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Graduation Awards Dean's Award & Outstanding Graduate Student

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Graduation Awards

Each year the College of Education recognizes two outstanding graduate awards, for their excellence in academic performance, commitment to the community, and passion in the field of education.

The Dean's Award is given annually to an undergraduate student graduating with honors. Faculty from the College of Education recommends top graduates and the winner is then interviewed by the University President for a chance to be awarded the President's Medal.

The Outstanding Graduate Student is awarded annually by the College of Education. Faculty recommend top graduates who are then interviewed by the SSOAR committee. This award recognizes a graduate student that best represents the mission, principles, and values of our College.

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2023 Dean's Awardee

Phot of Holly Wilson

Holly Wilson

Holly Wilson, the recent recipient of the Dean's Award, is a neurodiverse cisgender white Pansexual woman. She is an artist, cake decorator, aunt to many children, a mother to a wonderful 10-year-old named Levi, and lives in Modesto, Ca with her partner Shannon and their four pets.

Wilson was drawn to Sac State's Child and Adolescent Development Program for its concentration in Social and Community. She is an advocate for suicide prevention, particularly for LGBTQ+ youth, and was inspired by President Nelsen and Josie Nelsen's advocacy work for suicide prevention in honor of their son Seth Nelsen. As someone who lost her mother to suicide at the age of 23, Wilson wanted to be a part of the AFSP Campus out of the Darkness Walk at Sac State as a suicide survivor to continue healing and help others do the same.

Wilson pursued a career in education to learn more about how to help children, adolescents, and young adults manage difficult emotions and find sensory regulation within themselves without resorting to alcohol or drugs. As a recovering alcoholic herself, she wanted to find tools to empower future youth who struggle with depression and anxiety to take control over their lives as adults and create a future they want to live in.

Wilson's biggest hurdle at Sac State has been to continue and follow through with her studies, no matter how hard or impossible it may seem. She struggles with depression, anxiety, panic disorders, and C-PTSD, making college a challenge for her fight or flight response in the brain, no matter how big or small the assignment. Overcoming negative voices of the past has been an enormous challenge, as she builds self-love and confidence as a middle-aged woman still seeking her own self-identity and finding comfort with her power and privilege as a white person. Accepting the Dean's Award was an opportunity for Wilson to practice self-love and remind herself that the world needs educated quirky minds like hers to share their experiences.

After graduation, Wilson is looking forward to using her Bachelor's degree in CHAD and minor in counseling to work as an early interventionist for the community serving children and families while attending Sac State full-time in Fall 2023 as a Graduate student in the MA Program for Child and Adolescent Development. She is interested in studying Social & Emotional Development with a focus on Art and Play therapy for families and children as an alternative therapy tool for early intervention for sensory & emotional regulation.

Wilson's advice to the incoming class of educators is to never give up on their dreams, no matter how impossible it may seem. She encourages sharing personal stories in class, as it may change someone's life, just as her peers have changed hers. Lastly, she suggests finding a great mentor, counselor, or therapist for support, as there are many on-campus resources available to help reach career goals. Congratulations to Holly Wilson on receiving the Dean's Award, and we wish her all the best in her future endeavors.

2023 Outstanding Graduate Student

Photo of Toni Newman

Toni Newman

Meet Sacramento City College's Coordinator for Disability Services and Sac State alumni, Toni Newman, who is making a positive impact in education. Her passion for education is not only a career but also a life mission. Her dedication to her work is evident in the recognition she has received in the education community, and the College of Education is please to award her the Outstanding Graduate Student award.

When asked about what brought her to Sac State, she mentioned the accessibility and commitment of the faculty, as well as the Ed.D. cohort model. The cohort model provides a built-in support system that has been helpful in her academic journey.

However, the journey was not without its challenges. She had to take a medical leave after being diagnosed with cancer, which made the decision to return to the doctoral program difficult. Nonetheless, she persevered and is grateful for the opportunity to continue with her studies.

As graduation approaches, she is looking forward to more research projects that will lead to real-world solutions. She has already implemented the work related to her dissertation and shares her findings with her colleagues almost every day.

When asked what advice she would give to incoming educators, she emphasized the importance of focusing on the light within each student. As educators, our job is to guide each student on the path toward their dreams.

With her dedication to education and passion for research, she is a true inspiration to students and educators alike.