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Three UC Riverside Students Recognized For Excellence in Leadership

Three UC Riverside Engineering Students Honored for Excellence in Leadership

Assemblyman Benoit presented students with certificates of appreciation

(September 19, 2003)

From L to R: Elmer Thomas, Kimberly Cross, and Korey Sewell.  (Photo credit: Linda O'Neill.)

From L to R: Elmer Thomas, Kimberly Cross, and Korey Sewell. (Photo credit: Linda O'Neill.)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- ( -- On Monday, September 22, 2003, Assemblyman John J. Benoit of the 64th Assembly District recognized three UC Riverside students for their excellence in leadership with certificates of appreciation. The students -- Elmer Thomas, Kimberly Cross, and Korey Sewell -- belong to the UC Riverside chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). The award ceremony took place at 9:00 a.m. at 1223 University Avenue (University Village), Suite 230, in Riverside, Calif.

"It is important that we recognize excellence in academic performance," said Assemblyman Benoit. "I am happy to be a part of this process and hope to encourage more students to excel and add value to our society."

NSBE’s mission is to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community. NSBE comprises more than 250 chapters on college and university campuses and more than 50 alumni extension chapters nationwide. The chapters are divided into six geographical regions.

The UCR chapter of NSBE (hereafter UCR-NSBE), which belongs to Region 6, formally began in fall 1999 with Elmer Thomas and Kimberly Cross as co-presidents. Thomas is now in UCR’s Computer Engineering Ph.D. program and Cross was just accepted to the Chemical Engineering Ph.D. program at UCLA. Cross is the chairperson for NSBE’s Region 6. Korey Sewell, UCR-NSBE’s outgoing president, will be the Academic Excellence Chair for Region 6 next year.

UCR-NSBE received the UC Riverside Bourns College of Engineering’s Outstanding Club of the Year Award in 2001-02 and 2002-03. UCR’s Student Life and Leadership Center had UCR-NSBE conduct its leadership training for all the campus's clubs last fall.

"UCR-NSBE started out in 1999, wanting to be a venue where students could come together, get support, and excel academically," said Linda O'Neill, director of the Office of Special Programs in the Bourns College of Engineering, and advisor to UCR-NSBE. "Today, half of the UCR-NSBE members have at least a 3.0 GPA and 75 percent of all members have improved their GPAs last year. This is due to UCR-NSBE's strong emphasis on academic achievement."

UCR-NSBE has received funding from Equilon, Pac Bell, Cal Trans, and Unisys. This year Kimberly Cross received the Equilon Outstanding Leadership Award. She has an impressive record, including research at Cornel, Berkeley, UCR, and Lawrence Livermore Lab. Cross said, “My parents inspired me to work hard in all my endeavors in life to help lead the way for future students and leaders.”

Elmer Thomas said, “Even though I was not making great grades in my first few quarters, with a lot of hard work and support from NSBE, I was able to turn my life around. Everyone can succeed if they are willing to put in the time and make important connections with their professors and programs available to help them.”

Brief biography of Assemblyman Benoit: Prior to being elected to the Assembly in 2002, Assemblyman Benoit served as an elected member of the Desert Sands Unified School District Board of Education. He is an alumnus of Riverside's Notre Dame High School, earning an A.A. degree at Riverside City College, and a B.S. degree from California State University of Los Angeles in 1978. Later he returned to school to earn a Master's degree in Public Administration from California State University at San Bernardino in 1993.

Media contact for Assemblyman Benoit: Barry Nestande, 909-369-6644

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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