San Jose State President Mohammad Qayoumi will recognize this year’s top graduates at Commencement, which begins at 9:30 a.m. May 24, 2014. Isra Ahmad and Terri McBride have been named SJSU’s 2014 Outstanding Graduating Seniors for their leadership roles on and off campus, contributions to the community, and personal contributions as undergraduates. Karen Parker and Danielle Crawford are the 2014 Outstanding Thesis Award recipients, in recognition of their quality level of research.
Isra Ahmad graduated with a bachelor’s degree in health science and recreation in December 2013. With a final GPA of 3.805, she believes her real-world experience as a health advocate enhanced her education in the classroom. She graduates with a 3.805 GPA. On campus, she focused on tobacco-use issues as a leader for Campuses Organized and United for Good Health (COUGH). For the Northern California Society for Public Health Educators, she distributed more than 2,000 campus surveys and organized a public forum on the campus’ smoking policy. Ahmad says her most memorable contribution took place off campus, educating mothers about healthy food choices at a local Second Harvest Food Bank. Ahmad will start a master’s in public health, with a concentration in epidemiology and biostatistics, at UC Berkeley in the fall. She plans to teach at the university level.
Danielle Crawford graduated in May 2013 with a master’s degree in English. For her thesis, “A Girlhood of Myth, Dreams, and Trauma: Redefining the Asian North American Female Bildungroman,” she studied how three novels, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard’s When the Rainbow Goddess Wept (1991), Lan Cao’s Monkey Bridge (1997), and Joy Kogawa’s Obasan (1981), challenged the conventions of European coming-of-age novels through the factors of myth, dreams, and trauma. Crawford says her research is important beyond academics, providing insight on historical trauma. She says she is grateful to her department at SJSU for giving her the opportunity to teach, which reconfirmed her long-term goals of becoming a professor. Crawford is currently a PhD student at UC Santa Cruz.
Terri McBride will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in biological science (molecular biology). She was working toward a nutrition degree, before switching majors to biological science, which she’ll complete with a 3.948 GPA. At SJSU, she served as a leader of the Nutrition and Food Science Club and as a tutor for College of Science and Advising Center and Learning Assistance Resource Center. Off campus, she is a petty officer first class in the United States Coast Guard Reserve, and has volunteered at youth outreach events with TechGYRLS, the Bay Area Science Festival and the San Joaquin Expanding Your Horizons Conference. She is currently studying for the MCAT and hopes to attend a post-baccalaureate program at Stanford. Her goal is to be a physician scientist and continue her research in oncology, while bringing care to low-income and disadvantaged people.
Karen Parker graduated with a master’s in marine science in December 2013. Parker has combined her new degree with 10 years of experience in the semiconductor industry to create a new career: biological oceanography. For her thesis, “Metabolic Network Construction Based on the Genome of the Marine Diatom Thalassiosira Pseudonana and the Analysis of Genome-Wide Transcriptome Data to Investigate Triacylglyceride Accumulation,” Parker used genomic data to build a computer model of a marine diatom—microscopic alga that converts light from the sun into chemical energy, which can be used as biofuel for cars and jets. Her research may have implications for the future of carbon-neutral fuels and for reducing greenhouse gases associated with climate change. She says her educational experience at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories has given her the skills to successfully pursue her goal of working on a computational system biology research and development team.