#CYProud: Erika Nilsen

Commencement is a celebratory time on campus. To capture this year-end spirit, we asked our faculty to tell us which students they are most proud of. Some of those profiled in this year’s #CYProud 2016 feature have overcome significant personal and financial hurdles to reach their educational goals; others have distinguished themselves as exemplars of academic achievement and/or student leadership.

As part of this year’s series, we are pleased to introduce Erika Nilsen who will transfer to San Francisco State University in the fall on athletic scholarship. Erika was a standout basketball player at Cypress. We’re sure that she’ll continue her trajectory of athletic and academic success at SFSU. Congratulations, Erika! #CYPCity #Chargers #CYProud 2016 


#CYProud: Erika Nilsen Cypress to San Francisco State (athletic scholarship, basketball)

#CYProud: Erika Nilsen
Cypress to San Francisco State (athletic scholarship, basketball)

  1. Origin — what is your back story (hometown, high school, personal story…) I grew-up in Los Alamitos and went to Los Alamitos High School. I played on the basketball team during the four years that I was there. I earned good grades every year and was always on the academic honor roll. My senior year I earned a 4.0 grade point average. It was a pretty good experience and prepared me well for college. My dad signed me up for a youth basketball league when I was seven years old. I wasn’t too interested or excited in the game when I first started playing, but I quickly got better and began to enjoy it. I love its fast pace and understand every aspect of it. In my junior year of high school we broke the school record and were the first women’s basketball team to win the Sunset League.
  1. Why Cypress?Cypress College Basketball Coach Mohr recruited me in high school. I came to a few practices and games at Cypress while I was in high school to get a feel of the program. The team had great energy both on and off court, which made me want to join. My coming to Cypress was for basketball, but I also knew that the academic program was strong. In high school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do either major-wise or career-wise. After some guidance while here at Cypress, I decided to focus on kinesiology. I was impressed with professional options and liked its direct application to sport. Learning about the human body and how it moves is really intriguing. As an athlete it has helped me understand why my body functions the way it does.
  1. @Cypress — what have you been involved with? How has your path unfolded?It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been an intense and very fast two years. I learned a lot about my game and how to be a better player. I learned how to be a better person on and off the court. It was just a really great experience that has prepared me well for the next level. I felt that I’ve matured. When I began, I felt like I was just quiet and shy and didn’t know how to do a lot independently. Coach Mohr has helped me grow as a person and as a player. She taught me how to lead my team and have more of a voice. Taking some of the health science courses here, especially in kinesiology, has helped me create a career path for myself.
  1. Faculty or staff that have helped you get where you are today.Obviously the coaches I had were a big influence: Coach Mohr, Coach Ford, Coach Armstrong, Coach B (Brittany Imaku) helped me a lot on and off the court. Mrs. Nguyen, a chemistry professor, helped me a lot with that subject and made it accessible and fun to learn. I took Advanced Placement chemistry in high school so I had a lot of passion for the subject heading into college.
  1. Post Cypress — what do you hope to do in the near term? What are your plans at UC Sand Diego? I’m going to San Francisco State and will ideally enroll in their Kinesiology program. I have completed the bulk of my general education courses, so I can begin focusing on kinesiology right away. The coaches and the girls on the basketball team at San Francisco State seem really nice. The SF State coach seems really interested in building the program and comes from an excellent background. I’m really excited to be part of the building block. For now, I look forward to learning more about basketball and being a smarter student.
  2. Longer-Term Vision — what do you aspire to? I’m not entirely sure what job I want to do quite yet. I am leaning towards physical and personal training. I really enjoy helping people get in shape.
  3. What are you most proud of? I’m proud that I was able get good grades and be a good athlete at the same time. I stayed above a 3.5 GPA while becoming a better player and person.
  4. Anything else you’d like to add…Advice. Just go to class. It’s not that long. You can do it. Really focus on your schooling so you can continue on with your education. Cherish your time because it will go by fast. You won’t get that time back.

#CYProud: Erika Nilsen Cypress to San Francisco State (athletic scholarship, basketball)


Cypress College is recognized as one of California’s top community colleges. Recent accolades include:

– #1 in the U.S. | Top Toyota T-TEN Auto-Tech Program in the Nation.

– #2 in C.A. | Top Two ESL & Basic Skills English Programs in California.

– #3 in C.A. | Ranked as a Top Three California Community College (Schools.com)

– #3 in the Region | Ranked Top Three in Greater Los Angeles & Orange County for Student Transfer and Graduation Rates (EdSmart.org)

– 15 of 113 | California Community Colleges piloting a Bachelor’s Degree (Mortuary Science)

– #17 in the U.S. | National Ranking on MTV-U’s website “Rate-My-Professor”

– Top National Licensure Exam Pass Rates | Perfect state licensure pass rates for students in the following programs: Dental Hygiene, Diagnostic Medical Sonography: Abdomen; Diagnostic Medical Sonography (OB/GYN); Diagnostic Medical Sonography: Physics; and Mortuary Science: Sciences. 90+% state licensure exam pass rates for students in the following programs: Dental Assisting; Mortuary Science (Arts); Radiology Technology. And 85%+ state licensure rates for students in: Health Information Technology; Nursing; and Psychiatric Technology.

– 2/3ds of the Class of 2015 qualified for transfer to a UC or CSU institution.

– 76 Orange Empire Athletics Conference Titles

– 25 California Community College Athletic Association State Championship Titles