2015 Honorees and Awards
2015 Dean's Graduate Medalists
Sonia Inez Rios, College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology,
of 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 Amaranthwas 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,
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.
Narinder Pal Singh, Craig School of Business,
of 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. Olam International is a leading agri-business operating from seed to shelf in 65 countries, supplying food and industrial raw materials to more than 13,800 customers. 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,
of 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,
of 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 the area of 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 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,
of 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 was recently inducted into the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. He plans to complete a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology.
Yesenia Thompson, College of Science and Mathematics,
of Lindsay, completed an M.S. in Biology with a 3.91 GPA. She and her family immigrated to the United States from Mexico and have experienced many challenges, including growing up in a low-income single-parent household. In completing her graduate studies, she 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 31st, 32nd, 33rd, 34th, and 35th Central California Research Symposium. She worked with the Susan G. Komen Foundation with 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. She hopes to pursue a research career in anti-cancer drug discovery and development.
Jennifer Leahy, College of Social Sciences,
of 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 has also assisted with projects on an International level, working with 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,
of Hanford, completed an M.P.H., Health Promotion Option, with a 3.60 GPA. His master’s thesis investigates 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 of Lock It Up Project at the California Health Collaborative, where he worked to raise awareness of prescription drug abuse throughout Fresno County. He is now 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,
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.
Joseph M. Bohigian, College of Arts and Humanities,
of Clovis, completed a B.A. in Music Composition with a 4.0 GPA. An exceptionally talented young composer, he has been playing music since age 5. He is a Smittcamp Family Honors Scholar and a member of the College of Arts and Humanities Honors Program; he has received numerous academic and music scholarships. In addition to his impressive list of accomplishments throughout his undergraduate career, he is president of the Fresno State Composers' Guild and founder and president of the New Music Ensemble at Fresno State. His original compositions have been performed in international venues in Armenia, Germany, Portugal, and Brazil, in addition to venues across the U.S. Of particular note, he curated and performed in a concert for the Composer's Voice Concert Series in New York City in 2014. He also 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.
Renan Rocha Lopes de Lima, Craig School of Business,
of 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,
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. She also is pursuing a certificate in co-curricular leadership. Since she was young, she has shown her heart for serving others after experiencing a family tragedy in which she lost her older brother. During her time here at Fresno State, she has emerged as a passionate, committed leader of community Alternative Spring Break to now serving as student director of Vintage Days 2015. In 2014, she received national recognition for community service by being awarded the Newman Civic Fellows Award from Campus Compact. As part of the Fresno State Physics Outreach Program, she visited numerous K-12 school locations, representing Fresno State throughout Fresno County and beyond. She also was recently awarded the John D. Welty Excellence in Community Service Scholarship. She plans to enter Fresno State’s multiple subject credential program to teach in elementary school.
Kelsey Hoffman, Lyles College of Engineering,
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 leadingthe 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
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,
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 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 CivilNet 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,
of 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 his 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,
of 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, served as 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,
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 was also president of Phi Alpha Delta (pre-law) fraternity and president of Moot Court, where he earned national recognition as a top 10 orator. He was also the junior chair of the activity volunteer committee for the Future Farmers of American Convention Committee in 2012. Moses is also a brother in the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
2014 Honorees and Awards
German Marquez Alcala is the 2014 President’s Medalist
College of Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology
of Tulelake, completed a B.S. in Agricultural Business with a 3.96 GPA. As a young child, he came to the United States from Mexico with his parents seeking a better future. Now a President’s Scholar in the Smittcamp Family Honors College, he has engaged in undergraduate research in both agricultural business and philosophy through the Produce Marketing Association and the College of Arts and Humanities Honors Program. He has held numerous leadership roles, including president of the Council of President’s Scholars and student ambassador of the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning. His awards include national recognition for community service through the Newman Civic Fellows Award from Campus Compact and the gold-level U.S. President’s Volunteer Service Award for completing over 500 hours of service. Some highlights among his community service experiences include organizing an annual carnival for patients and their families at Children’s Hospital Central California and helping build a playground at El Dorado Park through the Revitalize Fresno State campaign. He will pursue a Ph.D. in agricultural economics at Purdue University as a Purdue Doctoral Fellow, where he plans to research international agricultural trade models and policy with an emphasis on Latin American countries.
