Sonoma State student receives prestigious CSU award for military service and academic success

September 26, 2019
CSU Student Trustee Award Sonoma State

Sonoma State student and CSU Trustees’ Award winner Anthony Tercero with President Judy K. Sakaki at the Board of Trustees meeting on Sep. 24.

CSU Student Trustee Award group photo Sonoma State

The 23 winners of the 2019 CSU Trustees' Award for Outstanding Achievement.

CSU Student Trustee Award Sonoma State
CSU Student Trustee Award group photo Sonoma State

(Rohnert Park) A former San Bruno resident, who lost all of his possessions in the PG&E gas explosion of 2010 and later enrolled at Sonoma State after serving eight years in the military, was among those selected this week by the California State University system to receive a 2019 Trustees' Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Anthony Tercero, who is working on his master’s degree in biology, was among 23 students recognized at the CSU Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday for having overcome significant adversity in pursuit of achieving their academic goals. Tercero was awarded the Wells Fargo Veteran Scholarship, which is given to help veterans with their transition into civilian careers. “We are so proud of Anthony,” said Sonoma State President Judy K. Sakaki. “He has accomplished so much because he took full advantage of the many opportunities that were available to him. Anthony is truly exceptional and an inspiration.”

After enlisting in the U.S. Army at the age of 17, Tercero said he experienced near-daily barrages of mortar and rocket attacks on his Middle East compound. But the disruptions did not end there. The week he returned home from his first deployment in September 2010, his home and all of his possessions were destroyed in the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion that claimed eight lives and 35 homes. Left feeling that he was out of options in life, Tercero enlisted for another tour and was deployed to Korea, where he worked as an intelligence analyst and further developed his passion for learning and helping others.

After completing his second tour of duty, Tercero enrolled at Sonoma State University where he began working on his bachelor of science in molecular cellular biology. During that time, he was able to secure valuable research experience, including serving as an undergraduate assistant for a National Science Foundation-funded project investigating intertidal marine mussels in the New England area. Anthony also served as an undergraduate and graduate student in NSF-funded research investigating the energetics protein found in Antarctic fish. As his Sonoma State biology professor and mentor Dr. Sean Place, put it, “(Anthony’s) dedication to his studies has been exemplary and his academic excellence, ability to communicate and maturity as an independent researcher has been remarkable.”

With a cumulative graduate GPA of 4.0, Tercero is now working on his M.S. in biology. After graduating in May 2020, he plans to pursue his Ph.D. at UC Davis with the long-term goal of becoming a tenure-track professor and working at a university.

“It took me years and a lot of failure to get to where I am now,” said Tercero. “I am very grateful for the connections and people I have met while striving to obtain this award, and I believe these experiences, along with the failures and successes I have made throughout my academic career, have placed me in the best position to thrive.”

Tercero was presented with his award and $6,000 Wells Fargo Veteran Scholarship on Tuesday in Long Beach where President Sakaki, the trustees of the California State University system and Chancellor Timothy P. White were able to congratulate him and the other recipients in person. A full list of awardees, one from each CSU campus, can be found at

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