4 CSULB Students Selected Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholars

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Four Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) students have been named Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholars for the 2012-13 academic year.  The one-time award includes $3,000 in funding support, which each scholar will use for specific activities that will help him or her become strong candidates for doctoral programs.

Designed to increase the number of potential college faculty, the pre-doctoral program supports the doctoral aspirations of California State University (CSU) students who have experienced economic and educational disadvantages.  The program places a special emphasis on increasing the number of CSU students who enter doctoral programs at University of California (UC) campuses with the goal of students returning to a CSU campus as a new faculty member.

This year’s Sally Casanova Scholars from CSULB and their intended discipline of study include Maria Carreras (history), Alvaro Luna (comparative literature), Erica Navarro (educational leadership) and Jiun Shen (psychology).  Paola Soler (cultural anthropology) was an honorable-mention selection.

In all, there were 247 applications for the 2012-13 pre-doctoral awards, and the four CSULB awardees were among 72 selected for the honor.  Students were selected by a committee of faculty from the CSU and UC, and those chosen are designated Sally Casanova Scholars as a tribute to Casanova, a CSU administrator who died in 1994.

“I was both shocked and excited when I learned I had been selected for the program,” said Carreras, a Long Beach resident and 2006 graduate of Millikan High School.  “I was shocked because I could not believe that I was one of the selected few who had been chosen from such a large pool of qualified student scholars.  But at the same time, I was excited because I know that this will be such an amazing opportunity and experience in preparation for a doctoral program.”

Each scholar works closely with a faculty sponsor to develop an overall plan leading to enrollment in a doctoral program that is tailored to the student’s individual career and educational goals.

CSULB faculty working with this year’s Casanova Scholars will be: Carreras—Caitlin  Murdock, associate professor of history; Luna—Alicia del Campo, associate professor of Romance, German, Russian Languages and Literature; Navarro—Beverly Booker, assistant professor of advanced studies in education and counseling; Shen—Guido Urizar, Jr., associate professor of psychology; and Soler—Jayne Howell, professor of anthropology.

“We are certainly proud of these students and their selection as pre-doctoral scholars,” said Cecile Lindsay, vice provost for academic affairs and dean of graduate studies.  “They deserve to be part of this unique opportunity and receive the guidance and financial help that many students need in preparing for and applying to doctoral programs.  Our hope is that when they complete their degrees, they return to The Beach or another CSU campus to teach.”

Some of the activities the scholars will be involved with, which are specified in the plan and undertaken during the award year, include preparing graduate school applications and visits, and attending professional conferences.  Other activities include summer research internship programs at doctoral-granting institutions, travel to national symposia or professional meetings in their chosen field, as well as membership in professional organizations.

Carreras, who earned her bachelor’s degree in history from CSULB in 2010 and expects to finish her graduate studies next May, said she has always had an interest in earning a doctorate degree, but there were two experiences as an undergraduate at CSULB that further reinforced her ambition to earn a doctorate and become a professor.

The first came as she sat in her upper-division history courses.  She said she repeatedly found herself asking further questions that could not solely be answered in a single assignment or realized that there was minimal to no scholarly research in certain areas of history that she was interested in.  That was when her ambition to conduct further research and earn a doctorate grew.

“The second experience that inspired me to pursue a doctorate degree and become a college professor relates to my previous job as a supplemental instructor (SI Leader), where I created activities and guided a group of approximately 15 to 20 students on history-related course content,” Carreras recalled.  “I was assigned to groups of students in my Beach Learning Community, to serve students who had entered the university required to enroll in remedial English and math courses in their first year as part of their curriculum.

“Some of these first generation, disadvantaged students in the BLC program had transferred from secondary schools that did not promote nor encourage higher education,” she added.  “As I had aspirations to pursue a doctorate and serve as a college or university faculty prior to working as a supplemental instructor, this position further reinforced my interest in and preparation for doctorate study.”

Now in its 23nd year, the California Pre-Doctoral Program has had more than 1,000 scholars participate in the program to date.

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