Angeles De Santos-Quezada
College of Social Science
Why did you choose your major?
My interest and passion for politics and advocacy flourished when I immigrated to the United States in the summer of 2013. During my formative years in Mexico, I was very privileged to be in an environment that subconsciously nurture my interest in politics. My father introduced me to philosophers such as Plato, Socrates, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Karl Max from a very young age. My mother on the other side, an advocator for education, taught me that the most powerful weapon in this world is learning. Her patience, love, courage, and advocacy for her children’s education lead me to understand and believe in my own power to stand up for such right. Since a very young age, both my parents provided the tools and inspiration that has developed today in skills, passion and loved for what I do. As I was sitting in my first high school class in the United States, many of the classes were “not challenging” my abilities to learn something new. Therefore, thanks to the advice of both of my parents, I stood up for myself and asked for a changed schedule. At this point, I was not aware of the history of undereducated Latinx students in this country. As I got to college and learned more about the disenfranchised population of Latinx in the U.S, I knew that there was a need to change the system and what a better way to change a system that you don’t know by learning about it. That is when I knew I had chosen the right major -- Political Science.
What does receiving this particular award mean to you?
Receiving this particular award means Si Se Puede, Si se Pudo y se va a Poder! Perseverance, and the support of faculty, friends, my mentors, academic advisors, and my family is written in invisible ink all over this award. It is not only my award but my sisters, Veronica, Cecilia, brother Martin, my Father, Martin, friends, faculty and mostly my Mom, Leticia. Being a President’s scholar is not easy, it definitely takes time, self-motivation, and more than a couple tears. But it is worth it
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.
Several individuals continuously impact my life in many different ways, some of them are my Mother, Dr. Bejar Lopez, Dr. Fernandez and Dr. Laker.
However, the greatest influencer has to be my mother, Leticia. As the strong woman she is, she has given me the power to succeed in some of the most turbulent times of my life. The unconditional support, love, patience and hard work she does every day for my siblings and I motivate me to keep my head up and take the risk necessary to challenge myself in the most unexpected ways. Mi otra yo, mi mano derecha e izquierda, without my mother I would have never been where I am today. This is for you, Gracias mama.
Dr. Sergio Bejar Lopez introduced me and opened the doors for me to grow in a completely foreign subject such as research. Dr. Bejar Lopez has been mentoring me and guiding me to opportunities that have fortified and inspired my educational, social, and career goals. For example, Professor Bejar-Lopez encouraged me to apply for scholarships inside and outside the department (which I had the privileged to win, one from the department and one from SJSU), connected me with faculty abroad, and, encouraged me to take the Applied Research Methods minor. Dr. Bejar Lopez has been a reference as well as an inspiration to apply for the McNair program. Most importantly, Dr. Bejar Lopez has always been present and attentive to understand and relate to the struggles I have as an immigrant student of color. When I met Dr. Bejar Lopez, as a second-year student, I had no idea the impact that working in a research project with him would have in my future. This fall I am starting my M.Ed. in Education Policy and Planning at the University of Texas at Austin, ranked #10 Colleges of Education in our country. By uncovering the naive curiosity that sparked during the summer of 2016 alongside with Professor Bejar Lopez, I can now say that being able to be part of that opportunity has been one of the best decisions of my undergraduate career.
Muchisimas Gracias Profe!
Dr. Vanessa Fernandez is one of the most valuable professors at San Jose State University. Besides being a strong, independent, smart and kind woman, Dr. Fernandez is always giving back to our community. Dr. Fernandez works tirelessly to make sure her students, staff, and the people she interacts with on a daily basis are care for and appreciated. Dr. Fernandez enthusiasm, intelligence, and compassion, makes me believe in a brighter and better future. I believe that serving others, sharing your story and supporting each other grow, makes individuals look at society in a more hopeful way (especially in this tense and overwhelmed political climate); Vanessa Fernandez does this every day. Her passion for teaching, learning and sharing her story motivated not only my first-year students in our Residence Halls but the entire Latinx/Chicanx community in San Jose State. Dr. Fernandez is always taking the initiative to support my future academic and career endeavors. From helping me with my Resident Advisor programs to being a reference and inspiration to apply for the McNair program and later on to Graduate schools, Dr. Fernandez will always be one of the professors who encourage, guide and cares for me. Dr. Fernandez keeps impacting the way I see my future career, goals, and dreams in many different ways.
Mil gracias Vanessa.
