Winning Combination

Trio Receive Awards for Outstanding Scholastics and Service

Three soon-to-be graduates in the humanities are being honored this year with President’s Associates Awards, among the top honors presented by Cal State Fullerton to graduating students.

Spanish major Stacy A. Kenworthy is the recipient of the Graduating Senior Scholastic Award; English major Henoc M. Preciado is the recipient of the Graduating Senior University Service Award; and American studies major Rahima Schwenkbeck is the Outstanding Graduate Student Award honoree. Each award is accompanied by $1,000.

Stacy A. Kenworthy

Kenworthy, 22, of Yorba Linda, is graduating magna cum laude. In the fall, she will begin her graduate studies at UC Santa Barbara, where she accepted a $20,000-a-year teaching assistantship. By the end of her fifth year, she expects to have completed her master’s and doctoral degrees in Hispanic linguistics.

On the Dean’s List since 2006, she is a member of multiple honor societies and has attended numerous conferences, where she presented papers on the importance of linguistics.

While she was ready to complete her bachelor’s degree last year, Kenworthy decided to delay her graduation date to take Portuguese classes and increase her chances of getting accepted at UC Santa Barbara. Her plan worked, thanks to Reyes Fidalgo, professor of modern languages and literatures, and Marcial Prado, emeritus professor of foreign languages and literatures, who advised her and have been among her favorite professors, Kenworthy said.

Besides English, Spanish and Portuguese, she also knows sign language. Her love of language was fueled, she said, by her Irvine High School Spanish teachers who made learning the language exciting.

“It really interests me to be able to communicate with other people and to learn and become more aware of other cultures,” she said. “We’re in a multidiverse society, and it’s important to share your opinions and get the opinions of others.”

Henoc M. Preciado

After turning down Columbia University and USC, Preciado, 23, of Norwalk, has accepted a full scholarship — $40,000 a year  — to pursue his master’s degree in higher education at Syracuse University in New York, in the fall.

“Ultimately, I hope to work in a setting where I would strive to work collaboratively with students and administrators to make the university a great learning environment,” he said, adding that he also plans to earn a doctorate.

Preciado immersed himself in student life on campus, serving as a leader on multiple committees and working with various programs throughout the university. He has been a member of the board of directors of Associated Students Inc., since 2008. He was appointed ASI’s vice president of finance last year and is completing his term this spring.

His service to the university also included serving as chair of the Instructionally Related Activities Committee, which spearheaded an effort to maintain funding to ensure the continuation of critical programs, such as the Daily Titan, Grand Central Art Center theatre and Titan Internet Radio.

As a Titan ambassador and peer mentor, Preciado helped teach a University 100 class for freshmen.

“I became really involved on campus after one of my close friends had heard that I had been corresponding with UC Berkeley with the intent to transfer as a sophomore three years ago,” he said. “I didn't feel that I was connected to CSUF, but he then guided me to different organizations on campus and encouraged me to apply for leadership positions. After that, the rest is history. ”

Erin Hollis, professor of English, comparative literature and linguistics, described Preciado as one of the best students she has ever taught, and called his award “well-deserved.”

“Over the course of his time here, I was impressed by his dedication to his studies and his service to the university,” she said. “His personality makes him a favorite among his peers and among the faculty in the English Department. I know he will succeed in the future because of his dedication and work ethic.”

Rahima Schwenkbeck

Schwenkbeck, 27, of Fullerton, turned down offers to pursue a doctorate at City University of New York and the University of Texas, in favor of George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

With a full scholarship, valued at more than $60,000 per year, she will begin her studies in American studies at GWU in the fall.

“I want to become a professor and work with the public in museums or other public institutions,” said Schwenkbeck, who has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and entrepreneurial management and a master’s degree in liberal studies from the University of Minnesota.

She arrived at Cal State Fullerton two years ago to pursue her second master’s degree and has since presented 10 different research papers about historical consumer culture at regional and national conferences. In addition, she has two part-time jobs — one on campus and the other off campus, teaching high school students. And, she volunteers as a docent at the Fullerton Museum Center while maintaining a 3.97 GPA.

“The American Studies Program here is phenomenal,” she said. “It really prepared me well. Looking back to when I got my first master’s degree, I wasn’t prepared for a doctoral program. I was rejected. But here, I got to choose from three offers. I am so thrilled about the future.”

Her professors can't help raving about her.

Schwenkbeck “is one of the most exciting graduate students I've had the opportunity to work with in my 30-year career at CSUF,” said Pamela L. Steinle, professor of American studies. “She is an extraordinarily talented scholar, writer and speaker of diverse interests.

“But, what is most striking about Rahima is her incredible persistence and her seemingly boundless energy, resulting in an impressive range of accomplishments,” Steinle added. “Whether it is scholarship, student leadership, community activism or just plain friendship, Rahima is a person who asks ‘how can I help?’ instead of ‘can I help?’ and then puts herself 100 percent into whatever she takes on. I am very confident that Rahima will succeed readily in her upcoming doctoral studies, and become a talented and highly productive scholar and professor in her own right in the near future.”

Added John Ibson, professor of American studies: “Rahima has a powerful concern for equity, a commitment to fairness that inspires and pervades her scholarship and her relationships alike. She has tremendous energy, both physical and intellectual, a fierce spirit that is never off-putting and is often quite inspiring. In my own nearly 39 years of highly rewarding teaching at Cal State Fullerton, I’ve known very few people — students or colleagues — as adept as Rahima is in multitasking, all the while performing consistently with excellence. Exceptional defines Rahima Schwenkbeck precisely.”

Schwenkbeck plans to research consumer trends, mass media, environmental issues and economics and how they relate.

“I want to know why people buy to excess,” she said. “I want to know about work consumption and leisure and how Americans choose to express themselves. … My goal, like I think everybody’s goal, is to ultimately make the world a better place, a kinder place, a more knowledgeable place.”

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