August 25, 2003 Vol. VIII, No. 1

Hearst Scholar Starr Triumphs Over Illness

Cal State Northridge graduate student Shannon Starr is one of six California State University students who received the prestigious William Randolph Hearst/CSU Trustees Award Scholarship at the CSU Board of Trustees' meeting in July.

Funded by an endowment from the Hearst Foundation and individual contributions from the CSU Board of Trustees, the awards provide $3,000 scholarships to students with financial need who demonstrate superior academic performance, community service and personal accomplishments.

The scholarship meant Starr could attain a lifelong dream: to enter graduate school. When she received the letter informing her about the award, the Temecula resident was stunned. "I was in shock," she said. "I couldn't speak."

Starr's educational journey has not been easy.

On a church mission to the Philippines in 1996, she was exposed to a potentially deadly virus that gave her flu-like symptoms, seizures, amnesia, stomach pains, blurry vision and organ failure.

After returning from the Philippines, she attended Palomar College near San Diego to learn sign language, complete her general education and receive interpreter training. But the illness haunted her.

At the start of her first semester at CSUN in spring 2002, she was told she had four months to live because parasites were attacking her heart.

Ultimately, Starr triumphed over her health problems. In May, she earned her bachelor's degree in deaf studies, with a 3.98 cumulative grade point average. A liaison for CSUN's deaf students, she is an on-campus professional sign language interpreter for the National Center on Deafness.

After completing the graduate program in linguistics, Starr plans to teach deaf studies and sign language at the university level.

@csun | August 25, 2003 issue
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