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Exceptional Graduates

Jun 11, 2018 John Stumbos
2018 Commencement award recipients

Each year we honor a handful of undergraduate students who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in the areas of academic excellence, distinctive leadership and community or public service. Eight of these students will be honored at the CA&ES commencement ceremonies at UC Davis on Friday, June 15. The awards include the College Medal for scholastic excellence, the Mary Regan Meyer Prize for serving humanity, the Charles Hess Community Service Award for outstanding public or community service and the Dean’s Circle Award for outstanding academics and community service.

College Medal

Kara Hawkins
Kara Hawkins, who is graduating with a degree in community and regional development, is the 2018 recipient of the CA&ES College Medal, which rewards scholastic excellence. She is from Rio Vista, California. Hawkins was involved in various campus organizations and jobs, such as the UC Davis Economics Club, Picnic Day, Conference Housing, and as a research assistant in the Department of Human Ecology. She also interned with the City of Sacramento’s long range planning division, where she was able to further develop her passion for sustainable planning and affordable housing. After graduation, Hawkins plans to continue working in local government or a nonprofit before pursuing her master’s degree in urban planning. 

Mary Regan Meyer Award

Fatima Elgarguri
Fatima Elgarguri, who is graduating with a degree in human development, is a recipient of the Mary Regan Meyer Award for serving humanity. She was born and raised in Corvallis, Oregon. During her time as an undergraduate, Elgarguri’s desire to be a positive force in her community became readily apparent. She worked as a volunteer with Sacramento’s Shifa Community Clinic, a student-run medical facility serving uninsured South Asian and Middle Eastern populations, and with a MIND Institute clinic to promote mental health in the Muslim community. She also became a research associate with the UC Davis Medical Center and an EMT with the UC Davis Fire Department. After graduation, she plans to work in childcare policy research while continuing to work as an EMT, as well as teaching Arabic in her community. Elgarguri also plans to join a medical mission in Jordan for six months in order to serve the Syrian refugee population as an EMT. Meanwhile, she will be applying to physician assistant schools, with the ultimate career goal of working with medically underserved communities. 

Mary Regan Meyer Award

Nicole Fernandez
Nicole Fernandez, who is graduating with a degree in animal science, is a recipient of the Mary Regan Meyer Award for serving humanity. She grew up in Waipahu, Hawaii. As an undergraduate, Fernandez greatly enjoyed her work at the UC Davis Pastured Poultry Farm, a research, innovation and outreach project on campus. She currently volunteers with other UC Davis students at the Knights Landing One Health Clinic, which provides free veterinary and health care for animals and people in need. Fernandez shared her appreciation and love for the campus as a tour guide, undergraduate admissions public advisor and CA&ES Aggie Ambassador. She previously volunteered with EDventure International in Thailand, working with locals and other volunteers to build an elementary school greenhouse, teach English to young children and help provide care and shelter for a group of elephants. Fernandez will be continuing her education in the fall as part of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2022.

Charles Hess Community Service Award

Ulises Aleman
Ulises Aleman, who is graduating with a degree in community and regional development, is a 2018 recipient of the Charles Hess Community Service Award. He is a first-generation college student raised in Long Beach, California. Living in a student housing cooperative for two years sparked Aleman’s interest in public housing, the cooperative model and economic development. He wants to pursue research in this area to produce positive impacts in the lives of nontraditional families—such as single-parent households, large families and children living with grandparents. This fall, he will be entering a master’s program at UCLA for urban and regional planning. Aleman hopes one day to work within a planning department in Southern California to increase housing affordability and nontraditional housing availability.

Charles Hess Community Service Award

Macall Teague
Macall Teague, who is graduating with a degree in sustainable agriculture and food systems, is a recipient of the 2018 Charles Hess Community Service Award. She is from South Pasadena, California. Instantly drawn to the UC Davis Student Farm, Teague found both the community and deeper understanding of organic agriculture that she was seeking. While at the Student Farm she worked with the Community Table Project, which seeks to increase fresh produce provided to UC Davis students and to expand the diversity of student communities participating in the campus food system. She also found an outlet for her interest in outdoor education of underserved youth through her interactions with the Kids in the Garden program, which brings schoolchildren from the region to the Student Farm for experiential learning about ecology, food and nutrition. Macall plans on traveling after commencement before settling in the Hudson Valley in New York, where she hopes to work providing outdoor education about food to children from New York City and other surrounding urban areas. 

Dean’s Circle Award

Anna Gomes
Anna Gomes, who is graduating summa cum laude with a degree in agricultural and environmental education, is a recipient of the 2018 Dean’s Circle Award for outstanding academics and community service. She was born and raised in Ferndale, California. While at UC Davis, her dedication to the global food system and environmental sustainability converged with her interests in climate change. Gomes interned in three research labs on campus, studying the water budget for winter cover crops in the San Joaquin Valley, elevated carbon dioxide effects on wheat protein production, and plant breeding for organic agricultural systems. She recently served as a U.S. Youth Ag Summit delegate in Brussels, Belgium. She has been competing in an entrepreneurial innovation competition through the UC Davis Graduate School of Management for the Ugly Food Market. Her startup business helps communities address food accessibility and waste challenges. In August, Gomes will be moving to Sweden to attend Lund University and start a master’s program in environmental studies and sustainability science with a focus on agroecology.

Dean’s Circle Award

Lara Sirovica
Lara Sirovica, who is graduating with a degree in animal science, is a recipient of the 2018 Dean’s Circle Award for outstanding academics and community service. She is from Alamo, California. While at UC Davis, Sirovica interned with three campus labs, working on animal welfare related research projects with chickens, dogs and pigs. She also volunteered with the Knight's Landing One Health Clinic, which provides free veterinary and health care for animals and people in need. Sirovica was a founding officer of the Davis Climbing Club and competed with her fellow students against other collegiate climbers on a local, regional and national level. Sirovica’s postgraduation plans are to attend the University of British Columbia this fall as a graduate student in applied animal biology in an animal welfare program. She is looking forward to continuing research to improve animal welfare while also working with food producers to ensure sustainable and ethical animal production practices. 

Dean’s Circle Award

Lujie (Roger) Zhou
Lujie (Roger) Zhou, who is graduating with a degree in managerial economics and a degree in statistics, is a recipient of the Dean’s Circle Award for outstanding academics and community service. He was born and raised in Shanghai, China. His interests are in econometrics and working on environment related research. Zhou co-founded a math tutoring program at a library in Newark, California, to serve local high school students. After graduation, he will be attending UC Davis in the agricultural and resource economics graduate group to pursue a doctorate in environmental and quantitative economics. He wants to become a professor so that he can help educate students in quantitative methods and contribute to solving environmental issues using econometrics and data-based statistics approaches.

Congratulations to all our graduating seniors!

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