Story Student Success

Remarkable Grads from the Class of 2020

Alisia Ruble


Top Row: Darlasia Miller, Grace Roman, Daniel Alvarado, Bernadette Romero. Bottom Row: Alexis Kam, Demetrious Jarvis, Jessica Atencio ​ and Jennifer Maamo.

​​​​​​​​This spring, the California State University​ will award degrees to more than 100,000 students who come from all walks of life.  These students embody some of the characteristics that make the CSU’s student body so remarkable: resiliency, integrity and an eagerness to use their education to lift up those who come after them. 

Meet just a few outstanding students from the CSU’s class of 2020, many of whom overcame personal challenges and hardships to accomplish their educational goals, yet still managed to become leaders on and off campus.​ These engineers, activists, scientists and health care workers have servant hearts and big dreams to improve their communities. 

Grace Roman | CSU Bakersfield

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Finishing school is a feat all on its own, but electrical engineering major Grace Roman has accomplished that while raising two daughters and working as an intern in the campus’s Fab Lab, a digital fabrication lab, which she says has been an integral part in her success at CSUB and beyond. Even while finishing her last semester virtually and home-schooling her oldest daughter, Roman has been helping create activity videos for kids to stay busy at home.  

And the hard work has paid off. Come summer, Roman, a first-generation college student who transferred to CSUB from Taft College in spring 2018, will be working at Edwards Air Force Base as an electronics engineer in the Instrumentation Operations department, where she will be designing and building the instruments that are in Edwards’ aircraft. Meet Grace.

​Darlasia Miller | Chico State

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Darlasia Miller was raised by a single father in Los Angeles, often sharing their one-bedroom apartment with multiple family members. Her driving force was the desire to cultivate a better life for herself and her sisters and to help break the family out of poverty. Since arriving at Chico State four years ago, Miller has advocated for multicultural, gender and feminist causes. 

Those passions drive her career dreams. Miller spent the last two years working as the campus's multicultural and gender studies (MCGS) student assistant, during which she embraced numerous causes and initiated collaborations between MCGS and several campus organizations. She plans to work toward a master’s degree in education and eventually create an after-school program dedicated to higher education preparation, youth community organizing, and counseling for youth with incarcerated family members in South Central Los Angeles. Meet Darlasia

Daniel Alvarado |​ Cal State East Bay 

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Growing up as the only child of Mexican immigrants in East Oakland, Daniel Alvarado said he learned to do a lot of things on his own. The schools he attended were often underfunded and the surrounding areas subject to crime and gang activity. Without the traditional support from family, Alvarado struggled with remedial courses in community college, but eventually found his way to Cal State East Bay, choosing the campus for its diversity and small class sizes.

While pursuing his bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing, Alvarado co-founded a campus club called Thrive to educate students about positive psychology and affirmations and taught technical skills to low-income youth of color with a nonprofit called Hack the Hood. He used that experience to secure an internship with software company Autodesk, where he currently interns as a community engagement specialist. Meet Daniel.

Bernadette Romero | Fresno State

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Fifth semester nursing student Bernadette Romero needed to complete just 40 more clinical education hours to earn her bachelor’s degree in nursing. Then COVID-19 put a stop to in-person clinicals in March. Responding to the need to keep learning on track and produce nursing graduates for California’s hospitals, faculty and staff implemented a virtual simulation learning tool that applies theoretical concepts to real-life clinical scenarios.

Romero said virtual simulation has been a great way to test her knowledge of important skills related to priority of care, critical thinking and communication with patients while also giving her the chance to repeat the simulation many times to boost proficiency and confidence. After Romero passes the state’s licensing exam, she will begin working as a registered nurse for Valley Children’s Healthcare in the oncology/hematology unit. Meet Bernadette.

Alexis Kam | Cal State LA

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While most students her age were preparing to graduate from high school, Alexis Kam was on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Cal State LA. The 17-year-old began her studies when she was just a preteen through the campus’s Early Entrance Program, which accepts highly gifted students as young as 11 years old. During her time there, she worked as a mechanical design assistant and as an instructional student assistant for statics courses, and participated in the campus’s Autonomous Underwater Vehicle project. 

Her ambition is to design energy-efficient buildings to make cities and communities more sustainable. With climate change and global warming, Kam says she has a responsibility to use her design skills to help raise awareness about energy conservation and other environmental issues. After finishing her education this spring, she plans to pursue a master’s in engineering with a focus on sustainable design. Meet Alexis.

Demetrious Jarvis | Cal Poly Pomona

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U.S. Navy veteran Demetrious Jarvis is no stranger to hard work. As the second oldest of 15 siblings growing up in Richmond, Virginia, Jarvis dropped out of school in the ninth grade to help support his family and joined the Navy at just 17. There he discovered his love of aircraft and dreamed of working in aerospace. Jarvis transferred to Cal Poly Pomona from Pasadena City College in 2016 and connected with the Veterans Resource Center on campus, finding support and community with his fellow student veterans.

This spring, Jarvis will earn a degree in aerospace engineering from Cal Poly Pomona and will go to work for Lockheed Martin Skunk Works—an organization that produces and develops aircraft designs—as a flutter and vibrations engineer, testing for vibrations and stress on airplanes, missiles, rockets and other advanced development projects. Meet Demetrious.

Jessica Atencio | CSU San Marcos

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Before attending CSUSM to pursue a master’s degree in kinesiology, first-generation college graduate Jessica Atencio, a member of the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation, became involved in the Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH) at San Diego State, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. An avid surfer, Atencio went on to work as a research intern in the CSUSM Surf Research Laboratory, where she led a project that examined the interaction between surfing and thermoregulation as part of a collaborative effort between Surf Lab members, scientists at the Nike Sports Research Laboratory and wetsuit designers in the Hurley Innovation Department. 

This fall, Atencio will begin a Ph.D. program in human physiology at the University of Oregon, and ultimately hopes to work in academia so she can follow her passion for teaching and mentoring students while also conducting research. Meet Jessica. 

Jennifer Maamo | Stanislaus State 

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Jennifer Maamo wore a lot of hats while completing her master’s degree in professional clinical counseling at Stanislaus State’s Stockton campus: student, mom and business owner. If the work was demanding, she thrived, earning a 3.98 grade point average. 

Maamo’s clinical experience positioned her for the work she wants to do. She spent her fieldwork as a counselor at Stagg High School Wellness Center where she counseled teens in the Stockton area, many of whom face poverty, addiction, homelessness and incarceration. She hopes to remain​​ in the region as an advocate and facilitator of mental health, to offer holistic counseling and a path to well-being for vulnerable populations. Meet Jennifer​.

Special thanks to campus contributors Kelly Ardis, Juan Rodriguez, Savannah Anderson, Natalie Feulner, Melissa Tav, Margie Low, Tyrone D. Washington, Eric Brier, Cal Poly Pomona and Stanislaus State.