St. Mary’s University’s Richard Cardenas, Ph.D., has been recognized by President Barack Obama for his long-time dedication to mentoring students with the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.

This presidential honor is awarded each year by the White House to individuals or organizations in recognition of the crucial role that mentoring plays in the academic and personal development of students studying science or engineering, particularly those students who belong to groups that are underrepresented in these fields.

“These individuals and organizations have gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that the United States remains on the cutting edge of science and engineering for years to come,” President Obama said. “Their devotion to the educational enrichment and personal growth of their students is remarkable, and these awards represent just a small token of our enormous gratitude.”

Cardenas, who joined St. Mary’s in 2000, is chair of the Department of Physics and Earth Sciences and associate professor of physics. He was one of 11 individuals and four organizations recognized, and will receive $10,000 to continue his outreach efforts. Cardenas was nominated for a variety of mentoring efforts, both with St. Mary’s students and with elementary and secondary students. However, his primary mentoring efforts come through the community outreach programs conducted by the Society of Physics Students and the Fiesta of Physics program, which reach out to students in low-income areas and introduces them to the fun of science. Each year, more than 2,500 school children, their families and teachers are part of the various programs offered through Cardenas’ outreach efforts.

Cardenas will receive his award during a ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 27, in Washington D.C.

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