The Best and the Brightest

UCSB Announces Winners of Thomas More Storke Award and Other Top Prizes

Three remarkable graduating seniors at UC Santa Barbara have been named winners of the university’s top awards for their scholastic achievement, their extraordinary service to the university and the community, and their personal courage and persistence.

Daniel Chu, of San Diego, is the recipient of the Thomas More Storke Award for Excellence, the campus’s highest student honor, for outstanding scholarship and extraordinary service to the university, its students and the community.

Gloria M.A. Campos-Calderon, of Los Angeles, is the recipient of the Jeremy D. Friedman Memorial Award, which recognizes outstanding leadership, superior scholarship and contributions to undergraduate life on campus.

Stephanie Natalie Grillo, of Northridge, is the recipient of the Alyce Marita Whitted Memorial Award, which recognizes a nontraditional student’s endurance, persistence and courage in the face of extraordinary challenges while pursuing an academic degree.

In addition, Christopher Ryan Edwards will receive the Mortar Board Award, which is given in recognition of having earned the highest cumulative GPA of the graduating class; and Kashira Ayers will receive the Yonie Harris Award for Civility in Public Discourse. This award, named in honor of the former dean of students, is presented to graduates who exemplify the principles of free speech and respectful dialogue and who foster a campus climate of civility and an open exchange of ideas.

These and other student award winners will be honored at a University Awards Ceremony and Reception Friday, June 12, from 3:30 to 6 p.m. in the campus’s Corwin Pavilion. The winner of the Storke Award will also be honored at the Sciences ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 13, on the Faculty Club Green.

Daniel Chu, the Storke Award winner, is an honors student, researcher and community volunteer. He will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from the College of Creative Studies, with a minor in music. To describe Daniel as an excellent student in both his scholarship and piano performance would be an understatement at best. With an impressive 3.94 grade point average that includes no fewer than 10 A+ grades, Chu is, in the words of one faculty nominator, “one of the best of the best in this year’s graduating class.”

As an undergraduate, Chu performed graduate-level research with Irene Chen, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, where his independent project involved “characterizing phage diversity in microbial infections in order to understand their role in the disease course of chronic infections.” So important is Chu’s research that a post-doctoral student was assigned to work with him so the research can continue after Chu graduates.

But science was not the undergrad’s first choice. From a young age, Chu intended to pursue a career as a concert pianist. However, an opportunity to conduct medical research as a high school student ignited his passion for medical science. He now describes his ultimate career goal as working as a principal investigator studying pediatric diseases, and also as a part-time pediatrician.

The recipient of numerous awards and scholarships, Chu is equally accomplished outside the classroom. Founder and co-president of Project Bridge, he worked with underserved populations in the community to ensure their education about and access to affordable healthcare. He was also an active volunteer with the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics and the Casa Esperanza homeless center. In addition, as the healthcare chair of the Mu Delta pre-medical fraternity, Chu made sure his fellow members had updated information about healthcare and professional development opportunities.

After graduating from UCSB, Chu will begin a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. His long-term goal is to earn a medical degree and a Ph.D. Guessing his possible career, “mission specialist for NASA? epidemiologist at the CDC?” one of his nominators noted, “no matter what he ultimately decides to pursue, one thing I am absolutely certain of — he will be excellent at it.”

Gloria M.A. Campos-Calderon, recipient of the Jeremy D. Friedman Award, is recognized as an innovator, a scholar, a role model and a forceful leader who has worked to raise awareness about the needs of undocumented students. She set the goal of developing and strengthening services and support for undocumented students at UCSB and then expanded her reach to the entire UC system.

In the words of her nominator, “She models beautifully an activist-leader, rallying for awareness on issues of injustice and human rights and sitting at the table working on systemic change.” Known as compassionate, gentle and dedicated, Campos-Calderon improved the lives of countless students through her leadership of the organization Improving Dreams, Equality, Access and Success (IDEAS), where she served as co-chair, internal advocacy chair and fundraising chair.

With Campos-Calderon’s assistance, the campus transitioned from a model in which IDEAS students served as the primary experts on undocumented UCSB students to one that includes a growing number of staff and faculty members trained to sensitively and respectfully launch services and support students’ efforts and needs.

Campos-Calderon also assisted in drafting the proposal and budget for what would become UCSB’s Undocumented Student Services. Working tirelessly on behalf of her fellow students, Campos-Calderon participated in the Associated Students (AS) Commission on Racial Equality, the Leadership Education and Action Program, the AS Food Bank, AS Human Rights Board, KCSB-FM radio station and El Congreso.

Her activism also extends beyond the university to include her role as an advocate in the UC system for undocumented students, a mentor in two local schools, a member of the Coastal Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, chair of the National Dream Caucus and San Gabriel Immigrant Youth Coalition.

“Gloria’s community service on and off campus shows a pattern of social justice,” her nominator said. “And it also tells a story about her character. She does not hesitate to act where there is a need and gives of herself tirelessly and paves the way for others to obtain shelter, food and basic rights.”

After graduating from UCSB with Bachelor of Science degrees in Black Studies and in environmental studies, Campos-Calderon plans to return to Los Angeles to work with community organizations dedicated to environmental justice. Ultimately, she hopes to earn her teaching credential and become an ethnic studies teacher within the Los Angeles Unified School District. She also plans to pursue a master’s degree in urban planning and focus on issues related to affordable housing.

Stephanie Natalie Grillo, a first-generation transfer student and recipient of the Whitted Award, has demonstrated remarkable perseverance as she overcame one challenge after another to achieve her goal of attending UCSB.

Raised in an underprivileged home, while still in high school she assumed the role of parental guardian for her two younger siblings. Financially independent since the age of 19, she continues to provide emotional and financial support to her siblings.

Described as passionate, motivated and hardworking, Grillo used her strength as a leader and volunteer coordinator to inspire her peers to share her vision for Life of the Party (LOTP), a student-run intern program organized under the auspices of the UCSB Alcohol and Drug Program. LOTP seeks to create an environment in which responsible partying is normalized. As an intern and volunteer coordinator for the program, she has tripled the number of students regularly attending volunteer meetings, and nine volunteers have interviewed for next year’s internship (up from the handful of students and one internship applicant two years ago).

As volunteer coordinator for LOTP, Grillo was part of the team that assisted with Delirium, the AS Program Board’s Halloween concert, and The Warm Up, an alternative to Deltopia. As a result of her engagement and leadership, many students chose volunteering over partying and helped make Isla Vista safer during those weekends. She served as the primary contact for the more than 300 LOTP students on the weekly volunteer listserv, assisted volunteers with development of campaign ideas and programs, presented education programs to various student groups, developed and implemented alternative programs and prevention campaigns and assisted with online marketing.

Her nominator said of Grillo, “Her work is always impeccable, her attitude is consistently positive and motivated and she makes every meeting fun and filled with laughter, which is extremely important given the nature of the work Life of the Party tries to do for the community.”

Grillo also has served as a peer facilitator for Gaucho FYI; a clinician and inclusion aid at UCSB’s Koegel Autism Center for children with special needs; a science counselor for UCSB’s Summer Science Camp; and an instructional assistant for Education 122, part of the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education’s Pre-Professional Education Program.

After graduating from UCSB with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in education, Grillo plans to work as a clinician at the Koegel Autism Center as well as a bilingual para-educator for the Santa Barbara Unified School District. With some experience under her belt, she hopes to return to UCSB to earn her teaching credential and complete a Master of Arts degree in Education.

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