OT Student Named as CSU Trustee Scholar for 2018

Suzanne Walter

Suzanne Walter

Suzanne Walter’s rocky childhood was shaped by foster care, welfare and poverty. Knowing she would not have financial support for college, she started working and saving for her college education at the age of 12. Now experiencing her dream of higher education, she is a graduate student at San José State University studying occupational therapy, a profession that will allow her to pass down her life lessons and strengthen her community.

The California State University has selected Walter as one of its Trustee Emeritus William Hauck and Padget Kaiser Scholar for 2018. The CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement is given each year to students who demonstrate superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service, and financial need.

Suzanne’s empathy for others and drive to help are the core of who she is. She served a year in AmeriCorps, co-led a vocational skills program for at-risk youth, started an after-school program and for years, provided home aid to seniors. She recently accepted a leadership position on the board of the Student Occupational Therapy Association, and was invited to join the honor society of Phi Kappa Phi for earning a 3.92 GPA her first semester back in school.

MY EMPATHY FOR OTHERS AND DRIVE TO HELP ARE AT THE CORE OF WHO I AM AS A PERSON.

A career in occupational therapy will allow Suzanne to focus on helping people overcome many of the same health and personal struggles she has faced in her own life.

 

Keck Foundation Grant Establishes Freshman Research Initiative

SJSU professors will are using a grant from the WM Keck Foundation to create a freshmen research initiative. Clockwise from back left: Assistant Professor Alberto Rascón, Jr., Professor Resa Kelly, the program evaluator; Professor Daryl Eggers; Assistant Professor Laura Miller Conrad; Mallory Kato, the program manager; and Professor Lionel Cheruzel, the principal investigator on the grant. (Photo: Jim Gensheimer)

SJSU professors are using a grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation to create a freshmen research initiative. Clockwise from back left: Assistant Professor Alberto Rascón, Jr., Professor Resa Kelly, the program evaluator; Professor Daryl Eggers; Assistant Professor Laura Miller Conrad; Mallory Kato, the program manager; and Professor Lionel Cheruzel, the principal investigator on the grant. (Photo: Jim Gensheimer)

The new Freshman Initiative: Research to Engage Students (F.I.R.E.S) will launch this year and is poised to help the university advance both its research and student success missions. Enabled by a $325,000 grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation, this new program aims to engage undergraduate students in scientific research from the very beginning of their time at San Jose State University.

The team spearheading this program includes four chemistry professors from the College of Science with experimental research laboratories: Professor Lionel Cheruzel, the principal investigator on the grant, Assistant Professors Laura Miller Conrad and Alberto Rascón, Jr., Professor Daryl Eggers, Professor Resa Kelly, the program evaluator along with Mallory Kato, the program manager.

Cheruzel and his colleagues strive to usher in a research-driven educational culture by introducing first-year students to the benefits of research. In order to do so, an introduction to research course (Chem 190) will be used to foster student’s spirit of discovery and train them in the basic skills necessary to excel in a research environment.

At the end of the course, students will work directly with two professors’ laboratories in two-week research streams. During these streams, students will have the opportunity to look closely at the various research questions being investigated, perform cutting-edge research, and learn how to be part of the scientific community.

Cheruzel believes the experience will motivate these students to [continue] on in one of the various research laboratories throughout the remainder of their undergraduate career to supplement their degree.

“There are benefits to having students who can stay on for three or four years doing research,” Cheruzel said. “Some of my most productive students have come straight out of Chem 1A.”

Within each of the research laboratories, the professors have seen how engaging in lab work and publishing their findings in notable journals has benefitted their students. After applying their education to real-world problems, demonstrating a persistence to training and developing stronger connections with faculty, these research students not only leave SJSU with a bachelor’s degree but with a skillset that distinguishes them from their competition.

“They are highly marketable,” Cheruzel said, noting that many of his former students have gone on to prestigious graduate schools or started careers with prominent biotech companies.

Based in Los Angeles, the W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late W. M. Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Company.  The Foundation’s grant making is focused primarily on pioneering efforts in the areas of medical research, science and engineering and undergraduate education.  The Foundation also maintains a Southern California Grant Program that provides support for the Los Angeles community, with a special emphasis on children and youth.  For more information, please visit www. wmkeck.org.

 

 

 

Peggy Stevenson Honored with CSU Innovation and Leadership Award

SJSU students partnered with Columbia Law School students during an alternative spring break in which pairs worked to help clients expunge their records for misdemeanor charges. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

SJSU students partnered with Columbia Law School students during an alternative spring break in which pairs worked to help clients expunge their records for misdemeanor charges. Center, Margaret “Peggy” Stevenson, works with students. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

The California State University (CSU) announced its Innovation and Leadership Award recipients on Aug. 28, with Margaret “Peggy” Stevenson from San José State selected as an honoree. Stevenson’s work in creating the SJSU Record Clearance Project was the basis of the award, which honors innovative faculty.

“World-class CSU faculty are leading the charge as our university continues its remarkable progress in improving student learning and degree completion,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White. “These exceptional recipients demonstrate leadership in their respective fields and incorporate cutting-edge techniques into curriculum. Their commitment to student success ensures that the value of a CSU degree continues to increase.”

