Celebrating Successes

Fresno State Alumni Association honors 2017 Top Dogs

The Top Dog Alumni Awards Gala recognizes some of the University’s most accomplished graduates with the highest honor presented by the Fresno State Alumni Association.

Each year one alumnus from each of the University’s eight academic schools and colleges, as well as the Department of Athletics, the Henry Madden Library, the Division of Student Affairs and the Division of Graduate Studies, is chosen to be honored with an Outstanding Alumni Award.

On Oct. 13 at the Save Mart Center, during homecoming week, this year’s group of awardees gathered in front of a crowd of about 1,000 Fresno State supporters for an inspirational evening filled with bold stories of achievement and service.

Kim Ruiz Beck, chairman of Ruiz Foods, earned the Distinguished Alumna Award, the top honor of the night. Ruiz Foods’ El Monterey brand is the No. 1 selling frozen Mexican food in the U.S. and its Tornados brand is a leader on convenience store roller grills. Fresno State Magazine asked Ruiz Beck, a 1988 graduate, to write a first-hand account of her journey and what the award means to her.


A Proud Bulldog Moment

by Kim Ruiz Beck, Top Dog Distinguished Alumna

It is an incredible honor to receive the Top Dog Award, and I have never been prouder to be a Bulldog!

Kim RuizMy years at Fresno State were, indeed, an important part of my life and solidified my desire to be part of our family business. In fact, when I look back at my years at Fresno State, I recall how much of my class work related directly to some of the challenges we were facing at Ruiz Foods. For example, I recall how my market research project was a taste test of our mini chimichangas, and how our company philosophy developed from one of my management classes.

After college, I joined our company’s marketing team, spent time in sales, managed product development, became the interim CEO and, now, chairman. But I could not have accomplished any of this without the love and support of my husband, Tom, and my sons Tyler, Travis and Trent.

Today, I am so very proud of all that our 3,600 team members have accomplished. Each team member is the story of an American dream come true, and I am honored they believe in the Ruiz family and our leadership team. I also believe we have the best management team in the food industry led by our CEO, Rachel Cullen. Together, they inspire me every day.

With the success of our family-owned business, we have the opportunity to invest back into our community. We are passionate about children and education, and I am pleased to say that our Ruiz 4 Kids scholarship program has helped to support many, many Bulldogs.

As I have become more involved with the University through the Board of Governors, I have developed a greater awareness and appreciation for the importance of Fresno State in our community’s future. After all, it is where our future leaders will come from, and I believe our recent gift to the Craig School of Business reflects our commitment.

Finally, I am excited to have the time to become more involved in what Fresno State brings to the community, and I firmly believe in President Joseph Castro’s leadership and vision for the University.


— Kim Ruiz Beck, a 1988 graduate, earned Fresno State’s 2017 Top Dog Distinguished Alumna Award.