Lastly, I want to thank Dr. Jason Laker for further developing my research skills and reassuring my passion for endless learning. Along with Dr. Erica Boas, I learn about a topic that was way far from what my general interests are. This research deepened my knowledge of the gap between policy and practice in the world of consensual sex among college students. Part of my research is framed around Dr. Laker and Dr. Boas’ research model, which includes determining the current policies in place, evaluating them, and implementing strategies to improve their shortcomings in order to find ways where the policy better suits the individual. Furthermore, Dr. Laker is now my mentor, advisor, and support for the McNair program. He has not only helped me understand the art of academic research but has also influenced my perspectives in my future career goals. Whenever I would share my life stories and struggles with Dr. Laker, he would listen, ask questions, joke about life lessons and give the most sincere and caring advice—of course when you ask. By taking me to “fancy” Rotary lunches, to sharing his valuable experiences in Academia, Dr. Laker has shown me that courage, empathy, work ethic, determination, advocating and speaking your truth, can make you a winner! Muchas Gracias Jason.
Describe an experience that has shaped who you are today.
As a 3nd-year Resident Advisor, I have helped more than 190 first-year students to understand, adapt, and engage in different fields and organizations in college. As a Mexican woman immigrant, and coming to this country during my junior year of high school I had to understand and assimilate to a different educational system relatively quickly if I wanted to go to college. Therefore, looking for resources, asking questions and engaging in organizations (such as Trio programs) helped me achieve my goal. Even though I had figured out in high school how to participate and succeed in my academics, during my first year as a college student, I knew I had to do the same. Nevertheless, I had the feeling that something was missing in my life during the first year that made me feel (again) like an outcast. It was until I got emails from the “Adelante Latino Task Force” and went to their events when I found out what was missing: my community of Latinos. One of the many reasons why I decided to take the responsibility of guiding first-year students is because I understand the feeling of being an outcast in a new environment. Sharing how I found the solution to get out of this feeling (which was through getting engage in a community/club you relate to) is something I highly encourage my residents to do. This is why for me is essential to not only connect all my residents to organizations on campus but also to nurture an environment where they feel at home.
All these years, the experiences I had with my residents, supervisors, and my fellow Resident Advisors have strengthened who I am today. Being a Resident Advisor has changed many of my perceptions in life, opened the doors for great opportunities and has thought me how to be a caring and inclusive leader in our community.
Special thanks to Tracy Patton, Brian Ritcher, Justin Zagorski, Asmita Gaggar, Malik Akil, Sarahi Cuevas, Fernanda Lizarraga, Diego Gonzales, Jasmine Strachan and all my closest fellow RA’s you know who you are!
Also Gracias a todos mis hijos residents that have inspired and motivated me these four years.
What would you say to other students to encourage or inspire them to attain academic excellence?
Students, in order to attain academic excellence, is important to find your support system and I am not talking about only friends and family, I am talking about academic support. Of course, friends and family are an essential part of the “academic success magical potion” however, by going to faculty’s office hours, stepping out of your comfort zone, join academic support services such as Peer Connections, EOP, The Chicanx/Latinx Centro, Aspire or McNair, and going to class every day, YOU will sooner or later become part of the Presidents scholar list.
In this section I would also like to acknowledge the staff, some professors and political science students that helped me and inspired me to attain academic excellence, especially Valerie Lamb, Dr. Maria Cruz, Taylor-Dawn Francis, Martha Torral, Angelica Tran, Dr. Magdalena Barrera, Dr. Marcos Pizarro, Dra. Lilly Pinedo, Professor Mr. Scott Alkire, Dr. Maria Luisa Alaniz, Dr. Sara Benson, Dr. AJ Faas, Dr. Chuck Darrah, Dr. Melinda Jackson, Diana Medina, Mireya Ruiz, Trevor Magno, Daisy Cortelo, Grace Corona and Kiley Staufenbeil.
What makes you a Spartan?
What makes me a Spartan is my advocacy, caring, and compassionate heart for my community!
Nominated by Professor Melinda Jackson
Professor, Political Science
"Maria de los Angeles DeSantos-Quezada is an outstanding Political Science student. In addition to her stellar academic record, she has participated in the Explorations in Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity (ExRSCA) program and served as a Research Assistant for two different faculty research teams. Angeles is also a McNair Scholar, and an active member of our department chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national Political Science Honor Society. She is also an active member of the broader campus community, serving as a Resident Advisor in University Housing and a member of the Residence Life Association Advocacy Committee. In these roles she has helped to develop academic, social justice, and diversity related programs for students from underrepresented backgrounds. As a first-generation college student, Angeles exemplifies the transformative power of educational opportunity and is already "paying it forward" to help other students find their own paths to success."