With December fast approaching, senior Kaitlyn Lyman is preparing herself for graduation and the experiences that come after. She is a bit nervous about what direction her life will take when she leaves Sonoma State, but graduating early is something she is able to accomplish due in part to the Presidential Scholar Awards she earned as a freshman and every year after. The scholarship is awarded then renewed every year a student continues to excel in the classroom, receiving an "A" and/or "A-" in all coursework.
"Very impressive indeed, says Ruben Armiñana, SSU President. "These students are focused and take their academic careers very seriously, sometimes forgoing an activity that might interfere. They are rewarded for those behaviors."
Lyman is not alone. There are currently 65 Presidential Scholars at Sonoma State.
Getting into required classes is one of the challenges faced by Lyman and other SSU students, particularly in these days of severe budget challenges. The most popular benefit of being a Presidential Scholar is receiving priority registration every semester. "This is awesome because Priority Registration has always allowed me to get into the classes I need which allows me to graduate in 3-1/2 years as I planned," says Lyman.
Presidential Scholars receive $1,000 upon entrance into SSU based on their high school grades. Lyman was an entering Presidential Scholar and she has maintained her "A" average throughout her academic career. She is one of only three seniors in the program this year. Each semester it gets more difficult to maintain the academic standing needed to receive the award, she says.
But she -- and others -- do it.
As an English major with a creative writing concentration, Lyman aspires to have a career in publishing, and dreams to someday be a published novelist herself. She enjoys writing fiction in her free time, and is the prose editor for ZAUM, a literary magazine on campus.
Lyman is currently a public relations intern at the American Red Cross. When she is not in class, or at her internship, she enjoys spending time with her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta.
Lyman advises incoming freshmen not fall behind in class. "If you stay on top of everything the entire semester, by the time finals come around you don't have to worry or be stressed at all," she said. "I would also tell to not be afraid to ask for help, there are so many resources out there that are designed to help students succeed."
Another Presidential Scholar with graduation on the horizon is Ashley Betando. Graduating from the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies this December, Betando will continue at SSU as a graduate student in the credential program.
Maintaining a 4.0 GPA, Betando has worked hard to maintain a balance between time spent studying and time spent with other activities. Writing papers is something she admittedly struggles with, but Betando has been able to compose essays strong enough to maintain her impressive GPA.
Through SSU's teacher credential program, Betando works two days a week in a first grade classroom at Taylor Mountain Elementary School in Santa Rosa. "I get to teach lessons every once in a while and help with individual work--watch other teachers," Betando said. Next semester, she will be in a classroom five days a week as a full-time student teacher. Ideally, she wants to teach 3rd grade in the future.
One of the hardest things Betando has struggled with at Sonoma State is homesickness. "I am extremely close with my family, and it is hard for me to be away from them for extended periods of time." She goes home to Livermore during breaks, but wishes she could see them more often.
In order to be successful in college, Betando said, "make time for your friends. Don't study too hard, but study. I would honestly advise any incoming freshmen, if they wanted to, to be a Hutchins major because it is super helpful; it's like a little community."
To learn more about the Presidential Scholars Program, visit www.sonoma.edu/about/presidentialscholar
- Sarah Dowling