Established in 1970 by Lee Metzger and joined by the Geiger family in 1999, the Metzger-Geiger Award honors the graduating Stanislaus State undergraduate students with the highest grade-point average.
The Class of 2023 has eight students graduating with perfect 4.0 grade-point averages, including one, Ethan Machado, who maintained that perfection in both computer science and economics.
The stories of Machado and the other top scholars:
Despite the demands of a double major and serving in leadership roles for multiple student organizations, Ethan Machado maintained a 4.0 GPA while he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.
Machado, who graduated from Los Banos High School, plans to continue working in the technology industry and hopes to eventually become a data scientist/econometrician, earn a graduate degree and teach.
“I will strive to find roles that allow me to leverage my computer science and economics double major,” he said. “Another goal of mine is to pursue further education in the form of a master’s degree to ultimately become a professor in some capacity.”
Machado said he has enjoyed making friends at Stan State and building relationships with faculty. He said Assistant Professor of Computer Science Daehee Kim is the faculty member who had the greatest influence on his education at Stan State.
“Dr. Kim makes great efforts to ensure that all his students are understanding course material and receiving the appropriate help they may need,” Machado said. “He gave me the opportunity to work on an e-commerce website for a local business that taught me valuable project management and technical skills that I will take with me into the professional world.”
Machado’s advice to current and future Warriors is to get involved in student organizations and establish relationships with professors as soon as possible to learn from them, work on their research projects and receive their guidance.
“The most powerful thing that I learned while at Stanislaus State was how willing professors are to help students with all their needs,” he said. “My professors genuinely cared about my success inside and out of the classroom, and I really appreciate all that they have done for me.”
She planned to begin college at Stan State, the closest university to her Los Banos home, and then transfer to another school, but Christina Garcia never made that move.
“I ended up really enjoying my time here and felt like I was obtaining valuable knowledge and experiences as a Stan State student, so I stayed,” Garcia said.
She excelled as a student, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with minors in sociology and ethnic studies, and she grew personally.
“When I first started attending college, I struggled with severe social anxiety and avoided interacting with anyone unless it was absolutely necessary,” Garcia said. “Staff, faculty and peers have been supportive and encouraging, and as I became more involved in academics and clubs and organizations, I began to feel more confident in my interactions. I am still very introverted, but my experiences here have greatly improved my communication and interpersonal skills.”
The pandemic disrupted college life, but she relished returning to campus, “whether it be lectures, or events in the quad, hanging out with friends at the Starbucks in the Student Center or quiet moments of peace by the little fountain outside of the Music Building.”
Following graduation, Garcia hopes to contribute to psychology research and “through public service, advocate for and empower marginalized members of our communities and hope to make a change in improving our society,” she said.
Teresa Magana Ramirez
Teresa Magana Ramirez and her childhood best friend always planned to attend the University in their hometown.
Once she made that dream come true and arrived at Stan State, “I recall how peaceful and beautiful the campus was,” Magana Ramirez said. “I also remember how friendly both students and staff were to me. This boosted my confidence and helped me adjust quite quickly.”
That doesn’t mean it was easy for the first-generation student graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in sociology.
“There were often times where I wanted to quit because of a minor setback or complication,” Magana Ramirez said. “It felt like there were no solutions to my problems. However, I learned that there is always a solution, and that it is crucial to keep moving forward.”
Part of the solution was Educational Opportunity Program Academic Advisor Libby Pata who helped her register for her first classes and continued to guide her as she moved forward.
Getting help and guidance along the way has steered Magana Ramirez’s future course. Her high school counselor, “who not only helped me with my college applications, but who also believed in me,” has inspired her to attend graduate school and become a counselor.
“Like many people, I have faced adversity, and I understand how challenging it can be to overcome,” Magana Ramirez said. “I hope to help people that may be going through hardships by providing counseling services or by pointing them toward resources that may aid them.”
If Emma Martinho could share some advice with current and future Warriors, it would be that self-care and work-life balance are at least as important as maintaining a high GPA, if not more important.
“Prioritize your mental health. Take breaks before burning out and enjoy your friends and family,” she advises. “I wish I had done more of this instead of giving my all — and more — to maintain my GPA. Learn the balance that works for you.”
It’s not surprising that Martinho would advise others to make care a priority; her sights are set on a career in healthcare as an occupational therapist. After she graduates from Stan State with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, she is headed to a doctoral program at University of the Pacific in Stockton.
Martinho said she chose Stan State because the campus is small and felt like a community, which was appealing to her because she struggled in high school and wasn’t sure how she would do in college. But as a Warrior, she learned that “you don’t have to do well in high school to do well in college.”
Martinho credited much of her growth as a student to Associate Professor of Kinesiology Jeffery Bernard, who mentored her and taught her about writing research manuscripts. And she said the most powerful thing she learned at Stan State is “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
“I have grown intellectually because I allowed myself to be open to new ideas and concepts that were difficult for me to grasp,” she said. “Asking for help and admitting you do not know everything is very freeing.”
