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Derek “Hayden” Willis Derek “Hayden” Willis
 


Class of 2018 Standouts

The future is bright for SDSU's graduating class.
By Jeff Ristine
 

Updated 5/9/2018

San Diego State University's graduating class of 2018 includes future scientists, researchers, communicators and academics.

With nearly 10,600 degree candidates, these are just some of the students whose transformational time at SDSU has put them on the road to successful career paths.

Athletes
College of Arts and Letters
Fowler College of Business
Weber Honors College
College of Education
College of Engineering
College of Health and Human Services
College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts
College of Sciences
Veterans
Imperial Valley Campus

ATHLETES

Adam Allmaras
, B.S. Mechanical Engineering

Adam Allmaras
Adam Allmaras
Men’s soccer goalkeeper Allmaras is a five-time scholar-athlete at SDSU, an honor that requires either a 3.2 semester GPA or a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Allmaras also received four consecutive All Pac-12 Academic Team honors and an All-Region Player honor from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America in 2016.

On the field, Allmaras kept opponents scoreless in the first 598 minutes, 35 seconds of the 2016 men’s soccer season—some seven matches. He topped the Pac-12 conference that year with a .856 save percentage—ranked fourth nationally—and also tied for the conference lead with 11 shutouts. He was named Pac-12 Player of the Week after making two saves in the Aztecs’ historic 1-0 victory over No. 1 ranked Akron on Sept. 2.

Allmaras has demonstrated leadership as goalkeeper and as an officer with the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Society. After graduation, he will be working a summer internship at General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego.

Ellison Grove, B.A. International Security and Conflict Resolution, minor in Russian

Ellison Grove
Ellison Grove
Grove, a standout member of the track and field team, is one of 15 student-athletes honored this year with the Malik Award for students who maintained a 4.0 GPA over the previous two semesters. She also pulled off the remarkable feat of earning the award all four years at SDSU, even as she served as captain for two years and set school records in the 600 meters (1:31:48) and indoor 800 meters (2:09.67).

Grove’s academic interests led her to become a teaching assistant in the International Security and Conflict Resolution (ISCOR) program and join the ISCOR Student Society, serving as treasurer for three years.

She held Washington, D.C., summer internships all four years, including one in the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Tex.). A native of rural Catharpin, Virginia, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in international relations and diplomacy, and a career in the field of diplomacy.

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COLLEGE OF ARTS AND LETTERS

Christopher Deutschman
, Mechanical Engineering with a second major in German and honors minor in interdisciplinary studies

Christopher Deutschman
Christopher Deutschman
Deutschman’s parents, both huge advocates for higher education, urged him to get as involved as possible on campus, and he took the advice to heart.

He was an academic mentor in the Residential Education Office and an undergraduate teaching assistant for four courses in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. At the same time, he served as vice president of membership and former scholarship chair of the SDSU chapter of the Mortar Board Honor Society, sat on the College of Sciences Student Council and was a mentor in the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts AMPLIFY pilot program.

Deutschman spent one year abroad, first studying the German language at the University of Tübingen, and then taking a mechanical engineering class (in German) at the Hochschule Ulm. Back home, he received a prestigious Merit Scholarship, awarded to a SDSU’s most academically qualified students.

Deutschman’s academic globetrotting will continue as he pursues a master’s in chemical engineering, with an emphasis in nanotechnology, at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

Marissa Mendoza
, B.A. Sustainability with a second major in American Indian Studies

Marissa Mendoza
Marissa Mendoza
A first-generation college student named to the dean’s list four consecutive semesters, Mendoza said her success was driven by “understanding that my education was the one tangible tool I possessed to control the outcome of my future.”

Her study of sustainability, which focuses on environmental challenges facing the planet, took Mendoza to a study-abroad experience in Tecate, Mexico, where she learned about the impacts of local development on the area’s indigenous Kumeyaay people. In San Diego, she was an intern for the San Diego River Park Foundation, working on propagation projects to restore native plant species in the riparian ecosystem of Boulder Creek, near Descanso.

