Three CSUMB students receive prestigious Goldwater scholarships

Goldwater Scholars

From left, Efrain Ramirez, Annie Hansen and Oscar Murillo-Espinoza are all winners of Goldwater scholarships. | Photo by Mark Muckenfuss

April 9, 2024

By Mark Muckenfuss

Annie Hansen and Efrain Ramirez cried when they got the news they were 2024 Goldwater Scholars. Oscar Murillo-Espinoza celebrated with Little Caesar’s pizza and a Lactaid.

“I’m lactose intolerant,” Murillo-Espinoza said with a smile, “but it’s a family tradition.” 

All three expect the award to significantly change their lives, both from a financial standpoint and by opening doors to future study, research and careers. The prestigious award is highly competitive and CSUMB more than pulled its weight this year. Only one other CSU had a fellowship winner and that was CSU San Marcos, with one.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, which targets sophomores and juniors in STEM fields, is considered one of the most prestigious national scholarship programs for undergraduate students. This year, 508 recipients will be given up to $7,500 per year to help pay for college expenses. 

“This will help to take off a really big burden,” said Hansen, a third-year marine science major and a UROC scholar. “It’s a really big chunk of money.” 

Hansen, who prefers the non-gendered "them" pronoun, said the scholarship would allow them the freedom to work a little less and focus on their academics more, something that will likely be important to their plans for attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to pursue their master’s and PhD degrees either in ocean physics or marine engineering. 

A psychology major in his third year and a McNair scholar, Ramirez also plans to go to grad school. He said the Goldwater award will help smooth the route toward that goal and having it on his resume is an advantage. 

“It’s a bit of recognition not only for me but also for all of the people who helped me get here,” he said. “One of my biggest supporters was my grandmother. She passed in December, but I know she’d be very proud.”

Murillo Espinoza is a senior, planning to graduate this fall with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. Like Ramirez, he expects graduate programs to take his application more seriously now. 

“It does open a lot of doors,” he said of the scholarship. “It’s going to kind of connect me with people in my field and allow me to show people I can do serious research.”

He said he was surprised when he received his confirmation letter. 

“I was like, ‘Holy moly,’” he said. “I just got one of the best scholarships you can get.”

The awards marked a good week for CSUMB students being recognized nationally. Six other students were awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships