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Health and Human Development's Outstanding Student Awards, Spring 2012

Every spring, the college honors our Outstanding Students with a special Awards celebration. We also recognize families and friends, and thank the faculty and staff who have guided and mentored our students. The faculty in each academic department nominate their most outstanding graduate student and the most outstanding senior for this prestigious award, and we also recognize the Wolfson Scholar nominee for the college. These students are exemplar of outstanding achievement and dedication to excellence and service.  With over 4,000 students in the college, those honored are truly our best and brightest.

About Our Award Recipients:

The Wolfson Scholar for 2012 was Silvia Juarez Viveros, pictured below with fellow awardees from Family and Consumer Sciences. Silvia is featured in the Fall 2012 issue of our online newsletter. You can read about Silvia here.

Child and Adolescent Development

Outstanding Senior
Marissa Laura Colangelo

marissa colangelo

Raised in California’s central coast region, Marissa graduated from Atascadero High School in 2007 and came to CSUN in 2010 by way of Santa Barbara City College. Active involvement in extra-curricular activities led to her being selected to serve in the department’s Peer Mentor Program where she is currently lead mentor in Dr. David Wakefield’s career exploration and professional development course for freshman and first-semester transfer students.

Marissa also served as a student liaison at the Day of Discovery mentoring event for all of the 11th graders at Northridge Academy High School. She is head undergraduate research assistant on the Middle School Diversity Project—a collaborative large-scale field research project under the direction of Drs. April Taylor and Sandra Graham at UCLA. The team is investigating how diverse school environments impact adolescents’ well-being. She is the co-author of two presentations stemming from this project and will be presenting the findings at two upcoming research conferences, and she is in the final stages of completing her senior internship at the Child Development Institute—a local community agency in Woodland Hills specializing in early intervention services for children with developmental delays and disabilities. Marissa is a student member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and a member of the CSUN Child and Adolescent Development Association. She is pursuing a career in clinical social work and has recently been accepted to the Master’s of Social Work program at both Columbia University and the University of Southern California.

Communication Disorders and Sciences

Outstanding Graduate Student, Anna Gross
Outstanding Senior, Melissa Langan

anna gross and melissa langan

Anna Gross just graduated with a GPA of 3.99. She is a recipient of the Ruth Rothman Scholarship and the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) Member Honors Award. Anna was also the CSUN NSSLHA chapter president in 2010-2011, during which time she renewed the chapter’s recognition status with both the university and the organization by organizing multiple fundraising events, including those which resulted in donations to Autism Speaks, the Laryngectomee Connection, The Stuttering Foundation, Soldier’s Angels, and the American Speech Language Hearing Foundation. Anna has worked as a clinical assistant in the Department’s Language, Speech and Hearing Center, volunteered at a summer program for children using Augmentative and Alternative Communication Devices (AACD’s), volunteered for multiple California Speech Language Hearing Association conventions, and attended the American Speech Language Hearing Association convention. She is currently completing her externship at the Greater Los Angeles Veterans’ Administration hospital. After she graduates, she is looking forward to her first new job — becoming a mom. Anna would like to thank the faculty, with special thanks to Clinic Director Janice Woolsey. She would also like to thank her family, friends and, especially, her husband who has worked tirelessly and in support of the fulfillment of her dreams.

Melissa Langan graduated with a 3.74 GPA. A native of northern Manitoba, Canada who has Métis status, Melissa came to CSUN to pursue her BA in speech-language pathology. In 2010 and 2011, she received the Aboriginal Health Careers Bursary, a scholarship based on academic achievement and involvement in the Aboriginal community. She has been on the Dean’s List throughout her undergraduate career at CSUN. She volunteered for Dr. Catherine Jackson's intensive aphasia communication workshop during the winter 2010-2011 session and last semester, worked as a research assistant transcribing, coding and analyzing data for Dr. Jackson. During the summer of 2011, Melissa volunteered at the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury in Alberta, Canada where she observed and assisted in therapy sessions, including working with patients whose ability to swallow was compromised. She played piano accompaniment for a choir of patients. Melissa attended the 2012 American Speech and Hearing Association convention in San Diego and will begin work toward her Masters degree at CSUN this fall.