Dalia Haitayan is the 2014 University Graduate Medalist
College of Social Sciences
of Clovis, completed an M.A. in History with a 4.0 GPA. She earned President’s List and Dean’s List distinctions during her undergraduate studies and was inducted into the Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society in spring 2012. She is the recipient of the Robert and Norma Craig Graduate Fellowship, Bertha and John Garabedian Scholarship and the Yervant, Rose and Hovannes Levonian Educational Grant. In her thesis, she explores the rise of evangelical conservatism in Fresno and how Protestant churches re-evaluated their role in the midst of urbanization during the 1960s and 1970s. She has presented four research papers at regional and national conferences. She has also distinguished herself as a research and teaching assistant. Outside the Department of History, she has served as a writing tutor in the Learning Center, an intern in Henry Madden Library Special Collections and a volunteer archivist at the Fresno Historical Society. She is currently helping to organize the 2015 Southern Association for Women Historians Conference.
2014 Dean's Graduate Medalists
Minh (James) Nguyen Le, Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology,
of Fresno, completed an M.S. in Industrial Technology with a 4.0 GPA. Lauded for his intelligence, work ethic and diligence, he has been a volunteer for three years for the Future Farmers of America (FFA) Field Days Technology Competition. In the area of community service, he has devoted many hours to the Cecil C. Hinton Multicultural Community Center, where he became network administrator. He directed a team in the installation and maintenance of a computer network and improved the system’s security. As both president and vice president of Epsilon Pi Tau, he revitalized the honors student organization in the Department of Industrial Technology. James also served as vice president of Advance Technology Enterprise, a student-run campus organization. He plans to pursue a career in the technology sector and possibly start his own business.
Bradley A. Rutledge, College of Arts and Humanities,
of Chowchilla, completed an M.A. in Music Education with a 4.0 GPA. As an undergraduate, he was a Smittcamp Scholar who graduated with a 4.0 in May 2012 and received the prestigious President’s Graduate Scholars Fellowship to support his graduate studies. He was awarded the horn position in the President’s Quintet, which represents the best that the Music Department offers. He is a graduate assistant for the marching band program and highly respected by the students in the band and in his classes. He is also a distinguished member of the wind and symphony orchestras. His passion for music has led him to share with others. He is active in several on- and off-campus service organizations as a volunteer, providing music education opportunities to underprivileged children. He is a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a fraternity for men in music professions, and served as president in 2011-2012.
Kurtis Willey, Craig School of Business,
of Fresno, completed the Executive M.B.A. with a 4.0 GPA. Described as having a tenacious work ethic and a strong desire to learn, he was a class leader in his cohort within the program. His project was a group of restaurant acquisitions and conversions, with the goal of acquiring bakeries to be transformed into Panera Bread restaurants. He has served in leadership roles for the Republican Party, organizing fundraisers and working with local candidates and visiting dignitaries. He was an elected representative in District 5 and was later unanimously elected chairman of the Fresno County Republican Party. While claiming a community leadership role, he has balanced a full-time job with academic success. As an employee at Agri-Valley Irrigation, he was promoted to supervise the company’s job costing department. His goal is to run for public office. He earned a bachelor’s from Fresno State in Business Administration with an accounting option in 2009.
