Nuvia Garcia and Mindy Ross were awarded Fresno State’s top academic honors for the class of 2021. 

Chosen from a group of nine Undergraduate Deans’ Medalists and nine Deans’ Graduate Medalists, they were each surprised with the honor during a Zoom call with Interim President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval and Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Xuanning Fu on Tuesday, May 11. 

“We are incredibly proud of Nuvia and Mindy, who have continued to strive for excellence despite all the challenges they have faced,” Jiménez-Sandoval said. “Their outstanding academic achievements truly embody the Bulldog Spirit. We are excited to celebrate their accomplishments and wish them the best in their future endeavors. I know that they will become visionary leaders!”

Garcia, of Turlock, was selected as the President’s Medalist, the University’s top honor for an undergraduate student. She earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology, forensic behavioral science option, and a minor in Spanish with a 3.97 GPA.

Ross, of Auberry, was selected as the University Graduate Medalist, Fresno State’s top honor for a graduate student. She earned a master’s degree in speech-language pathology with a 4.0 GPA. 


Nuvia Garcia, President’s Medalist

Nuvia Garcia

Nuvia Garcia

Garcia is a first-generation college student who became interested in criminology after a friend got involved with drugs, criminal activity and then took his own life. Her own struggles almost got the best of her, too. 

She spent many hours in the lab as a research assistant and lab manager. She was also able to conduct her own research as part of the McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program and the College of Social Science Honors Program, examining the effect pre-admonition commentary — statements given to the witness before a lineup — has on mock jurors. 

Garcia wants to earn a master’s degree in clinical counseling and a license as a professional clinical counselor, then a doctorate in clinical psychology.

Mindy Ross, University Graduate Medalist

Mindy Ross

Mindy Ross

Ross, of Auberry, earned a master’s degree in speech-language pathology, with a 4.0 GPA. She previously earned a B.A. in communicative disorders, speech-language pathology option, at Fresno State. Ross started her higher education journey later in life to show her two children the importance of education and that it’s never too late to do something new. 

While a student, Ross and her family were evacuated from their home during the Willow Fire (2015), Mission Fire (2017) and the Creek Fire (2020). Last year, she made sure to pack her school supplies. It was her last semester of graduate school and she was starting a clinical externship at Saint Agnes Medical Center. Ross only missed one night of her externship during the four weeks that she was displaced. 

Ross is now a language/speech specialist in the Clovis Unified School District.