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College of Arts and Humanities

Arts and Humanities 2008 Department Nominees and Awardees

Undergraduate Nominees

Art and Design

Moua Xiong

Moua XiongMoua Xiong is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (studio Art/Painting emphasis) with a 3.8 GPA. She is a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and a life member of the California Scholarship Federation. Moua is distinguished not only by her strong academic performance but also by her incredible artistic talent and insight. Professor Nick Potter writes, “I have been impressed with her work from the first day, which along with her maturity and self-discipline, sets her apart from other students, as does the depth and quality of her intellect and visual awareness.” Moua’s artistic works are inspired by the notion of ‘the other.’ Moua’s family emigrated from Laos in the 1970’s and much of her work deals with the issues she has had to face growing up in a dualistic mode where the dominant American culture clashes with her minority Laotian culture. Another subject that is recurrent in her work is youth culture as it relates to identity formation and labeling. Moua’s works have been exhibited in student exhibitions on campus and at Sharon Aria’s Studio in Fresno. Moua plans to attend graduate school to earn her Master of Fine Arts degree. She also plans to freelance illustrate for fashion magazines and refine her earlier coloring books perhaps for publication.


Sarita J. Field

Sarita J. Field“I am a person who defies definition; nothing more and nothing less than me.” Coming from a family in which the women do not fit the stereotypical mold of femininity sparked Sarita’s interest in gender communication. Her grandmother instilled in her a spirit of fiery independence and showed her the power of a woman with a degree. Sarita Joyce Field will graduate with a B.A. in Communication and currently has a 3.88 GPA. A Ronald E. McNair scholar, Sarita’s research examines the nuances of masculinity and religion and has presented her research at the Undergraduate Communication Conference. She is a member of the communication honor society, Lambda Pi Eta, and is a student leader for the Campus Crusade for Christ. Sarita intends to focus research on gendered communication in graduate school and is now deciding on which school to attend of the seven different graduate programs that have admitted her. Eventually she hopes to return to California to be a professor of Communication.


Jaclyn M. Smith

Jaclyn M. SmithJaclyn may be the most advanced student of English Studies that the department has seen in decades. Her analytical abilities have been described variously as “phenomenal” and “amazing,” her participation as elevating the “caliber and complexity of any class discussion.” Professor Ruth Jenkins writes that “Jaclyn may be the brightest, most prepared, and personable of all the students that she has taught in her twenty years at CSU, Fresno.” Professor Samina Najmi writes that Jaclyn’s “insights, always articulated thoughtfully and with respect for other students’ opinions, had a way of shifting the discursive landscape of the class, in ways that nuanced our discussions and gave them the most meaningful kinds of complexity.” Amongst the praise that Jaclyn receives from the English faculty is a recurring refrain about her humility even as she asserts a complex and rigorous argument, as one faculty member noted, “I’m not sure that Jaclyn knows just how very smart she is!” Earning a perfect 4.0 in English classes and an impressive 3.97 for her cumulative GPA, Jaclyn plans to relocate to the San Francisco area and pursue a Master’s degree in Literature and study publishing. She has already established herself as a writer in the Fresno area both as a grant writer for the Clovis Police Department and as an editorial intern at Fresno Magazine.


Martha Rodriguez Villapando

Martha Rodriguez VillapandoMartha was born in a rural village in central Mexico and immigrated to the USA when she was eight. As a child, she struggled in school, but this May, she will be the first person in her family to earn a B.A. degree. Commenting on Martha’s two majors, biology and linguistics, Professor Chris Golston writes, “Martha has the ability to bring together different areas of knowledge,” linguistics and biology. She has taken the time to mentor incoming freshmen and has tutored students in biology. When tutoring, she teaches students to apply principles of linguistics such as morphemes to decode text. Martha stands out as an outstanding linguistics major (general linguistics option) for many reasons.” A single parent, Martha has raised two children; her daughter is in high school and her son is applying for admission to medical school. Martha considers her reincorporation into society following successful treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder to be her greatest accomplishment. Professor Brian Agbayani writes, “She is not only one of the most inspiring people that I’ve ever met, she is extremely intelligent and diligent, and she never takes the “easy way out.” Martha is a success story for returning and older students. Despite all of her challenges, she has earned a 3.86 GPA at Fresno State. She is planning to complete a teaching credential, and then, complete her M.A. in teaching English as a second language. In her personal statement she wrote, “adversity can be turned into opportunity.” Linguistics Chair, Ellen Lipp wrote, “This positive outlook contributes to her success as a parent, a student, a tutor, and as a mentor of incoming freshmen.”