Clifford Frazier III, Kremen School of Education and Human Development,
of Fresno, completed an M.S. in Counseling with a 3.81 GPA. He is recognized by numerous honor societies, including Golden Key and Chi Sigma Iota, in which he served as chair of the public relations committee during the 2012-2013 school year. He also served on the Kremen School Equity Committee and is a member of the National Coalition Building Institute, which promotes respect, appreciation and equal treatment of all people. He is also affiliated with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the American Counseling Association. Since June 2012, Frazier has served as a resident director for University Courtyard. In February 2014, he received the Rosa Parks Graduate Unsung Hero Award for his continued commitment to the success of students. In April 2014, Frazier received the Edge Scholar Award for serving as an exceptional student, and showing exemplary work ethic. Also in April 2014 he received the Outstanding Counseling Student award presented by Chi Sigma Phi Chapter of Chi Sigma Iota. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. program in Higher Education and Student Affairs. His ultimate goal is to become a dean of students, vice president of Student Affairs and/or president of a university.
Anthony Cemo, Lyles College of Engineering,
of Porterville, earned an M.S. in Engineering (Civil Engineering option) with a 4.0 GPA. In 2012, he earned his B.S. in Civil Engineering, graduating summa cum laude from Fresno State. He worked as an engineering assistant with the Central Valley Regional Water Control Board in 2011 and the Department of Resources in 2012. As a graduate student, he was active in professional society student chapters and also served as lab instructor and teaching assistant for the Lyles College of Engineering. He currently is a part-time instructor teaching fluid mechanics. His research on “Particle of Porous Media” has been accepted for presentation at the 2014 ASCE Geocongress Convention in Atlanta. His volunteer service includes work for the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservancy Trust, Fresno PARCS and Valley Animal Shelter. He is a lead project coordinator at Blair, Church and Flynn Consulting Engineers, a Clovis engineering firm working on the California High Speed Train City of Fresno Utility relocations project. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America. He is an assistant engineer at local consulting firm Blair, Church and Flynn Engineers in Clovis, CA.
Karina Harris, College of Health and Human Services,
of Oakland, completed an M.A. in Communicative Disorders, Speech-Language Pathology with a 4.0 GPA. She is a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society and the Tokalon Women’s Honor Society. She received the Woman of Distinction Award from the Sigma Lambda Gamma sorority in 2011 and the Jumpstart SPARK award in 2012. She also received recognition three years in a row from the Evening of Elegance Scholarship. Selected from hundreds of Jumpstart tutors throughout the country, she was the recipient of the 2009 America Spirit of Service Award. Her experience as a student clinician at Hoover High School, Ahwahnee Middle School, Community Regional Medical Center and the Fresno State Speech Language and Hearing Clinic provided a firm foundation from which to launch her professional career. She is dedicated to the field of speech-language pathology, as evidenced by her desire to work with the deaf and hard of hearing population before pursuing a doctoral degree.
Nicole Jones, College of Science and Mathematics,
of Clovis, completed an M.A. in Psychology, General/Experimental option, with a 4.0 GPA. Her thesis research, which is titled, “The Effect of Mexican Orientation and Anglo Orientation on Perception of Stressors,” has culminated a first-author paper submitted to the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences. She has also presented her work at two national conferences and at Fresno State’s Central California Graduate Research and Creative Activities Symposium. During her graduate work, she was the recipient of several fellowships and scholarships, including a College of Science and Mathematics Graduate Student Scholarship and the Roger L. Bailey Memorial Scholarship. She also received a National Institutes of Health Research Infrastructure for Minority Institutions graduate award and the Robert and Norma Craig Graduate Fellowship. An active teaching assistant and instructor in the Department of Psychology, she earned Psi Chi Teaching Assistant of the Year honors in 2013. She is a volunteer in the community and has served as ombudsman for the Fresno-Madera Ombudsman Program since April 2012. In this role, she visits residential care facilities and advocates for residents to monitor and prevent abuse. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Social Psychology.
