News Release| President's Scholars; Cal State L.A.

Note to editors and news directors: To arrange interviews or request for photos, call the Cal State L.A. Public Affairs Office in advance at (323) 343-3050.

Biology, Japanese majors to graduate with President’s Scholar distinction

Almanza, Hernandez to march at Cal State L.A.’s Commencement June 11

Los Angeles, CA – With their sights set on becoming a criminalist and a teacher, two Cal State L.A. students—both graduating with distinction as President’s Scholars—look to a bright future as they receive their diplomas on Saturday, June 11.

Selected when they were freshmen to become President’s Scholars based upon their excellent high school academic records, Melissa Almanza (Alhambra resident) and Rina Hernandez (Paramount resident) received scholarships, $5,000 per year renewable for four years, to attend Cal State L.A.

Rina Hernandez

Hernandez, who graduated from Mayfair High School in Lakewood in 2007, is currently working in a microbiology research lab at CSULA and is a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s civilian volunteer in the biology section of the crime lab on campus. Under the direction of Professor Howard Xu, she has conducted research on antibiotics and bacterial resistance. She also helped launch the BioSecurity Club at CSULA this spring. She is a recipient of an AmeriCorps/National Services award, which recognized Hernandez for volunteering at an after-school program in Bellflower. Despite her busy schedule, she tries to find time to play puzzles and pictograms. After completing her bachelor’s degree in biology, she will begin the master’s degree in criminalistics program at CSULA this coming fall.

Hernandez shared, “I hope to eventually be hired as a criminalist, working in crime scene reconstruction and specializing in forensic serology and DNA analysis. I am grateful for having received the President’s Scholarship and the opportunities the University has given me. What amazes me most is the dedication of the faculty to their students and their research.”

Melissa Almanza

Almanza, who started her academic career at CSULA in 2006, is a Japanese major with a minor in English. Her appreciation for the Japanese language and culture stemmed from her interest in Japanese anime at a young age. After graduation, her goal is to become an Assistant Language Teacher of English in Japan. At San Gabriel Mission High School, she was secretary and president of the Asian Club. She also participated in the Conservatory of Music, playing flute and piano. Here, at CSULA, she is an active member of the President’s Scholars Club and has served as treasurer of the Students Going Global organization. A Dean’s List student, she is also a CSULA ambassador for the University’s Admissions and Recruitment, visiting Gabrielino and Bishop Amati high schools three days per week.

Although Almanza looks forward to whatever the future brings, she said, “It’s hard to leave the school that has brought so many good memories these past five years.” 

Marching at CSULA’s Commencement ceremony, Almanza will be receiving her bachelor’s degree in Japanese, while Hernandez will be receiving her bachelor’s degree in biology.

#  #  #

Working for Californiaia since 1947: The 175-acre hilltop campus of California State University, Los Angeles is at the heart of a major metropolitan city, just five miles from Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center. More than 20,000 students and 215,000 alumni—with a wide variety of interests, ages and backgrounds—reflect the city’s dynamic mix of populations. Six Colleges offer nationally recognized science, arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and humanities programs, among others, led by an award-winning faculty. Cal State L.A. is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Jazz Orchestra and to the Honors College for high-achieving students, opening in fall 2011. Programs that provide exciting enrichment opportunities to students and community include an NEH-supported humanities center; a NASA-funded center for space research; and a growing forensic science program, housed in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.