What is the Cal State Experience?

Existentialist philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard, once said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”


Lorenzo Rangel-Santos

Lorenzo presents his community advocacy speech, encouraging young people to strive for greatness, during the 2015 California State Youth Accolades Scholarship Competition.

What other experience connects you with individuals who are extremely passionate, and care about every single person’s well-being and success?

I had the pleasure of meeting Melissa Tyler Wackerman when I got accepted into the Orange County School of the Arts’ premier performing group, MONTAGE! Nearing the end of an incredible, productive junior year, she approached me one day after school. Smiling radiantly, she told me about this amazing experience known as the California State Youth Accolades Scholarship Competition. Mrs. Wackerman assured me that this experience would be life changing, and would be a great opportunity to recognize special individuals. This was particularly meaningful coming from her. She handed me a flyer with extra information, and offered her support if I had any questions. As an “almost-senior” who was thoroughly intimidated by thinking about anything college related, I hadn’t initially considered the importance of obtaining scholarships sooner than later. After looking to my parents for guidance, and hearing that Mrs. Wackerman would agree to be my sponsor, I realized that this was a leap of faith I was willing to take.


What other experience provides you with unconditional love?

When I first got acquainted with the Cal State family, I was immediately welcomed with open arms, smiling faces, and warm hearts. I couldn’t help but smile at the contagious abundance of joy that was constantly present. Not a single day of the program went by when we did not lift each other up. Every person you’ll meet has a proud purpose. I’ll gladly affirm that one of those primary purposes is making sure you feel special. The people I met made me feel like I was enough. It’s the simple things in life that make my heart smile. Everyday I was greeted with a hug, smile, compliment, or all three at the same time, and that alone made every day at Cal State worthwhile. In fact, throughout the week, I was surrounded by so much love that by the end of it all, I just about expected to get hugs everyday for the rest of my life! That was when I realized that with an experience like Cal State, people love you so you can love yourself and others.


What other experience allows you to feel like you’ve been friends with people your whole life, after meeting them for only one week?

I’ll be the first to admit that due to my past experience performing in Taekwondo competitions, I started off the week with a bit of my martial arts competitive mindset. That immediately began to diminish when I realized why we were all there, and that at the end of the day, everyone was a “winner.” Being a winner is not solely defined by the title you achieve. During the Cal State experience, I learned that being a winner was: building character; lifting up and supporting others to be their very best; and carrying out the work we’re all called to do given the time we have on earth. These winners I had the pleasure of meeting were just like me, in that we all wished to utilize our gifts and talents for community service and the good of others. We all admittedly shared in the unknown of what was to come, and knew that no matter who received the largest titles, everyone was special and worthy of respect.


This is the Cal State Experience, a non-replicable experience filled with fellowship, love, hope. Everyone wins.


Lorenzo Rangel-Santos


Lorenzo Rangel-Santos, California State Ambassador 2015

Lorenzo will graduate as a valedictorian this spring from the Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana, California. He has extensive training in voice, dance and acting and is a third-degree black belt in Taekwondo. He takes pride in service activities that involve using his talents at his church and performing for various fundraising events.