Mendoza has served as president of the SDSU Native American Student Alliance and was chapter leader of Students for Quality Education, formed by students in the California State University system with the assistance of the California Faculty Association (CFA). She plans to take a gap year to prepare for law school in fall 2019.

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FOWLER COLLEGE OF BUSINESS

Derek “Hayden” Willis, B.S. Finance

Derek “Hayden” Willis
Derek “Hayden” Willis
Willis was elected Associated Students vice president of financial affairs for his senior year, and in that position coordinated the annual Aztecs Rock Hunger food drive. The fall 2017 campaign raised a record 588,915 pounds of food for the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank and money for SDSU’s Economic Crisis Response Team, which provides emergency support to students.

In his third year at SDSU, Willis became chapter president of Phi Kappa Psi and was one of two members nationally to represent the fraternity at an April conference of the Fraternal Government Relations Coalition in Washington, D.C., to advocate on higher-education issues.

Willis worked for 10 months as an intern at Morgan Stanley. After graduating and completing a planned community-service project in Thailand, he will enter the financial services company’s employee development program, starting in a consulting capacity and then developing accounts in the region.

Alex Henriques da Silva B., B.S. Accounting

Alex Henriques da Silva B.
Alex Henriques da Silva B.
Henriques da Silva is a trilingual (English, German and Portuguese) student, originally from Germany. She will move to New York after graduation to join PwC Banking and Capital Markets group, where she held an internship last summer. 

A resident advisor from 2015 to 2017 and then a senior resident advisor, she served as a peer educator and campus resource to students living on campus. She was also senior vice president of the SDSU International Business Society.

Henriques da Silva is the founding president of Out 4 Business at SDSU (originally Aztecs Out in Business), an organization for LGBTQ students to build professional contacts through workshops, social events and networking. She received a Cotton Metzger Scholarship in Honor of LGBT Students, and was among the 2018 winners of the “Quest for the Best” Vice Presidential Student Service Award, which recognizes personal and academic achievements.

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WEBER HONORS COLLEGE

Charmagne Jones
, B.S. Kinesiology-Pre-Physical Therapy

Charmagne Jones
Charmagne Jones
Jones, who grew up poor and homeless, is graduating SDSU with a degree in physical therapy and a place at Columbia University’s Teachers College, where she will pursue a Master of Education degree in applied physiology.

Jones served as president of the Jane K. Smith Cap and Gown Chapter of Mortarboard in 2017-18 and as president of the Weber Honors College Student Society in 2016-17. She received the Dean Herbert Peiffer and Dean Margery Warmer Aztec Achievement Award for exhibiting outstanding leadership and motivation and being the most likely to bring outstanding honor to SDSU.

Jones’ exemplary scholarship earned her admission to the Virginia Commonwealth University Summer Academic Enrichment Program for Physical Therapy. She was a workshop leader for the Mathematics Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program at SDSU and an instructional student assistant for Compact Scholars who requested tutoring in chemistry.

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COLLEGE OF EDUCATION

Kenia Lopez
, Ed.S. School Psychology
Emily Johnson
, Ed.S. School Psychology

Kenia Lopez
Kenia Lopez
As future school psychologists, Johnson and Lopez have a great deal in common besides the desire to help students succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally.

Both have logged more than 2,400 hours working with public school students in San Diego County, including 1,200-hour internships. Johnson served in three widely separated districts with an equally wide range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, a schedule that saw her driving from Chula Vista to north Oceanside twice a week during one period of her fieldwork. Lopez worked in the Vista, San Diego and San Marcos Unified school districts.

Emily Johnson
Emily Johnson
Professor Colette Ingraham recruited both students as graduate teaching assistants for her consultation course in the school psychology graduate program. They also assisted her with research involving peer feedback to support skill development for school psychology trainees, a cooperative process with teachers to promote academic, behavioral and social-emotional success in students who struggle. Their findings were presented at a national conference for school psychologists in 2017.