Media, Communications and Journalism

Jamie L. Gregory

Jamie L .GregoryAs a soon-to-be-college graduate, I carry with me the Winston Churchill adage “This is not the end…. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Jamie began volunteering in the University’s Athletics Media Relations office at the age of 15, beginning her path of service learning. Working as a student assistant in the athletics department gave Jamie the opportunity to continue the activities in which she had been previously engaged, inspiring her to become a mass communication and journalism major in order to pursue a career in public relations. In support of her major, Jamie states that her minor in Geography gave her the opportunity to “learn more about … cultures and countries that shape humanity.” Professor Betsy Hays states, “Jamie is the first student I’ve had that could walk into a senior level public relations position the day after graduation. She is that good, and she is that good because she has taken full advantage of her time here at Fresno State. Jamie is a shining example of determination, persistence and commitment to excellence.” Jamie has maintained a solid 3.94 GPA; is a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America, and has received numerous scholarships, including the very competitive Bernard Shepard Scholarship, which she has earned two years in a row. Jamie states that “communication is special to me not only because it is fundamentally required to participate in society, but because it is an outlet for personal expression. It is my own art. It is my creative calling. Communication allows me to be me, convey my thoughts and share my ideas with others. And I found my art here at Fresno State.”

Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures

Edgar Castellon

Edgar CastellonEdgar Castellón will graduate with a 3.8 GPA as a double major in Spanish and Political Science and has completed coursework in Pre-Law. He plans on attending law school, specializing in an area of law such as International Law or Immigration Law. He serves as Treasurer for three student organizations: the Fresno State Political Science Association, the pre-law chapter of Phi Alpha Delta, and the Fresno State Mock Trial team. In addition to volunteer work for several community organizations such as the Fresno Adult Living Center, Edgar is frequently called upon to translate for various schools, the Fresno Community Hospital, and for the Fresno Court House. Edgar believes that his work as a translator helps to break down barriers. He states, “I want to be a catalyst for change, by struggling to give a voice to those that do not have one, and make my community, my friends, my educators, and my family proud.” The eldest son of immigrant parents, Edgar says “that he has always felt it was his duty to be an example for his younger siblings by exemplifying the importance of being persistent in all aspects of one’s life.” Edgar credits his parents for teaching him the value of hard work and dedication and the importance of perseverance. Professor Ted Bergman writes, “explanation, encouragement, and constructive argumentation are in Edgar’s blood, and when he speaks, he cannot help but teach. For him, mastery of a subject is not an end, but rather a means to connect with and help others.”
Department Chair, Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval writes, “Edgar is proud and conscious of his great abilities and of his cultural background, yet he is humble, compassionate towards others and self-giving to the greater community.”


Kevin Matthew McDonald

Kevin Matthew McDonaldKevin McDonald, 3.5 GPA, has distinguished himself as a musician versed in both Jazz and Classical idioms. He is the recipient of many awards and scholarships including the 2007 Paul Shaghoian Award for Outstanding Musicianship and the Lee Ann Price Memorial Scholarship. A four-year member of Fresno State’s top Jazz ensemble, Jazz Band “A,” Kevin also leads and composes for the Fresno State Protean Visions Jazz Combo and recently produced the group’s debut album Watercolor Bridges. He has held the post of Principal Bass with both the University Symphony Orchestra and the University String Orchestra.
Kevin has served as the Associated Students Senator for Parking and Safety and currently serves as the AS Associate Vice-President of Club Finances. He is active in the community as producer, radio personality, and programmer for KFSR’s (the campus radio station) Tuesday Morning Jazz program. Kevin is also active in the Fresno community as a teacher and mentor, coaching the bass section of the Youth Orchestra of Fresno. He teaches acoustic and electric bass and conducts master classes for both classical and jazz students as a staff member at the La Sierra Music Camp. In 2005, Kevin was an invited guest clinician at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Professor Thomas Loewenheim writes, “Mr. McDonald is without a question one of the most enthusiastic students I have taught in quite a while.” Professor Michael Caldwell writes, “Kevin is also one of our most dynamic student leaders on campus. He is very humble, yet very aggressive with regard to effective leadership. Kevin is an excellent student with outstanding intellectual capabilities.”


