Stanislaus State senior Ciera Demi Soliz has overcome many financial hurdles in her life and as a recipient of this year’s California State University Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement, she is definitely showing no signs of slowing down.
As the CSU’s highest recognition of student achievement, this award is given to one student from each of the CSU’s 23 campuses who demonstrate superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service and financial needs.
“With all the financial needs I’ve had throughout my life, I wouldn’t be here without the help of scholarships like this,” said Soliz. ”“Receiving this award showed me that if I continue to strive hard and keep going in the face of hardship, it will ultimately pay off and everything is going to be okay in the end.”
Soliz said that although she received enough financial aid and scholarships to attend any college of her choosing after she graduated high school, the financial hardships she and her family were experiencing prompted her to attend a community college close to home instead.
“That relates to the reason why I got the award,” said Soliz. “Obviously community colleges are a lot cheaper and my family was going through a lot of financial difficulties at the time, so I decided to stay home and help them out.”
At Stanislaus State as a psychology major, Soliz keeps herself busy as the vice president of the Psi Chi Honor Society, where she participates in community service related to psychology, a volunteer research assistant and a teacher’s assistant. She also works as a behavioral technician at the Kendall Center in Tracy.
“Right now I’m a behavioral technician so I actually provide one-on-one therapy with children with autism spectrum disorder, whether it’s to help them learn to socially interact or do better in school,” said Soliz, “but I’d like to move up and get my master’s so I can become a behavior analyst.”
Soliz and this year’s other scholars were honored by the CSU Board of Trustees, CSU Foundation Board of Governors, faculty, students and staff Tuesday during the CSU Board of Trustees meeting.
“The accomplishments of these determined, bright and compassionate students are remarkable,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White. “These scholarships will help them go on to accomplish even greater things for their campuses, communities and California’s future.”
The program was originally established by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation as an endowed scholarship fund to honor William Randolph Hearst, founder of the Hearst newspaper chain. In 1999, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation partnered with the CSU Board of Trustees to supplement the endowment with contributions from CSU Trustees and private donors. Today, more than 120 donors have supported the program.
Since the program’s inception in 1984, more than 340 students have been honored with this award -- students who might have no have had the opportunity to attend college otherwise.
“This motivates students and awards them for everything that they’ve gone through,” said Soliz. “There were a lot of times I wanted to quit, but I didn’t. Hopefully this shows other people like me that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.”