CSUSM Student Awarded Prestigious Hearst/CSU Trustees Award 

Nicole Rushford, a senior in kinesiology, was named one of 23 California State University (CSU) students to receive the 2008/09 William R. Hearst/CSU Trustees' Award for Outstanding Achievement.

The award provides $3,000 scholarships to students who have demonstrated financial need, experienced personal hardships and have attributes of merit including superior academic performance, exemplary community service, and significant personal achievements.  Rushford meets or exceeds those requirements in every case, including a remarkable 3.95 grade point average.

Rushford, 27, grew up in a tight knit family centered largely on the care of Nicole’s younger sister, who was born with brain damage resulting in hydrocephalus and deafness.

“From the moment she entered our world, my family’s purpose was her survival. Her life has defined mine.”

Rushford says her outlook on life formed at a very young age “around the value of family and love because of how fleeting our lives can be.

“My family has been there for each other in the darkest of hours. We have become guard dogs, my parents and I. There have been so many heated battles in the intensive care unit defending the fair treatment of my sister… I have seen firsthand the importance of quality care.”

That experience, combined with being married to an active duty Marine, has no doubt contributed to her ambition to work with the disabled, especially wounded veterans returning from war.

“This is not a population that appeals to many of our students,” says Kara A. Witzke, chair of the Department of Kinesiology, “but Nicole is passionate about helping others… and I am very proud of her for this choice. Her patriotism and desire to improve the lives of wounded warriors is commendable, and we are very fortunate to have this young woman in our program and at our university.”

With only 12 courses to complete before graduation, Rushford says she finally sees “the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Ultimately, I feel that I owe it to my sister to do all that I can with my life. There are so many things that she will never be able to do. I have been blessed with health, integrity and compassion, and I am determined to use them to their full extent.”

The William Randolph Hearst Foundation originally established an endowed scholarship fund in 1984 to honor William Randolph Hearst, founder of the Hearst newspaper chain. In 1999, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation partnered with the CSU Board of Trustees to supplement the endowment with contributions from CSU Trustees and private donors.

Nicole Rushford

The award provides $3,000 scholarships to students who have demonstrated financial need, experienced personal hardships and have attributes of merit including superior academic performance, exemplary community service, and significant personal achievements.