Environmental and Occupational Health

Outstanding Graduate Student, Maggie Kong
Outstanding Senior, Hovaness Dekeyan

hovaness dikeyan and maggie kong

Maggie Kong's parents have worked for many years in the garment and construction industry.  She wanted to get a quality education to learn more about how she could help improve their working conditions.  She started her first Environmental and Occupational Health internship at Lam Research in Fremont, California, where she conducted noise and radiation surveys.  Her next internship was at the House Research Institute in downtown, Los Angeles, where she conducted lab inspections, ensured bio-hazardous waste regulations were met, and confirmed that emergency shower-head and eye-wash stands were properly working.  She also assisted the safety officer in the development of safe work practices and policies. She was then accepted into the highly competitive  JrCOSTEP program in the U.S. Public Health Service. She spent three months in Washington D.C. in the summer of 2011 where three of her main projects included evaluating confined spaces, monitoring noise levels in mechanical spaces and conducting noise dosimetry on power plant workers.  She also had mini-projects that included ergonomic evaluations, administrative area inspections, and shadowing Methylene Chloride monitoring.  Maggie recently accepted a full time job where she will continue her passion for occupational health. 

Hovaness Dekeyan is a first generation American; his father was born in Armenia and his mother was born in Syria.  His parents consistently stressed the importance of education, and he cites his uncle, a chemical engineer, as a motivator of his interest in chemistry. In high school, he volunteered at the Midnight Mission in downtown Los Angeles where his aunt was in charge of the food trucks that went to different sites to feed the homeless.  He assisted her whenever he could and developed an interest in the environment as well as the health of the homeless. Though he admits that before coming to CSUN he was more interested in hockey than school, the academic environment made him reflect on his early influences toward science, including an eighth grade teacher, Mr. Benstock (and “Bill Nye the science guy”). Studying in the biology program for three years, Hovaness was unsure about what direction to take his career, but after taking an EOH 353 course with Dr. Tony Machado, he says he changed his major to Environmental and Occupational Health because he, “could see the real world applications and immediate benefits that it could bring.”  Hovaness is still an avid hockey player, but he's strongly considering a Ph.D.  He also plans on being more involved with the Environmental and Occupational Health Students Association and obtaining his Registered Environmental Health Specialist certification. 

Family and Consumer Sciences

Outstanding Graduate Student, Shauna L. Mund
Outstanding Senior, Amanda Salvestrini

(Shown here with College Wolfson Scholar Silvia Juarez Viveros.)

shauna mund, silvia juarez viveros, and Amanda Salvestrini

Shauna Mund is an Instructional Support and Safety Coordinator of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at California State University, Northridge. She is a member of the department’s Social Committee, Home Economics Teachers Association and currently serves as secretary for the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. Shauna is originally from Canada, where she received her B.Sc. and B.Ed. in Family and Consumer Sciences Education with a minor in Native Studies. She is enrolled in the Master of Science program in Family and Consumer Sciences at CSUN with an emphasis in Interior Design. In 2003, while she was completing her undergraduate work in interior design at CSUN, the FCS department hired her to help organize the accreditation of the interior design program. Her career focus has been on the education of adults and children in Canada, Japan and the United States. She has taught subject areas such as Leadership Skills, Algebra, Native Studies, English, Textiles and Fashion, Food and Nutrition, Money Management and Interior Design.

