Sacramento State Scholar wins award for academic success

Posted by on Sunday, January 31, 2010 11:46 - 0 Comments

331_bd_80ndsm_03smle_logoBy Inna Gritsak

Ramon Gabriel Figueroa, senior film studies and psychology major at Sacramento State, was selected as the 2009 recipient the William R. Hearst/CSU Board of Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement. This award is granted once a year to one student from each of the 23 CSU campuses.

Figueroa, originally from Mexico City, left his family and moved to Southern California about 10 years ago. After getting his associate’s degree in business administration from Santa Ana College and studying for some time at CSU Fullerton, Figueroa moved to Sacramento and enrolled at Sac State.

Figueroa was awarded for overcoming adversity while maintaining outstanding academic achievement. Throughout his many transitions, battling language barriers and working two jobs, Figueroa managed to maintain a 3.91 overall grade point average.

Although film directing is his primary focus, Figueroa also hopes to write his own screenplays. He believes that his knowledge of psychology will come in handy in creating better characters for his films.

“Film is just my passion,” Figueroa said. “I want to be able to tell a story in such a beautiful way that people feel compelled to watch the film again.”

Even when talking about his journey in overcoming adversity and achievement in receiving the Hearst Award, Figueroa said he’d rather focus on where he is now than on what it took to get him here.

“Personally, I’m not too much into talking about myself in that sense because I know everybody overcomes adversity to a certain degree,” Figueroa said. “I think everyone is intelligent. I don’t see myself as being more intelligent than anyone else or being better in any sense.”

Besides being the recipient of the Hearst Award, Figueroa also participated in the McNair Scholars Program this past summer. This program is designed to prepare students from underrepresented groups for admission and studies at the doctoral level.

“(Figueroa) was committed and diligent with his approach to his McNair opportunity. He did an excellent job with his research on Latino stereotypes in the media and produced a fine paper on that research,” said Figueroa’s mentor and psychology professor Gregory M. Kim-Ju.

Figueroa’s research was presented to different universities across the United States including California, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

“He possesses the attributes that will help students shape the future,” said Lova Jane Benson, administrative coordinator for the McNair Scholars Program.

“I’d love to give back to the community and teach other students the things that I learn as a filmmaker. Hopefully, it will help them on their road to be great storytellers,” Figueroa said.

Michele S. Foss-Snowden, communications studies assistant professor who also worked with Figueroa on his McNair research, is proud of his most recent achievements.

“I’m thrilled to see that others are recognizing his potential and the quality of his work. He really is a rising star, and I think it’s only appropriate that an amazing scholar and person should win this amazing award,” Foss-Snowden said.

As for his source of motivation, Figueroa attributes his success to his respect for knowledge and learning.

“I respect education with all my heart and all my soul. I think education is the key to change the world,” Figueroa said.

Another great motivation, Figueroa said, is his daughter Jazmin.

“I want her to go to college and also get a degree and help people,” Figueroa said. “That’s the main thing. Once I, or if I, become a well-known director, then I’m in a position to help people through my films or if I have enough money, to put it in charities and help other people. I know one person can’t change the world, but you can do a lot.”

– Article originally posted at

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