Sonoma State University student Elizabeth Valverde Campos' family moved to California to escape violence in Mexico City when she was only 10 years old. It was difficult to make friends in a new country with a new language, yet Elizabeth persevered. She learned English in fourth grade and overcame obstacles associated with applying for college without documentation.
Elizabeth is now a fourth-year biochemistry major at Sonoma State, having earned Presidential Scholar and McNair Scholar honors. She is one of 24 students to receive the 2016 CSU Trustees' Award for Outstanding Achievement, which is given each year to students who demonstrate superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service and financial need.
Elizabeth has been active in tutoring since high school, where she worked with elementary schools and SAT prep through the nonprofit 10,000 Degrees. She now works in the Tutorial Center at Sonoma State, helping fellow chemistry majors understand complex chemical compounds and concepts.
"My overall goal is to work on breakthrough medical techniques that involve creating new molecules and understanding their mechanism and biological impact," she says.
Due to her love of chemistry and teaching others, Elizabeth's goal is to earn a doctoral degree and then work as a professor at a research institution. She is passionate about helping undocumented and first-generation students succeed, especially in STEM education, and hopes to use her story to inspire others.