Amanda Salvestrini received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science from CSUN in the fall, 2011. Since she graduated in fall, she walked with the class of undergraduates in spring, 2012. She is already working on her Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics at CSUN. She is a Dietetic Intern at the Veterans Administration Hospital, Los Angeles, earning service hours to become eligible to take the Registered Dietitian (RD) exam. She tutors undergraduates in the nutrition program and was captain of the 2009 CSUN Nutrition College Bowl team, which took first place in the annual game show style multi-university team quiz. Amanda also coached the next two years’ teams. She has interned for the Marilyn Magaram Center as well as the CSUN Student Health Center and is a member of the Student Dietetic and Food Science Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the California Dietetic Association, the Southern California Institute of Food Technologists and the Kappa Omicron Nu honors society. She plans to teach nutrition at the university level and work in hospital settings as a clinical dietitian in specializing in geriatric nutrition, in pursuit of her true passion for improving the quality of life for people as they age.

Health Sciences

Outstanding Graduate Student, Jessica King
Outstanding Senior, Cynthia Ahl

jessica king and cynthia ahl

Jessica King is a CSUN alumna with two Bachelor of Science degrees: one in Family and Consumer Sciences the other in Kinesiology. She is completing her Master of Public Health and begins her Dietetic Internship at CSUN in the fall of 2012. She has received awards and scholarships from Los Robles Hospital and the Student Dietetic and Food Science Association’s Textbook Scholarship. She is also on the Dean’s List. Jessica is the founder and president of a non-profit organization NEWLIFE: Nourishment to Empower Women to Live an Intellectual and Full Existence, Inc. This organization strives to decrease the recurrence of intimate partner violence by increasing the professional skills of female survivors.

Jessica is the principal investigator for a community-based participatory research project that aims to increase cultural competency among intimate partner violence service providers and is very active in the Master of Public Health Student Association as the coordinator and liaison.

Cynthia Ahl says she grew up in a community, “where the act of helping one another became the norm,” and set her up for a life geared toward volunteerism. She helped take care of a set of three-year-old triplets whose mother was in the intensive care unit for two months after a car accident in 2010. Soon after, she compiled and delivered meals to low income families in Los Angeles for Tomchei Shabbos, an organization that provides a variety of family services with a focus on dignity and discretion. She says she was rewarded every Thursday when she saw the happiness on the faces of the receiving families and that, “ultimately I am a primary care giver who puts patient care first.” In the Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences program at CSUN, Cynthia was elected vice president of her class and helped organize fundraisers and cohort activities. She was also part of the leadership team that trained and attended the National Washington D.C. advocacy meeting. She solicited advocacy letters from her classmates, family and friends in support of the CARE act, which is a national licensure bill for Medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals.


Outstanding Graduate Student, Mariko Iwabuchi,
Outstanding Senior, Beatrisa Liang

mariko iwabuchi and beatrisa liang

Mariko Iwabuchi was the 2009 CSUN Presidential Scholar, and was involved in a research project that mixed her passion for psychology and hip-hop dance. Working with Dr. Janet Oh from the Department of Psychology and Dr. Paula Thomson from Kinesiology, she says she came to understand the research process and the importance of communicating the results to the community. Finding gratification in seeing how hip-hop dance can potentially help adolescents' psychological well-being, Mariko found her passion in helping communities and in 2010 became a scholar for the Research Infrastructure for Minority Institutions program. From there, she interned as an action researcher at a local non-profit community organization and learned more about health disparities among minorities. These experiences helped Mariko realize that she wanted to pursue a career helping people by improving their psychological and physical well-being. With her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and minor in Dance in 2010, Mariko set out to get her Master's degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Dance. Working in the Psychophysiology Lab, Mariko’s interest in research has led to her plans to pursue her doctorate as a way to developing programs that will help communities to stay psychologically and physically healthy through physical fitness, proper nutrition, and personal development.

