For Riley Thomas, excellence at the graduate level requires more than stellar grades, it also indicates a selfless commitment to improving the experience of graduate and undergraduate students, marked by her constant and numerous roles as leader in the Department of English, within the dormitory community at Fresno State, and within her own classroom.
“Riley is an exceptional mixture of talent, creativity, life experience, and management ability. She has contributed to Fresno State greatly, and has enhanced and improved our community,” writes Dr. Ashley Foster, professor of English.
As President of the Students of English Studies Association (SESA), Thomas has continued the revival of a dormant graduate student organization. Every year, SESA hosts a symposium which, under her leadership, reached the regional level for the first time and supported 27 graduate and undergraduate participants.
In her three years of experience as a teacher at Fresno State, Thomas has achieved high marks in her classroom observations and student evaluations.
Thomas is also the coordinator for Student Residential Housing. She often jokes that she is “the embodiment of Fresno State because I live, work, learn, and teach here.”
“Riley is the real deal: an intelligent researcher, a selfless teacher and committed community activist,” writes Dr. William Arce, assistant professor. “I have no doubt that as a future professor, Riley will be transformative in the lives of her students and in the culture of her university.”
Following graduation, Thomas plans to pursue her Ph.D. and eventually become a professor of English.