2019 Top Dog Alumni Awards

– [Announcer] Welcome to
The Top Dog Alumni Awards, a proud Fresno State tradition. Since 1953, this prestigious award has been presented to our
most accomplished alumni. Over the years, we have
celebrated bright minds, ambitious spirits, and bold actions that have made a significant impact in communities across the nation, the globe, and in our Valley. From astronauts and politicians, award winning actors and poets, NFL athletes and US Olympians to entrepreneurs and innovators, Fresno State has helped support
and grow incredible alumni. Tonight, we celebrate this
year’s remarkable alumni and friends and reflect on
their notable successes. Their accomplishments not only
inspire those here tonight but also generations of our
young leaders on the rise. We are proud to call
these individuals Top Dogs and welcome you to tonight’s celebration. (audience applauding) – Good evening. On behalf of the Fresno
State Alumni Association Board of Directors, welcome to the 2019 Top Dog Awards. I’m pretty jazzed, I have to admit. We are here tonight,
(audience applauding) that’s right that’s good okay. We are here tonight to celebrate an exceptional group of alumni who inspire us and represent
the very best of Fresno State. The mission of the
Fresno State Alumni Board is to inspire, engage,
and celebrate alumni to support student success. And this evening, pretty much
does all that at one time. For more than 100 years, alumni
have volunteered their time not me personally for 100 years, they’ve volunteered their time and resources to enhance
the student experience and engage alumni with their Alma Mater. I would like, if we
could just take a second to ask the Fresno State Alumni Board and any past presidents that we have here to just stand up and be recognized. (audience applauding) It’s a great team and some
great leaders in the past. Thank you for your exemplary service and outreach to our community. I would also like to thank
all of you for joining us as we celebrate this
year’s Top Dog honorees. It’s hard to believe, but we began this annual
celebration back in 1953, which also happens to be
the year that I was born into a family with a Fresno
State professor as a father and a mother who received
her Masters degree here. And I know many of you are second, third and maybe even fourth generation alumni and are part of the long legacy and tradition of our university. To date, more than 345 alumni and friends of Fresno State
have crossed this stage and been recognized
for their contributions to our alma mater, to our
community, to our state, our nation, and many to the world. And this year, the 66th
year of this celebration, we are excited to add 13 more alumni to this great list of recipients. I would like to take a moment and ask all past Top Dog recipients who are here to stand and be recognized. So if you are a past Dog,
would you please just stand up and let us recognize you?
(audience applauding) That’s great. Thank you for all that
you do for our community and for everything beyond that. Tonight you will hear
the inspirational stories of a diverse group of individuals, small business owners and philanthropists, engineers and educators, law
enforcement, social workers, all are individuals committed to bringing about
positive change in society. They are in fact, all change-makers. I should note that a Top
Dog award is not something that can be earned. This is an award that says
your peers, family, friends and Fresno State all believe
that you have gone above and beyond, and that
the impact you have made on this Earth has changed
lives for the better. It is an award that says
you represent the very best of this University and our
community has to offer. My congratulations to the 66th Annual Top Dog Alumni honorees you make all Fresno State alumni and friends proud to be Bulldogs for life! Let’s give them a round of applause (audience applauding) Now, please join me in welcoming the President of Fresno
State, and my friend, Dr. Joseph I. Castro. (audience applauding) – Good evening everybody! – [Audience] Good evening. – I wanna thank you, Kurt, for your exemplary leadership of our Fresno State Alumni
Association Board of Directors. We have brought tonight
together a remarkable audience, and Mary and I are pleased
that you’re all here to welcome all of our Top Dog recipients for the 2019 Top Dog Alumni Awards Gala. Tonight, we celebrate excellence. Excellence that’s been demonstrated by our distinguished alumni and friends, including our Top Dog
recipients past and present and all of you here in the room tonight who proudly champion our University. And that excellence is
being demonstrated here at Fresno State every single day by our talented students,
faculty, staff and administration. In this beautifully decorated space, and several of you have said, “I’ve never seen Save Mart
Center look so beautiful.” We have the current generation of leaders sitting alongside our talented students, the next generation of leaders. And as you know from your
personal experiences, there are no shortcuts to excellence. And Fresno State is really
a great example of this. From our humble beginning in 1911, through the hard work and
persistence of so many of you and the generations who came before us, Fresno State has now been ranked among the top 25
universities in the country for four consecutive years.
(audience applauding) This year, Fresno State was again the only California
State University campus and I like to remind
Chancellor White of that, and we were selected alongside
six Ivy League institutions, six University of California campuses, MIT and top-ranked Stanford University. And as our valued alumni, I hope that you share
our pride in Fresno State being recognized as a
leading public university in the nation for expanding
educational opportunity for our diverse students
and for conducting research that benefits all of us. (audience applauding)
Thank you. Just as importantly though, these rankings place a
premium on public service, which as you know transforms
the Valley that we call home, where more than 80% of our
alumni choose to live, work and lead as they strengthen the social and economic fabric of
our local communities. So we actually have much
to celebrate tonight with the very positive national attention focused on our increased
academic distinction. Now, more than ever,
it’s a time to be bold as one Bulldog family
in our continued efforts to provide a quality
and affordable education for talented students who represent the rich diversity of our Central Valley and beyond. And your continued support
will be vitally important as we sustain and strengthen
our student success efforts. The Valley’s future is filled with almost unlimited potential. Our region has one of the youngest and most diverse
populations in the nation. At the same time, the Valley, which is the worldwide
hub for agriculture, is not yet growing enough
graduates with bachelor’s degrees, especially in the fields
of science, and technology, engineering, agriculture and math. A recent study indicates that while the Valley has 11%
of California’s population, we only have about 6% of
the state’s population with bachelor’s degrees. So we have more work to do. And as all of our Top Dogs know very well, the road to success is
neither smooth nor straight. Several overcame personal
challenges and roadblocks as they navigated through
their professional careers. Yet all of them exemplify what is possible with hard work, focus, a desire to learn, and support from one another. And together as one big Bulldog family, our continued focus on excellence and pride in fostering future Top Dogs will help to elevate our Valley, our state to new heights of success. So I wanna thank you, again for attending tonight. And congratulations to each
of our newest Top Dogs! Go Dogs! (audience applauding) And now, I have the distinct opportunity to introduce one of our
most talented young leaders at Fresno State here in
the Valley, California, and beyond, our enthusiastic president of the Associated Students, please welcome Omar Hernandez. (audience applauding) – Good evening. My name is Omar Hernandez and I am the president of the student body otherwise known as the ASI. I would like to begin by
saying how honored I am to be a part of this event alongside some of our
most distinguished alumni and esteemed guests of the community. As you may already know,
the community of Fresno and Fresno State are forever intertwined and depend on the support of each other. Without the support of the community, Fresno State cannot provide
a plethora of amenities and extracurricular opportunities that have provided thousands of students a sense of pride and belonging, as well as the opportunities necessary to ensure their future success. On the flip side, without Fresno State, the Fresno community would
experience a shortage in the amount of extraordinary people who make community revitalization,
economic stability, and civic engagement a possibility. As the student body president, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with the
Presidents of CSU system. And during my time of
getting to know them, I have realized and can
proudly tell my constituents that we have something
special here in Fresno State. The access to amenities,
the shared governance, and who can forget the
Fresno State ice cream. (audience laughing) We are the Pride of the Valley because we as an institution
reciprocate our pride for this valley. We are the Pride of the Valley because we empower students to be leaders in not only our community, but also the entire United States, because we provide the
experience necessary for our students to
work these fertile lands in a way that keeps California on the map, because we represent the AAAs. Now for those of you that
do not know the AAAs, here AAA stands for the
great Academics, Athletics, and Affordability of Fresno State. Everyone in this room represents growth for this university over time, which is why I would like to thank you for contributing to
the success of students who will in turn be our
future alumni and Top Dogs. Thank you for paving the way for generations of students to come. After all, today’s students
are tomorrow’s alumni. We are bold, we are Fresno State, and we are Bulldog proud, thank you. (audience applauding) – Thank you Omar, thank you Dr. Castro for those compelling thoughts
and encouraging words tonight. As we share these stores tonight, one thing becomes really clear, Fresno State has a deep history of alumni who have dedicated their energy and their hearts to
serving their alma mater, to serving their community, and really to serving society at large. The personal journeys of
these Top Dogs were shaped by their education and their experiences right here at Fresno State. As the University begins its 109th year, this event reminds us that many of our leaders of
tomorrow come from right here on this campus. So right now we’d like to take a moment, direct your attention to the screens, and we’re gonna get to know
some of this year’s recipients. (upbeat music) – I am Eimear O’Farrell. – Barry Maas.
