#ImmigrantHeritageMonth: ‘For a Better Life’

Floriberta Sario

Floriberta Sario

By Floriberta Sario

Hello everyone, my name is Floriberta Sario Perez, but I prefer Flor. I am currently a third-year student at San Jose State University pursing a degree in Business, Management Information Systems with a graduation date anticipated by the Spring of 2021. I was born in Oaxaca, Mexico in 1998 and was the third child of Leonor and Gilberto Sario, as my older siblings Elizabeth and Rafael were already in the picture. Poverty consumed us all and my father made the hard decision to immigrate to the United States. At the time my father decided to leave, I was two and a half months old, but my mother told me how they had to splurge on one corn cob (corn for us was a luxury) and split half between my brother and sister to distract them before my father took off to an unknown destiny. The plan failed and my brother quickly found himself forgetting the corn and clinging to the bottom of my father’s jeans in an attempt to keep him from leaving.

There was no other choice though “porque la hambre es canija (because going hungry is hard).” My mother joined my father only a year after he initially left. They both worked in the fields and saved the little they could so they could eventually bring my siblings and me to the land of opportunities. They had decided to wait until they could afford to give us all the luxuries we couldn’t even begin to dream of. But like any mother would, my mom found it hard to be without us so in 2001 my two older siblings and I were finally reunited with our parents and we were a family once again (regardless of the fact that we were still poor).

As I find myself writing this, I can’t help but reflect on the impacts my identity as an immigrant has had on my life. It’s one of the reasons I decided to attend San Jose State as San Jose State is a designated Hispanic Serving Institution. It is one of the reasons I am a proud member and officer of Grupo Folklorico Luna y Sol, a student organization which champions higher education among the Chicanx/Latinx community through traditional Mexican dance. It is one of the reasons why I am a committed Student Success intern at the Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center, a space dedicated to the success of Chicanx/Latinx Students. I used to be silently proud of my past but through a mixture of events and self-growth, I have found the strength and the need to share my story. All immigrant stories are different, but almost all share a similar phrase: “For a better life.” A life that I am still working on creating but have faith that I will eventually live.

In celebration of Immigrant Heritage Month in June, San Jose State University’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion along with the University Advancement Strategic Communications and Marketing team collected and shared stories of Spartan students, faculty, staff and alumni who have unique and inspiring immigrant narratives. In addition, the university is highlighting research, scholarship and creative activities that enhance our understanding of immigration and contributions of immigrant populations to the fabric of our campus community and our society. See some of the photos posted on SJSU’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

#ImmigrantHeritageMonth: “Use Your Voice”

Fernanda Perdomo-Arciniegas was on a path to become a lawyer in her native Colombia when she immigrated to the United States. But when she arrived, in California, most of her university credits were non-transferable and she felt unsure about her written English skills. So she enrolled at West Valley College where she completed an associate’s degree in math while enhancing her language proficiency. She transferred to San Jose State University, where she earned a bachelor’s in mathematics/statistics  in 2001 and a master’s in Public Administration in 2008. Now the deputy diversity officer for SJSU, she started her career at SJSU in 2002, working first in Academic Affairs in the math and biology departments for five years and then in Student Affairs, as director of Campus and Community Relations for 10 years.

“One thing I focused on was access to college,” she said. “For immigrant parents or first-generation children, navigating K-12 can be confusing. I wanted to demystify the college process and help families get their students on a path to higher education. We, as parents, want our children to succeed regardless of our national origin or education background.”

As a mother of two, she said she also wanted to learn more about the United States K-12 system to help her own children.

Perdomo-Arciniegas helped to create College Day, where families of K-12 students could visit SJSU to learn more about preparing for college, and also oversaw the Advancing Latinx Achievement and Success Conference. She helped to facilitate the Spartan East Side Promise, an agreement that offers a clear roadmap for admission for students in the East Side Union School District to San Jose State University.

“As  an immigrant, I feel a responsibility to advocate, to speak up, to use my voice now that I have a place at the table,” she said. “It is very important to remember where you came from and to use your voice to set the stage for those who are coming after you.”

