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Dean of Students Award for Outstanding Leadership

Awarded annually, this recognition is for a senior undergraduate student who has demonstrated outstanding academic and service accomplishments during their time at Cal State San Marcos.

Award Criteria

  • Completion of degree/credential in Spring 2024
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and good standing with the University
  • Outstanding academic, leadership and service accomplishments

The Dean of Students Office works in conjunction with colleagues in Student Affairs to select the student who receives this honor. The student selected is then considered for the President's Outstanding Graduate Award, the highest award bestowed on a student graduating from the university.

2024 Recipient


Nick Melanese

I am pleased to select Nick Melanese as the 2024 recipient for the Dean of Students Award for Outstanding Leadership. Nick will graduate this May with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing. Following graduation, Nick intends to complete his MBA at CSUSM. It is my pleasure to forward his nomination for the 2024 President’s Outstanding Graduate Award. 

To capture a glimpse of Nick, you will find the numerous milestones he has accomplished during his time here at CSUSM. In his transition to higher education, Nick was recruited to the Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field Team. Although excited to begin, Nick was faced with a challenge no one had expected: the COVID-19 pandemic. As time passed after the pandemic and athletics resumed, Nick became CSUSM’s record holder for 800m, multi-time CCAA champion, and an NCAA qualifier. It is also worthy to note Nick was elected as a Leadership Council Member for Track & Field. In this position, Nick oversees and facilitates conflict management, team bonding, apparel, and social media during council meetings. Nick has also been awarded the Elite 13 Award, formerly known as CCAA Championship Scholar Award, awarding the athletic and academic achievement of a student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average in the championship of his or her sport, which for Nick was the CAA cross country championship. It comes to no surprise this award was granted to Nick when also knowing he has consistently been a part of the Dean’s List since Fall 2020, has been recognized as an Outstanding Business Professional Development Student, in addition to being awarded six-time Mangrum Award for Academic Excellence, two-time D2 ADA Academic Achievement Award, CSC Academic All-District Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field, CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team and three-time CCAA All-Academic Awardee. 

In addition to Nick’s athletic commitment, he also has many interests in video production and marketing. Nick joined the University Student Union (USU) team as a Video Production Student Assistant in 2021. Nick’s creativity and dedication to the USU’s mission and values were quickly recognized, leading Nick to becoming the Marketing Coordinator for the USU. In this role, Nick manages a team of 10 marketing assistants and collaborates with various departments within the USU ranging from ASI (Associated Students, Incorporated), Campus Recreation, CSUSM Student Life and more to inspire community engagement and campus pride. Nick was awarded the Employee of the Month in March of 2022 and received national recognition in the Association of College Unions International’s (ACUI) Steal This Idea Competition to foster genuine connections with students and inspire prospective students to choose CSUSM. Also, Nick co-presented at the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association’s (NIRSA) Annual Collegiate Marketing Institute Conference on digital marketing strategies to increase student engagement.  

Nick is a rare student that has integrated his studies, co-curricular experiences, and has been able to reflect on his holistic CSUSM experience. Considering his experience as a student-athlete, his campus leadership/job responsibilities at the USU, and his many opportunities in COBA, Nick has looked at all his opportunities as learning experiences. Nick brought in concepts from his marketing classes to his job in the USU. Similarly, Nick learned about listening, motivation, conflict, and leadership from the team. Holistically, Nick integrated his classroom learning with the out-of-the-class leadership opportunities. Nick stated this about his commitments in his personal statement “Balancing my academic pursuits with being a dedicated student-athlete in cross country and track has instilled in me a strong work ethic and growth mindset. As a top athlete and team captain, I have learned the importance of leadership, teamwork, and resilience — skills that directly transfer to a business setting. I aim to bring this unique perspective to the MBA program, contributing to my cohort and a diverse and dynamic learning environment.” 

Whether on the track/course, in class, or at the USU, Nick has been a role model, mentor, and strives to engage his peers. Nick shared in his interview he is internally motivated to excel. Nick has taken on leadership roles with the team, in his USU role, and through his Senior Experience Project. Nick’s interview was different from his peers in the thoughtfulness of making of his CSUSM experience and the desire to motivate, engage, and improve the experience of his classmates, teammates, and co-workers. At the conclusion of Nick’s interview, he shared how impressed he has been with the alumni involvement in CSUSM. This demonstration of giving back has already inspired him to give back to a place in his words, “given me so much.” 

In summary, Head Coach Torrey Olson shared, “When our team of nearly 100 student-athletes went to nominate captains this Fall, nobody got more nominations than Nick. This is unsurprising, as he had already emerged as a peerless leader, going far beyond serving as a role model. He holds a high standard, while being able to connect. His communication is exemplary. He is one of the first to volunteer regarding our service efforts, such as our match through Team Impact. He confronts conflict productively, genuinely, and with poise. He has changed many minds in ways both small and large. My experience has been better because of Nick. His teammates’ experience has been dramatically better because of the character he brings every day.” 

It was a pleasure to talk with Nick about his experiences and impact on the CSUSM community. Nick was selected for the Dean of Students Award for Outstanding Leadership since he demonstrates what any student affairs professional would hope for any of our students. He has had the true holistic learning experience at CSUSM that I have no doubt will prepare him for graduate school and life after CSUSM.  

Please join me in congratulating Nick as the recipient of the 2024 Dean of Students Award for Outstanding Leadership.