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Golden Eagle spirit pays off for students in many ways

Biochemistry major, theatre graduate student garner annual Raul Henderson Spirit Scholarships

Photo: (l-r) Samantha Cheng and Laura Cisneros.
L-r: Samantha Cheng and Laura Cisneros.

For abundant character, and oodles of Golden Eagle spirit, Cal State L.A. students Samantha Cheng and Laura Cisneros were recently awarded the annual Raul Henderson Spirit Scholarships during the University’s 2014 Homecoming Week for their campus and community involvement.

Each year, two compassionate students are awarded $500 each for outstanding scholarship, campus involvement, community service, and effective communication skills.

The scholarship is named after Raul Henderson, who served as a student organization adviser, Associated Students, Inc. (A.S.I.) elections counselor, and Homecoming adviser during his tenure. Henderson was a popular student mentor, known for helping many students maximize their potential.

In honor of his devotion to the campus community, the scholarships are awarded to students who best exemplify Henderson’s vision, spirit, and dedication to educationally meaningful activities.

Samantha Cheng
Cheng immigrated to the U.S. at 10 years old, and was admitted to Cal State L.A. through the Early Entrance Program at 14. An Honors College student, she is currently a senior in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

To help others, Cheng volunteers at the California Hospital Medical Center in downtown Los Angeles and for the Cal State L.A. chapter of Golden Key Honour Society.

“Joining the numerous volunteer efforts of Golden Key has greatly enriched my Cal State L.A. experience, and I’m truly grateful for it,” she said. “I started volunteering because I realized I am where I am through the help of different people, so I wanted to give back and to be there for others.”

With Golden Key, she has participated in the College Within Reach event at USC, which encourages foster children to attend college, and has assisted in providing balanced meals to the residents of Midnight Mission in L.A. during its “Make A Difference Day.”

As president of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Club in 2012-13, Cheng helped initiate the Terrific Scientific event on campus to motivate schoolchildren from Marengo Elementary to think about a future in science.

“Seeing the surprise on their faces when sugar carmelized and bubbled in front of their eyes, and the joy in their smiles when they made their own silly putty, is more rewarding than I can ever put in words,” shared Cheng, whose career goal is to become an anesthesiologist. “Volunteering isn’t always fun, convenient or exciting. However, one aspect remains constant is that I’ve always feel an indescribable feeling of peace as well as a sense of home in the midst of the Los Angeles community. All the people whose lives I’ve touched have also left their own imprints on mine.”

Laura Cisneros
Cisneros is an international student enrolled in the graduate theatre arts program at Cal State L.A. through a Fulbright grant. She is a performance artist who has been teaching theatre arts in her hometown of Chihuahua in Mexico. She has also conducted symposiums on acting and drama throughout Latin America, and performed at playhouses in New York and Los Angeles.

“To be a Mexican artist in Los Angeles can be tough,” she said. “I not only have to develop my creativity on stage, but also find strategies to engage with the community to perform in social theatre.”

Cisneros enrolled at Cal State L.A. due to its artistic and cultural connection to the city, and the combined theory and practice program. She was also attracted to the opportunity to perform on campus with multicultural casts, such as in the theatre productions of Bless Cricket, Tommy Tune and Crest Toothpaste, directed by Professor Pam Dunne, and My Voice No Longer Quivers, written and directed by Isabel Galan. Her goals are to further her theatre portfolio and to pursue a performance career in California.

She is also researching ways to develop an online student-to-student tool to better inform international students of financial resources and academic support available, and in the process of launching two new student organizations on campus, Fulbrighters & Internationals and International Short Films.

“Both organizations will share the common goal of empowering students, especially the ones from abroad, educating them about everyday topics and to help them succeed in their student life at Cal State L.A.,” she said.

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Last Update: 01/12/2016