The Presidential Grant program currently provides up to $15,000 in grants to students from select LA-area high schools.
When Fiyinfoluwa “Folu” Ani entered SDSU in 2005 as a freshman from Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, Calif., he had no idea how important the Presidential Grant program would be to his success and future career. Ani graduated magna cum laude in December 2009 with a bachelor's degree in biology and plans to attend medical school this fall.
He joins 10 other Presidential Grant scholars who are graduating from SDSU this year. Other program graduates include fellow December 2009 graduate, Denise Robles Aguirre, and nine May 2010 graduates, including:
- Natanya Bravo-Johnson
- Betty Chikwelu
- Kandyse Christopher
- Keiana Martin
- Kenny Morales
- Otesha Mosley
- Michael Smith
- Mia Tatum
- Linette Tung
These students will be recognized at a special Presidential Grant reunion and graduation reception hosted by President Stephen L. Weber on May 13 at the University House.
Taking advantage of opportunity
Ani entered SDSU with 20 other high-achieving freshmen chosen as Presidential Grant scholars because of their high academic achievements and extracurricular activities while attending selected Los Angeles-area high schools. Through the Presidential Grant, they received a grant of up to $10,000 per academic year to use toward registration fees, housing, books and additional living expenses.
“From the first time I visited the SDSU campus as a prospective student, I felt it was the right school for me because of the vibrant, welcoming atmosphere and what the school had to offer me,” Ani said.
“Speaking in retrospect five years later as a graduate, I cannot imagine not coming to SDSU as a Presidential Grant scholar.”
As a student interested in the health professions, Ani took full advantage of the opportunities to get involved at SDSU and the local health community. He worked as a student assistant at SDSU Student Health Services, served on the Student Health Advisory Board, joined the American Medical Student Association where he volunteered for community events such as AIDS and breast cancer walks, and volunteered in the emergency room for three years at Alvarado Hospital.
He also conducted heart research in the Rees-Stealy Foundation Research Lab under the mentorship of Paul Paolini, SDSU biology professor. The lab is preparing a paper on Ani's research, which he presented at the SDSU Student Research Symposium in 2009.
While at SDSU, he took time to give back to the San Diego community by tutoring students at Bayview Baptist Church. He also participated in outreach activities with local high schoolers and at the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA as a member and officer of the SDSU Student African American Brotherhood, a student organization.
‘A tremendous help’
“The Presidential Grant has proved to be a tremendous help for my family and myself,” Ani said, “and attending a school with such a strong academic program as SDSU made it a bonus.”
As part of the Presidential Grant program, scholars benefit from special meetings with President Weber; faculty and staff networking opportunities, including personalized tours of the SDSU Library and Career Services; and a university seminar class with Sandra Cook, assistant vice president of Academic Affairs; during their first semester to help them get acquainted with campus resources.
“I did not realize how much of a big deal it was being a Presidential Grant scholar until my second year as I applied for a scholarship and a research position,” Ani described.
“During this process, the research director kept bringing up the fact that I was a Presidential Grant student and seemed to be quite impressed.”
To fill the time since completing his degree in December and starting medical school in the fall, Ani has been working in the SDSU Office of Admissions.
“The Presidential Grant is one of the highlights that I have included on my medical school applications to show that I will be a valuable asset to their university, as I was here at SDSU,” Ani said.
About the Presidential Grant program
The Presidential Grant award was created to help students at select Los Angeles-area high schools with paying for registration fees, housing, books and living expenses while attending SDSU. Students must be admitted to SDSU to be eligible for the Presidential Grant and can now receive up to $15,000 per year to attend San Diego State University.
There are currently 71 students in the program. This fall, SDSU plans to welcome 20 new Presidential Grant scholars to campus.
For more information, visit the Presidential Grant website.