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Santa Monica College Awards Fourth Annual Transfer Scholarship
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By Lookout Staff

June 17, 2016 -- A Santa Monica College (SMC) student who is the first in his family to go to college has been awarded fourth annual Chui L. Tsang Transfer Scholarship, SMC officials announced this week.

Angel Josue Najera, who has a 4.0 GPA, will transfer this fall to UC Berkeley as a computer engineering major, officials said.

The scholarship, which is named for retired SMC President Dr. Chui L. Tsang, will provide $15,000 a year for two years toward the completion of Najera’s BA degree.

Dr. Tsang called Najera "a high-caliber student and a human being with immense potential."

“Angel is a true community college success story, and I am even more pleased that he is headed to my alma mater, where I have no doubt he will shine,” Tsang said.

Santa Monica College student Angel Josue Najera
Angel Josue Najera. Photo: Santa Monica College.

Najera, who was raised in the South Bay in a low-income, single parent household, credits his family for inspiring his perseverance and academic success.

"If I had never lived with my father, I would not have learned resilience,” Najera said. “If I had never lived with my mother, I would not have learned discipline.

"Beyond that, my older brother taught me to question the world, to probe beyond the most comforting ideals."

Najera was among 543 SMC students who received scholarships totaling more than $680,000 at the SMC scholarship ceremony on June 11 organized by the Santa Monica College Foundation. SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery awarded Najera the scholarship.

“When I met Angel, I was deeply touched by his spirit,” said Dr. Jeffery. “When he found adversity, or others said ‘no’ to him, he forged on and instead of just meeting the standard, found ways to rise to the highest point of excellence.

"We at SMC are proud of him, and I am confident we will be even prouder of his accomplishments in the years ahead.”

Unsure what career to pursue, Najera took one of a number of computer science classes offered at SMC and found he had an affinity for computer architecture.

“I always liked doing a lot of things," Najera said. "I like art, philosophy, sign language, computer repair, and other subjects, but I decided to do computer science and engineering because of its versatility."

During his time at SMC, Najera was a student tutor and a peer mentor for the school's Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) program.

“Angel Najera is the reason we teach," said SMC Math professor Moya Mazorow, who helped Najera transition into his first calculus class. "He never gave in to frustration, self-doubt, and despair as he struggled with his classes and his life.

“There is no limit to where he will go,” Mazorow said.

Last year marked the 25th year in a row that SMC was ranked California’s top community college for the number of students who transferred into the University of California system ("Santa Monica College Top in Transfers for 25th Consecutive Year," December 1, 2015).

The Chui L. Tsang Transfer Scholarship "is awarded based on a combination of academic achievement, financial need, and the student’s own academic and personal journey," college officials said.

Scholarship candidates are nominated by SMC faculty and staff members and reviewed by a campus committee, with the final selection made by President Jeffery.

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