Tatiana Olivera of Ceres, was awarded the J. Burton Vasché Award during Stanislaus State's commencement exercises held May 25-26.
The English major who attended Sam Vaughn Elementary School before graduating from Ceres High School was given the award for her display of the highest standards of leadership, service and scholarship.
Olivera said she has always wanted to become a writer of children's books but now desires to pursue that in tandem with pursuing copyright law.
Olivera received her degree and honor as part of the university's largest graduating class ever. Addressing all three ceremonies, which honored the 3,022 receiving degrees or credentials, Stanislaus State President Ellen Junn urged the graduates to heed the lessons of their heads, hearts and hands as they go forward in life.
"The head symbolizes the mind," Junn said. "The most successful people believe that their minds will continue to grow. The heart symbolizes gratitude. Recent studies have shown that the act of showing gratitude reaps both psychological and physiological benefits in your life. And your hands symbolize the act of giving back and serving each other with kindness. Find something you love outside of yourself and volunteer."
On Thursday morning, May 25, graduates from the College of Business Administration and College of Science were addressed by Foster Farms President and CEO Laura Flanagan, and the graduate and credentials ceremony that evening featured George Boodrookas, the dean of advancement at Modesto Junior College.
Friday morning, graduates from the College of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the College of Education, Kinesiology and Social Work were addressed by Robert and Kim Ulrich, a successful Hollywood couple that married shortly after graduating from Stan State.
Flanagan encouraged the graduates to never forget their roots and urged them to speak out.
"Remember where you came from and never forget to continue to nourish your roots because that will allow you to blossom," Flanagan said. "As you blaze your trail I urge you to speak out and let your feelings be known. But always remember that dialogue is better than monologue."
Student speaker, Ceres resident Alyssa Long, who received her teaching credential, expressed her pride for the accomplishments of her fellow graduates.
"We fought for a dream to become exemplary leaders and to become more in every definition of the word," Long said. "I'm proud of you and I'm proud of us. Now I challenge you to be the more you always wanted to be."
On Friday morning, student speaker Jonathan Walters (B.A., English) drew heavily on his own experiences growing up poor in Southern California.
"I showed up at Stan State with a backpack, a dream and no financial support from my family," he said. "And one of the main things I took from college is that the university experience allows us to understand how to take falls in life and how to get back up."