Student of Distinction: Robert Ortega, Jr.

Robert Ortega Jr

Undergraduate, B.A. in Communication; B.A. in Media, Communications and Journalism, with an emphasis in Broadcast Journalism; Minor in Sociology

With his dad’s focus on athletics and his mom’s focus on academics, Robert Ortega’s parents dreamed of him getting a full-ride scholarship to college. All four of Ortega’s grandparents migrated from Mexico and worked in the fields their entire life.

“Each of my grandparents migrated to the United States from Mexico with nothing more than a fourth-grade education, but you would never tell with the wisdom of life they moved with. They worked their whole lives as farmworkers, who prioritized family before material pleasure any day of the week,” said Ortega. “Without effort, they taught me humility, and that one is only ever as great as the amount of work that they put toward their values.”

His parents, who both graduated from college, knew the value of an education and wanted the best for him and supported him throughout his education.  With a double major in Communication and Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sociology, it’s fair to say that Ortega has lived up to and likely exceeded his parents’ dreams for him.

“Double majors offer opportunities to integrate more than one area of study; however, doing it well is another task,” said Dr. Katherine Adams, representing the Communication Department Faculty. “RJ is the consummate student of the world. He not only enjoys learning for learning’s sake, he also commits to those around him and welcomes them into his efforts.”

Ortega is both a Smittcamp Honors College scholar and a College of Arts and Humanities Honors Program scholar. During his time at Fresno State, he has been on the President’s List four times and on the Dean’s list twice; he served treasurer, vice president, then president of the Sigma Nu fraternity and studied abroad in London in the winter of 2019-20. He has also worked several off-campus jobs to support his education.

“Robert has achieved a near-perfect GPA overall and in his Communication major, and he has distinguished himself by participating in not only the Smittcamp Family Honors College but also the Arts & Humanities Honors Program. Even among Smittcamp scholars, this double honors work is extremely rare, and in all of these very difficult honors courses he excelled,” Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication Dr. Kevin Macy-Ayotte said.

Ortega is the recipient of the Carla and Scott Miller London Study Abroad Scholarship, the Charles Taylor Memorial Scholarship, the Charles L. Palmer Memorial Scholarship, the College of Arts and Humanities Dean’s Council Scholarships, and the Smittcamp Family Honors/President’s Honor Scholarship.

Even through these accomplishments, Ortega humbly gives credit to those who supported him most.

“This is the part of my parent’s dream that I never imagined. I am forever gracious that this is even a tangible reality,” said Ortega.


The College of Arts and Humanities Students of Distinction represents the best of their department and will be honored at the Arts in Motion event at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 10 – the culminating event of the Arts in Motion Showcase week. From these students, one undergraduate and one graduate Dean’s Medalist will be selected. The Dean’s Medalists are then eligible to receive the President’s Medal, the university’s highest student honor.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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