Benito RumboDec. 1, 2021 – CSU Channel Islands senior Benito Rumbo is going to have a difficult choice deciding which of the more than six graduate programs he applied for to attend. The Health Sciences major must choose between following his original dream of becoming a physician’s assistant or pursuing a Ph.D. in one of his two new-found loves—public health and epidemiology.

“I came to CSUCI wanting to pursue medicine because that is what I knew and was aware of,” Rumbo said. “But after taking health sciences courses, working with my professors, and participating in a research project about the burden of care givers, I felt passionate about research and pursuing a career in public health. But I’m still weighing my options.”

Applying for graduate school can be expensive, but as the winner of the prestigious California State University (CSU) Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Program Scholarship, the senior, who is also minoring in Chemistry and Developmental Psychology, has had help defraying the costs.

Rumbo is among 76 scholars chosen to receive this award in the 2021-2022 academic year from the thousands of juniors, seniors and graduate students across the 23-campus CSU system. Each awardee receives $3,000 to help prepare for and apply to graduate school.

The award is named for the late Sally Casanova, Ph.D., a member of the CSU Office of the Chancellor’s staff during the 1960’s. She launched the fellowship program in 1989.

The funds are designed to increase diversity within the pool of university faculty by supporting the doctoral aspirations of students in the CSU. The scholarship is open to students who show academic promise while also experiencing economic or educational disadvantage. They must be committed to a career in teaching and research in higher education.

Health Sciences Lecturer Ashley Parks is Rumbo’s professor, advisor and mentor, encouraging him to believe in himself and guiding him through the graduate program application process.

“Benito has excellent academic aptitude coupled with a strong commitment to learning and helping others. He has the temperament and resolve to be a successful professional and doctoral student,” Parks said. “I have no doubt he will succeed in every professional endeavor he pursues given he performed so well academically in my courses.”

Rumbo is from Riverside and next month will be the first in his family to graduate from college. In fact, he was the first in his family to graduate from high school but found higher education to be challenging. He transferred to CSUCI in Spring of 2020 and was only on campus a few months before the pandemic hit. He says he wouldn’t have made it without the support of the Health Sciences faculty who constantly checked in with him, ensuring he was on track not just academically but physically and mentally as well.

Because he found such great support and mentorship from Parks and Health Sciences Assistant Professor Kristen Linton, he is also inspired to one day become a college professor and mentor to students like himself. 

“One day I’m going to encounter students who have gone through the same struggles as me and I’m going to be there for them. I will know how to guide them in the right direction,” Rumbo said.

Receiving the Sally Casanova scholarship has instilled in Rumbo a determination and newfound confidence.

“Winning this scholarship made me realize not just that I can do it, but I have to do it. It allowed me the freedom to click the button and submit my applications,” Rumbo said. “If it wasn’t for this scholarship, applying for grad school would have set me back so much financially. It also showed me how supportive the CSU system is in supporting students like me in continuing their education.”

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