Student Overcomes Obstacles and Receives Resiliency Scholarship
Anthony Aguayo hit a bump in his academic career, but instead of letting it keep him down he gave school another shot
Anthony Aguayo hit a bump in his academic career, but instead of letting it keep him down and dropping out of college, he decided to give school another shot.
Published on LatinoLA: September 7, 2015
Aguayo, who lives in Redlands, is a junior majoring in psychology at Cal State San Bernardino. It was only a year ago that he was on academic probation for poor grades and facing possible dismissal from the university.
After a rough three years that included being booted from his home, becoming homeless, living in his car or staying with various friends night after night, he persevered to become the first solo recipient of the $500 Dianna J. Pelletier Resiliency Scholarship, which is typically offered to two students every quarter.
Awarded by the university's Office of Advising and Academic Services, the scholarship gives students who are on academic probation the opportunity to apply for a scholarship after they have reached a minimum 3.2 grade point average for a specific quarter.
Aguayo's grades hit a low point in fall 2014 with a 0.5 GPA, and he had decided to drop out of school at the end of the fall term. While holding down two part time jobs, the increasing number of hours caused him to shift his focus from school and miss important deadlines.
After meeting with Matthew Markin, an adviser in CSUSB's Office of Advising and Academic Services, Aguayo decided to give school one more try in the spring. By the end of the quarter, the difference was like night and day ÔÇô his GPA shot up to an incredible 3.8 ÔÇô just shy of a perfect 4.0 -- and made the Dean's List. Aguayo credits his success, in part, to University Studies 200, a class available to upper division students that teaches time management and other essential skills.
"The word resilience, in my eyes, encompasses much more than springing back into shape but rather transitioning to a new form," Aguayo said. "If someone would have told me four years ago that I would most likely find myself on academic probation, I would simply laugh and carry on."
Growing up, his mother always told him, "Ambiguity is the foreshadowing of perseverance." Being raised by a single mom was not easy for Aguayo, because he didn't have a father figure in his life. But that didn't stop him from becoming the first person in his family to graduate from high school and gaining acceptance into several colleges.
In his essay for the Pelletier scholarship, he wrote about being on stage at his high school graduation and thinking to himself, "I did it!" and looking at his family and girlfriend cheering him on. Except for his mother. "I am unsure to this day how I was able to spot her out of thousands of people filled in the stadium," wrote Aguayo.
He and his mother had been arguing in the months leading up to his graduation over some different points of view. The day after he graduated, things reached their breaking point.
Aguayo woke up to a note from his mother and an empty suitcase. In the note his mother started by saying how much she loved him and that he would always be her little boy, but that he could no longer live under her roof if he couldn't support her happiness in marrying someone she had recently met.
Aguayo, barely out of high school, was homeless for three weeks and lived in his car before his girlfriend's parents took him into their home. But that was only for two weeks. He then began alternating between friends' homes and sleeping on their couches, which he did throughout his first quarter at CSUSB.
On academic probation after his first year in college, Aguayo began working harder and focusing more on his education.
"In a weird way, I am glad my mother kicked me out of the house, because it led to me earning bad grades," Aguayo said. "They say you have to fall to get back up."
Now living with two friends, Aguayo works two jobs while attending school full time. He said that he enjoys the challenge of working and going to school at the same time.
He is no longer discouraged about a sub-par test score and uses that as motivation to achieve excellence. School is now at the top of his priority list.
And his relationship with his mother has been restored.
"Things are great with me and my mom. We are better than ever," said Aguayo. "I forgive her for everything."
He is no longer the Anthony that everyone knew in high school, he added, but a new and improved individual.
"I have taken every single misfortune, and have viewed them as a blessing in disguise. To reiterate my thought process, I view resiliency as the act of transforming into the person who you have always wanted to become. I have experienced resiliency yesterday, today and tomorrow," Aguayo wrote in his scholarship essay. "The tragic events that have taken place over these past four years are the stepping stones to lead me to be the man I want to be, so I can tell my kids one day, 'Ambiguity is the foreshadowing of perseverance.'"
The Academic Resiliency Scholarship Fund was established in 2007 and co-founded by Dianna J. Pelletier, a CSUSB alumna who was an academic adviser in the university's Office of Advising and Academic Services. Pelletier came to the university as a student in 1969, earning bachelor's degrees and teaching credentials in French and English, and an interdisciplinary master's degree in education and writing.
Pelletier served as a full-time staff member of CSUSB from the early 1970s, coordinating the study skills PEP (Preparatory Enrichment Program) in the Learning Center. She also served as an academic adviser for the next 30 years in Advising and Academic Services. She taught the study skills course for undergraduate studies and French for the department of world languages and literature. In 1995-1996, Pelletier received the university's Special Achievement Award as the Outstanding Employee. She died in October 2012 after years of battling cancer. In December 2012, in her honor, the name of the fund was officially changed to the Dianna J. Pelletier Resiliency Scholarship Fund.
Individuals or organizations interested in assisting The Dianna J. Pelletier Resiliency Scholarship Fund to financially encourage more Cal State San Bernardino students can contribute to the CSUSB Philanthropic Foundation and designate the funds to the Dianna J. Pelletier Resiliency Scholarship P308540. Contact the CSUSB Philanthropic Foundation at (909) 537-7769, by fax at (909) 537-7017 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the program, visit The Dianna Pelletier Resiliency Scholarship Fund website at http://undergradstudies.csusb.edu/advising/acadresfund.html, or contact Ray Navarro, director of CSUSB Advising and Academic Services, at (909) 537-3022 or email@example.com.
Set in the foothills of the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains, CSUSB is a preeminent center of intellectual and cultural activity in inland Southern California. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2015, CSUSB serves more than 20,000 students each year and graduates about 4,000 students annually. CSUSB is listed among the best colleges and universities in the western United States, according to The Princeton Review, Forbes and U.S. News and World Report.
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