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2017’s Outstanding Graduates

Published: May 22, 2017

Outstanding graduates for 2017 are (l-r) Lukas A. Fuentes, Rodolfo Amezcua, Daniel R. Chacon, President Jane Close Conoley, Kali Hardwick, Todd J. Wallenius and Author Yao. Not pictured is Tiphaine S. Lefevre.
Outstanding graduates for 2017 are (l-r) Lukas A. Fuentes, Rodolfo Amezcua, Daniel R. Chacon, President Jane Close Conoley, Kali Hardwick, Todd J. Wallenius and Author Yao. Not pictured is Tiphaine S. Lefevre.

Selected by the respective deans of each of the university’s seven academic colleges, those chosen as Outstanding Graduates have demonstrated excellence, involvement and dedicated service both academically and socially on campus and in the community.

Kali Hardwick

  • 2017, Bachelor of Music, Vocal Performance, CSULB

Jonathan Talberg, the Director of Choral, Vocal and Opera Studies at the Bob Cole Conservatory, said about vocal performance major Kali Hardwick: “She is, without a doubt, the finest undergraduate soprano to finish at CSULB in my 17 years as a faculty member.” Hardwick’s major has given her more opportunities at The Beach than she could have ever imagined when she chose to attend. With the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, she has secured three lead roles in various operas and two soloist positions for orchestra performances. In addition, she was part of the choir that attended and won the Choir of the World Competition at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in Wales. Hardwick has also used her vocal talent as a tool for activism, performing at several charity and benefit events. Outside of school, she has performed twice as the soprano soloist with the Los Cancioneros Master Chorale and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Hardwick works as the soprano soloist and section leader at Lakewood Village Community Church. Next year, she will attend the Royal Academy of Music in London for their graduate program in Vocal Studies with Opera Emphasis. Afterwards, she hopes to join the school’s competitive opera company and ultimately tour Europe as a professional opera singer.

Todd J. Wallenius

  • 2017, Master of Arts, Education, Curriculum, and Instruction, CSULB
  • 2010, Bachelor of Arts, History, Whitney College

Todd Wallenius came to CSULB with a wealth of diverse experiences: cultural immersion and Spanish acquisition in Latin America, time as a professional soccer player, and positions including history teacher and athletic coach. Admitted to CSULB in Fall 2015 to pursue his M.A. in Education, Curriculum and Instruction, it is not surprising that he quickly made an impact on faculty, students and the campus. With his position at Disabled Student Services, Wallenius constantly interacts with the Beach community by providing confidential and individual counseling to those with learning disabilities. In addition, he worked as a research assistant with the Global Studies Institute to expand and assess international education. Recently, for his outstanding achievements, Wallenius was awarded the Patricia A. Farber Future Teacher Merit Scholarship. He also holds membership in the international honors society Pi Lambda Theta. Alongside his thesis chair, teacher education’s Xin Li, Wallenius is working on research titled “Challenging Gender Roles through STEM in Nepal.” Following graduation, he hopes to continue his education with the ultimate goal of becoming a professor or academic researcher.

Daniel R. Chacon

  • 2017, Bachelor of Science, Accountancy and Finance, CSULB

Studying accountancy and finance, Daniel Chacon has fully embraced his majors both inside and outside of the classroom. In addition to operating his own swimming pool service route, Chacon has secured internships with four public accounting firms and held active membership in the business honor fraternity Beta Gamma Sigma. Born in Long Beach, Chacon also makes time to impact the community he feels has given him so many opportunities. In his role as a President’s Ambassador, a representative of the CSULB University President on and off of the campus, he has assisted local charitable organizations such as the Long Beach Rescue Mission, Ronald McDonald House and Relay for Life. As a part of the University Honors Program, Chacon is working with accountancy professor John Lacey on his senior thesis exploring possible changes by the Securities and Exchange Commission to the required background of officers of public companies. Following graduation, Chacon will begin working at Deloitte, an industry-leading multinational, where he accepted the position of audit staff assistant in Costa Mesa.