Dalia Haitayan, College of Social Sciences,
of Clovis, completed an M.A. in History with a 4.0 GPA. She earned President's List and Dean's List distinctions during her undergraduate studies and was inducted into the Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society in spring 2012. She is the recipient of the Robert and Norma Craig Graduate Fellowship, Bertha and John Garabedian Scholarship and the Yervant, Rose and Hovannes Levonian Educational Grant. In her thesis, she explores the rise of evangelical conservatism in Fresno and how Protestant churches re-evaluated their role in the midst of urbanization during the 1960s and 1970s. She has presented four research papers at regional and national conferences. She has also distinguished herself as a research and teaching assistant. Outside the Department of History, she has served as a writing tutor in the Learning Center, an intern in Henry Madden Library Special Collections and a volunteer archivist at the Fresno Historical Society. She is currently helping to organize the 2015 Southern Association for Women Historians Conference. Described as a well-rounded and accomplished graduate student, she has been accepted to a Ph.D. program in history at Boston University.
Jose Arrezola, Division of Student Affairs,
of Parlier, CA completed a M.P.H., Health Promotion option, with a 3.4 GPA. Since 2012, he has been working as a health education specialist for the Madera County Public Health Department. As a student at Fresno State, he volunteered for projects targeting at-risk, low-income and academically challenged youth. He volunteered in College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) and University Migrant Services activities. He also was active with the Gamma Zeta Alpha fraternity. He completed a one-year paid internship with the Health Science Department during which he conducted research for cervical cancer. After completing bachelor’s degrees in Health Science and Spanish Literature at Fresno State, he worked as a health educator for United Health Centers of the San Joaquin Valley, administrative lead for HealthCare California, academic counselor for CAMP and health education specialist for Community Regional Medical Center. He was an awardee of the Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Program, and in summer 2010, had the opportunity to travel abroad and served as a student assistant at the Andres Bello University in Santiago, Chile. In 2011 and 2012, he attended the National Public Health Association conference, where he presented health research findings on issues affecting Fresno State students. His goal is to earn a Ph.D. in Public Health and eventually become a university educator.
2014 Dean's Undergraduate Medalists
German Marquez Alcala, Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology,
of Tulelake, completed a B.S. in Agricultural Business with a 3.96 GPA. As a young child, he came to the United States from Mexico with his parents seeking a better future. Now a President's Scholar in the Smittcamp Family Honors College, he has engaged in undergraduate research in both agricultural business and philosophy through the Produce Marketing Association and the College of Arts and Humanities Honors Program, respectively. He has held numerous leadership roles, including president of the Council of President's Scholars and student ambassador of the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning. His awards include national recognition for community service through the Newman Civic Fellows Award from Campus Compact, and the gold-level U.S. President's Volunteer Service Award for completing over 500 hours of service. Some highlights among his community service experiences include organizing an annual carnival for patients and their families at Children's Hospital Central California and helping build a playground at El Dorado Park through the Revitalize Fresno State campaign. He will pursue a Ph.D. in agricultural economics at Purdue University as a Purdue Doctoral Fellow, where he plans to research international agricultural trade models and policy with an emphasis on Latin American countries.
Kevin Piercy, College of Arts and Humanities,
of Clovis, completed a B.A. in Philosophy with a 3.77 GPA. After high school, he joined the military in 2004 with his older brother and spent six years in the Army, with 15 months stationed in Iraq. For his service, he received an Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal and the Combat Action Badge. Following his return from Iraq in 2009, he became involved with Iraq Veterans Against the War and filed as a conscientious objector. He got out of the Army in 2010 following the death of his brother in Afghanistan. He has been involved in numerous service-related organizations and activities, including Veterans of Foreign Wars, Wounded Warrior Project, Student Veterans Organization, Mock Trial and Phi Alpha Delta. He has volunteered in Academic Decathlon and forensics competitions and numerous other programs. Graduating with honors, he has been accepted to UC Davis Law School and plans to become a civil rights lawyer or specialize in environmental protection.
