Academic excellence, exceptional research and a desire to help victims of crime are attributes of Kristiana Joy Dixon of Fresno, who was named the Class of 2010 University Graduate Medal winner at California State University, Fresno.

Her selection was revealed during the Graduate Degree Hooding Ceremony for master’s and doctoral candidates today, May 21, at the Save Mart Center.

Dixon, representing the College of Social Sciences, was presented the silver University Graduate Medal by Fresno State President John D. Welty. She also received a plaque presented by Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs William Covino.

The University Graduate Medal is the top honor awarded to a graduate student.

The recipient is chosen from among graduate Dean’s Medalists representing the outstanding students in each of the university’s eight schools and colleges of academic discipline and the Division of Student Affairs. Each dean selects a graduate medalist based on academic accomplishment, service to the school, community involvement, and other notable achievements.

Dixon is among 927 students eligible to receive master’s or doctoral degree hoods at this year’s ceremony. After receiving their hoods on Friday night, the post-baccalaureate students will have their degrees formally conferred Saturday morning, May 22, during the 99th Commencement, which begins at 9:30 at the Save Mart Center..

Dixon completed her master’s degree in criminology with a 4.0 GPA.

Her thesis, “An Analysis of a State Victim Compensation Program: A Comparison with Child Protective Services,” deals with the child abuse victims who do not access compensation funds in California. She chose the topic because she wanted to provide valuable information to those working in the field to enhance outreach efforts for those victims who are underutilizing compensation funds.

She presented the research from her thesis at the 13th International Symposium on Victimology in Mito, Japan, in August 2009.

Dixon, who attended high school in Michigan and earned her BA from Valparaiso University in Indiana, chose Fresno State’s criminology graduate program because of the option in victimology.

Before coming to Fresno, she participated in the AmeriCorps Victim Assistance Program, working as a victim/witness advocate at a county prosecutor’s office in New Hampshire.

At Fresno State, she was a graduate research assistant and also assisted other graduate students on their projects. Currently, she is interviewing women in prison for a major UCLA research project.

Her career aspirations include working within a law enforcement agency as a victim specialist to assist victims through the criminal justice system, prevent further victimization, and enhance the relationship between victims and criminal justice officials.

Two other top students were honored at the Graduate Degree Hooding Ceremony.

  • Vernon Creviston, a candidate for a Master of Arts in History from the College of Social Sciences, received the Outstanding Thesis Award for “The Quebec Act: Politics, Religion, Territory and the Rejection of the British Monarchy in the American Colonies.”
  • Vahideh Rasekhi Kolokdaragh, a native of Iran, received the Phyllis Watts Eudy Memorial Award for the outstanding international graduate student. In December, Kolokdaragh, graduated in December 2009 with a Master of Arts in Linguistics and a 4.00 cumulative GPA.

All Dean’s Medalists, both graduate and undergraduate, will be recognized at Saturday’s 99th University Commencement.