A selection committee reviewed 366 nominations to identify the one inaugural awardee from each of the CSU system’s 23 campuses.

The Record Clearance Project is a unique program that involves undergraduates in providing legal services, under Stevenson’s supervision.  Stevenson, an attorney, started the Record Clearance Project at SJSU in 2008.  In 2011 the program was a formalized in three classes in the Justice Studies Department in the College of Health and Human Sciences. Hundreds of students have been involved in what they frequently call “life-changing” work.

Professor Rita Manning, Philosophy, who nominated Stevenson, stated, “As the prelaw advisor at SJSU I strongly recommend this program to all students with an interest in careers in law. They simply will not get an experience like this outside of law school (and many of our students want to work in legal fields that do not involve law school) nor will they have a better opportunity to make such an immediate and positive impact on the lives of people in our community.”

Justice Studies Department Chair James Lee said, “Peggy Stevenson created and manages the most impactful educational experience I have ever seen. Participating students walk away with a deep understanding and appreciation for law, and they take life-long lessons about humanity. I deeply respect Peggy’s dedication to educating our students in this unique, meaningful way.”

SJSU alumnus Earl Cease completed the Record Clearance Project five years ago.  According to Cease, “the Record Clearance Project gave me the encouragement I needed to enter law school. Working with our clients and watching their lives change one petition at a time made me believe I have what it takes to make the strenuous journey through law school and become an attorney.” Since passing the bar exam, Cease has volunteered with the Record Clearance Project as a supervising attorney.

Stevenson ran clinics and taught law students for twelve years at Stanford and Santa Clara law schools before starting the Record Clearance Project. Before that, she practiced law in Legal Services offices in Boston, the Los Angeles area and New Jersey. Besides the RCP courses, she also teaches Courts and Society at SJSU.

I-House Alumni Celebrate 40 Years

It was 1981. Bob Aron was a local student majoring in jazz. Yvette Young was from Panama and pursuing a degree in industrial management. For her, it made sense as a student from abroad to live at the International Center, now known as San Jose State University’s Phyllis Forward Simpkins International House. He ended up there as almost a fluke, when a friend who enrolled at SJSU the year before sent a dorm deposit to the wrong place and ended up with a spot reserved in the International Center instead of the residence halls.  Aron visited is friend and thought it looked like a nice place to live so he signed up, too.

“It is crazy to live with a bunch of people from different places,” Aron said. “I grew up in the ’80s in California (when it wasn’t as diverse). It was the first time I met someone from Bangladesh. You start to realize how little you know.”

Aron, ’85 Music, and Young, ’84 Industrial Management, started dating all those years ago after meeting in the university residence and 37 years later, they are married and retired from lucrative careers – Aron from Apple and Young from the mortgage industry. They both served on the planning committee for the 40th Anniversary Alumni Reunion hosted August 1-5 that brought more than 200 former residents and their family members back to San Jose.

“If more people in the world had an opportunity to live in the International House, the world would be a better place,” said Leann Cherkasky Makhni, director of the I-House. “When people from around the world live together under one roof, we start to know each other as individuals and make lifelong friendships.”

Located on 11th Street, the house is noticeable for both the many columns that adorn the front porch and the flags that fly from the rooftop. Those who have resided within its walls over the past 40 years endearingly call it I-House. Founded in 1978 by SJSU Alumni Alan and Phyllis Simpkins, the couple was actively involved in the development of the housing program and maintenance of the facility. They donated the building to the SJSU Research Foundation in 1997. Around 4,000 students have resided in the home in the four decades since it opened.

The reunion began with a kick-off reception and alumni music program; a trip to the redwoods and steam train, complete with a beach bonfire and s’mores in Santa Cruz; bowling on campus, a barbecue at I-House and a pub crawl; a 40th Anniversary Gala Dinner where the Simpkins’ grandson Mike Bordoni spoke about his grandparents’ legacy; and farewell brunch to say goodbye at the end of the five day event.

Whether they stayed for one semester, or lived there while completing an undergraduate or graduate degree, all the alumni gathered for a recent afternoon of bowling at the Diaz Compean Student Union recall their time fondly, and for some, like Aron and Young, their experience changed the course of their lives.

Young recalled the day and weekend trips she and her fellow students took to San Francisco and Yosemite.

“Those are still very fond memories,” she said, mentioning a hike in Yosemite when the hikers were not equipped with enough water or the right shoes. “It was very memorable and I did things I’d never done before.”

The pair kept in touch with a core group through the years, and reconnected with more people from I-House on social media.

“Facebook came along and it got easier,” he said. “I like watching other people here who haven’t seen each other in years and its fun watching people from the different eras.”

Stijn Van Den Broek is one of those more recent residents. He visited SJSU for one semester as a foreign exchange student in fall 2014 from the Netherlands. A week in, he and the other residents went to Santa Cruz for a bonfire. He started talking with a German girl Michaela Fuhlert who complained about how noisy the people were in the room next door. It turned out to be Van Den Broek’s room. The two started dating immediately and got engaged the day of the gala at the beach where they had their first conversation. They currently live in Germany where Fuhlert is beginning a teaching career and Van Den Broek is pursuing a master’s degree in marketing communication.

