Erin Enguero

Erin Enguero

Dean's Scholar

Major: Kinesiology
College of Applied Sciences and Arts

Why did you choose your major?

In the beginning, Kinesiology was a means of achieving my vocational aspiration of entering the health care field as a physical therapist. While my goal was to pursue a life purpose contributing to the future health of society, Kinesiology opened my eyes to the changes I was capable of making in the present.

As I prepare for graduation, I reflect the joy of learning in an inclusive atmosphere that cultivated different perspectives and ideas. Studying Kinesiology has been a fascinating experience because it integrates various fields such as science, technology, physical activity, history, sociology, psychology, and business into the context of human movement. My major has transformed into a way of life where I often apply my classroom lessons toward both professional and personal ventures. It has further allowed me to appreciate self-compassion, pursue life-long learning, and form meaningful connections across diverse populations.

What does receiving this particular award mean to you?

When I was first recognized as a Scholar in 2013, this academic award taught me that regardless of my circumstances, I had the capacity to be involved in a variety of activities. Today I realize that being a successful college student doesn’t entirely depend on my hearing loss, commuter status, race, or socioeconomic background. My achievements are also made possible through the ability to make the most of my opportunities and the dedicated support of the staff and faculty who believed in my capabilities to grow in ways I never imagined. After five years, this recognition culminates the personal and professional lessons I feel very blessed to have experienced at SJSU.

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.

I am eternally grateful for my energetic and thoughtful Filipino parents, who encouraged me to create my own adventures while building the confidence to seek mentors in my higher education.

Two SJSU faculty members have particularly stood out in support of my academic endeavors. Dr. Cynthia Rostankowsi was my Humanities Minor Advisor and supervisor for both the 2013 Global Citizenship Seminar and 2014 Cultural Showcase. She encouraged me to embrace the humanistic side of education where curiosity and an open mind allow us to thrive in a flawed and dynamic world. Dr. Emily Wughalter has also been an important mentor. As my Kinesiology advisor, professor, and Applied Motor Behavior Laboratory supervisor, she has taught me how to dedicate oneself to an important cause, produce high quality work, and remain humble amidst personal successes. Both of these amazing educators have undoubtedly prepared me for the rigors of independent life and graduate school.

Describe an experience that has shaped who you are today.

Throughout my college journey, I have met inspiring individuals, many who share my experience of living with a disability. I have spoken at a panel about hearing impairments in the context of health care, introduced a special friend to the Accessibility Education Center, tutored a former traumatic-brain injury patient, and collaborated with a coworker with ADHD to present the challenges of the disability population to our respective department. In the past year, I have also served as a Student Representative on the SJSU University Council on Accessibility and Compliance. These collections of experiences have taught me that providing access to individuals with disabilities is not the responsibility of one group of people, but calls for a cultural shift of society as a whole. The special needs population has one of the lowest rates of earning a college degree. I hope to be an advocate one day for these individuals who want to attend college, but need the voice, encouragement, and resources to realize their dreams.

While my disability no longer stands in the foreground of my life, it will always hold a special place in my heart. It reminds me of the challenges I have faced, yet gratitude for the people and intrinsic motivations pushing me forward. Most importantly, it has shown me that every person regardless of ability has the capacity to achieve his or her goals, especially in pursuing a higher education.

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

After reading John Dewey’s Experience & Education and Ken Bain’s What the Best College Students Do, I ground my inspiration towards academic excellence on both an external and internal level.

External excellence is the traditional achievements we see in a student with high grades and various extra-curricular activities.  However, in the educational system today, academic excellence is often limited by life circumstances. The traditional, unemployed student living in the college dorms is a minority at SJSU. In addition, many students must choose to balance academics with other responsibilities, often making it a challenge to attain such external excellence. I myself have been fortunate to live in a situation where I could full heartedly focus on my schoolwork and internships. But what about those students who are unable to put the ideal time and effort towards their higher education?

This is why I bring up internal excellence, which is more available to students, but can be harder to achieve. Internal excellence depends on the reflections and changes one sees within oneself as a result of the knowledge learned in an academic setting. Sometimes these realizations disrupt familiar ideas, often leading us to reevaluate how we think and approach our world. Yet are you able to comprehend new perspectives and possess the curiosity to seek knowledge in topics you are passionate about? If so, internal excellence is certainly within reach, regardless of your life circumstances or GPA. (And if you ever doubt yourself, look at Martin Luther King Junior, who received a C in Public Speaking!)

What makes you a Spartan?

I am a Spartan for my resilience, adaptability, and optimism for the future. As a Kinesiology major, I take great pride in my duty to MOVE towards a healthier world on a social and global spectrum. When I become a Bulldog at Fresno State University’s Physical Therapy Program in Fall 2016, I have no doubt my experiences as a Spartan will drive me forward.


Nominated by Emily Wughalter

"Her influence on our large, complex, metropolitan university is astounding as she is only an undergraduate student. Her accomplishments are highlighted on a vita that characterizes a creative, critical thinker who engages and makes vital contributions."