Making the Dean’s list every semester since transferring to CSUN in the fall of 2009, Beatrisa Liang graduated with a 3.76 GPA. Over the past year, she volunteered at a physical therapy clinic and has completed an internship at the Center of Achievement Through Adapted Physical Activity on the CSUN campus. A recent involvement with the CSUN Dance program in Kinesiology motivated her to perform in the dance concert, Collaboratoria last fall, and Kinesis: Emerging Choreography last spring where she debuted her first original piece of choreography and also danced in pieces by other students. She is a member of COSMIC Dance Crew, and has performed in numerous exhibitions. She is an award winning keyboardist, most recently playing with the band, Awesome City Limits, playing the piano since she was five. And since she was six she has qualified for ice skating competitions including the United States National Championships every year from 1999-2010. Beatrisa now teaches both piano and ice skating to all age groups and says she would like to pursue a career as a coach immediately after graduation, using her Kinesiology background to promote healthy training in young athletes. She also plans to earn a doctorate in physical therapy in the next few years.


Outstanding Senior
Jessica Hsiung

Jessica Hsiung

Academic achievement, commitment and engagement are hallmarks of Jessica Hsiung’s character as demonstrated through her work in the Nursing department. As the student representative for her class, she also attends faculty meetings serving as the voice of the RN to BSN students. President of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Student Association, she has also served as a member of University Ambassadors, giving tours to prospective students and volunteering with special events on campus and in the community. She has provided a nursing orientation to incoming students, planned, implemented and provided materials toward fundraising efforts. She was instrumental in organizing a nursing seminar with two guest speakers from UCLA and USC. She demonstrates follow through from orienting new students, to creating handbooks for future association officers, to planning and organizing the CSUN Nursing Pinning Ceremony. Her work for the association has included making visits to nursing classes to promote both the association and the academic program. Without any hesitation and by the unanimous vote of the nursing faculty, Jessica was identified as more than deserving of the Outstanding Student Award.

Physical Therapy

Outstanding Graduate Student
Debbie Steffin

Debbie Steffin

Debbie Steffin is Physical Therapy club president, American Physical Therapy Association student representative, class historian, and most important, a member of CSUN’s 54th class of physical therapy students. As she pursues her career in pediatric physical therapy her greatest achievements to date include: assisting young children with cerebral palsy take their first steps even if it is 2 years later than the norm, helping the parents of children with autism understand how to help strengthen their child’s postural weaknesses, and assisting children with sensory processing disorders on their journey from disorganization to focused and functional. Debbie says she feels extremely blessed to be a “part of a top-notch department with professors that go far beyond the call of duty and classmates that show remarkable potential and skill,” and that “to accept this award on behalf of myself would be like trying to honor the greatness of the ocean by extracting a single wave. I am a product of extraordinary professors and a class of 29 exceptional students. It is on their behalf that I am greatly honored to accept this award.”

Recreation and Tourism Management

Outstanding Graduate Student, Brian Rudloff
Outstanding Senior, Tyler Walkey
(no photo available)

Brian Rudloff

In addition to his excellent work in the classroom Brian Rudloff and worked with Dr. Lee last year on a research project on 'customer loyalty' within the themed cruise industry. Brian presented the research paper last spring at the Korean American Hospitality and Tourism Educators Association in Las Vegas. Brian plans on a career in Tourism and Hospitality. He is graduating with a GPA of 4.0.

Tyler Walkey has distinguished himself beyond the classroom as a highly involved professional working in aquatic programs and youth camp programs both here at Cal State Northridge and around the world. He spent a year in Japan teaching English and then did an internship directing an aquatics program for youth at a military base in Yokosuka. He has also developed his recreational leadership skills over the past several years through working in seasonal positions in Hawaii, Germany, and Italy. Tyler created his own video editing company Media Fishtank utilizing his background in electronics and computer software. He has a cumulative GPA of 3.96.

Awards were presented by Dean Sylvia A. Alva and department chairs: Child and Adolescent Development, David Wakefield; Communication Disorders and Sciences, Stephen Sinclair; Environmental and Occupational Health, Thomas Hatfield; Family and Consumer Sciences, Tami Abourezk; Health Sciences, Anita Slechta; Kinesiology, Victoria Jacque on behalf of Shane Frehlich; Nursing, Marianne Hattar; Physical Therapy, Sheryl Low; Recreation and Tourism Management, Al Wright.