2023 Honors Program Graduates

Congratulations to All the Honor's Program Graduates!

Honors Faculty Awards (for graduating students)

  • Elajae Lee
  • Nicolas Ellis

President's Scholarship (for incoming high school student)

  • Meghan Albro

Amy Myers

I've enjoyed my time as an honors student at Cerro Coso. I encourage anyone to take the extra work and to challenge yourself to join.

I am taking a break, but plan on transferring to the University of San Diego when the time is right. My major is in psychology and I will also get my degree in liberal arts.
—Amy Myers

Amy Myers is one of the most industrious and determined students that I've had the pleasure to have in one of my classes. At any moment, Amy seems to be successfully juggling three or more separate responsibilities, while simultaneously participating in class. More impressively, Amy successfully manages all these responsibilities with a continuously friendly and composed demeanor. Amy's unique qualities and outlook on life will continue to ensure her future success.
—Scott Cameron, Professor of Physical Sciences

Amy is such a disarmingly positive and outgoing personality that her confidence and casual ambition just seem natural to her identity. She tries to lower expectations when it comes to her academic work, a strategy I am quite familiar and skilled at myself, but once you work with her for a while it becomes obvious that she is far more insightful than she lets on. Her social energy will move her a long way toward success, but she should not downplay her mental acuity either as it is indeed both real and noticeable.
—Matt Jones, Professor of History and Political Science

Amy Myers.

Jessica Cliff

This place has been my second home for four years. My experience has been amazing and challenging. I would not change a thing. I am proud of myself for accomplishing all of my goals and pushing past my comfort zone throughout the years. The honors program allowed me to grow and really push myself mentally and academically. I appreciate what the experience has provided for me.

I will be transferring to Cypress Community College majoring in Mortuary Science.
—Jessica Cliff

Jessica Cliff is an excellent example of what it means to be a dedicated and engaged student. She has an extraordinary level of engagement, persistence, and focus. She approaches every challenge with a positive attitude and a determination to succeed, which has helped her overcome numerous obstacles and setbacks along the way. But what makes her stand out is her generosity of spirit and her genuine care for others. She is always willing to lend a helping hand, offer words of encouragement, and support her fellow students in any way she can. She is a model of persistence and grit, and I have no doubt she will continue to achieve great things in her future endeavors. —Guck Ooi, Professor of Biology

Jessica Cliff is intelligent, observant, and very witty. Her ability to explain material in terms that students can relate to make her an excellent tutor and student instructor. Her calm and kind nature put people at ease and make students unafraid to ask questions. Jessica's keen eye, good nature and great sense of humor make her a valued addition to the National Science Foundation Native Bee Study. Her intellect and kind nature make her one of our top students.
—Claudia Sellers, Professor of Biology

Jessica Cliff

Rudolph Richards

I am planning on transferring to UCSD for electrical engineering.
—Rudy Richards

I had the pleasure of having Rudolph Richards in my third semester Calculus and Differential Equations courses. He has excelled in two of the most difficult math courses we offer. I know his goal is to be an electrical engineer and work in sustainable energy. Rudy is curious, intelligent and has a strong work ethic. These are qualities that make for a great engineer. If my experience with him is any indication of things to come, he will likely save the world. Congratulations Rudy! Good luck at your next school. You will be a great engineer someday soon.
—Michael Bonner, Professor of Mathematics

Rudy is such a dedicated likable student, who combines intellectual curiosity with an impressive capacity for critical analysis, that it was almost too effortless to be his instructor. Let me do my job and correct your analysis every once in a while dammit! He takes his education, not just his grades or degree goals, seriously and genuinely desires to approach the subjects of academic inquiry with demonstrable thoughtfulness. It was an absolute privilege to work with him over the last year.
—Matt Jones, Professor of History and Political Science

Rudy Richards.

Kevin Thompson

It was a great experience to participate in the Honors program. I think it really helped me prepare for transferring to a UC school and will continue to benefit me as I pursue an advanced degree. I've had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with a lot of great instructors, especially in the science and math departments, and it has been an invaluable experience to learn so much from them in my time at Cerro Coso. Truly, thank you all.

