Immigrant Heritage Month: Uyen Bui

Uyen Bui is an incoming transfer student.

Uyen Bui is an incoming transfer student.

During Immigrant Heritage Month, San Jose State University will be telling stories of our students, faculty, staff and alumni who have unique and inspiring immigrant narratives to share. In addition, we will be highlighting our research, scholarship and creative activities that enhance our understanding of immigration and the contributions of immigrant populations to the fabric of SJSU’s campus community and society at large.

Uyen Bui is an incoming social work student who is transferring to SJSU from DeAnza College in the fall. She wrote to us to share her immigrant story:

I am an immigrant living in the United States for five years. In this foreign land, without parents, I have had to take steps to start a new life by myself. I have learned and experienced many valuable lessons. I was never discouraged, but feel worth myself for every bad and good things I got in life. After being broken, I became stronger, overcame my fears and achieved what I used to think was impossible.

I am proud to be an American soldier. I remember that day at basic training when I tripped and fell four times on the ruck march. I felt super hurt and exhausted under the heavy gear. I was left behind the whole company in the darkness of night, but still kept moving on with a thought in mind to “never give up.” I was not alone on that hard way. Walking with me, my drill sergeant said that I would make it happen. All memories and experiences of the Army and American life are worthwhile to me. I have continued to take new challenges and strived to be my best. I love all of my friends and my family giving me care and motivations.

I love the new country giving me opportunities to grow up and improve myself a lot. Human abilities are unlimited; therefore, never doubt your instinct. What other people can do you also can do. Take pride in your scars!

Spartans, reach out to us at communications@sjsu.edu if you would like to share your immigrant heritage stories.

Physics Professor’s Latest Findings on AI in Quantum Physics Published in Nature

Fully-connected artificial neural networks are used to analyze ripple in electronic density in experimental images. Image courtesy of Cornell University.

Fully-connected artificial neural networks are used to analyze ripple in electronic density in experimental images. Image courtesy of Cornell University.

Ehsan Khatami, a professor of physics and astronomy in the College of Science, has his latest research published in the journal Nature today in an article entitled “Machine Learning in Electronic-Quantum-Matter Imaging Experiments.” The article shares research that is a collaboration between Khatami and colleagues at Cornell University as well as other institutions on AI-assisted discovery in images of an electronic order in a superconducting material.

A former student of Khatami’s, Kelvin Chng, is cited as an author on the paper and is now working for an AI company in the Bay Area.

“When I first heard about preliminary applications of machine learning methods in condensed matter physics at a conference in spring of 2016, I did not know anything about them,” he said. “I came back from the conference with some ideas on how to use them for quantum problems and quickly found out that Kelvin, who was working on a different project at the time, already knew a lot about artificial intelligence and their applications in industry.”

The pair began working and by the end of the summer had completed a paper that was published a year later in Physical Review X and highlighted in the American Physical Society News. They began collaborating with the Cornell group on designing and testing machine learning algorithms to categorize quantum electronic images of superconducting materials called cuprates.

The images were taken at Cornell using a method called scanning tunnelling microscopy, which maps out real-space patterns of electrons that have self organized into complex quantum states. The images are so noisy and naturally chaotic that conventional methods, like the Fourier analysis, have not been able to decisively pinpoint the type of electronic order found in samples that are close to becoming superconductors in a state dubbed by some physicists the ‘dark matter’ of cuprates.

The team used machine learning for the first time to make sense of data in this mysterious region. They trained a group of artificial neural networks using images that were generated via computer models based on a set of hypotheses, and found that the networks consistently discover the predominant features of a specific ordering pattern whose description dates back to the 1990s.

“It took a long time, many trials, and months of hard work for the collaboration at the beginning to carve out the best strategy to approach and solve the problem, but it all paid off over two years later.”

Immigrant Heritage Month: Serena Alexander

During Immigrant Heritage Month, San Jose State University will be telling stories of our students, faculty, staff and alumni who have unique and inspiring immigrant narratives to share. In addition, we will be highlighting our research, scholarship and creative activities that enhance our understanding of immigration and the contributions of immigrant populations to the fabric of SJSU’s campus community and society at large.

