Sept. 16, 2013Vol. 44, Issue 1

Pride of Chico

Photo by Edgar Pablos

Photo by Edgar Pablos

Graduate Student Tim Sain Earns CSU's Highest Student Honor

Education gave CSU, Chico graduate student Tim Sain a purpose—something to strive for and a community to be a part of. Sain, in turn, gave back to that community through hard work, dedication and a newfound belief that he had something of value to contribute to the world.

On September 24th, Sain will travel to the California State University Chancellor’s Office in Long Beach with his wife, Christina, to accept the CSU system’s highest student honor, the Trustee Emeritus Ali C. Razi Scholarship. Distributed by the CSU Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the CSU, the annual $10,000 award recognizes students who have overcome adversity, demonstrated financial need and have attributes of merit including superior academic performance, significant personal achievements and exemplary community service.

Seven years ago, Sain overcame a life of chaos and addiction to eventually become one of the most engaged students at CSU, Chico. In the face of losing everything, including his three children, he sought help and treatment, and turned his life around. He returned to his early love of education, earning an associate’s degree in child development at Shasta College and serving on the college’s board of trustees as student representative and student senate as president. He received scholarship offers from a number of universities, including UC Berkeley, but chose CSU, Chico for its commitment to teaching.

“I'm hopeful for the future. I've been recognized by the education system, and I feel like I belong to that system."

As an undergraduate at CSU, Chico, Sain maintained a 3.98 GPA while earning a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies. He worked as an intern advisor for the Educational Opportunity Program, helping continuing and transfer students make a successful transition into university life. He has been active in Head Start as a volunteer teacher’s aide, working with children with special needs.

Each of the 23 CSU campuses submitted a nominee last spring to receive a CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement of at least $3,000; thirteen students were selected to receive awards ranging from $4,000 to $6,000. The $10,000 Razi scholarship is the highest award.

In a nomination letter, Chico State President Paul Zingg wrote: “Tim has learned through his mistakes and life’s hardships and has become a compassionate mentor, successful student, responsible father and role model. Tim embodies the hope and the spirit of this award.”

The $10,000 scholarship is allowing Sain to not have to take out any student loans for graduate school and to spend more time at home in Red Bluff, supporting his wife as she pursues her own education at Shasta College and caring for his three children, ages 16, 12, and 11.

“My daughter’s a junior in high school now, so she’s starting to look at colleges. My wife is in school now. They get to watch and see that this kind of stuff is possible, and that it’s worth it,” he said. “Because they’ve had to sacrifice a lot for me to be here, so they’re able to see a little bit of the fruits of my labor and their sacrifice.”

Sain is now in his second semester of graduate school, pursuing a master’s degree in education and eventually a doctorate. He is a member of the Graduate Equity Fellowship program, which pairs students with faculty mentors to participate in a research project designed to prepare the fellows for doctoral study. He is in the early stages of research for a thesis involving digital media and alternative grading. He hopes to enter the credentialing program next semester.

“I’m hopeful for the future,” he said. “I’ve been recognized by the education system, and I feel like I belong to that system.”

—Kacey Gardner, editorial assistant, and Anna Harris, Public Affairs and Publications

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