She found herself quite literally using that voice as a Spanish-language translator at times during community meetings between the university and neighborhood families who worried about the effect of impaction on admissions. Through the years, she also found herself advocating for underrepresented minority students, specifically undocumented students.

As the daughter of educated parents who was privileged to immigrate through legal channels, she said she has always empathized with undocumented students.

“While working on a resource guide by and for undocumented students, I learned of their dreams, hopes, difficulties and fears,” she said. “As an immigrant, I related to undocumented students at some level (learning a second language, being misunderstood often, culture shock, etc.), but I could never equate my privileged experience to theirs. They taught me so much during our work together.”

And she also appreciates the importance of cultural traditions, no matter where one lives. She and her family continue to participate in Novena de Aguinaldo (Nine Days of Christmas), in which they pray, sing and tell a special story of the birth of Jesus. Different friends host each year, and the Colombian Consulate collects toys to donate to their native country.

“For us, Christmas is always about family and it’s also a time to give back and be generous with our gifts, spiritual and/or material,” she said. Giving back is a mantra for Perdomo-Arciniegas.

In celebration of Immigrant Heritage Month, San Jose State University’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion along with the University Advancement Strategic Communications and Marketing team collected and shared stories of Spartan students, faculty, staff and alumni who have unique and inspiring immigrant narratives. In addition, the university is highlighting research, scholarship and creative activities that enhance our understanding of immigration and contributions of immigrant populations to the fabric of our campus community and our society. See some of the photos posted on SJSU’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Support for Undocumented Students

Editor’s Note: The following message was emailed to all students April 5, 2018.

Dear SJSU Community,

We hope you had a restful spring break and are looking forward to these last few weeks of the semester. We want to make sure all of our students complete the term successfully, and we know that some of our undocumented students continue to face uncertainty about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation as well as reported increases in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids in the Bay Area. We are aware that many in our Spartan community have been and continue to be seriously impacted. SJSU remains committed to ensuring access to a quality education for all our students.

This spring semester we hired the first program coordinator for our UndocuSpartan Resource Center (USRC), Ana Navarrete Avina. The resource center is now open and located on the second floor of the Student Union, room 2450. We have held workshops about DACA renewals, and Associated Students has offered funding for renewal fees. We have partnered with local non-profit immigration rights organizations including Asian Law Alliance and SIREN to bring legal experts to campus for undocumented students, and the Counseling and Psychological Services department has facilitated a support group for undocumented students.

We have also communicated to our employees that any inquiries from ICE or any federal, state or local official requesting information about a student’s immigration status should be directed to the University Police Department at 408-924-2222.

To answer questions about DACA and related matters, and how the campus can support our undocumented students, we will be engaging in outreach to students. If you are interested in learning more information about these efforts, please contact the USRC at 408-924-2762 or undocuspartan@sjsu.edu.

Later in April, we will be providing an UndocuAlly training program that will provide information on how to be prepared for an ICE raid. While unlikely to occur on campus, we want to ensure students have the information needed to be prepared. If you are not able to attend but have questions, please reach out to USRC at 408-924-2762 or via email at undocuspartan@sjsu.edu.

SJSU stands with the leadership of the California State University (CSU) in its unwavering commitment to our undocumented students. The CSU Office of the Chancellor recently revised its CSU Resources for Undocumented Students website that is also a useful tool for students.

Each of our students deserves an educational environment that is welcoming and safe. We are committed to every student’s success on our campus. Look for more information soon about future workshops and outreach opportunities. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Andy Feinstein, Provost

Sharon Willey, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs

Kathy Wong(Lau), Chief Diversity Officer

 

Interns at New Student Success Centers Guide URM Students

Photo: David Schmitz Janely Cerda, left, and Paola Quintanilla, welcomed students back to campus at the Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center Welcome in January. They are both interns with the center.

Photo: David Schmitz
Janely Cerda, left, and Paola Quintanilla, welcomed students back to campus at the Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center Welcome in January. They are both interns with the center.

