The Annual Spring Awards provide a time and place for our collective recognition of group and individual achievements of all of those who make Cerro Coso a special place. In this time of social distancing, we have come together from our homes to honor some of the exceptional individuals at Cerro Coso and recognize the tremendous efforts that many have made over the past year.
The President's Outstanding Academic Achievement Award is awarded to students who have maintained a cumulative 4.0 grade point average with an acquired minimum of 40 quality points for both the Spring and Fall semesters of 2019.
Enrique Franco Martin
Recipients of the Outstanding Student of the Year in a Subject Area Award represent the pinnacle of student achievement within a subject area. Students are nominated by their instructors, their attributes and achievements are debated, and the selection for top student is made by vote.
Hello Everyone, I am Professor of Paralegal Studies Dawn Ward and on behalf of the Business and Information Technology Department we would like to congratulate Leslie Carter for being our student of the year. She is Graduating with Honors with her Associate in Science and Certificate of Achievement in Paralegal Studies this year.
Leslie has made the Dean's List numerous times and is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. In addition to her Paralegal degrees, she has previously earned from Cerro Coso a degree in Business Administration.
Leslie was selected for this award based upon her hard work, dedication, and perseverance. She has overcome many hurdles to achieve her degrees. She was active in classes, which were primarily online, and she helped her classmates and share her experiences to help everyone learn. She never hesitated to reach out if she had a question or needed help. She was a joy to have in all of our classes.
Congratulations Leslie on all your achievements and being our Student of the Year!
Hi, I'm Vivian Baker, Child Development Chair, and it is my pleasure to announce Mrs. Brenda Bolanos as the student of the year for Child Development. Brenda is a remarkable, dedicated, and caring individual both in and outside the classroom. She has gracefully persevered through challenges in the fall semester, and having twins this spring, while maintaining a very good overall GPA.
Brenda demonstrates a commitment to quality coursework, and meaningful interactions with peers. She has a genuine interest in the field of Early Childhood Education, volunteering in her daughter's preschool, and accepting the invitation to participate on our Child Development Advisory Board.
Brenda values an inclusive curriculum, and building meaningful relationships with children and their families. She is an asset to the field of Early Childhood Education. Congratulations, Brenda!
Hello, I am Doctor Yvonne Mills, Professor of English at ESCC and I am so happy to introduce this year's English and Foreign Language Department Student of the Year, Freyja Chacanaca. Of course, I had hoped to be able to honor Freyja in person, but being the computer and tech savvy person she is, this is almost better. When I first met Freyja, she was called Philip. At that time, she was just at the beginning of her return to school (after a bit of a hiatus), and at the beginning of her metamorphosis into the woman she is today. Since those early days of English 101, I have witnessed Freyja's growth, not only as she made her transgender transformation, but as she matured as a student and budding educator. Freyja has always been that one precocious student who regularly pops into my office to discuss our latest reading, the perils and joys of life, or more often than not, talk about computers or video games in a language I don't quite speak. While Freyja has excelled at every course she has taken with me (and believe me when I say, she has taken EVERY course I have taught at Cerro Coso), she has also become my Girl Friday as an embedded tutor and regular fixture in the college LRC. While her journey has not been an easy one, and there have been sleepless nights, sleep-filled days, and healthy doses of both tears and laughter, she has gone out of her way to put a smile on my face on more than one occasion and regularly puts her own school work second when a struggling student needs her help. I cannot think of another student more deserving of this award. It brings me great joy to think of the transformations yet to come for Freyja, and I have no doubt she will continue to be an amazing student and, eventually, a top-notch professor. Congratulations, Freyja!
Hello! My name is Jaclyn Kessler, Professor of Mathematics at Cerro Coso Community College.
I would like to extend my congratulations to Lauren Zizzos on winning Math Student of the Year award!
When Lauren took my class online in Fall 2017, she certainly held all of the traits that make a student successful in a class: she worked hard, she asked questions when she had them, came regularly to Math Lab regularly to ensure her understanding, and was determined to do well. While these characteristics likely will make you successful in the short term, Lauren is memorable and remarkable because of qualities beyond these.
