SDSU cancer survivor honored as CSU Trustee scholar


by Elpin Keshishzadeh

The California State University Board of Trustees and CSU Foundation Board of Governors gathered Tuesday at the Glenn S. Dumke Auditorium in Long Beach to honor the 2013 CSU Trustees’ scholars. Among the 23 scholars was San Diego State kinesiology junior Clayton Matthew Treska.

A committee consisting of representatives from the student body, alumni, faculty, external organizations and the Board of Trustees scored the 23 nominees based on criteria such as outstanding academic performance, personal achievement, community service and financial need.

Treska, along with one other scholar, was recognized with the Trustee Emeritus Ali C. Razi scholarship after being nominated by President Elliot Hirshman. The scholarship is given to the highest scoring student, however, this year there was a tie and both students received the scholarship.

“Clayton’s life experiences and his exceptional interpersonal and communications skills help make him an effective advocate for others,” Hirshman said in his initial nomination letter. “He is an excellent representative of San Diego State University, and I recommend him without reservation for the William Randolph Hearst/CSU Trusteess Award for Outstanding Achievement.”

Each recipient of the award is given a $10,000 scholarship.

Treska served as a counterintelligence agent for 11 years in the U.S. Marine Corps before being diagnosed with stage four terminal cancer.

“What I think we really saw in the case of Clayton, as we see in the case of many other students, is he’s overcoming some significant challenges,” CSU Media Relations Specialist Erik Fallis said. “In his case, he overcame significant health challenges and continued to battle on not only to overcome this disease, but also to go on and to compete athletically and to go on to be academically excellent.”

Following his diagnosis, Treska set forth to reach his goals of being a first-generation college student and an IRONMAN World Championship triathlete— he accomplished both.

“Having cancer has turned out to be a wonderful thing in the end because I learned the true value of life, and what it means to be alive,” Treska said. “I hope in time we as a community can share this message with others who are going through the same challenges, and help them acknowledge their natural innate ability to survive and overcome any adversity.”

Treska currently volunteers to support cancer patients and their families. Upon graduation, he plans to work toward a graduate degree in the medical field to develop a post-cancer treatment rehabilitation program for patients and physicians.

“I am committed to continuing to help others in every way I can, with whatever time I am afforded to do so,” Treska said.

Fallis said that Treska, along with his fellow scholars, has not only inspired his fellow peers, but also the trustees and public who fund the CSU.

“Their story is representative of the best of our university, and what makes the CSU a really special university system,” Fallis said.

The Trustee Emeritus Ali C. Razi scholarship was established in 2006.


Update: This article incorrectly states that the award is given to the two highest-scoring students. The award is given to the single highest-scoring student but this year there was a tie.