Sharing Fresno State’s stories is a way to connect with alumni, friends, students, prospective students and other community members. On a campus of about 25,000 students and thousands more faculty and staff, narrowing it down to the top 21 stories of the year was no simple task — especially during a year unlike any other because of the global pandemic. Here’s a glimpse, in no particular order, at some of the editor’s picks for the biggest news, most touching stories and most well-done storytelling from the University over the past year.

Saul Jimenez-Sandoval named ninth president of Fresno State

Saúl Jiménez-SandovalDr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval is known for speaking several languages, playing the piano and zooming across campus on a scooter. He has a love for food — recreating recipes that have meaning to him and his family but also indulging in the richness of the history and culture behind every dish. And he has a passion for the Valley and the power of Fresno State — which is just part of what led to his selection in May as the ninth president in the University’s 110-year history. »

Fresno State welcomes students back to campus

Two Students Walking on CampusFreshmen weren’t the only ones new to Fresno State when fall instruction began on Aug. 23. This was also the first time most second-year students set foot on the 388-acre main campus, due to instruction being primarily virtual in the 2020-21 academic year because of COVID-19. “It’s important to welcome our students in a significant way by creating a progressive and sequential week that focuses on building a sense of pride, connections with the University, new relationships with peers and educating students on University traditions and what it means to be a Bulldog.” »

Amendola Family gift ensures permanent funding for Student Cupboard

Amendola Family Gifting to Students Cupboard

Lou and Jane Amendola have empathy for college students experiencing food insecurity. “I can remember back in my days in college, most of the student-athletes were always hungry because of the calories you burn all day,” said Lou, who attended college in San Diego. “But all students, I think, face food insecurity from time to time. … It’s nice to have someplace where students can go to grab something or make something, which puts a little less pressure on them, so they can do well in school.” »

100 Years of the Red Wave Rising: A Timeline of Historical Moments and Milestones

Red Wave

It all started with an extraordinary vision. A community of hardworking people thirsty for an identity latched on to a growing University. As the student body grew, the fan base grew along with it. These Bulldogs brought a sense of pride this humble Valley had never before seen. Fueled by Bulldog spirit, inspired by legends and uniting us all as nothing else can, athletics became the front porch that introduced thousands to the University. See a timeline of 100 moments and milestones that have helped shape Fresno State athletics. »

Athletics 101: A Vision Toward Fresno State’s Future

Athletics 101

As we raise our glasses and give cheers to 100 years of Fresno State athletics, we celebrate this moment in time while keeping focused on the future. In the ever-changing landscape of college athletics, Fresno State has continuously risen to the challenge — oftentimes doing more with less and competing with the best of the best across the country. »

A Land of Opportunity

Feeding Sheep on Sunrise

For some college students, their campus becomes a home away from home. For agricultural education student Jonathan Moules, school, work and home all blended together. While the majority of students, faculty and staff adjusted to working remotely during the 2020-21 school year, Moules was one of about 80 ag students who continued to work on the 1,000-acre University farm — caring for animals, tending to crops and putting products on the shelves of the Gibson Farm Market and other local retailers. »

New report: Fresno State contributes millions in economic impact

Campus Welcoming Monument

Salvador Solorio-Ruiz grew up in Delano, a small Central Valley town where 22% of residents live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census. The son of immigrants, however, was bound for something different when he became the first in his family to graduate from college. Solorio-Ruiz is one of the thousands of Fresno State graduates now working and contributing to the Valley economy. A new report from the California State University system underscores the magnitude of the economic impact of Fresno State. For every dollar that California invests in Fresno State, $7.35 in statewide spending is generated. »

Fresno State ranks among nation’s best for graduation-rate performance

Student at the graduation

Fresno State continued its five-year streak of ranking No. 3 among public national universities for graduation-rate performance in U.S. News and World Report’s 2022 Best College Rankings issued Sept. 13. The graduation-rate performance uses the University’s actual six-year graduation rate compared to predicted performance based on admissions data, school financial resources, the proportion of federal financial aid recipients who are first-generation, math and science orientations and the proportion of undergraduates receiving Pell grants »

Battling Extinction: How one student is helping to save a species

Kathryn Ramirez

Despite the dry, desolate appearance of the Panoche Hills, the desert landscape is full of life and home to the blunt-nosed leopard lizards — one of the first species to be federally protected under the Endangered Species Act. With the existing populations rapidly declining, biology student Kathryn Ramirez is determined to save them. »

Bulldog Marching Band selected as 2023 Rose Bowl participant

Marching Band

The Fresno State Bulldog Marching Band was selected by the Tournament of Roses Association as an official participant of the 2023 Rose Parade on Jan. 2, 2023, in Pasadena. This will be the band’s first Rose Parade appearance in program history. In addition to the Rose Parade, the band will perform in the Tournament of Roses Bandfest field show with other participating marching bands, in an opportunity to showcase their musicianship and pageantry. »

Fresno State earns prestigious Seal of Excelencia

Student at graduation

Excelencia in Education, the nation’s premier authority on efforts accelerating Latino student success in higher education, announced that Fresno State has been certified with the 2021 Seal of Excelencia. Fresno State is one of just 10 institutions nationwide to earn Seal of Excelencia certification this year, ensuring an unwavering commitment to intentionally serve Latino students, while serving all. »