Lauren has a joy of learning that goes beyond the average student. She had a lot of fun in my online class. In particular, her discussion posts were enjoyable to read, thoughtful, and really added something special to the class. She connected with the material, her classmates, and the world around her in a unique way.
My hope at the beginning of every semester is that my students will leave my class better able to solve the problems that will certainly arise in life. Lauren has demonstrated over and over again her willingness to rise to the challenge and to take full advantage of the opportunity to learn. No matter what Lauren decides to do in the future, I know she has the tools she needs to succeed.
Congrats, again, Lauren! Best of luck!
Lauren Zissos is an incredible student who makes everyone around her better. She has a 4.0 GPA and is working towards an Associate's Degree in Mathematics and General Science. In her spare time, Lauren enjoys equestrian sports, playing the violin, photography and volunteering. Her goals in anything she does are to challenge her world view, expand her knowledge and gain insight from those around her. Lauren just started an internship at the Chemistry Department at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. She intends to transfer to a 4-year university with a major in science, engineering or mathematics. She will do great things, wherever she goes.
The student of year award for Public Services/Administration of Justice Department goes to Patrick Larmour, who is graduating with an Associate's Degree for Transfer in Administration of Justice. Patrick has been a student with Cerro Coso since 2016, and was among the first students in our Incarcerated Student Education Program for the Tehachapi location. Since then, he has made giant strides to pursue his education, being a crucial peer mentor and tutor, a leader in our Phi Theta Kappa honors society, and won a distinguished PTK Nota Bene submission award. For the last few years, Patrick has become a valuable student member for Cerro Coso and his pursuit of knowledge and mastery has earned him this distinguished award.
The Science Departments decision for Science Student of the Year is Amir Chaudhry. Amir is an excellent student in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and in her non-science courses. Choosing the Science Student of the Year is no small task as we look at the student's performance in all of their science classes, very tough competition.
No matter which instructor I ask I always hear the same adjectives when describing Amir. Amir is quiet and unassuming. She is clam and always gets the job done. She reliably turns in excellent work. She is always prepared and typically earns the high score on exams. She is a perceptive, hard-working and a highly engaged student who is both good-humored and supportive of her peers.
I have had the pleasure of having Amir in three of my classes and getting to work with her as an embedded tutor in the non-major biology laboratory course. I can assure you all of the adjectives I quoted above were evident. In all of my classes Amir was the top A grade and as a tutor she was outstanding. Students felt comfortable with Amir and she explained material in a manner that put students at ease while providing a sound understanding of the material. I enjoyed working with Amir as an embedded tutor as I got to know her and her excellent sense of humor. Amir has a positive attitude and a confidence that will see her well in whatever she does. Amir knows the values of hard work, and it shows.
Aside from the difficult and demanding schedule Amir kept as a science major (taking up to 21 units per semester) she also participated in student government, our honor's program, and Phi Theta Kapa. Amir's intelligence, hard work, determination, and her calming nature will ensure her success at any endeavor she sets her mind to.
Hello, I am Professor Cummings and I have the honor of presenting this years Social Science Student of the Year award to Emma. Emma is an amazing student with an unparalleled vigor and zeal for learning. I have worked with Emma both inside and outside of the classroom. I have had the pleasure of facilitating several of her psychology courses in addition to serving as her honors Mentor. I can attest to her unwavering work ethic and intellectual wit coupled with high levels of emotional intelligence. She embodies kindness, humbleness and is willing to help others thrive; she truly has a heart for humanity. Her talents are multi-faceted and illuminate seamlessly through any medium rather its the classroom, a blank Canvas or performing field research as a Cerro Coso SPAR member. I am privileged to have been apart of her educational journey at Cerro Coso.
Hello. I'm Gaysha Smith, and it is my absolute honor to be presenting the Visual and Performing Arts Award to Bianca-Saré Barillas. The reason she was selected for this award is because of her dedication to the discipline of visual arts, not only in academic but non-academic settings. In the classroom, she is a very diligent and dedicated student, but outside of the classroom (as we find ourselves dealing with this global crisis and pandemic), she has taken it upon herself to not only sew masks but also to use her skills with 3-D printing to create medical device components to assist in the medical field so not only is her work being used there, but she has also created objects for individual's personal use as well to keep people safe. Beyond that in the classroom, she is a very positive influence on others, and she is a pleasure to interact with, not only as a faculty member but also I have heard the same said by her peers. So it is with great honor that I present this award to Bianca-Saré Barillas.