This spring semester marks the opening of the African American/Black Student Success Center and Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center, both located in the Diaz Compean Student Union. The goal of these new centers is to retain, empower, and graduate under-represented minority students, while providing support and guidance personally, professionally and academically. These spaces are dedicated to providing a welcoming environment, while enhancing student success through community building.

Alongside program directors, Lilly Pinedo Gangai (CLSSC) and Paula L. Powell (AABSSC) and faculty fellows, the student success interns are vital members contributing to the center’s mission and vision. They develop pre-professional skills by assisting students as peer mentors, liaisons and academic cheerleaders. Just a few of their responsibilities may include the planning and development of events, programs, marketing and research; however, they also serve as student ambassadors to increase awareness about resources around campus. We reached out to a dozen student interns to ask them why they got involved and why diversity is important on our campus. Below, we highlight responses from some of the students

 

 

David Mapapa

African American/Black Student Success Center

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Graduation Date: Spring 2019

Why did you apply to be a student intern in our new student success center?

I applied for the student intern position at the African American Black Student Success Center (AABSSC), because I wanted to be involved on campus. I am a Mechanical Engineer, therefore I wanted to help STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related activities. I had met Ms. Paula Powell (Director of the AABSSC) few days before the opening of the center and she expressed a great interest in improving student resources in those specific fields, then I knew I wanted to be on board.

What do you most hope to accomplish as an intern?

As an intern, I wish to be able to improve the opportunities that students will have from this center as far as STEM related topics. Therefore, holding events such as study nights, having programs that would allow freshmen or sophomores aspiring to be engineers or scientists to be matched with a senior that was successful doing so, informing students about any career fairs on campus also having as many students as possible integrate the NSBE (National Society of Black Engineering) would be a great start.

How does SJSU benefit from its diverse student and faculty population?

I truly believe that the more diverse the student and faculty body is, the better. Simply based on the fact that a more diverse team can easily benefit from different inputs, opinions, views that can be the motor of great improvement in problem solving.

What would you share with incoming students to help them on their college journey?

I would also like to encourage incoming students, whether they are freshmen or transfer to get involved on campus activities as much as they can. Based on my experience, being able to reach out to different students through orgs or even knowing what resources were available to me, was very crucial in my college experience success.

 

Ana Ferretiz

Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center

Major: Kinesiology

Graduation Date: Spring 18

Why did you apply to be a student intern in our new student success center?

I applied to this position to continue helping people navigate this institution. Many first generation students, including myself, have no idea how to navigate through this institution. With various trials and errors, and working closely with the Chicanx Latinx Student Success Task Force, I saw this role as an opportunity to continue helping my peers navigate through this experience without feeling intimidated or embarrassed to ask. Many of us carry a lot of pride and sometimes it gets in the way of asking for help, but this center will be a safe haven where people will be able to ask without feeling ignorant

What do you most hope to accomplish as an intern?

As intern I hope my fellow interns are able to create and foster this sense of community and familia in and out of the center, which then leads to more students coming into our space and our events, and connect them to various opportunities and organizations.

How does SJSU benefit from its diverse student and faculty population?

Diversity in SJSU, in our country, is here to stay. Our workplaces are colored with various people from different culturas and different upbringings. We must be able to learn to interact and be open to listen to our similarities and differences. We are fortunate to live in a community where there are so many people from various backgrounds, we learn from the time we attend that we can all work together for similar causes, that we are all human most importantly. Diversity promotes understanding, which in turn can enhance the positive human experience, and therefore work collectively for the rights of all.

What would you share with incoming students to help them on their college journey?

Do not be afraid to ask questions, seek for help, join an organization, participate in on campus activities, and remember, there are so many people here that want to see you succeed!

Is there anything else you would like to add about diversity and inclusion at SJSU or the new student success center?

Please take advantage of our services and the center itself! This center came together due to the work and effort of various students, staff, and faculty members. Our center open to all walks of life, please join us!

 

Chandlor Jenkins

African American/Black Student Success Center

Major: Television, Radio, Film and Theatre 

Graduation Date: Spring 2019

Why did you apply to be a student intern in our new student success center?