– Ken Meme. – Helder Dominguez. – I’m Jan Kahn. – I’m Charles Sant’Agata. – I am Christopher Bencomo. – I am Jim Vagim. – Chris Pacheco – Cher Teng Bee Yang. – Timothy Kotman. – I am Antonio Petrosino. – My name is Brian Panish, and I’m a Fresno State Top Dog. – I never would have been
able to achieve my goals without the support of
my family and friends. They may not have known
exactly what I was doing because I was the first in my family to pursue a professional career, but they knew that it was important to me, and that was enough and they were always very
supportive and encouraging. – In America we are very successful, and we have a lot of luxury, and where I came from,
you will have nothing. And I think that coming to America, the reason that I one day I get a chance to get into high school and go to college, I want to go as far as I can. – In Italy when I was a
child of course at the time, about 10 years old when the
war, Second World War started, it was very very difficult
for so many other people because of the rations and so forth. And my mother of course, she was the person that would
give her shirt off the back. When I met my wife, she sort of took over
exactly my mother was doing, in helping people. – Coming from other country, actually two other continents and coming here to United States, not speaking English, I start working in odd jobs in the dairies and
ranches around the Valley. I was still the dream, the dream for me to this great country to be part of the life here in America. – I was the first in my
family to go to college, it was literally my first time here, my first day at school, and never had been here other than to go through
the admissions process. To say that it was overwhelming
would be an overstatement, it was impressive, larger than life, something that was at that point in time a little bit beyond me. – My sister took me at three years old to a radio show here in Fresno. I sang a song, and I won
the competition at three. (laughing) And so that got
me interested actually. I picked Fresno State ’cause I found out they had a
phenomenal speech department that had theater, and television, radio, you name it. And so that’s why I came to Fresno State. – I wanted to be the kind of lawyer that went to court that
represented people. I wanted to represent the
people, not the powerful. And I wanted to represent
people that had stories that had been wronged and they needed someone
to stand up for them and to be their advocate. – We were on a very very low end of the economic deal. I just looked around and decided that I just did not
want to do that anymore. And in a way, to do it
was get an education, to get a bachelor’s
degree almost in anything. I knew a couple of lawyers
as I was growing up and on the right side of the
law by the way. (laughing) I could just see that
they were really satisfied with what they did and
they made a difference. Needed to make a difference in my life and I thought that this
was the way to do it. – I guess when I was a kid, it was kinda, I just played
cops and robbers all the time and I had a ton of legos and half the city was police and the other half was bad guys and I just, I mean my entire
life I played cops and robbers and I just never stopped. – I was always interested in knowledge and it really was a given from an early age that I
would go into education. I am a very proud alumnus
of the first cohort of the doctoral program
in educational leadership here at Fresno State. For me that program epitomizes what Fresno State stands
for, excellence, commitment, and a desire to really make a difference here in the Valley. (audience applauding) – We’re of course gonna
get to know our recipients a little better throughout the evening. For now, we’re gonna let
you enjoy your dinner, but before you do, I just have a question, is there anyone, we’ve got so
many power couples out here, dressed so nicely for a big date night at the Top Dog Alumni Gala. I’m just wondering if any of these couples are celebrating an
anniversary here tonight. Why you laughing, oh you
know this couple down here? (audience applauding) Our president and first
lady of Fresno State, happy anniversary to Joe and Mary Castro. (audience applauding) I don’t know if you can top this crowd for your next anniversary,
but you can try. All right, enjoy your
dinner and we’ll be back with the rest of the program in a bit. Before we continue with the celebration, we’d like to take a minute to thank some of our
very generous sponsors of tonight’s evening. Their financial and at
times, in-kind support helps make this spectacular
evening possible. So join me in applause first for tonight’s platinum sponsors, Media Solutions Incorporated and KSEE 24. (audience applauding) Now, let’s thank our gold sponsor tonight, the Law Firm of Panish, Shea, and Boyle. (audience applauding) And finally, how about around of applause for our silver sponsors, tonight we have California
Health Sciences University, Community Medical Centers, Fresno Lexus, and the law firm of
Wild, Carter and Tipton. (audience applauding) And we know that just
like tonight’s recipients, our sponsors are dedicated to consistently making a meaningful impact here in our community. Right now we’re gonna have
a chance to get to know our recipients a little bit better, so take a look. (upbeat music) – It was great being a student here, I’d go back and do it again. I enjoyed all of the on-campus activities, the vintage days, the concerts, I enjoyed spending time
with my friends here, and also all of the
Bulldog athletic events, I attended a lot of those and it’s really fun. – There were about 15
of us in the classroom and we were all foreigners more or less, so we all spoke different languages and so we were conversing you know, and you would hear if you passed by, you would hear the
conversation being three words of one language, four of the others, and the people that passed by, students would pass by and say, “Something’s wrong with these people.” But it was something else, I’ll never forget that. – My grades were not solid, I was a very poor student and the first semester was a
very much of a wake up call. And after a couple of semesters, I had been asked to leave the university, I’d been academically disqualified, not once but twice, reality set in. And the importance of education and it was the realization that I had to buckle down to study hard and to achieve and that’s what really
propelled me through. – But I worked three, four jobs, from fast foods to deliveries to fun books deliveries, I had to come to classes, I have to study for exams, so managing my time was probably one of the
most challenging things and helped me on my
professional life going forward. When I graduated, that was a
great accomplishment for me. Nothing could stop me
to fulfill my dreams. – Favorite memory is
the space of the library that I get to study. I always try to get to
Fresno State Library before it’s opened so
I could go to the desk, my favorite desk. – Being a part of an undefeated season, there’s something really
special about that. For me, it was the discipline and the structure of Fresno State football that carried over into my life in selling and managing and operating because you pretty much
have to have discipline and you’d better have some structure. – Fresno State will give you
really good opportunities and will set you up for success. I guess if I could talk
to myself back then, I would have just told
myself just go for it, you’ll do great, I know when I first graduated, I was a little bit hesitant on stuff, but just take risks, at least for me, I felt like they really
equipped me to do a good job. – I had never really
considered necessarily medicine because no one in our family was a doctor, nobody we knew was a physician, there were no role models. When I say that Fresno State
changed my life profoundly, I really do mean that. Had I not come to Fresno State I would have never applied
to Harvard Medical School or be accepted into Harvard Medical School and it was at Harvard that I met my wife. – I felt that you had to
be a student of character, and you had to try to behave in a manner which would make you a success in life. And so that’s what I did. I’ve done it all my life. – My biggest memories
revolve around sports, the Freedom Bowl, going
to the football games and Trent Dilfer was the quarterback and Rivers was the running back, I mean it was just exciting. – The coaches, the staff,
the administration, the university they had a
lot of pride in Fresno itself and Fresno State Bulldogs. And I learned that from the people here and carry that on to today and my love of the
Bulldogs only gets greater. (audience applauding) – Boy what a great class of
Top Dogs we have tonight. And it’s time to meet them
and welcome them up here. So tonight’s first recipient is someone whose generosity
has yet to meet its bounds. Originally from the Azores, he moved with his family to South Africa, when he was seven years old, then he immigrated to the United States, and settled in Hanford. From an early age, he saw
the importance of community, and as he attended college and later started his own business, he made sure that his life and his company reflected this value. He has supported numerous local charities and Fresno State through his involvement in the Downing Planetarium, the Jordan Agricultural Research Center, and Maya Cinemas at Campus Pointe. He is an avid supporter
of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, providing students and
faculty access to his company, Westech Systems, Incorporated, consulting on farm restoration
and enhancement projects, and solar power estimating. More recently, he helped
to establish a partnership with the University of the Azores, which provides students and faculty experiential
learning opportunities, including internships and
cross-cultural experiences, and along with his wife of course, he has opened his home to
host students from the Azores. He is also a founding member of the President’s
Portuguese Leadership Council at Fresno State. And most importantly,
he impacts our community and the world around him by impressing on our students
the rewards of giving back. So ladies and gentlemen, please join me in
congratulating Helder Dominguez, this year’s Outstanding
Alumni Award recipient for the Jordan College
of Agricultural Science and Technology, escorted
by Dean Dennis Nef. (audience applauding)
(stately music) – Thank you. This is unbelievable. Where I came from to where I am today. I’m so honored to be here tonight. I wanna thank Dr. Castro, Dean Witty, Dean Nef, and all my friends at the Jordan College for this great award. (audience applauding) I also like to thank my family, and my great friends that are here tonight for their support and encouragement throughout my career. Fresno State
(stately music) gave me the education and the tools that I
needed to succeed in life. And I will forever be grateful
to this great university, thank you very much.
