In Touch of Alumni Fall 2023
Danae Manibog-Gatewood (BA ’22) earned two medals at the Philippines National Championship in March 2023, placing second in the 400 meters and third in the 200 meters. Her times qualified her for the Philippines National Team.
Tannisse Tuttrup (TC ’21, BA ’18) was the recipient of the Tri-Valley SELPA’s Make a Difference Award in April 2023. Tri-Valley SELPA (Special Education Local Plan Area) assures the provision of special education and related services to students with disabilities ages 0-22 residing in east Alameda County, CA. Tannisse was nominated by a family because of the difference she made in their child’s life.
Shania Burrell (BA ’23) is a credential and retirement technician for the Tulare County Office of Education.
Elizabeth (Wilson, TC ’23, BA ’21) and Seth (TC ’23, BA ’22) Garcia are teaching in Kern County. Elizabeth is at Bimat Elementary School, and Seth is a history teacher at Haven Drive Middle School. They reside in Shafter, CA.
Spring 2023 Outstanding Graduate Award recipient Gabriel Vasquez-Salinas (BA ’23) is an ELA teacher at Pioneer Middle School in Porterville, CA.
Birgitta Eggertsdottir (BA ’22) is a marketing assistant for Central Valley Fuego FC.
Outstanding Graduate Award recipient Luke Colvard (BA ’22) accepted an offer at UCLA Law School where he is one of five Graton Scholars in the Class of 2026. The Graton Scholarship provides a three-year, full tuition award to students interested in Native American law and connects students to a network of students, professors, alumni and legal professionals working on the cutting edge of the fields of tribal law, federal Indian law and international Indigenous rights.
Maricarmen Mata-Nunez (BA ’21) is a victim advocate for Centro La Familia Advocacy Services in Fresno.
Leonard Torres (BA ’15) won an Edward R. Murrow Award in May 2023 for “After the Weather with Spencer Christian,” a podcast Leonard helped create as well as edit and produce for ABC 7 (KABC-TV) in Los Angeles. Leonard is the marketing and brand strategy producer for KGO-TV in the Bay Area.
Efraín Tovar (MA ’06, BA ’95) was selected a 2023 CUE Educator of the Year. This award recognizes a classroom teacher and CUE (Computer-Using Educators) member who has made a noteworthy contribution to educational technology in the classroom. Efraín is a newcomers teacher at Abraham Lincoln Middle School in Selma, CA. “Newcomers” are students from other countries.
Shivjit Thind (MBA ’22) started as an entry level buyer/procurement specialist at Pana-Pacific Corporation on May 22, 2023. Pana-Pacific provides entertainment and communication products to U.S. commercial vehicle manufacturers. Based in Fresno, the company is part of the Brix Group.
Deshonda Williams (MA ’21, BA ’17) is a counselor at El Diamante High School in the Visalia Unified School District.
Former Sunbird Volleyball player Carley Bock (BA ’19) is the director of operations for Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Volleyball. Carly led the PacWest Conference in kills per set her senior year, made the Pac West All- Conference team and was named FPU Senior Athlete of the Year.
Tim Cardascia (BA ’19) works at Radio by Grace in Amarillo, TX, as the marketing and programming director. Radio By Grace is a 77-station network with a Christian talk/teaching format.
Marcy Guthrie (MA ’97) was appointed principal of Gardnerville (NV) Elementary School beginning in the 2023-24 school year. She previously served as the superintendent at Chawanakee Unified School District near Fresno, where she was named Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region 2 Superintendent of the Year in 2021.
Brian Moll (MA ’19) was a speaker at the Mennonite Church USA National Convention in July 2023. He is pastor of Cincinnati (OH) Mennonite Fellowship and earned his M.A. in Ministry, Leadership & Culture at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary.
Joy Rubio (BA ’17) is a counselor at Golden West High School and resides in Visalia, CA.
Shantay Davies-Balch (BA ’15) founded Fresno’s Black Wellness and Prosperity Center (BWPC) to improve Black maternal and infant health through advocacy and education. Kaiser Permanente awarded BWPC Black Doula Network a $95,000 grant. Doulas provide non-medical support to pregnant women and their families during pregnancy, birth and post-partum.