Lopez is a first-generation Mexican-American, who credits her success to her mother’s determination to overcome economic diversities, obtain an education degree and become a teacher. Lopez aspires to support communities, schools and families in difficult circumstances within the education system.

Toward that end, she participated in an immersion program in Querétaro, located in central Mexico, as part of a study abroad experience. The month-long program supported an elementary school, providing workshops and other assistance for teachers.

Johnson is on track to complete her degree with a GPA above 3.9, and credits her husband, Nick, and family for helping to drive her success. “My family encouraged me and always had understanding during times when it was hard to persevere, or times when school had to come first,” she said.

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COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING

Dan Jennings
, B.S. Mechanical Engineering

Dan Jennings
Dan Jennings

After transferring to SDSU from San Diego Mesa College in fall 2015, Jennings found a passion for Aztec Racing, a Formula SAE Collegiate Design team that challenges students to conceive and fabricate small formula-style racing cars for competition. He became chief engineer on the car, which will not be finished until after finals.

Jennings came to SDSU with a strong background in the field. After high school, he trained at a technical school to be an aircraft mechanic and landed a job in unmanned aerial vehicle development. Working with engineers on a daily basis, said Jennings, “I quickly figured out that this was what I needed to be doing and began working towards a mechanical engineering degree.”

All that experience, as well as his education in mechanical engineering, have paid off. After graduation, Jennings will become a mechanical engineer at SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific in Point Loma, a research facility for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Jennifer Boman
, B.S. Mechanical Engineering, emphasis in bioengineering

Jennifer Boman
Jennifer Boman
Now on the verge of a career in engineering, Boman has worked to help other students follow her example. As part of the College of Engineering’s Peer Advising Center for Engineering Students (PACES), Boman assisted mostly lower-division and new/transfer students with aid in academic planning and other steps toward graduation.

Boman served as secretary for the Society of Women Engineers in 2016-17 and as vice president in 2017-18. She planned and organized the organization’s Evening of Professional Development, a career fair and dinner with 10 local companies and 100 STEM students. She was also a member of the campus chapters of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Biomedical Engineering Society.

Boman worked as a process development intern at MabVax Therapeutics, a bioengineering company, and as a quality-engineering intern at Accriva Diagnostics, a San Diego medical device company. After graduation, she will return to Accriva as an engineer in research and development.

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COLLEGE OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Chase Whittaker
, B.S. Public Health with a second major in Political Science

Chase Whittaker
Chase Whittaker
Whittaker’s study abroad experience transformed not only his life, but also hundreds of others. He traveled last year to the Republic of Zambia, where he taught kindergarten for a month. On his last day, the kids protested his departure. Several burst into tears. “Seeing a country full of people in need, yet with the brightest, warmest and most welcoming personalities I’ve ever encountered…impacted me in a way I can hardly describe,” he said.

His experience provided the motivation to launch an international charity organization. The SanD/Stone Initiative, Inc., provides education and hygiene-focused interventions for vulnerable populations in Zambia, the United States and Mexico. It has provided funding for nine months of education for children at risk of withdrawal from primary school; subsidized salaries and supplies for 12 teachers at four at-risk schools; sent safe-play equipment to 11 schools and organizations; delivered hygiene and self-care items to the San Diego homeless population; and provided clothing, cleaning supplies and other goods to a Tijuana orphanage. The effort has impacted at least 650 lives.

While at SDSU, Whittaker also worked with Voices for Children as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for foster youth. He volunteered 1,300 hours at Grossmont Hospital and served on its Junior Board of Directors.

Whittaker has been accepted into the UC San Diego Accelerated Paralegal Program for summer 2018. He hopes to attend law school to specialize in international human rights law, civil rights/liberties, or immigration.

