Nine CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) upper division undergraduates completed the spring semester with an MVS Medal of Excellence from the Martin V. Smith School of Business & Economics. The link is now available for those who wish to see the May 22 virtual MVS Medal of Excellence ceremony.

MVS medals also went to two graduate students, one alumnus and one staff member, all of whom excelled in academics, campus and community involvement. To view the ceremony with a list of all the recipients, visit

Among the nine undergraduates to be awarded the medal was economics major Jorge Gomez of Simi Valley, who stayed focused on his studies while on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic as an emergency medical technician (EMT).

His dream to become a firefighter kept him focused. It was a goal he set when he was 11 and cut his finger, which began bleeding so badly his mother called 911 and firefighters arrived.

“It was so bad, my little brother lost consciousness,” Gomez said. “I’ll never forget, a firefighter took off his glove and showed me a scar on the end of his finger to let me know everything was going to be all right. I knew right then I wanted to become a firefighter.”

At 15, Gomez joined the Fire Explorer Program through the Oxnard Fire Department and later became an EMT. He decided to major in economics when he entered CSUCI as the first in his family to attend college. He believes the degree will help him with the public administration aspect of being a firefighter.

Gomez turned 21 in March, right as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated in Ventura County, and for the first time, he had to wear an N-95 mask on EMT calls.

“For a month, every single shift we had, we had to help a patient with COVID-19,” he said. “They’d be lethargic, their skin was hot and they were in respiratory distress. The scariest part was looking at their medical history and seeing no underlying conditions.”

Despite his critical role in the community, Gomez made good grades and worked on his capstone project in which he’s examining the economic cost of a society shutting down during a pandemic. He plans to graduate at the end of the 2020 fall semester.

“Not only is Jorge an exceptional student, but he is a testament to the wonderful work our students are doing in the community,” said Susan Andrzejewski, interim dean of the MVS School of Business & Economics.

MVS Medal recipient Kristin “Andie” Wyatt, 26, who received an undergraduate MVS medal, is a member of the storied Class of 2020, who have yet to experience an in-person ceremony.

“It was bittersweet, but it is memorable,” she said. “People found really creative ways of congratulating one another.”

Creativity is something Wyatt appreciates. She graduated with a double major in business and economics with hopes of making the world a more of a beautiful place.

“I’ve always loved design. I was very successful at floral design when I worked in the floral department of a supermarket. It was part of my decision to major in business. I want to own my own interior design business.”

The MVS Medal of Excellence Ceremony and a virtual graduation celebration were not the only surprises 2020 had in store for Wyatt. She was posing for photos in her cap and gown when she turned around to see her boyfriend on one knee with an important question to ask — she said yes.

Tavis Boise

Tavis Boise

Masters of business administration (MBA) graduate student and MVS Medal recipient Tavis Boise, 26, is the youngest candidate ever to run for the Santa Barbara City Council.

“Tavis continues to advocate for issues related to climate change and the expansion of affordable housing,” Andrzejewski said. “He has demonstrated his capacity to lead, both in the classroom and in the community.”

The Santa Barbara native ran for office in 2019 with a platform of creating a greater future for the youth of Santa Barbara. He doesn’t consider his failure to win the seat a loss, but a rich learning experience, especially the five televised debates with the other five candidates.

“Responding eloquently and passionately in under 90 seconds was the hard part,” he said.

Business and economics coordinator Paulina Rodriguez received the MVS medal for staff/faculty for helping everyone in the department transition to virtual instruction when the pandemic hit, while simultaneously earning a master’s in public administration from CSU Northridge.

“Paulina has provided exceptional support to the MVS School for years with her positive demeanor, sense of humor, and willingness to go above and beyond to support faculty, students, and staff,” Andrzejewski said.

As if that weren’t enough, Rodriguez taught classes in English as a Second Language. She plans to use her degree to do some good in her hometown of Santa Paula, where she has volunteered for years.

“I started volunteering very young. I was a Girl Scout and every Sunday we’d go to the local women’s shelter, and we would run crafting classes with the children there,” she said. “I learned how important these moments are. It helps me feel connected to where I live.”