2015 Honorees and Awards

2015 President’s Medalist

Joseph M. Bohigian

College of Arts and Humanities

BohigianBohigian has been playing music since age 5. He is a member of the College of Arts and Humanities Honors Program, and has received numerous academic and music scholarships. He is president of the Fresno State Composers’ Guild and founder and president of the New Music Ensemble at Fresno State.

Bohigian composed a work to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide which was performed in Fresno and Los Angeles. After graduation, he plans to pursue graduate studies in music composition at Stony Brook University in New York, where he has been awarded a Graduate Council Fellowship.

2015 University Graduate Medalist

Yesenia Thompson

College of Science and Mathematics

ThompsonThompson received the Liliane D. Wells scholarship, Proteus Inc. scholarship, Susan G. Komen Travel Award and the Faculty Sponsored Student Research Award.

Her lab research project in DNA polymorphisms focused on understanding the role of occupational pesticide exposure in causes of breast cancer and prostate cancer in Hispanic farmworkers. The data from her research has been presented at the American Association for Cancer Research International Conference, the National Latino Cancer Summit and the Central California Research Symposium.

She worked with the Susan G. Komen Foundation on local events to fund raise for breast cancer awareness, screening and research for underserved women. She has also organized a field trip for students to learn about medical school and research at UC Davis for the Research Infrastructure in Minority Institutions scholars program.

2015 Dean's Graduate Medalists

Sonia Inez Rios

College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology

Sonia Inez Riosof Wasco, completed an M.S. in Plant Science with a 3.79 GPA. Having struggled early in her undergraduate program due to a variety of personal situations, she persevered and has amassed an impressive list of academic, professional, and volunteer accomplishments. She balanced her graduate studies while working almost full-time as a staff research associate with the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE). As a graduate student, she was the first-author on 11 oral and eight research poster presentations and was a co-author in three peer-reviewed journal papers. Her thesis research on Palmer Amaranth was so paramount that she was interviewed on a radio program and gave talks at professional venues. She won a highly competitive international travel grant to present her work at the Weed Science Society of America’s annual conference in Vancouver, Canada, and numerous other scholarships. She was selected as a United States Department of Agriculture Graduate Fellow in 2014 and was a recipient of the University of California’s Milton D. And Mary M. Miller Plant Science Award and the Bill and Jane Fischer Vegetation Management Award. She is a subtropical horticulture farm adviser with UCCE serving Southern California.

Valentin Kovtun

College of Arts and Humanities

Valentin Kovtun

of Clovis, completed an M.A. in Communication with a 4.0 GPA. Born in Kiev, Ukraine, he immigrated to the U.S. as a political refugee when he was 10 years old. Learning English as his third language, he was a high school salutatorian and graduated summa cum laude with his B.A. in Communication from Fresno State. He distinguishes himself as a communication scholar. His paper titled “A fight for freedom: Theoretical and practical strategies for aiding protests in the Ukraine” won Top Paper Award at the 2014 National Communication Association meeting in Chicago. In addition to his impressive list of accomplishments, he is a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer and is seeking certification as a professional certified coach from the International Coaching Federation. He contributes his time and talent to mentoring, coaching, consulting and training. He also serves at nonprofit organizations throughout the Central San Joaquin Valley. Since 2014, he has taught at Fresno City College as an adjunct professor in Communication Arts. Valentin plans to apply to graduate school for a Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience, with further plans to continue coaching and lecturing.

Narinder Pal Singh

Craig School of Business

Narinder Pal Singhof Fresno, completed the Executive M.B.A. with a 4.0 GPA. Narinder has more than 19 years’ experience across the food and agriculture industries in India, Brazil, Argentina and USA and currently is working with Olam Americas as vice president, engineering. Responsible for SVI global operations, he came to Fresno State to sharpen his hard, soft and special skills. As global vice president of engineering, he devises and implements engineering strategies, oversees large global capital budgets, energy sourcing and management, EHS and oversees a large team of directors and managers in the spices and vegetables division. He travels throughout the world to monitor plants in his division and participates in executive roundtables with international corporations. He has been serving the community by spearheading Capstone Engineering programs at UC Merced that provide training and that help young engineers in their profession. Before Joining Olam, he worked with Pepsi and Joyco (Mars group of companies). His long-term career objective is to manage a large global business.

