Skip to content

  • Print
Campus Life

Leadership and mentoring celebrated at annual Faith Davies awards luncheon

May 28, 2019

The annual Faith Davies All-University Leadership Awards Ceremony is a beloved Commencement-week tradition, which takes time to recognize members of the Pacific community and student organizations who have made significant contributions to the university and the quality of the student experience through their leadership, mentoring and philanthropy.

Five students, one staff member and three student organizations were recognized at this year's awards ceremony and luncheon held on Friday, May 10. As each award was announced, those gathered learned about Pacific's outstanding students and student organizations whose inspiring leadership and philanthropy have had a significant impact on their fellow students, on the university and in the surrounding community. And of the staff mentors whose commitment to student success has made a lasting impact in the lives of Pacific students.

Elizabeth Griego Outstanding Student Leader Award

The Elizabeth Griego Outstanding Student Leader Award recognizes a graduating senior who has made significant and sustainable contributions to the student experience at Pacific.

Daniella Mia Arostigui Cabrera '19 completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in the College of the Pacific with a 3.92 GPA and was the president of the Community Involvement Program (CIP) Student Association and was a member of the Art Club and the Singing Hands outreach. Among her many activities, Cabrera created and facilitated the CIP YOUnited, a personal, academic and career development program for local high school youth and developed a mentorship program at Stockton's TLC school for homeless youth. She developed 16 art exhibitions at the DeRosa University Center and Reynolds Gallery and was one of six artists selected to participate in the "Shifting Gears: The Making of an Art Car" project. She also presented and artist's talk, "Humans Against Hate."

Jesse Marks Co-curricular Award

The Jesse Marks Co-curricular Award recognizes a graduating senior who has made significant and outstanding contributions to the university through involvement in organizations and activities outside the classroom that have positively impacted the campus community in significant, meaningful ways.

Maria Rios '19 is a business administration major with a concentration in human resources management, a Community Involvement Program scholar and a founding member of the Pacific Society of Women in Business. Rios, a champion and advocate of mental health awareness, co-founded Active Minds, a student organization that works to fight the stigma surrounding seeking help regarding mental health and suicide on college campuses. The group launched a series of events and discussions throughout the year to raise mental health awareness, with great success. She also led an effort to create outreach programs with St. Mary's High School to encourage high school students to begin thinking about their mental health. She served on the external affairs committee for the Stockton Women's March and designed the official Tshirt and logo for the event. She also served as a key part of the team that changed Pacific policy to include the National Suicide Prevention hotline on the back of all Pacific ID cards starting in June 2019.

Dochterman Outstanding Junior Scholarship Award

The Dochterman Outstanding Junior Scholarships recognize two students with junior standing who have made significant contributions to the university, exhibit high academic standing, serve as positive role models for others outside the classroom and who work to influence positive change in the university community. Recipients of this year's award were Christian Cardona '19 (left) and Tristan Kittinger '19 (right).

Christian Cardona '19 is a business administration major with a concentration in management and human resources in the Eberhardt School of Business. Her many leadership activities include serving as a Pacific Ambassador, a tiger Team member and as a SUCCESS Trio peer mentor and tutor. She is active in the League of United Latin American Citizens and two national profesional organizations in business administration. She was also inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi national honor society. Cardona is a leader and mentor within the Eberhardt School of Business and a student representative on several campus committees. She volunteers as a local volleyball coach, at St. Mary's Dining Interfaith Dining Hall, and is active in her church community. She also helped the founder of the Red Rhino project organize events to raise funds for an orphanage in Kenya, East Africa.

Tristan Kittinger '19 is a health and exercise science major in the College of the Pacific and is editor-in-chief of Caduceus, the journal of the Health, Exercise and Sport Sciences department. He is also the president of WEFit, a student organization that provides wellness education and fitness training on the campus and in the Stockton community. His leadership resulted in a significant growth in membership for WEFit, allowing the group to expand educational programs being offered on campus, at St. Joseph's Medical Center and a local elementary school. Kittinger also serves as a resident assistant for residential life and housing, providing mentorship and support to second-year students. He is the co-founder and president of Lazer Pro Baseball, an organization dedicated in part to initiatives on behalf of those with Alzheimer's Disease.

Karen DeRosa Outstanding Graduate Student Leader Award

Judy Phuong Thi Huynh

This award recognizes a graduate student who has completed a Master of Arts in Educational Administration with a specialization in Student Affairs who demonstrate leadership in the classroom and makes a significant contribution to the field of student affairs and to the co-curricular student experience at Pacific.

Judy Phuong Thi Huynh '18, an education major with a specialization in Student Affairs and Organizational Leadership in the Gladys L. Benerd School of Education, was the recipient of this award. She served as a graduate assistant in the School of Education and as a mentor to the first- and second-year cohorts in the Student Affairs specialization. She co-facilitated student development workshops and trainings, including the Southeast Asian American Dialogue Series with Intercultural Student Success. She conducted a valuable assessment that identified key areas that informed the Pacific Academic Workshop Series and was an intern for the San Joaquin Delta College Empowering Positive Initiatives for Change (EPIC) Learning Community, serving first-generation Asian and Pacific Islander students.

Anderson Y Community Service Award

WeFit Club

The Anderson Y Community Service Award recognizes an outstanding registered student organization engaged in Pacific and the surrounding local community.

