Cavanaugh Award winners show dedication to university

During University of the Pacific's annual years of service luncheon held May 1, 2024, faculty and staff were recognized with the Cavanaugh, Staff Champion of DEI Award and Podesto awards. 

The Cavanaugh Distinguished Service Awards recognize exceptional accomplishments, leadership, innovation, service to the university and other areas of excellence.

This year’s recipients are Kristen Hernandez, Elizabeth Ledesma and Cecilia Uribe.

Kristen Hernandez

Kristen Hernandez (center) with Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Jeannene Ward-Lonergan (left) and Dean Nicoleta Bugnariu (right)

Kristen Hernandez

Kristen Hernandez of the Speech-Language Pathology department is one of two Stockton recipients for the Cavanaugh Award. She has worked at Pacific for 18 years.

Hernandez is program manager in the department, a role she was promoted to in 2021.

Hernandez works tirelessly to provide a positive, inclusive and supportive environment for all students, clients, staff, clinical instructors and faculty members. Her contributions are instrumental to the successful operation of the undergraduate, graduate and clinical speech/language/hearing programs.

Her knowledge, skills, talents and dedication to the department were put to the test in recent years with two successful reaccreditation site visits. The results of the reaccreditation site visits were unprecedented for the department and would not have been possible without her leadership.

Elizabeth Ledesma

Elizabeth Ledesma

Elizabeth Ledesma

Cavanaugh recipient Elizabeth Ledesma, director of student business services, was nominated by Anabela Bettencourt, associate director of student accounts.

“Elizabeth Ledesma demonstrates exceptional leadership, innovation and service in ways that substantially improve the quality of work life, the student learning experience and customer service. Her love for Pacific is apparent through all she does,” Bettencourt said.

Ledesma collaborated with Pacific Technology to implement the Financial Responsibility Agreement. This semester, the university has seen an 83% decrease in students missing their fiscal responsibility agreement because they are now being directed to complete the form online.

Student Services Business Lead Laura Brasil said, “Elizabeth is a motivated, enthusiastic and supportive leader who has had an immeasurable impact in the Business and Finance Division. Her love for Pacific is unmistakable through the work that she does.”

Cecilia Uribe

Cecilia Uribe (center) with Dean Nicoleta Bugnariu (left) and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Jeannene Ward-Lonergan (right)

Cecilia Uribe

Cecilia Uribe, program manager for Student and Academic Affairs for the School of Health Sciences, is the Cavanaugh recipient for the Sacramento Campus.

Uribe has contributed significantly to the successful operation and expansion of the school. She displays dedication and tenacity in improving the academic and social experience for students, staff and faculty.

Uribe managed the transition from individual student registration to cohort registration for all graduate programs and maintains these registration processes that span both trimester and semester academic calendars.

She helped establish the inaugural Student Association, serving as an advisor to the group, which recently was awarded the top fundraising team at the "Walk for Love" event sponsored by Shriners Children's Hospital in Sacramento.

“She is valued by all who collaborate with her and is greatly respected,” said Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Jeannene Ward-Lonergan.

Alyssa Wray (left) with Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Mary Lomax-Ghirarduzzi.

Staff Champion of DEI award

The Staff Champion of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is awarded to a staff member who has demonstrated inclusive leadership attributes in their workplace environment and who builds spaces of belonging and community for students, staff and faculty.

This year’s recipient is Alyssa Wray, assistant director of program development and operations for Benerd College.

Wray embodies a commitment to supporting others, particularly women and those from marginalized communities. She was instrumental in launching the university’s Anti-Racism Challenge. The challenge continues as an ongoing learning opportunity for new Pacificans.

On the gender justice front, Wray has made an impact in the community by working closely with organizations such as United Way of San Joaquin.

Said one nominator: “She is a great role model to women and an example of excellence at Pacific.”

Rachel Sumaquial

Rachel Sumaquial

Podesto Award

The Gary Podesto Award for Excellence in Student Life Service and Mentorship is named for a former Pacific Regent and Mayor of Stockton. It is presented annually to a Student Life staff member who makes a positive difference in service to students.

This year’s recipient is Rachel Sumaquial, who for 17 years has worked diligently to serve students’ health needs on all three campuses.

“In the most intimate and vulnerable of moments, she builds trust, expresses deep care and looks for the root cause of what’s prompting a student’s visit to the clinic,” said Maria Blandizzi, vice president for student life.