Tuesday, August 14, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 23

Santa Maria Sun / School Scene

The following article was posted on October 4th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 31 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 31

Santa Maria natives win prestigious California State University Trustees' Award


The California State University (CSU) system recently announced the recipients of the CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement, and of this year’s 23 statewide winners, two are Santa Maria natives.

Jeremiah Hernandez, 29, and Amanda Garcia, 30, were chosen above thousands of CSU students as recipients of the award, which is given to those who display superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service, and financial need. Both students were born and are still living in Santa Maria.

Santa Maria natives Jeremiah Hernandez and Amanda Garcia were two of just 23 California State University students chosen for its “highest recognition of student achievement.” According to the CSU’s website, chosen students display “inspirational resolve along the path to college success.”

Hernandez, who now attends Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, said he was stunned in June when he discovered he was an award recipient. As a non-traditional student and single parent living in Santa Maria, Hernandez said the road to success has felt, at times, peppered with potholes.

“It brought a lot of humility and excitement,” Hernandez said. “I’m just trying to be a positive example. It’s humbling because I know there are people out there doing more than me who aren’t getting recognized.”

Hernandez said he hopes to work as an educator after his graduation in the spring of 2018. His experience as an ethnic studies teaching assistant at Cal Poly helped inspire that choice.

“I would really like to get into the classroom,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said the award comes with a $6,000 scholarship, which winners have to uphold through credit load and grade point average. The lengthy application process for the award started in winter, and on Sept. 19, Hernandez attended the award ceremony, where he discovered another recipient from Santa Maria.

“When I found out Amanda was also from Santa Maria, that blew my mind,” Hernandez said, adding that the rhetoric surrounding Santa Maria and its residents has been less than flattering in recent years. “That’s a very big change from what people are saying on social media.”

Amanda Garcia, who lives in Santa Maria with her two children, commutes to Santa Barbara each day, where she attends an extended campus of CSU Channel Islands and completes nursing clinicals at Cottage Hospital. She hopes to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in nursing in May 2018.

The path there, she said, will be a lot easier with a $6,000 scholarship.

“I’m still kind of in shock over it,” Garcia said. “Only one person gets chosen from each school. I really honestly did not think I would get it. It just made me feel like all my work and everything I do is worth it.”

Garcia said the award ceremony was another amazing experience. She spent the whole day with the other recipients and brought her entire family to watch her accept the scholarship. Garcia said that when her father and boyfriend cried, she truly realized how important her win was to not only her family, but to other up-and-coming Santa Marians.

“Where we live, we don’t really have an opportunity to get a bachelor’s,” Garcia said. “But there are students and people getting out in the world and doing something good and getting a good education. For people to see someone who looks like them doing something good, I think that’s really cool.”

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