Campus: CSU Fresno -- May 7, 2004

18 Dean's Medalists Named for Class of 2004

Nine undergraduate and nine graduate students have been named Dean’s Medalists – the Class of 2004’s top students – and will be honored at California State University, Fresno’s 93rd Commencement ceremony on May 22 at the Save Mart Center at Fresno State.

The Dean’s Medal honors the top graduating student at the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels in each of the university’s eight schools and colleges of academic discipline and the Division of Student Affairs. The dean of each college, school and division selects an undergraduate medalist and a graduate medalist based on academic excellence, community involvement and other outstanding achievements.

The medalists are then considered for the highest honors given to a graduating student – the President’s Medal (for undergraduates) and the University Graduate Medal (for graduates).

The name of the University Graduate Medal honoree will be announced at the Graduate Degree Hooding Ceremony at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 21, in the Save Mart Center at Fresno State. The President’s Medal honoree will be announced at Commencement, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 22, in the Save Mart Center.

More information about Commencement is available at

The Class of 2004 undergraduate Dean’s Medalists are:
Heather M. Fultz of Ripon – College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology
Kimberly Elyse Conley of Fresno – College of Arts and Humanities
Andrei R. Slivinschi of Romania – Craig School of Business
Benjamin Ramirez III of Sanger – Kremen School of Education and Human Development
Ashley Evans of Fresno – College of Engineering and Computer Science
Jose A. Mercado of Clovis – College of Health and Human Services
Mong Kon Mo of Fresno – College of Science and Mathematics
Adam M. Van Dusen of Rocklin – College of Social Sciences
Firhana Mohamed Fathil of Malaysia – Division of Student Affairs

The 2004 graduate Dean’s Medalists are:
Christopher John Mortensen of Del Mar – College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology
Michael Don Anderson of Dinuba – College of Arts and Humanities
Ryan Nelson Jacobsen of Easton – Craig School of Business
Sumer Ortiz of Fresno – Kremen School of Education and Human Development
Rei Suryana of Indonesia – College of Engineering and Computer Science
Crystal A. Johnson of Bakersfield – College of Health and Human Services
Robert T. Gaeta of Madison, Wisc. – College of Science and Mathematics
Victoria A. Malko of Ukraine – College of Social Sciences
Marie Regina Soto of Selma – Division of Student Affairs

(Brief bios are attached. For more detailed information about any of the students, contact Shirley Melikian Armbruster at 278-5292. Photos of the students are available.)


Heather M. Fultz
B.S., Agricultural Business

Heather Fultz completes her B.S. degree in three years with a 3.83 GPA. She was one of seven Fresno State students in the 2003-04 Kenneth L. Maddy Institute intern-scholar class and interned in Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s district office in Fresno. In fall 2003 she was an intern in the marketing department of the University of Central Lancashire in Newton Rigg, England. Heather is a member of the Fresno State equestrian team and has been an active member of the Agricultural Business Club and Sigma Alpha, a professional agricultural sorority. An active member of FFA, she attended the organization’s National Leadership Convention and Sacramento Leadership Experience. She placed second in the U.S. in the Equine Science Entrepreneurship contest and won a travel seminar-Costa Rica Agriculture Tour.

Kimberly Elyse Conley
B.A., Music Performance

Kimberly Conley completes her B.A. degree in music while also completing a pre-med program with a nearly perfect GPA of 3.98. A pianist and violinist, she has won a dozen scholastic awards, honors and scholarships, including first place in the collegiate division of the 2001 Duo Piano Winter Festival and Competition in San Diego and first place in the Fresno Organizers Keyboard Competition in 2002. She is a member of Golden Key International Honor Society and Phi Kappa Phi International Honor Society. Kimberly has volunteered as pianist for her church and at Children’s Hospital Central California, and participated in church-sponsored medical missions trip to Nicaragua and Venezuela. She will begin medical studies in the fall at the School of Medicine at Loma Linda University.

Andrei (Andy) R. Slivinschi
B.S. Business Administration – Information Systems

Andrei (Andy) Slivinschi, who arrived at Fresno State four years ago from his native country of Romania, completes his B.S. with a 3.60 GPA. He won first place at Information Technology Competition 2003 for Dynamic Web Design and is a member of the Association of Information Management Collegiate Club and Golden Key National Honors Society. He has worked in various Web-related positions on campus and for GAP Inc. in Fresno. He also was a volunteer for Care Fresno, a nonprofit organization that helps low-income communities with educational facilities for children. Andy refurbished donated computers into usable units and distributed them to the participants.

