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2016 Scholarship Recipients

Elise BarbaElise Barba

Elise is in the midst of attending CSUF pursing a Master’s Degree in Communications with plans to graduate in May 2017.

Elise was the President of Fresno State’s League of Women Voters Student Chapter for the 2013-2014 academic year and remains committed to women’s issues to this day. She loves to inspire young women in the 21st century any way she can. Last summer she was the principal organizer for a “Feminine Care for the Homeless Drive” after seeing some articles about a problem that received little attention. After receiving startup funds from Thrivent Financial Group, she pulled friends and neighbors together to build kits for homeless women and handed them out downtown for two consecutive weekends. Elise plans to continue this project this summer as it is continued need.

Presently Elise is the communication and fund raising director for the Hydrocephalus Association in Fresno. She became involved in this cause because her best friend has this incurable disease. She and a few others have organized an awareness and fund raising walk at Woodward Park annually since 2009.

While attending graduate school, Elise is a graduate Teaching Assistant and is proud to have the opportunity to help raise a new generation of strong and confident male and female scholars.  Upon completion of her Master’s she plans to seek employment as a communications instructor at the community college level. She is presently working on a project at Fresno State to revamp the orientation and training process that new graduate teaching assistants undergo when they begin graduate school; with a plan to take this completed project to various universities and community colleges in the Fresno county areas and offer her services to help train new teacher hires and graduate teaching assistants.

Mala SinghMala Singh

At a young age, Mala Singh moved to Clovis from Florida with her mother and brother to begin a new life, although it was far from family and friends.  She observed her mother’s struggles to support her family as she worked in a retail store.  But Mala also watched her mother pursue her degree in higher education, obtaining her Master’s Degree in School Counseling/Psychology.  Her mother’s degree led to a stable position at Fresno City College where she helps disadvantaged students pursue their own aspirations. This was quite an example to follow, which inspired Mala to be independent, financially secure and allow her to give back to her community. 

Mala has wanted to become a dentist from a young age, when she remembers trying to make her own diagnoses from inspecting her dental x-rays, searching for cavities.  As she was growing up, she noted that low-income families were not able to visit the dentist regularly, which led to deteriorating oral health.  She grew determined to serve her community by becoming a dentist. 

Mala is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Biology at Fresno State in preparation for four or five more years of dental school.   She spent last summer in a clinical/community internship program as a facilitator for pediatric dental sessions to train foster parents in the necessity of oral care and infection prevention tactics.  

Mala is a Richter Center Ambassador for Community Engagement and Service Learning, where she serves as a facilitator, resource provider, promoter and role model for Fresno State students.  At a recent Community Service Opportunities Fair, she directed Fresno State students to various community service opportunities in which they could participate.  In addition, Mala serves as a blog editor for the Richter Center where she inspires others through her blog about her meaningful community services experiences.   She promises to continue promoting value and necessity of service to one’s community.

She also volunteers teaching English as a second language and U.S. Citizenship classes at the Sikh Institute of Fresno Adult School.   Recently, Mala participated in “Alternative Spring Break,” where she facilitated workshops, a carnival and Easter egg hunt for a STEM camp at Stone Soup, a site in Fresno designed to create positive change for Southeast Asian refugee families. 

Last summer, she interned with Dr. Xavier Gutierrez, a local dentist who inspired Mala with his own volunteer work, providing free dental treatment to inhabitants in a small village in Mexico.  After her internship, Mala volunteered for Team Smile, an annual event involving several dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants who provided free dental treatment for over 100 underserved children.  

After dental school, Mala will return to the Central Valley where she will establish dental clinics that are free to the public and give back to under-served communities.   Fresno Women’s Network is indeed fortunate to assist outstanding students such as Mala, with demonstrated experience serving our community, and with high ideals and aspirations.

Miracle CarterMiracle Carter

Trying to contain Miracle Carter is like waving bubbles back into the jar – you just can’t do it.   From the moment this miracle was born, she has flown rather than walked through life. She has touched many and accomplished much and there is simply no stopping her.

She believes that she has received much and she is dedicated to giving back much – to her family; to her community, to her church, and to everyone and everything around her. One example of her dedication and generosity is that she says,  “I plan on returning to my old high school and helping fund all of the organizations that I was part of.”

Some of those high school organizations that she credits with helping her accomplish goals and grow personally include: the California Scholarship Federation, National Honors Society, Engineering and Industrial Technology Academy, and the Educational Talent Search Program.

Miracle will be a third year pre-nursing student in the fall at California State University Fresno. She is a first generation college student with dreams of getting her Bachelor’s in Science in Nursing and minors in Public Health and Communication. Part of her desire to achieve these degrees goes back to her passion to serve and to give.  She says out loud what others can plainly see, “I am extremely passionate about giving back to my community and my peers which is the basis of why I want to be a nurse. It is in my blood to put others before myself.”

