Top Grads 2010

Contact: Pat Lopes Harris,

SJSU media relations, 408-924-1748

SAN JOSÉ, Calif., — San José State President Jon Whitmore will recognize three top graduates at commencement, which begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 29, in Spartan Stadium. Approximately 8,900 candidates who completed their studies in August 2009, December 2009 and May 2010 will be eligible to participate. Around 25,000 graduates, family and friends are expected to attend the ceremony.

Vanessa Brewer and Bridget McKee have been named SJSU’s 2010 Outstanding Graduating Seniors in recognition of their scholarship and contributions to the community, and Nancy Shostak has received the 2010 Outstanding Thesis Award in recognition of the exceptional quality of her research.

Brewer will graduate with a bachelor’s in nursing. Her graduation is the culmination of what she calls a “15-year journey” toward fulfilling a lifelong dream. Beginning first at Gavilan College, Brewer, of Morgan Hill, has worked toward a career in nursing one or two classes at a time while tending to three active children, working part time, fundraising for the Leukemia Society and volunteering in support of her children’s activities and at Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Pediatric Education. Aside from studying hard to achieve a 3.86 GPA and founding a nursing student organization, Brewer says her best San José State memories will be of her peers and professors who mentored and encouraged her.

McKee will graduate with a bachelor’s in anthropology. As a member of the 6th-ranked women’s water polo team, she earned one of the top five GPAs of San José State’s 450 student-athletes — 3.87. When she wasn’t competing in the pool, the Newbury Park native made time to support the research of two anthropology professors by creating excavation layouts and artifact illustrations. She also volunteered to help get donated food to low-income senior citizens and as a reading partner to elementary school students. McKee says the experience of being a student-athlete provided her with the “work ethic and team mentality that are essential to any achievement.”

Shostak will graduate with a master’s in geology. She has always been fascinated with earth science, but she fell in love with geology after taking a class through San José State’s Open University. Once in the master’s program, she says the field trips, which included hiking east of the Sierras to “look at rocks,” only sweetened the deal. For her thesis, “Intensity of the 1906 Earthquake In and Near San José, California,” she studied the underlying geology of the area in order to explain the varying patterns of shaking during the earthquake. Shostak hopes to combine her Bryn Mawr College mathematics bachelor’s degree and her number-crunching experience as an actuary with her recently acquired earthquake knowledge in a new career: estimating post-earthquake losses.

Read more on commencement.

San José State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 27,400 students and 3,190 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.