Presidential Awards Highlight ‘Outstanding’ CSUDH Students, Faculty and Staff

Academic excellence, extraordinary perseverance and outstanding service to the community—these are just a few ways to describe the students, faculty and staff honored at the fourth annual President’s Student Leadership and Service Awards at California State University, Dominguez Hills on April 29.

In front of a packed Loker Student Union ballroom with more than 200 students, faculty, staff and family members, 159 nominees were celebrated for their work in enhancing the lives of people both on and off campus and in their local communities.

“We have many challenges on this campus, but we have people willing to take them on,” said University President Willie J. Hagan, adding that we could have all the resources, intelligence and technology in the world, but “without leadership, more often than not, we are doomed to failure.”

Hagan went on to say that the nominees embodied the spirit of true leadership and it was imperative to laud their work. “We need to recognize and reinforce our young leaders, the faculty, advisors and others who guide and mentor,” he said. “They are our leaders with integrity.”

The following are the award recipients for 2014:

Presidential Outstanding Student Award:

Honoring a student who has demonstrated academic achievement and exemplary service in community leadership.

Presidents Student Leadershio and Service awards 2014Mario Castillo, graduating senior, anthropology

Mario successfully progressed from being a second language learner who moved to the U.S. as a child into a gifted anthropologist and researcher. He graduates this spring and has been accepted into Ph.D. programs in anthropology at UC Berkeley and The University of Pennsylvania’s. Also a McNair Scholar, he was awarded first place in his division at the 2014 CSUDH Student Research Day.

“This award means a lot,” said Castillo, who emphasized that the university’s mission to serve the community had a big part in shaping his career path. “This university offers a lot of opportunities for students who want to be involved in the community. You just have to make that effort.”

Presidents Student Leadershio and Service awards 2014Amanda Reyes, graduate student, English

Amanda has maintained a near-perfect GPA while at CSUDH and been a catalyst for new programs on campus. She worked with fellow graduate students to revitalize the English Graduate Association, which hosted the English department’s first conference, The English Language Conference, while also offering study group sessions, creative writing workshops and pedagogical workshops for future instructors.  Furthermore, Reyes is the chief editor of Enjambed, a university literary magazine. Off campus, she has been involved in events that include several community service activities such as: Reading to Kids, Disaster Donations to the Philippines, and Operation Happy Child.

“To be recognized like this, I’m just really honored,” Reyes said. “It’s a really nice cherry on top, since I’ll be graduating in the next few weeks.”

Presidents Student Leadershio and Service awards 2014Juan De La Cruz Mayhua, graduating senior, cellular and molecular biology

Juan volunteered for two years as a clinical care extender, where he spent his time providing patients with Spanish translation, transporting patients and assisting nurses by performing numerous life-saving tasks. At the beginning of his senior year, he became part of two research projects at Charles Drew University of Medicine. He now spends his volunteer time working with obese Hispanic patients enhancing their knowledge and education about the complication of being obese.

Presidents Student Leadershio and Service awards 2014Melissa Johnson, graduate student, Master’s Entry Level for Professional Nursing (MEPN)

The co-president of one of the largest student organizations on campus, the Nursing Student Organization, Melissa meets with faculty, manages the budget, serves as a representative for the organization, serves as the liaison between the department administration and students, and collaborates with board members to develop and coordinate community service activities and events.

She also serves on the MEPN students’ Leadership Council, as a mentor to junior nursing students. She co-founded a new chapter of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), where CSUDH students in various healthcare fields can collaborate on ways to take an active role as change agents, to improve the community and system in which they work.

Presidential Award for Personal Perseverance:

Honoring a graduating senior who has overcome academic, social, and/or personal adversity and yet persevered toward earning a degree.

Presidents Student Leadershio and Service awards 2014Andre Green, senior, human services

Green has worked in the Disabled Student Services office as a student intern and student assistant for the past 20 months, while maintaining a full unit load. Green has been active in various CSUDH leadership opportunities and speaks regarding his challenges to different groups such as Boys to Men and PATH homeless assistance programs, the Braille Institute and the Maranatha Community Church. Most recently, he was asked to speak at the Overcoming Life’s Obstacles & Achieving Success Symposium.

