Seniors winning two of the three top awards for UC Santa Barbara undergraduates are minors from the Gevirtz School

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
María Reyes and Cassandra Olivia Nielsen

María Reyes, recipient of the Thomas More Storke Award for excellence, and Cassandra Olivia Nielsen, recipient of the Jeremy Friedman Memorial Award (photo credit: Spencer Bruttig)

Both María Reyes, recipient of the Thomas More Storke Award for excellence, and Cassandra Olivia Nielsen, recipient of the Jeremy Friedman Memorial Award, are completing minors in the Gevirtz School. The campus’s highest student honor, the Storke Award is given to acknowledge outstanding scholarship and extraordinary service to the university, its students, and the community. The Friedman Memorial Award recognizes outstanding leadership, superior scholarship, and contributions to undergraduate life on campus.

María Reyes, the Storke Award winner, is an honors student, researcher, and community volunteer with a passion for social justice. She will graduate with degrees in Chicana/Chicano Studies and Latin American and Iberian Studies, and with minors in education and applied psychology. Reyes has also collaborated with faculty members on their research projects, including those of Dr. Laura Romo, associate professor of education and director of the Center for Chicano Studies, whose current work explores Latina mother/daughter communication. Reyes was the lead trainer and coordinator for Romo’s undergraduate research team. In addition, as part of Romo’s work involving preschool children, Reyes collaborated with graduate students and elementary school teachers to co-teach nutritional lessons in pre-kindergarten classrooms.

Cassandra Olivia Nielsen, recipient of the Jeremy D. Friedman Award, transferred to UCSB in fall 2012 and will graduate with a degree in psychology and a minor in applied psychology. Nielsen created the Gauchos for Recovery program, and she was the first recovery peer intern. Within the program, she helped develop and facilitate Students for Recovery, a weekly 12-step meeting. Nielsen has demonstrated her commitment to transfer student success through her role as a discussion co-leader for Education 118, the transfer student success course. “I had the pleasure of working with Cassandra on the GauchoFYI team and on the teaching team for Education’s large course for transfer students,” says Dr. Don Lubach. “She is a great teacher and her students gave her glowing evaluations.”

As of fall 2104, the Gevirtz School will be offering three minors: the Applied Psychology Minor, the Science and Mathematics Education Minor, and the Education Minor, which has two tracks—Educational Studies and Teacher Preparation.