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Seven top graduates receive Deans' Awards, and two are honored with President's Medal

The Deans' Award recipients pose for a photo with President Robert S. Nelsen at a reception in their honor. They are: (seated, from left) Aylaliya Assefa Birru, Norma Sanchez, Tanesha Rose Sullins, (standing, from left) Douglas Andreasen, Abigail McInnes, Nelsen, Holly Wilson, and Brennan Beell. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

Every year, the dean of each of Sacramento State’s seven academic colleges bestows a prestigious award upon a student who stands out academically, professionally, and personally.

Recipients of the Deans’ Awards are considered the top graduates in their respective college and are selected by professors and administrators, who assess their academic and social contributions. These students exemplify what it means to be a Hornet, making an impact in the classroom, on campus, in the community, and in their personal lives.

Additionally, two of the seven students - Norma Sanchez and Aylaliya Assefa Birru - will be recognized with a President's Medal of Honor, presented annually by President Robert S. Nelsen.

All of the recipients will be recognized during Commencement, May 19-21, at Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento.

Whether overcoming adversity, mentoring fellow students, advocating for and aiding in community outreach efforts, or meeting life’s challenges head-on with perseverance and strength, these students, many of whom started at the University during the pandemic, have gotten past roadblocks and succeeded in their educational aspirations.

As this year’s Commencement ceremonies approach, read each of the honorees’ stories below:

For more details about Commencement, visit

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About Daniel Wilson

Daniel Wilson joined the Sac State communications team in 2022 as a writer and editor. He previously worked at the Sacramento Bee as an audience engagement producer and reporter. He graduated from Sac State with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism in 2018. He plays video games, watches pro wrestling, and loves spending time with his wife and cat.

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