Stephanie Bryson, California Rhodes Scholar

From Near-Dropout to Rhodes Scholar
Carla Rivera
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles

As a 10th-grader in San Diego, Stephanie Bryson said, she was disenchanted with school, receiving poor grades and contemplating dropping out to become a professional surfer. But she eventually came to see the value of a higher education and entered Cal State Long Beach. In May she graduated summa cum laude and was class valedictorian.

Her progression from rebellious teenager to serious scholar didn't stop there: Bryson, now a 23-year-old graduate student at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., was recently named a Rhodes Scholar — making her the second Cal State graduate to receive the honor.

"It was pretty surreal until I woke up this morning with 20 e-mails," Bryson said Monday. "It's a great feeling, and it's kind of starting to sink in that I did it."

Bryson was one of four Californians among the 32 students from the United States named as winners of the prestigious award, which provides for up to three years of study at Oxford University in England. The other California winners were Stephanie Lin of Irvine, a senior at MIT; Brianna Doherty of Carmichael, a senior at Brown University; and Tenzin Seldon of Albany, a Stanford senior.

At Cal State Long Beach, Bryson maintained a 4.0 GPA, earned bachelor's degrees in German and international studies and was awarded many campus honors. She was a "critical and creative thinker" and a "model of student engagement," said Nele Hempel-Lamer, associate professor of German and a mentor to Bryson.

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