Aide Navarro

Kremen School of Education and Human Development

Aide Navarroof Clovis, completed an M.S. in Counseling with a 4.0 GPA. A first generation college student, she demonstrates the transformational power of a Fresno State education. As an alumnus of the College Assistance Migrant Program and the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, she developed a passion for empowering young people to pursue higher education. During her graduate education, she was actively involved with the College Next! Boot Camp, Chi Sigma Iota mentoring program, volunteered as a career ambassador with Career Services and served as a volunteer and mentor for high school students at the Clovis Unified School District Latino Student Success Conference. She is recognized by numerous honor societies, including the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, Psi Chi National Honors Society, and Chi Sigma Iota, where she served as treasurer during the 2014-2015 school year. In April 2015, she received the Outstanding Professional Counseling Student award presented by Chi Sigma Phi Chapter of Chi Sigma Iota. She plans to earn a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs. Her ultimate goal is to become a dean of students or a vice president of student affairs at a Hispanic-serving institution.

Olga Jumbo Sanchez

Lyles College of Engineering

Olga Jumbo Sanchezof Guayaquil, Ecuador, earned an M.S. in Engineering, Electrical Engineering Option, with a 4.0 GPA. Born and raised in Ecuador, she is described as outstanding in her contributions to the student engineering community as well as in her dedication to mentoring and instructing incoming electrical and computer engineering freshmen and transfer students. She is a Hans and Anna Beck Scholar. Her graduate project work is in 3D sonar mapping. She held a leadership position with the Society of Women Engineers, where she served as secretary, and she was president, vice president, secretary and graduate adviser for Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society. She is a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Eta Kappa Nu. She also served as a senator representing the Lyles College of Engineering at the Associated Students, Inc. Her volunteer work includes service at Bulldog Pantry and for the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement Schools Program. She is an active member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. She has accepted a position as a research assistant in image processing at the University of Miami with a full-ride scholarship.

Nathan P. Lee

College of Health and Human Services

Nathan P. Leeof Weatherford, Texas, completed an M.A. in Kinesiology, Sport Psychology Option, with a 4.0 GPA. As a professional equestrian, he has taken special interest in studying and further understanding the psychobiological dynamics of equestrian performance. For his master’s thesis, he investigated the relationships between mindful self-compassion and pre-competition, facilitative state-anxiety among National Collegiate Athletic Association women’s equestrian team athletes. Because of the study’s magnitude and contributions, he is submitting a manuscript for publication to the Journal of Sport Behavior. His thesis has been nominated for the College of Health and Human Services’ Outstanding Thesis Award. He also received a Graduate Student Research and Creative Activities Support Award for the 2014-15 academic year. A career goal of his is to teach at the university level in the subject areas of psychobiology and the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, and questioning athletes. He is an active member of the Sport Psychology Club at Fresno State and recently was inducted into the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. He plans to complete a Ph.D. in counseling psychology.

Jennifer Leahy

College of Social Sciences

Jennifer Leahyof Oakhurst, completed an M.S. in Criminology with a 4.0 GPA. During her master’s program, she worked with Dr. Yoshiko Takahashi to assess the effectiveness of a writing software program for the upper-division criminology classes for the Save our Adolescents from Prostitution project. The results of the study were presented at the American Society of Criminology conference by Leahy and Dr. Takahashi. In another project, “Women’s Perceptions of Fear in Prison,” she used secondary data and tested how age, race, previous incarceration and offense type would be related to the perceptions of fear and safety among female prisoners in the United States. As a research assistant, she worked on projects such as realignment in Fresno County, a programmatic review for a project examining women offenders in the Los Angeles County Jail, and various projects pertaining to PREA research. She also has assisted with projects on an international level, working with the Thailand Institute of Justice on projects such as a digital reference guide pertaining to femicide. She recently returned from the UN Crime Congress in Qatar and plans to pursue a doctorate and career in victim services.

Rosendo Iñiguez

Division of Student Affairs

Rosendo Iñiguez

of Hanford, completed an M.P.H., Health Promotion Option, with a 3.60 GPA. His master’s thesis investigated the difference in sleep among energy drink consumers versus non-consumers at Fresno State. As a student, he helped coordinate the Drug and Alcohol Awareness and Wellness Guides program at the University, raising awareness on the dangers associated with student misuse and abuse of alcohol and other drugs. Through this experience, he became an outreach specialist for the Lock It Up Project at the California Health Collaborative, where he worked to raise awareness of prescription drug abuse throughout Fresno County. He now is the program coordinator for the Diabetes Education Program, where he provides diabetes self-management classes to the communities of southwest Fresno and Kerman. He is described as having a passion for helping those in need as well as a never-ending capacity for enthusiasm and optimism for his field. His personal goal is to become certified in diabetes education by the National Board for Diabetes Educators and as a health education specialist by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc.