I'm transferring to UC Irvine and I'm majoring in Chemistry. —Kevin Thompson

Kevin Thompson is the most attentive student I've ever had the pleasure of working with. His meticulousness and analytical skills are unparalleled; he is able to detect even the slightest of errors in a question or explanation within seconds. As a result, he has pushed me to be a better instructor by motivating me to produce clearer descriptions of chemical phenomena. I was fortunate to have him as a student for four consecutive semesters, including two honors courses. Needless to say, he excelled in every course, producing perfect or near-perfect results on all his assignments. He will doubtlessly succeed in whatever field he ends up choosing for his career - and his field will benefit greatly from having him. Congratulations, Kevin!
—Alex Gilewski, Associate Professor of Chemistry

Kevin Thompson.

Elajae Lee

The honors program has been a great experience that really challenged me and helped me learn so much about various subjects. I am proud to have successfully completed the program. I really appreciate all the professors who helped me succeed in my honors classes.

I am transferring to CSU Dominguez Hills, and I am majoring in Clinical Science.
—Elajae Lee

Elajae excels. Her classwork is stellar, and she handles tough assignments with aplomb, making hard work look easy. She is just as impressive outside of the classroom. When Covid drained campus life and student club participation was at its lowest, Elajae stepped up as our Phi Theta Kappa Chapter President and carried the officer team through the pandemic years with little help. In what I think is typical for her, she did not do the minimum and actively led the development of the Garden Club. She's left a lovely legacy. —Christine Swiridoff, Professor of English

Elajae Lee is an outstanding student. Not only is she brave enough to take the general chemistry sequence online during the pandemic but went above and beyond by helping her fellow students out with their numerous questions in our online forum. In Chem C113H, she answered her very challenging problems with apparent ease. She even provided hints and suggestions to her peers who had their own difficult problems, all the while not providing explicit answers to them. This demonstrates an extraordinary amount of wisdom and finesse. She has additionally been very active on our campus, serving as the President of Phi Theta Kappa, and has set goals for our chapter that will be instrumental in guiding the organization in the years to come. Congratulations, Elajae! —Alex Gilewski, Associate Professor of Chemistry

Elajae Lee.

Jeremiah Lillion

I would like to express my immense gratitude to all of my professors! You all helped me grow beyond what I thought possible for myself. Thank you for supporting and mentoring me throughout every class. Your kindness, thoughtfulness, and expertise have made a lasting impact on my life. Through your teaching I got to elevate my writing, analysis, rhetoric, and appreciation for other cultures which helped broaden yet refine my outlook on life. I could not have asked for better mentors to guide me. Thank you! —Jeremiah Lillion

Jeremiah Lillion is a super highly motivated student, a great writer, an insightful thinker, and about the nicest young man at the college. He was my student in ENGL C101 and 102; in both classes, he was always prepared, always ready with an insightful comment, and always very respectful of his professor and his classmates. In the way that he conducts himself—attentive, affable, and calm—Jeremiah truly is a model of conduct for all students. He also always laughed at my jokes, something I particularly appreciate as a sign of intelligence in young people. Congratulations on your excellent work, Jeremiah! —Cliff Davis, Professor of English

Jeremiah is an outstanding student: always prepared, highly conscientious, fully present, and engaged. He is quite the overachiever as well, graduating from the Honors Program and Phi Theta Kappa and earning three degrees that demonstrate his well-roundedness: Math and Science, Arts and Humanities, and Social and Behavioral Sciences, as if he wants to learn it all. In addition to being smart and hardworking, he is the nicest person, with an unfailingly positive attitude and bright wit. In his rare absences from class, he was missed by students and instructor alike. Whether he was in class discussions or working as an embedded tutor, I cannot imagine someone more open or encouraging to others. —Christine Swiridoff, Professor of English

Jeremiah Lillion.

