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CSUSM Hearst Scholar Overcomes Obstacles to Higher Education

CSUSM 2012/13 Hearst Scholar Dominica Ranieri is majoring in biochemistry and plans to pursue a career as a pediatric gastroenterologist. She hopes to inspire others with her story of success.Dominica Ranieri, a first-generation college senior majoring in biochemistry at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM), was named one of 23 California State University (CSU) students to receive the 2012/13 William R. Hearst/CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement.The Hearst/CSU Trustees' award provides scholarships to students who have a demonstrated financial need, experienced personal hardships and have attributes of merit including superior academic performance, exemplary community service and significant personal achievements. The award is among the highest forms of recognition for student achievement in the CSU. The CSU Board of Trustees will recognize Dominica and her fellow scholars on Sep. 18.Overcoming obstaclesThe third of four children raised by a low-income, working single mother, Dominica Ranieri was already fighting the odds to graduate from high school when she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2008.“My days became full of X-rays, CTscans, blood transfusions, IVs and blood tests,” Dominica remembered. “Instead of getting better, as my stay became longer my complications grew worse.”Dominica became a diabetic as a result of all the medication she was taking and a blood clot in her brain provided additional complications. After five weeks in the hospital, she had to take on extra classes to graduate high school on time, but she didn’t let others tell her she couldn’t do it.“I am the first in my family to go to a four-year university and I will be the first in my family to ever graduate with a bachelor’s degree,” she said. “This is a great achievement.”Today Dominica has channeled her ordeals into a passion for serving others. She has taken on numerous leadership positions at CSUSM including Orientation Team leader, University Student Union Advisory Board student representative, vice president of the Pre-Health Society, and president and founder of Organizing for America. She also volunteers for the CSUSM Gender Equity Center, and is a member of the Social Justice Action Team, the new member educator of Alpha Omicron Pi, and secretary for the Women’s Studies Student Association.Channeling her passionDominica’s experience with Crohn’s has given her the ambition to pursue a career as a pediatric gastroenterologist and inspire others with her story of success.“I plan to use my own struggles as an inspiration to young patients like myself,” said Dominica. “I want to show them that a disease does not have to limit them from obtaining their goals and dreams. My disease does not have to be a burden; instead it is a gift to inspire strength and hope for (others) around me to continue to fight for their dreams.”For more information about Dominica and the 22 other awardees, visit the CSU Hearst Scholars website at http://www.calstate.edu/foundation/hearst/.About the William R. Hearst/CSU Trustees' Award for Outstanding AchievementThe William Randolph Hearst Foundation originally established an endowed scholarship fund in 1984 to honor William Randolph Hearst, founder of the Hearst newspaper chain. In 1999, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation partnered with the CSU Board of Trustees to supplement the endowment with contributions from CSU Trustees and private donors.About California State University San MarcosCalifornia State University San Marcos combines the ambiance of a mid-sized, personal, modern campus with the unequaled value of the California State University. Since its founding in 1989, the campus has distinguished itself. Students benefit from the latest facilities and equipment, a superb faculty that enjoys teaching, and a rigorous academic program that prepares students for a successful life in and out of the workplace. A recent survey reported that our annual spending in the region was $161 million, generating a total impact of $307 million on the regional economy. 85 percent of CSUSM’s alumni stay in the region. CSU San Marcos is located on a 304-acre hillside overlooking the city of San Marcos. It is fifteen miles east of the ocean; just thirty miles north of downtown San Diego.