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Column: Cal State Fullerton President’s Scholar gains more than a full scholarship

By Riley Greenough
My parents and I toured nearly a dozen college campuses in all parts of California before I decided to attend Cal State Fullerton. I was an anxious high school senior, desperate to fit in at the college that would be my college for the next four years.
During each campus visit, I felt overwhelmed and lost in the sea of students brushing past me. I wanted my college experience to be unique. I wanted to be challenged, both academically and personally, without feeling like just another student rushing around campus lost in the shuffle.
Riley Greenough — Photo courtesy Cal State Fullerton
I knew that I would be very involved at the university I chose to attend. Having enjoyed being involved in high school, I learned that much of my success came from a willingness to participate. I could envision dedicating myself to my future college and, ultimately, wanted the college to want me to be there too.
When I came to Cal State Fullerton for my President’s Scholars interview, it was my first time seeing the campus. CSUF was the first university I visited that felt like home. Everyone I met was so welcoming, and even the students who I asked for directions offered to walk me to the classroom I was looking for. Walking out of that interview for the full-ride President’s Scholars program, I knew I wanted to be a Titan.
I was offered the opportunity to be a President’s Scholar days later and was overjoyed. I truly wanted to be at CSUF, and there were people on campus who wanted me to be there too! In 2015, I became a Titan with the 14 other freshman President’s Scholars from my incoming CSUF class of nearly 10,000 students.
I gained much more than financial and academic support from the President’s Scholars program. I was welcomed into the “scholars’ family” and was overwhelmed with their unconditional love and support in every aspect of my life.
Last year, at our annual President’s Scholars Thanksgiving potluck, all of the scholars shared what we were most thankful for while enjoying my best friend Nicole Kaylor’s famous mashed potatoes. We all agreed we were thankful to be President’s Scholars and to have the true friendships we found in each other.
It was because of the President’s Scholars program I was given the opportunity to work in the Office of the President as a student assistant for then-President Mildred García. During my time in her office, I helped the staff with countless projects and proved myself to be an integral part of the team. In addition to gaining valuable professional experiences and connections, I had the time of my life.
I wouldn’t be a true President’s Scholar, widely known for on-campus involvement, without making the most of my time at CSUF by joining organizations I am passionate about. I served as social chair of the President’s Scholars Student Association and vice president of intellectual development of my sorority, Alpha Chi Omega; joined Order of Omega, the pre-law society; and served on an Associated Students Inc. committee and various intramural sports teams.
President’s Scholars wouldn’t be the same without our President’s Scholars Mom, Verne Wagner. Mama Verne has been a dedicated supporter of the program for decades. All of the scholars love her like she is our real mom. While serving as the social chair of President’s Scholars, I spent the morning of our annual Aloha Brinner — a breakfast-for-dinner tradition we have — helping her make her famous French toast casserole. It was so impactful to hear about her experiences as a Titan when she attended CSUF and to know that she really is my mom away from home.
Another unique aspect of the President’s Scholars program is its mentorship program, which pairs older scholars with new scholars to ease the transition to college. My mentor, Nicholle Knapp, graduated from CSUF in 2016 with a B.A. in English. We share much more than a major and a love for travel. Nicholle has mentored me through my academic planning, overcoming writing insecurities, and even secured for me a consulting position at PACE Medical Communications, where she works.
I am a student who is always rushing from one place to another at Cal State Fullerton, but I’ve never felt lost or forgotten. I’m so lucky that getting a world-class education has been so much fun. It’s impossible for me to feel lost in the shuffle when CSUF is really my home.
Riley Greenough is on track to graduate from CSUF in May 2019 with a B.A. in English and a minor in public relations. She is from Northern California and looks forward to living in Orange County, near Disneyland, after graduation. She hopes to attend law school to practice entertainment law.
Source: Oc Register

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