5 valedictorians in Cal Lutheran grad class

Undergraduate students share honor for highest GPA

An economics major, Jake Sawoski was involved in the university’s Investment Club and plans to work in the financial world. 

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – May 23, 2018) Five members of California Lutheran University’s Class of 2018 have been named valedictorians.

Raquel Centeno of Oxnard and Lauren Pixley, Jake Sawoski and Samantha Severn of Camarillo received the Provost’s Award for Academic Excellence for earning the highest cumulative GPAs for all college work among graduating seniors in the traditional undergraduate program. Paulina Pierce of Oxnard received the Provost’s Award for the highest GPA in the Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals program.

Centeno graduated in three years and completed the University Honors Program. A political science major with an interest in environmental policy, she was involved in the Beekeepers Club, College Democrats and Model United Nations. She served as a political science departmental assistant and worked at HUB 101, the coworking space in Cal Lutheran’s Center for Entrepreneurship. She took a travel seminar to Cuba and interned on a local state Senate campaign. Centeno plans to take a gap year to work as a substitute teacher, travel to Japan and apply to doctoral programs. 

Pixley transferred to Cal Lutheran from Moorpark College. She was a criminal justice major and is interested in the use of computer forensics in law enforcement. She has been working in computer forensics for eight years, starting as an intern when she was only 15. She currently teaches law enforcement and works on civil cases at the California Cyber Training Complex, and she previously worked at the California Department of Justice. 

Sawoski transferred to Cal Lutheran from Ventura and Moorpark colleges. An economics major, he was involved in the university’s Investment Club and plans to work in the financial world. His mother, uncle, sister and aunt all attended Cal Lutheran.  

Severn transferred to Cal Lutheran from Moorpark College. A psychology major, she was inducted into the psychology honor society Psi Chi. She was involved in Young Life College, a Christian club on campus. Severn has been accepted into the Cal Lutheran’s Marital and Family Therapy master’s degree program and will start in the fall.  

Pierce, a psychology major, attended Oxnard College and California State University, Channel Islands, before transferring to Cal Lutheran in 2016 at the encouragement of one of her daughters, who worked at the university. An executive assistant in human resources for the Oxnard School District, Pierce took her classes at the Oxnard Center and online. Her classmates were fellow working professionals.

“Their stories, compassion, support and encouragement definitely helped me get through times when I wanted to give up,” Pierce said. “We truly became a family.”