Meet the 2018 Deans’ Award recipients

Each spring, the deans of the University's seven Colleges select a student who they feel exemplifies the best of their College. From those students, President Robert S. Nelsen chooses the recipient of the President’s Medal as the academic year’s outstanding graduate. This year’s Deans’ Award recipients are:

College of Arts and Letters

Melissa Erin Brausch, Theater and Dance

Melissa Brausch is an experienced actress and vocalist who has been involved in seven productions with the Department of Theatre and Dance. Melissa has trained at the Open Jar Institute and most recently competed as a finalist in Musical Theatre at the Kennedy Center. She was given the Musical Theatre Scholarship Award for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Regional Finals, where she was also a semifinalist for the acting scholarship. Melissa is a member of Sacramento State’s nationally acclaimed vocal jazz ensemble, for which she received the Outstanding Soloist Award at the Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey, Calif.

Melissa Brausch

College of Business Administration

Kendell Craycraft, Accountancy

Kendell is the first person in her family to attend college, is a single mother of two young children, and grew up in rural poverty. She is a graduating senior in Business Administration with a concentration in Accountancy, and will graduate with highest honors, achieving and maintaining an overall GPA of 3.98. She is active in the community through her work as a program ambassador, mentor, and coach with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Kendell plans to continue her work as an auditor while working toward her CPA licensure and earning a Master’s in Accountancy.

Kendell Craycraft

College of Education

Akiela Patrice Moses, Deaf Studies and Communication

Akiela Moses is a working toward a dual major in Communication Studies and Deaf Studies. Since 2014, she has worked for the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) as the public affairs student assistant. Her knowledge of communication and experience with deaf studies has enabled her to create inclusive, thoughtful and accessible media. She has made it her priority to ensure that all members of the community have access to important information about water resources. Akiela is active in her sorority, Phi Sigma Sigma, where she served as vice archon and president.

Akiela Moses

College of Engineering and Computer Science

Margarita Kovalchuk, Civil Engineering

Margarita Kovalchuk is a first-generation American and will be the first member of her family to graduate college. Her interest in engineering began when she attended a Society of Women Engineers outreach event and realized that she could make an impact on the lives of others through engineering. While maintaining a 3.91 GPA, Margarita has been a leader in the Society of Women Engineers, a member of the CSUS Water Treatment Team in the American Society of Civil Engineers, and served as a President’s Ambassador. Margarita was recently accepted to Stanford’s graduate program in Civil and Environmental Engineering, and she plans to pursue a Ph.D.

Margarita Kovalchuk

College of Health and Human Services

Elena Lizeth Galvez, Kinesiology

As a first-generation college student, Elena Galvez was not sure that a college degree was attainable for her, but she is graduating this semester with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. Elena has been a leader in the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), is the captain of the Women’s Rowing Team, is an Instructional Student Assistant in Kinesiology, and was selected First-Team All-America. She was selected for the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project Comcast State Capital Fellowship, interning under the chair of the Assembly Health Committee, Dr. Jim Woods.

Elena Galvez

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Rafael Ceja Ayala, Mathematics

Rafael Ceja Ayala immigrated to the United States when he was 14, and was initially placed in English language development courses. Outreach by the College Assistant Migrant Program (CAMP) led Rafael to Sacramento State, and it was not long before he was accepted into the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, which inspired him to pursue a Mathematics major. In October 2017, he was honored for his presentation at the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) conference in Salt Lake City. His goals are to earn his PhD in mathematics and to become a professor.

Rafael Ayala

College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies

Eli Bassett, Government (International Relations)

Eli Bassett excels academically with a 3.9 GPA, and has defined himself by his active role in campus governance and politics. He represented Sacramento State at the Model United Nations (MUN) program and served as a peace scholar delegate to the Nobel Peace Prize Forum. In New York City, he was recently honored as Best Delegate and with a position paper award at the MUN conference. Eli serves as the acting ASI Election Officer, working with the ASI president over the past year to make the student government voting process more inclusive by prohibiting the historical practice of slate voting.

Eli Bassett