For Fuhlert living in I-House was an adjustment not only to a new culture, but to living with a roommate.

“In Germany, you don’t have roommates at university,” she said, noting that the study abroad experience helped her mature. “You get more confident in handling things and it makes you grow up.”

The alumni who attended travel from as close by as San Jose to as far away as China, some with spouses and families in tow. At least 40 countries were represented at the reunion, with alumni traveling from more than 20 countries to be back at SJSU.

Hiroki Moriomoto attended SJSU in 2013-14 as a Teaching English as a Second Language student. He served as a resident advisor in I-House where he also made many friends.

“It was exciting to meet people from all over the world,” he said. “I’ve had the chance to travel with friends in Taiwan and Italy.”

Eldita Tarani, ’18 MA, came to SJSU from Kosovo in 2014 as a Fulbright Scholar in research and experimental psychology. She selected the I-House because she thought it would be a good experience.

“I-House is like a little family,” she said. “The best part of it is the diversity. It offers a family in a foreign land for strangers who have never been here before.”

She said while many of the other residents were younger than she was, she still managed to connect with many of them.

Many of the students credit Makhni with creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

“Leann has been running the house for the last 25 years and she does such a great job of maintaining the feeling of a home,” Aron said. “Everyone feels that way.”

“If more people in the world had an opportunity to live in the International House, the world would be a better place,” Makhni said. “When people from around the world live together under one roof, we start to know each other as individuals and make lifelong friendships.”

SJSU Celebrates Innovation Design Collaborative with Partners

By Melissa Anderson

On June 8, in the basement of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, students, educators and industry leaders mingled together at the soft launch of San Jose State University’s new Innovation Design Collaborative.

The lower level of the library, which houses the first public materials library as well as shelves of periodicals, is now home to a new interdisciplinary innovation space for students and faculty to work together, and test out ideas.

“A few weeks ago, you would have seen a very different space,” said Paul Lanning, vice president for University Advancement. “This is just the start and we are excited to unveil it for all of you. This is a glimpse of what is to come, not just for San Jose State University, but all the representatives here. This is an interdisciplinary space to work together on every type of unit imaginable.”

The IDC started several years ago when representatives from the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering connected with a handful of industry partners to discuss ways the university could better prepare students to meet evolving workforce needs. The group grew to include more than 30 industry and educational partners from off campus as well as campus representatives from each college. Now in addition to the advisory group, the university also has a dedicated space for students and faculty to work together to incubate ideas and gain just the type of experience needed to succeed in Silicon Valley after graduation.

During the event, teams of students and recent graduates showcased prototypes of products that are close to launching or ready for national competition. The teams included representatives from different degree programs and colleges who have grappled with technical development, legal questions and marketing.

One team was on the verge of launching a beta version of a digital jukebox that will allow multiple users to develop playlists at gatherings that include songs that appeal to the group – unlike existing music applications that are controlled by individuals.

Another team created an application called Gratis Food that will connect food vendors with excess products to students with food insecurities. The team, which won best overall innovation at SJSU’s Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge and were selected to participate in ZinnStarter through SJSU’s IDEAS program, moved from a nonprofit to a profit model that will be more easily scalable.

“We’ve created a beta version and we plan to expand to community colleges and universities,” said Raghav Gupta, founder and project manager of Gratis Food.

The final team demonstrated Spartan Hyperloop, a magnetic levitation system that they have entered into the SpaceX 2018 Hyperloop Pod Competition, on July 22.

After the networking hour and lunch, President Mary Papazian welcomed the more than 30 industry and educational partners who attended the event, including Joe Pinto, senior VP Technical Services at Cisco Systems, Donna Bell, director of Ford Innovation Research and Innovation Labs, Mark Roenigk, head of hardware at Facebook, Jennifer Andaluz, the co-founder and executive director of Downtown College Prep, and Andrea Schwarz, founding Bay Area executive director of Braven.

“One of the wonderful things about today is that our various programs across the campus are represented and that is where a lot of the magic happens,” Papazian said. “San Jose State University is a place to innovate as evidenced by the Paseo Public Prototyping Challenge and Festival and the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge, our excellent interdisciplinary academic programs, and the high rate at which our graduates are hired in the Bay Area.”

Pinto, of Cisco, said the IDC is an opportunity for SJSU to play a different role than just supplying talent.

“Silicon Valley is unique with intellectual property, venture funding and a group of universities in an area that people from around the world want to come to innovate and design,” he said. “We are strengthening the ecosystem.”

Dean Sheryl Ehrman, of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, spoke about how important collaboration across disciplines is in grounding innovation with the critical thinking that comes from “cross pollination” with others in the humanities, applied health sciences, business or other perspectives.

While SJSU has a vision for an innovation wing that will become part of a science and innovation complex on campus, the library space is helping to increase capacity for interdisciplinary learning immediately.

“Why are we in the library?” asked University Library Dean Tracy Elliott. “This is where multidisciplinary work happens—the university, the community, all of you use the space. We have all disciplines represented throughout the building.”