Ashford CHAMPion Award

Ashford CHAMPion Award

Student Community Standards and Student Development and Engagement want to recognize Ashford University students who uphold the values of integrity, fairness, respect, responsibility, and community. The Ashford CHAMPion Award will be presented to the student or students who best exhibit Ashford University’s high community standards. This quarter’s award goes to Cheryl Riga.

What is a person to do when everyone closest to them believes that person is going to amount to nothing? When doctors, family members, and friends tell that person that their life is going to be limited because of an illness? When happiness and success seem like pipe dreams?

Long before her doctor diagnosed her with Dissociative Identity Disorder, more traditionally known as suffering from split personalities, Cheryl Riga dealt with more than a few people who believed she was destined to fail, that she was going to be one of the millions of people who are destined to suffer because of their mental illness. Basically, that she was going to be “just a statistic.”

To some people, Cheryl was only a disorder – nothing more. Much to their disbelief, Cheryl has defied the odds, earning two Associate’s degrees concurrently while maintaining a GPA of 3.33 from Cerro Coso Community College, raised three kids, and worked with the Kern County Academy of Mental Health Awards. She is a member of three different honor societies (Golden Key, Alpha Sigma Lambda, Delta Alpha Pi), a member of the Dean’s List, a leader in the CHAMPS peer mentoring program, and a soon-to-be Ashford alum. She is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Services.

People used to look at Cheryl and see only her disorder. Now when they look at Cheryl, they see resilience, not a statistic. In Cheryl’s own words, “I didn’t want to be a statistic…I don’t want to be seen as dis-abled, but as differently abled.” Her studies at Ashford allowed her to focus on herself and gain a sense of self-worth she thought long lost.

Cheryl exemplifies the kind of student that the Ashford community deserves. Her only wish is that people view those with a mental illness as capable and compassionate with more to offer than what is on the surface. Her ultimate goal is to go into public health to encourage discussion of alternative treatments for the mentally ill instead of the drugs she feels are too easily prescribed.

Compared to what she has given to her Ashford community, Ashford’s debt to her is large. Cheryl Riga is this quarter’s Ashford CHAMPion.

Nominate the next Ashford CHAMPion! Do you know a student or alum who:

  • acts in an uplifting manner toward the community?
  • is encouraging to those around them?
  • has acted courageously in light of difficult circumstances?
  • consistently demonstrates responsible and ethical behavior at all times?
  • has impressed you with their resilience and dedication?

If you know someone who exemplifies any of these points, please take a few minutes to fill out the nomination form below and return to

The award is open to all current and former Ashford University students. Anyone (family, friends, staff, faculty, students) can nominate a student for the award.

For any additional information or questions, please contact Student Community Standards at or at 1.800.798.0584.

Nomination Form