I applied to be an intern because I love being involved and giving

back to this campus and the community. I feel that this success center brings a lot of positive potential to our African American community and being apart of the inaugural group that will foster change within us, is something that I hope inspires not only me, but my peers as well.

What do you most hope to accomplish as an intern?

I hope that I’m able to impact the lives of everyone who enters the doors of the center. I hope that everyone is inspired to take their education and success as Spartans seriously. I also hope to unite all of our African American/Black orgs within the community.

How does SJSU benefit from its diverse student and faculty population?

Having such a diverse campus allows SJSU students the opportunity to learn and grow, not only as individuals within their own culture, but coexisting with other cultures as well. The combination of backgrounds and ideologies inside and outside of the classroom has given me insight and perspective. Although at times it’s challenging to be on the lower end of the population spectrum here, the AABSSC is a beautiful start to the creation of more inclusive spaces for all of our students.

What would you share with incoming students to help them on their college journey?

As an advocate for change and the youth within the community, I think the biggest advice I would give is to not count the days. As college students it’s easy to get caught up in the future— what’s due, the next project, the next break, as opposed to feeling every moment as it comes. The biggest lesson I’ve learned thus far is that the time will never stop, so there’s no need to rush. Even though things get hard, the good and bad will come at the same pace, but it’s about

staying focused on what’s right in front of you.

 

Flor Sabrio

Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center

Major: Management Information Systems, minor: Mexican American Studies

Graduation Date: Spring 2021

Why did you apply to be a student intern in our new student success center?

I applied to be an intern at the Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center (CLSSC) because I have always been passionate about empowering our Chicanx/Latinx population on campus. San Jose State is a very big school, which is great, but it can sometimes be alienating especially when many of our students are first-generation college students. This is why I believe it is critical for us to have spaces like CLSSC because it gives students a sense of belonging and I absolutely love being part of the progress that will hopefully close the graduation gap within my community.

What do you most hope to accomplish as an intern?

What I hope to accomplish most as an intern at the CLSSC is to ensure that our students graduate with a better sense of self and their culture.  Unfortunately, often times, we as Chicanx/Latinx students think that we have to choose between higher education and our culture. My hope is for the center to prove otherwise.

How does SJSU benefit from its diverse student and faculty population?

San Jose State benefits from its diverse student and faculty population in many ways. I’m a strong believer that college should be a place where people become educated, not just go for a degree and being on a campus that offers different experiences and different people is crucial to become a well rounded individual.

What would you like to share with incoming students to help the on their college journey?

As an intern, my message to all my peers is that college is not meant to be easy. Failure is part of the journey as much as success is. For every good grade, there are countless sleepless nights that go into it. However, in the Chicanx/Latinx culture, it is frowned upon to ask for help because we were raised to be self-sufficient. My message to all my peers is that there is no shame in needing help and that the CLSSC has been established to do just that.

 

Chidinma Kalu

African American/Black Student Success Center

Major: Psychology

Graduation Date: Spring 2018

Why did you apply to be a student intern in our new student success center?

I applied to work as a student success intern at the African American/Black Success Center, to work close to campus and to become a more active and contributing student at San Jose State University.

What do you most hope to accomplish as an intern?

As a student intern, I hope to help students find their paths to professionalism by helping the center to coordinate events that focus on developing professionalism. I will do this by helping with resume writing, mock interviews, informational interviews and school and career advice. I’d also like to contribute to student success by providing an effective environment and methods for productive studying.  As an incoming transfer student in Fall 2016, I had to seek out mentorship, guidance and opportunities outside of school that enabled me develop the skill sets for the real world and great professional experience at fortune 500 companies like Facebook. I was also able to pursue my interests and talents and also build a network of people I could turn to with an idea or for advice. Knowing what I know now, I feel that I am in a better place to inform the decisions of students help them to reach their academic and career goals.

How does SJSU benefit from its diverse student and faculty population?

