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Sacramento State News - California State University, Sacramento
May 7, 2008

Exceptional students earn Dean’s Awards


Photo:  Dean’s Award Winners (left to right): Aurora Murillo, Charles Stuthard, Sarah Sanderson, Jason Cooper, Stacie Hiratsuka, Daniel Sanchez, Jesse West Manton. Dean’s Award Winners (left to right): Aurora Murillo, Charles Stuthard, Sarah Sanderson, Jason Cooper, Stacie Hiratsuka, Daniel Sanchez, Jesse West Manton.

One outstanding graduating student from each of Sacramento State’s seven colleges received a Dean’s Award for their admirable achievements both in the classroom and in the community. Each of the seven students was given the award at a dinner in their honor on Tuesday, April 29.

During Sacramento State’s commencement ceremonies at Arco Arena on May 23 and 24, University President Alexander Gonzalez will award one of the students with a President’s Medallion.

This year’s recipients are:

Charles Stuthard is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University’s College of Arts and Letters. The son of a single mother, he was raised in Oak Park and Meadowview, sometimes in foster homes. After his mother’s death during his sophomore year, he assumed responsibility for his mentally disabled older brother. He worked two jobs while pursuing full-time studies at Sacramento State. With a current grade point average of 3.94, his history professors describe him as “an ideal student.” Stuthard, who has served as a counselor for emotionally disturbed youth at a residential treatment facility, now tutors middle-school children through the “America Reads!” program managed by Breakthrough Sacramento. He hopes to enroll in the four-year combined master’s/law degree program at UC Davis; his eventual goal is to earn a Ph.D. and teach in the community colleges.

Jesse West Manton is graduating with a degree from the College of Business Administration with a concentration in general management. With an overall grade point average of 3.70, he has been inducted into the prestigious honor society for business, Beta Gamma Sigma. He served as team captain of Sacramento State’s men’s soccer team and was awarded the 2006 Scholar-Athlete All-Region by the NSCAA. He was also awarded the 2005 ESPN: The Magazine Academic All-District Scholar Athlete Award. Manton created “Project Backpack” which raises funds to supply underprivileged children with backpacks filled with school and dental supplies. A pre-dental student, Manton plans to earn an MBA and enroll in dental school to become a doctor of dental surgery.

Aurora Murillo earned a bachelor’s degree in child development with a minor in multicultural education and plans to enter the College of Education’s counseling program. Along with her mother and brother, Murillo emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico City when she was 12 years old. She plans to use her family’s experience facing language barriers, economic strain, and physically demanding work in underpaid jobs in her career as a counselor. “As a counselor, I will be able to address the needs of culturally diverse families, advocate for their well-being, and support students to attain higher education,” she says. Murillo has been a volunteer at SEARCH, a Catholic youth movement of the Diocese of Sacramento, and MEAP (Migrant Education Advising Program).

Stacie Hiratsuka is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronics engineering and a minor in mathematics in the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Hiratsuka has volunteered at various elementary schools around the Sacramento City Unified School District since she was in middle school, and she is an active member in the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi, the Society of Women Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Hiratsuka’s academic, extracurricular and professional achievements have earned her the opportunity to teach English to K-12 students in Thailand’s prestigious Chitralada Royal Palace School on King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s royal grounds. She was one of only five students selected for this program.

Sarah Sanderson graduated from the Division of Nursing in the College of Health and Human Services with a cumulative GPA of 3.56. She was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau, the national nursing honor society, and the Golden Key Honor Society, and has been awarded numerous scholarships. Sanderson had leadership roles in the local chapter of California Nursing Student’s Association (CNSA) and at the state level of CNSA. She served as president of the fall 2007 class and as treasurer and state chapter representative of CNSA. Sanderson published an article in the Range of Motion Statewide CNSA newsletter on the use of human patient simulators in nursing curricula. She plans to pursue a graduate education and work in the field of health policy.

Jason Cooper majored in chemistry with a minor in physics in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. He received the HyperChem Scholar Award as the outstanding physical chemistry student, due to his “natural curiosity and passion for science.” He has worked with the U.S. Geological Survey, CA Water Science Center, and was actively involved with the Sacramento State SEE program. He has been an instructor for the adjunct program and a teaching associate in multiple disciplines. Cooper was integral in re-starting Sacramento State’s Golden Key International Honors Society chapter, and collected books to send to New Orleans after the Katrina disaster. He established a Sac State Chapter of Habitat for Humanity and helped to raise more than $23,000.

Daniel Sanchez, a government major in the College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies, has an overall GPA of 3.927. The son of a Mexican immigrant and former migrant worker, Sanchez currently teaches a one-unit Learning Skills course designed to assist first-generation and underserved college students with the study skills needed to be successful in Government I. He is actively involved assisting the department with developing a unique faculty peer mentor program. After graduation, Sanchez plans to spend a year completing a policy-focused fellowship in New York City or in a non-profit organization in Washington D.C., before entering a graduate program and pursuing a career as a policy advocate for a non-profit organization.

Spring commencement ceremonies for each of the University’s seven colleges will take place at Arco Arena Friday, May 23 and Saturday, May 24. Graduates will assemble 30 minutes before their respective ceremonies.

For more information about Sacramento State’s commencement, contact (916) 278-4724 or visit For media assistance or to schedule interviews with students, contact Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.



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California State University, Sacramento • Public Affairs
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