Brenda Garcia Lemus, Craig School of Business,
of Fresno, completed a B.A. in Economics with a 4.0 GPA. Arriving in Fresno from Mexico when she was 9 years old, she is fluent in Spanish and English and has basic competence in French. She is a member of the Craig Honors Program and completed her thesis on the skills mismatch in the labor market within Fresno County. Her aim is to identify the factors that drive the skills mismatch, which could inform local level policy aimed at reducing structural unemployment in Fresno County. A Phi Kappa Phi Scholar, she is a member of Omicron Delta Epsilon, the international honors society for economics. She has also been on the President’s and Dean’s lists throughout her time at Fresno State. She served as vice president of the Economics Student Association and is also a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. Her community service activities have centered on the San Joaquin Gardens Retirement Home, Arc and the Ronald McDonald House of Charities Marathon. She has been accepted into numerous prestigious graduate programs in economics and will be attending Duke University on a full-tuition scholarship.
Nereyda Dominguez, Kremen School of Education and Human Development,
of Woodlake, completed a B.A. in Liberal Studies with a 3.9 GPA. A child of working-class immigrant parents, she has consistently worked hard to excel in school and is on the President’s List. She values the importance of language and culture and has been involved in the Bilingual Authorization Program for the past three years, working closely with the coordinator in recruiting efforts. Her activities and memberships include California Association for Bilingual Education, Association of Mexican American Educators, Dual Language Conference, Cesar Chavez Conference and the Fresno Regional Dual Language Consortium. She also has had the opportunity to be a part of the development of the new Master of Arts in Education, Multilingual and Multicultural Education for the Kremen School. To gain experience in the teaching field, she joined the California Teaching Fellows program and is currently placed at Vinland Elementary School in Fresno Unified School District. She has been accepted into the Teacher Residency Program at Fresno State. This program works side-by-side with the Fresno Unified School District. Through this program she will attain a Multiple Subject Credential and a Master of Arts in Education with an emphasis in Curriculum and Instruction.
Kathryn Updyke, Lyles College of Engineering,
of Palmdale, completed a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in fall 2013 with a 4.0 GPA. She was in the Honors Program in the Lyles College of Engineering and is a recipient of the highly selective Husband-Boeing Scholarship, which provides full tuition and fees. She was also accepted to the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program at Fresno State and received undergraduate research grants for work in the areas of optics, Fourier optics and holography. In addition to her coursework, she was involved in student clubs and organizations, including Eta Kappa Nu Electrical and Computer Engineering Honor Society, Society of Women Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. School pride was very important for her and she took an active leadership role in the annual Vintage Days spring festival. She is currently a telecommunications engineer at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in Avila Beach. Her plans for the future include continued career development toward her professional engineering license.
Emily Bosh, College of Health and Human Services,
of Sacramento, completed a B.S. in Recreation Administration in fall 2013 with a GPA of 4.0. She is the recipient of several academic honors, including being on the President’s List and induction into the Phi Kappa Phi and Golden Key International Honor Societies. She was one of three students in the state to receive a California Travel Summit scholarship from the California Travel Association in spring 2013. Additionally, she was awarded an Outstanding Student scholarship from the California Park and Recreation Society District VII. At Fresno State, she was president of the Recreation Association, ASI senator for the college and a special events coordinator for Vintage Days. In addition, she assisted at the American English Institute, facilitating English-learning activities for international students. Her community service includes an internship at the nonprofit community development center, The Green House, as well as working at the Girl Scouts’ Heart of Central California Public Relations Department. She plans to pursue a career in corporate event planning and return to school in the future to obtain master’s degree in Business Administration.
Aroob Abdelhamid, College of Science and Mathematics,
of Fresno, completed a B.A. in Natural Science, Chemistry option, with a 4.0 GPA. Her academic achievements include contributions to her discipline and leadership in campus and community events. Early in her academic career, she fell in love with research. She has been involved in several research projects and contributed to three papers that are being prepared for submission to peer-reviewed scientific journals. She has made seven research presentations, two of which were at national conferences of the American Geophysical Union. As the president of the campus Natural Sciences Club for three-and-a-half years, she has been very active in science education outreach to local schoolchildren in events such as stellar science and circuit science. She has also worked on outreach events with the Physics Department and Fresno State’s Chemistry Club. A Smittcamp Family Honors College student, she has set the goal of becoming a chemistry professor. Her minor is in mathematics. She plans to earn a doctorate in atmospheric chemistry and has been accepted into four graduate programs.
