Alumni With Passions for Health and Educational Equity Named 2024 Alumni Award Recipients

Pitzer College announces the selection of Susan Warren ’78 P’01 as the 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient and Cesar Vargas Nuñez ’14 as the 2024 Young Alumni Achievement Award recipient.  

Warren and Vargas Nuñez will be honored during a special awards reception held later this month during Pitzer’s Alumni Weekend 2024, April 26–28.

Each year, the College honors two members of the alumni community who exemplify the College’s core values in their profession and in their community and who act in service for the College.

Award recipients are determined from a pool of individuals nominated by members of the Pitzer community.

Read more about this year’s winners below.


2024 Distinguished Alumni Award: Susan Warren, PhD ’78 P’01

A familiar face on campus every summer, Susan Warren leads Project Think, a summer academic STEAM Program at The Claremont Colleges.

Since founding Project Think 40 years ago, Warren and her team have brought young schoolchildren TK-8th grade to Pitzer and the other campuses for an immersive summer program of literacy, math, science, technology, and the arts. She has been selected as this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes the impactful professional achievements of a member of Pitzer’s alumni community.

In a past interview Warren said that Project Think’s goal is to inspire young students “to get engaged in learning, become passionate about research, and delve into the liberal arts.”

Her vision of widening the educational horizons for students is rooted in a career dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion. For 22 years Warren served as a K-8 teacher, program specialist, and principal in three Southern California districts supporting underrepresented and underserved students and their families.

Her commitment to access and opportunities is also rooted in the challenges and obstacles she faced as a young student. Warren was the first in her family to attend and graduate from college. As a first gen student without financial resources, she was provided financial aid that allowed her to attend and thrive at Pitzer.

For Silvia Elvis ’99, who nominated Warren for this year’s award, she is “a testament to excellence, a beacon of inspiration. Her journey as a visionary leader embodies the essence of incredible values. She has left an indelible mark on her profession and our community.”

Warren’s career path changed after earning a doctorate in urban educational leadership at Claremont Graduate University (CGU), where she was awarded the Peter Lincoln Spencer Outstanding Dissertation of the Year. She taught master’s and doctoral courses; directed graduate programs and a university Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion center; and conducted research and evaluations for 20 years at CGU and Azusa Pacific University (APU). Warren also served as the first alumni fellow at Pitzer and helped found today’s Community Engagement Center as well as taught community research to Pitzer students.

Bryan Bowens, who had Warren as his professor during his doctoral program at APU and who also nominated her for this award, said that Warren “believes in people, has high expectations for them, and helps them achieve their goals and dreams. She inspires leadership in and supports the capacity building of others. Her career path and many accomplishments reflect a life dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as community building and partnerships among schools, families, and communities.”  


2024 Young Alumni Achievement Award: Cesar Vargas Nuñez ’14

For Professor Nigel Boyle, Cesar Vargas Nuñez couldn’t be more deserving of this year’s Young Alumni Achievement Award.

“Cesar is one of my all-time favorite students. He was a great political studies major, a fantastic Fulbright researcher in Spain, a very successful Stanford PhD student, and I’m thrilled he’s returning to Claremont as a tenure track CMC professor working on healthcare injustice,” said Boyle. “Most importantly, Cesar is an empathetic person who treats everyone he meets with the same warm-hearted, good-humored enthusiasm and respect. Whoever he is hanging out with, Cesar is always Cesar—a great credit to his family, and to Pitzer.”

Since his time at Pitzer, his passion for education and addressing healthcare inequities has only grown stronger. Motivated by his father’s struggle to find accessible healthcare, Vargas Nuñez embarked on a Fulbright research grant in 2014, focusing on healthcare disparities in Spain. This experience ignited a fire within him to make a tangible difference in the lives of marginalized communities.

Building on this newfound determination, he pursued a PhD at Stanford University, furthering his knowledge and expertise in the field. As Boyle said, Vargas Nuñez will return to Claremont this fall to teach courses on government and the American healthcare system at CMC.

As a first gen student, Vargas Nuñez received scholarships including the Pritzker Scholarship, the Katie Lawson Endowed Scholarship, and the D.B. Kallick Community Service Scholarship. Such assistance had a positive impact on his life, resulting in Vargas Nuñez becoming a passionate advocate on behalf of scholarship fundraising at Pitzer.

“These scholarships not only eased the financial burden but also affirmed my belief in the power of education to effect change,” he said in a recent message to the Pitzer community. “Throughout my journey, my connection to Pitzer has remained steadfast. I have cherished the friendships and connections formed during my time on campus. From impromptu gatherings with fellow alumni to my own wedding that turned into a heartwarming reunion, the Pitzer community has always felt like a second family to me.”

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About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit

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