Josh J. McDonald

Josh J. McDonaldJosh McDonald is a triple major in Philosophy, Psychology, and Political Science, with an additional minor in Music and has earned an astonishing cumulative 4.0 GPA.
Josh is a member of the Smittcamp Honors Program, the College of Arts & Humanities Honors Program, the Psi Chi Honor Society in Psychology, the Golden Key Honor Society and the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. Josh has been the recipient of various academic scholarships and awards including the Juliana Bissett and Vivian I Pickford memorial scholarships. He has published inside of two different volumes of Voicing Ideas. He has presented papers at two Voicing Ideas conferences, the CSU Honors Conference and was invited to guest lecture at the English Department at Cal-Poly, San Luis Obispo. He was selected to participate four times as a member of the California Institute for the Preservation of Jazz, and three times for the All-State Collegiate Honor Jazz Band. In addition, Josh’s many and extraordinary contributions to student government and student life at Fresno State have been equally outstanding. During the 2006-2007 academic year Josh was elected the College of Arts & Humanities Senator to the Associated Students. AS President Juan Pablo Moncayo makes this statement about Josh, who serves as his Chief of Staff, “Josh approaches his passions with the interest of acting on them. Many can talk, few actually act.” While concentrating on his studies, Josh has focused on a variety of issues very important to him; serving his peers and working to improve both campus and Fresno communities. Fresno Councilmember Brian Calhoun states, “Improving the quality of life in our community is a key component of public service. Josh has exemplified this…” Mayor Alan Autry states, “While we cannot help but be impressed with his achievements outside of City Hall, we are most proud of the outstanding service he has provided to the citizens of Fresno.” Josh will pursue Graduate studies in English Literature here at Fresno State next fall.

Theatre Arts

Paul Henry

Paul HenryPaul Henry, 3.5 GPA, is graduating with a B.A. degree in Theatre Arts with a concentration in acting. He has appeared in many Theatre Department productions including Henry IV Part I, The Laramie Project, Little Foxes, Urinetown, the Portable Dance Troupe, and the Theatre for Young Audiences touring show. Paul has pursued his interests in technical theatre, designing the lighting for University Theatre productions including Polish Joke, the Portable Dance Troupe, Speed the Plow, and A Lie of the Mind. He has been a percussionist with the Bulldog Marching Band as well as playing for several Theatre Department productions. He has composed music for the Department’s production of Macbeth, and for several plays at the summer festivals, Shakespeare Santa Cruz and the Woodward Shakespeare Festival. With the Central Valley Youth Symphony, Paul has toured Europe and China. Paul has twice received the Roy and Dorothy Christopher Student Internship Award; first as acting intern with Shakespeare Santa Cruz and second as lighting intern with the Phoenix Theatre Company of New York City.

Graduate Nominees

Art and Design

Christopher Lopez

Christopher LopezChristopher Lopez is graduating with a Master of Arts (Studio Art) degree and a 3.9 GPA. He is the recipient of both the Hispanic Scholarship Fund/McNamara Family Creative Arts Project Grant and the Adolph Odorfer Art Scholarship; both of which were crucial for the production of his exhibit The Sound, and its Aesthetic Counterpart, or Your Whiteness. An avid community service participant since high school, Chris has served many projects both personally and financially. Chris states “Community service is an invaluable life experience.” He provided continued support to several local organizations including the Marjorie Mason Center for Women in Domestic Violence, Toys for Tots, Autism Speaks, and numerous local elementary schools. Chris currently serves as an adjunct professor at the State Center Community College District, Reedley College. “My experience as a graduate student has given me the skills and knowledge needed for this teaching position. My accomplishments are a reflection of what I have learned at the University over the past two years. The knowledge and skills I have acquired will remain an inspiration to me as I continue to produce and teach art.” Professor Edward Gillum states, “Chris Lopez is one of the most innovative and creative students I have worked with. He has an enviable energy and has great compassion for both life and art. He craves knowledge.”


