Cassandra Cook is a first-generation college student who has faced poverty, abuse, abandonment and placement in the foster care system.
Cook has overcome these and other obstacles, all in pursuit of her education.
“I was exposed to a life no child should ever witness,” Cook said. “Education is the way I can learn to make change in the world and achieve what once was seen as impossible.”
Cook, a public administration major with a minor in business management, is one of 23 students selected by the California State University to receive the 2012 William Randolph Hearst/CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement. The CSU Board of Trustees recognized one scholar from each campus on Sept. 18 at the Office of the Chancellor.
First Southwest Airlines Scholar
This year, Lidia Martinez, a CSU Foundation board member and Southwest Airlines Community Affairs and Grassroots Manager, secured a $6,000 scholarship from Southwest Airlines to be awarded to a first-generation Hearst/CSU Trustees' student who has shown outstanding achievement. Cook is the first to be awarded the scholarship.
A bright future
Cook is the president of the Student Public Administration Association and a member of the Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity, the Pre-Law Society, and the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society at SDSU.
Her commitment to education shows in her research with the business management department and SDSU’s sustainability projects. She also presented at the 2012 SDSU Student Research Symposium.
Cook’s involvement also reaches into the community. She is active with the LEAP Council of San Diego, Just in Time for Foster Youth, and Casey Family Programs as a foster youth advocate, mentor and facilitator. She also participates in the UCLA Law Fellows program and served as a summer foster youth congressional intern in Washington, D.C. this year.
Upon her graduation from SDSU, Cook plans to become a lawyer to create positive change.
About Hearst/CSU Trustees' award
The William Randolph Hearst Foundation originally established the endowed scholarship fund in 1984. In 1999, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation partnered with the CSU board of trustees to supplement the endowment with contributions from CSU trustees and private donors. From this endowment, the trustees award $3,000 to students who exemplify the scholarship criteria.
The William Randolph Hearst/CSU Trustees' Award for Outstanding Achievement is given each year to those students who have demonstrated financial need, experienced personal hardships, and have attributes including superior academic performance, exemplary community service, and significant personal achievements.
This year, one of the trustees on the board was a prior recipient. Jillian Ruddell became a Hearst/CSU Trustees' Scholar in 2010 and Governor Brown appointed her as a student trustee on the board last year. Ruddell said the award represents a vote of confidence in students who have overcome adversity.
“The CSU is privileged to have you as students,” Ruddell said. “Your current and future achievements are something we all celebrate.
Campus Presidents nominate one recipient per campus making the award among the highest forms of recognition for student achievement in the CSU.