Big win for pre-doctoral students

Thirteen SF State graduate students -- in disciplines varying from mathematics to art history -- have been named Sally Casanova Scholars for the 2013-14 academic year.

Photo of graduate student Jennifer White

Award winner Jennifer White helps teach a Chinese Philosophy and Religion class for undergraduates. 

The Sally Casanova awards are made annually by the California Pre-Doctoral Program, which is designed to provide better access to doctoral programs for students of the California State University (CSU) system. The scholarship is named for the founder of the California Pre-Doctoral Program, active since 1989.

SF State’s Sally Casanova Scholars for 2013-14:

  • Christina Abram-Davis, anthropology
  • Joseph Beyene, cell and molecular biology
  • Cynthia Brannvall, art history
  • Marguerite Campbell, sexuality studies
  • Clemente Joemar, Asian American studies
  • Jesus Gaeta, public health policy
  • Lauron Elvin, virology and immunology
  • Imelda Munoz, ethnic studies
  • Emily Renteria, sociology
  • James Sheldon, mathematics education
  • Ian Tewksbury, classics
  • Marilyn Thomas, social epidemiology
  • Jennifer White, philosophy

“This is an especially great year for our scholars,” said Academic Honors and Fellowships Advisor Joy Viveros. With 13 winners, SF State has the second-highest number of pre-doctoral scholars for 2013-14.

Photo of graduate students Lauron Elvin and Joseph Beyene

Lauron Elvin (left) and Joseph Beyene (right), graduate students in the college of Science and Engineering, have attended some of the same labs together.

Sally Casanova Scholars are awarded $3,000 for scholastic activities that will prepare the student to succeed in a doctoral program. Scholars may use their award to attend summer research fellowships, attend relevant research symposia and cover testing or application fees.

Mentorship with faculty advisors and prominent scholars in the students’ field are cornerstones of the Sally Casanova Scholar award.

Photo of graduate student Marilyn Thomas.

Marilyn Thomas was a hood scholar and student speaker at her bachelor's commencement ceremony in 2010.

Students work with the Fellowships Office and a faculty advisor to generate a plan to advance their studies before submitting their application to the California Pre-Doctoral Program.

“It’s important for students to apply successfully for scholarships.  It’s a learned skill,” said Viveros, who works with students to develop scholarship essays and applications. “This is the type of writing they’ll have to do to get into Ph.D. programs and to advance their careers.”   

The Fellowships Office holds a workshop each spring for students interested in applying for the Sally Casanova Scholars award. Students can find out more information about the Fellowships Office, upcoming workshops and available scholarships at its website,

-- Gianna Devoto