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Fourteen of CSUF’s ‘best and brightest’ students celebrate their upcoming graduation. Chosen as freshmen to become President’s Scholars, they were selected for their academic and leadership abilities, as well as community service activities. Photo by Jessica Elizabeth Photography

President's Scholars

'Best and Brightest' Students Make Their Mark at CSUF

Fourteen of Cal State Fullertonís highest achievers ó members of the Presidentís Scholars ó were among this spring's graduates.

Exceptional students from high school who competed to be named President’s Scholars, they continued to attain high marks for their academic work, leadership abilities and community service activities throughout their years of study on campus.

Members of the Class of 2010 President’s Scholars are:

  • Simon-Geoffrey Akl of Monrovia is graduating summa cum laude with a B.A. in health science, with minors in kinesiology and French. Akl is a Dean’s Scholar in the College of Health and Human Development. He is passionate about medicine, focusing on lifestyle choices and prevention care, and has been involved in community and on-campus activities involving children with special needs. He has volunteered at Fortanasce & Associates, a physical therapy and sports medicine center, and during his senior year, Akl interned for the university’s Employee Wellness Program. In the fall, he will attend Western University of Health Sciences to pursue a doctor of osteopathic medicine and plans to supplement it with a master’s in public health. He plans to continue his involvement with the community and university as an alumnus.
  • Pamela Azanza of Brea (hometown is Victorville) is completing a B.A. business administration with a concentration in accounting. She is graduating magna cum laude and completed the Business Honors Program. She served as president and vice president of the President’s Scholars Student Association, as well as volunteered for St. Jude Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Senior Smiles and Big Brothers Big Sisters Program of Orange County, where she hopes to continue her volunteer commitment after graduation. Azanza has served as a volunteer tax preparer in the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. This fall, she begins work as an auditor at Ernst & Young.
  • Alicia Bernard of Fullerton (hometown is Pine Valley) is graduating summa cum laude with a B.A. in health science and has made the Dean’s List throughout her education. She is the 2010 recipient of the President’s Associates University Service Award. Bernard is treasurer of the Peer Health University Network and the President’s Scholars Student Association, as well as historian of Eta Sigma Gamma, a health science student honor society. She also serves as a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and Flying Samaritans, volunteered at St. Joseph Hospital and is currently involved with the Clinical Care Extender Program at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian. She is an assessment team member for the Healthy for Life PE4Me program, sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Bernard plans to earn a master’s degree in nursing at Cal State Fullerton with the goal of becoming a nurse practitioner.
  • Catherine Dietrich of Fullerton (hometown is Santa Clara) is graduating summa cum laude with a B.A. in psychology. She has served as a teaching assistant for an introduction to dance class as a movement “interpreter” for blind students and for an animal behavior class. She has been a community volunteer with such organizations as FalconRidge Equine Rescue Inc., a humane equine organization, and Del Obispo Elementary School in San Juan Capistrano, where she teaches acting. Dietrich, with fellow artist Gary McCarver, recently published her first CD with songs honoring the historical town of San Juan Capistrano. In the fall, she will pursue a multiple subject teaching credential. She aspires to open an institute blending training in the visual and performing arts with nature and the sciences.
  • Maureen Fox of Brea is graduating summa cum laude, with bachelor’s degrees in English and communications with a concentration in journalism. Fox is the 2010 recipient of the President’s Associates Scholastic Award. As a member of the President’s Scholars Student Association, she served as social chair, Santa Scholars representative and secretary. In addition, Fox is a member of five honor societies, writes for the Daily Titan newspaper and served as design director for this spring’s issue of Tusk Magazine. She has worked as a student assistant in the Office of the Vice President for Administration and Finance, and during her junior year, studied at the University of Hull in England, where she wrote for the student magazine. Fox will return to Cal State Fullerton this fall to pursue a master’s degree in English and aspires to become an English professor.
  • Elizabeth Holcomb of Brea (hometown is Quartz Hill) is graduating summa cum laude with a B.A. in child and adolescent development and made the Dean’s List every semester while enrolled in the university. Involved in the Child and Adolescent Studies Student Association, as well as the Volunteer & Service Center, she volunteered at Orangewood Children’s Home and Pretend City Children’s Museum. She had several internships in local elementary schools during college and is a teacher’s aide at the CSUF Children’s Center. Holcomb plans to return in the fall to complete the combined multiple subject credential and master’s in education programs.
  • Laura Johnson of Fullerton (hometown is Apple Valley) will graduate summa cum laude with a B.A. in child and adolescent development. Having completed her studies in three years, she plans to return to her alma mater for the multiple subject credential program. Johnson looks forward to eventually inspiring her own class of third-grade students.