(audience applauding) – Congrats again to Helder, and we’re just getting started. If you’re familiar with Fresno State, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard
of the Peach Blossom Festival, some of you maybe competed, it’s a Fresno State tradition
for more than fifty years. And our next recipient
was recruited as a student to help start that rich tradition and he’s been involved in the Peach Blossom Festival ever since. He’s a long-standing
figure in public relations and the advertising community here, running his own PR firm for 26 years, dedicating his time and
talents to fundraising and collaborative activities with the goal of improving our community. During the course of his career, he established the Fresno Chapter of the Public Relations
Society of America, he served as President of the Fresno State Alumni Association, and he serves as a board member
with the Fansler Foundation, whose goal is to improve services for children with physical, educational or health disabilities. He also served as President of the Central Valley
American Lung Association, President of the Fresno County
Tuberculosis Association, two non-profits he’s
passionate about in their goal to improve the quality of life for individuals with
breathing disabilities. The impact that he’s made
in the Fresno community may best be summarized by
one of his long-time friends and colleagues who said, “The fact that he has
made a positive difference “in the lives of so many people “is a heart-warming reminder to all of us “that there is no
expiration date on honesty, “integrity and patriotism.” Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating Charles Sant’Agata, this year’s Outstanding
Alumni Award recipient for the College of Arts and Humanities, escorted by Interim Dean Honora Chapman. (audience applauding)
(stately music) – Thank you to Fresno State the alumni association,
school of Arts and Humanities, and my professors. To my family and wife of 51 years, Joyce, to my past public relations clients and fellow professionals, to Dante Simeon the Learn
for Life Charter Schools, to Bill Macheso for this nomination, and to the Sigma Chi Fraternity for giving me the right
path to a successful life, (audience applauding) and providing lifelong friendships and support from my brothers. This honor is truly appreciated, if I could pick it up (laughing) (stately music)
(audience applauding) – I’ve another question for the crowd, are there any Sigma Chi’s in the house? (audience cheering) Oh I just couldn’t tell
a few minutes ago, sorry. All right, well this one will be fun. Tonight’s third recipient is originally from East Los Angeles, but he’s made his life here in the Valley first as a student attending Fresno State, and now as a businessman, a husband and a father, with a future
Fresno State graduate sitting at his table tonight. Beyond his memories of $2
burritos at The Bucket, (audience laughing) and playing Division One
football under coach Jim Sweeney, on an undefeated team in
1985 as he reminded us, (audience applauding) beyond all that, our next recipient was
also profoundly impacted by Fresno State faculty in the outstanding Craig
School of Business, the lessons that he learned
in both the classroom and on the football field have informed his business philosophy and his support for the local
community and Fresno State. One of the accomplishments
that he is most proud of, you may have figured this out, other than being a Bulldog, is owning and operating
locally-owned businesses in radio and print advertising, and using these businesses sincerely to benefit our community. You’re likely familiar with
a few of his companies, KJEWEL, 95.7 The Fox,
Mega Prints, Quick Signs, and some radio station called 940 ESPN that you’re all gonna
listen to tomorrow night when the Bulldogs beat Sacramento State. (audience applauding) For more than 30 years now, he has been a champion of
Fresno State Athletics, as a volunteer, as a
donor, as an advocate, and if you’ve seen any of those beautiful Pride of the Valley lawn signs, anybody have one of those? This is the guy who made those happen. His passion for Fresno
State is best summed up by his own words, maybe you’ve heard him say it,
“Bulldog born, Bulldog bred.” Wonder where he got that? Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome and join me in welcoming and congratulating my friend, and my boss by the way, Chris Pacheco, this year’s Outstanding
Alumni Award recipient for the Department of Athletics, escorted by our Athletic
Director Terry Tumey. (audience applauding)
(stately music) (audience cheering) – Whew, I know, you’re all taking odds, how fast will he cry, I get it. (audience laughing) At 55, I need to put
on the glasses though. For those of you who know me, you know how much I
enjoy this kinda thing. Getting up here and having you laugh at me for being a crybaby. Well I was told to keep
it to 20 to 30 seconds, so let me apologize in advance ’cause this could go on all night. And don’t try to leave either because I’ve made arrangements for all the doors to be locked, so you’re all stuck with me. Seriously though congratulations to all of tonight’s recipients, it’s an honor to be
here, I’m truly humbled. Some of the people that I
owe my life to are gone, I miss them. I wish they were here. (stately music)
So I could thank them for their leadership, their
special brand of encouragement, just one more time, you’re
gonna have to cue that down ’cause I’m not done.
(audience laughing) Just one more time I
would love for Jim Sweeney to kick me in the ass. He was the absolute greatest motivator I’ve ever known. The amazing Bob Duncan who showed me how to give unconditionally, I just am one lucky Dog. Lucky to have my mom, my wife, my kids, my friends, and all my great partners who are here tonight, I wanna say thank you to all of you for putting up with my daily antics. My Fresno State experience. Fresno State took a chance on me and the chance provided me
with a wonderful education. For this I am grateful. This community embraced
me with tremendous support in my different business ventures, and for this I am grateful. My support for Fresno State and the Fresno community
is the driving force in my everyday life. During my playing days at Fresno State, Jimbo introduced me to our creed, Bulldog born, Bulldog bred, I’m gonna be a Bulldog
til the day I’m dead. Thank you very much. (audience applauding) (stately music) – We should sell those glasses at the Bulldog shop by the way. (audience laughing) Tonight’s fourth recipient understands the value of higher education, which is why, as a business owner, he has developed programs
to support his employees paying off outstanding student loans. He also supports the
Craig School of Business Research Fellows Program, he’s on the Business Advisory Council and the President’s
Southern California Council, where he led the effort to
establish an endowed scholarship for Fresno State students. For the past five years he and his wife have graciously opened up their home, hosting an annual So Cal Summer Send Off, connecting incoming students
with current students and also alumni who live
in the Los Angeles area. He has consistently hired
graduates from Fresno State and helped other graduates relocating to Southern California by
coordinating interviews, providing recommendations and
even sometimes with housing. Since his childhood in Porterville he has had oil in his veins, working at a family-owned car
dealership in his hometown. After graduation, he stayed
in the auto business, working in both the
accounting and retail space, before steering his way
into auto financing, where he’s remained for
the last three decades. He’s the President and CEO of the United
Auto Credit Incorporated, a nationwide top 10 non-prime auto lender. Philanthropy and service are at the core of his company’s values, and they live this out at
their locations nationwide, sponsoring local and national
non-profit organizations. As they employ many young professionals, he says “We teach them accountability “and about the value of
service to their community “and to others less fortunate. “If we can make an impact “and change that person’s
trajectory in life, “there can be no greater
measure of success.” That’s a direct quote. So ladies and gentlemen, please join me in
congratulating Jim Vagim, (stately music) this year’s Outstanding
Alumni Award Recipient for the Craig School of Business, escorted by Dean Robert Harper. (audience applauding) – Thank you all very Much. I get 20 seconds. So Chris I may beat you to the crying. My mother always told me, always tell the hostess she
looks beautiful tonight, so Mrs. Castro, happy anniversary, Joe thank you very much for everything. I’ll keep it short, thank you
to everybody in this room. I am grateful to be a son
of the San Joaquin Valley and everything that this
school has taught me has carried me throughout
my entire career. I remember every moment
on this campus fondly and I will tell you I carry
it with me every single day. I love this town, I love this school, and I’m so proud of the two of you, and Dean Harper, thank you so much for everything that
you’ve allowed, thank you, appreciate it guys.