Miracle sets goals for herself, like we all do, but then she seems to blast into another level. Her diligence resulted in carrying a 4.0 grade point average for 3 semesters and her “go-the-extra-mile” attitude has landed her on the President’s List since her first semester at Fresno State. She calls it a streak and says she plans to continue it.

Miracle is currently a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars; Scholars in Service, Pre-Nursing Club, Black Student Union, and Pre-College Camp.

When she gets that degree in 2018, Miracle plans to move back to Bakersfield and work as a neo-natal nurse or in the delivery unit and the hospital where she was born.  She also wants to use those minors she’s working on to do a “little administrative work.” She’s not sure exactly what that part of her plan looks like but says, “Nonetheless, it will definitely benefit those in need.”

Shannon MuzioShannon Muzio

Shannon Muzio plans to graduate from CSU Fresno in 2019 with a double major in Communicative Disorders & Deaf Studies and Agricultural Business. After that she intends to pursue a Doctorate of Audiology to become a certified audiologist.  The diversity of hertwo bachelor degree programs is a reflection of her many diverse interests and adaptability to new and challenging situations.

Her current list of accomplishments is very much in alignment with the Fresno Women’s Network’s emphasis on building relationships and giving back to one’s community. Shannon’s church activities have found her on mission trips to the Dominican Republic and being an advisor for the youth group. Her altruism is faith-based: by serving others she serves God. She hopes to continue missionary work in the future.

So let’s start with her interest in all things agriculture: She is truly home-grown in that she was raised on a farm and was in 4H (Head, Heart, Hands, Health) for eight years showing dairy cattle and market chickens at the Big Fresno Fair, among other activities where she developed an incredible work ethic. She also is still a current member of the FFA (Future Farmers of America) where Shannon has honed her leadership skills. The Ag Business Club and its community service-based club of Ag Ambassadors also claim her as one of their members. She’s increasing her future employability by her decision to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business.

Now, about that second bachelor’s degree in Communicative Disorders & Deaf Studies.  She is a member of the NSSHLA or National Student Speech Language Hearing Association. From a very early age, she was diagnosed as being deaf and wears a hearing aid. Hence you can see how her desire to help children be fitted for hearing aids comes from very personal experiences: like pretending that her battery had died when her mom asked her about doing a chore. All kidding aside, Shannon greatly impressed me with her sincerity of helping those in the deaf or “differently abled” community become productive members of society and avoid any prejudice or ostracization. During her interview, it was very refreshing to learn that she has chosen to not portray herself as a victim of her circumstances, but as an adaptable person creating opportunities for herself and others. Shannon is a great example of the type of individual we want to encourage and mentor.

Katrina TonkogolosukKatrina Tonkogolosuk

Susan Melkonian Scholarship Recipient

The Susan Melkonian Scholarship is a very special award given annually and in perpetuity in memory of a past member of our Fresno Women’s Network. Susan would be thrilled to see the quality of this year’s scholarship candidates, and we believe she would agree with the scholarship committee in selecting an exceptional woman to receive this award.  We have chosen Katrina Tonkogolosuk to receive this special scholarship because she exemplifies everything that makes our city, our people, and our community a better place.

She proclaims, “I love Fresno!” and everything about Katrina shows that.

She is a long time and involved member of the Fresno Women’s Network who put her membership on hold in order to devote her time and energy to improving the lives of others by becoming a teacher. Katrina is in the process of earning her K-3 Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and Masters in Education at Fresno State, by June, 2017.  She says that as she develops as a teacher, she is not “looking merely to obtain my teaching credential—I am committed to developing myself as the best teacher possible.”

Any of you who have witnessed Katrina complete a marathon run or climb some very steep rocks, know that she puts at least 110 percent into everything she does. That 110 percent effort is now being applied to and confirmed in the Teacher Resident Program, a collaborative effort between Fresno State and Fresno Unified to work with some of our poorest and least mobile children – traditionally marginalized students -- and as Katrina says, to change the trajectory of their lives. “I am excited at the opportunity to develop my skills and build my knowledge not only as an educator, but to working within a diverse environment committed to being the difference for all students.”

Katrina’s involvement in our Fresno community shows her commitment to its people. Since moving to Fresno in 2003, she has volunteered with the Tulare Office of Education, joined Fresno Women’s Network in 2005, helped with various charitable fundraisers including last year’s Over the Edge for Girl Scouts, and leads the Outreach ministry at her church.

Katrina is a life-long learner and says she pursues her life with a novice mindset – always open to learning new things and seeing different perspectives. She says, “I strive to be the best version of myself. As I complete this credentialing and Masters program and transition into my new career of teaching, my goal is to strive for mastery in teaching. More specifically, I want to make a difference in Fresno, a city that has become my home.”

2016 Scholarship Award Luncheon

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Scholarship Recipients with the FWN Scholarship Committee.
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