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2022 Outstanding Graduate Students

May 18, 2022

On Friday, May 13th, the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts hosted a luncheon with Dean Jeffrey Gilger, Associate Dean Anne Zanzucchi and 11 of its outstanding graduating students.  Each student was selected based on their excellence in six areas of accomplishment: 

  • Graduated in Fall, Spring or Summer 2022
  • A cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher as of Fall 2022 
  • Examples of significant research activities
  • Examples of leadership initiatives
  • Service to UC Merced and the community
  • Clear Judicial Affairs Record

2022 Outstanding Graduating Student recipients:

Jasmin Sandoval Bustamante: with a major in Psychology, Jasmin was an Honors program student; worked as a research assistant in Eric Walle’s lab; served as a special education aid in local elementary schools (where she helped children with special needs cope with the challenges of learning remotely during the pandemic); and, much more.

Melissa Escalera: with a major in Spanish, Melissa researched political dissident immigrants in the US and US Latinx women’s access to higher education; was a treasurer of the Catholic Newman Club; participated in community events hosted by local parishes and invited other students on campus to volunteer; was an active member of Sigma Delta Pi, a national collegiate Hispanic honor society; successfully applied for a community outreach program (STAND) to receive funds for this project; participated in the Student Philanthropy Month Yosemite Lake clean-up hosted by UC Merced’s Community Engagement Center; and, much more.

Elena Velasquez Gomez: with a major in Management & Business Economics, Elena completed her degree requirements in just 3 years; served as Executive Vice President of Business Society running their Human Resource Department; served as treasurer of the Economics Club; served as Marketing Ambassador for the Merced County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; worked with the California Student Opportunity Access Program (Cal-SOAP) funded by the Merced County office of Education; worked as an Accounting and Internal Audit Intern at Yosemite Farm Credit; worked in the Finance Department at Gallo upon graduation; and, much more.

Karen Zavala Guevara: with a major in Global Arts Studies, Karen was the president of the Young Artists

Isaac Jones: with a major in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, Isaac was on the Chancellor's Honors List, is pursuing his goal of attending law school; was a member in Black M.E.N. of SCC at Solano Community College; was in a leadership role as Vice President of “Afrikans for Retention and Outreach” at UC Merced; and, much more.

Hannah Morse: with a major in Cognitive Science, Hannah was a Research Assistant in Colin Holbrook's lab; contributed to the design and research protocols of two laboratory studies investigating Human-Robot Interaction in the context of high-stakes decision-making under uncertainty; devoted time each week to helping with an after-school program at a local elementary school; and, much more.

Jorge-Rodriguez Mota: with a major in Political Science, Jorge-Rodriguez founded “First Bound” in high school (helps first-generation students navigate the college application process); participated in the political science honors program; was on the Dean’s List; was President of Student Government; initiated and helped pass a resolution condemning hate crime against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community on campus; hopes to work as a high school teacher; is contemplating law school; is pursuing a Master’s degree in history; and, much more.

Sandy Rubio: with a major in Public Health, Sandy is a first-generation college student; was a research assistant for Sandie Ha and compiled research on adverse pregnancy outcomes among women with disabilities; conducted research at the Nicotine and Cannabis Policy Center (NCPC) at UCM; planned city-wide cleanup projects every six months in Firebaugh, CA; served as the Vice President of Membership for the Premed Central Club; aspires to obtain a PhD in epidemiology to study environmental contributors of health disparities; and, much more.

Yulissa Torres: with a major in History, Yulissa was on the Dean’s Honor List; received the Frances M. Benton Scholarship; was a UROC-H scholar with Professor Ma Vang in Summer 2021; worked on the Refugee Teaching Institute, an initiative to train current secondary public-school teachers in the Central Valley to incorporate refugee stories in their curricula, specifically in social studies classes; was a STEP scholar at UC Merced; and, much more.

Bee Yeffet: with a major in Philosophy, Bee is considered an excellent writer; is adept at helping her group-mates understand the philosophical background of the readings; is an undergraduate member of the Chancellor's Committee on Queer Issues (CAQCI) for AY 2021-2022; and, much more.

Ying-Wei Zhang: with a major in English, Ying-Wei was an Honors Thesis Program scholar 2021-2022 Academic Year; a Residence Hall Association (RHA) member of the Community Council and a member of the Executive Board, a Vice President of Communications; an actor in the Vagina Monologues in Spring 2020; the first editor of the EarthShakes website, and social media director; and, much more.

Each recipient received a medal to be worn that their commencement ceremony, a certificate of accomplishment and had a special mention in the Spring 2022 commencement program.