I believe SJSU benefits from its diverse student and faculty population by allowing classrooms and campus experiences that are open to diverse points of views and cultures. I believe these are the things that help build empathy and teamwork, and this is also what the country needs to collectively grow. Students from different backgrounds, especially international students, have different ways of learning and succeeding, they also have different values developed through family upbringing and ambition that have motivated them to be a student at SJSU.

What would you share with incoming students to help them on their college journey?

To incoming students, I would advise them to be explorative inside and outside of the school campus through internships, attending of networking events, STEM and Arts competitions and explore more of their interests towards what makes them happy and is impactful to the world. I will also advise students to have a goal towards graduating in 2-4 years or less. To seek out advising, and follow an academic plan, that will help them with those goals as well as too seek out resources to help them excel.  I believe the diverse student success center is a place where students can feel safe, seen and connected to people like them who seek the best interests.

 

 

Erick Ignacio Macias-Chavez

Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center

Major: Sociology

Graduation Date: 2020

Why did you apply to be a student intern in our new student success center?

I pursued the opportunity at the CLSSC because creating community in educational environments is my passion. In my academic experience, I’ve had limited opportunities to create inclusive spaces, but the opening of the CLSSC at SJSU came as a blessing. A space dedicated to the Latinx community, specially having it exist in a university, is important to me because it motivates me to continue on, and assures me that those in my community are welcomed in the university.

What do you most hope to accomplish as an intern?

As an intern I hope to contribute to the education of my peers. I wish to build the support systems they are in search for and so desperate to create. I hope to build relationships founded on principles of community and trust, so that the campus reflects the cultures of our homes.

How does SJSU benefit from its diverse student and faculty population?

The array of voices and ways of thinking contribute to creating intersectional and international forces that fuel our love for our societies. The presence of peoples from around the world helps create a global and understanding community. Our experiences not only help distinguish our beauties but too help see the similarities. We benefit through the presences of many perspectives.

What would you like to share with incoming students to help the on their college journey?

For the upcoming student, I say to you that this is simply another challenge of the many you’ve already faced and will continue to face. Don’t not be frightened, rather, be excited. You recognize the growth you’ve been through, and just as you have grown through your previous struggles, you will only continue to grow through this one. You are powerful! Come find out how powerful you can truly be.

 

Janely Cerda

Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center

Major: Psychology

Graduation Date: Summer 2018

Why did you apply to be a student intern in our new student success center?

I applied to this position because I wanted to make a change in the lives of students of color and serve as a role model to them. This is an amazing opportunity for me to connect with students and provide advice from what I learned throughout my college experience.

What do you most hope to accomplish as an intern?

My goal is to help guide and maintain a diverse community in the educational career. I want to make sure students understand that they are not alone and that they can count on me, or the other interns in the center. Everyday, each and every one of us are learning something new from each other and as the days go by, I hope that we can continue to grow as a whole. Lastly, as an intern, I hope to be able to provide students with any necessity that they need in order to achieve their goals.

How does SJSU benefit from its diverse student and faculty population?

With everything going on in the world, I believe it is important that people understand that diversity enriches a college students experience in different ways. SJSU benefits from its diverse student and faculty population because it increases a students self-insight by engaging and interacting with others whose lifestyle or customs are different from their own. As a student or faculty member, you learn from one another and gain knowledge and understandings that will also help you navigate through life. Having a diverse community opens many doors of opportunities and builds an inclusive community.

What would you share with incoming students to help them on their college journey?

After being a Spartan for fours years, some advice I would share is to explore their interests but to remember to always take care of themselves first. Get involved, step out of your comfort zone, and get to know your professors. You have a big support system guiding you every step of the way, you just need to seek it.

Is there anything else you would like to add about diversity and inclusion at SJSU or the new student success center?

Do not miss out on the opportunities that the school or the center offers. I am extremely happy that the center is finally open and that we are able to provide students with comfort and assistance. Diversity is such an important factor in our school and our center; therefore, never be ashamed of who you are or where you come from.

March 2018 Newsletter: Women in Engineering Conference Promotes Equity

Photo: David Schmitz Representatives from high-tech companies and other industry professionals met with women engineering students during the 2018 Silicon Valley Women in Engineering Conference March 17.