Sheryl Warfield, B.S. Nursing

Sheryl Warfield
Sheryl Warfield
Warfield is a leader in SDSU’s School of Nursing. She was Class of ’18 cohort representative for the campus chapter of the California Nursing Students’ Association, and president for the last two years. During her presidency, the chapter received the college council’s Outstanding Student Association of the Year Award, a national award recognizing success in recruiting new members. The chapter also bested all SDSU small organizations at the Aztec Dance Marathon, a fundraiser for Rady Children’s Hospital, and Warfield herself raised more than $2,000 in the 2017 and 2018 marathons.

Off campus, Warfield has held internships in the intensive care units of Scripps Mercy Chula Vista Hospital and Palomar Medical Center Escondido, and was selected to be a nurse extern at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix.

After graduation, she intends to study for her Registered Nurse license and work in adult Intensive Care Unit as a new graduate nurse resident.

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COLLEGE OF PROFESSIONAL STUDIES AND FINE ARTS

Brittany Mazal
, B.S. Hospitality and Tourism Management

Brittany Mazal
Brittany Mazal
With three internships and seven jobs during her years at SDSU, Mazal has a significant head start on her plans for a career working in the hospitality field and someday opening an event production company. 

Mazal joined the SDSU chapter of the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality as a freshman and served as president in her senior year. She spent six months at Edinburgh Napier University—financed in part by a study abroad scholarship from Associated Students-—taking classes in tourism and hospitality management and finding time to visit 10 countries and 34 cities.

For a senior year internship, Mazal worked at an event-production company in Florida, Galaxy Productions. She developed a new procedures manual to boost employee productivity. In a previous internship at the Bahia Resort Hotel in San Diego, Mazal had rotating duties on Fridays that included working at the front desk, in the accounting department, and in the kitchen as sous-chef de cuisine.

Sean Taylor, B.A. Communication with a second major in Sociology and minor in Leadership Development

Sean Taylor
Sean Taylor
A summer 2017 study abroad experience through the School of Communication helped to shape Taylor’s interest in a career abroad. He spent four weeks in Europe, visiting Switzerland, Germany, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

“While there were many lessons I learned on the trip,” said Taylor, “the most important to me was that there is so much we can learn from other cultures.”

In the fall, Taylor will continue his education at UCLA in the public policy graduate program. He hopes to work on economic development, possibly through an international government organization or non-profit. This, Taylor said, draws from both of his programs of study: sociology, which “put a name to many of the sociological problems that we see in our society today,” and communication, which spotlighted the importance of understanding the role language plays in solving these problems.

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COLLEGE OF SCIENCES

Elena Arroyo
, B.S. Physics

Elena Arroyo
Elena Arroyo
Arroyo will continue her education as a Ph.D. student in biological physics, structure and design at the University of Washington Seattle. She leveraged her SDSU experience in Arlette Baljon’s physics lab to earn a spot in two competitive summer research programs—a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded program in 2016 at the University of Texas Rio Grande and a biophysics internship in 2017 at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Arroyo founded the SDSU chapter of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and became the organization’s representative on the College of Sciences’ Student Council. She has presented to the Society of Physics Students encouraging others to seek out research and leadership opportunities.

Among her many awards are an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program award, the Sally Casanova pre-doctoral scholarship, and the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) program and Skolil Fund physics scholarships.

Madison Kennedy, B.S. Chemistry, emphasis in biochemistry, minor in Anthropology

Madison Kennedy
Madison Kennedy
Kennedy capped off her education by earning a 2018 President’s Award, the highest recognition of excellence for participants in SDSU’s Student Research Symposium. Her research on a protein that holds promise for targeted drug therapy was developed in the lab of SDSU biochemistry professor Christal Sohl.

While working with Sohl, Kennedy was also active in research at the Mayo Clinic, which awarded her a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship to support her work with Mayo Clinic researcher Joseph Loftus in 2017. She has received multiple scholarships and a prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Award.

