CSUB honors an outstanding undergrad and an exemplary grad student


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Everyone in a cap and gown gets to be a star on graduation day, but Thursday at CSUB, two students’ stars shone just a little bit brighter. Why? Because their achievements surpassed even that 4.0 standard of excellence.

One, Emily Oliver, a Frazier Park native who came to CSUB by way of Taft College, follows in the footsteps of a growing number of female scholars — she’s a mathematician. 

Oliver plans to go into defense work through Navair,   a Naval Weapons Facility at China Lake that develops software for planes and missiles. 

CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny presented her with the President’s Outstanding Undergraduate Student award.

“Math is for everybody,” Oliver said after the brief ceremony just outside the president’s office. “It doesn’t matter what you are, who you are. Math is a very important thing.  And it starts young, so if you have a teacher that discourages you or someone that tells you no, you look at them and go, Well, you said no — watch me do it.”

Zelezny honored a top grad student, too — Vanessa Chicaiza, who received her master’s degree in Public Administration.

Chicaiza, an Orange County native who attended Fullerton College, said she would probably go into academia.

“I’ll start applying for jobs, I think, is the next step,” she said. “Take it slow and really find something I’m passionate about. I’m currently looking to stay in higher education or governmental affairs. So, we’ll see what happens.”

But as CSUB’s outgoing student body president, might she also consider politics?

“Perhaps,” she said, laughing. “Perhaps.”

The two honorees had a couple of things in common besides their university and their gender. They’re both community college transfers — a type of student Zelezny said she’s proud to serve.

“Our transfer students have great success getting to the finish line on time,” she said. “And as you can see, we also are very very focused on making sure that they are engaged in co-curricular activities, service, leadership, research, as well as being great students.”

We might want to look out for those two. Their academic careers might be complete, or at least on pause — but their ambitions are big, and we might be hearing from them again.


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