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Dean’s Award ’22 – Business: Emily Gonsalves credits Sac State for helping her achieve personal, educational triumphs 

A car crash, devastating fire, and the COVID-19 pandemic threw challenges at Emily Gonsalves, but tenacity and talent helped carry her to a triumphant academic finish. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

Emily Gonsalves is the type of student who always seems to be one step ahead when it comes to planning her education and career – even when circumstances appear bent on tripping her up.

Gonsalves will graduate in May with a bachelor of science in Business Administration and Accountancy and is already working as a revenue auditor at Cache Creek Casino Resort.

She is the 2022 Dean’s Award recipient for the College of Business (COB), the top award given each year at Commencement to one student from each of Sac State’s seven academic colleges.  

"Our campus ensured I’ve not been left behind and would be more than prepared to move forward in life beyond my education.” - Emily Gonsalves

“Several faculty members have been especially impactful on my professional development, including Professor Grace Mubako, who inspired me to become an auditor through her own passion, and Professor Ryan Fuller, who helped me appreciate the COB’s comprehensive educational program and the dynamic interconnectedness of business segments through communication studies.”

Gonzalves’ road to  success has not always been smooth, however.

“Just two weeks into college, I was involved in a severe collision that left my vehicle totaled and had long-term impacts on my life,” Gonsalves said. “Then the Rumsey Sand Fire (in Yolo County) scathed our farm and took almost everything with it.” 

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gonsalves transferred to Sacramento State with a 4.0 GPA from Woodland Community College just weeks before the University transitioned to mostly online learning in the spring of 2020.

“I experienced hardships of the digital divide,” Gonsalves said. “The internet access in my area is poor, and there is no cellular service. I frequently visited the nearest source of public Wi-Fi, a library 20 miles away, to download course material, submit assignments and take exams.”

Professors such as Elizabeth Lyon took note of Gonsalves’ tenacity during the challenging time.

“Emily is a very diligent and conscientious student,” said Lyon, an assistant professor of Accountancy. “She submits high-quality work and has excelled in her coursework.”

While not always easy, Gonsalves persevered through many obstacles and confronted them with wellness programs, therapy, and other forms of support.

“Through thick and thin, I’ve grown into a strong, empowered woman with the help of Sac State. Our campus ensured I’ve not been left behind and would be more than prepared to move forward in life beyond my education,” Gonsalves said.

She said she is especially grateful to Sac State for having provided exposure to diversity and inclusion, and appreciates being surrounded by so many students and faculty with various backgrounds.

In addition, one of the campus’s signature events also has personal significance.

“I hold our Out of the Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention very closely to heart because I attempted to shut out my light on Sept. 4, 2015,” Gonsalves said.

“Years later, as an adult, this event helped me connect with other students and destigmatize the conversation of suicide. I’ve learned to better appreciate the existence of other groups and their circumstances, celebrate inclusivity, and develop stronger feelings of unity because of Sac State’s diversity.”

Following graduation, Gonsalves plans to earn her CPA license, strategically rebuild her family’s farm and business, and remain in the heart of the Capay Valley.

2022 Deans' Awards

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About Anita Fitzhugh

Anita Fitzhugh, at Sac State since 2015, is public information officer and writer. She has more than 20 years of experience as a broadcast journalist/producer and PR consultant. Anita often can be found enjoying the American River Parkway or on a new adventure with her family.

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