In the fall, Kennedy will begin a graduate degree in biological physics, structure, and design at the University of Washington Seattle, where she’ll study enzyme mechanisms and structures. She plans to become involved in community outreach programs that promote scientific literacy and achievement, especially among young women.  

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VETERANS

Cassandra Crumley
, B.S. Public Health

Cassandra Crumley
Cassandra Crumley
Toward the end of her two years at SDSU, Crumley was handling a full course load and a full-time job at the VA San Diego Healthcare System. It was tough, but Crumley didn’t just survive the heavy schedule, she excelled, making the college dean’s list every semester. In an internship and, later, a full-time job at the Veterans Medical Research Foundation, she assisted with work in the Million Veteran Program, a study collecting genetic information from veteran volunteers to learn how genes affect conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse and health.

Crumley was a hospital corpsman for the U.S. Navy and worked at Naval Medical Center San Diego for two years, first with wounded warriors in the medical-surgical inpatient ward, then in the pediatric outpatient clinic. She also served at Camp Pendleton and received an honorable discharge in 2013.

A transfer student from San Diego Mesa College, Crumley will continue her education after graduation to prepare for applications to a master’s level Physician Assistant program.

William Sulowski, B.S. Finance

William Sulowski
William Sulowski
Sulowski served as an infantryman in the U.S. Army for three years, including an eight-month deployment to Afghanistan, before receiving a full scholarship from the Army to attend SDSU. During four years in the Army ROTC Aztec Battalion, Sulowski served as public affairs officer and operations officer.

The ROTC Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency program selected him for a summer training program in Sibiu, Romania, and he also studied abroad in Rome. During a summer internship at Booz Allen Hamilton in San Diego, Sulowski was part of a prize-winning team that developed a new application for an existing technology.   

Sulowski made the Fowler College of Business dean’s list six times and credits his parents for a drive “to always be the best at anything I attempt.” At his May 18 commissioning ceremony as a second lieutenant, Sulowski will be designated a Distinguished Military Graduate, a distinction awarded to the top 20 percent of Army ROTC seniors across the nation.

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IMPERIAL VALLEY CAMPUS

Mark Anthony Carlos
, B.S. Nursing

Mark Anthony Carlos
Mark Anthony Carlos

Carlos didn't wait for graduation to make his mark on the healthcare field. As a student, he created and coordinated a campus health fair, collaborating with community health care agencies and vendors to provide services for students. He also worked as a registered nurse in the medical-surgical department of Pioneers Memorial Hospital in Brawley, where he led a project to increase patient mobility, and helped lead an effort to provide a mobility and fall-prevention program for seniors.

Outside the professional arena, Carlos was elected to Associated Students and involved in a half-dozen committees organizing cultural arts, sports and commencement.

As part of his studies in Mexicali, Baja California, Carlos participated in an assessment of healthcare delivery systems and presented the findings at an international nursing conference. He will begin a Master of Science graduate program at the University of California, San Francisco in preparation for a career as an adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner.

Fernanda Figueroa, B.S. Psychology

Fernanda Figueroa
Fernanda Figueroa
Figueroa worked with the community-based Cancer Resource Center of the Desert to study how cultural beliefs influence the treatment choices of Imperial Valley patients living with cancer. She was interested to find that while residents of the area do endorse modern biomedical treatments such as surgery or chemotherapy, they tend to prefer natural treatments, including natural/herbal remedies and dietary or lifestyle changes.

Figueroa has presented aspects of the research at two SDSU Student Research Symposia – where she won a dean’s award and provost award. She also presented at two Western Psychological Association conventions, and the 2017 SACNAS Conference, which promotes Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in science.

A president, vice president and senator for Associated Students, Figueroa has been accepted into the University of San Diego’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling master’s degree program; she would like to help improve access to treatment among minority populations.

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