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Her time to shine!

By Miriam G. Mazliach

October 16, 2012

Erin Enguero, a 2011 Washington High School graduate from Fremont, was recently selected as one of the recipients of the William Randolph Hearst/ CSU Trustees Award for Outstanding Achievement and named the Trustee William Hauck Scholar. The award recognizes one student from each of the 23 CSU campuses who has overcome adversity while demonstrating extraordinary personal and academic achievement as well as community involvement. Enguero, who attends San José State University (SJSU), was diagnosed with bilateral (both ears) genetic hearing loss. She first shared her personal story with the community, during a Fremont Unified School Board meeting in June 2011.

Subsequently, Enguero pushed for support from the Department of Rehabilitation to obtain the best assistive hearing device to enable her to have the opportunity for a successful college education. The assisted hearing device she uses is generally referred to as an FM System, which consists of a transmitter device with tiny receivers she attaches to her hearing aids.
At SJSU, Enguero is a Kinesiology (human movement) major, who is active in many campus clubs and activities. Additionally, to gain further experience in her field of study, she works at the Student Health Center as a physical therapy aide, all the while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. The work experience will be beneficial to her career path and ultimately her goal of earning a doctorate in Physical Therapy.

TCV recently interviewed Erin Enguero about her reaction to the recognition.
TCV: When did the ceremony take place?

Enguero: The ceremony took place on September 18 in Long Beach at the CSU Chancellorís Office. Each candidateís travel expenses were covered to attend the event.

TCV: How did you apply for the honor or were you nominated?

Enguero: I applied to the scholarship through the Stars Online Scholarship Tracking and Review System utilized by SJSU. It is a database of scholarships that makes it easier for students to search and apply to several awards. This also allows scholarship administrators to easily organize and narrow down their candidates.

At SJSU, eleven candidates were called in to the Financial Aid Office for a one on one interview. I am amazed to say that I was the individual who was selected to represent SJSU and join 22 other candidates to be honored by the California State University School system.

TCV: Did you receive any funds for this honorary recognition?

Enguero: All candidates, including myself, were awarded a monetary scholarship. We were also given a surprise package of electronics courtesy of Sony. In addition, I was awarded $1,000 by Trustee William Hauck, who endowed a scholarship fund back in December 2010 to recognize the Hearst Award recipient from San José State University.

TCV: What is your response to having been selected?

Enguero: It is still overwhelming and exciting to realize that I was chosen to represent San Jose State University for a California State University based scholarship. At the time I applied to the scholarship, I was a freshman in college and I didnít have as many college experiences under my belt as my fellow SJSU candidates may have. It turns out that this is the first year the Hearst Scholarship has freshmen award winners Ė I am one of the three!

TCV: How are you enjoying your studies at SJSU?

Enguero: The funny thing is that SJSU was the last college I expected to attend. In high school, I was involved in leadership for four years, participated in several clubs, performing arts, and various community service activities! I was known as the gal who piled her schedule with so many extra curricular activities, my peers expected me to end up at some big UC or private college, not a campus that was so close to home.

What they, nor I didnít realize until completing one semester, was that San Jose State University is actually an amazing school! Despite the budget cuts and tuition increases, my visit to the CSU Chancellorís Office to receive the Hearst Scholarship has given me a greater respect for the California State University school system.

My family often reminds me that it is what I make of my experiences that matters and that is true, because I love my studies at SJSU! The professors, the campus, and the diversity of the students I go to school with Ė everything! I am especially grateful to major in Kinesiology where we have a friendly department that welcomes new students with open arms. My involvement in the Pre-Physical Therapy Club allowed me to meet individuals with the same goals who were supportive of each otherís achievements. In fact, these were the first group of people who posted my award on Facebook before I even got the chance to tell everyone myself!

TCV: When did you select your field of study Ė Kinesiology - and accordingly, what are your future career plans?

Enguero: Back in October 2008 in my sophomore year of high school, the economy began to enter its recession. At that time, my father lost his engineering job and my mother developed a foot infection that required surgery. This forced me to think about my future career goals where I could have a stable job that would always be in demand, and to take part in a career that would make a difference in peopleís lives. Watching my mother quickly recover and learn how to walk again made me realize physical therapy was a great field to go into.

My desire to go into the medical field was confirmed in my last year of high school. By volunteering at the Fremont Kaiser gift shop, I would listen to lonely customers tell their life stories. Empathy and patience is often used to deal with a diverse population of individuals; these are two traits of genuine care that followed the exact sensitivity mechanisms I developed when learning how to cope with my hearing impairment.

Majoring in Kinesiology will help me achieve my goals of becoming a physical therapist. After I earn my undergraduate degree from SJSU, I will need an additional two to three years of graduate school before I can officially practice as a Doctor in Physical Therapy.

I would also like to write a book one day about my experiences as a hearing impaired individual; this scholarship is certainly a landmark to write about.

TCV: Anything you would like to add?

Enguero: I have overcome the social and educational discrepancies of a hearing impaired individual and this has pushed me to a higher sense of success. At the same time, there were candidates who faced homelessness, abuse, poverty, and additional hardships. I was in awe of what my fellow award winners have accomplished, and we all shared the funny sentiment that the candidate next to us has a story more inspiring than ours! This is why I feel so blessed to have met such a talented, humble, and resilient group of students. Scholarships often recognize individuals for their community service and leadership, but to celebrate life challenges that have strengthened our spirits is truly an exceptional recognition.

Upon receiving a surprising bundle of gifts from Sony, a standing ovation from members of the Chancellorí Office, and the opportunity to shake President Qayoumiís hand, I am still trying to fathom what a great accomplishment I have achieved. The one thing however, that is clear in my mind, is the thrill to be a member of the CSU system and a representative of SJSU.

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