San Marcos,
09:14 AM

Preparing the Next Generation of Diverse and Passionate CSU Professors

By David Ogul

Xuan Santos is paying it forward.

Santos, who grew up in a struggling Los Angeles neighborhood overwhelmed with crime and poverty, earned a Ph.D. at UC Santa Barbara and is now a professor of sociology at Cal State San Marcos thanks in large part to a unique program designed to increase the diversity of CSU faculty by supporting the doctoral aspirations of students from underserved populations.

Now he’s serving as a mentor under the same California Pre-Doctoral program to CSUSM graduate student Oscar Soto, who has battled many of the same challenges as Santos.

“I find it an honor working with people like Oscar who grew up in a neighborhood and under conditions that were very similar to what I grew up with, and who has found a refuge in education,” he said.

The California Pre-Doctoral program awards scholarships to some 60 juniors, seniors and graduate students each year in the California State University system. Jointly developed by the CSU and the University of California systems in 1989, the scholarship program prepares students for doctoral study through faculty mentoring, research opportunities and trips to professional conferences. Students selected secure the title as a Sally Casanova Scholar, for whom the pre-doctoral scholarship is named. Along with the honor, each scholar receives a $3,000 grant to pursue their studies.

“It’s opening doors, creating an opportunity for me to continue my educational success and earn a Ph.D.,” Soto said.