A nursing graduate student and an undergraduate majoring in biology have been chosen as the 2019-20 outstanding students for the College of Natural Sciences at Cal State San Bernardino.

Typically, graduate student Sandra Cardenas and undergraduate Marvin Macharia would be honored at the college’s 2020 commencement ceremony, but the event was postponed, as were the university’s other colleges’ commencements, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once it is determined that the ceremonies can be held in a healthy, protective environment meeting all existing protocols, then a new date and time will be announced.

Cardenas was named the College of Natural Science’s 2019-20 Outstanding Graduate Student and the 2019-20 Outstanding Graduate Student for the Department of Nursing.

Cardenas graduated with a master of science degree in nursing while at the same time working as a registered nurse at Eisenhower Health in Rancho Mirage. Her clinical and research interests focused on the health needs of Hispanic communities in the eastern Coachella Valley, in particular those individuals with hypertension (high blood pressure).

She is a longtime volunteer for the Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine and helped develop a hypertension program for that organization and led a health fair focusing on diabetes and hypertension. In March 2020, Cardenas was invited to join the Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society.

Cardenas said the nursing department faculty’s dedication played a crucial role in her success.

“One of the greatest joys in working with the CSUSB Department of Nursing was the invested interest of faculty members to help my goals become a reality,” Cardenas said. “The faculty are passionate about nursing education and population health, and without their mentorship I would not have accomplished as much as I did.”

Marvin Macharia was chosen as the 2019-20 Outstanding Undergraduate Student of the Year for the College of Natural Sciences as well as the 2019-20 Outstanding Undergraduate Student of the Year for the Department of Biology.

As a biology major, Macharia has been active in many leadership and research roles at CSUSB. He served as vice present of the Pan African STEM Society, and as the College of Natural Sciences representative for the university’s Associated Students, Inc., board of directors. Working with David Rhoads, an assistant professor of biology, Macharia engaged in research on identifying genes in strains of Agrobacterium, a bacterium with the ability to transfer genes to plants that is often used in genetic engineering.

He presented at the 33rd CSUSB Student Research Competition in February 2019, and was one of 11 CSUSB students to advance to the state level and represent the university at the CSU Student Research Competition in April that same year.

Macharia said he was “greatly honored” to have been considered for the Outstanding Undergraduate Student award.

“I am extremely happy that I have been able to make a positive change on this campus,” he said. “However, I cannot stress enough how the culture of my fellow students, staff, and professors allowed me to feel welcomed and supported as I progressed through my academic journey.”

Visit the College of Natural Sciences website to learn more about its programs.