Leslie G. Collins Hester

Leslie HesterLeslie graduates with a 4.0 GPA. Her scholarship centers on marginalized voice recovery, more specifically sex and gender in communication. She has presented papers at national and regional conferences and has submitted a competitive manuscript, co-authored with Dr. Diane Blair, to the National Communication Association Conference. Her thesis was nominated by the Department of Communication for the university’s Outstanding Thesis Award. In addition to her remarkable research agenda, Leslie held two graduate appointments in the department - one as a graduate associate and the other a graduate teaching assistantship. Having distinguished herself in the classroom, she won the Gene Anderson Award for Excellence in Teaching. She is also the recipient of a Graduate Student Research Merit Award and a Graduate Student Travel Grant. Twice her fellow graduate students honored her to receive the Honorary National Communication Association Membership. Leslie has represented the department at graduate studies and donor events, as the department’s liaison to local community colleges for the 33rd annual Undergraduate Communication Conference, and as adjudicator for the Peach Blossom Oral Interpretation Festival. She is founding member of the Sigma Epsilon Chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, the Undergraduate National Communication Association Honor Society and a student member of the Western States Communication Association. Professor Kevin Ayotte writes, “Leslie Collins Hester is an exemplary graduate student, modeling the intellectual commitment to rigorous communication inquiry that we seek to inculcate in our students.”

English, MFA in Creative Writing

Elizabeth Scheid

Elizabeth ScheidElizabeth Scheid is a publishing poet and prose writer with seven published poems and an interview with a prize-winning poet to her credit. At least four of these publications can be found in first rate, nationally known juried journals. While maintaining a 4.0 GPA, she has given at least seven separate public readings of her work, delivered one conference paper, and has twice been nominated for the Associate Writing Programs Intro Awards, a national competition for emerging writers that results in a cash award and journal publication for the winners.
Elizabeth is a charter member of the San Joaquin Literary Association, a member of the student organization known as the Student Reading Series Committee, and a regular reader at public events such as the Rogue Festival. She represented Fresno State at the Associated Writing Programs annual conference where she volunteered to man the Creative Writing Program’s bookfair table. Elizabeth was awarded a Graduate Teaching Assistantship in English and in addition to teaching courses in Freshman English composition, she also taught beginning poetry writing. Often students would stay after class to tell her how much they were gaining by reading and writing poetry, often stating that they were becoming a more rounded person. Professor Connie Hales writes, “Liz Scheid is an exceptional student who has already brought considerable honor and improvement to our program and the university, and whose work promises outstanding accomplishment in the literary arts.”

English, MA

Georgia P. Williams

Georgia P. WIlliamsGeorgia writes, “I seek to build bridges between students and larger communities, both within the academic world and within larger communities outside academia.”
Her service on both campus committees and academic committees in numerous community colleges in the valley are extensive. From work on the Young Writers Conference, to organizing a national MELUS conference on campus, to presentations at state-wide educational conferences, to scholarly presentations at conferences in literature, the social sciences, and English composition theory, Georgia has established herself as a well known, well respected, and important voice representing Fresno State in many matters academic, locally, regionally, and nationally. Awarded a teaching assistantship in English Composition, Georgia quickly became a leading voice in the development and strengthening of the Freshman Writing Program. She is a strong advocate for service learning where learning in the classroom is put in service of the greater community. Her innovations in this arena earned her special recognition by Provost Echeverria. Georgia’s outstanding academic achievements have earned her membership in Phi Kappa Phi and the Golden Key Honor Society.
Georgia’s accomplishments need to be seen in a wider context to better appreciate their worth. For most of her life she has battled severe and recurring clinical depression. But despite these disabilities, Georgia has completed the M.A. in English Literature and is near completion of the M.F.A in Creative Writing, maintaining a 4.0 GPA throughout.


