Graduates celebrate at Fresno State’s 101st Commencement

California State University, Fresno’s 101st Commencement was a lively, joyous celebration today (May 19, 2012) as graduates received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at the Save Mart Center on campus .

President John D. Welty conferred degrees on nearly 5,000 candidates during the University’s Commencement ceremony. The 101st Commencement begins a new century of achievements for Fresno State.

“It’s an important day for our university because this is the first commencement ceremony of Fresno State’s second century,” Welty told the graduates, their family and friends. “There’s something special about being the first graduating class of a new century, and I hope you enjoy the recognition.

“Last year, we celebrated the conclusion of Fresno State’s first 100 years. Today we celebrate that first century as the cornerstone on which we will build for our second,” Welty said.

Welty awarded the 2012 President’s Medal, the highest honor Fresno State presents to a graduate, to Katherine Urabe of Livermore, who completed a double major. The Graduate Medal was presented to Marcelo Moretti, who earned an M.S. in Plant Science.

Urabe is the dean’s medalist from the College of Science and Mathematics.  She completed a B.A. in Mathematics and a B.A. in Linguistics, with a 4.0 GPA and a minor in Spanish.

A Smittcamp Family Honors College student, she has a passion for mathematics. Her research interests are number theory, complex analysis and differential equations. She plans to earn an M.S. degree and a teaching credential in math at Fresno State, before working on a Ph.D.

Urabe believes hard work is critical to success. “I come from a long line of farmers and engineers,” she says. “My father grew up working in the strawberry fields, and he instilled those values of perseverance and hard work in me and my siblings.”

Urabe has presented her undergraduate mathematics research on “Legendre Multiplier Sequences” and “The Well-Covered Dimensions of Products of Graphs” as poster presentations at several national and regional conferences. One of her poster presentations earned her an “Outstanding Undergraduate Poster Presentation” at the joint meeting of the American Mathematics Society and the Mathematics Association of America.

“More than my awards or accomplishments, I will take away what Fresno State has taught me as a person,” she said. “The unique spirit of giving back to the community and appreciation for the rich and varied experiences of others are something that cannot be taught.”

Urabe was a math tutor for the Learning Center on campus and also worked with kindergarteners to help them improve their reading and math skills.  She worked numerous hours as a volunteer at the Bulldog Pantry.

The President’s Medal winner is selected from the nine undergraduate Dean’s Medalists who represent the academic colleges and schools and the Division of Student Affairs.

University Graduate Medalist Moretti, who represents the College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, is a native of Brazil and completed his bachelor’s degree in Agronomy Engineering at University of Sao Paulo in 2008.

The University Graduate Medal is the top honor for a graduate student, chosen from the nine Dean’s Graduate Medal winners.

His Fresno State master’s thesis project determined the first-ever globally known case of hairy fleabane, a problematic weed species in California’s agriculture. The research earned national and international recognition as the first documentation and confirmation of a weed species that was resistant to two different herbicides in California.

Moretti received several awards and scholarships stemming from his performance at Fresno State. He is preparing his work for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. He is attending the University of California, Davis, where he is pursuing a doctorate in Horticulture and Agronomy.

University officials report 4,840 students completed their work in the 2011-12 summer, fall or spring semesters and were eligible for bachelor’s,  master’s and doctorate degrees.

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Lanny Larson

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Editor, University Communications