Serena Alexander, assistant professor of Urban and Regional Planning, is of Armenian descent and grew up in Iran.

Serena Alexander, assistant professor of Urban and Regional Planning, is of Armenian descent and grew up in Iran.

Serena Alexander is an assistant professor with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. She is of Armenian descent, but was born and raised in Iran.

“I immigrated to the U.S. in January 2009 with my family and resided in Los Angeles. I later moved to Ohio so that I could complete my doctoral studies,” she said. “I became a U.S. citizen in 2014. Coming back to California and starting an academic position was a dream come true. Aside from the fabulous weather, California’s diversity was a major draw for me.”

Alexander joined SJSU in August 2016 and her research focuses on strategies that communities can employ to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to adverse impacts of climate change. She is working with 23 cities in California to examine ways to reduce transportation emissions and build more resilient communities. She is also involved in analyzing the potential impacts of autonomous vehicles and shared mobility on transportation emissions, among other projects.

She said her immigration experience taught her she is stronger than she thought she was, especially when pushing herself outside her comfort zones; it taught her patience in pursuing goals; and to keep trying to achieve her dreams even when facing obstacles.

“I refuse to accept that my goals might be virtually impossible to reach, I convince myself that I have to work harder or be more creative,” she said.

Her heritage allows her to understand the importance of openness to racial, cultural and value diversity, and the role that building strong and connected communities can play in creating an inclusive environment. She ensures her classroom is an inclusive environment and her students are trained to lead strong and diverse communities effectively.

“Most immigrants want to fully integrate into their new society as quickly as possible, but they may not realize that their unique experiences can help them better solve the problems their families or communities encounter in the new context,” she said. “Maybe we can all encourage them to see a greater value in cultural differences and unique experiences.”

And, of course, she also has her favorite Armenian and Persian foods.

“I will never get tired of sweet but not overwhelming Armenian traditional pastries such as gata,” she said. “Persian food is particularly creative and very balanced but takes a long time to prepare. My favorite is fesenjan, a chicken stew with walnut and pomegranate sauce served over basmati rice.”

Spartans, reach out to us at communications@sjsu.edu if you would like to share your immigrant heritage stories.

Immigrant Heritage Month: Erika Onyeise

Erika Onyeise will graduate in December with a degree in psychology and minor in public health. She is the daughter of Nigerian immigrants.

Erika Onyeise will graduate in December with a degree in psychology and minor in public health. She is the daughter of Nigerian immigrants.

During Immigrant Heritage Month, San Jose State University will be telling stories of our students, faculty, staff and alumni who have unique and inspiring immigrant narratives to share. In addition, we will be highlighting our research, scholarship and creative activities that enhance our understanding of immigration and the contributions of immigrant populations to the fabric of SJSU’s campus community and society at large.

Erika Onyeise was born in 1997, the year after her mother moved to American from Nigeria. Her father first arrived in the U.S. in the 1980s, following a sister to Chicago. He attended college and completed a degree in finance with a minor in business. Around 1995-96, he returned to Nigeria, married Onyeise’s mother and they returned together to the United States. During her childhood in San Diego, her parents worked hard to maintain a connection to their culture in Africa, through get togethers hosted by Nigerian community groups and clubs.

“Growing up, I met a lot of other people and kids who are now like my cousins,” said Onyeise, who is the incoming president of the Nigerian Student Association this fall. “I’ve noticed since my freshman year, there seems to be a bigger population of Black students and Nigerian students. I hope to encourage more people to come and learn more about Nigerian heritage.”

A psychology major who is minoring in public health, Onyeise will be completing her degrees in December. She was first drawn to psychology after taking an advanced placement class in high school at that time in 2015 with several gun violence incidents prominently featured in the news she also wanted to better understand people’s behavior and actions.

“One of my favorite parts of begin an SJSU student is meeting new people from different backgrounds,” she said. “I’m not from the Bay Area and I grew up around a lot of diversity in terms of race, but here there is more diversity, such as sexual orientation and religion.”

