Monaè Williams: "Grace, intelligence, and heart." (Sacramento State)

Every spring, the University’s seven academic deans each select a student they believe exemplifies the best of their respective 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:

President’s Medal

Monaè Williams, College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies


Williams has exhibited dedication to service on campus and in the community. Working with Sacramento State’s Leadership Initiative, Williams has promoted mental health services at The WELL and volunteered on behalf of the University’s blood drive, earning the Green and Gold certificates for leadership. Off campus, she for years has volunteered with Black Women United and the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services.

“One of my greatest challenges each year is selecting the President’s Award winner from the pool of outstanding Deans’ Award winners,” Nelsen said. “This year was no exception – all the Deans’ Award winners were remarkably impressive.

"Upon meeting Monaè, I was immediately struck by her intelligence, grace, and heart. She has survived significant challenges in her life, yet still makes time to support those around her and to give back."

Nelsen said Williams represents the "very best of the Hornet Family."

"I am incredibly honored to know her," he said. "I have no doubt that she will continue to make us proud as an alumna, and I look forward to her future accomplishments.”

College of Arts and Letters

Jessica Ferreira, Humanities and Religious Studies

Ferreira leads by example. She annually participates in Operation Backpack, which provides school supplies to disadvantaged children, as well as the holiday season’s Adopt a Family program, donating essential items and food to needy families.

College of Business Administration

Gervilyn Mae Cadimas, Business Administration, Entrepreneurship

As an immigrant, Cadimas learned English as her third language and overcame financial challenges to pay for her higher education. Away from her studies, Cadimas advocates against domestic violence and supports the Philippine National Day Association, a Filipino youth advocacy organization.

College of Education

Ceallach A. Vigil, Career and Technical Studies

The loss of her husband marked a beginning for Vigil, who returned to college after many years away to finish her degree. She became an academic standout while working full time for Union Pacific Railroad, her employer for more than 20 years.

College of Engineering and Computer Science

Parker Difuntorum, Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Difuntorum’s senior design project addressed the application of machine learning to the power grid to predict grid load demand in the presence of renewable energies. He has been accepted to the University of Florida to pursue a doctorate in exascale computing.

College of Health and Human Services

Taylor Arthur, Criminal Justice

A pre-law student, Arthur surmounted financial hardship and homelessness to become the first member of her family to graduate college. She was chosen from a highly competitive pool for the prestigious Sacramento Superior Court’s Justice Epstein Judicial Internship and plans to pursue her juris doctorate.

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Ashley N. Fagundes, Chemistry

Fagundes’ well-rounded Sacramento State experience includes being a member of the University’s marching band, captain of the color guard, serving as a President’s Ambassador and as a research assistant for Services to Students with Disabilities. She earned the Department of Chemistry’s American Chemical Society (ACS) Analytical Chemistry Award in 2017-18 and was selected as an ACS Scholar. – Ahmed V. Ortiz