Awards display grand accomplishments by Cerritos College students

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Karla Enriquez

Microbilogy major Zeinab Chahine receives award from Trustee Bob Arthur at the Academic Excellence Awards on Thursday, March 31. She was escorted by professor Santos Rojas. Photo credit: Karla Enriquez

Karla Enriquez, Editor-in-Chief

Sheila “Samii” Yakovetic is an English major with a concentration in creative writing who has been awarded the Best Feature Screenplay Award at the Hollywood and Vine Film Festival while one of her video projects was given attention by the Huffington Post.

Yakovetic was one of the students recognized by Cerritos College at the Academic Excellence Awards on Thursday, Mar. 31 at the Burnight Center

“I am awe-struck, there is no other way to put it,” expressed Yakovetic, who also received the Roger Ernest Creative Writing Scholarship.

That night 15 other scholarships were given to 19 students and awards were given to those who completed 30 units at Cerritos College with 9 units in area of recognition while maintaining a 3.5 grade point average or higher.

The recommendation of a faculty member in the area of recognition was also required.

The English major said, “I was absolutely stunned to be nominated, I am just so honored because the teachers here are so encouraging and have helped me accomplish so much.

“Yes, I’ve been writing for a while but Chad Greene and Jack Swanson helped me to bring a whole new dimension of understanding and expertise to my writing because of what they have in their lives and I cannot thank them enough for that.”

One of the other scholarship recipients was neuroscience and biology major Alejandra Carranza, a young mother who manages two majors and a one-year old daughter.

“As you can see it is a constant juggling of priorities, what do I need to get done immediately and what is going to get done tomorrow.

“But I think just being passionate about what I’m learning drives me to keep moving forward, because if I didn’t like bio or neuroscience it would be insane to be in any of those classes,” she said.

Carranza was given the Jules Crane Scholarship for biology.

She has been accepted into the University of California Irvine and is awaiting a letter from UCLA.

Carranza is an example of the dedication and determination that Cerritos College President Jose Fierro described in his opening speech.

She became a full-time student during her third pregnancy trimester has accomplished her courses during the last two years.

“[…] It is really a huge deal for me to be learning as a parent, as soon as I think I have managed it, she goes into a new stage of development and it’s like ‘oh my god what is happening, now she is walking or now she is talking,” Carranza said of her daughter.

“Today during the ceremony, I was hesitant to bring her and I said no, this is as much part of me, who I am. The whole time she was like ‘that’s mommy, that’s mommy,'” she said with a smile.

Students honored also use their skills to help others outside of school.

Jose Perez, who received the Dr. Keith Allen Hinrichsen Scholarship for economics, helps inmates get their high school diploma.

“The whole goal behind that is just to help them respond to situations instead of reacting. It is the reactionary actions they take that land them in prison or jail.” That is all I try to do, help them view the world in a different way.”

Perez’ noted that as a student his economics professor woke up a passion in him for the subject.

“It woke up a passion in me, my teacher kinda turned me to this whole economic concepts and it blew up […] It was awesome this was my first time getting an award, this is the first time for economics.”

As Keynote speaker Mark Fronke, professor or accounting and finance noted in his speech, these students were in the right place, at the right time, with the right equipment, and the right attitude.