She said it is interesting as well to hear the different experiences of African American students, those whose families more recently moved to the U.S. and those from other places such as the Caribbean. One easier identifier is the types of food each group enjoys.

Onyeise has her own favorite foods her mother made while she was growing up, and though she has attempted to make some of the, she said they never quite come out the same as her mother.

“I love eating jollof rice,” she said, of a traditional rice that is turned orange by the tomato paste used to cook it. “It’s served with chicken or meat or fish.”

Another favorite is fried plantains, though Onyeise said the fruit has to be just right – not too soft or too hard – for her liking. When she visited over winter break, her mother showed her how to make a favorite stew dish called egusi. Soups are often accompanied by fufu, a dough-like food traditionally made from cassava flour that Onyeise’s mother has adapted to use Quaker oats.

Being the daughter of immigrants has taught her to persevere, said Onyeise. Her mother taught her to never say she can’t do something.

“‘You don’t say can’t.’ It’s something I will use on my kids someday,” she said. “It helped me. Things happen, but you can always overcome that.”

Spartans, reach out to us at communications@sjsu.edu if you would like to share your immigrant heritage stories.

 

Immigrant Heritage Month: Maliha Williamson

During Immigrant Heritage Month, San Jose State University will be telling stories of our students, faculty, staff and alumni who have unique and inspiring immigrant narratives to share. In addition, we will be highlighting our research, scholarship and creative activities that enhance our understanding of immigration and the contributions of immigrant populations to the fabric of SJSU’s campus community and society at large.

Maliha Williamson,' 04 BS, '11 MS Chemical Engineering, moved from Pakistan to Oakland with her family in 1991.

Maliha Williamson,’ 04 BS, ’11 MS Chemical Engineering, moved from Pakistan to Oakland with her family in 1991.

Maliha Williamson, ’04 BS, ’11 MS, Chemical Engineering moved to Oakland from Pakistan in 1991.

“My parents decided to move for a better opportunity for their children and we made full use of that,” she said.

The SJSU alumna prides herself on being the first woman engineer in her family and notes that her older sister is a dermatologist with her own practice in Avon, Conn. and her brother Mohsin Waqar, ’06 Mechanical Engineering, is also a Spartan. After completing his degree at SJSU went on to pursue his masters in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in Robotics at Georgia Tech University, and  is now a Servo Control Manager in Advanced Mechatronics Group at Applied Materials and

Maliha Williamson and her brtoher Mosin Waqar both graduated from SJSU.

Maliha Williamson and her brtoher Mosin Waqar both graduated from SJSU.

When the family first arrived, Williamson said they were not without their struggles. Her father opened a video store, and although business was good, he had to work 12-hour shifts. She and her mom would help after school in the shop, to relieve him for an hour or two.

“I would take my textbooks along and still remember spreading them out on the main checkout counter,” she said. “The customers would appreciate a little 11-year-old girl making the best of her time.”

She said she learned about running a business and customer relations. When she was admitted to SJSU and decided to major in chemical engineering, she stepped away from the family business to focus on her studies. She counts her college years as some of the best in her life.

“I even came back and got my master’s at SJSU because I loved it that much,” she said.

Still, one of her greatest challenges came in 2003, when Williamson’s mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. She was faced with the decision of continuing her education or being there for her mom.  She considered her mom her greatest strength, and even wrote an essay on her in her freshman year at SJSU titled “An Angel By My Side.”

“I almost decided to take some time off, not knowing how much time I had with my mom,” she said. “But my advisor and mentor Dr. Melanie McNeil was really there for me and made me think about dropping out. I decided to stick it through and am thankful to her to this day.”

Williamson’s mom also wanted her to complete her education and didn’t want her illness get in the way of her daughter’s dreams. Her mom went through seven chemotherapy treatments over the next four years and eventually lost her battle to ovarian cancer on December 13, 2007.

Williamson went on to complete her master’s at SJSU and has had a successful career. Today Williamson is working as a technical sales engineer at Heatcraft Refrigeration, one of the largest manufacturer of Commercial Refrigeration in the U.S and was the best salesperson for the Southwest region Sales Team in 2018.

