May 29, 2001 Vol. V, No. 17

University Salutes Top Graduating Students and Award-Winners

Seven Graduates Receive Special Honors as the Best of the Best at the Honors Convocation

More than 1,400 graduating seniors and master's degree recipients have been invited to participate in Cal State Northridge's annual Honors Convocation this spring, including seven students receiving special recognition for outstanding academic performance and community contributions.

The Honors Convocation is being held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 29 at the University Club. CSUN President Jolene Koester, celebrating her first year leading the university, will give the keynote address.

These are the graduating students receiving special recognition:

Mayra Bamaca-Gomez
Wolfson Scholar
This year's Wolfson Scholar recipient, the award given each year to the university's top graduating senior, is Mayra Bamaca-Gomez, 27, of Van Nuys. She immigrated to the United States from Guatemala at age 17, not speaking a word of English.

Determined to get an education, Bamaca-Gomez spent a summer translating a high school algebra textbook into Spanish so she could take the course, eventually finishing at the top of her class and graduating with honors. In the process, she mastered English so she could take other college preparatory classes while in high school.

After a couple of years attending community college, Bamaca-Gomez transferred to Cal State Northridge to study psychology. While at the university, she worked alongside her faculty members conducting research.

But she also found time to serve as a special education teaching assistant at an elementary school, teach parenting classes at several community centers and serve as a translator of parent surveys for the Northeast Valley Urban Village Initiative.

"I have been highly motivated, and my goal has always been to get the highest degree possible," Bamaca-Gomez said. "Coming here [to CSUN] has changed everything for me. It's been such a supporting environment that I know I will be able to realize my dreams."

Bamaca-Gomez will be attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the fall to pursue her doctorate in human development.

Rebecca Espiloy Baroma
Outstanding Graduate Student
This year's recipient of the President's Associates Outstanding Graduate Student Award is Rebecca Espiloy Baroma, 33, of Los Angeles. Baroma, who is getting her master's degree in creative writing, has already established herself as one of Los Angeles' leading Filipina poets.

She has been invited to speak at UCLA, Wesleyan College and Claremont Graduate School. The prestigious literary organization, Beyond Baroque, also invited her to participate in its "The World Beyond Festival."

While at CSUN, Baroma served as editor of The Northridge Review, an undergraduate magazine produced by the English Department. Her work won the American Writers and Poets' National Program Director's Prize for Undergraduate Magazine, Design Award. She also has been invited to join the editorial board of Dis-Orient Journalzine, an international avant-garde journal.

Baroma was a liberal studies student at CSUN as an undergraduate. After graduating, she took an extended learning writing class on a whim and ended up in the university's graduate program. "I didn't know what I wanted to do. I took a writing class, and it changed my life," Baroma said.

She will be teaching developmental writing classes in CSUN's Asian American Studies Department this fall, and plans to continue with her outside literary work.

Nelson Cadenas
President's Associates Outstanding Graduating Senior
Nelson Cadenas, 24, of Sun Valley is one of two recipients this year of the Outstanding Graduating Senior Award from the President's Associates. Cadenas, who is earning his bachelor of science in electrical engineering, is fulfilling a dream he set for himself when he was seven

Every night his father would take him outside and point out the stars. Cadenas wanted to join them in space. "I wanted to be an astronaut," he said. "And when I learned that most astronauts were engineers, I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up."

Cadenas now works at Vitesse, a Camarillo engineering firm. Cadenas is the first in his family to receive a college degree. Beyond his schoolwork, Cadenas also found time to encourage local high school students to attend college.

Nicholas Hamlin
President's Associates Outstanding Graduating Senior
Nicholas Hamlin, 22, of San Diego is the second recipient of the Outstanding Graduating Senior Award from the President's Associates. Hamlin, who is receiving his bachelor of arts in biology, has led a full life while at CSUN.

Despite switching majors at the end of his sophomore year and cramming four years of study into two, Hamlin still found time to compete as a member of CSUN's intercollegiate cross country and track and field team. As the team's leading 5,000- and 10,000-meter runner, he became the first CSUN runner in the 10,000-meter race to score in a Big Sky Conference championship.

"My classes always came first," said Hamlin. "But I decided to go out for track because I knew it would be the only time in my life that I could run college track and get a chance to compete for an [NCAA] Division I school."

After graduation, Hamlin plans to get his Ph.D. in biology from the University of California, San Diego.

Robert Hanff
Alumni Association Outstanding Graduating Senior
CSUN student body president Robert Hanff, 22, of Northridge is this year's Outstanding Graduating Senior Award recipient from the CSUN Alumni Association. Hanff, who is earning his bachelor of science in political science, has been president of Associated Students Inc., the student government, for the past two years.

In addition to his studies and leadership responsibilities, Hanff also found time to serve as a White House intern, a judicial intern with the San Fernando Superior Court and the only student member of the California Postsecondary Education Commission, the state's 16-member planning and coordinating body for higher education.

"I just don't like not to be busy," said Hanff, who will be attending UCLA Law School in the fall.

Brian Richard Hubinger
Goldstein-Saulter Memorial Award
Brian Richard Hubinger, 23, of Arcadia is this year's recipient of the Karen, Leon and Rita Goldstein-Saulter Memorial Award, which is given by the Alumni Association to an outstanding graduating senior.

Hubinger, who is earning his bachelor of science in environmental and occupational health, also served as a member of CSUN student government, an offensive lineman with the Matadors football team, an orientation leader and a member of the interfraternity council.

Hubinger, who was forced to leave school for one semester because of an illness, said he never intended to be so busy while in college, "but I opened one door and it led to five others."

Hubinger now works at Anheuser-Busch, Inc., as an environmental health and safety specialist. He plans to return to CSUN in the fall to pursue a master's degree in environmental and occupational health.

Amy London
Schiffman Memorial Scholarship Award
Amy London, 25, of Encino is this year's recipient of the Robert H. Schiffman Memorial Scholarship Award, given each year to an outstanding graduate student.

London, who is earning her master's in communication studies, previously received her bachelor of arts in communication studies at CSUN. For the future, she is contemplating pursuing a doctorate. In the meantime, she plans to teach at local community colleges and universities.

"Communication is fundamental to the people we are and what we do in our lives," London said. "I like to focus on intercultural communication, with people who don't normally communicate with each other."


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