(audience applauding) (stately music) – All right our next recipient has been the Superintendent of the Clovis Unified School District for the past two years. She’s responsible probably
for some of your kids and grandkids by the way, but for 50 schools and 43,500 students. As Superintendent she works to ensure that Clovis Unified’s core value of being America’s benchmark
for excellence in education, and developing every student in mind, body and spirit is accomplished. And under her leadership
Clovis Unified is succeeding in those goals. The district is one of a select few to be named an Honor Roll District by the California Business
for Excellence in Education, and it’s the only district
in the nation, in the nation, to have all five of its middle schools designated as Schools to Watch. Because of their academic success, Clovis Unified schools
have been identified as California Distinguished
Schools more than 100 times. She is passionate about improving
the quality of education in our Valley, and she has
created strategic collaborations with area school districts to encourage community-based
educational reform. As a lifelong learner, she sees opportunity to
learn from everyone, saying, “Listen to the perspectives
of those around you. “Veteran teachers,
administrators, parents, “the person in the cafeteria,
the person in the office, “and even the bus driver. “There’s a lot to be learned
from those around you.” So ladies and gentlemen, please join me in
congratulating Eimear O’Farrell, this year’s Outstanding
Alumni Award recipient for the Kremen School of
Education and Human Development, escorted by interim Dean Laura Alamillo. (stately music)
(audience applauding) – Thank you. You know as I look around this room, I see an entire community
that loves Fresno State. And appreciates the exemplary education that you provide for this community. And I’m so honored to be
associated with this university, thank you for welcoming me when I participated in the first cohort of the doctoral program. I just want to thank my friends, my family, my colleagues
from Clovis Unified, I want to thank the governing board for putting their faith in me and I just wanted to say what an honor it is to
receive this award tonight, thank you.
(stately music) (audience applauding) – All right, our sixth recipient tonight, if you’re keeping count,
sixth in the order, on that lineup card, a leading expert in the field of Surveying and Photogrammetry, how
many of you can spell that? He is the President and Chair of the Board
of Towill Incorporated, an advanced surveying, mapping and geospatial solutions provider with locations throughout
California and Colorado. He’s a member of the American Council of Engineering Companies,
serving on committees that meet with federal and
state government organizations to promote improvements
in engineering practices. He’s a passionate supporter of the Lyles College of Engineering, giving of his time, talent and treasure to help further the
success of the college. Since the early 1990s,
that was a while ago, he has served as chair of the Fresno State Geomatics
Engineering Advisory Council, and he’s a regular contributor to the Geomatics Engineering Conference, has been a member of the Lyles College of
Engineering Advisory Board, and also a regular guest lecturer in the Geomatics Engineering Department. In his estimation, the Geomatics
program at Fresno State is one of the best, and
not just one of the best, but also one of the toughest, one of the most rigorous in the country. In 2009, he was named the
Outstanding Community Partner for the Lyles College of Engineering, Geomatics Engineering Program. Those are some pretty heady
credentials aren’t there? So let’s welcome and
congratulate Ken Meme, our Outstanding Alumni Award Recipient for the Lyles College of Engineering, escorted by Dean Ram Nunna. (stately music)
(audience applauding) – Microphones always hit me in the head. Well thank you all for being here tonight, I really appreciate it, this is a wonderful event, thank you to the Fresno
State Alumni Association for this wonderful honor. And congratulations to all
of the other awardees tonight along with those from the past. And thank you to Dean Nunna, Steve Weakland, Nicole Traverso for all your efforts to put this together, thank you to President Castro, and his wonderful wife,
and the university, and thank you to my wife Maggie, my son Elliot and daughter Olivia, and the rest of my family
who are here tonight. Along with all of the faculty from the Geomatics Engineering Program, Dr. Mungee and others. Thank you too for the Geomatics Engineering
Advisory Council members who attended tonight and all those who serve the program to make it the best in the country. I hope you guys all have a
wonderful time here tonight, this is a fantastic university, I wanna echo what Chris Pacheco said, I feel like a lucky Dog every
time I think about Fresno and Fresno State, I’m also a Valley boy,
I love it here, go Dogs! (stately music)
(audience applauding) (upbeat music) – I would never have thought I would get to where I am today. It’s taken a village, it’s
taken my people I work with, my mentors, my family,
family support is huge. – I think when you wake up every morning there’s an opportunity
to discover something new about this world. You know Doc Buchanan used to say, “If you want to develop winners, “you have to surround
our kids with winners.” And I tell our new teachers that hiring the best role models is one of the most important things we do in the district. – Working with children
is very gratifying, and their lives, what they’re doing, what they’re trying to accomplish, hear what they have to say, provide them with my own experiences, people moving in a positive direction, it doesn’t mean that we
all have to be the same or move in the same
direction at all times, but all move in a direction that creates positive
results and positive change. – I always wanted to be
the father I never had. And that sort of guided me along with some mentors in my life of how they treated their children. They may not know it,
but they’ve led the way. – I remember many things that the coaches would say about preparation, about
crystallizing your thinking, about having a written plan, many things that I learned
from coach Jim Sweeney that I use in my everyday life today. – Well there’s no real secret
in my opinion to success, you work harder and you work smarter. For me it was important
to get that degree, and so Jim also was really adamant about making sure that you went to class. I liked school, I liked learning, I liked marketing. – I think Fresno State
is everything for me. And I belong to Fresno State, I am a product of Fresno State, and I’m a proud person of Fresno State. So without Fresno State,
I couldn’t be here. – Fresno State provided me with a solid educational foundation and I did learn during
that summer school program as I was competing with students from other larger universities that I could compete with them, that Fresno State had given
me that solid foundation and I was academically
prepared for the challenges of medical school and graduate school. – When I was at Fresno State, I came across this great
quote from Winston Churchill, and it said, “You make a
living by what you get, “you make a life by what you give.” (audience applauding) – Amen, all right our next recipient, I don’t wanna alarm you, our next recipient has been
keeping an eye on all of us in this room tonight. Do you really know the
people at your table? He’s been making sure
we’re on our best behavior. While he started his career in the FBI, he is currently a Special Agent with the Department of Homeland Security, so when I say that his work and his accomplishments are top secret, that’s really not a joke, it’s the truth. Much of his work has been focused here in the Central Valley, but the nature of his
work spans the nation. He keeps our community safe, but also communities all over the country. His work is highly demanding, and I mean sometimes
that’s seven days a week, 14 hours per day. He has worked on several large-scale gang investigations
resulting in indictments and convictions for
racketeering, attempted murder, human trafficking, drug
trafficking firearms offenses, and provided key intelligence to former Attorney General Jeff
Sessions on MS-13 activity, some of it right here in the Valley. For his work, he has
received a commendation from former FBI Director Robert Mueller, and was selected as the
HSI Criminal Investigator of the year last year in 2018. Inspirational words that he lives by are, “The only thing necessary
for the triumph of evil “is for good men to do nothing.” Ladies and gentlemen,
(stately music) please join me in
congratulating a good man, Tim Kotman, this year’s
Outstanding Alumni Award recipient for the Division of Research
and Graduate Studies, escorted by Dean James Marshall. – Thank you so much. I wanna thank Russel for nominating me, I wanna thank my family, I wanna thank Dr. Schwizer, my professor at Fresno State
for all that he’s done for me. I wanna thank my partner
in fighting crime Andras, and most importantly I wanna thank my wife for every late night call, every missed anniversary,
holiday, weekend, her attitude was always go get ’em, and that’s really done
everything that I needed. And I also wanna thank the University for making my childhood dreams a reality, thank you so much.