Indoor Air Quality research

Vincent Malpaya and Michelle Starner

Vincent Malpaya starts a small fire out of wood chips and sends the smoke through a tube into an enclosed 400-square-foot building, where indoor air quality sensors measure the particulate matter in the air. His research partner, Michelle Starner, sits in front of a computer watching the data from the sensors spike up and drop down as the smoke is pumped through the building’s air ducts, then through an air filter combined with an air treatment technology. Their goal: to test and identify a combination of air filters with air treatment technology that best trap and reduce the indoor particulate matter caused by smoke contamination and volatile organic compounds. »

A new campus retail experience: Kennel Marketplace grand opening

Kennel Marketplace grand opening

The Square at Campus Pointe added another key retail space with the official grand opening celebration of Kennel Marketplace. Located at Campus Pointe, across from the Save Mart Center, the Kennel Marketplace encompasses 10,000 square feet of retail space offering a variety of branded apparel and gifts, Apple technology products, Gibson Farm Market food items, a print center, and indoor and outdoor seating. The store also includes a Starbucks and a custom shirt bar, where customers can customize officially licensed Fresno State apparel with hundreds of possible design combinations. »

Student reflects on mountain of memories one year after Creek Fire

Reaves Forrest

This past summer, Fresno State plant science senior Reaves Forrest drove up to his family home in Kingsburg in the afternoon, and heard a text message notification and call on his pager. The fifth-generation farmer had been checking his family fruit orchards since 5 a.m. and was glad his day was starting to slow down. However, the alert was a Shaver Lake Volunteer Fire Department notification for a wildfire that had started in Blue Canyon in the foothills near Tollhouse. A follow-up Sierra National Forest radio call confirmed the 10-acre fire was fanned by 20- to 40-mile-per-hour winds and could escalate quickly. »

Fresno State and Valley Children’s announce partnership to impact generations of Valley kids

Valley Children's Partners

Fresno State President Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval and Valley Children’s Healthcare President and CEO Todd Suntrapak announced an expansive partnership that will have a lasting impact on students, faculty and the community. Valley Children’s Healthcare and Fresno State have had a long-standing relationship as both organizations have been invested in the health and well-being of youth and families in the San Joaquin Valley for generations. This sponsorship further expands the partnership of Fresno State and Valley Children’s, and their shared commitment to education and health. »

Alumna donated kidney; gained more in return

Sarah Hawkins

Sarah Hawkins was in bed scrolling through Facebook on a Sunday morning when she saw a post from an old Fresno elementary school classmate about his ailing father. The post said something like, “My dad’s been on dialysis for six years and the doctor is saying he won’t last much longer if he doesn’t get a transplant.” The family had all been tested to donate a kidney, but no one was a match. Hawkins turned to her husband, Ben, and told him that she was going to get tested. »

Student’s dream of justice illuminated by law pathway project

justice gavel

Fresno State student Caleb Charles began college with one goal in mind: becoming a lawyer to defend and fight for those in need of representation in the criminal justice system. “I aspire to become both a criminal defense and civil rights attorney to advocate on behalf of the voiceless men and women of America and those who have been unjustly charged with crimes they did not commit,” he says. »

Fresno State to lead dairy innovation project with $1.8 million USDA grant

Dairy Innovation

Fresno State graduate student Daniel Olmos is channeling his love of science and food to integrate two of his favorite campus farm products into his graduate research project. Working with food science and nutrition faculty Dr. Carmen Licon Cano, the Fresno-native Olmos is creating a new, wine-infused cheese product that he hopes to produce at the campus creamery for the Gibson Farm Market, and later potentially on a larger scale. The push to develop new products in the nation’s leading dairy state is the impetus behind a three-year $1.8 million grant aimed at dairy business innovation. »

How one health science grad earned her degree in just two years

Taylor Ounesavath

By the time Taylor Ounesavath entered Fresno State in the fall of 2019, she had already completed 12 units, thanks to Advanced Placement courses and dual enrollment courses she took while she was still in high school. Toward the end of her first semester at Fresno State, Ounesavath realized that if she pursued at least 12 to 20 units each semester, in addition to taking 12 units of consecutive winter and spring intercessions of general education courses, she could complete her bachelor’s degree in just two years. »

Diaper need forces low-income mothers to make difficult choices

Jennifer Randles

Women who can’t afford enough diapers for their babies go to great lengths to stretch a single diaper. They track their child’s liquid intake, know when their child will urinate and learn exactly how much will fill up a diaper. Low-income mothers ask people they know for diapers or diaper money. They go without food, barter their belongings and even resort to selling their blood plasma for money to buy diapers, according to research by Dr. Jennifer Randles, professor of sociology at Fresno State. »

On the frontlines: Nursing students assist with vaccination efforts

Line to get Vaccinated

The line wrapping around the Orange Cove Community Center increases by the hour as the morning dew starts to dissipate. Among those present are some of the Central Valley’s most vulnerable communities — farmworkers and individuals ages 65 and up. They are among the first group in the region who will receive the COVID-19 vaccination. »