Some of SJSU’s COVID-19 Heroes

Photo: Robert Bain/San José State University

San José State alumni, students and faculty members have risen to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many alumni are frontline workers, government leaders and decision-makers managing and taking care of essential and emergency services.

Also tending to the community are current students and faculty–contributing valuable resources, raising awareness, generating funds and displaying creative ingenuity in addressing social and healthcare needs. As fall semester begins, SJSU recognizes some of the valiant efforts of these Spartans working tirelessly to keep the community safe and healthy.

Frontline Workers and Government Leaders

Christina Salvatier, ’19 MPA, is the CFO of the Valley Medical Foundation, and created the management systems for receiving, acknowledging, sorting, warehousing and issuing thousands of masks, gowns and related equipment.

Brandi Childress, ’08 MS Transportation Management, is the pubic information officer for VTA, developing COVID-19 messaging for its internal employees and for passengers, in collaboration with the Santa Clara County Health Department.

James Griffith, ’15 MPA, is the advanced planning lead in the State Operations Center (SOC) in Sacramento, managing the projections of resource needs for the management of COVID-19 response statewide.

Julie Nagasako, ’12 MPA, is a manager in the Office of the Secretary, California Department of Health, coordinating the department’s work on the medical issues.

Robert Sapien, ’95 Bachelors Political Science/Public Administration, chief of the San José Fire Department (SJFD), and current MPA student Reggie Williams, SJFD assistant chief, are leading the daily emergency medical response to the San José community.

Robert Herrera, ’18 MPA, San José Fire Department Battalion Chief supervises firefighters/EMTs in a number of stations.

Curtis Jacobson, ’19 MPA, is the chief of the Fremont Fire Department.

David Swing, ’08 MPA, has been appointed as the chief of the Pleasanton Police Department. Joseph Perez, ’18 MPA, is a corporal in the Watsonville Police Department.

Current MPA student Katy Nomura is the assistant to the City Manager in Cupertino and in charge of its emergency management programs, and Genevieve Yip, ’20 MPA,  is part of the city of Santa Clara emergency response.

Council member, District 7 Maya Esparza, ’11 MPA, and Council member, District 2 Sergio Jimenez, ’08 Political Science are members of the San José City Council, developing important legislation to protect our most vulnerable community members from evictions during the COVID-19 crisis.

Sergio Jimenez also oversees the work force that prepares food for distribution to the community impacted by COVID at Sacred Heart.

Kira Valenta, ’18 MPA, and Christopher Hoem, ’18 MPA, are aides to Mike Wasserman, Vice President, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. Lakeisha Bryant and Galen Boggs, ’21 MPA, are aides to Member of Congress (CA-17) Ro Khanna.

Current MPA student Galen Boggs is a National Guard officer who has been on active duty setting up COVID-19 facilities, including temporary hospitals

Current MPA student Viviane Nguyen and Patrick Cordova, MPA ’20 are working in the city of San José Emergency Operations Center team.

Current MPA student Maria Rodriguez is the Food Unit Lead for the Santa Clara County Emergency Operations Center.

Current MPA student Rob Wayman is running the 200-person quarantine facility for Stanford University students from out of Santa Clara County.

Current MPA student Darius Brown supervises a City of San José Community Center shelter for homeless people to enable them to shelter in place from Covid.

Daniela E. Torres, ’12 MPH, is responsible for all health information, health education, and health data collection in California’s public and charter schools which serves over 6.2 million students. She works very closely with the California Department of Public Health and CDC’s surveillance unit on multiple health topics.

Faculty and Frontline Students and Interns

SJSU Dietetic interns worked with Pajaro Valley Unified School District, Institute of Child Nutrition, Santa Clara County Senior Nutrition Program to make meals accessible to K – 12 students. They also helped centers to develop online training and marketing materials for K – 12 school lunch and child care programs, including topics related to nutrition, exercise, and recipes for staying at home.

Interns also worked on disaster menu and food supply planning at skilled nursing facilities. Many of SJSU’s internship sites/hospitals are now implementing these new guidelines in caring for affected patients.

For aspiring Registered Dietitians enrolled in NUFS 110B, Medical Nutrition Therapy, in Spring 2020, Associate Professor of Nutrition, Food Science & Packaging, Kasuen Mauldin, guest lectured on the topic of nutrition support and shared recent guidelines released by the American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) about nutrition therapy for Covid-19 patients. The guidelines focus on providing optimal nutrition (along with potential novel nutrient recommendations) to patients with severe respiratory syndrome while minimizing healthcare provider exposure.

As part of an IBM competition, Master of Information Science students under the leadership of Yu Chen, assistant professor in the School of Information Systems and Technology, created technology-based social solutions to COVID-19. Divided into virtual teams, students designed various apps to address the problems people are facing during this pandemic, such as generating recipes based on photos of ingredients in the pantry, measuring the intensity of symptoms when they’re sick, generating analysis by scanning key words in tweets employing IBM’s Personality Insights, etc.

PPE Donations

Faculty members and students in the industrial design department worked on 3-D printers in SJSU’s Calvin Seid Innovation Lab to make test kit swabs and badly needed ventilator parts for frontline medical staff.

The College of Science’s biology department staff have contributed 56 cases of gloves, plus a smaller supply of N95 and surgical masks to Valley Medical Foundation.

Valley Foundation School of Nursing donated personal protective equipment (gowns, gloves, masks) to a local hospital.

San José State’s athletics department partnered with Sacred Heart Community Service and Family Supportive Housing on the Heart for San José initiative to help the community cope. From sales of Heart for San José merchandise, $800 and 451 masks have been donated.

Creative Entrepreneurs

When extreme shortages of masks for healthcare workers  dominated the COVID-19 news headlines in March, Nitin Agrawal and his team formed a group called “The Free Maskeeteers.” The group raised more than $14,000, brought together 240 volunteers, including seamsters, drivers, website developers, and project and operation staff members to deliver more than 3,500 high-quality, hospital-grade, hand-sewn masks, 6,000 surgical masks and 3,400 KN95 masks to more than 70 hospitals, clinics, nursing centers and other facilities.

Occupational therapy graduate student Rebecca Farrell and her husband created a website called Bay Area Masks, which helps coordinate mask sewers with healthcare professionals and other individuals in the community.

San José State Football Head Coach Brent Brennan, Stanford University Football Coach David Shaw and University of California Football Coach Justin Wilcox came together for a video that highlights the importance of washing hands and practicing safe social distancing. San José State Football’s Director of Digital Communications Cam Radford edited the video.