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.”

March 2018 Newsletter: McNair Scholars Look Toward Graduate School

Students involved in the McNair Scholars Program complete a project or research that prepares them to pursue graduate study after completing a degree at SJSU. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Students involved in the McNair Scholars Program complete a project or research that prepares them to pursue graduate study after completing a degree at SJSU. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

By David Goll

Puneet Sanghera is the daughter of immigrants from India, a first-generation American college student and she is on the verge of earning a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology.

“I grew up in a conservative family,” she said. “Because my parents didn’t attend college in this country, they didn’t know all of the opportunities available to me when I was in high school.”

The San Jose native entered SJSU as a pre-nursing major, but she discovered nursing “wasn’t the right fit for [her].” After taking a semester off to help her grandmother recover from surgery, she returned to school. She switched majors, became a McNair Scholar and found a mentor in Dr. Katherine Wilkinson, an assistant professor of Biological Sciences.

“I really want to learn more about my field, so decided to pursue graduate studies,” she said.

On March 11, Sanghera reached her goal. She got word she was accepted at her first-choice school, San Francisco State University.

Sanghera credits hard work and her involvement with SJSU’s Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program for helping her gain admission to a graduate program. The McNair Scholars program is named for the second African-American to fly in space who overcame long odds to earn a PhD in physics and become an astronaut. After he died in the 1986 Challenger space shuttle explosion, Congress created the program in his honor to increase the number of underrepresented students pursuing doctoral degrees.

Dr. Maria Elena Cruz, director of the SJSU McNair chapter, said the university’s two-year program started more than two decades ago. It is funded entirely by federal dollars. Students typically get involved during their sophomore or junior years.

“Through the work we do with students in the program we can see if they’re a good fit for graduate education,” she said.

Most are, Dr. Cruz said. The group is comprised of at least 28 students who start the program in January. They hail from a variety of SJSU majors. During the first spring semester, students meet weekly to learn about research methods, weigh research subjects and prepare for GRE (Graduate Record Examination) tests. Fifteen of the students receive a stipend of $2,800 during the summer to work on research projects. A summer “boot camp” open to McNair scholars and all students from SJSU, and other universities gives instruction on how to choose a graduate school, how to write a great personal statement, and how to write to some of their dream schools and professors.

During the fall, McNair scholars do research analysis and begin the writing process, so that they can publish in our yearly McNair Scholars Journal. Dr. Cruz said she supports them by enlisting writing specialists, such as Taylor Dawn Francis, who is working on a master’s in English. At SJSU Students have up to 10 years to complete work on master’s and doctoral degrees from the time they graduate with their bachelor’s degree.

“Some students end up just pursuing a master’s degree, though they may eventually pursue a PhD,” Cruz said. “We’ve had students attend Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Stanford, Maryland, the University of Chicago and UC-Berkeley. On average we have two people who have earned their PhD every year. Compared to the national average of 3.3% according to the National Science Foundation, the McNair Scholars Program at SJSU has earned an 11.11% for 2016-2017.”

Dr. Cruz states that “participation in doctoral education by underrepresented minority groups such as African Americans and Chicanx/Latinx groups who are first-generation and are awarded a PhD is lower than 2 percent of the national average (NSF 2017). Thus, the McNair Scholars Program is pivotal for the future of our communities.”

Sanghera’s classmate, Daniel Kelley, also graduates in May. Though interested in attending graduate school, Kelley said he knew little about it until a friend introduced him to McNair.

“I want to stand out and be more competitive,” said the psychology major from southern California’s Lancaster. He hopes to attend either SJSU or UC Berkeley for grad school. “McNair has prepared me.”

Kelley already works with his mentor, Dr. David Schuster, an assistant professor of Psychology, in conducting research into cyber-security issues in private companies.

Isaac Gendler, a junior mechanical engineering major from Los Angeles, also had an early jump on research, studying automatic transit system guide ways. His report is in the process of being published. He said McNair has provided valuable information about graduate school applications and securing research funding. It even helped him attend a recent Chicago conference on heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems. The greatest value to McNair, he said, is its diverse, multi-disciplinary approach.

“It gave me the opportunity to talk with people from different backgrounds and perspectives,” Gendler said. “When you have homogeneous groups of people talking to each other, nothing new results. McNair brings together people from all over, offering fresh viewpoints. This is how you innovate and disrupt the status quo.”

March 2018 Newsletter: DARE Fellows Visit SJSU

SJSU professors discuss faculty life, diversity and inclusion. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

SJSU professors discuss faculty life, diversity and inclusion. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

By David Goll

Nearly 12 years after arriving in the United States from his native Spain, Eduardo Munoz-Munoz is preparing to start the next phase of his academic career this fall at San Jose State University. Munoz-Munoz will begin his position as a tenure-track assistant professor in the university’s Connie L. Lurie College of Education in August. An SJSU adjunct professor since 2014, his specialty is bilingual education.

He is one of 22 fellows engaged in Stanford University’s Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence (DARE) Doctoral Fellowship Program that works to advance students from traditionally underrepresented racial, ethnic, gender and sexual orientation demographic groups who are investigating academic careers. Members of Stanford’s DARE program visited SJSU on March 1, meeting with university officials and faculty members as they weigh career options. For the past 10 years, the doctoral students have visited SJSU and other Bay Area universities to explore career options.

Munoz-Munoz earned a degree in English Philology from Spain’sUniversity of Cordoba, a master’s degree in Arts Education and an administrative credential from the University of California, Berkeley. He has lectured at Mills College in Oakland and Belmont’s Notre Dame de Namur University, and served as a principal in the Oakland Unified School District.

