(Rohnert Park, CA) September 12, 2022 – Serina Cabrera’s path to Sonoma State is truly inspiring. She grew up in a small, rural, economically challenged town in California where her parents expected her to marry young, have children early and take care of her extended family for the rest of her life.
Serina, however, had other plans in mind.
“I grew up in a difficult, toxic and unhealthy household. My escape was school. I would be in my room late at night doing my homework because I knew that if I did well in school and went to college, I wouldn’t end up struggling like my parents did,” said Serina, who this week received the CSU Trustees' Award for Outstanding Achievement. Serina is being recognized as the Trustee Emeritus Murray L. Galinson Scholar for her extraordinary public service to her home, university and global community.
The CSU Trustees informed Serina that she earned this prestigious award as a result of her superior academic performance, exemplary community service, and significant personal accomplishments. The $7,000 scholarship was increased to $9,000 for Serina, to support her pursuit of academic and professional goals.
Listen to an in-depth conversation with Serina describing her journey to Sonoma State.
Now a senior at Sonoma State majoring in applied statistics with a minor in biology, Serina has distinguished herself as an exemplary scholar with a passion for community service. She is president of her sorority, Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, Inc., a McNair Scholar, campus tutor, and co-founder of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science and works in the Mathematical Epidemiology Research Group. Her current research is centered on differential equation-based models regarding the disproportionate economic effects and mortality from COVID-19 in Sonoma County.
“It has been both a joy and an honor to work with Serina these past few years,” said Dr. Omayra Ortega, Associate Professor of Mathematics at Sonoma State. “I met her when she was a freshman encouraging other students to pursue and persist in STEM degrees through the SACNAS Seawolves, an organization that she co-founded that year. I have watched her navigate and overcome physical injuries while serving as one or more official positions in her sorority, and winning SSU, CSU, and national awards, all while balancing her academics. Serina is an exemplar who is dedicated to both her studies and her community. She is remarkable.”
In addition to being a first-generation high school graduate, Serina has persevered through poverty, a major car accident, depression and PTSD stemming from growing up in an abusive household. All of this has inspired her to push forward with higher education – and find time to give back to her community.
“I never knew how much I wanted to be an advocate for low-income communities,” said Serina, who began this tradition as a child in her hometown, volunteering with her grandmother at the small town’s community center.
"In winning the CSU Trustee Emeritus Murray L. Galinson Scholarship from the CSU Foundation, Serina Cabrera demonstrates her will and determination to succeed in her college degree and in life,” said Sonoma State Provost Karen Moranski. “Sonoma State and its faculty are proud to serve Serina and students like her with a high quality, individualized, research-based experience that provides mentorship and supports students giving back to their communities."