UC Davis Today

Larissa Miyachi works with fluorescent dyes

Graduates of promise

Since 1965, UC Davis has awarded the University Medal to the top graduating senior for excellence in undergraduate studies, outstanding community service and the promise of future scholarship and contributions to society. 

The more than 45 recipients include the U.S. Treasury Department’s chief economist, the president of a Thai university, an art professor and other academics, 10 doctors as well as engineers, lawyers and math teachers. 

Together, they have earned at least 53 advanced degrees, and seven younger medalists are still working toward doctorates or bound for medical school.

But psychiatrist Denise Albert ’96 speaks for many of her fellow medalists when she attests to something more: “By really investing in my education, I gained much more than degrees or a profession. I gained the freedom and capacity to choose a different life for myself.”

The medalists’ work ranges from trying to find a cure for cancer to helping the poor in developing countries.

Larissa Miyachi of Oregon House, Calif., is the 2012 medalist. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry and molecular biology and is headed to medical school: “I’ve walked around this big campus and thought, ‘Here I am learning to do something significant with my life.’ It’s a really privileged feeling.”

Meet our other medalists. Find out how UC Davis had an impact on them, and what impact they’re having on the world.

Larissa Miyachi discovered her interest in medicine doing research with fluorescent dyes and nanoparticles for a cancer therapy. Recognized with the University Medal as the top graduating senior in 2012, she is bound for medical school. Photo by Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis

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