Lauren Zissos

I am so thankful to have participated in the Honors Program at Cerro Coso. It has been one of the most rewarding pursuits of my academic career, and the discipline and knowledge I have gained as a result have already proven invaluable. Being able to say that I graduate with honors is the embellishment to the real prize of being able to study under the exceptional faculty here. I am so thankful for the learning opportunities and cannot wait to see where the rest of this journey takes me. Thank you to my honors professors for making my time here enlightening and productive! I will miss taking your classes and gaining so much knowledge and wisdom!

I will be transferring in Fall of 2024. —Lauren Zissos

Lauren Zissos is an exceedingly incisive, highly articulate, and fiercely creative student who's always prepared for class and never, ever is absent. I've had the great privilege to teach her in six English classes, including two honors' sections, and as I said last year, she's easily one of the best students I've ever had at Cerro Coso. I recently showed my dad, a retired academic, a brief, diagnostic essay written by Lauren about The Merchant of Venice, and he initially thought either that it was a published article, or that I had written it. Lauren is truly extraordinary, and she deserves to win this award twice in two years. Congratulations, Lauren!. —Cliff Davis, Professor of English

Lauren is an amazing student, but more importantly, she is wonderfully serious mind that not only has incredible language competency but also an impressive amount of intellectual acuity and confidence. I can genuinely say that she will succeed in almost any major, while I can selfishly say that I demand she succeed at political science or history. Her one glaring fault is her woefully, almost criminally inadequate knowledge of movie entertainment over the last forty years. This lack of movie culture in favor of constant book reading is disturbing and something she should correct post haste.
—Matt Jones, Professor of History and Political Science

Lauren Zissos.

Nicolas Ellis

The honors program is great in helping students understand a class at a much deeper level. It helps us visualize and develop a project over the semester that helps understand the dynamics or impact of a subject in real world applications and concepts. I'd like to thank professor Jones as well, I have done 3 honors classes just with him even though none of his classes are part of my major. It also really helps that professors here are open and able to work with you.

I'm transferring to San Diego state University and majoring in international business.
—Nicolas Ellis

Nicolas Ellis was one of the first students who took LIBR C111 Advanced Library Research (now Information and Media Literacy) and he did so while still in high school. Right away, I was impressed with his ability to think critically about course topics such as online privacy, confirmation bias, and freedom of information. As the course progressed, Nicolas offered a unique perspective in course discussions and engaged his classmates in friendly but challenging debate. Nicolas is a staunch advocate of freedom of expression, which is an ever-important value in today's cultural and political landscapes. —Julie Cornett, Professor of Information Competency, Librarian

Nico is quiet yet incredibly likable young man who, although he certainly struggles with being overcommitment and time-management, has the resilience and persistence to succeed in his educational goals. Nico comes off initially as unsure of himself and his academic work, but behind that first blush is a student who doesn't shy from a challenge and who is slowly growing into some real intellectual confidence.
—Matt Jones, Professor of History and Political Science

Kevin Thompson.

Joyce Chung

The Honors Program really challenged me in my academic courses, which I loved. Because of the pandemic, student life has been stagnant. It helped me stay engaged and motivated in my studies throughout my years in Cerro Coso. Learning other topics of my interests to further my knowledge has been very fun!

I am transferring to UCSB, majoring in Economics and Accounting.
—Joyce Chung

During the Spring 2023 semester, I've had the pleasure to work with Joyce Chung on an honors research paper in astronomy. Because Joyce is in one of my online courses, we have not formally met in person. Despite the potentially impersonal nature of this remote environment, I have had some of the most interesting astronomy conversations with Joyce throughout the semester. Joyce's intellect is agile, creative, and wide-ranging. Her ability to think laterally and holistically is a rare ability.
—Scott Cameron, Professor of Physical Sciences

I had Ms. Chung in my BSAD C131 Business Law class. Ms. Chung was an attentive student within the course and her honors section seeking to fully understand the subject areas and expanded topics. We worked together to develop her honors project essay so she could expand her knowledge in business law specifically related to accounting. She was a pleasure to have in class.
—Dawn Ward, Professor of Paralegal Studies

Joyce Chung.