  • Carol Kresse of Yorba Linda is earning a bachelor’s degree in two majors — political science and business administration with a concentration in finance. Kresse, who has been involved in the Business Honors Program, will graduate magna cum laude and is focused on a career in the political and financial sectors. This spring, she served as president of the President’s Scholars Student Association, where she led community service events and served as vice president her junior year. Kresse also is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma and the Golden Key International Honour Society. She worked on various campaigns during college and currently works as a research assistant in the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics.
  • Stephanie Lee of Fullerton is graduating summa cum laude with a B.A. in psychology and minor in child and adolescent development and has been on the Dean’s List every semester while enrolled at the university. Her leadership experience has sparked an interest and passion for researching about leadership and motivation. She is currently a voluntary research assistant to Gerard Beenen, assistant professor of management. She has served as a small group and Bible study leader for the English College Ministry at Sa-Rang Community Church in Anaheim for two years and been involved in various community tutoring opportunities. Following graduation, Lee plans to gain more research experience before pursuing a doctorate in organizational behavior.
  • Carrie Liao of Claremont is graduating summa cum laude with a B.F.A. in art and a concentration in entertainment art/animation. Liao was secretary for the President’s Scholars Student Association and participated in the University Honors Program. She served as public relations/advertising officer for the Pencil Mileage Club, a campus group that provides networking and industry opportunities for art students. Liao recently completed a production internship at Nickelodeon Animation Studios, where she gained experience with the software and processes involved in television production. Liao plans to pursue work in the animation industry.
  • Stacie Lomibao of Fullerton (hometown is Palmdale) is graduating magna cum laude with a B.A. health science. Her interests are health promotion and disease prevention. She is an intern at the Student Health Center’s Health Education Department and has served as vice president of four campus organizations: Peer Health University Network, the health science honor society Eta Sigma Gamma, Golden Key International Honour Society and the President’s Scholars Student Association. Lomibao, who plans to become a nurse practitioner, was honored with the American Association for Health Education’s 2010 Outstanding Undergraduate Health Education Majors of the Year Award. She has been accepted to the university’s Minority Health Disparities International Research Training Program and this summer will conduct research focusing on air pollution and its public health effects on villagers in Thailand’s Chiang Mai region.
  • Christina Lovelace of Pomona will be a cum laude graduate with a bachelor’s degree in two majors, psychology and criminal justice. Lovelace plans to attend UCI next for her master’s degree in criminology, law and society. She has volunteered for various events, such as walks in support of multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Lovelace helped to assemble care packages for U.S. soldiers as a way to give back to the military men and women serving their country.
  • Elaine Cabel Ramos of Cerritos is graduating cum laude with a B.A. in biological science, concentration in biodiversity, ecology and conservation biology. She was a Southern California Ecosystems Research Program scholar and recipient of an Associated Students Inc. Research Grant and a Creative Activity Grant for her individual research. As a field biologist, she has completed research projects in the sand dunes of the Mojave Desert, streams of riparian woodlands, burned chaparral communities and intertidal zones of various beaches, and has presented at national conferences in Salt Lake City and Dallas. Ramos, who serves as veterinary chair of the Student Health Professions Association, also participated in the National Science Foundation-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, where she worked in the waters in Bristol Bay, Katmai National Park and the Yukon River. Ramos plans to earn a doctorate, as well as a doctor of veterinary medicine, to pursue a career in wildlife conservation biology.
  • Diane Schulz of Irvine is graduating summa cum laude with a B.F.A. in art with a concentration in entertainment art/animation, as well as minors in business administration and Japanese. Schulz has made the Dean’s List every semester at Cal State Fullerton, where she has been a member of the Pencil Mileage Club and helped produce many promotional displays for the campus community. She was employed at Graphic Services on campus and was an intern for the Animation Development Department at Nickelodeon Animation Studios. Schulz intends to pursue a career in animation as a layout designer, background painter or storyboard revisionist. Once she has practical field experience, she plans to pursue a master of fine arts in art so that she can guide aspiring artists in the same way that her professors have inspired her.

President’s Scholars Program

The President’s Scholars program, funded by the President’s Associates and other donors, began in 1979 with 10 scholars.

High school students who successfully compete and are admitted to the university as President’s Scholars receive a four-year scholarship that covers student fees, a book allowance, use of a laptop computer and other benefits. Scholars meet periodically with President Milton A. Gordon, must maintain a 3.5 grade point average, and contribute to university and community activities.

This fall, 68 students will be enrolled as President’s Scholars, including 10 incoming freshmen.

Media Contacts:
Deanna Merino Contino, Presidentís Scholars Program, 657-278-7418, 657-278-5494 or
Debra Cano Ramos, Public Affairs, 657-278-4027, 657-278-2414 or