Dan DeGeer (MA ’15) was named head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes II, the development squad for the San Jose Earthquakes MLS team, after a stint as interim head coach in February 2023.
After earning his Ph.D. in Classics from Bryn Mawr College, Daniel Crosby (MA ’13, BA ’10) is now assistant professor of classics and chair of humanities at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, PA.
Kyle Gerdts (BA ’13) has joined Pinnacle Claims Management, Inc. as vice president, sales and account management.
Matthew (BA ’13) and Klara (Shahaff, BA ’14) Gilbert were named coach and assistant coach, respectively, of the swimming and diving teams at Midland University in Fremont, NB.
Michael Dills-Allen (M.Div ’06), Ph.D., has been named registrar at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA.
Christina Morris Whalen (BA ’06) earned her MBA in May 2022 from Cal State Monterey Bay and a Senior Certified Professional credential through the Society for Human Resource Management in December 2022. She is now HR director/administrator for Valley Fitness, which operates 15 Central Valley gyms. She and her husband also bought a house in Madera, CA.
Michael Young (BA ’06) is a financial advisor for Edward Jones and lives in Visalia, CA.
Mark Fowler (BA ’05) has been named chief of secondary education for Richmond (IN) Community Schools.
Robin Perry (MA ’03, TC ’99), Ed.D., director of the preliminary single subject credential program, and Darrell Blanks (MA ’04), director of the preliminary multiple subject credential program, wrote “Partnering for Teaching Performance Assessment Support” with Gisela Cruz- Hawley and Allyson Maldonado (TC ’12), both of Fresno Unified School District, for the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Connections, the magazine of CASUP (California Association of School-University Partnerships).
Beatriz Chaidez (MA ’02), Ed.D., was selected as interim chancellor of San Jose-Evergreen Community College District in July 2023.
Darren Duerksen (MA ’00), Ph.D., associate professor and director of the intercultural and religious studies program, published Christ-Followers in Other Religions: The Global Witness of Insider Movements. In his book Darren analyzes the ways in which God’s Spirit may be creating new understandings of and witness to Christ that challenge, expand and de-center prevalent Western understandings of Christian mission and discipleship.
Wendela Whitcomb Marsh (MA ’00) has published eight books since retiring from public schools in 2016. Recognizing Autism in Women and Girls, took first place in the Chanticleer International Book Awards. She is currently writing a book series, Adulting While Autistic. Wendy is also the founder and CEO of Adult Autism Assessment & Services, a neurodiversity affirming telehealth group practice serving clients nationwide. Find her at WendelaWhitcombMarsh. com or AdultAutismAssessment.com.
Christopher Brownell, (MA ’99), Ph.D., began work as chair of the Pratt Institute Department of Mathematics and Science July 1, 2023. A full-time FPU faculty member from 2000-2022, he came to Pratt from a post as head of instruction for the National Museum of Mathematics in New York City.
Felipe Hinojosa (BA ’99), Ph.D., was appointed by Baylor University as the inaugural Jackson Family Chair for Baylor in Latin America on August 1, 2023. Felipe came to Baylor from Texas A&M, where he served as professor of history, assistant provost for Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) initiatives and director for the Carlos H. Cantu Hispanic Education & Opportunity Endowment. A civil rights historian, his research focuses on Chicana/o and Latina/o studies, American religion, race and ethnicity and social movements. Felipe was also Spring 2023 commencement speaker at Goshen (IN) College.
Steve Watkin (MA ’98, BA ’91) was appointed acting president of Bakersfield College in March 2023 by the Board of Trustees of the Kern Community College District. Steve joined BC nine years ago to establish an outreach program at the college, and most recently served as associate vice chancellor of enrollment management for the district.
Jaime Ramirez (MA ’96, BA ’81), head men’s soccer coach, was inducted into the Fresno County Athletic Hall of Fame.
Cheryl Dueck Smith (BA ’93), D.Arts, assistant professor of marriage and family therapy, published the article “My Guest, Anxiety” in the March/April 2023 Christian Leader, the magazine of the U.S. Mennonite Brethren Conference.
