FRESNO — Fifty high-achieving high school graduates from across California with goals of becoming tomorrow’s physicians, teachers, accountants and engineers make up the 23rd class of President’s Honors Scholars in Fresno State’s Smittcamp Family Honors College, now in its third decade of service to the community.
Among them is Chelsea Castillo, Caruthers High School valedictorian, who raised market animals and was involved with the national Future Farmers of America organization, serving as president for two years. At Fresno State, Castillo will major in animal science with plans to become a mixed practice veterinarian.
First-generation college student Victor Martinez-Ambriz, of Tulare Union High School, was a varsity tennis player, class officer, a member of the school’s science Olympiad team and participated in many other activities. He will study history at Fresno State.
Established in 1998 with a $1 million gift from the late Earl and Muriel Smittcamp, the founders of a prominent family agribusiness and longtime supporters of Fresno State, the honors college has also received the support of many other donors from the Fresno area as well as honors college alumni.
The freshmen were selected from a pool of more than 500 applicants, said Dr. Saeed Attar, director of the Smittcamp Family Honors College. High school seniors must meet one of the following two criteria in order to be eligible to apply: be in the upper 10% of their graduating class or have a minimum 3.8 GPA in grades 9 through 11.
The scholars were welcomed to Fresno State at a virtual Zoom reception hosted by Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, Interim Provost Xuanning Fu, and Dr. Attar on Aug. 20. Each scholar receives a President’s Honors Scholarship, up to a maximum of eight semesters, for their undergraduate degree program. Each scholarship also covers an optional credit for standard University housing.
The honors college is unique in the California State University system because President’s Scholars are admitted as a cohort, take a series of specially designed honors courses, participate in a weekly colloquium with guest speakers and discussions, and interact in educational, scholarly and social activities.
In addition, President’s Scholars are required to volunteer a minimum of 70 hours of community service during their four-year stay. To remain in the program, a scholar must enroll in at least 12 units each semester and maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25 in the first year, 3.35 in the second year, and 3.5 in the third and fourth years. More than 90% of the President’s Scholars graduate in four years, mostly with the summa cum laude (3.9 to 4.0 GPA) distinction.
The 2021 cohort of President’s Scholars and their high schools are:
Ismael Abdullah-Hernandez (Duncan Polytechnical)
Zulaikha Ali (Clovis North)
Zareh Apkarian (Buchanan)
Benjamin Awad (Sanger)
Aubrey Beck (Sierra)
Izaiah Benavides (Woodlake)
Lauren Bernardi (Yosemite)
Amanda Britter (El Diamante)
Chelsea Castillo Najera (Caruthers)
Ivory Clemons (Sunnyside)
Catherine Corchado (Madera)
Abbas Dadawalla (University High)
Isabelle Dillsaver (Buhach Colony)
Dayle Edinborough (Sierra)
Leila Eshaghi (University High)
Naomi Garcia (Edison)
Annika Garza (Buchanan)
LeAnne Gip (Buchanan)
Litzy Gomez (Lindsay)
Eduardo Gonzalez (Riverdale)
Natalie Gonzalez (Dinuba)
Yessica Guzman (Hoover)
Parker Hill (Tulare Union)
Celeste Jones (Sierra)
Leilani Jurena (Temecula Valley)
Noeleen Kitongan (Clovis East)
Jacob Lindahl (Clovis North)
Yerali Lopez Torres (Parlier)
Rachel Mancebo (Chowchilla Union)
Victor Martinez-Ambriz (Tulare Union)
Emmanuel Martinez-Cortez (El Diamante)
Bronagh McGahan (Reedley)
Baobie Moua (Central East)
Morgan Musser (Clovis West)
Edgar Peredia Garcia (Duncan Polytechnical)
Jasmine Perez (Clovis)
Avneet Purewal (Kingsburg)
Ariana Rajabi (University High)
Ben Rigby (Bullard)
Ariel Rodriguez (Golden West)
Komal Sandhu (Fowler)
Hassoon Sarwar (Monache)
Shailey Shah (Clovis North)
Iqbal Sidhu (Central West)
Macyn Topoozian (Bullard)
Jolene Uribe (Sunnyside)
Juliann Vang (Mt. Whitney)
Francine Velasco (Sanger)
Sevana Wassilian (Buchanan)
Victoria Wiest (University High)