2015 Dean’s Undergraduate Medalists

Armando Guzman

Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology

Armando Guzman

of Tulare, completed a B.S. in Plant Science, Plant Health Option, with a 3.95 GPA. One of six boys born to Mexican immigrants, he graduated as salutatorian from Tulare Western High School. While at Fresno State, Armando has engaged in a variety of research projects and assisted other students with additional studies related to weed science. He co-authored a presentation accepted to the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Weed Science Society of America, presented in Lexington, Kentucky. In November 2014 he was one of 21 students nationwide selected as a Golden Opportunity Scholar to attend the Annual American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America Conference in Long Beach, where he competed in the President’s Trophy Speech. He was invited to the National Society of Collegiate Scholars in 2011. His immediate goal is to become a licensed pest control adviser and certified crop adviser. He is considering pursuing a master’s degree in Plant Science at Fresno State after gaining experience in the industry.

Renan Rocha Lopes de Lima

Craig School of Business

Renan Rocha Lopes de Limaof Tulare, completed a B.S. in Business Administration, Finance Option, with a 4.0 GPA. Emigrating from Brazil to the United States when he was 8 years old, he is a Smittcamp Family Honors Scholar. He has held leadership positions with the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization and helped organize events, including Startup Weekend, a three-day event where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs discover whether startup ideas are viable. He participated in the Entrepreneurship Mentor Program, an extensive program that matches community leaders with students. A member of the student chapter of the Financial Management Association, he has been able to represent the organization at multiple finance conferences throughout the country. He also has been vice president of the Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF), helping with the investment performance of its nearly $3 million dollar fund. He honed his finance skills through two internships, one with Regency Investment Advisors and a second with Rabobank. After graduation, he will begin his career as an associate financial analyst for E&J Gallo and has future plans for graduate studies.

Elizabeth Olenchalk

Kremen School of Education and Human Development

Elizabeth Olenchalk

Elizabeth “Ludie” Olenchalk, of Sonora, completed a B.A. in Liberal Studies with a 3.58 GPA. Her concentration is in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) with an Urban Civic Education minor, which prepares students to become change agents that seek to address community issues, and a minor in Co-Curricular Leadership. At Fresno State, she was a passionate, committed leader of community service and engagement efforts, from leading Fresno State Alternative Spring Break 2012 to serving as the student director of Vintage Days 2015. In 2014, she received national recognition by being honored with the Newman Civic Fellows Award from Campus Compact. Her activities include serving as a leader for Every Neighborhood Partnership Powers-Ginsburg Saturday Sports, as a Richter Center Ambassador, and as a member of Fresno State Physics Outreach Program. She works for Clovis Unified School District’s Campus Club, where she received a Clovis Unified School District 2014 Most Valuable Player award for community outreach efforts. She also was awarded the John D. Welty Excellence in Community Service Scholarship. She plans to enter Fresno State’s multiple subject credential program and continue serving others through teaching elementary school.

Kelsey Hoffman

Lyles College of Engineering

Kelsey Hoffman

of Fresno, completed a B.S. in Civil Engineering with a 3.78 GPA. A member of the Lyles College of Engineering’s Honors Program, she exhibits academic excellence, leadership and service. Kelsey has been a model student throughout her four years at Fresno State. One of her accomplishments was leading the planning and implementation team that hosted the American Society of Civil Engineers Mid-Pacific Civil Engineering competitions in 2014, which attracted more than 1,000 guests. Her awards include the Outstanding Civil Engineering Student of the Year. She also has volunteered with several organizations, including Fresno Community Food Bank, Campus Life Leadership, Youth for Christ, the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) Schools Program, and a dance marathon fund raiser. She worked as an engineering intern at Chevron in Bakersfield and at the Kiewit Treatment Plant in San Bruno. She will join Chevron as a full-time engineer soon after graduation and plans on pursuing a graduate degree and possibly starting her own engineering company. After graduation, she plans to pursue an MBA.

Marine Vardanyan

College of Health and Human Services

Marine Vardanyan

of Fresno, completed a B.S. in Health Science, Community Health Option, with a 3.97 GPA. Born in post-Soviet Armenia, she encountered numerous obstacles in adapting to life in the United States but used those obstacles as opportunities for growth. She was selected for the College of Health and Human Services’ Honors Scholars Program in Collaborative Leadership in 2014. She served as editor and writer for the Armenian student newspaper Hye Sharzhoom, which sparked her decision to minor in Mass Communication and Journalism. She was heavily involved with USU Productions as a coordinator and helped organize “Just Roll With It: an evening with the Walk and Roll Foundation,” an organization dedicated to raising awareness of spinal cord injuries. She also regularly volunteers her time to host the KFSR radio show, Hye Oozh. In addition, she completed an internship in Armenia at Civil Net News Agency as a writer, translator, and researcher. She volunteered more than 300 hours at Community Regional Medical Center in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the Burn Unit and others. Her goal is to attend graduate school and study epidemiology or occupational therapy.

