SODA award recipient inspires fellow students

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One of Sison’s professors named her the best student of her entire career at SWC. Photo by José Islas.

One Southwestern College Student of Distinction Award winner did not say anything that made her stand out. Her hands and a tiny voice from her phone spoke for her.

Cindy Sison, 20, is a marine biology major whose passion for education and inquisitive mind enchanted not one, but four professors who nominated her for the SODA, SWC’s top student honor. Sison said she was shocked and ecstatic when she found out she was going to receive the award. She wanted to shout for joy, but kept it to herself. Sison is mute.

“I didn’t really notice how much of an inspiration I was to other students until my professors told me the reason why I was receiving the SODA award,” said Sison.

Her classmates said they were inspired by her lively engagement in class and her communication through a phone app that vocalizes whatever she types. Professors said she inspired them, too.

Professor of Mathematics Nghiep Quan was one of the four professors who nominated Sison for the SODA. Quan said he knew from the first day that Sison was going to be someone special.

“She was always driven by her own goals and not letting her disability get in the way to thrive for the best,” he said.

Sison would always be more than prepared for class assignments and would sit in the front of the class every lecture, Quan said. Many students looked up to her, he said, and she gave faith to many students during difficult tasks.

“A student in my class was struggling and thinking of dropping,” said Quan, “but then she thought to herself ‘If Cindy can do it, then I can also.’”

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Kimberly Puen said Sison is a great role model and a deserving SODA recipient.

“She is an amazing human being and I’m so impressed with her love for life,” Puen said. “She might have a disability, but she doesn’t focus on it. It’s inspiring how she always goes forward, not letting anything get in her way.”

Shaunte Griffith, assistant professor of biology, said she knew Sison was unique since the day she met her. On the first day of class Sison made a huge impression on her by always being the first to answer all questions and printing her own notes to gain more insight of the lesson. Griffith said that Sison is the best student she has had in her entire career at SWC.

“There is a certain joy that she brings to everybody when she’s in the building,” she said. “She makes me feel better in life, she brings light everywhere.”

Sison’s professors said she had taught many lessons to students through her knowledge, capability and hope for those who think of giving up.

“Sison has impacted SWC through her educational journey and will always be a sign of faith to many students,” said Quan. “She will always be one of the most acknowledged students to receive the SODA.”

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