Two Cuesta College students received the Frederick G. Novy History Award that recognizes the school’s most promising history scholars during a May 9 on-campus presentation.

Janessa Lowden of San Luis Obispo and Zach Moller of Shell Beach, both 21, received the 21st Novy Awards that included a $250 prize for each history student.

Cuesta history instructors Lisa DeFraga and Anthony Koeninger announced the honorees as a class of more than 60 Cuesta students looked on.

“I have had nearly 14,000 students in 28 years of college teaching, and Zach stands in the top 1 percent of those students in terms of perseverance, intellectual curiosity and his absolute, unflagging determination to earn superior grades,” said Koeninger. “Zach is a very intelligent, articulate, diligent, affable student with a very infectious smile. His writing skills and passion for learning are absolutely superlative.”

Moller, a county native who graduated from Arroyo Grande High School and plans to transfer to UC Santa Cruz to pursue a double major of history and English when his studies conclude at Cuesta, credited Koeninger for igniting a passion for the past.

“I’d always had an interest in history, but it never sparked my imagination,” Moller said. “He was the reason. He just makes it so interesting you could honestly not take notes and remember everything he says.”

Lowden, who came to Cuesta from Chico, Calif., remains a favorite of Cuesta history instructors “as one of the most engaging, vivid and curious students,” DeFraga told the assembly.

“She is not afraid to voice an opinion that maybe is not the most popular, but she is very respectful of her classmates and is always educated on the topics of which she is speaking,” DeFraga said. “She is transferring to Cal Poly where she is going to pursue her bachelor of arts in history and get a master’s degree and teaching credential.

Lowden said she was inspired by DeFraga.

“She introduced a whole, new side of history — women’s history — that really is not well known,” said Lowden. “She has definitely sparked my love of history.”

Anouk Novy, daughter of scholarship benefactor Dr. Frederick Novy, Cuesta College Superintendent/President Gil Stork, Cathleen Greiner, assistant superintendent and vice president of academic affairs, Pamela Ralston, dean of humanities, and Jane Morgan, chairman of the social sciences division, were also in the audience.


Released May 12, 2011