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Mentors Take Pride In Assisting CSULB Rhodes Scholar Bryson

Published: December 15, 2011

Stephanie Bryson will be off to Oxford, England, in October 2012, the result of being named a Rhodes Scholar, the first CSULB-affiliated student to receive the internationally renowned award. She is one of just 80 recipients worldwide, 32 from the United States, who were selected by the Rhodes Trust as part of this year’s class of Rhodes Scholars who will begin their studies at Oxford University next year.

And, while she certainly deserves the majority of credit for her accomplishment, she is quick to point out that others had a hand in her success.

“My time at Cal State Long Beach and in the California system of public higher education was so instrumental in this process – I would not be a Rhodes Scholar if I hadn’t gone to CSULB,” said Bryson. “I had great faculty support for all of my academic endeavors, and I participated in campus clubs like the Model United Nations and the German Club. Participating in these organizations was instrumental in me following my dreams.”

“Steffi’s intellect and leadership skills were given the opportunity to flourish in the Model U.N. simulation of international diplomacy,” said Larry Martinez, one of her mentors and a professor of political science at CSULB who serves as the faculty advisor to the campus’ Model United Nations club and class. “I am so proud of Steffi’s achievement and what it means for the students who now follow in her footsteps. The CSU is a remarkable program to produce the leaders like Steffi who will be at the forefront of international diplomacy when the world needs solutions and the gifts that diplomats like Steffi Bryson can contribute.”

Bryson, named the Outstanding Graduate for the College of Liberal Arts at CSULB this spring, was a double major who earned bachelor’s degrees in German and international studies along with a minor in political science and an honors diploma. Currently, she is a graduate student at Georgetown University where she is pursuing a master’s degree in German and European studies in the university’s School of Foreign Service. She plans to pursue a career in diplomacy or foreign policy advising.

“Steffi Bryson did all of this on her own. She became involved with the Model United Nations and the German Club, she studied and interned abroad, and she simply showed up for events,” said Nele Hempel-Lamer, an associate professor of German in the Romance, German, Russian Languages and Literatures and interim director of CSULB’s honors program, who also worked with Bryson in her role as the German undergraduate advisor. “She didn’t do it for extra credit or a free lunch, but because she actively pursued a well-rounded education. This is my sixth year on this campus and I am so impressed with the opportunities that this campus provides for its students, both in terms of faculty dedication to student learning and in terms of the out-of-class intellectual events that are scheduled in any given week, which allow our students to network and become more informed about the world they live in. I hope that Steffi Bryson’s achievement will inspire students to pursue similar scholarships in the future.”

While at Long Beach, Bryson acquired some of the most prestigious pre-professional experiences in the international affairs field while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average and a spot on the President’s List every semester. She studied for a year at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany, as one of only 30 international students awarded the annual Remembrance and Future Fund Berlin Scholarship. She also received CSULB’s 2008 Frank Fata Scholarship for Language Studies Abroad and the 2008-09 German Academic Exchange Service Undergraduate Scholarship.

Mentors Take Pride In Assisting CSULB Rhodes Scholar Bryson
PHOTO BY SHAYNE SCHROEDER
Stephanie Bryson (r) during a recent interview with KNBC’s Conan Nolan.

In Germany, she participated in a U.S.-German forum for young leaders and served as an American cultural ambassador for the Meet U.S. program at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. In fall 2010, she interned with the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium.

At CSULB, Bryson was a member of the German Club and served as president and academic coordinator of the campus’ Model United Nations (MUN), moderating panel discussions, participating in seven MUN conferences in four countries, and instructing more than 30 delegates about the function of the United Nations.

“Steffi is a great example of what can be accomplished with determination and hard work,” said CSULB President F. King Alexander. “Our entire campus community takes great pride in her achievement. She is only one of eight public university Rhodes Scholar awardees in the class of 2012, and this is a remarkable feat considering that it is the world’s most prestigious international student scholarship.”

Beyond Bryson’s studies and extracurricular activities at CSULB, she was a lifeguard and first responder in swift water rescue and scuba search and recovery, winning the Joe Shirley Memorial Scholarship from the Del Mar Lifeguard Association for outstanding lifesaving achievement. She also volunteered with the Wounded Warriors Project, teaching U.S. veterans water sports to help them readjust to civilian life, and for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

Previous recipients of the Rhodes Scholarship include former U.S. President Bill Clinton; author Robert Penn Warren; former Prime Minister of Australia Bob Hawke; former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley (NJ); social and educational activist Jonathan Kozol; CNN chairman and CEO Walter Issacson; MSNBC political analyst and host Rachel Maddow; 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner Siddhartha Mukherjee; current Kenya presidential candidate Kingwa Kamenco; and Justine Schluntz, 2010 NCAA Woman of the Year.