California State University, Stanislaus honored the 2013-14 recipients of the Mary Stuart Rogers Scholarship on Friday, formally recognizing a group of 13 students who have demonstrated strong academic performance along with a commitment to personal growth and a desire to serve others.
More than 500 students - known as Rogers Scholars - have received the scholarship since its inception in 1991. The program awards scholarships of $3,000 to juniors and seniors and $3,500 to students in teaching credential programs at CSU Stanislaus.
Several of this year's Rogers Scholars have also overcome significant adversity before and during their academic journeys. Among them are:
• Vanessa Brazil, a mother of four who took 10 years off from college to provide for her family. Now in her senior year, she hopes to become a teacher and create a nonprofit writing and art therapy program for survivors and offenders of violence.
• Ruben Rodriguez, who worked for a local distribution company for 18 years before beginning his studies at Merced College in 2007, then transferred to CSU Stanislaus. After earning his credential, he plans to teach while pursuing a master's degree to become a school counselor.
• Christine Valenti, who endured several years in a dysfunctional foster home then in an abusive marriage before finding a new perspective on her life through child development and psychology courses at CSU Stanislaus. She plans to become an elementary school teacher, with a continuing focus on child development as well as school administration.
"Our scholars are here today not only because of their academic performance, but because of the passion that drives them," CSU Stanislaus President Joseph F. Sheley said during the luncheon. "These are students whose lives haven't necessarily been easy... They embody a positive attitude backed by purpose."
Since being founded by the late Mary Stuart Rogers, the scholarship program has awarded more than $2.9 million to CSU Stanislaus students. The Rogers family has been a strong supporter of CSU Stanislaus over the years, with gifts that include the $4 million Mary Stuart Rogers Educational Services Gateway Building and the $3 million John Stuart Rogers Faculty Development Center, where this year's students were honored.
This year's recipients are: Mirna Alcala, Hilmar; Vanessa Brazil, Modesto; Jamiee Cook, Modesto; Isaac Farhadian, Turlock; Annalisa Gallego, Escalon; Jacklyn Hawkins, Modesto; Evelyn Miramontes, Stockton; Salochna "Devi" Narayan, Modesto; Ana Orozco, Turlock; Kayla Reeder, West Point; Ruben Rodriguez, Merced; Jasdeep Takhar, Livingston; Christine Valenti, Turlock.