Spartans, reach out to us at communications@sjsu.edu if you would like to share your immigrant heritage stories.

Immigrant Heritage Month: Norma Acosta

During Immigrant Heritage Month, San Jose State University will be telling stories of our students, faculty, staff and alumni who have unique and inspiring immigrant narratives to share. In addition, we will be highlighting our research, scholarship and creative activities that enhance our understanding of immigration and the contributions of immigrant populations to the fabric of SJSU’s campus community and society at large.

Norma Acosta, '93 Criminal Justice Administration, is a deputy city attorney for the city of San Jose.

Norma Acosta, ’93 Criminal Justice Administration, is a senior deputy city attorney for the city of San Jose.

Norma Acosta, ’93 Criminal Justice Administration (now Justice Studies), is senior deputy city attorney for the City of San Jose. She wrote to us to share her immigrant story:

I am an immigrant. I am here because my parents wanted a better life for their children. I was 5 years old when we arrived to the U.S. from Mexico, and 6 when we were all deported. We returned and eventually became permanent residents, but my parents never fully recovered from the setback of being deported. With an unstable home to live in, I struggled through high schools and spent several years in community college. My transfer to SJSU was my turning point. SJSU believed in me and gave me a sense of accomplishment and the courage and preparation to succeed in law school. Now a lawyer for over 20 years, I still look back at my time at SJSU and am grateful and honored to be a SJSU alumni.

Spartans, reach out to us at communications@sjsu.edu if you would like to share your immigrant heritage stories.

Immigrant Heritage Month: Karl Cheng

During Immigrant Heritage Month, San Jose State University will be telling stories of our students, faculty, staff and alumni who have unique and inspiring immigrant narratives to share. In addition, we will be highlighting our research, scholarship and creative activities that enhance our understanding of immigration and the contributions of immigrant populations to the fabric of SJSU’s campus community and society at large.

Karl Cheng, '19 Business with a concentration in corporate accounting and finance, immigrated from the Philippines to California with his family.

Karl Cheng, ’19 Business with a concentration in corporate accounting and finance, immigrated from the Philippines to California with his family.

Karl Cheng, ’19 Business with a concentration in corporate accounting and finance wrote to us to share the following story:

I am an immigrant from the Philippines. I arrived here when I was 13 to Los Angeles and I have lived half my life in this country. With my immigrant story, I have found strength within myself and appreciation of my fellow immigrants who have moved to the States for greener pastures. I am armored with a sense of adventure and growth. I am living in Orlando, Florida to start a college program in Walt Disney World and I am hoping for success in this place. I went to San Jose State from Los Angeles with the same push for adventure and I can proudly say that I have achieved what I hoped for in the Bay Area, to finish my degree in two years. Thanks to San Jose for teaching me to find strength and value in diversity. I will always apply what I learned beyond the College of Business towards my professional journey and personal growth.

Spartans, reach out to us at communications@sjsu.edu if you would like to share your immigrant heritage stories.

Armenian Delegation Visits with SJSU and Tech Leaders

Mary Papazian, San JoseŽ State University President, greets Hakob Arshakyan, Armenia minister of high-technological industries, as she meets with local and Armenian tech leaders on campus May 29, 2019. (Photo: Jim Gensheimer)

Mary Papazian, San Jose State University President, greets Hakob Arshakyan, Armenia minister of high-technological industries, as she meets with local and Armenian tech leaders on campus May 29, 2019. (Photo: Jim Gensheimer)

San Jose State University leaders hosted officials from Armenia May 29 in efforts to further explore potential opportunities for partnerships in a place that was named by The Economist in December 2018 as its “country of the year.” The designation celebrates the country that has made the most progress in the past 12 months, and this year Armenia was recognized falling a peaceful revolution last spring that led to new leadership that is committed to “democracy and renewal.”

“It was great hosting a delegation from Armenia today,” said President Mary Papazian, who is herself the daughter of Armenian immigrants. “Their keen interest in entrepreneurship and industry intersects with SJSU’s strengths so we are actively seeking joint opportunities.”