Each year, each Cerro Coso Community College site selects one student who represents success at their respective location.
Daniel Lopez was a student in each of my three philosophy classes. Daniel demonstrated leadership in each of those classes with his outspoken grasp of major philosophical theories. He made himself available to help other students. Between classes in addition to talking sports, Daniel told me frequently that he wanted his own children to have a college education during their youth. He reminded me how his family have been moved from the reservation by the US government to downtown LA where he grew up. As an adult, he returned to the reservation in Big Pine. Daniel has now be able to demonstrate the same leadership for his own children and family by completing his Associate of Arts degree. Congratulations Daniel! Thank you for your commitment to your education and your fellow students and your children. We know you will do well in your future education and life endeavors.
—Rev Dr Karen D Moore
Dedicated, persistent, kind and understanding are words that describe Daniel Lopez, student of the year at Eastern Sierra Community College. Daniel brought a wealth of life experiences to my English 40 and 70 classes, enriching student discussions and contributing to understanding of native history and culture. He was also an eager mentor to other students. Through difficult times in his life, Dan never lost sight of his educational goal, college graduation. His diligence is now rewarded and he is an excellent example for his family, friends and native culture.
I have enjoyed working with Daniel Lopez over the past few years. He always makes a point to say hello and make others feel welcome. Last year he took the time to share his college experience during 8th Grade Day. It was well received. Awarding Daniel ESCC Student of the Year is a well-deserved honor. Congratulations!
I've had Daniel Lopez as a student for two classes now and he has been a model student. Daniel sets an example for others through his consistent attendance, good humor, and hard work in both lectures and labs. He is deserving of the award I couldn't be happier for him.
My name is Lisa Stephens. My position at Cerro Coso Community College is the Director of East Kern. This position allows me to oversee and supervise several campuses including campuses located in Tehachapi, Kern River Valley, and Edwards Air force Base, along with face-to-face college programs inside two prison institutions.
This position allows me to meet and directly work with not only staff, faculty, and community members, but also with students.
The process of selecting the Kern River Valley's student of the year is a team effort. Students are nominated by faculty and a decision are made as a team for this annual award. From this process, only one student is selected each year to hold the title of Kern River Valley's student of the year. The student that is selected represents the college and campus with honors based on their drive, dedication and overall academic success.
For the academic 2019-2020 year, it is with great pleasure to announce that Colton Van Hook is Cerro Coso Community College's Kern River Valley Student of the Year!
Colton started his college pathway at the Kern River Valley campus at the same time he was entering into the sixth grade at the age of 12. Faculty were very impressed with his focus and academic ability at this young age. English faculty member Gary Enns stated, "Colton was a sixth grader when he started in my composition courses. He has since completed the entire line of composition and speech, excelling in each assignment. He is a tenacious, dedicated, curious student with a bright future." Colton maintains a 4.0 GPA and excels in all classes. Staff, faculty and administration are so proud of Colton, and wish him the best with his future college and career plans.
Congratulations Colton and good luck!
My name is Lisa Stephens. My position at Cerro Coso Community College is the Director of East Kern. This positions allows me to oversee and supervise several campuses including campuses located in Tehachapi, Kern River Valley, and Edwards Air force Base, along with face-to-face college programs inside two prison institutions.
This position allows me to meet and directly work with not only staff, faculty, and community members, but also with students.
The process of selecting the East Kern student of the year is a team effort. Students are nominated by faculty and a decision are made as a team for this annual prestigious award. From this process, only one student is selected each year to represent East Kern's student of the year. The student that is selected represents the college and campus in the highest respect based on their drive, dedication and overall academic success.
For the academic 2019-2020 year, it is with great pleasure to announce that Anthony Heltsley as Cerro Coso Community College's Tehachapi Campus Student of the Year!
Tehachapi campuses educational Counselor, Karee Hamilton, has created a video to provide you with more background, information on Anthony's accomplishments at Cerro Community College and future plans.
Congratulations Anthony and good luck!
The Learning Assistance Center's team of tutors is made up of faculty-selected students. From their classes, faculty identify students they believe would have an impact on future students taking their course. The tutor of the year is strong student who exhibits compassion and commitment to others.
My name is Tyson Huffman and I have had the pleasure of working with Susana in both of my roles at Cerro Coso: Learning Assistance Center Coordinator and Student Government Faculty Advisor. Over the past 2 years I have been so lucky to Watch Susana grow as she navigated her community college experience. Susana has earned the Tutor of the Year Award not only because of the quality of her work but also because of who she is as an individual and the way in which those characteristics affect those around her. What stands out most to me about Susana is how approachable, understanding, and gritty she is. She is positive and uplifting to the extent that she can change the attitudes of those around her - simply put, she has leadership running through her veins.
Susana began as an embedded tutor in an English course where she did fantastic work with English as a Second Language (ESL) students. Her ability to relate to the student experience and simplify challenging concepts instantly made her valuable. Susana then began tutoring math courses and expanded into tutoring online where I feel she really was able to break through using the technology and provide a face-to-face experience that is comparable to meeting in person. She's friendly, smart, personable, and just a great person to be around. her peers have been so lucky to have her in their corner.
Congratulations, Sus! We know you are bound for great things and we cannot wait to hear all about it.
I am honored to announce Susana Ramirez for Tutor of the Year at Cerro Coso Community College. Susana has the patience, desire and ability to facilitate student learning on campus and online as a Math and Writing tutor in the LAC. Susana is very understanding and compassionate with our Basic Skills and ESL students. She always goes above and beyond to inspire fellow students to become independent learners. Susana's positive enthusiasm and encouragement is most appreciated by her tutees. She always volunteers to help students with tutoring support in drop-ins, one-on-one, groups, online and Coyote Slam events. Congratulations Susana and best wishes at Cal Poly Pomona in the fall.
—Sherri Windish, LAC Office Manager
Hello! I am Alexia Svejda, president of the Cerro Coso Community College Foundation. I want to congratulate each of you. Our work at the foundation supported your journeys by providing scholarships, special grants, conference opportunities, incentives, and recognition and awards. I am humbled by what you have done with with them or done to earn them. Through hard work and perseverance you have achieved your dream of a college education. You now join the ranks of college alumni, Cerro Coso alumni. It is with great pride that I say, congratulations!
These recipients have maintained a cumulative 4.0 G.P.A. to meet all graduation requirements.
Noah Anthony English
Amy Joann Ertl
Davis Reece Kunz
James P. Riley
Launa Elaine Strickland
Each year the Cerro Coso Community College Foundation presents an award to the student athlete who has the highest G.P.A. and who acheives excellent physical accomplishments along with scholastic honors.
Hello, I'm Alexia Svejda, President of the Cerro Coso Community College Foundation. It is my privilege to celebrate exemplary academic achievement by one of Cerro Coso's student-athletes. A transfer student originally from Las Vegas, Nevada, Nicholas Erickson played on the Men's Coyote Baseball Team for two years. His primary position was second base. He enjoyed the middle infield positions because it allowed him to be involved in almost every play. He finished his sophomore season leading the conference in home runs and in the top 5 in runs batted in. As a sophomore, Nicholas, has demonstrated dedication and commitment both on the field and in the classroom, gained him the distinction of being Cerro Coso's graduating athlete with the highest GPA. He is graduating this June with three Associate Degrees and a Certificate of Achievement in Business Administration, Business Associate in Science, Liberal Arts: Social and Behavioral Science Associate in Arts, and a Business Certificate of Achievement. Nicholas has been offered a baseball scholarship to Arkansas Pine Bluff, a Division 1 college and is planning to pursue a degree in sport medicines or some other medical field. It is my pleasure to present the 2020 Cerro Coso Community College Foundation Athletic Academic Achievement Award to Nicholas Erickson.