Nancy Cheng receives CCPA outstanding graduate student award

Man Sze (Nancy) Cheng is said to be able to command a room with grace. Students describe meeting her as a valuable experience that leaves them feeling empowered. For the Student Affairs and College Counseling graduate program, she is an ambassador who goes above and beyond.

It’s no surprise Cheng was chosen for the Outstanding Graduate Student award from the California College Personnel Association, a state chapter of ACPA — College Student Educators International, one of the largest student affairs professional associations in the world.

Cheng, a Hong Kong native, has positively impacted the field of student affairs at Fresno State and across California. However, she isn’t the only Fresno State student to earn recognition. Cheng and her classmate, Jose Medina III, have both been appointed to the California College Personnel Association executive leadership team as graduate representatives for 2021. In this role, they will support students across the state and increase the visibility of student affairs professionals and the role they play in higher education. “Nancy and Jose are two of our amazing student leaders within the Student Affairs and College Counseling program,” said Dr. Soua Xiong, assistant professor and program coordinator.

The organization has also awarded Xiong with the Outstanding Service to the Association award for his active participation and contributions. He is a past president of the organization and has held several other leadership roles. With more than 15 years of higher education experience as a student affairs practitioner, researcher and faculty member, his service and leadership in the student affairs profession have elevated Fresno State’s program to new heights.

Xiong became coordinator of the program in fall 2019. Since then he has created a cohort model for students with specialized coursework and helped establish a graduate student association. He further supports his students with their scholarly activities, mentoring and collaborating with them on publications, conference presentations and any assistance needed with service in professional associations. Graduating about 30 students annually, Xiong keeps busy focused on his students’ needs.

Student affairs isn’t necessarily a profession that many grow up knowing about — they usually gain awareness through personal experience. That is what happened for Cheng.

“In high school, I didn’t get the guidance I needed, and I don’t want other students to be in a similar situation,” she said.

Before Cheng came to Fresno State, she could recall multiple times when she was misguided by education professionals and how this negatively impacted her. “If I get to be in a position where other students are depending on me, I will be more hands-on.”

And that is exactly what she is doing.

Cheng enrolled in the M.S. in Counseling option in fall 2019. The program provides students with academic preparation and training to effectively address the academic, career and personal counseling needs of college students. “When I found out the program was person-centered, it got my attention,” she said.

Currently serving as president of the program’s graduate student association, Cheng advocates for the program to potential students, hosts virtual mixers allowing students to engage in team-building activities and is working on collecting data for the program’s alumni campaign.

One of her most impactful projects has been hosting the program’s first comprehensive exam review, an exam students must pass before graduating. She heard there was a need for a review that consisted of more than flashcards and study groups. So she created a hands-on review, which includes a vignette run of the exam, to better prepare these soon-to-be grads.

One of Cheng’s award nominators stated that she demonstrates outstanding contributions to the student affairs profession and always fulfills the goals she sets for herself. Cheng’s next goal is to earn her doctorate so one day she can counsel and educate others.

To learn more about the Student Affairs and College Counseling program, visit: The application deadline for fall 2021 enrollment is March 1.

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