Ana Teresita Zarate
As a first-generation college student, Ana Teresita Zarate of Turlock learned that reaching out for support is a key component of student success.
She learned that lesson by being involved in Stanislaus State’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) throughout her college years.
Zarate first encountered EOP when she participated in the Summer Bridge Program shortly after she graduated from Pitman High School and was headed to Stan State. In the years that followed, she received mentoring from the EOP staff, was introduced to numerous resources through the program and eventually became an EOP peer mentor so that she could help other students.
“I highly recommend all students use the resources available on campus, whether it be EOP, the Academic Success Center or a different department,” Zarate said. “It’s incredibly important to reach out when you need assistance. After all, your staff and faculty truly want you to succeed.”
Zarate is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences with concentrations in sociology, psychology and anthropology and a minor in Latin American studies. She is planning to get a few years of work experience under her belt before returning to Stan State to work toward a master’s degree. Her career goal is to work at Stan State as an advisor.
“I plan to use my Stan State degree to help incoming first-generation students,” she said. “I know how crucial it is for first-gen students to have a supportive community during their first year at the University. EOP was that community for me. It helped me grow both as a student and a person. That’s why I’d like to keep working with EOP to help future students who may have similar experiences to my own.”
Harbans Samra hopes his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with concentrations in accounting and finance will result in numerous career opportunities after graduation and eventually enable him to start a business where he can use his financial knowledge to help others.
“With my Stan State degree, I have a better understanding of the importance of financial literacy, and I want to share this with my community,” Samra said. “I want to help those in my community reach their goals, while creating a framework that allows them to hold themselves accountable to their finances.”
Samra is a graduate of Delhi High School. As a Warrior, he witnessed the full extent of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on campus instruction, and it left him with lasting memories.
“Being able to go back on campus after the pandemic is a memory that stands out to me because it felt familiar, but it was different at the same time,” he said. “Also, when the pandemic started and classes were moved online, that first semester stands out to me because it was fascinating to see how the students and faculty were working together to overcome this obstacle that we were all dealing with.”
Samra said he chose Stan State because the campus is “welcoming and lively,” and the College of Business Administration is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Also, his decision was influenced by a family member’s positive experiences studying at the University.
He said he found the instruction to be challenging and his professors, including those who taught the Designing Your Tomorrow course, made a significant impression on him.
She’s a 4.0 student headed to graduate school, but Taleyna Sengsoury doesn’t attribute her success at Stan State to innate intelligence.
“There are many ways to be a good student,” she said. “A good student knows how to set goals, use resources available to them, manage their time, stay organized, plan ahead and rely on social support networks.”
Sengsoury, a first-generation college student and graduate of Whitmore Charter High School in Ceres, took advantage of those services to make her road to a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in anthropology easier.
“What I loved most about college was the tremendous amount of support available to help students succeed, from the Warrior Food Pantry to the Career Closet to tutoring at the Learning Commons,” she said.
Sengsoury also gave back.
She loved being a leader at New Student Orientation, which introduced her to new friends and gave her greater knowledge and appreciation of the University.
In the classroom, she connected with Anthropology Professor Steve Arounsack.
“I never thought I would meet a professor of the same ethnic background as me,” Sengsoury said, referring to their Laotian heritage. “Seeing his accomplishments and commitment to his students makes me feel like I can do amazing things, too.”
What she looks forward to doing is serving as a school counselor.
“I want to use my education to help other students like me succeed in their education,” Sengsoury said.
She begins that journey in Stan State’s Master of Arts in Counselor Education with Pupil Personnel Services Credential program.
“I hope to work in higher education, perhaps as an academic advisor,” she said.
Jair Torres didn’t just excel as a student in the classroom, working toward a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences with an emphasis in cellular, molecular and microbial biology.
The Turlock High product also helped fellow students along the way.
“My time as a Supplemental Instruction Leader and peer tutor are the most memorable,” Torres said. “I got to meet a lot of new people and help them out.”
As he helped others, he found others willing to help him along the way.
His college years were marked by sadness, including the loss of his beloved grandfather and difficulties at home.
“When I spoke to trusted faculty and friends, who helped remove me from that situation, I realized that what made Stanislaus State great was the support network available to all students,” he said. “In addition to being an educational institution, this school has been like a second home to me.”
Torres hopes to take what he learned as an undergraduate — especially from Associate Professor of Biology Sarah Bissonette, who showed him a career in education would be a fulfilling goal, and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Ritin Bhaduri, who taught him the importance of being detail oriented and observant — into a Ph.D. program.
“My goal is to use the skills I have learned during my undergraduate time at Stan State to finish graduate school,” Torres said. “It would be amazing if I could one day teach at Stanislaus State. I think science outreach is important, and I have seen how professors here use their role as educators to advance science in the community.”