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Awards and Honors

Overcoming Life’s Challenges,
Six Guardian Scholars to Graduate


May 28, 2004 :: No. 268

They are motivated to better their lives and, more significantly, the lives of others. The future aspirations of six graduating Guardian Scholars include homicide detective, giving back to foster youth, clinical psychology and business management.

Cal State Fullerton’s Guardian Scholars program goes beyond awarding a scholarship, acknowledging 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 2004, which celebrates commencement May 29-30, are:

Latisha Boyd, who will receive her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. The Fullerton resident currently works as a cadet for the Anaheim Police Department and will become a law enforcement officer upon graduation. This fall, she begins her graduate studies in criminal justice at Cal State Long Beach and will continue working toward her goal of becoming a homicide detective. She held several key leadership positions in the Guardian Scholars, including serving as student representative for the group’s advisory board.

Valerie Gamez, also of Fullerton, who has made significant contributions to the Guardian Scholars program and the university, including organizing and hosting the first Guardian Scholars Thanksgiving dinner and serving on the Titan Student Union Governing Board. As a public information officer for the Center for Demographic Research, she was instrumental in disseminating data and reports to public and private entities throughout Orange County. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in psychology, Gamez hopes to earn her master’s in the same major and work in the nonprofit sector.

Lakewood resident Jayette Hightower, who, in addition to graduating with a bachelor’s in communicative disorders, also will receive her American Sign Language certificate and speech language pathologist assistance license through the state of California. For the last four years, she was a peer mentor/counselor for the Orangewood Children’s Foundation and is now an independent living coordinator for the organization.

Angela Leon, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in the double major of psychology and human services. The Corona resident is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and is on the National Dean’s List. As a Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Scholar, Leon is working with Howard Wang, associate vice president for student affairs, on a questionnaire to predict achievement. She is a member of the California Youth Connection, Human Services Student Association and Psychology Department Student Association. She plans to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology.

Susan Kamiunten Lewis, also graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Another McNair Scholar, the Lake Forest resident conducted undergraduate research on the predictive correlations of emotional intelligence and transformational leadership within organizations. For the past year, she has been vice president of the Rotaract International Club of CSUF and is a member of the Phi Eta Sigma and Psi Chi honor societies. She graduates with honors and plans to go into business management and on to graduate school to obtain a doctorate.

Fullerton resident Candace Newman, who will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in communications and minor in women’s studies. Throughout her years at CSUF, she has committed herself to several student organizations and projects in the community — addressing the needs of low-income students aiming toward higher education. Her plans are to earn a master’s degree in communications and serve her community.

In addition to providing funds, the Guardian Scholars program offers assistance in navigating campus life in and outside the classroom, on-campus housing and employment opportunities, counseling, peer and faculty mentoring programs, financial aid application assistance and enrollment in the university’s Fullerton First Year program.

Since its inception in 1998, and believed to be the first program of its kind in California, Guardian Scholars has served as a model for other institutions that have created similar programs to serve foster youth.

Media Contacts: Jenny Mohr, director of guardian scholars, 657-278-4900
or jmohr@fullerton.edu
Gail Matsunaga, Public Affairs, 657-278-4851
or gmatsunaga@fullerton.edu


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Latisha Boyd
Latisha Boyd
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Valerie Gamez
Valerie Gamez
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Jayette Hightower
Jayette Hightower
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Angela Leon
Angela Leon
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Susan Lewis
Susan Kamiunten Lewis
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Candace Newman
Candace Newman
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