A smiling person wearing a graduation cap and gown
Story Commencement

No Mountain Too High

Alisia Ruble

Meet a few inspiring graduates from the CSU's Class of 2022 who let nothing stop them from earning a degree.

A smiling person wearing a graduation cap and gown

​Photo courtesy of Andrea Price/Sacramento State.​


Each spring, thousands of California State University students celebrate the remarkable achievement of earning a college degree, reflecting on the journey and all they have accomplished along the way. The road was tougher for some of those students, though, who came to the university with a heavier load to bear and needed a little extra push to make it to the end.

With the support of CSU programs and opportunities to get involved on campus, these students soared above the clouds, and now stand ready to guide those who come after them.

Meet just a few of the CSU's outstanding graduates from the Class of 2022 and discover how the university helped put them on the path to success.

​Name: Roda​isha James
Campus: Chico​ State
​​Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

Though Chico State graduate Rodaisha James was orphaned at the age of 15, she never lost sight of the goal her mother set for her long before her death: Go to college. Through College Track, aRodaisha James smiling for a photo program to help Bay Area underserved youth earn a bachelor’s degree, Rodaisha was introduced to the university’s Promoting Achievement Through Hope (PATH) Scholars program for current and former foster youth, which she says is the reason she chose to be a Wildcat.

With the support of PATH Scholars, Rodaisha excelled in college, taking advantage of travel abroad opportunities, becoming involved in student organizations like Just Unity Sistas; the Association for Women in Business; and First Generation and Proud, and holding leadership positions for Chico State’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers for three years.

Rodaisha earned not one, but two degrees this spring, and has already secured a job as a project manager for ServiceNow, a software company that helps manage digital workflows for enterprise operations. She says she looks forward to helping pave the way for other African American women in a traditionally male-dominated space.

Read more about Rodaisha James at Chico State Today.

​Name: Lukas Daniels

Campus: CSU Dominguez Hills
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Anthropology

​The transition from in-person to remote learning during the pandemic was difficult for many students, but for CSU Dominguez Hills graduate Lukas Daniels, who had just transferred to theLukas Daniels smiling for a photo university in 2020, it was just one more complication. He lives with Hyper Mobile Joint Disorder, which causes chronic pain in his joints, fingers and limbs, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which can impact his speaking, writing and research.

Despite these limitations, Daniels quickly became a standout scholar, working with CSUDH associate professor of anthropology Sarah Lacy, Ph.D., to conduct research focused on the queer community as underserved or marginalized communities, which he says is informed by his status as a trans man. He credits his success at CSUDH to his mentors and his extra-curricular activities. Daniels served as president of the Anthropology Club, as editor-in-chief of the anthropology student journal and as a student leader in the Queer Culture & Resource Center (QCRC).

Daniels will begin a master’s/Ph.D. program at Washington University this fall, focusing on biological anthropology research.

Read more about Lukas Daniels at the CSUDH Campus News Center.

​​Name: Steven Hensley

Campus: Fresno State
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Pre-Law Option and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science

Before he was even old enough to vote, Fresno State graduate Steven Hensley’s future looked bleak. He was incarcerated at age 17, but it was during his time behind bars that he set his sights onSteven Hensley smiling for a photo attending Fresno State. Hensley became involved with the university's Project Rebound program, which helps incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students navigate college, and even completed credits while serving his time.

Once at Fresno State, Hensley became a student coordinator for Bulldogs for Recovery, a Student Health and Counseling Center program concerned with recovery from addiction, co-founded a nonprofit to help at-risk and formerly incarcerated youth called Youngsters for a Change, and serves as co-chair of the Fresno County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and on the board of directors for the ACLU of Northern California.

The 2022 Fresno State Undergraduate Deans' Medalist plans to attend the University of California, Berkeley for law school this fall with the goal of helping incarcerated youth like him, those in the LGBTQ community and those who grew up in poverty.

Read more about Steven Hensley at Fresno State News.

Name: Scott Azevedo

Campus: Sacramento State​
​Degree: Bachelor of Arts in History and Painting

Sacramento State graduate Scott Azevedo says his childhood was filled with rejection by his parents. His father suffered from alcoholism, and his mother eventually kicked him out of her home when he was aScott Azevedo smiling for a photo teenager for wanting to live as openly gay.

Over the next few years, Azevedo experienced homelessness, homophobia and ageism as he tried to find his footing at several universities. He enrolled at Sacramento State in 2020 where he says he found professors who exhibited great passion for their work and supported him as both an artist and a person.

His art tackles issues such as racism and colonialism, challenges that, as a gay Latinx man, he has experienced directly as part of a culture in which, he says, homophobia and colorism are common.

Azevedo earned two bachelor’s degrees, in art history and painting, and received the Dean’s Award for the College of Arts and Letters, an honor reserved for the college’s top graduating student. He will soon have one of his pieces displayed in the University Union Gallery and plans to pursue his Master of Fine Arts.

Read more about Scott Azevedo at the Sacramento State Newsroom.

Name: Carmen Wardwell

Campus: Cal State San Bernardino
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology

Being a mother of four and a full-time student is anything but easy, but Cal State San Bernardino graduate Carmen Wardwell counts her children as her biggest inspiration for returning to school. In fact,Carmen Wardwell smiling for a photo she chose her field of study, exercise and fitness, after dealing with significant weight gain and postpartum depression following the birth of her firstborn.

While at CSUSB, Wardwell served on a research team led by CSUSB assistant professor of kinesiology Sang Ouk Wee, Ph.D., working on various studies including one in collaboration with Casa Colina Healthcare Centers.

Wardwell was named CSUSB’s College of Natural Sciences Outstanding Undergraduate and will attend California Baptist University in the fall for its kinesiology/exercise science master’s program. She then hopes to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical exercise physiology, a new doctoral program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and wants to eventually pay it forward to future generations of kinesiology practitioners as an adjunct professor.

Read more about Carmen Wardwell at Inside CSUSB.

Name: Krystal Alvarez-Hernandez

Campus: CSU San Marcos
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Psychology

CSU San Marcos graduate Krystal Alvarez-Hernandez’s parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico to offer their children a better life and the chance to earn a higher education. Those dreamsKrystal Alvarez Hernandez smiling for a photo were almost derailed when Alvarez-Hernandez found herself pregnant as a junior in high school, but her son’s birth—far from causing her to drop out—resulted in her becoming laser-focused on education.

During her time at CSUSM, Alvarez-Hernandez became an undergraduate research assistant under the mentorship of psychology professor Kimberly D’Anna Hernandez, Ph.D., where she says she found a home amongst other Latinx researchers like herself. She also became connected with the U-RISE (Undergraduate Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement) program, which provides professional development and research opportunities to students from underrepresented groups, and participated in the UCLA Brain Research Institute summer undergraduate research experience (BRI-SURE).

Seven years after telling her parents of her unexpected pregnancy, Alvarez-Hernandez got to tell them she was the most decorated graduate in the entire CSUSM Class of 2022, out of almost 4,500 students. And she’s not stopping at earning a bachelor's degree. In August, Alvarez-Hernandez will move with her husband, Alfonso, and their 7-year-old son, Santiago, to Chicago so she can begin a Ph.D. program at Northwestern University.

Read more about Krystal Alvarez-Hernandez at the CSUSM NewsCenter.

Meet many more inspiring graduates from the CSU’s Class of 2022.

Special thanks to CSU campus writers and photographers: Nick Bulum, Nathan Brown, Jason Halley, Brian Hiro, Blair Houk, BoNhia Lee, Jonathon Morales, Sean Murphy, Andrea Price and Robert A. Whitehead.

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