Ria Kudu Inge Cahyani

Ria Kudu Inge CahyaniA Fulbright scholar from Indonesia, Ria has earned 4.0 GPA. Ria has presented her master’s project entitled “Indonesian and English Linguistics Hybridization in Media Discourse: Some Findings from Indonesian Adolescents’ Magazines across Time” at the Annual CSU Fresno Research Symposium and at the CSU East Bay Conference. Alongside her extraordinary academic work, Ria has also excelled in service to the university and the community. She apprenticed as an ESL teacher with the American English Institute, and she volunteered as a teaching assistant for the Fresno Montessori School. Ria also volunteered as a research assistant for Professor Sandra Lee. Ria hopes to take a position as a teaching assistant in the Madera Unified School District to work with ESL learners with reading disabilities, and in preparation she is independently studying the Lindamood reading, spelling and speech program so that she can assist these learners by using the latest teaching techniques. Ria’s ultimate goal is to pursue a Ph.D. in early literacy or syntax acquisition. Her goal is to work with the UNICEF/UNESCO branches of the United Nations to help children around the world, especially those in her country of Indonesia.

Media, Communications and Journalism

Zoua P. Vang

Zoua P. VangBorn in Laos, Zoua and her family immigrated to Fresno when she was a toddler. After graduating with her B.A. degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Minnesota, she became the first Hmong-American reporter at a mainstream television station when she was hired by the ABC affiliate in St. Paul, MN. While maintaining a 4.0 GPA during her graduate studies here at Fresno State, she has succeeded professionally first as a reporter and anchor at the local NBC affiliate and now as Communications Director for First 5 Fresno County, an organization that works to improve the lives of young children and their families. As a reporter, Zoua traveled to a refugee camp in Thailand to document the last wave of Hmong refugees coming to America. She produced a documentary about the plight of the Hmong that is now used in classrooms throughout the Valley and at public libraries. Her reporting and documentary works have been recognized with two Associated Press Awards and a Best of the West Award. The City of Fresno and other non-profits have honored her for her storytelling and journalistic work and she was given the Fresno City College’s Spotlight Award for her work with college students. Zoua also serves as an Advisory Member of Stone Soup and has served as a Board Member of the Central California Asian Pacific Women’s Group. Zoua’s passion is to give voice to underrepresented groups. Professor Betsy Hays states, “She started from nothing, valued her education, and created opportunities to learn, grow and succeed both professionally and personally.”

Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures

Edgar Perez

Edgar PerezEdgar Perez will graduate with a Master of Arts degree in Spanish and a 4.0 GPA. Professor Ted Bergman writes, “Far more than a student, Edgar is a scholar and thoughtful writer whose essays on Hispanic language, literature and culture show as much his love for them as his understanding of how they touch his life and those of others.” The barriers of living seventy-five miles from campus, being diabetic, working, but most importantly, being a supportive father, did not keep Edgar from pursuing his educational goals. Edgar is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, and he has presented a paper at the Annual Graduate Conference on Hispanic and Lusophone (Portuguese) Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics. He has served his community through his volunteer work with the Merced County Youth Council and tutoring students in Spanish grammar, literature, and linguistics. Edgar states, “These activities have provided me with the opportunity to ensure that those who represent the future in my community have positive alternatives to enrich and improve their lives.”
Edgar plans to continue his studies at UC Davis. He writes, “My desire to become a university professor has been born from understanding that I can make a living by doing something that I truly enjoy, while at the same time contributing to the improvement of society and by leaving a legacy for my children that will help them as they grow and become productive citizens.”


Sarah Basiletti

Sarah BasilettiSarah, percussion major with a specialty in mallet instruments, completes her graduate career with a 4.0 GPA. In recognition for her extraordinary musical talents, the Department of Music awarded her a graduate associateship as Mallet Percussion Instructor for the Bulldog Marching Band and a graduate teaching assistantship in Freshman level ear-training. Sarah is timpanist for the Sequoia Winds Community Band and performs with the Allan Spencer Marimba Group. She has also performed with the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble, the Fresno Community Chorus, the Fresno Choral Artists, and the Kings Symphony Orchestra. In addition to her private studio teaching percussion lessons, Sarah teaches Class Piano and Music Fundamentals at Reedley College and plans to continue as Pit Instructor for the Bulldog Marching Band. She hopes to publish an ear-training bingo game she developed and uses in her ear-training classes to assist students with their recognition of intervals and chords. Ultimately, Sarah plans to pursue a doctoral degree in music theory.

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