Benjamin Ramirez III
B.A. Liberal Studies

Benjamin Ramirez earns both a B.A. in Liberal Studies and his Multiple Subject teaching credential. Admitted to Fresno State through the Re-entry Program for adults who have been out of school for more than five years, he completes his studies with a 3.92 GPA. He is the first in his family and one of a few in his extended family to attend college. He is a member of the Golden Key Honor International Society and Phi Kappa Phi. He was a writing tutor at Fresno State. He is enrolled in a federal loan reduction program that will help him replay his loans in exchange for working at a low-income school where he wants to “share my experience by influencing and awakening others to the wonders of literature, mathematics, the arts, philosophy and other intellectual pursuits.”

Ashley Evans
B.S., Electrical Engineering

Ashley Evans completes his B.S. degree and a minor in mathematics with a 4.0 GPA. He is a member of the Smittcamp Family Honors College, has been president and vice president of the Fresno State chapters of Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and Eta Kappa Electrical Engineering Honor Society. He was chapter secretary of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, president of Engineering Students Joint Council and member of Golden Key International Honor Society. He has been a mentor for engineering students in mathematics and physics and tutored Fresno High School students in literacy and mathematics. He has participated in advanced engineering research projects at Stanford University and has a paper published. He has been accepted for graduate study at UCLA and UC Davis.

Jose A. Mercado
B.S., Nursing

Jose Mercado completes his B.S. in nursing with a 4.0 GPA. He is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, the International Honor Society for Nurses and served as vice president and co-president of the local chapter of California Nursing Students’ Association. A member of the U.S. Navy, he was one of 70 sailors out of 400 applicants nationwide selected for to attend nursing school in the Navy’s Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program. After graduation he will be commissioned to the rank of Ensign in the Navy’s Nurse Corps and will be stationed at Naval Hospital Portsmouth, Va. He intends to obtain a master’s degree in nursing, be certified as a nurse anesthetist, earn a Ph.D. and perhaps teach at Fresno State.

Mong Kon Mo
B.A., Mathematics

Mong Kon Mo completes his B.A. with a 3.96 GPA. He is a Downing Scholar in Mathematics and an Alpha Gamma Alpha Most Distinguished Scholar. He participated in a research fellowship at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory before transferring to Fresno State from Fresno City College. He has been a tutor/grader for the Math Department, a teaching assistant/fellow in the Fresno Collaborative for Excellence in Teaching program and summer school algebra class teacher at University High School. He also was a supplemental instruction leader in algebra for the Summer Bridge Program at Fresno State. He has presented his research at several professional meetings and received first place in the annual William Lowell Putnam Competition, second place in the first Bulldog Problem Solving Competition and third place in the first Integral Bee competition at Fresno State.

Adam M. Van Dusen
B.A., Economics

Adam Van Dusen completes his B.A. in Economics and minor in Army ROTC with a 4.0 GPA. He is the recipient of the prestigious George C. Marshal Award, presented by the Army ROTC for his No. 1 ranking out of 4,682 senior cadets nationwide. He also received the Bronze Cross Legion of Valor for Achievement, given to four of 9,000 upperclassmen and the Stillwell Saber Award as the top senior within the local Army ROTC department, and the Harlan Hagen Scholarship in Economics. He worked for Community Medical Foundation conducting donor research to assist in fund raising, helped lead a Christmas toy drive for needy children and a went on four trips to Mexico to help build homes in the region east of Tijuana. After graduation, he will begin a four-year military obligation and upon completion of that plans to pursue graduate studies in economics or law.

Firhana Mohamed Fathil
B.S., Business – Accountancy

Firhama Fathil, an international student from Malaysia, completes her B.S. degree in three years with a 3.76 GPA. She is a member of the Craig School of Business Honors Program and has received many honors and scholarships, including the Leon S. Peters Honors Scholarship, the Radin Community Scholarship and awards from Beta Gamma Sigma, the California Society of CPAs, the International Business Program and the Malaysian Public Sector Program. She has been an active member in the International Club, the Malaysian Student Organization, the QA Club and Beta Alpha Psi. She has assisted in International Culture Night, Amerasia Week and Vintage Days. She was a student assistant in the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities, a peer advisor in the International Student Services Program Office and an intern at the Marjaree Mason Center.


Christopher John Mortensen
M.A., Interdisciplinary Studies – Animal Sciences

Christopher Mortensen completed his master’s degree in fall 2003 with a 3.76 GPA. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. at Texas A&M. Christopher was involved with all aspects of the Fresno State Breeding Program, which included managing the care for and breeding of 30 brood mares and five studs. Christopher conducted research on carbohydrate metabolism in neonatal foals. The project required long hours since the majority of foals are born between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. and the research required that blood be drawn from the foals several times in the first 24 hours after birth to measure the foals fructose and glucose levels. Upon completion of his Ph.D. Christopher plans to return to the classroom to teach as well as continue his research in various areas relating to equine health.

