FRESNO — Projected as a future world-class economist who could use his college education to help his Third World country off the coast of Africa, Amadeu Rodrigues da Silva today was named the winner of the 1999 President’s Medal at the 88th Commencement ceremonies for California State University, Fresno.
Rodrigues da Silva, 24, who earned bachelor’s degrees in economics and mathematics, received the award from President John D. Welty before nearly 20,000 people in Bulldog Stadium this morning.
Representing the School of Social Sciences, Rodrigues da Silva was chosen from the ten Dean’s Medal winners presented by the eight schools, the Division of Graduate Studies and the Division of Student Affairs as their outstanding 1999 graduates.
The highest honor given by the university to a graduating student, the President’s Medal is awarded on the basis of academic achievement, service to the school and contributions to the community. The silver medal bears a replica of the university seal.
With a 4.0 GPA in both fields of study, Rodrigues da Silva is being courted by the nation’s best doctoral programs, including Columbia University where he has been offered a full scholarship, said Dr. Ellen Gruenbaum, social sciences dean.
“They are impressed with his desire to apply his skills and abilities to improving the economies of his impoverished homeland, San Tome and Principe,” she said.
Professor John Shaw praises Rodrigues da Silva as the best student he has seen in 38 years of teaching university economics. He says Rodrigues da Silva “has the best chance to become a world-class professional economist and to make significant contributions to improving the plight of Third World countries of any student I have known.”
Rodrigues da Silva spoke little English when he arrived in the U.S. but has since mastered spoken and written English, as well as the university’s undergraduate curriculum in economics and mathematics, Shaw said.
Rodrigues da Silva was vice president of the Economics Club, a member of two honorary societies on campus, and plays recreational soccer. In addition to his offer from Columbia University, he was offered a prestigious fellowship with Boston University and was admitted to the UC San Diego graduate school.
President Welty conferred degrees on about 3,860 bachelor’s and master’s candidates who participated in the ceremonies in Bulldog Stadium before the 16,000-plus audience filling the stadium’s east side.
Doctorates in educational leadership, offered jointly by Fresno State and the University of California, Davis, were conferred on five candidates.
President Welty also conferred emeritus status on 23 retiring faculty members in recognition of their years of service to the university.
During the ceremony, the honorary degree doctorate of humane letters was conferred on Hugo Morales, of Fresno, and Paul O’Neill, of Pittsburgh, Penn.
Morales is founder and executive director of Radio Bilingue, Inc., a Fresno-based network of five stations throughout the state and about 65 satellite stations throughout the U.S., Mexico and Puerto Rico. O’Neill is chairman of the board of Alcoa.
Secretary of State Bill Jones, a 1971 graduate with a bachelor of science degree in agricultural business and former student body president at Fresno State, was presented the 1999 Distinguished Alumnus Award.
The university’s Foundation Award was presented to William M. Lyles, of Fresno, a patron of the arts and long-time supporter of the university with such projects as the Lyles Gallery located in the John Wright Theater on campus.