(audience applauding) (stately music) – Our next recipient is
originally from Laos, growing up during the Vietnam War. After the war, he and
his family were captured by the new regime and they were
placed in a relocation camp. In 1983, he was able to escape
the camp through the jungle, finding his way to the
border of northern Laos and into a refugee camp. Two years later, two years
later, he was able to reconnect with his parents in Thailand, and in 1986 they were accepted
into the United States, joining our great Hmong
community here in Fresno. Because of his early
childhood experiences, he saw education as the
key to making a better life for himself and for others. So when he began attending
Hoover High School, every day after school
he would ride his bike here to Fresno State to study. After being accepted to Fresno State he says it “made him feel really tall.” (audience laughing) Early on, he chose Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. as his role model, attracted
to Dr. King’s advocacy for the oppressed. He obtained his Bachelor’s
degree in Social Work in 1984, and then his Masters
in Social Work in 1996. Since then, he has been a champion for the Hmong community
both locally, nationally and around the globe. He consults with governments, with faith-based organizations, media, academic institutions, he provides training and guidance on cultural competency, burial practices, child abuse prevention,
and human rights issues. And he says, maybe you heard it, “Without Fresno State, I
would not be who I am today. “Without Fresno State, I
would not be able to travel “through China, Indonesia,
Thailand, Vietnam. “Without Fresno State, I would
not be able to build bridges “and build community. “I think Fresno State is
everything for me,” he said, “I’m a product of Fresno State, “I’m a proud person of Fresno State. “So without Fresno State,
I couldn’t be here.” He’s here tonight because of Fresno State and his resilient spirit.
(stately music) Join me in congratulating
Cher Teng Bee Yang, this year’s Outstanding
Alumni Award recipient for the College of Health
and Human Services, escorted by the interim
Dean James Marshall. – Thank you Fresno State.
(audience cheering) Never been into a school until 1987, the age of 18 trying to learn A B C, never thought I would have this moment. I thought if I can just
get my high school diploma in this country would be the best. Thank you for Fresno State
providing me the opportunity, thank you for the tutor center, I live my life through tutor center to get through the higher education. Thank you for American education system that provided all the support for people like me to come through and many more need to come through. Thank you for my faculty, my professor that allow me to study again
and retake the exam again, to pass the test. That’s why I’m here today. I want to say thank you to Dr. Deshana in the social work department during a faculty meeting when these applications coming through, she said, “I think I can nominate Bee, “and I never thought I could
be coming here either.” Now I’m here, thank you
all for the possible that I feel impossible about. All of you make it possible. I belong to Fresno State. Thank you for my wife, thank you for my two
children that are here, I have six children, only
two can come tonight. Thank you for my parents
joining me tonight, thank you for the college of
Health and Human Services, thank you for Social Work Department, thank you for Title IV-E, all the faculties,
(stately music) and all the staff every
day walking Fresno State, really tall even though I am very short. (audience laughing)
(audience applauding) – Oh I know you’re casting
a long shadow tonight, congrats again. Our next Top Dog was born
and raised here in Fresno. He attended Fresno State, and then continued his education at a little place called
Harvard Medical School, graduating with a degree in medicine and a master’s degree in public
policy, did you catch that, medicine and a master’s in public policy? He then completed his residency at UCLA, that team the Bulldogs beat
in the Rose Bowl last year. While he could have practiced medicine anywhere of his choosing, he chose to come back
here to the Central Valley where he’s from, so he could work with
underserved and rural patients. While a student at Fresno State he participated in the Health
Careers Opportunity Program, a program he now supports through enlisting his colleagues
as mentors to students. He also serves as a mentor
in the Junior Doctors Academy and the Doctors Academy, those are programs for seventh
and eighth grade students who are interested in
a future health career. He is an OBGYN at Family
Healthcare Network, so he’s literally ushering
the next generation of Bulldogs into the world, and he’s an assistant clinical
professor at UCSF Fresno, teaching medical students and residents at Community Regional Medical
Center in Downtown Fresno. Having a personal
knowledge of the shortage of healthcare professionals
here in the Central Valley, and the wide range of
clinical needs in our rural and underserved populations, he says he “subscribes to the
idea of growing our own, “taking our bright students
who are interested in medicine “and really giving them the support “that they need to be successful “and then have them return to
our communities to practice.” Ladies and gentlemen,
(stately music) please join me in
congratulating Chris Bencomo, this year’s Outstanding
Alumni Award recipient for the College of
Science and Mathematics, escorted by Dean Christopher Meyer. – Thank you. When I entered Fresno
State some 34 years ago, I could never have
imagined receiving an award such as this. I’d like to thank the College of Science and Mathematics and the HCOT program, but most of all I’d like to
thank my family and friends, who were with me through this journey. My success would have never
been possible without them. Thank you.
(audience applauding) (stately music) – Our next recipient is
originally from Hanford, (audience cheering) we have some folks from
Hanford here, who knew? And he was the first in
his family there in Hanford to graduate high school and
the first to graduate college. After graduating from Fresno State he continued his education,
obtaining his law degree. He practiced law on his
own for a couple of years, then started a law firm with his friend, and you know it now as
Kahn, Soares and Conway, a top-ranked law firm in California. He has been practicing law
for more than 40 years. His firm specializes in agricultural law, representing farmers
throughout the Central Valley, some of those farmers are here tonight. He represents individuals
he says are quote, “Absolutely genuine people,” and then he often considers not just, he doesn’t consider those farmers
just clients, but friends. Some of the many
organizations he has served include the American
Agricultural Law Association, the Agribusiness Committee of the California Bar Association, and the Board of Trustees for the San Joaquin College of Law. He’s the past president of the
Kings County Bar Association, served as Vice-Chair of the
Agricultural Law Committee of the American Bar Association. And He’s also served on
the Board of Directors of the Kings Art Center Foundation, was board chairman for Sacred
Heart Hospital in Hanford, and even as a director
of the Kings County YMCA. Being the first in his family
to graduate from college, he’s passionate about
the role of education in improving the lives of individuals and the communities that they live in. He serves on the College of Sequoias Community Advisory Committee, supports Fresno State’s
South Valley Initiative, and he’s a member of Fresno
State University Advisory Board. He’s also a past member of the
Institute for Family Business at the Craig School of Business. Pretty heady resume. Please join me in congratulating Jan Kahn, this year’s Outstanding
Alumni Award recipient for the College of Social Sciences, escorted by Dean Michelle DenBeste. (stately music) – I’m a crybaby too.