Michael Don Anderson
M.A., Linguistics

Michael Anderson is completing his M.A. with a 4.0 GPA. Michael received bachelor’s degrees in both Linguistics and Anthropology from Fresno State. His research has been well-received by industry members and his work has been published in several academic journals. He is the president of the Fresno State Linguistics Club. He has taught at Reedley College and was a teaching assistant at Fresno State. Michael also took part in the Summer Institute of Linguistic Society of America and has done field research in the Philippines. Michael has been accepted to several programs to obtain his Ph.D. in the area of Linguistics.

Ryan Nelson Jacobsen
Masters of Business Administration – Entrepreneurship Area

Ryan Jacobsen is completing the MBA program with a 4.0 GPA. Ryan was the undergraduate Dean’s Medalist for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology in May 2002 and was elected as the Associated Students Inc. president for two terms. Ryan is involved in various community organizations including the Easton Lions Club, Fresno County Farm Bureau and Fresno County Young Farmers and Ranchers. His entrepreneurial business concept includes breeding, raising and selling non-purebred goats to a target market of Southeast Asian and Hispanic/Latino farmers. Ryan works as assistant farm manager at J&L Vineyards where he has overseen business and farm operations since 1996.

Sumer Ortiz
M.S., Counseling – Counseling and Student Services Option

Sumer Ortiz is completing her degree with a 4.0 GPA. While obtaining her master’s degree she worked full time as an outreach counselor and communications specialist and has served many college students suffering from stress. In order to equip herself and other professionals, she devoted her master project, titled “Reducing Stress Among College Students: A Handbook Using Alternative Approaches,” to the issue. She will be presenting a paper at the American Psychological Association conference this summer on the topic. She is a member of Chi Sigma Phi and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. Sumer plans to obtain her Ph.D. in either counselor education or education.

Rei Suryana
M.S., Computer Science

Rei Suryana maintained a 4.0 GPA while obtaining his masters in computer science with a concentration in database, graphics and advanced Web application. Rei, an international student from Indonesia, has instructed students in several courses in the areas of computer programming and Web application development. His research project, “Handwriting Recognition for Mathematical Expression,” is a program meant to help engineers or scientists enter mathematical equations into computer applications with greater ease. Rei plans to continue his education with doctorial studies in the area of Database Systems and Natural Input Processing.

Crystal A. Johnson
M.A., Kinesiology

Crystal Johnson is completing her degree with a 4.0 GPA and is a member of two honor societies, Phi Kappa Phi and Alpha Chi. She is a recipient of a Robert and Norma Craig Fellowship, a graduate travel grant and a graduate Research Merit Award. She helped organize and present at a coaches’ workshop, taught five different activity classes, served as president of the Student Sport Psychology Club and participated in several charity events. She has served as a consultant for the Fresno State Track and Field Throwing Team, Sierra Fencing Club and the McLane Varsity Football team. Crystal looks forward to helping others achieve their athletic goals.

Robert T. Gaeta
M.S., Biology

Robert Gaeta completed his M.S. degree in the summer of 2003 with a 4.0 GPA. He has been actively involved in research in the area of crop improvement and is pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was offered a full scholarship. He was one of 20 EPA Graduate Research Fellowship recipients in the country. While at Fresno State, Robert taught undergraduate students in the research lab and conducted his own crop improvement research. Robert has been published in several academic journals and given several presentations related to his research.

Victoria A. Malko
M.A., History

Victoria Malko, a native of Ukraine, completes her second M.A. degree with a 4.0 GPA. Her first was a M.A. in Linguistics completed at Fresno State in May 1997. Victoria speaks German, Polish and Russian and has translated several research papers from English to Russian and German. Victoria is enrolled in the Joint Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership. She has been teaching courses in linguistics since spring 2001 and has counseled bilingual students through her work with the American English Institute, an affiliate of Fresno State. She presented a paper on “Russia’s War in Chechnya” at the annual Western Social Science Association Conference in Las Vegas in April.

Marie Regina Soto
M.S., Counseling – Counseling and Student Services Option

Marie Soto maintained a 4.0 GPA while raising four children and working as an academic counselor in Fresno State’s Office of Advising Services and as an EOP Summer Bridge graduate intern. A high school dropout, she did janitorial work for 10 years before entering community college at the age of 29. She earned her B.S. in Social Work from Fresno State in 2002. She is a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society. Marie volunteers as a classroom assistant at a local elementary school to work with students who are identified as “high need” and is currently helping to establish the first sorority for Latinas at Fresno State. She plans to continue her education and earn a Pupil Personnel Services Credential.

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