Cal Poly Pomona architecture student Christopher Ornelas will receive a 2020 CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement, the CSU’s highest recognition of student success. One student from each of the 23 CSU campuses receives this distinction each year.
Ornelas will receive a donor-funded scholarship and be honored in a virtual ceremony on Sept. 22 along with awardees from the other 22 campuses.
The third-year student from Oxnard aspires to earn a master’s degree in urban design and start his own architectural firm.
“I want to use my education to enable a push towards the limits of architecture and how it may help the environment,” Ornelas said. “By far my greatest educational pursuit is to take in the knowledge of architecture and start to develop my own understanding and style.”
Ornelas never imagined he would have the opportunity to pursue a post-secondary education while playing a vital role raising his younger siblings as his parents worked from sunrise to sunset as farmworkers in Ventura County. He credits role models including family members, high school teachers and coaches with developing his aspirations for higher education.
He graduated from Channel Islands High School and earned two associate degrees with honors for architecture and mathematics from Ventura and Oxnard College before arriving at Cal Poly Pomona.
While attending community college, Ornelas balanced his time helping his family, attending classes and tutoring middle school students. He continues to be a positive influence on children who lack access to vital tools and educational resources that are necessary to succeed. Although academic priorities currently account for most of his time, he plans to resume tutoring soon.
More than 380 students have been honored with the Trustees’ Award since the scholarship program was established in 1984 by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation to reward students who demonstrate superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service and financial need.
“All of these scholars have overcome unique challenges on their educational journeys,” said CSU Chancelor Timothy P. White. “Their stories have left an indelible, positive impact on their families, communities and the state of California.”