UC San Diego News Center


Sony Gifts Help Former Foster Youth at UC San Diego

Partnership assists students and junior faculty members

Steve Zimmer of Sony gives Edward Sommers part of his technology award. Photos by Erika Johnson.

Five UC San Diego students who are former foster youth were recently chosen to receive state-of-the-art Sony Electronics products. Two junior faculty members were also awarded digital tools to enhance their innovative teaching and research projects. This is the fourth year that Sony has partnered with UC San Diego and other campuses nationwide to provide scholars with equipment that will allow them to succeed in a technology-driven learning environment.

This year, the equipment awarded includes a Sony VAIO E-series laptop, digital recorder, Xperia tablet, PlayStation Vita and Alpha NEX-7 digital camera. With offices nearby in San Diego, Sony began the program as a means to give back to the community. The company was drawn to the research and community service efforts at UC San Diego, as well as the university’s Guardian Scholars Program, which provides resources and support for students who are former foster youth.

Edward Sommers, a transfer student at UC San Diego’s Marshall College was one of the award recipients who will benefit from the Sony gift. From South Central Los Angeles, Sommers and his seven siblings were raised by his grandmother, until circumstances led him to be placed in a group home. Soon after, he dropped out of high school.

Several years later, Sommers turned his life around by returning to school, and later enrolled at a local community college, where he was inspired to pursue engineering and biology. Today he is continuing his education at UC San Diego as a NanoEngineering major, with hopes to someday develop a therapy to eliminate cancer.

From left, Ben Doller, Caprecia Camper, Raul Enciso, Steve Zimmer, Taylor Burgdorf, Vice Chancellor Penny Rue, Erol David Kerestecioglu, Matthew Fulkerson and Assistant Vice Chancellor Mae Brown

Sommers also plans to create a Big Brother Engineering program for foster youth in Southern California to help guide students on their educational journey. The program would facilitate university field trips, assist with college applications and help them find internship and career opportunities. “I want to set an example for others and share my story with a bigger audience,” said Sommers. “I want to encourage others to never give up and to realize that they can go far.”

Student award winners Raul Enciso, Caprecia Camper, and Taylor Burgdorf explore their Sony packages.

Sommers feels like he is on the path to achieve great things at UC San Diego. “I am so excited,” he commented about receiving the equipment package from Sony. He remarked that the new equipment will allow him to complete essays, communicate with professors through email and help him focus on his academic goals.

Along with Sommers, four other UC San Diego students, as well as two junior faculty members, received the Sony award packages.

“These tools will enable both the students and faculty members to do something unique within a digital media framework,” said Steve Zimmer, business development manager for Sony’s San Diego direct- to-consumer business. He cited the interdisciplinary aspect of the technology, which can be utilized for both research and creative projects, no matter the field of study.  Student recipients of the technology packages include:

  • Taylor Burgdorf is a transfer student at Muir College studying Communication with a minor in Public Service. His goal is to become a business owner. He also hopes to complete Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training next summer, after which he plans on joining the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
  • Caprecia Camper, a junior at Marshall College, is studying Political Science and Public Policy, with dreams of becoming a lawyer and creating legislation to benefit the community. She serves as the co-access coordinator for the UC San Diego Black Student Union and frequently volunteers to help promote access to education for underrepresented students.
  • Raul Enciso is a sophomore at Marshall College majoring in Theatre and Dance. He plans on pursuing a career in dance and opening a studio where he will teach children and teens the joy and benefits of dance. Enciso finds the Sony equipment package uplifting, as it will allow him to be more independent and accomplish his academic goals.
  • Erol David Kerestecioglu is a transfer student at Revelle College studying Political Science. After completing his undergraduate degree, Kerestecioglu would like to attend law school, and afterwards serve in the military as a reservist. He has served in the U.S. Army Infantry, and is currently serving as a Color Guard.

Student award winners Raul Enciso, Caprecia Camper, Taylor Burgdorf, and Erol David Kerestecioglu explore their Sony packages.

Two junior faculty members at UC San Diego were also chosen to receive technology packages to support their academic research and teaching.

  • Ben Doller, assistant professor of Literature and Writing, melds the traditional art of poetry with modern technology to generate digital commentary on a world driven by inter-connective media.  His work combines the use of writing, assemblage, audio, video and graphic design, striving to go beyond the medium of pen and paper. With the new technology from Sony, Doller will be able to record, broadcast and edit complex performances and access new collaborative possibilities in his art form.
  • Matthew Fulkerson, assistant professor of Philosophy, focuses on how we engage and interact with the world, both through our senses and use of tools. He is interested in our interactions with digital technologies, and the relationship between bodily awareness and other sensory intermediaries. With plans to present his new publication at a series of upcoming conferences, Fulkerson will utilize the Sony digital package to present his complex theories more creatively and understandably to scholars, colleagues and students using words, images, animations and recorded interviews.

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Erika Johnson, 858-534-9372,

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