Author Yao

  • 2017, Bachelor of Science, Health Care Administration, CSULB

Author Yao characterizes his college experience as a journey of remarkable transformation, where on his path to his degree, he evolved into the likeness of someone he once only imagined becoming. Empowered by the support and opportunities he found at The Beach, Author built a repertoire that was not limited to academia, but also expanded to incorporate student advocacy, mentorship, leadership, and

extensive research and professional experience. In the 2016-17 academic year, Author served in the President’s Cabinet of Associated Students as the Secretary of Academic Affairs, where he advocated for student interests, trained student leaders, and involved himself in a wide array of academic and university affairs. In his capacity as a Biomedical Research Scholar in the National Institutes of Health’s Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Fellowship, Author also engaged in transdisciplinary research with multiple faculty and peers, some of which included health data science, biomedical informatics, public health, nursing and healthcare policy research. As a firm believer in sharing knowledge, Author has served as a teaching assistant for five courses and presented multiple award-winning scientific research poster publications at a variety of local, regional and national conferences.

Rodolfo Amezcua

  • 2017, Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering, CSULB

Undergraduate mechanical engineering major Rodolfo Amezcua has already accomplished more than many graduate students. He spent the last two summers at Brown University and Purdue University where he examined neuron image segmentation and strain mapping, as well as worked on modeling substrate-cytoskeletal dynamics in cellular durotaxis. Additionally, Amezcua has contributed to the esteemed scholarly journal Nanomaterials, and received five travel grants to present his innovative research and investigate potential grad schools. In fact, he has already been accepted for fully funded Ph.D. programs at UC Berkeley, USC and UC Santa Barbara. On campus, Amezcua holds membership with the Tau Beta Phi Engineering Honor Society and is a part of the CSULB College of Engineering’s Honors Program. For his outstanding academic record and accomplishments, he is a three-time recipient of the Boeing Engineering Award. During his free time, he offers his skills as a math tutor to local high school students, encouraging them to reach their goals and to pursue paths in engineering. In the near future, Amezcua hopes to obtain a doctoral degree and secure a position in either academia or the engineering industry.

Tiphaine S. Lefevre

  • 2017, Bachelor of Arts, International Studies, CSULB

Tiphaine Lefevre has made the most of her International Studies (IST) degree in both the Long Beach community and across the globe. Moving to the United States from France at the age of 10, Lefevre is fluent in both English and French. She decided to expand her linguistic capacities by pursuing Spanish acquisition by spending a summer in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She now serves as a volunteer for the study abroad office where she shares her experiences and assists others in realizing their dreams of a global education. Academically, Lefevre received the Global Studies Institute Timaji Global Concepts scholarship that she used to research international adoption of children with dwarfism. Her impression on the IST department has allowed her to take on a professor’s assistantship position for a course titled “Social Conflicts.” Alongside this position, she provides support to those in immigration detention with an internship at Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement. Lefevre similarly volunteers with Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development offering guidance to potential permanent residents. Before moving on to grad school to study public administration, she hopes to work as a program assistant for a social-justice fueled non-profit.

Lukas A. Fuentes

  • 2017, Bachelor of Science, Biochemistry, CSULB

Studying a protein that plays a critical role in heart disease under the leadership of chemistry/biochemistry associate professor Paul Weers, Lukas Fuentes often spends more than 20 hours a week on intensive research. Recently, he was honored for his poster presentation at the annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Tampa, Fla. He has also been recognized with an award from the Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health and the Beckman Foundation for his research accomplishments. Fuentes has already received letters of admission from a multitude of prestigious universities, such as Yale, the University of Washington and Johns Hopkins to pursue doctoral programs in biochemistry and biophysics. Ultimately, he hopes to receive his Ph.D. and work as a university researcher and faculty member. On top of his rigorous academics, Fuentes is one of the founders of the now award-winning Water Polo Club at CSULB. He also spent time involved as a mentor for freshmen in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics as they made the transition from high school to the university. Fuentes represents the third generation of his family to attend The Beach and hopes his little sister will follow in his footsteps.