EDUCATION – Stephen Cortez of Rosamond and Michael Tocco of Lancaster have been named President’s Scholars with the fall 2012 incoming freshman class at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). Each has been awarded a full, four-year scholarship from the university worth about $70,000.
Cortez was both a valedictorian and National Hispanic Recognition scholar in this year’s graduating class at Quartz Hill High School. The son of Fernando Cortez of Rosamond, Cortez is planning to major in biomedical and clinical engineering at CSULB with an eventual career goal of becoming a neurosurgeon.
Tocco was a valedictorian for the Class of 2012 at Paraclete High School. The son of Michael Tocco of Lancaster, the younger Tocco has declared a major in civil engineering.
The CSULB President’s Scholars Program was created in 1995 in an effort to bring valedictorians and national scholars from California high schools to the Long Beach campus. It is recognized as the premier program of its kind in the state, and since its inception, more than 1,000 students from throughout the state have been selected for the program.
“The President’s Scholars Program at Cal State Long Beach attracts some of the most academically talented students in California, and this year’s class is no exception,” said CSULB President F. King Alexander. “The program is extremely competitive. Each year, we receive hundreds of applications for these scholarships, but this year only 26 students were selected to be part of this incoming group of scholastically outstanding individuals.”
Cortez and Tocco were selected for the program from an applicant pool of close to 700 high achieving students statewide. They will be among 26 new President’s Scholars joining the university when fall classes begin Aug. 27.
At Quartz Hill High, Cortez was very active in athletics, participating for four years on the boys cross country, soccer and tennis teams. He was also a three-year member of the Key Club, volunteering his time and working with the group to help improve the community. In the community, he volunteered with the Migrant Education Program, tutoring sixth- to eighth-grade students in math.
Tocco was also very active at Parclete High, where he served as president of the Italian Club and was involved with the Key Club and the school’s Associated Student Body. He was also a member of the National Honor Society, the California Scholarship Federation and Mu Alpha Theta. In the community, he ushers weekly at the Blessed Father Serra Parish.
“I chose to apply to California State University, Long Beach for its positive reputation, location and nationally recognized academic programs,” Tocco wrote in his application essay for the program. “By providing me with a diverse and intelligent array of professors, CSULB offers me a place to challenge myself academically and attain an education that satisfies my major’s requirements, as well as giving me the tools to work in the field of my choice.”
Cortez concurred in his essay, noting that “CSULB offers many opportunities in all majors and has an astonishingly diverse and multi-cultural student community.”
The environment at CSULB will “challenge my academic capabilities and allow me to thrive as an individual and scholar,” Cortez wrote. “CSULB is one of the best advocates for undergraduate research and work opportunities, encouraging students to delve into their majors through hands-on experience.”
As President’s Scholars, the two will attend CSULB on full scholarships, which covers general student fees, an annual book allowance and paid housing in the campus residence halls for four years. In addition, they will receive priority registration, personal academic counseling and more.
The benefits for qualifying valedictorians and National Scholars from accredited California high schools are made possible through the support of the CSULB Alumni Association, President’s Associates and the Corporate Scholars Council.
With nearly 35,000 students (fall 2011), Cal State Long Beach is among the largest college campuses in California and the third-largest campus in the 23-campus Cal State system, which is the largest public higher education system in the nation.
(Information via press release from California State University, Long Beach.)