Page 4 - De Anza College Online Graduation Celebration Program 2021
P. 4

 President’s Awards
The $3,500 President’s Award is presented annually to graduating students who have overcome adversity and shown perseverance in seeking an education at De Anza.
Keanna Ruiz
For Keanna Ruiz, it’s been a long journey since she first enrolled at De Anza in 2014. She’s graduating this spring with an associate degree in Nursing and will transfer to San José State University this fall to complete her bachelor’s degree in that front-line health care field.
Keanna, 24, wants to work with underserved communities. She said she’s inspired by her mother, who earned her own nursing degree while Keanna was growing up.
“My mother always taught me the value of education,” Keanna said. “I watched her go through nursing training. It took her several years, but seeing her pursue her goals has motivated me.”
Keanna enrolled at De Anza in 2014 and finished her lower-division requirements while working part-time as a medical assistant. But she had to leave school so she could work full-time to help her family for a time.
Things got back on track when Keanna was accepted into De Anza’s prestigious Nursing program in 2019. Then the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the world. For safety reasons, Keanna and other nursing students were initially required to put their clinical training on hold, until they were allowed back into hospitals last fall.
The pandemic hit De Anza’s Nursing program hard: Sandra Diaz, a beloved instructor, died of COVID-19 complications in January. She had been a mentor for many students, including Keanna.
As a student in training, Keanna said she wasn’t allowed to work directly with COVID-19 patients, “which was difficult at first, because there were so many.” But the pandemic reinforced her determination to become a nurse.
There are always risks in health care, she explained, “but this is what we’re trained to do. We’re trained to help people regardless of what they are experiencing. So this only encouraged me to continue on this path.”
Shanaz Shakur
Shanaz Shakur fell in love with the law as a teenager. But as she heads off to Berkeley this fall, she’s determined to make the legal system work better.
Shanaz, 19, is graduating with an associate degree for transfer in Political Science and received a prestigious
Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship from the University of California, Berkeley.
A first-generation college student, Shanaz was active with the Honors program, EOPS Scholars and the Global Issues Conference at De Anza. She plans to study law and sociology at Berkeley, and would like to become an attorney or an advocate for reforming courts and prisons.
Shanaz became interested in law as president of the mock trial team at Prospect High School. But she has seen other sides of the real-world justice system. In college, Shanaz worked part-time in the office of a criminal defense attorney.
She became even more interested in social activism while taking a Sociology class taught by instructor Steve Nava and helping to organize a workshop for the annual Global Issues Conference at De Anza.
Now her goal is to help improve the legal system by working to eliminate inequities that put low-income defendants at a disadvantage, while favoring those with more resources.
Shanaz said she enrolled at De Anza after seeing her older sister thrive here. They couldn’t afford to attend universities right after high school – and Shanaz said De Anza proved to be the right choice for her.
“I learned how to study and manage my time,” said Shanaz. “The fact that I was able to navigate the system, as a low-income, first-generation minority student, really gave me so much confidence ... I can proudly carry that with me.”community” with “some of the most unique, smart and capable individuals you will ever meet in your life.”

   2   3   4   5   6