Photo: David Schmitz
Representatives from high-tech companies and other industry professionals met with women engineering students during the 2018 Silicon Valley Women in Engineering Conference March 17.

By David Goll

For the fourth consecutive year, hundreds of women — students, university faculty and industry professionals — gathered in the heart of Silicon Valley on a chilly late-winter day to raise the profile of women in engineering and technology.

The 2018 Silicon Valley Women In Engineering conference drew a sold-out crowd of 450 community college and university students from throughout California to San Jose State University (SJSU) on March 17. They listened to inspirational speeches from trailblazing women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) occupations, presentations of products and services being created at their companies, and participated in panel discussions featuring life and career stories and advice from those who have already ascended to technical and senior leadership positions.

“We need you to stick with it,” Maggie Johnson, vice president of Education and University Programs at Google Inc., told the audience during the morning keynote address, encouraging women to stay in STEM fields. “We cannot make products for everyone or overcome bias without a balanced workplace. The future is female. Lead like a girl.”

Even in 2018 — more than 50 years after the feminist movement began changing American society during the 1960s — there’s still a long way to go. Despite more than 44 percent of the nation’s full-time workforce being female in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM industries have smaller percentages of women – in some cases, dramatic imbalances. Though 42 percent of full-time workers in life, physical and social science jobs are occupied by women, only 25 percent of computer and mathematical positions and 14 percent of jobs in engineering and architecture are filled by women.

During the conference, women who have already cracked the glass ceiling in these male-dominated fields urged their younger counterparts to continue to pursue STEM studies in school and jobs after graduation.

“When you enter a room, know that you earned your right to be there,” said Lakecia Gunter, chief of staff and technical assistant to the CEO at Intel Corp. “Stand in your power. Take a seat at the table, know what you can bring and what you want, and use your voice.”

Young women who will enter that workforce either later this year or in the near future were treated to a glimpse into what to expect today and tomorrow in the tech sector. Antonella Corno, an industry veteran and senior manager of Product Strategy at Cisco Systems Inc., described how the job of her brother, a doctor, has shifted due to technology. Instead of using his hands, he does surgery today by manipulating surgical instruments through computers.

“Because of rapidly changing technology, we regularly have talent gaps,” Corno said, describing how education must catch up with the dizzying rate of technological innovations.

The new economy is all about data analysis, she said. The IoT (Internet of Things) trend is creating a network of physical devices, vehicles and home appliances embedded with electronics, software and sensors. There will be 30 billion such connected devices by 2020, up from 12 billion in 2015. Corno said 220,000 new control engineers will be needed by 2025.

Kaijen Hsiao, the chief technology officer for Mayfield Robotics, both charmed and intrigued her audience of prospective employees, introducing them to Kuri, a 20-inch tall, 14-pound home robot that can smile, blink and beam blue and pale yellow light from her “heart.” She also records video, plays music and rolls around the house to inform absentee owners what’s going on at home througha camera behind her eyes. Kuri was designed by Doug Dooley, a former animation specialist at Pixar Animation Studios.

“This is the robot to fulfill people’s home robot dreams,” Hsiao said. “She might not exactly be Rosie, the robot maid from ‘The Jetsons,’ but she’s designed to be humble, curious and courteous.”

Career panel discussions featured engineers and top executives from a wide range of Silicon Valley companies, including Intel, Google, HP, LinkedIn Corp., NASA Ames Research Center, KLA-Tencor Corp. and Applied Materials Inc. Many of the same companies, along with SJSU and the City of San Jose, had informational booths and product demonstrations at the Innovation Showcase display.

SJSU students Shivani Parmer, a second-year student in biomedical engineering; Lalitha Donga, a second-year student in software engineering; and Cindy Carrillo, a first-year software engineering major, were impressed with the conference.

“It’s powerful to have all of these women from the industry come together,” Carrillo said. “It’s inspiring to see such support for women in the workplace.”

Both Donga and Parmer said they feel better about their academic and career paths.

“There was awesome energy here today,” Parmer said. “It’s empowering and makes me feel confident of my career choice.”