Meet Our 2024 Student Grad Speaker

Student Award Winners

Visit the 2024 Award Winners webpage for more stories and photos of this year's major award recipients, including winners of the President's Award and DeHart Scholarship

Andrea Aviles Guzman: Pister Award Recipient

There was a time when Andrea Aviles Guzman thought college wasn’t for her. Now she’s transferring to the University of California, Santa Cruz, after winning a prestigious scholarship to help pay her way.

Andrea AvilesAndrea, 25, is graduating from De Anza with an associate degree for transfer in Sociology and plans to get her bachelor’s degree in the same field. She wants to be a social worker or work in a field in which she can help children and families.

“There’s so much work that needs to be done. I can’t fix everything, but I can help,” she said.

When she first tried college after high school, Andrea struggled. “It was intimidating. I never talked to my teachers.”

Andrea left for a while before trying again – just as the COVID pandemic hit. She left again after feeling “online classes were not for me.”

But her older brother, who attended De Anza a few years earlier, convinced Andrea to try one more time. “There’s help there,” he told her. “You just have to ask for it,”

This time, things clicked. Andrea found support through the De Anza College Promise and the EOPS Scholars program, which is funded through the Foothill-De Anza Foundation by generous donors including Kathleen and Mark Santora and Lori and Dean Johnson. She’s been a student leader with HEFAS, which provides peer support for undocumented students, while working part-time in a restaurant and studying for her degree.

Andrea's hard work was recognized when she was awarded the Karl S. Pister Leadership Opportunity Award, which provides $20,000 to a De Anza student who is transferring to the University of California, Santa Cruz.

“Andrea is one of those students that I just know will be a lifelong leader, wherever life takes her,” said Sociology instructor Steve Nava.

Andrea grew up in Campbell after her family moved from Mexico when she was 5. In high school, she said, no one told her about resources or programs for undocumented students.

Through HEFAS, Andrea said, she’s tried to help other students and their parents learn what’s available. “I feel like it’s my turn to not let that person fall through the cracks,” she said.

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