International and Ripon students receive top Commencement awards

Xuejiao Jiang and Ryan SouzaInternational student Xuejiao (Jaqi) Jiang of the People's Republic of China and Ryan Souza of Ripon received the top awards during the 47th Annual California State University, Stanislaus Commencement ceremonies held on June 1 and 2.

Jiang, graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting, received the J. Burton Vasche Award during Friday's opening program. More than an academic, Jiang was cited as a leader with a conscience. Her numerous volunteer activities include work at the Turlock Shelter, the Tzi-Chi Foundation of Modesto, accounting tutoring, and serving as a peer advisor for the CSU Stanislaus International Student Orientation. A member of three honorary scholastic fraternities and recipient of a number of scholarships, Jiang is graduating with a 3.96 grade point average and has been on the Dean's List for four consecutive years. The Vasche Award, named in honor of the University's first president, is presented to the graduating senior who displays the highest standards of leadership, cooperation, participation, service, and scholarship.

Souza, who devoted himself to studying and hard work to earn a perfect 4.0 grade point average on the way to earning a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice, received the Metzger-Geiger Award during Saturday's second ceremony. A graduate of Ripon High School with plans to enter law school in the fall, Souza is the first in his family to earn a college degree. In addition to working for an insurance company to help pay his way through college, Souza also volunteers for local charities, including the Manteca-based Helping Hands food distribution program for the poor. The Metzger-Geiger Award is the University's top academic honor for a perfect grade point average.

Dr. Hamid Shirvani, completing his second year as President of CSU Stanislaus, presided over the festive Commencement ceremonies. Some 2,000 students applied to receive degrees.

Student speakers included Friday's presenter Antonio C. Freitas of Hilmar who received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mathematics and Saturday's presenter Jamie Norwood of Hickman who earned a Master of Arts Degree in English. Freitas, who will start teaching high school mathematics in Ceres this fall, marked his 50th birthday on Friday's Commencement day.

President Shirvani presented a Presidential Medal during the June 1 ceremony to Professor of Zoology Dr. Pamela Roe who joined the CSU Stanislaus faculty in 1971.

Dr. Kelvin Jasek-Rysdahl, a Professor of Economics and Co-Director of the Center for Public Policy Studies, was recognized as the winner of the Outstanding Professor honors.