|Jesus Herrera-Cotes received the 2007-08 William R. Hearst/CSU Trustees Award for Outstanding Achievement.|
Jesus Herrera-Cortes has spent many late nights studying for his Urban & Regional Planning and Geographic Information Systems classes. In the past three years, the URP senior has participated in student and community organizations both to enrich his life culturally and professionally, all the while earning a 3.82 GPA.
For these reasons and more, Herrera-Cortes has been awarded the 2007-08 William R. Hearst/CSU Trustees Award for Outstanding Achievement.
The award provides $3,000 scholarships to students who have demonstrated financial need, experienced personal hardships and have attributes of merit including superior academic performance, exemplary community service and significant personal achievements.
“This award validates the goals I have set for myself,” he says. “I'm honored by this recognition, and this extra money will help minimize the cost of my education.”
At the age of nine, Herrera-Cortes and his family immigrated to the United States from the city of Huajuapan de Leon in Oaxaca, Mexico. Not knowing a word of English, he faced a difficult transition at a young age. However, Herrera-Cortes had a driving motivation to adapt and learn, adjusting to American culture while excelling in school.
“It was a completely different environment when we moved to Palm Springs,” says Herrera-Cortes. “In the first years it was hard and a challenge in terms of the language and culture.”
The motivation he discovered as a young child to strive academically has stayed with him throughout college. In addition to majoring in Urban & Regional Planning, Herrera-Cortes is earning a minor in Geographic Information Systems.
His experience in Mexico has driven him to pursue a degree in urban planning. After graduating this spring, he wants to continue his education earning a master's degree in public administration. He aims to be a city manager.
Dismayed by poor planning in some areas, Herrera-Cortes wants to return to Mexico and work for a community or city where he can make positive changes for those who are underserved by their government.
“My uncle is always asking me 'Are you going to come back and fix the city?' and I say 'definitely' but I want the expertise that comes with having my master's degree,” Herrera-Cortes says. “My goal is to help communities or cities as much as I can, but I know that I can only do it through education.”
Herrera-Cortes is currently vice president of American Planning Student Association chapter at Cal Poly Pomona and is the immediate-past academic chairperson of Hermanos Unidos. He has also volunteered at the Decisions Family Counseling Program and the Pomona Hunger Center.