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CSUF Alumni Honor Top Students, Top Achievers
Mona Mohammadi aims for a law degree and Cynthia Tran has her sights on an educational docorate.

Story by Mimi Ko Cruz

June 15, 2006 :: No. 257

Mona Mohammadi wants to earn a J.D. in international law and become secretary-general of the United Nations.

Cynthia Tran wants to earn an Ed.D. and produce a cookbook featuring healthy Asian meals with American flavor.

These ambitious women are two of Cal State Fullerton's top students who participated in commencement last month.

Mohammadi, CSUF's Associated Students president for 2005-06, and Tran are this year's recipients of the Alumni Association's Outstanding Senior and Outstanding Graduate awards, respectively. Mohammadi, 21, completed her bachelor's degree in political science and Tran, 26, completed her master's degree in kinesiology.

Mohammadi has accepted an eight-month fellowship at the state Capitol in Sacramento, starting in October. As part of the fellowship, which will pay her a $1,900 a month stipend, she will take courses on public policy at Sacramento State and work in the Capitol.

"My goal is to one day be secretary-general of the United Nations," said Mohammadi, who was born in Iran. "But first, I hope to go to law school. I'm interested in running for public office some day because I like advocating for people and causes such as keeping higher education accessible and affordable for everyone."

The Tustin resident immigrated to Canada with her family when she was 6 and then, three years later, to California.

"My cultural background gives me a global perspective on life," Mohammadi said. " I hope to one day come back to Cal State Fullerton and donate money so that other students will have the opportunity to experience everything I got to experience during my college years here."

Mohammadi was a President's Scholar since she became a CSUF student in 2002 and she maintained a 3.5 grade point average. Besides being a campus leader in student government, she helped professors organize the university's Constitution Day festivities and served as secretary of the student Model United Nations Club. She also served as the vice chair of external affairs of the California State Student Association and is a volunteer for the Boys and Girls Club of Fullerton and the Marjan Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises money for needy orphans in Iran.

"Mona is truly a remarkable young lady, a true leader on campus and in the community, and is a genuinely nice person," said Donald J. Matthewson, lecturer in political science. "She has a style and charm that is characteristic of great leaders. Her contributions to CSUF and the Cal State system cannot be overstated. She has a first-rate mind and is an outstanding scholar."

Tran, of Anaheim, who earned a teaching credential and a bachelor's degree from Cal State Fullerton in 2004, is planning to attend graduate school at the University of La Verne.

"I hope to work at the community college level, teaching about health and fitness, and do some coaching of women's tennis," said Tran, who has played tennis since she was a teenager and last month received the Female Athlete of the Year award from Fullerton College. "I love the idea of developing the whole person not only academically, but physically, socially and emotionally."

The youngest of nine children, Tran arrived in America on Christmas Eve in 1979, when she was 20 days old.

"I was born when my family was island hopping to come over here," she said. "All my siblings were born in Vietnam, where my Chinese parents lived for a long time."

Tran grew up speaking Mandarin, Cantonese, Teochow (a Chinese dialect) and Vietnamese and learned English in school. She learned French when she lived in France for a year five years ago.

Her aptitude for speaking six different languages aside, she has an appetite for healthy Chinese food and she wants others to share her enthusiasm, especially as the numbers of people who are obese in this country continues to grow.

"The American lifestyle is so fast-paced that people don't have time to make healthy meals and I want to publish a cookbook that blends good Eastern foods with American flavors," said Tran, who favors her mom's wonton soup. "The book would have recipes that are easy to make and that wouldn't take a lot of time to prepare."

As a CSUF grad student, Tran participated in a physical education program for elementary school children in Santa Ana and her thesis project relates to combating childhood obesity.

"Cynthia has established herself as a student leader in the field of kinesiology and is a credit to Cal State Fullerton," said Lee E. Brown, associate professor of kinesiology. "She examines the big picture as she goes about her educational and work duties... It is my opinion that Cynthia will continue to excel at whatever she chooses."


Media Contacts:

Donald J. Matthewson, Political Science, 657-278-3354 or
Lee E. Brown,  Kinesiology, 657-278-4605 or
Mimi Ko Cruz, Public Affairs,  657-278-7586 or

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Mona Mohammadi
Mona Mohammadi

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Cynthia Tran
Cynthia Tran

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