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Green & Gold Gala centered on students

April 3, 2017 by Sam Churich

Sacramento State's Green & Gold Gala, the University's signature black-tie fundraising event, raised more than $373,000 on Friday, March 24. An 11-minute paddle auction for student scholarships and programs, namely the Green and Gold Scholarship and Student Emergency Grant Fund, netted $162,000. An additional $211,000 was secured through sponsorships.

"Sac State is all about the students," President Robert S. Nelsen told the audience. "The scholarship funds we raise tonight will make a tremendous difference in their lives."

The Green and Gold Scholarship was created to assist undergraduate students of any major who have demonstrated enthusiasm and determination to obtain a degree despite personal, financial, or other hardships.

The Student Emergency Grant Fund assists students who experience a financial emergency that could jeopardize their studies at Sacramento State, such as a significant loss due to fire or natural disaster, sudden unemployment, unexpected eviction, or homelessness.

The gala program featured students who have benefited from philanthropic support:

  • Yanni Bullock, a biology major who is a member of the McNair Scholars Program
  • Olga Dubenchuk, a social sciences major who is a Green and Gold Scholarship recipient
  • Margarita Kovalchuk, a civil engineering major who is a President's Ambassador
  • Abraham Mendoza, a social work major and Associated Students Inc. vice president of Academic Affairs. He is a Student Emergency Grant Fund recipient. 
  • Paha Xiong, a psychology major who is a Full Circle Project student

"What I like most about Sac State's Green & Gold Gala is that it supports our students. The University cares about its students and their performance, and provides the help they need," said The University Foundation at Sacramento State board member Sonney Chong, DMD.

The event's theme, Reflections of Gratitude, was inspired by the artwork of alumnus and world-renowned artist Gregory Kondos '51, MA '57 (Art), who received a standing ovation. 

Sponsors of the 2017 Green & Gold Gala included:

  • University Enterprises Inc. at the Redefine the Possible Level
  • Chevron, Speeding Edge and Western Health Advantage at the Gold Level
  • Capital Public Radio, Clark Pacific, Comstock's magazine, Crowe Horwath LLP, Placer Ranch Inc., Sacramento State Administration and Business Affairs, SMUD, and The Sacramento Bee at the Bronze Level

For a complete list of sponsors, visit

Visit for photos and more information.


Alumnus named one of California's CIOs of the Year

March 15, 2017 by Vincent Martinez

George Akiyama '89 (Accountancy) is the California Public Sector CIO Academy's 2017 Government Technology CIO of the Year.

Akiyama received his honor for his ongoing efforts to the state's information technology initiatives as the California Department of Transportation's (Caltrans) chief information officer. 

In 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Akiyama as Caltrans' CIO to oversee all information technology functions including developing policies and the department's overall strategic direction for IT. 

Since then, Akiyama furthered Caltrans' business partnerships and implemented a CIO communication program that ensures consistent communication on all levels of information technology.

The California Public Sector CIO Academy is a statewide leadership event for top technology executives who seek to improve their management and business skills and develop the IT leaders of the future. 

Photo courtesy of the CA CIO Academy's SmugMug page.

Alumni lead students to victory in national competition

March 14, 2017 by Vincent Martinez

Sac State's construction management program earned national recognition at the Associated Schools of Construction's student competition last month in Sparks, Nev.

The concrete solutions team made its seventh consecutive podium appearance placing first among 12 other universities across the nation. The electrical, heavy civil and mixed use teams also placed second in their divisions while the design build team finished third. 

Each team is coached by a member of the construction management faculty as well as local building-industry volunteers who have earned degrees at Sac State. 

Alumni coaches include Mike Seegert '08 (Construction Management), Brad Dent '10 (Construction Management) and Bill Naramore '07 (Construction Management).

Construction management professor Tony Tipton finds great value in the alumni who serve as volunteer coaches. 

"Due to continuity among the coaching staff, we have put together a study program that is second to none," Tipton said in an interview with Sac State's Dixie Reid. "The atmosphere allows students to form real, lasting bonds with one another so that they give their best not just for themselves but for the team."


72-year-old alumnus proves it's never too late for an education

February 27, 2017 by Vincent Martinez

Rodolfo "Rudy" Castillo '16 (Child Development) is the University Professional and Continuing Education Association's (UPCEA) 2017 Outstanding Continuing Education Student. 

According to President Robert S. Nelsen, Castillo's tenacity and perseverance to pursue his dreams of higher education despite life's hardships is what makes him worthy of the award.

After 28 years of service in the U.S. Navy, Castillo got a job as a custodian at a school district in San Diego where he became inspired to become a preschool teacher. It was then he earned his associate's degree to acheive his next endeavor.

However, due to new Head Start program policies that required teachers to have a bachelor's degree, Castillo enrolled in a long-distance degree program through Sac State. He finished his bachelor's degree in three years while living and working in San Diego, despite the difficulty of pursuing a college education later in life and the language barrier as a non-native English speaker. 

The UPCEA previously recognized Castillo as the 2016 Outstanding Nontraditional Student at its West Regional Conference. He will receive this year's national honor at UPCEA's Annual Conference in Chicago next month. 

Read more about Castillo's journey. Photo courtesy of Jessica Vernone/Sacramento State.

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