At the College of Social Sciences, we’re celebrating our outstanding alumni through weekly spotlights on social media. Read the collection of these spotlights to see where are our COSS alumni are now.

Joshua Guy Gorham

Joshua Guy Gorham graduated in 2017 with a degree in history and has since earned his MA in education from National University. He lives in Texas with his wife & children where he is in his second year as a high school social studies teacher.

He says, “My degree in history from Fresno State helped prepare me for my career by teaching me the value of critical thinking, the importance of historical research, and encouraging my passion for education.”

Dr. Elvia Rodriguez

Dr. Elvia Rodriguez received a history BA in 2006 and an MA in 2008 which put her on the path to a Ph.D. Her Ph.D. allowed her to get her dream job—teaching at Fresno State!

She said, “I love teaching in the College of Social Sciences and hope that I am setting a good example for my students, especially first-gen Valley kids like myself.”

You can find Dr. Rodriguez teaching classes in the history & CLAS departments.

Abigail Marie

Abigail Marie is a first-generation college graduate who earned a BS in criminology with an emphasis in law enforcement in 2013. Earning her degree solidified her passion for helping people & she currently works in the field.

She said, “To the future Fresno State students, I want to say don’t give up. There will be moments through your journey that will test you but know those moments will only make you a better student.”

Celeste Cabrera-Garcia

Celeste Cabrera-Garcia is a proud first-generation college student who earned her political science BA in 2017 and her MPA in 2020. She now serves the community she was raised in as City Clerk for the City of Mendota and Board Secretary for the nonprofit Mendota Community Corporation.

Celeste says, “My degrees have given me the motivation and the means to serve a wonderful community like Mendota and have solidified my love for public service.”

Jacki Alvarez

Jacki Alvarez double-majored in philosophy and women’s studies in 2016, going on to earn her MA from SFSU. She has since returned back to the valley to pursue her passion for teaching in the Fresno State Women, Gender, and Sexuality department and at Fresno City College. She is very active in the LGBTQ+ community and advocates for better policies for victims of sexual assault.

Jacki says, “My experiences at Fresno State in the Women Studies and Philosophy department has changed my life. I am living my best life, being able to advocate on behalf of marginalized students who are underrepresented in higher education.”

Stephanie Novak

Stephanie Novak graduated with her MA in criminology in 2020 and is working as a Defense Investigative Technician for Fresno County Public Defender’s Office. Her education in victimology helped prepare her for interacting with victims of crimes.

Stephanie says, “I am proud of everything I have accomplished in the last five years such as receiving my bachelor’s degree and master’s degree. However, my proudest achievement is beginning a career in my field of study.”

Stephen Bohigian

Dr. Stephen Bohigian earned his BA 2010 and MA 2014 in history, receiving his PhD in history 2019 from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He currently teaches in the Fresno State History Department and he recently published in the Journal of Urban History.

Stephen says, “Throughout my time teaching in the History Department at Fresno State, I have used my training as a historian to teach students that studying history is not just about memorizing names and dates, but about thinking analytically about the past and how it informs the present.”

Patrick Fontes

Dr. Patrick Fontes earned his history BA in ‘94, MA ‘97, and his PhD from Stanford in ’16. The education and the mentorship he received at Fresno State gave him a strong foundation to succeed at Stanford. Now, he teaches Chicano Studies at Fresno State and full time at Clovis Community College. 

Dr. Fontes said, “Connecting with students, provoking students to thought and inquiry, knowing that I have inspired my students to see history in a new light, and appreciate knowledge as a source of enlightenment, provides me with a profound sense of accomplishment.” 

Emily Rivas

Emily Rivas earned her history BA ‘18 & MA ‘20. She’s a project manager for nonprofit United We Lead Foundation where she works with underserved communities. Her degrees help her understand people’s struggles & be a great researcher for grant writing.

Emily says, “I’m proud of always remaining true to myself and carrying that with me in my education. I never faltered on my beliefs or my background and I used that as a guide to get me where I am today.”

Blake Zante

Blake Zante graduated with his political science BA in 2018. He is currently a Communications Director for California State Senator Andreas Borgeas and he sits on the Fresno State Alumni Association Board of Directors. 

Blake says, “The faculty in the Political Science Department are incredible. They set students up for success as they enter the professional world and launch their careers. I am proud of graduating with my Bachelor’s degree and starting my career!”

Alex Gallo

Alex Gallo graduated with her BA ‘17 in political science and communication. She now works for the State of California focusing on community investment in underserved communities and environmental justice. She’s proud of finding work that aligns with her personal mission.

She says, “The Political Science Department introduces you to many facets of the vast area of study, which allowed me to explore many topical areas before refining my interests post-grad. My professors also provided me with immense mentorship and guidance. They are wonderful thought partners and helped instill the confidence I needed moving into the workforce.”

Tania Pacheco-Werner

Tania Pacheco-Werner earned her sociology BA ‘06 & is co-director of Central Valley Health Policy Institute. She researches topics related to social determinants of health & works on local & state policy in environment & healthcare systems.

She says, “I received a great education that prepared me to do so many things in the world. I hope current students know how much we need their passion and creativity in the workforce right now and that there are many career opportunities that will allow them to help make their mark on our society.”

Ryan Ditchfield

Ryan Ditchfield earned degrees in criminology & political science in 2016, and is completing a PhD in social psychology at Iowa State University. He will be returning to Fresno State’s Criminology Department as an Assistant Professor this fall!

Ryan says, “My degrees in criminology and political science laid the foundation for my current research in legal psychology. Some of the topics that I have examined include eyewitness decision-making, police-citizen interactions, police interviews and interrogations, and deception detection. I will be continuing my work in these areas at Fresno State.”

We’re always looking for more stellar alumni to spotlight on social media and our blog. Reach out to us on social media, email COSS Communications Specialist Lucero Benitez at or comment below to tell us where you are as a COSS alumni.