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UROC students awarded Sally Casanova scholarships

Published August 10, 2020

Selina Espinoza, psychology major and statistics minor, has been awarded as this year's Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholar. Espinoza will receive an award of $3,000 to support graduate school and professional development endeavors for the upcoming 2020-21 year.

Photo: Selina Espinoza
Photo by: Danny Tan
Selina Espinoza

Espinoza's research interests include cannabis use and perceptions, and community advocacy. She will explore aspects of cannabis among vulnerable subpopulations to inform policy and apply her research knowledge and skills to serve community members and improve public health. Espinoza plans to pursue a doctorate in either clinical or health psychology with the goal of becoming a psychology professor and cannabis researcher at a university.

“As a low-income, first-generation Latinx female, it is an honor to be chosen to be a Sally Casanova scholar," Espinoza said. "Being awarded this scholarship validates my line of research and has given me more determination to make my dreams come true. As an applicant who applied twice [for this award], it has shown me to never give up and always take initiative!”

Dr. Jennifer Lovell, faculty mentor and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, adds, “As a Sally Casanova Scholar, Selina will receive additional support to accomplish her goal of becoming a university professor and researcher. Selina takes initiative and is not afraid of failure or success. Accordingly, her grit and perseverance will serve her well in graduate school.”

As a scholarship winner, Espinoza is eligible to apply for a 2021 summer research experience at a University of California campus or other doctoral-granting institution after graduation. This year 76 total Sally Casanova Scholars were selected across 17 CSU campuses.

Mariana Duarte, computer science, was recognized by the pre-doctoral program in the honorable mention category. Duarte was one of four juniors selected from the 21 honorable mentions selected, composed of mostly masters students.

Photo: Mariana Duarte
Photo by: Kevin Enriquez
Mariana Duarte

Duarte is a computer science student who is currently investigating mobility data collected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Essential workers from low-income areas are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and she hopes to raise awareness for this issue to highlight the status inequities. Duarte, who resides in Hayward, plans to pursue a doctorate in computer science after graduation.

"Mariana is one of the most proactive and positive people I have ever had the pleasure to work with,” said faculty mentor Drew Clinkenbeard of the School of Computing & Design. “I am so pleased that she has chosen to pursue a doctorate in computer science. I have no doubt that she will succeed and will continue to be a role model to underrepresented students everywhere."

“Being selected for the honorable mention gives me the drive I will need to succeed in any Ph.D. program,” said Duarte, who is a first-generation Latina pursuing a field in which students like her are underrepresented. "The pre-doctoral program has recognized my achievements and given me full support to achieve my dreams. This gave me reassurance in a competitive field. I seek boundaries that will push me to become the person I need to be to achieve my aspirations.”

Both Espinoza and Duarte are part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC).

The California Pre-Doctoral Program is designed to increase the pool of potential faculty by supporting 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 one of the University of California (UC) institutions.

The Casanova award honors the late Sally Casanova, who launched the program in 1989. She was a staff member with the CSU Chancellor’s Office during the 1960s. Casanova also served as associate vice president for academic affairs and dean of graduate studies at CSU Dominguez Hills from 1991 until her death in 1994.

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