Computer science major receives Outstanding Achievement award from university

Patrick Sangalang is recognized for his personal, academic, and community service accomplishments. Photo: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA

Patrick Emmanuel Sangalang, a computer science major in the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology at Cal State LA, hopes to use his passion for computer science to inspire young students to pursue the many career possibilities in the STEM fields.

“Mr. Sangalang’s aptitude for computer science, coupled with his commitment to helping others, makes me certain that he will positively influence the lives of others in the field of technology,” said William A. Covino, president emeritus of Cal State LA, in a nomination letter.

Sangalang is one of 23 students statewide to receive the 2023 California State University Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement. The award is given each year to students who demonstrate superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service, and financial need. 

“It is very reassuring to know that I am being recognized for my personal, academic, and community service accomplishments, as it lets me know that I am on the right path to achieving my goals,” said Sangalang, a Los Angeles resident.

“At a very early age, my parents have emphasized the importance of academics,” he told The FilAm in an email. “They taught me how school is an essential part in finding success in my future. I took their advice seriously, which paid off as I finished Salutatorian in middle school, 3rd in my graduating class in high school, and Magna Cum Laude at Cal State LA.”

Both his parents were born, raised, and finished their studies in Manila.  Around 2010, after his mom earned her Master’s degree in special education, she took Patrick and his younger brother   to Texas where she taught for a brief period of time. The whole family moved to Los Angeles in 2013.  Sangalang’s maternal grandfather is Puerto Rican who served in the U.S. Marines.

Sangalang was honored on Sept. 12 with the top academic achievement award in the CSU system. He will be awarded $7,000 and named a Michael A. and Debe Lucki Scholar.

This past spring, Sangalang graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. He is now working toward a master’s degree in computer science at Cal State LA.

California State University Los Angeles. Photo:

“After graduating from the master’s program, I plan on pursuing [a career in] cybersecurity and getting as much experience and knowledge as possible from that field,” he said. “I eventually would like to build my own company that revolves around that area.”

Sangalang’s interest in computer science stemmed from his fascination with video games, specifically “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.”

“I remember being captured by the game’s open-world design and how each character responded to different actions, whether influenced by user input or other aspects built into the game,” he shared.

However, it wasn’t until he was enrolled in an AP Computer Science class in his high school that he discovered more about this field.

“As much as I would have wanted to dive into this world of technology sooner, it was not until my senior year of high school that I got my first exposure to coding,” he said.

Since arriving at Cal State LA through the university’s Honors College, Sangalang has excelled by achieving a 3.875 GPA and making the Dean’s List.

Mauricio Castillo, a professor of technology and an undergraduate advisor, described Sangalang as “a quick learner” and “always eager to take on new challenges.”

“Patrick is a natural leader who can inspire and motivate others to work toward a common goal,” Castillo noted. “He has been a valuable member of the computer science club at our institution, where he has worked on several projects and competitions.”

Sangalang is also committed to serving the community through mentoring youth from middle schools in the surrounding neighborhoods on Los Angeles’ Eastside. He has served as a student mentor for the Verizon Innovative Learning STEM Achievers program at Cal State LA. He assisted the middle schoolers as they learned coding, robotics, 3D printing, and augmented reality.

“Throughout the program, I thought about how this [STEM enrichment program] is a great opportunity that all young students should take advantage of because it exposes them to an entirely new world that is developing at a rapid pace,” he said.

“Overall, I find that being a factor in someone else’s growth and guiding them in the right direction brings me genuine enjoyment, mainly because I did not have the resources that they did now when I was their age,” he said.

In his free time, he plays sports including basketball, football, and running.

“I also like to do volunteer work, watch anime and YouTube videos, and make music,” he said.

Leave a Reply