Maria Ortega, College of Social Sciences,
of Fresno, completed a double major with a B.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in Sociology with a 3.89 GPA. She is a top student within the Sociology Department. She is a winner of the Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Program Scholarship, a Smittcamp Family Honors College student and a McNair Scholar. She is also a member of the Alpha Kappa Delta International Sociology Honor Society and Phi Kappa Phi. Known for her time management skills, she has worked with Alliance for Educational Justice and Californians for Justice and served as an intern with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. Her passion for underserved populations is evident not only in the research she is conducting, but in her extracurricular activities as well. She has been involved with the Mexican American Political Association and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan. She also co-founded Hijas de Malintzin — a wombyn’s circle rooted in indigenous traditions and knowledge. Upon graduation, she will receive a certificate in Applied Research Methods, which recognizes her mastery of research techniques. She has recently been admitted to the Ph.D. program in sociology at Brown University.
Sean Kiernan, Division of Student Affairs,
of Santa Clarita, completed a B.A. in Political Science, with a 3.96 GPA. His minor is in philosophy. He served in leadership positions in Associated Students Inc., including being the first elected vice president of external affairs. Here, he ran voter registration projects, registering more than 1,750 students. His contributions to campus life and the community have all taken place while working on various political campaigns and maintaining a full course load. His accomplishments include participation in the Colligate Western Regional Moot Court Competition in December 2013 and ranking nationally. He was recognized by the California State Student Association as Student Advocate of the Year in 2013. More recently, he has worked in the California Assembly Speaker’s Press Office and traveled alongside President Castro to Washington D.C. and Sacramento to lobby elected officials on behalf of the CSU. He is a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity’s Iota Beta chapter.
Dr. Peter Mehas to receive honorary degree posthumously at Fresno State Commencement May 17
An honorary doctorate will be award posthumously to Dr. Peter G. Mehas, a Fresno State alumnus, lifelong educator and former member of the California State University Board of Trustees, at Fresno State’s 103rd Commencement on May 17.
California State University, Fresno President Joseph I. Castro will confer the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters upon the authority of the CSU Board of Trustees, recognizing Dr. Mehas’ achievements, leadership and contributions locally, regionally and nationally.
Joining Castro will be joined in the presentation by CSU Trustees Hugo Morales and Steven Stepanek. Mrs. Demi Mehas will accept the honor on behalf of her late husband, a proud Bulldog alumnus, who died Sept. 27, in Fresno.
The son of Greek immigrants, Dr. Mehas learned early on about the value of hard work and perseverance from his parents, who emphasized that “all dreams could be achieved through education.” He was the first in his family to graduate from college and he became a mentor and friend to many first- generation students throughout a career devoted to education.
He valued the lessons learned from his parents as a youth: honest day’s work, respect for others and, above all, integrity. He is remembered for his unwavering commitment to the students of Fresno County, his tireless advocacy for migrant children, expelled and incarcerated youth and special needs students.
He graduated from Roosevelt High School in Fresno, attended Fresno City College and transferred to Fresno State. He was active in campus activities including student government and football, and was a member of the 1961 Mercy Bowl team. He earned a lifetime California Standard Secondary Teaching Credential, a General Elementary Credential as well as a lifetime School Service Credential in General Administration.
He earned a master’s degree from UCLA and his doctorate in education from the University of Southern California. Dr. Mehas often credited his teachers and coaches for inspiring his career, which began in Fresno and Clovis Unified School Districts.
In 1987, Governor Deukmejian appointed Dr. Mehas as Chief Education Advisor. In 1990, he was elected Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, was re-elected three times and served through 2006. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush appointed him to the Commission on Education Excellence for Hispanic Americans. From 1992-93 he served on the State Board of Education. He was appointed to the California State University Board of Trustees in 2008.