A childhood rape and lost high school years led Beatriz Alcazar to a stint in the US Army to give herself a second chance. As her husband-to-be left for Iraq when she was nine months pregnant, she worked night shifts to take care of her baby while going to school.
Finally finding success in college she was diagnosed with an incurable auto-immune disease that left her constantly fatigued. The doctor's orders - get busy. She took it as a sign to tackle social issues in her community and began by helping children in homeless shelters with their education.
Today, Alcazar is a junior majoring in sociology at Sonoma State University. She has received State Legislative recognition for her achievements. Her future plans are to earn a master's degree in social work to promote violence-free communities and education for minorities.
On Sept. 18, she will be honored as the CSU Foundation Board of Governors' Scholar for 2012 at a special ceremony in recognition of exemplary academic achievement and commitment to community service.
She volunteers at the Jewish Community Clinic and is employed as a bilingual educator, a sexual crisis counselor and a support group facilitator at Sonoma County's Rape Crisis and Trauma Center. She is also president of the Children's School Parent's Club.
Alcazar's future plans are to enter graduate school in social work and eventually earn her PhD.
"I hope to work a an organization that will allow me to show adolescents that education and success are not limited to a specific skin color and that they must not let anyone tell them otherwise," Alcazar said.
Each year the California State University selects 23 extraordinary students, who overcame profound personal hardships, as the 2012 William Randolph Hearst/CSU Trustees' Award for Outstanding Achievement recipients.
The students represent every campus in the CSU system -- prevailing through poverty, physical and mental illness, disability, language and cultural barriers, intense personal loss, addiction, homelessness, and abusive or absentee guardians to become researchers, mentors, counselors, advocates, volunteers and leaders.
Alcazar's $6,000 award was funded by the generous efforts of the California State University Foundation board which committed to enhancing the value of the William Randolph Hearst/CSU Trustees' Award for Outstanding Achievement. Board Chair Ronald R. Barhorst stepped forward to inaugurate the effort with sponsorship of a CSU Foundation Board of Governors' Scholarship.
To learn more about Alcazar and her fellow CSU honorees visit www.calstate.edu/foundation/hearst/about/