Stanford Graduate School of Education names winners of 2016 alumni award

Three alumni from Stanford Graduate School of Education have been chosen to receive the 2016 Alumni Excellence in Education Award, which honors graduates who are transforming the field, changing communities and influencing policies.

This year’s winners are JOSEPH CASTRO, PhD ’98, president of California State University, Fresno; HAYDEE RODRIGUEZ, MA ’02, teacher at Central Union High School in El Centro, Calif.; and PIYA SORCAR, MA ’06, PhD ’09, founder of nonprofit TeachAIDS.

Piya Sorcar founded TeachAIDS, a nonprofit that creates culturally appropriate educational software. (Photo courtesy of Sorcar)
Piya Sorcar founded TeachAIDS, a nonprofit that creates culturally appropriate educational software. (Photo: Courtesy of Sorcar)

Dean DANIEL SCHWARTZ is scheduled to present the awards during a reception on campus Oct. 20. The ceremony kicks off Stanford’s Reunion Weekend.

“I’m very excited to celebrate the achievements of these three alumni,” Schwartz said. “Through the work they do and the dedication they bring, they are showing how education can bring hope to communities and lift up entire regions.”

Now in its second year, the Alumni Excellence in Education Award aims to shine a spotlight on the many ways GSE alumni are improving education worldwide. It was created by a group of alumni and recognizes excellence in several areas including research, instructional practice, innovation in addressing a challenge in education, policy leadership and dedication to underserved populations.

Alumni are nominated by their peers, and members of the faculty, alumni and Schwartz make the final decision on winners. Each winner will receive an honorarium from a generous Stanford family that cares deeply about raising the profile of education and teaching in society.

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Joseph Castro is the president of California State University, Fresno. (Photo: Cary Edmondson, Fresno State)

Castro, who held many executive positions at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco before landing at Fresno State, is being recognized for, among other things, his focus on reducing barriers that deter potential students from enrolling in college and Fresno State’s pioneering efforts in confronting student housing and food insecurity.

“I am humbled and deeply honored,” Castro said upon learning that he is a recipient of the award. “My four years of doctoral study at Stanford were among the most intellectually rigorous and rewarding of my life.”

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Haydee Rodriguez teaches English, history and other subjects to high schoolers in El Centro, Calif. (Photo: Courtesy of Rodriguez)

Rodriguez, who grew up in El Centro (located in the far southeastern corner of California) and teaches history and English, is being lauded for her long-term commitment to serving the students of her hometown and to the art of teaching.

“Quite frankly, I’m crying tears of joy,” Rodriguez said after receiving word of the honor. “Thank you so much for having selected me to receive this remarkable award.”

Sorcar is being honored for translating her work as a graduate student into a global platform that uses educational technology to improve learning about public health. TeachAIDS creates free, research-based, culturally appropriate learning materials. The program is now used in 82 countries.

“Studying at the GSE was one of the most transformational experiences of my life,” Sorcar said. “My professors and advisers introduced me to the value of rigorous, research-based initiatives, and directly inspired and supported the work that laid the foundation for TeachAIDS.”

More information about the award can be found here. Profiles of last year’s recipients can be found here.

This item was originally posted on the Graduate School of Education’s website.