2008 - 2009 Annual Report
Edgar Hermosillo Gaytan
The inaugural Ruth Simon Library Prize for Undergraduate Research helped open doors for winner Edgar Hermosillo Gaytan '09.

Inspiring the Love for Books

The Ruth Simon Library Prize for Undergraduate Research
Long after her schoolwork was done and most students had left the building, you could still find English major Ruth Simon '58 in a corner of the Powell Library stacks, surrounded by books, eagerly absorbing their ideas, knowledge and adventures.

Simon, an attorney with a distinguished career as UCLA campus counsel before retiring in 2003, is still passionate about the written word and hopes to share that passion with today's students through the Ruth Simon Library Prize for Undergraduate Research the first such endowment at UCLA. "I wanted to find a way to bring students into the library, to inspire excitement about the magical treasure trove that awaits them there," she explains.

Although it provides a modest cash prize, the award spurs undergraduate research a university priority and offers valuable recognition that can open doors for its recipients. Just ask Edgar Hermosillo Gaytan.

The winner of the inaugural Ruth Simon Prize for his research on possible economic influences on the early Jesus movement in first-century Palestine, Hermosillo Gaytan is the first in his family to attend college. "I was just as surprised as anyone that I've done so well with research at the university level," he says. "Because of the Simon Prize, my paper was given weightier consideration for the Carey McWilliams Award for best senior honors thesis which I won and my professor, Scott Bartchy, offered to co-author a piece with me."

Hermosillo Gaytan, who graduated in June 2009, plans to complete a doctorate in his field after spending a few years as a public school teacher. Simon has high praise: "Teaching is a wonderful way for him to give back to the community," she says.