Rebekah Moses didn’t expect she was going to be selected as the undergraduate dean’s medalist for the Division of Students Affairs and Enrollment management.
“I didn’t think it went well because it got a little bit emotional. So I was like, ‘Oh, you cried. I’m not going to win’,” Moses said of the interview she had over Zoom with the selection committee.
However, she was on her way home when she got the call that she was this year’s dean’s medalist winner.
“So that was really exciting. And I had to make sure that they repeated that I was not a nominee but a medalist winner,” Moses said of her surprise about receiving that recognition.
“Lots of different emotions. I was very shocked. very humbled. I had no intention of ever winning any kind of award. I mean, my main goal was just to graduate,” said the 38-year-old Moses, who earned her bachelor’s degree in health science with a 4.0 GPA.
Moses was one of me many graduating college students who took part in the College of Health and Human graduation ceremony Saturday (May 21) morning at the Save Mart Center.
As a first-generation college student, Moses said, it is exciting and a blessing to obtain a college degree.
As the youngest child of her parents, Moses said, that even thought her dad passed away a few years ago and won’t see her walking on state to get her college diploma, her mother would be able to see her accomplishment.
Moses, who is from Firebaugh, said that when she graduated from Firebaugh High School in 2001, coming from a low-income family she couldn’t afford to go to college.
“My parents couldn’t help me at all. And we even had the little satellite campus out there West Hills and I couldn’t even afford to go to West Hill,” Moses said, adding that she joined the military to help pay for college in the future.
Moses enlisted in the military at age 17 and was in boot camp before her 18th birthday.
She went in July of 2001 and then the September 11 terrorist attacks happened not only changing the world but also her focus, which made serving the country her priority.
“I wasn’t able to focus on trying to go to college while I was in the military. It was just focusing, serving, being in the military and doing my job and learning it to the best of my ability,” Moses said. “I was in the Navy and I was in health care. So I was an EMT right off the back. I got trained as an 18 year old to help take care of families in that area and I was stationed overseas in Japan so that was a little nerve racking.”
After two years being stationed in Japan, Moses came back and got married and began a family.
“And I realized I was missing a lot you know as a mom and being deployed. I didn’t want to miss my little babies growing up. So my husband and I switched,” Moses said. “He finished his degree and got a full-time job and I came home after serving for eight years and was able to be there for my children.”
She served eight years as a hospital corpsman and earned a several awards, including the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Award and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
Moses, who had a honorable discharge, wanted to wait a little until her children were older before pursuing her high education.
She decided it was time to return to college when her youngest child was in elementary school.
As her youngest one was going into kindergarten, Moses realized she needed to use her GI Bill before it would expire in 12 years.
“I really wanted to make sure I got my education. So as she went into kindergarten I started as well. And the goal was to start at Fresno State but I didn’t know, I was really naive to the process that you had to be a freshman straight out of high school or you had to have 60 units as a transfer and I had 10,” Moses said. “So I was like OK, well I guess that’s not going to happen, but I was still determined I really wanted to go to Fresno State.”
That bump on the road to higher education, didn’t deter Moses to pursue her dream. She started at Fresno City College, went there for two years, got her 60 units and transferred to Fresno State where she was a participant in the TRiO Student Support Services Veterans program.
“I was super excited I got accepted to Fresno State,” Moses said adding that she received her acceptance letter in the spring of 2020 just as the pandemic was starting to hit and people were sent home and then the shutdown.
“So my first year at Fresno State was strictly online, very disappointing, very challenging, but I still, I persevered, push through it and I got all A’s since my two years in Fresno City and then continue to at my third year online at Fresno State. So it was really exciting. And I have kept that momentum going,” Moses said of continuing to get straight A’s. “It’s been quite a journey.”
When classes when back to in-person, Moses said she was “so excited to finally be on campus and be able to just be here at Fresno State in person.”
“it’s been super wonderful. And like I said, I just aspired to graduate. I never thought about receiving awards or anything like that,” Moses said. “So this has just been amazing. This is nothing like I’ve dreamed or expected. So it’s been quite an honor.”
Moses was an intern for the Central California Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and a volunteer in the children’s program at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Moses will attend National University in the fall to pursue her master’s in public health with a focus in health administration.
Honor: Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management undergraduate dean’s medalist
Family: Husband: Evan Moses, Children: 4, Victoria, Isabella, Owen, and Danielle.
High school: Firebaugh High School (2001)
Hobby: I exercise, running, walking, anything outdoors.
Music: “All music, I guess whatever’s popular on the radio.”