College of Professional and Global Education Ruth Huard said the delegation comprised university educators, members of the Armenian ministry and leaders from private companies in high tech.

“At our university, we realize that in order to develop and grow—if SJSU wants to have a significant footprint in innovation and technology, we need all those three distinct groups to work together,” she said. “Armenia is poised and in an advantageous position where those three sectors – government, educational institutions, and private companies – are aligning.”

SJSU administrators and Silicon Valley technology leaders met with a delegation from Armenia that included government and university officials, and Armenian tech leaders on campus May 29, 2019. (Photo: Jim Gensheimer)

SJSU administrators and Silicon Valley technology leaders met with a delegation from Armenia that included government and university officials, and Armenian tech leaders on campus May 29, 2019. (Photo: Jim Gensheimer)

Following a revolution last year that ousted a long-time president from power, the new leadership in Armenia is looking for ways to move the economy forward, to develop their talent and allow the country to flourish. The visit on May 29 brought members of the new government including Hakob Arshakyan, minister of high-technological industries; Armen Baibourtian, consul general of Armenia in Los Angeles; Artur Grigoryan, assistant to the minister; Varazdat Pahlavuni, counselor for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who all expressed support for working with SJSU and Silicon Valley entities.

SJSU officials visited Armenia in spring 2018 for initial talks about potential partnership opportunities and Huard said some progress has already been made. Since then, university leaders from Armenia have visited SJSU to learn more about the STEM curriculum offered to students here.

“We had a cohort from one of their data sciences graduate programs visit our program and attend a couple classes,” Huard said. “They realized that we have relationships with industry partners who come and engage with our students and pose real-word problems to them. They are working on revising their curriculum to match ours.”

While Armenian universities have a strong background in teaching STEM fields and an intellectual capacity, they are hoping to learn from SJSU and Silicon Valley how to teach innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Our applied and experiential learning approach is what makes us the workforce engine for Silicon Valley,” Huard said. “These partnerships are mutually beneficial.”

SJSU administrators met with a delegation from Armenia that included government and university officials, and Armenian tech leaders on campus May 29, 2019. (Photo: Jim Gensheimer)

SJSU administrators met with a delegation from Armenia that included government and university officials, and Armenian tech leaders on campus May 29, 2019. (Photo: Jim Gensheimer)

During a working lunch, the government officials and CEOs from Armenia met with local technology leaders, SJSU deans, SJSU’s Vice President for Information Technology/Chief Information Officer Bob Lim and incoming Vice President for Research and Innovation Mohamed Abousalem.

“Having lunch with Minister Arshakyan was an incredible opportunity,” Lim said. “Technology industry executives from IBM, Logitech, and Plug and Play and more came to campus to meet with Armenia’s dignitaries and CEOs to build international connections. These kinds of partnerships create a new ecosystem for SJSU, investors, and technology industries in support of our students.”  

SJSU Celebrates Immigrant Heritage Month with Spartan Stories

During Immigrant Heritage Month, San Jose State University will be telling stories of our students, faculty, staff and alumni who have unique and inspiring immigrant narratives to share. In addition, we will be highlighting our research, scholarship and creative activities that enhance our understanding of immigration and the contributions of immigrant populations to the fabric of SJSU’s campus community and society at large.

Assistant Professor Minghui Diao is originally from China, but moved to the U.S. for graduate school.

Assistant Professor Minghui Diao is originally from China, but moved to the U.S. for graduate school.

San Jose State University Assistant Professor Minghui Diao’s research focuses on the impact of clouds and aerosols on global climate change and regional air quality. Her investigations take her to far-flung regions such as Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, where she completes aircraft-based field campaigns. Traveling far distances is nothing new to the assistant professor who was born in China, moved to New Jersey to complete her doctorate, did her postdoctoral research in Boulder, Colorado, and eventually landed at SJSU four years ago in the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science.

She received a bachelor’s in Environmental Sciences from Peking University in China and then applied directly to doctoral programs. She accepted the Francis Robbins Upton Graduate Fellowship at Princeton University, one of the highest graduate fellowships offered by the in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

“I moved here (the United States) as a student, and I have been very lucky to be in academia,” she said. “Everyone is supportive, intellectual and everyone works very hard.”