“It doesn’t hit you until it actually happens,” Green said as he was congratulated by his ecstatic family and friends. “I’m just so honored by it.”


Presidents Student Leadershio and Service awards 2014Kellie Anderson, senior, psychology

Kellie Anderson has gone through a very difficult personal journey but managed to maintain a perfect grade point average while in school, and is a recipient of the CSUDH Presidential Scholarship, the university premier academic scholarship. Anderson is now a certified drug and alcohol counselor and currently working as the head women’s counselor at a treatment facility in Long Beach. She is committed to using her personal experience to make a difference.

Presidents Student Leadershio and Service awards 2014Curbin Pitts, graduating senior, business administration

At one point, Curbin Pitts rode the bus for two hours to attend school. It was through his own perseverance however, that he evolved to be a voice for CSUDH students, as Associated Students, Inc., vice president of Academic Affairs, where he is now responsible for representing over 14,000 students on campus.

Presidential Award for Advisor of the Year:

This award is to honor a club/organization advisor who has demonstrated outstanding support and personal commitment to a student organization.

Juan Holguin, Associate Professor of Marketing and advisor for the American Marketing Association was awarded for his constant encouragement and real-world approach to communication.

Presidential Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement:

Honoring a student organization that has demonstrated exemplary service to the CSUDH community.

As a group, Pi Theta Epsilon, a national occupational therapy honor society, has the highest GPA for any organization on this campus with a cumulative GPA of 3.931. The organization has demonstrated professionalism and represented CSUDH at the national level at various occupational therapy conventions. In addition, several members won first place in their categories for the CSUDH Student Research Day.

Presidential Award for Outstanding Program:

Honoring a student organization that has planned and implemented an outstanding community service program (off campus) or planned and implemented an on-campus event which substantially contributed to the quality of student life.

The Chicano Studies Cub was honored for its Dia De Los Muertos program. The group worked tirelessly with the Multicultural Center, Lambda Theta Phi, the Anthropology Club, Hermanas Unidas, the Modern Languages department and the Division of World Cultural Studies to revamp the program this year. Their efforts brought together a processional led by a traditional Danza Azteca group playing traditional drumming and spiritual chants. In collaboration with two Chicano studies courses, the club created individual sized altaras to display throughout the event. Students from these classes volunteered their time for two weeks prior to the event to help create paper flowers and traditional calacas (skeletons) to adorn the program.

Presidential Award for Outstanding Student Organization:

Honoring a student organization that has demonstrated extraordinary leadership.

Male Success Alliance was honored with the award for its tireless service to young men of color. The group serves over 150 young men at CSUDH, with members attending monthly meetings, mentoring at-risk youth and developing professional networking and leadership skills.

Marilyn Brady Award for Distinguished Service:

This award honors and celebrates the life and legacy of CSUDH alumna and long-term staff Marilyn Brady. This award recognizes a faculty member or staff member for his or her exemplary dedication to students.  

Presidents Student Leadershio and Service awards 2014Lui Amador, associate director at the Office of Student Life

Amador has spent over 12 years on the campus growing and developing Student Life, especially focused on Multicultural Center, International Student Services, and Veteran Student Programs.

Presidential Award for Innovation In Leadership:

Honoring a student for innovative ideas in the academic field, community and campus.

Presidents Student Leadershio and Service awards 2014Rebecca Garibay, senior, art: design

Garibay volunteered to help organize the Disabled Student Services’ (DSS) 40th Year Anniversary, working with DSS staff to develop the theme, Rolling Out the Red Carpet, creat a new DSS emblem, and develop a keepsake poster celebrating the DSS office and its students.

Presidents Student Leadershio and Service awards 2014Amanda Reyes, graduate student, English

Reyes, who also won the Outstanding Student Award, embedded a multi-modal approach into composition course material, a novel teaching model that incorporates composition elements beyond text (video, pictures and art).  She is also the founder of the English Graduate Association (EGA), where she started the first-ever English department conference (English Language Conference) and is the chief editor of Enjambed Literary Magazine.

The awards celebration was sponsored by inauguration presenting sponsor LA Galaxy, the Office of Student Life, the Division of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, the Loker Student Union and CSUDH Associated Students, Inc.

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