Thao earns University's top graduate student honor at convocation
(May 21,2017) -- Fresno State graduate student Touyee Thao of Fresno and senior Alexandra Gallo of Hollister were awarded the highest honors at Fresno State’s 106th Commencement at the Save Mart Center and were selected from a group of nine Deans’ Undergraduate Medalists and nine Deans Graduate Medalists.
Thao completed his master's of science plant science degree with a GPA of 4.0 after he had previously received an undergraduate degree from the same department.
One of 10 siblings from an immigrant family, he was fascinated by agriculture from an early age. His academic research on how to optimize irrigation scheduling is directly informed by the critical challenge of water management in California. This work is gaining widespread attention, and he has presented at numerous local, national and international conferences.
Beyond academics, he is also passionate about giving back. In addition to helping with college events and the Future Farmers of America, he volunteers an average of 12 hours a week in the Hmong community, serving as a mentor to youth.
“My next goal is to share my agricultural knowledge gained at Fresno State with the many Southeast Asian farmers currently seeking assistance to improve their soil and water conservation practices,” Thao said.
Gallo earned her bachelor’s degrees in political science and communication with a GPA of 3.81.
Difficult family circumstances inspired the first-generation college student to obtain a degree and help others. She seized opportunities to serve and engage during her time at Fresno State through study abroad and student experiences. She also served as an ambassador for the Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning, Maddy intern with Congressman Jim Costa, and volunteer for the League of Woman Voters.
Gallo is a three time winner of the President’s Volunteer Service Award for completing 200 hours of service each year at organizations like the Every Neighborhood Partnership and the Ronald McDonald House. She also planned a camp for children with parents battling cancer.
“The College of Social Science has taught me how to be a critical thinker, and how to apply leadership and theories to governmental agencies, jobs and community service work,” she said. After graduation, Gallo will intern in Washington, D.C., with Congressman Costa before applying to law school.