President Thayer’s Board Report for June 25, 2024

The following is a report to members of the North Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees
Presented by Cypress College President Scott W. Thayer, Ed.D.
on June 25, 2024

Presidential Scholar of Distinction Transferring to Stanford

We shared with you earlier that Associated Students President Arjun Ayyappan has become the first Cypress College student transferring to Stanford in more than a decade. It turns out he will have a familiar face on campus with him in the fall. The 2024 Presidential Scholar of Distinction representing our Science, Engineering, and Math pathway — Daanish Noor — has also earned and accepted admission to Stanford.

Noor dropped out of high school (and later earned his diploma) and eventually joined the Army — where he found the opportunity to help others. Following his service, he was looking for someplace that would help him serve, and Cypress College provided the opportunity.

At Cypress, he began pursuing passions such as art and exercise. He competed as a power lifter and started journaling through sketches. His third passion became the sciences, in classes such as biology, chemistry, and with programs like (STEM)².

Noor now has a sense of purpose, and dreams for the future. He wants to earn an advanced degree in medicine or research, to focus on projects that could help a large portion of the population. Now, he not only believes in leading a life of meaning for himself, but to create that opportunity for others, too.

You can read Noor’s story here.

Cypress College Hosts American Board of Funeral Education

Cypress College hosted the American Board of Funeral Service Education annual ABFSE Hilgenfeld Foundation Summer Curriculum Workshop on campus, Friday and Saturday, June 7 and 8, 2024.

The annual review brings together educators, practitioners, and professionals from across the United States to revise and update the approved content taught at every ABFSE-accredited institution in America. This event is sponsored in part by the Hilgenfeld Foundation for Mortuary Education, created by Melvin Hilgenfeld in 1977 after the California College of Mortuary Science (CCMS) was gifted to the North Orange County Community College District (NOCCCD). Melvin was a NOCCCD Board of Trustees member (serving as President of the Board in the early 1970s). He donated his entire school (equipment, faculty, staff, supplies, etc.) to our district, and through the sale of CCMS property in Los Angeles (1920 Marengo Street) created the Hilgenfeld Foundation for Mortuary Education.

Becky Field Areias (current president of Hilgenfeld Mortuary in Anaheim), the granddaughter of Melvin, and her mother, Margie Hilgenfeld Field (Melvin’s daughter), are and were long-time supporters of Cypress College and our Foundation, and recognized at Americana for their incredible contributions to Anaheim and funeral service practice. Although Melvin and Margie are now deceased, Becky remains a champion of funeral service education, provides thousands of dollars of scholarships to the Cypress College Foundation, and makes it possible for the ABFSE to convene the annual curriculum review.

Alumnus Competes on Hell’s Kitchen

Cypress College alumnus Chef Johnathan Benvenuti’s was a finalist on the popular TV show “Hell’s Kitchen” recently.

“I wanted to go work for the best chefs possible. I ended up becoming sous chef for Amar Santana and from there, competed on ‘Hell’s Kitchen.’ To stand next to Gordon Ramsay as a Cypress alumni was one of my proudest moments.”

Benvenuti is now opening his first restaurant in Long Beach, Bar Becky. He grew up in Huntington Beach in a family where “food was everything.”

After he found his passion for cooking, Benvenuti participated in a knife skills competition that was hosted by Cypress College and judged by Chef Jeremy Peters. After winning and speaking with Chef Peters, he enrolled in the Culinary Arts program.

Read his story.

Buen Cypress! We Take This Journey Together

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