Lizzie Orr

Lizzie Orr

Dean’s Scholar

Creative Arts
College of Humanities & the Arts


Why did you choose your major?

I had many majors at San Jose State University before I finally found the Creative Arts program. I went from studying photography and spending all of my time in studio art classes, to anthropology where the majority of my time was spent reading and doing research. While I enjoyed many aspects of each major, I eventually realized that what I really wanted was a major that allowed me to have a mixture of both creative and analytical courses. I appreciated being able to design my own program of study in Creative Arts, allowing me to take courses that spoke to my individual interests and academic goals.


What does receiving this particular award mean to you?

I began at San Jose State University in 2006 and was unsure about my educational interests, and had little motivation to strive for academic excellence. Over the years I  came to understand that succeeding academically was about more than just getting a good GPA, it was an investment I was making in bettering myself. For me, being a Dean’s Scholar is more than a simple reflection of academic performance, it is a reminder of how far I have come towards being the person I want to be.


Who has been instrumental in your life and/or who has contributed to your academic success?

First and foremost are my four parents, who provided me with the tools I needed to be successful in my educational pursuits from the earliest age. I had more support than anyone could ask for, and am so appreciative for the resources my parents made available to me. All of my success today was made possible because of how lucky I was to grow up with such wonderful providers and role models. 

Being a member of the Delta Zeta Sorority was absolutely essential to my success at San Jose State University, and I owe this to the women I met as part of this organization. My sisters’ unconditional support and encouragement throughout my college years provided me the safety net I needed to be confident taking risks and striving towards my highest potential. The ideals of this sorority, together with the academic and time management skills I obtained as one of its members, helped cultivate my scholastic success and passion.

While there were many faculty and staff that helped me during my undergraduate experience, there are a few I would love to thank individually. To Richard Kelley, Shannon Rose Riley, Ninian Stein, Robert Simpkins, Carol Cini, and Ken Nuger, thank you so much for your outstanding contributions to my educational experience. Your demonstrated dedication in working with students is truly inspiring, and I am ever grateful for being able to learn from each of you in the past years. 


Did you overcome any hardships or adversities during your life, that has helped shape who you are today?  And if so, could you please briefly elaborate?

I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was in second grade, and had to take special reading classes throughout elementary school. Thanks to being properly diagnosed and tutored by skilled and caring specialists, I am now able to function with this learning disability and have been able to achieve all my academic goals. 


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

As I mentioned earlier, to me academic excellence is about more than showing you can take in and recite information. Putting effort into school is about personal growth, and any time you don’t put full effort into school work, you are only short changing yourself. Find something you love to study, and take pride in your hard work!


Where would you like to be in 5-10 years?

In that time I will have finished my Master’s degree in Historic Preservation at University of Pennsylvania, where I am starting next fall. By that stage I hope to be practicing architectural   conservation, or on my way to completing a PhD program in preservation. 


A few words from her nominating professors:

“Lizzie is completing a BA in Creative Arts in preparation for graduate study in Historic Preservation.  She has already been accepted to several top notch M.A. or Ph.D. Programs in Historic Preservation at several universities.”

-Chris Jochim

“She has been admitted to almost every graduate program to which she has applied! That, in itself, is amazing.”

-Shannon Rose Riley