Fresno Pacific University Outstanding Graduates are recognized for their academic achievement, Christian character, leadership potential, service to others and embodiment of the Fresno Pacific Idea. Outstanding Graduates become permanent part of a select group of FPU graduates and retain their distinction as an FPU Outstanding Graduate for life.
Two Outstanding Graduates are selected from each school of the university and from the seminary for both the fall and spring semesters. The dean of each school makes the final selection.
Spring 2021 Recipients
School of Humanities, Religion & Social Sciences
Marvin Santos Aquino, Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, Pre-PT/OT emphasis
Marvin excelled in academic performance in all classes, where he is both intellectually inquisitive and a critical thinker. He was the first to volunteer to serve when asked and actively participated in the ALAS program. He also served as a peer mentor and participated in research projects and many other assignments. He embodies the ideal student that the Spanish program, the School of Humanities Religion and Social Sciences and the university at large aspires to form in each student.
Kassandra Klein, Bachelor of Arts in English: Secondary Teaching and Intercultural Studies: TESOL
Kassandra is a leader among her peers in and out of the classroom. As an honors student, she had her paper selected for the Alpha Chi convention last year. She has been one of the editors on the Green Light, FPU’s annual student literary publication, for the past two issues and is one of the main contributing writers and copy editor for the Syrinx student newspaper. She is a pleasure to work with, and her work demonstrates sharp critical thinking, rigorous engagement with scholarship and criticism and a keen awareness of issues of social justice.
School of Natural Sciences
Joshua Jones, Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, Pre-PT/OT emphasis
Joshua is an excellent student, earning top grades in courses such as anatomy, physiology, chemistry, physics, biomechanics and exercise physiology courses while serving as a freshmen peer mentor for three years. He is very respectful, responsible, and a genuinely nice person. He has been accepted into Fresno State’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy program for fall 2021.
Brittany Nielsen, Bachelor of Art in Pre-Health Sciences
Brittany has earned high grades, displaying focused discipline. Her path has been somewhat non-traditional, completing an associate degree in business and now aiming at an M.D./Ph.D. in psychiatry. She has a big heart to help the sick and the needy and has already served as a health scholar at Adventist Health and volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House. She demonstrated care and teaching ability as a peer mentor for transfer students, a science tutor at the Academic Success Center and as an EMT instructor.
School of Business
Matthew Wilfong, Bachelor of Science in Management and Bachelor of Arts in Contemporary Christian Ministries
Matthew is a hard-working and dedicated student representing a mature Christian faith in his sojourn as an undergraduate. He has an excellent academic record and, in numerous class encounters, has been a joy to work with as he consistently displays a positive attitude filled with a beaming love and joy for Christ. He is respected highly and valued deeply by all in the FPU community.
Clint Harris, Master of Business Administration
Clint is a top student in the MBA program and has consistently shown care and a high quality in his work. His Christian character and leadership have been on display with his positive attitude and supportive manner as his cohort transitioned to online studies because of the pandemic. His faith has guided him on his journey, and he has taken a steady course and an optimistic attitude that impacts those around him.
School of Education
Byan Younes, Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts
Byan is a role model for all educators and students who have a passion to be of service to others. She is compassionate and has served her fellow students by helping to create a safe and loving community within her cohort during the pandemic. She has proven her intellect and resilience as a bilingual student who has experience in the U.S. as well as in the Middle East. She exemplifies the Fresno Pacific Idea, embracing the ideals that will not just change her life but the lives of others for years to come.
T.J. Ryan, Master of Arts in Administrative Services
T.J. is a dedicated educator who puts the students and staff around him first. He is a learning director for Woodlake Unified School District and has a desire to continue to grow as an educator in order to move students and staff to success. He is equipped with the tools to dig deeper into issues and work toward new outcomes that will ensure success for students, staff and the community.
Connie Nicholson, Master of Arts in New Testament
Connie came to seminary as a skilled and experienced pastor. She grew up in a charismatic tradition and is now serving in an Anabaptist Mennonite Brethren congregation. Her academic work is stellar, and her ministry skills have been amply demonstrated in the pastoral work she continues to do alongside her seminary studies. She models a life of prayer and dependence on God’s Spirit and encourages those around her.
Pam Yang, Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy
Pam is committed to offering accessible, culturally sensitive and culturally competent therapy to underserved and underprivileged populations. She evidences a keen intellect, a love for the Lord, steadfast commitment to prayer and strong leadership. Her passion for the pragmatic application of her learning is evidenced in the self-initiated workshops and seminars she has developed and taught regarding the Hmong community. She actively applies what she learns to her personal and family life, to her church, to her therapeutic work with clients and to enriching the Hmong community.
Fall 2020 Recipients
School of Business
Heather Aceves | Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration: Organizational Leadership
Heather leads a team of four employees in human resources for the City of Fresno. In addition to working full time and being a mom, she still maintained a 4.0 GPA. Heather demonstrated a desire to succeed, make real-world applications and improve her professional and personal leadership skills.
Akio Lopez | Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration: Accounting
Akio completed his internship with national CPA firm Moss Adams during summer 2020 and secured a full-time offer to start working upon graduation. Although he had hardships during his academic career at FPU, Akio did not give up and instead excelled academically and personally.
School of Education
Marcus Zellous | Master of Arts in Teaching
A thoughtful elementary music educator, Marcus is committed to growing in his profession, bringing respect and justice to all his students and creating a classroom where they feel safe and appreciated as budding musicians. His Christian faith is evident through his kindness, humility and positive attitude.
Myron Smith | Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction
When Myron began instructing paramedics he found materials limited, so he decided to get his master’s so he could design curriculum. He recruited faculty from a private ambulance service and a community college to create instruction not based on memorization. Retention rates increased dramatically, and Myron now instructs many first responders.
School of Humanities, Religion and Social Sciences
Kayla McCalvy | Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies
Kayla maintained academic excellence while serving the FPU community. She was a peer mentor, switchboard operator in the Information Center, vice president of a Bible study club and member of the Delight ministry club for women and Alpha Chi. She also led mediations with the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP).
Cinthia Palomino | Bachelor of Arts in Criminology
When Cinthia Palomino—a first-generation student born in Mexico—struggled on her first assignment, she met with faculty to learn how to do better. Her work steadily improved and she graduated at a high standard. Cinthia managed this remarkable achievement while juggling full-time work as a single mother.
School of Natural Sciences
Chandler Maciel | Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology: Exercise Physiology
Chandler arrived at FPU as a Paragon Scholar and maintained a high academic standing through his career. He has an outstanding work ethic and was also a leader among his peers and as a student-athlete. He conducts himself with integrity and is very kind and pleasant.
Taña Leon-Toscano | Master of Science in Nursing
A skilled and experienced registered nurse, Taña was a dedicated and driven student who is now an advanced practice nurse and leader in the health care community. Her calming presence makes her a natural leader. She will serve this Valley well; she is joyful, funny, humble, accountable, engaged and reliable.