Cristina Prado

Spirit mark

President's Scholar

Major: Child and Adolescent Development
Lurie College of Education

Why did you choose your major?

When I began at San Jose State, I originally intended to pursue a degree in public relations. While the field was intriguing, one summer experience changed my life and my educational endeavors. During the summer of 2010, I was fortunate to work as a camp counselor for Camp Galileo, an educational science and arts camp here in the Bay Area. Being able to work one-on-one with diverse groups of children and help instill a passion for learning among these young minds was exhilarating. Additionally, it was incredible to see how educators' hard work and enthusiasm truly impacted each child's learning experience.  Ever since that summer, I knew that I wanted to continue to work with children to promote their social, emotional and academic development.

What does receiving this particular award mean to you?

Receiving a President's Scholar Award reflects the amazing support I have received from my family, professors and friends throughout my time at San Jose State . Although the past few years have been challenging, their encouragement, acknowledgement and guidance helped me realize my own ability to persevere and succeed. To receive this award at the culmination of my time at this university is an honor. I would not trade anything in the world for my education here, and I am proud to have been able to do my best work as a Spartan.

Who has had the greatest influence or impact on your life?  In addition, tell us about a SJSU faculty member who contributed to your academic success.

First, I must thank my mother, my sister and my boyfriend for positively influencing my life. Not only are they the hardest working individuals I know, but they are also honest, open-minded and kind. They have influenced me to have compassion for others, as well as to always stay determined despite any challenges I may face. Their love and support has helped me to stay focused, do my best work and show love for others.

Second, I am forever grateful for the encouragement, guidance and knowledge that Dr. Maureen Smith has given me throughout my time in the child and adolescent development department. Dr. Smith was the first professor who made me feel that I was truly capable of making a difference in children's lives. She taught me to reach new heights as a student, as she challenged me -- and all of her students -- to do their best work, whether in a research paper, group presentation or in-class discussion. Without her encouragement, I would not have even considered graduate school as a part of my future. 

Last, I would also like to thank another faculty member, Dr. Steven Del Chiaro, for not only helping me to understand the field of psychology, but for also teaching me to always have a sense of humor, no matter what challenges you may be facing. The kindness and understanding he has for his students is inspiring. When I become a school psychologist, I hope to be able to be as funny and kind with the students I work with as he is with his psychology students.

Describe an experience that has shaped who you are today.

While working as a summer camp counselor, I was able to work with a staff comprised of many kind, smart and creative individuals. Although many of us shared different views and came from various walks of life, we all managed to find friendship and inspiration in one another. I still remember the warmth and kindness that these individuals shared with me, and I will never forget how special that made me feel. This experience has shaped me to be open to new experiences, as well as to make others feel welcome. I hope that, when I become a school psychologist, that I may help students and faculty members feel welcome and involved in their school community.

What would you say to other students to encourage or inspire them to attain academic excellence?

It's never too late to discover how talented you are as a student. While it may take some practice, long hours and perseverance, you will be amazed by your abilities.

What makes you a Spartan?

Throughout my years at San Jose State, I realized that Spartans are determined. Many of us have overcome challenging life events, yet we still have our hearts set on attaining a better future. I am proud to belong to this community and to maintain that sense of determination that we all share.

Nominated by Professor Maureen Smith