Fresno State senior awarded CSU system's highest achievement award

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno State senior Jennifer Phan is a biochemistry student with a 4.0 GPA and now the recipient of the CSU system's highest recognition of student achievement -- the Trustee Award

But getting this far wasn't easy, a child of immigrant parents, Jennifer says she struggled to learn English.

"All through high school it was hard for my sister and I to navigate and I had this really thick accent but it started to go away because I started speaking more English," she said.

Her parents also weren't sure college would be an option financially.

"They told my sister and I, they weren't able to afford for both of us to go to college because my father was the only one who worked," Phan said.

But that didn't stop her from graduating as valedictorian of her high school class.

"Regardless of whether I was able to go to college or not, I wanted to learn everything," she said.

Phan earned a scholarship from the Smittcamp Family Honors College to attend Fresno State.

In her time at the university, she has dedicated her research to projects aimed at fighting cancer.

Phan says she has her sites set on a career as a pediatric oncologist

"She has a mission and she's working towards that mission I've always seen that in her," said organic chemistry professor Saeed Attar.

"We get a lot of brilliant students but not too many Jennifer phans," said associate professor of chemistry Santanu Maitra.

As part of the award, Jennifer also received a $6,000 scholarship, which she says is a game-changer.

"This gives me the means to attend a Masters program or even it will give me more aid in applying to medical school because medical school is really expensive," she said.

She says after graduating next spring, she plans to get her Masters or take part in the AmeriCorps program before heading to medical school.
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