards of the court or come from similar backgrounds. Lacking even basic resources during the transition to adulthood, they are willing but not yet able to help themselves fully — often struggling without families and the financial, emotional and psychological safety nets that their classmates rely on.

Graduating with the Class of 2006 are:

  • Melissa Gaston of Fullerton, bachelor of science in human services. Gaston was a founding member of Rotoract, an on-campus Rotary Service Club, and Guardian Scholars Student Advisory Board. Her community service includes peer mentoring for the Orangewood Children's Foundation and chairman of the Orange County chapter of California Youth Connection, where she assisted current foster youth through legislative advocacy. She has participated in several statewide training projects addressing the need for assisting foster youth once they age out of the system. Gaston hopes to pursue her master's degree in social work and continue working in the foster youth population.
  • Robyn Harney of Placentia, bachelor of arts in communications with a concentration in public relations. Harney was inducted into the honor societies Kappa Tau Alpha and Golden Key. She is the first Guardian Scholar to graduate magna cum laude. She was a student representative on the Guardian Scholars Advisory Board and a founding member of the Guardian Scholars Student Advisory Board. In addition, Harney was selected as the Class of 2006 commencement speaker for the College of Communications.
  • Danielle Hunt of Riverside, bachelor's degree with a double major in English and women's studies. As vice president for the Women's Studies Student Association, Hunt was instrumental in organizing events that encouraged student activism, such as "Confessions of Women From East L.A.," "Elevator Insurgency," "Take Back the Night," "Arm Wrestle a Feminist" and the "Clothes Line Project." She will be a student speaker at the May 27 commencement exercise for women's studies majors in the Ruby Gerontology Center's Mackey Auditorium. In addition to her on-campus work, she served as a peer mentor for the Orangewood Children's Foundation and the university's Freshman Programs. She has made the dean's list every semester. After graduation, she plans to serve in the Peace Corps in South Africa, where she will teach English and work with a women's group to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. Hunt is interested in eventually teaching at a community college.
  • Deserea Legate of Fullerton, bachelor of arts in psychology. One of Legate's most rewarding experiences at CSUF was developing her life story on CD at the Digital Storytelling workshop in Berkeley. After graduation, she plans to work in human resources. Her long-term goal is to pursue a master's degree in counseling and become a marriage and family therapist.
  • LaTangia Oliver of Fullerton, bachelor of arts in communications with a concentration in journalism. Oliver is a founding member of the Cal State Fullerton chapter of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority and competed on the women's track and field team for more than two years. After graduation, she plans to join the management team at Hertz Rent a Car.
  • Monique Torrez of Fullerton, bachelor of arts in criminal justice. Torrez has served in numerous leadership positions in the Guardian Scholars program. In addition, she is a peer mentor for the Independent Living Program at Orangewood Children's Foundation. Her fondest college memory was participating in the Digital Storytelling workshop. Torrez plans to work in the banking industry after graduation.
  • Gina Vong of Fullerton, bachelor degree with a double major in criminal justice and human services. Vong was active in the Human Services Group Leadership Program, where she served as group leader in the "Character and Conflict" course. At Orangewood Children's Foundation, she was involved with the Peer Mentoring Program and assisted current and former foster youth in the Peer Health Network - providing case management services for youth in crisis. Last December, Vong received the John R. Wooden Spirit of Giving Award at the John R. Wooden Classic for her contributions as an outstanding volunteer. She begins her graduate studies in social work at USC this fall and plans to work in the criminal justice system.
Media Contacts:

Jenny Vinopal, director of Guardian Scholars,
657-278-4900 or jvinopal@fullerton.edu
Gail Matsunaga, Public Affairs, 657-278-4851 or gmatsunaga@fullerton.edu


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Melissa Gaston
Melissa Gaston

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Robyn Harney
Robyn Harney

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Danielle Hunt
Danielle Hunt

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Deserea Legate
Deserea Legate

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LaTangia Oliver
LaTangia Oliver

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Monique Torrez
Monique Torrez

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Gina Vong
Gina Vong

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