(audience laughing) But, I’ve listened to the stories of all of these recipients tonight, and they’re truly impressive. And I look out at the audience and I have seen people here tonight that I know have done
more for their communities and have achieved more
in their professions, and I wonder what am I doing up here? But here I am. And I truly appreciate it, and I wanna thank the
University of course, Joe Castro, Dean DenBeste, my family, there have been (laughing)
folks along the way who have shined the light where to go. I wanna call out one particular person, who’s no longer here, some of you know him as Leonard Meyers, that was my shining light and my guide, and without him, I probably be
on the other side of the law, so thank you very much. And most importantly though, I wanna thank my family and my wife Jenny, this is her award too, thank you. (audience applauding)
(stately music) – From a very young age, our next recipient was moved
by his parent’s generosity, saying “They were always helping people. “One time someone came to our house “and their kids needed glasses, “and they couldn’t afford them, “so my parents provided those for them. “My whole childhood,” he said,
“I saw that kind of behavior “from my parents, “and I’ve run with that
throughout my life.” What he loves about the work
he does now at his company, Administrative Solutions, Incorporated, is that he not only helps
employers find better solutions for their companies, but ultimately, it helps their employees as well. It is that same love for helping people that has influenced his active
support for Fresno State. He previously served as the president of the Bulldog Foundation, he’s a heartfelt supporter
of the Student Cupboard, and, with his business partner, established an endowment to support the Renaissance
Scholars Program at Fresno State. That, if you don’t know
it supports students who come from the foster care system. His kind support and advocacy often leads to enlisting others to give to those programs he
cares about at Fresno State. So let us welcome our Outstanding
Alumni Award recipient for the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management,
(stately music) Barry Maas, escorted by
Vice President Frank Lamas. (audience applauding) – Well thank you. So I’m just a kid from a
podunk town in South Dakota that our whole population of my hometown is probably not as many
people as are in this room this evening, so it’s a
bit overwhelming for me. First of all I wanna thank my wife Peg, my son Mike, my dad
Case is with us tonight, my ASI crew is back there, my partners that have been in my business since the beginning, all six of them are here this evening, and you know my start
really was moving to Fresno my junior year of college, getting a job at a law firm, those guys really instilled that there is opportunity, there is the possibility to
do something great in life and without them I wouldn’t be here. Dr. Castro thank you for your boldness, you’re causing our university
(stately music) to prosper, not only our university but our community and that’s noticed, thank you very much. Jose, great new sculpture
at the Fresno Fair. (audience laughing)
(audience applauding) (upbeat music) – I believe in helping
the kids anyway possible, but they’re the ones that are gonna be the leaders of tomorrow. They make me feel good in giving, rather than receiving (laughing) I’d rather do that yes. And it’s nice to see when you help people, a smile on their face and a thank you, a sincere thank you. So I think that we should practice that. – It’s very unlikely than
any person on their own could get to where they’re at. When I thank someone like “Man, thank you for taking care of me,” or “Thank you for making that call,” or “Thank you for getting
this setup for me,” they’ll tell me like, “Well
people did that for me, “so I’m doing it for you.” That’s why I volunteered
on the board when I did, and that’s why I go to schools because I think it’s important
to kind of pay that back into the system. – From a young age participating in ways that helped other people is just something that
I found enjoyment from and I saw positive results from, and I still do. If I have patience with people at the same time I have confidence that they’re going to get to the place where they need to be. – We learn every time
we do something wrong, the opportunity to be given a second or a third chance is very important, and I think it’s vital that you provide an
opportunity for anybody to get up and stand up
and try to do it again. – The Valley has a tremendous opportunity to bring people who were
raised in the Valley in smaller communities and
difficult circumstances to go to college, to get their degree and in whatever degree it is to bring it back to their communities. – This is the place it all started, all my dreams began. This is the place that they
give me so many opportunities to dream big and I’m a great example, the American dream is alive and well. If I can do it, everybody can. – That everyday I walk into the campus, I feel big, I feel tall, that’s why I never stop
working in the community. If you work hard, then
the result always there, and that’s only happened in America. And I’m really proud of my education my assessment here because I think that the American education system here provide great opportunities for anybody who are willing to work who willing to study. – If I was to sum up
Fresno State in one word, I would say community. This is a community university, focused on elevating the community and helping the community develop into the best that it can be. – I think that too many
people don’t realize what they can do, and therefore don’t try. And that’s why earlier
I said you can’t quit. You gotta find something you enjoy and do that. I think I’m most passionate
about helping people, getting involved with organizations. – You know I’m a big believer that it takes a village and if I can’t give back to my community for what they’ve done for me and can’t give back to my university for what it’s enabled me to accomplish, then I took too many hits
to the head. (laughing) – I really subscribe to the idea of kind of growing our own, taking our bright students
who are interested in medicine and really giving them the support that they need to be successful and then to return to our
communities to practice. – I love doing what I do. And I attribute a lot of that success and training to the academics, the athletics, and the
socialization at Fresno State. Coming from Fresno State,
no challenge is too big, and if you say you can’t, you won’t. And I leaned at Fresno State not just in the classroom but on the football field, that you can do things that
people think you can’t. – I dream of a community where it’s just everyone has got a chance, they’ve got opportunities, they’ve got a path that they can follow that will get them to a place in life that’s good for them. That’s I think all we can hope for, giving them opportunities and the path to follow. (audience applauding) – Anybody proud to be
a Bulldog yet tonight? (audience applauding) What a special place we have, and we’ve come to that
point in our evening now where we recognize our
final two recipients, starting with the Arthur
Safstrom Service Award, and then of course our
Distinguished Alumni Award. The Arthur Safstrom Service Award is given to an individual who has given exceptional service to the Fresno State community, to the Alumni Association as
well and to the whole Red Wave. This year’s recipient in my mind, exemplifies the Red Wave. He’s been a champion
of and for Fresno State for more than a quarter century. And some would say he’s
been on campus so often that you might think he’s a student. (audience laughing) Over the years, he’s
served on numerous boards and councils at Fresno State, including the Fresno
State Alumni Association, the Kremen Community Council, the Kremen Alumni and Friends Chapter and the Bulldog Foundation of course. He’s actively involved
in the College of Arts and Humanities, and he’s
been a driving force behind the Italian Studies Committee, whose goal is to establish, sustain and grow the program
through philanthropic giving and an Endowed Chair. He has helped to start, and to
fund, multiple scholarships, including two in honor of his
late wife, Louise Petrosino. (audience applauding)
Yeah, give her a hand. And you heard him taking
about her earlier. He’s also supported a wide range of philanthropic initiatives
in Ag, in Education, in Theater Arts, Marching Band, the Presidents Circle,
and believe it or not, even more than that. And, if that’s not impressive enough, what’s additionally remarkable about this Fresno State alumnus is that as full as his schedule is, he also makes time to take Fresno State
students out to lunch, and to chat with them to
make sure they’re doing well, to provide them with
encouragement and other things. And his passion for, and
service to our community, to our students, and for the vital role that education plays in changing lives it truly is unrivaled, and it’s for that reason, and you heard him talking about people putting a smile on his face and his chance to put
that smile on your face, I don’t know if I’ve ever
seen a better Bulldog smile than our recipient of the
Arthur Safstrom Service Award. So please rise
(stately music) and join me in congratulating
Antonio Petrosino, escorted by Kurt Madden.
(audience applauding) – Thank you Kurt, thank you doctor. I’m lost, this too much. I never thought that I
would be here tonight, when I first came in 1947 from Italy, but I’m here and I am very appreciative. So it has been a very spectacular night, and I want to thank everyone who’s had part in nominating me for this celebration, and I also want to congratulate
the rest of the recipients. And receiving this award is truly an honor and I’m deeply humbled, I really am. Over the years, I have
been extremely fortunate to have had great mentors, advisors, great students, I couldn’t tell you, they just were wonderful, maybe I was lucky. Supportive friends and family, and especially my parents
and my grandparents. Most importantly, I was blessed with a very gracious wife, who had a heart of gold. And for this reason, tonight, I’d like to dedicate
this award to her memory, to my wife Louise Cerrente Petrosino, I wish you were here.
(audience applauding) And lastly, a heartfelt thank you to my three children, Rocco, Vinzi, who’s very active here, and Kristi, their wonderful spouses, my
great wonderful grandchildren, 10 of them.