The WEFit Club was the recipient of this award. WEFit provides scientifically sound wellness, fitness and health education to members of the Pacific campus and greater Stockton community. They provide wellness and fitness education to health-challenged populations such as children with diabetes and patients diagnosed with cancer. They also collaborate with St. Joseph's Medical Center to offer a SmartMoves program that provides physical activity and healthy food demonstrations to underprivileged children and their parents toward reducing childhood obesity, as well as seminars to the St. Joseph's community and staff,  demonstrating home exercise and healthy recipes. They also collaborate with the Charles Fremont Elementary School to offer health and fitness education in an after-school program setting.

Pacific Tiger Award

Newman Catholic Community

This award is presented by the Pacific Alumni Association to recognize a registered student organization that exhibits extraordinary school spirit, encourages student participation in activities and events, promotes school spirit, and/or provides students with knowledge of Pacific's heritage, traditions and history.

The Newman Catholic Community, active in the Pacific community for nearly 50 years, was the recipient of this award. The club hosts Ash Wednesday services and weekly mass led by student ministers. They collaborate with the Black History Month Committee to co-sponsor and host "Soul Food: Faith Food and Fellowship," which occurs weekly during Black History Month; with MEChA to host Dia de Los Muertos, which celebrates the Meso-American tradition; and with the Muslim Student Organization to host "Friendsgiving," a Thanksgiving dinner for students who aren't able to go home for Thanksgiving. They organize fellowship events on the first Friday of the month to encourage inclusivity and host six dinners throughout the Lenten season to highlight humanitarian efforts of Catholic Relief Services in the world. Each fall, they gather new and returning students for a Welcome Back Barbeque, providing them an opportunity to make connections during their first week at Pacific.

Student Organization of the Year Award

Kilusan Pilipino

The Student Organization of the Year Award recognizes a registered student organization that has made a lasting impact on the Pacific community, is recognized for providing quality experiences to its members and the campus community, and collaborates with other clubs and organizations to involve the campus community in positive programs.

Kilusan Pilipino, which strives to spread Pilipinx culture and awareness to the community, was the recipient of this award. One of the largest student organizations at Pacific, Kilusan Pilipino has set the standard for new member recruitment and participation. They provide free dance workshops throughout the academic year that are open to the community and promote cultural awareness in a way that is accesible to all members of the Pacific community. The club raised $1,000 for the Little Manila Foundation in Stockton after it was vandalized in fall 2017 and hosted a high school picnic on campus for more than 200 local high school students. They also provide community service programming for elderly residents of Filipino Plaza in downtown Stockton.

The Podesto Award for Excellence in Student Life, Mentoring and Counseling

The climax of the event came with the announcement of the recipients of the Podesto Award, which recognizes staff or faculty members who have have had a significant impact in advising and mentoring students. Colleen Smith, director of the Pride Center and assistant director of of Intercultural Student Success in Student Life, Courtney Jensen, assistant professor of Health, Exercise and Sport Sciences in the College of the Pacific, and Daniel Bender, assistant dean for academic affairs in the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, were the recipients of the 2018 Podesto Award.

Colleen Smith and Patrick DayColleen Smith has supported Pacific students in a number of roles, including program support specialist for Intercultural Student Success, and now as the assistant director of the Pride Resource Center, as well as the adviser for numerous student clubs and organizations. She has spent countless hours in support of students, helping them to navigate the complexities of college life and young adulthood. Nominees cite her availability to help them through difficult situations, and her support and encouragement in helping students develop their leadership skills when they express a desire to make a difference. While serving as an advocate for all students, she has been a critical champion of transgender students, and has been an important resource for faculty and staff in working with and serving LGBTQ+ students.

Daniel Bender and Patrick Day

Daniel Bender has been supporting students at the dental school for 24 years. Whether he is counseling an at-risk student, challenging one to achieve more, or mentoring aspiring professionals, Bender has had an impact on the lives of thousands of students. As assistant dean for academic affairs, he embraces humanistic teaching and learning, placing responsibility on the students for their own learning and personal and professional development, while providing unwavering support and resources. He holds the students' perspective in high regard, making sure they are included in focus groups, working committees and task forces. Nominees say he is always there to provide guidance and counsel to students experiencing academic or personal challenges and ensure they receive the appropriate support to help them thrive. He also ensures that high-performing students are  encouraged and challenged, sending them notes of praise and encouragement and helping them create personalized enrichment opportunities to challenge and develop their skills. Colleagues depend on his mentorship and knowledge of students and say his leadership significantly contributes to the school's culture of respect, professionalism and community.

Courtney Jensen and Patrick Day

Courtney Jensen is known by students in the Health, Exercise and Sport Sciences program as an instructor who makes complex scientific material accessible to all students. He encourages his students to support and learn from one another and helped them form advising and study groups. As an adviser to nearly 80 students in the department, advisees cited the care and concern he takes to create individualized plans of success that highlight their strengths and capabilities as individuals, while ensuring their emotional well-being. He is instrumental in his students' decision to pursue advanced degrees and is a champion for undergraduate and graduate student research. In 2018 alone, he coauthored 32 abstracts with 36 students that were accepted for presentation at national conferences. Nominees cite he inspires to contribute positively to society, helps them find their passions, motivates them during their lowest moments, and encourages them to be the best student and person they can be.

Congratulations to all the faculty, staff and student award recipients upon receiving this well-deserved recognition.

Join University of the Pacific on: Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn Youtube