Students Find Will to Succeed in School

Cal State San Bernardino has honored two students who found a way to succeed after nearly flunking out.

Story is courtesy Cal State San Bernardino

Why would struggling Cal State San Bernardino students Sandra Rizk and Ryan Adams have reason to celebrate?

They can celebrate that those academic struggles are now in the past. Recently the two were named recipients of the university’s Dianna J. Pelletier Resiliency Scholarship, which provides a financial incentive to encourage students on academic probation or were dismissed from the university, to stay in school.

Rizk, who lives in Riverside, is a junior with a double major in computer science and Arab Language Literature and Cultures. Adams, who lives in San Bernardino is a freshman majoring in business administration. Both were on academic probation for poor grades. Adams faced possible dismissal from the university.

The Pelletier Resiliency scholarship, which was created by the university’s Office of Advising and Academic Services, gives students the opportunity to apply for a scholarship after they have reached a minimum 3.2 grade point average for a specific quarter. Qualifying students will receive a $500 scholarship award after the quarter.

A Family Crisis

Rizk had been on academic probation between spring 2011 and 2012 and was on a probation contract for those three quarters.

Her father fell ill and was losing his eyesight, and other family members were forced to work, so Rizk stayed home to care for her father. As a result, her studies suffered.

“I was the only one left in the house who had to drive my father around and see his doctors and take care of his daily needs,” Rizk wrote in her scholarship application.

Her father underwent eye surgery in May 2012 and his vision was fully restored by August 2012, Rizk said.

Now it was time to return her attention to school.

“With so many challenges present in my life, it was time to take matters in my own hands and push myself past the many difficult circumstances facing me. I had all my potential back and I was fully focused and dedicated to my education,” Rizk wrote. “I ‘re-found’ my desire to learn and even spent more time at school attending classes and labs. I went to school on my days off to spend time focusing on my studies and improving my overall study habits.”

In fall 2012, she enrolled in 18 units and earned at 3.67 GPA for the quarter. She also received an additional 4 units by passing a Credit-By-Exam for Arabic 201.

Leaving Behind Bad Habits

Adams was facing dismissal in the winter 2012 term with a GPA of 0.93 after being on academic probation in his first quarter at CSUSB in 2011.

Receiving the dismissal notice from CSUSB turned his life around.

“I felt something that day that has literally changed my life. I fought the hardest to stay back in school, to quit my bad habits, and try to stay on track,” Adams wrote in his scholarship application. “Receiving less than a D average for the term was unacceptable. I promised myself I couldn’t just go out like that.”

Adams added that he focused on his studies and avoided partying.

“Saying no to my ‘friends’ and saying yes to my new study buddies; countless nights of no sleep, but for this time, a different reason than getting drunk and doing idiotic things; these nights were sleepless with studying and doing my homework, a new concept for me,” Adams wrote. “I got my first A of college that quarter (spring 2012), it felt amazing. My hard work actually meant something other than losing out on being with my friends and going out to have fun.”

Adams raised his GPA during the spring 2012 quarter and then earned a 3.63 GPA while enrolled in 12 units for the fall 2012 quarter.

His positive attitude and grade turnarounds have encouraged Adams to keep pushing forward academically.

“I believe I have shown a great deal of resilience from transforming from a depressed party animal to a studious new college student. Even my numbers can prove my turn around … I know I can keep this up, and as long as I can stay with this feeling, it will happen, and I, Ryan Adams, will graduate college and be the first in my family; that is a promise.”

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 in French and English and a master combination degree in education and writing. She also earned teaching credentials for French and English.


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