(audience laughing) And my great grandchildren,
which are a joy for my age, nine of them, so that’s very good. And together all of them, my whole family supporting me, they have been an inspiration to continue this philanthropic job that I’ve been entitled to do here. And so I want to give
back to the community, Fresno State has been good to me, the community has been great to me, thank you very much, (speaking in foreign language) Thank you and good night. (stately music)
(audience applauding) – All right, this is it. We’ve come to that point in the evening where there is only one
recipient left to recognize. One individual through
his accomplishments, who is the recipient of the Distinguished
Alumni Award for 2019. To be considered for this award, individuals must have
distinguished themselves in their industry at a national
or international level, and also distinguished themselves in service to their alma mater. Tonight’s recipient is recognized as being among the top trial
lawyers in the country, having won some of the most
significant jury verdicts in United States history. He consistently serves in a leading role in some of the largest personal
injury cases in California and around the nation. Because of his expertise,
he’s been appointed to serve on the Plaintiff’s Steering and Executive committees in
numerous high profile cases, maybe you’ve seen him on TV. As a nationally renowned trial lawyer, among many awards, some
of his more recent honors include being recognized
by the National Law Journal as one of the most influential
lawyers in America. He was voted as the California
Attorney of the Year this year, 2019. Was also ranked as a Top 100 lawyer and Top 100 Plaintiff’s attorney last year by the Daily Journal. He’s the Vice President of the prestigious Inner Circle of Advocates, that is 100 of the nation’s
top plaintiff’s lawyers. He is a Fellow in the American
College of Trial Lawyers, also the International
Society of Barristers, and the American Board of Trial Advocates. He received his law degree
from Southwestern Law School, but he says what really
gives him a sense of pride is hearing his undergraduate
university announced. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science, from California State University, Fresno, or as we say, Fresno State. It was at Fresno State, as
an athlete, and as a student, that he says that he
learned pride and loyalty. Much of that pride comes
with being regarded, as you heard, as an underdog. He says that’s something that’s
always resonated with him. “I always liked the underdog “and sticking up for
the underdog,” he says. “I learned at Fresno State,
not just in the classroom “but on the football field, “that you can do things
that people think you can’t, “and it’s up to you.” Is that a Bulldog mentality or what? “And If you apply what you’ve learned, “and you’re passionate about it, “you can outwork everyone else,
and you’ll be successful.” Those of you know him, you know that he carries
that pride with him today. It’s what has kept him
connected with Fresno State, as a generous, very generous supporter as a booster of the
life-changing experiences for student-athletes and students
throughout his alma mater. So this is our chance, ladies and gentlemen to rise
(stately music) and congratulate that
guy wearing number 31 with the slick haircut in that video and our Distinguished Alumni
Award recipient, Brian Panish. (audience applauding) – Good evening. I’m truly honored and
humbled to receive this award from Fresno State University. And I’m so blessed to
have had the opportunity to have attended Fresno State University. No I didn’t get the
teleprompter like Paul did here, so I have to bring my notes up here so I don’t forget anything. But before I begin, I wanna thank a few people. First I’d like to thank Mr.
Matty, the Alumni Association, Kurt Madden, Jacqueline,
Peter, and their staff and their volunteers for
this incredible night, this incredible place,
and this incredible event, thank you very much for you hard work. (audience applauding) I’d like to thank President Castro and Mary for your leadership,
happy anniversary, for all the staff, the administration, the teachers at Fresno State, for everything you do to
make it a better world for the students when they
graduate and carry on. Most importantly here I’d like to thank my beautiful wife Rosie, who will be married 29 years, and she made it up here in
the most important decision I made in life, and the
second most important was to come to Fresno State. I got one of my children to come, 10 years ago they all came, but Diana, stand up Diana. Diana’s in her second year of law school. (audience applauding)
She’s killing it. Thank you Diana. I’d like to thank some
of my oldest friends from Fresno that are here tonight sitting with me and sitting next to us. First Greg and Wendy Ashford, Greg is actually I came
here with two other players from my high school, St. John Bosco, rated number two right now nationally, and we play number one, so we should be able to get that back. Greg and Wendy Ashford, Greg, first met one of my teammates, they were on a recruiting
trip at Oregon State, and we met up here in Fresno and we came to Fresno, we didn’t know anyone, and Greg was from Sanger and he would take us to dinner at his family’s house, and Marianne his mom,
and Kinslow his brother, his nephew’s the center fielder for the Fresno State baseball team, and she would make tuna casserole, and we’d watch TV and she gave us that sense of being friendly and the community and gave us a home that we didn’t have. And thank you so much Greg and for your family and
Wendy for being here tonight, thank you.
(audience applauding) You heard during some
of the other speakers, people at my table were being loud, that wasn’t me. The first one was my
longtime friend Don Sweeney and his wife Linda, she wasn’t doing anything, Linda was fine, Dan was
talking a little loud, but I met Dan over 40 years ago when we were in the Sigma
Alpha Epsilon fraternity and we would dominate the Sigma Chis and the AGRs,
(audience applauding) and we’ve been great friends ever since, I can’t probably tell
you many of the stories about what we did together, but we maintained that
friendship through the years. And next to me who is
also making some noise was his younger brother Kevin, Kevin Sweeney a past Top Dog honoree, a great person, done great things here for Fresno State, Kevin
thanks for all you do, thanks for your friendship, thanks for being here tonight. (audience applauding) I made so many great friends in Fresno, I got talked into going into a business with three of them. And the business is
called Bulldog Almonds, and those three people
were Lloyd Fagundus, Ralph Fagundus, and Freddy Fagundus, and if any of you know them, you know that’s a risky venture. (audience laughing)
But I love you guys and thanks for being here tonight. Also, who attended school with me and is a great friend,
in fact his daughter is going to be working in our law firm, Warren Papushin, who’s
a great lawyer in Fresno and a great friend and thank you Warren for all your support.
(audience applauding) Chris and maybe people
talked about a village and that’s what it really is it’s no one could do this unto themselves, no man is an island unto himself, you’re all an integrated
microcosm of society and everybody helps meld you and in my life I’ve had
so many great friends and some are here tonight with me, two past Top Dog winners Omel Nieves and Mark Shuster.
(audience applauding) Also, Eric Larson from St.
John Bosco High School, Taylor Tedford, Dick Menugian another SAE, and another SAE Jeff Scottcho, thank all of you for being here tonight, and my good friend Dawn
Louis and her husband and I’ve got to know Dawn
through some Fresno State work and we’ve had a lot of fun together, thank you so much for being here tonight. (audience applauding) I wanna congratulate all
of the Top Dog honorees, the stories and the
videos were incredible, I’d like to give a special shout out to Jim Vagim and Chris Pacheco, two more members of the SAE fraternity. (audience applauding) That was a bit part of my
life here at Fresno State living in a fraternity house and being on the football team, it wasn’t really viewed
very well by Coach Sweeney, and Dan and I and Kevin had
late nights arguing about that over the years. But I had a great time. And a special shout out to Chris. Chris and 940 ESPN along with Paul, has done such a good job of
bringing the Bulldog athletics to the Central Valley and all of the things
that you’ve done Chris, thank you so much, and thank you most importantly
for making that call to me a couple years ago and asking me if I would like
to be on the Bulldog Hour radio show every week with Tony D, and he says, “Come on, you’ve
got the face for radio.” (audience laughing) And thank you Chris for letting
me have that opportunity and thanks for everything you do. Finally, Antonio, 10 years ago, I think it was 2009,
I was lucky to receive a Top Dog award from
the Athletic Department, so I was feeling pretty good about myself, and the next day was the game and I had a red lot pass, and I drove over to the game, I was gonna go over to
friend Ed Dunkel’s tailgate over on Cedar. And so I pull in it’s early, park, everything looks great. All of a sudden some guy
v-lines over to my car Antonio Petrosino.