Jamie Chang

College of Science and Mathematics

Jamie Changof Fresno, completed a B.S. in Biology, with a 4.0 GPA. He has a double-minor in Chemistry and Mathematics. Raised by parents who emigrated from Taiwan, he became interested in his field because his best friend in high school suffered from a genetically-based congenital lung condition. A hard-working, self-motivated individual who is dedicated to biology, math and clinical research projects, he is noted for his leadership role in the lab, assisting other students with their activities and projects. He has presented the results of his research twice at the Central California Research Symposium and at the CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology. He serves as an academic research associate at Community Regional Medical Center, where he is assisting in a toxicology study regarding treatment regimens of Tylenol overdose. He volunteered with the Overseas Chinese Affairs Council as an English teacher, the STARTER Program at the Discovery Center in downtown Fresno, and the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement program. In addition, he was a four-year member of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. He plans to attend medical school to specialize in the field of neurosurgery.

Megi Hakobjanyan

College of Social Sciences

Megi Hakobjanyanof Fresno, completed a B.A. in Political Science, with a 4.0 GPA. Born and raised in Armenia, she immigrated to the United States in 2007. She is a member of the Smittcamp Family Honors College and the College of Social Sciences Honors Program. With support from grants and scholarships, she attended the European Student Conference at Yale, spent a semester at the Charles University in Prague, and served as an intern at the Armenian Embassy of the Czech Republic, among other activities. She is working with Dr. Bradley Hart to translate the Mitrochin Archives from Russian to English. Her volunteer work includes passing out food at the Bulldog Pantry and participating in Relay for Life and March for Babies, as well as the Greek Festival. Megi credits her many campus involvements with her work since 2012 at the University Student Union reservations desk, where her supervisors encouraged her to be active both on and off campus. Her internship was with the American Civil Liberties Union. This fall, she will attend Johns Hopkins University, where she will pursue a Master of Arts in International Affairs.

Moses Menchaca

Division of Student Affairs

Moses Menchaca

of Patterson, completed a B.A. in Political Science with a 3.7 GPA. His minors are in General Business and Philosophy. A first-generation college student, Moses felt a sense of belonging on the Fresno State campus. While at the University, he earned multiple Dean’s List and President’s List honors. He is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, the Golden Key International Honor Society, and the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. He served two terms in student government as President and CEO of Associated Students, Inc. His co-curricular involvements include being a co-founder for Young Americans for Liberty. He helped start the College Republicans and held numerous leadership roles. He was co-founder and president of the fastest growing club on campus, the Fresno State Gun Club. He also was president of Phi Alpha Delta (pre-law) fraternity and president of Moot Court, where he earned national recognition as a top 10 orator. He also was the junior chair of the activity volunteer committee for the Future Farmers of American Convention Committee in 2012. Moses also is a brother in the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.

Honorary Doctorate

Marvin BaxterJustice Marvin R. Baxter, a Fresno State alumnus and the only lifelong San Joaquin Valley resident to become an associate justice of the California Supreme Court, grew up on a family farm in Fowler. While earning a degree in economics at Fresno State, he was active in student government, served as Fresno State student body president and was presented an Outstanding Senior Award.

He graduated from Hastings College of the Law in 1966 and began his legal career as a Fresno County deputy district attorney in 1967, serving for two years before moving into private practice. He then became an associate and later a partner in the Fresno law firm of Andrews, Andrews, Thaxter, Jones and Baxter, where he practiced civil law for 13 years.

While practicing law in Fresno, Justice Baxter was active in bar association activities, served on the boards of directors of the Fresno County Bar Association, Fresno County Young Lawyers Association, Fresno County Legal Services Inc. (Legal Aid), and California Young Lawyers Association, and was president of the Fresno County Bar Association and Fresno County Young Lawyers.

He also devoted considerable service to his alma maters, Fresno State and Hastings College of the Law. He was a board member and president of the Fresno State Alumni Association and of its Trust Council. He is a Director Emeritus of Hastings College of the Law.

In January 1983, Justice Baxter became appointments secretary to Gov. George Deukmejian and was the governor’s principal adviser on all gubernatorial appointments made to the executive and judicial branches of government. He served in this capacity for six years and assisted in the appointment of more than 700 judges.

Justice Baxter was appointed and confirmed as an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District, headquartered in Fresno, in December 1988. He was elevated to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California in January 1991 and re-elected in 2002. He retired in January 2015. In recognition of his achievements, his outstanding leadership, and enormous contributions locally, regionally and nationally, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, Fresno are proud to confer upon Marvin R. Baxter the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.

 

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