“I’m very happy to start my career at an institution where teaching is considered a major part of the work and doesn’t take a back seat to research,” Munoz-Munoz said. “As an educator with a political consciousness, I love working at a public institution (that is) working to empower public education. I love San Jose State because of the diversity and the commitment of students working hard to get a great education.”

In the 23-campus California State University system, only 27 percent of students identified as white in 2015, while 63 percent of faculty identified as such. SJSU has one of the most diverse student populations in the nation. According to Dr. Kathleen Wong(Lau), SJSU’s chief diversity officer, as of fall 2016, 42 percent of SJSU students were Asian, 24 percent Hispanic, 19 percent white, three percent Black, and 10 percent in the “other” category. Less than one percent identified as Native American or Pacific Islander.

In an effort to attract DARE members to SJSU careers, Wong(Lau) touted the university’s progressive credentials championing racial and economic justice.

“It’s a little-known fact the nationwide minimum-wage movement started here, as did the tiny-house initiative,” she said of a design for diminutive abodes for the homeless unveiled last year by SJSU students.

Wong(Lau) spoke proudly of the university’s statue honoring former students and track athletes John Carlos and Tommie Smith, who famously raised their fists in protest during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.

“It was more than just about racial equality,” she said. “They were also passionate about economic inequality in this country.”

Another speaker at the DARE event was Dr. Magdalena Barrera, SJSU associate professor of Mexican-American Studies and faculty-in-residence for Diversifying the Faculty.

“The university has redoubled its efforts to diversify the faculty,” she said. “It’s so important we move in that direction because of the changing demographics of students.”

Hiring committee members for faculty recruitments now undergo a two-hour diversity training session designed by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Faculty Affairs.

On March 1, DARE visitors heard from a panel of faculty members about their SJSU careers. They all praised the ability to teach, conduct research, scholarship or creative activities, and participate in service projects. Some described it as a tough balancing act.

“I’m still working on balancing teaching, research, service and my personal life,” said Dr. Patricia Lopez, in her third year as an assistant professor in Educational Leadership. “My family, none of whom are in academia, keep me grounded. I am doing something I love and am an employee of the state of California, with the benefits that brings.”

Dr. Carlos Garcia, professor and department chair of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, also talked with the DARE Fellows.

“Despite the challenges of living in Silicon Valley, and despite the challenges that are part of working at a university such as ours, we are still lucky to be in the place that we are and to have the positions we do,” he said.

March 2018 Newsletter: Provost Update – Diversity Drives Creativity and Innovation

I hope everyone is finding some time during spring break to reenergize before we head into the final months of the semester. March was especially busy, and I was fortunate enough to be involved in events that highlight the diversity of our university as well as our work to create a more inclusive campus and community.

On March 1, I welcomed nearly two-dozen doctoral students from Stanford University’s Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence (DARE) Doctoral Fellowship Program. The program aims to build a pipeline for faculty from underrepresented groups. For the past 10 years, fellows have visited our university to learn about SJSU’s commitment to diversifying the faculty and to hear from some of our own faculty members about their experiences. I shared with the visitors that this year, Faculty Affairs and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion implemented newdiversity training for search committees involved in faculty recruitment.

During their visit, the DARE Fellows also engaged with student researchers and scholars from our Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program. The McNair students engage in undergraduate research, prepare for the GRE and learn how to choose a graduate school, among other activities that will help them on the path to a doctoral degree. The newsletter this month shares more about these programs along with other efforts to support diversity and inclusion such as our African American College Readiness Summit, the Women in Engineering Conference, and the Chicanx/Latinx and African American/Black Student Success Center internships.

As many of you know, we have one of the most diverse student populations in the nation. On March 15, we hosted the inaugural SJSU Student Success Symposium attended by more than 230 faculty, staff and students. Many of our guest speakers discussed ways to engage students from underrepresented groups, especially Dr. Sylvia Hurtado, from the University of California, Los Angeles, whose talk was entitled “Campus Climate and Institutional Change: Advancing Diversity and Institutional Practice.” Visit the Student Success Website to learn how to participate in a follow-up session after spring break to help us identify the next steps in promoting academic excellence.

While we strive to be inclusive of people from many backgrounds and experiences, it is also important for us to have a diversity of perspectives, disciplines and ideas. Our university has many interdisciplinary programs and centers, such as the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change, the Mineta Transportation Institute, the Humanities Honors Program, among others. We are also in a prime position to expand opportunities for our students to engage in multi-faceted projects that cross discipline lines.

Just this week, the Biomedical Engineering Society of San Jose State hosted its 9th Annual Bay Area Biomedical Device Conference. As part of the conference, 34 student teams presented ideas for devices to help medical professionals and patients. These teams included students from many engineering, business, health professions and other majors, working together to find a solution to a medical problem. The industry leaders who spoke at the conference reiterated how diverse perspectives affect product and process innovation.

As we head into April, we will have more opportunities celebrate our diversity and academic excellence. Some upcoming events include theCelebration of Research April 4, the Faculty Service Recognition and Awards Luncheon April 5Legacy of Poetry Day April 12, the Inclusive Innovation Summit April 13, Admitted Spartan Day April 14Honors Convocation April 20 and the Fifth Annual SJSU Cultural Showcase April 25.

I hope to see you at these and other events next month as we continue to work together to improve student success while creating an inclusive and welcoming university community.