Don Morris (M.A./M.Div. ’91) announced he will retire as national director of the United States Mennonite Brethren Conference in August 2024, following Gathering 2024, the USMB national meeting. Don was appointed national director in August 2016, after two years as interim lead national staff. Before that, he directed Mission USA, the conference church-planting ministry and served for 13 years as lead pastor at Pine Acres Church in Weatherford, OK. USMB is the denomination with which FPU is affiliated.
Bruce L. Thiessen (BA ’82), Ph.D., published the book Where Two Are Gathered: Christ-centered Counseling Revisited with Rogationist Publications. He is the senior author with Bruce Narramore, Ph.D. Bruce Thiessen is a licensed clinical psychologist and a singer-songwriter known as Dr. BLT. More at drbltmusic.com
Susie Knight (BA ’78) chairs the Vacaville Christian High School Fine Arts Conservatory Department.
Sybil (Blaauw, MA ’99, BA ’97) Kolbert has written a personal narrative on the tale of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Finding Home: Embracing God’s Promises and Rebuilding Your Life bridges the ancient wisdom of Nehemiah and the challenges faced by individuals seeking to rebuild their lives today. It is available on Amazon.
Samantha Diaz (MA ’23, BA ’21) married Nicholas Diliberto on June 24, 2023, in Reedley, CA. The couple lives in Yucaipa, CA, where Samantha teaches first grade in a new dual immersion school, Palm Innovation Academy.
Erin Clarke (TC ’18, BA ’15) married Ryan Baker in Fort Worth, TX, on November 19, 2022. She gained two daughters through the marriage: Addison Faith (11) and Harper Hope (8). Erin is a middle school social studies teacher and girls athletics coach in Irving, TX, and Ryan works as a mail handler for the United States Postal Service in Fort Worth.
Valerie Claustro (BA ’22) welcomed first child Elijah Cisneros on December 3, 2022. He is a future Sunbird, according to his mom.
Ethan Ruffino was born in 2020 to Noel Ruffino (BA ’19) and Karla Moreno (BA ’19). The couple met at FPU’s North Fresno Campus while completing B.A. degrees in Criminology and Restorative Justice.
Trey (BS ’19) and Megan (Renna, BA ’21) Sena welcomed Holden Stephen on June 1, 2023. Trey is in the physician’s assistant program at A.T. Still University, and Megan is a kindergarten teacher for Heart Christian Academy. The family resides in Fresno, CA.
Tori (Sena, BS ’16) and Connor Burns welcomed Payton Grace on June 1, 2023. Payton joins big brother Jace Cooper. The family resides in Germantown, TN, where Tori is a nurse.
Jasmin Marie Caraballo Smith was born to Evelyn (Smith, TC ’18, BA ’17) and Joel Caraballo on March 5, 2023.
Adam Juarez (TC ’05, BA ’03) welcomed his fourth daughter, Averie, in 2021. Adam works as an ed tech and integrated studies consultant for the Tulare County Office of Education
Dava Nicholi Hash (TC ’03, BA ’02), 69, died on March 20, 2023. A Merced native, she worked in banking and taught sixth grade. Survivors include husband Rick, daughter Kat, son Danny and daughter-in-law Angela, two sisters and four grandchildren.
Angelina Rodriguez De Torrez (TC ’94), 75, died on May 9, 2023. The Fresno native was born on December 30, 1947, later moving to Lemoore. Over 25 years, she taught in Del Rey, Huron and Avenal as well as Corcoran State Prison. Survivors include husband Daniel, son Andrei and daughter-in-law Christine, son Alex and daughter-in-law Beverly, two brothers, two sisters and four grandchildren.
Samuel Bergen (FS ’67), 90, died on April 19, 2023.
It's so easy to let your classmates and friends know what's happening in your life—job, marriage, children, new address and awards.
Recently had a baby? Let us know—we’d love to send you one of our cute little Future Sunbird baby t-shirts, like Rowyn Henry is wearing, pictured here with dad Brennen (BA ’13).