California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) student Lita Melissa Cahuana of Whittier will receive the California State University (CSU) Foundation Board of Governor’s Scholarship. She will be honored at the Sept. 9 CSU Board of Trustees meeting.
“I truly believe even just a small amount of peer guidance can go a long way,” she said after being notified of the award.
One student from each of the 23 CSU campuses annually receive one of these CSU Trustees’ Awards, which are among the highest student distinctions within the CSU with each recipient demonstrating superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service and financial need. Each Trustees Award is accompanied by a scholarship of $6,000 to $12,000.
“The compelling life stories of these extraordinary student scholars are a testament to the transformative power of public higher education,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White. “Through the generous support of our donors, many of whom are first-time contributors to the Trustees’ Award program, we are able to help these scholars create a bright and successful future.”
Cahuana with and her family migrated from Peru to the United States in the pursuit of the American Dream. The struggles her family experienced due to their low socio-economic status instilled a passion in her to pursue higher education in the hopes of being able to provide a better future.
She is a first-generation CSULB senior majoring in chemical engineering with minors in environmental engineering and chemistry. Serving as vice president for Society of Women Engineers, Cahuana has conducted the annual outreach program, Women Engineers at The Beach, which encourages young girls from various backgrounds to strive for careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. As a CSULB President’s Scholar and Hispanic Serving Institution STEM Peer Mentor, she has led campus tours, volunteered for the Long Beach Homeless Drop-In Center and tutored students in subjects ranging from calculus to organic chemistry.
Having worked as a process engineering intern for Tesoro Corporation, Cahuana plans to pursue a career in the same field with a focus in energy research and obtain an MBA.
In 2011, the CSU Foundation board committed to enhancing the value of the CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement. Board Chair Ronald R. Barhorst generously stepped forward to inaugurate the effort with sponsorship of a $6,000 CSU Foundation Board of Governors’ Scholar. The scholar exemplifies significant achievement both academically and in service to community.
Through donor support, this scholarship program gives students who have faced educational barriers a chance to pursue a college degree, and use their life experience and classroom knowledge to affect social change in the world. The Trustees’ Award program began nearly three decades ago with scholarships endowed by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. More than 250 scholarships have been awarded since the William Randolph Hearst Foundation initiated its endowment in 1984 to help high achieving students who have overcome adversity. Past honorees have gone on to attend prestigious graduate programs and even to serve on the CSU Board of Trustees. CSU Trustees’ Scholars are nominated by their respective campus presidents and are selected for designated awards by a committee formed by the CSU Foundation.