A biological sciences senior who faced childhood homelessness and dyslexia received the California State University (CSU) Trustees’ Award and $6,000 scholarship for outstanding achievement. 

“It feels a bit strange to look back on my life and see how much has changed,” 25-year-old recipient Nathaniel Morgan said. “I chose Cal Poly because I wanted to get my hands dirty and do something, and I know Cal Poly is really good helping students at doing that.”

Morgan is concentrating his studies in ecology and evolution, and said he hopes to pursue a career researching population genetics and evolution.

The CSU Trustees’ Award is given annually to students who demonstrate superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service and financial need. One student is chosen from each of the CSU’s 23 campuses. 

CSU Public Affairs Director Toni Molle said she was particularly moved by Morgan’s story. 

“The recipients all have inspiring stories but Nathaniel’s story inspires me because of the line of study he’s in and what he’s pursuing,” Molle said. “It’s very rewarding to see these students recognized publicly for their efforts.” 

Morgan was recognized by the CSU Board of Trustees meeting with the other awardees Sept. 24 in Long Beach. The recipients’ families were invited to witness their loved ones be publicly honored for their achievements. 

As Cal Poly focuses on providing a diverse, inclusive and equitable campus community for all students, one particular aim involves providing access to students of all socioeconomic backgrounds, according to University Spokesperson Matt Lazier. 

“Some of our brightest and most successful students have risen above modest beginnings and gone on to complete their studies and achieve success in their careers and, more importantly, their lives,” Lazier wrote in an email to Mustang News. “Stories like Nathaniel’s serve as a beacon of possibilities for other students who dream of and work for a life full of possibilities.”

Morgan joined more than 360 students honored with the Trustees’ Award since the scholarship program was established in 1984 by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

In 1999, the foundation partnered with the CSU Board of Trustees to supplement the endowment with contributions from CSU Trustees, CSU Foundation Board of Governors and private donors. Each student scholarship bears the name of a donor.

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