(audience laughing) He says, “What are you doing
here, this is my spot.” I said, “I got a pass.” He goes, “My spot, my spot.” I said, “Tony, I played on
the football team with Rocco,” “Move,” I said, “I know Vinzi.” “Move.” So I tried again, “Vincent your grandson.” “Move the car.” So Tony tomorrow I have a different pass, don’t worry I won’t be
trespassing in your tailgate. (audience applauding) I have been so blessed in my life and so many great things
have happened to me with my family and my friends but I attribute so much of it to the education I received
here at Fresno State, not just in the classroom but outside the classroom, socializing, football, athletics,
the Bulldog Foundation, and when I came here
people like Harry Gakin who was the president of
the Bulldog Foundation nurtured us, took us under his wing, talked to us, and really had
a big influence on my life. I wasn’t intending to
come to Fresno State, in fact I was considering
to go to some other schools, won’t mention them, and there was this one coach that kept coming by my school, and he kept saying, “Come
on just take a visit, “just take a visit.” And I really didn’t want to go, one of the other kids was gonna come here, and the planes kept getting
canceled ’cause of the fog. I don’t see that as much anymore, but back in the 70s, the Fresno Airport would be shut down everyday and if you lived in LA and you couldn’t drive over the grapevine you couldn’t go home, unless you wanted to go
through Santa Barbara. And so the coach came to my house, it was Dennis Erickson, and he gets in the car and he goes, “We’ll just drive there.” And we were driving up through Bakersfield and I’ve never seen fog
like this in my life, and he’s driving 75 miles an hour, right behind the car in front of us, no worry in the world, and
just zipping down the highway. And then he takes me to meet Jim Sweeney. And we’re gonna go out to lunch, and I’ll never forget this. We go to, it was at that
time called Pardini’s down on Shaw, and we drive over there and we park the car and I go to push down the lock and close the door. He goes, “Hey kid, this is Fresno, “you don’t have to do
that, we’re not in LA, “they’re not gonna rob you up here.” (audience laughing) He was working me the whole time, working me, working me, and I came here and I learned some of the
most incredible lessons from the Dogfather Jim Sweeney. I learned lessons in
life about preparation, about being the underdog, about taking on the biggest and the best, about hard work, about accountability, about discipline, and about having fun, and about competing. And competing to get better everyday and about loyalty and about helping others and about making a difference. And I draw on those
experiences so often in my life and in my practice and people I represent and there are many ups and downs, it’s not all headlines, and it’s hard at time, and I draw on those experiences to get through the rough times and to get through to he other side. And I just wanted to share with you and I know Chris would love to do this, they cut them to 20 seconds, Chris said, “I’m not putting up with 20 seconds,” and there’s no music coming on here. By the way, I forgot
to thank my good friend Terry Tumey Athletic Director and his beautiful wife Candy, thanks for all you do here
Terry, great to have you. (audience applauding) The first one was the six Ps, proper preparation prevents
piss poor performance. (audience laughing) How about this one, if you do what you always do, you’ll be what you always were. The five success essentials, number one, crystallize your thinking, have a written plan,
develop a burning desire, have supreme confidence, and iron will determination. I’m always writing down what
I plan to do the next day or through for the next week and keeping a list, they
make of me at my firm, you’re like the list guy. You’ve gotta have a written plan, I learned that early on. And I love this one, it’s okay to disagree,
but don’t be disagreeable. But my all time favorite saying that I use everyday and in trials, when you’re in trial I mean
it’s a very stressful thing for everyone, and it’s ups and downs, it’s a roller coaster. And you’ve gotta get through the bad times to get to the good times and it balances out but it’s very stressful ’cause somebody’s life is in your hands and their future, and you’re their advocate. And he always would say,
“All setbacks are temporary, “and they’re to be viewed as such.” And that is one of the great
things I’ve learned here at Fresno State that I
take with me everyday. I wanna share with you one last thing as I was thinking what could
I share with you tonight, I’ve been reading lately about some research and
studies in education. And I’ve been reading about a professor named Dr. Angela Duckworth, and she’s a professor at the
University of Pennsylvania. But she used to be in
the consulting business and she would go to companies and try to turn them around and correct problems that existed and it was high pressure and she wanted to be
involved in education. So she went in New York City and taught seventh grade math, but she came from a
data analytic background which were seeing more and more today, and she studied the students and what she wanted to find out was what was it, what was
that key essential ingredient, what was that key factor that key characteristic,
that key personality trait that determined whether
someone was successful? And she studied it and she saw that some of her math students that had superior test scores weren’t doing as well, but she saw some of the ones that didn’t have as good
of scores do better. She then moved to Chicago, taught 11th grade, continued
this data analysis, developed questionnaires and studies in determining which kids in Chicago would go to 12th grade and not drop out, what were the key factors, what was it that made that determination? She went back to get her PhD, she went to Annapolis, she studied the cadets, who
was gonna be the best leader, the best officer, and what was it about their background that could determine who
the leaders were gonna be and who you wanna put in that position. She studied sales reps,
large corporations, and she came to the conclusion and her research found
there is just one trait, one trait that could make
a significant difference in someone’s success, and it wasn’t social intelligence, and it wasn’t good looks, and it wasn’t physical health, and it wasn’t a high IQ. What the research showed was that it was grit, G-R-I-T. And that grit is passion and perseverance, and it’s stamina, and
it’s stick-to-it-ness, and it’s not doing it for an hour or for a day or for a month, or for a year, it’s doing it everyday for the rest of your life, it’s a growth mindset. And as Coach Sweeney would preach, that there’s nothing about setbacks that’s permanent, they’re all temporary, and to be viewed as such, and that’s your I found
here at Fresno State, and what the people at
Fresno State are about, what the teachers, the coaches, and the students and the
people in this community in the San Joaquin Valley, they’re all about grit, and that’s what makes the difference in whether they’re successful. And they might not be the smartest, or the most handsome, but they’re gonna continue to work hard. And they’re gonna continue to persevere and have passion and nowhere have I seen the passion of the Red Wave and the Fresno State fans not
only here in this community but throughout the state. So I am proud, and I’m grateful for everything that I
learned at Fresno State and I love doctor to go up
against those Harvard lawyers and the people and say,
“Well I went to Fresno State, “you know where that is?”
(stately music) So thank you all, God bless all of you, Bulldog born, Bulldog
bred, God bless you all, goodnight, go Dogs. (audience applauding) – Well I think the ladies and gentlemen of the jury
have rendered their verdict, that that was a pretty
solid closing argument. Thank you Brian. Tonight we’ve heard some
exceptional stories of service, of resilience, of sacrifice, and while those stories
are really wide-ranging, think about it, the
diversity of the stories that we heard tonight, they all have, and I
think you know what it is, they all have at least
one thing in common. – Grit.
– Grit yeah. And maybe those two words, Fresno State. All of those stories exist because of Fresno State, their alma mater. So to lead us in Fresno
State’s alma mater, as you see behind me once again the Fresno State Chamber Singers. (audience applauding) ♪ Let us in song ♪ ♪ Our voices raise ♪ ♪ In Cloistered Courts, ♪ ♪ To sound thy praise ♪ ♪ Each voice and heart ♪ ♪ That sings is true ♪ ♪ To thee, ♪ ♪ Oh Cardinal and Blue ♪ ♪ For thee our hopes and memories ♪ ♪ For thee our hearts and loyalties ♪ ♪ Thy sons and daughters ♪ ♪ Hail thee great ♪ ♪ Our Alma Mater, ♪ ♪ Fresno State ♪ (audience applauding) – Are we all gonna remember tonight? (audience applauding) You think next year we should
fill up the other seats with the fraternities and sororities? (audience laughing) So the competition isn’t
limited to these tables. Thank you so much for being here tonight, I think we can all agree,
it’s been a special evening, maybe for you as it does for so many, it validates the role that we all play in Fresno State’s rise. So on behalf of the Fresno
State Alumni Association thank you for being a part of
the 2019 Top Dog Alumni Awards we wanna encourage you to not
forget what you heard tonight to carry these stories with you so they can become inspiration for you as you dream big, as you live boldly, and maybe even ask yourself, what’s my Bulldog story?
(upbeat music) Who knows, you may just be
our next Top Dog next year. So have a wonderful evening, be safe, and don’t forget to wear red tomorrow night at the
stadium, seven o’clock when the Bulldogs take on
the Hornets of Sac State. Drive home safely, God
bless you, and go Dogs. (stately music)
(audience applauding)

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