Assistant Professor Minghui Diao presents her research at SJSU's Celebration of Research on April 23.

Assistant Professor Minghui Diao presents her research at SJSU’s Celebration of Research on April 23. Photo by Nathaniel Agot

Diao noted it as not easy to get through graduate school, but she formed a close-knit group with fellow students and an advisor who introduced her to working with aircrafts and water vapor to research climate change.

“It appealed to me,” she said. “I wanted to do something that fits into the bigger picture. If I am going to do research for my life’s work, I want it to be important and worthwhile.”

In addition to the rigorous coursework and time spent on research, Diao said an unexpected challenge came when she moved out of the residence halls into an apartment. While living on campus, she had access to dining halls but when she moved out, she had to learn to cook. She said she and her boyfriend at the time, who is now her husband, learned to cook together.

“I am lucky I met him because we helped each other through the difficult times,” she said.

Following the completion of her doctorate in civil and environmental engineering, Diao received a postdoctoral fellowship with National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Advanced Study Program. After her postdoc, she said she was drawn to teaching at San Jose State’s Department of Meteorology and Climate Science as many of her colleagues spoke highly of the program, and because it was the only program in the state of California with a focus on meteorology.

She also noted that she knew the department was research-focused and “everyone was super friendly when I did my interview.”

Since arriving at SJSU, Diao herself has been successful in earning two faculty fellowships from NCAR. She was named one of SJSU’s Early Career Investigator Award recipients for 2018-19 for success in securing grants and publishing her research.

“In grad school, the entire faculty was really supportive of every single student,” Diao said. “They didn’t isolate international students and in the PhD program there were quite a few international students. They never treated us any different than our groupmates…More than that they treated us as peers.”

It is an approach that Diao brings into her own research lab at San Jose State, where she works with graduate and undergraduate students. One of her former graduate students was the lead author on two published papers and is now pursuing a doctorate at the University of Oklahoma. She also regularly invites students to conduct summer research with her through NCAR, and has also prepared students to give oral presentations at professional meetings at the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

While Diao has made a home in academia, she doesn’t get to see her family much since they still live in China. She visits once a year or her parents come to the U.S. to visit her and her husband.

“The last time my parents visited we still lived in an apartment, but last year we bought a house,” she said. “We have space for them too now.”

Spartans, reach out to us at communications@sjsu.edu you would like to share your immigrant heritage stories.

SJSU’s Institute for Sport, Society and Social Changes Partners with 49ers on LGBTQ+ Activism in Sport Town Hall

San Jose State University's Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change in partnership with the SAn Francisco 49ers hosted Words to Action: LGBTQ+ Activism in Sport May 29, at Levi’s Stadium 501 Club. Photo by David Schmitz

San Jose State University’s Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change in partnership with the San Francisco 49ers hosted Words to Action: LGBTQ+ Activism in Sport May 29, at Levi’s Stadium 501 Club. Photo by David Schmitz

San Jose State University’s Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change and the San Francisco 49ers cohosted Words to Action: LGBTQ+ Activism in Sport May 29, at Levi’s Stadium 501 Club. During the event, Interim Provost Joan Ficke offered welcome remarks, followed by Harry Edwards, ’64 Sociology, ’16 Honorary Doctorate, who founded the Olympic Project for Human Rights at SJSU in the 1960s.

“In every place, I’ve functioned I have found LGBTQ individuals contributing,” Edwards said. “Their presence has seldom been affirmed and embraced. They have been denied affirmation and respect, denied their dignity and humanity.”

During the event, SJSU Professor of Sport and Exercise Psychology and Interim Chair of the Department of Kinesiology Tamar Semerjian spoke about her recent research in conversation with Anne Lieberman, director of policy and programs for Athlete Ally. Semerjian’s work on “Making Space: Transgender Athletes” has been published in a new anthology, Sex, Gender and Sexuality in Sport: Queer Inquiries.

“Sport is not fair,” said Semerjian. “We want to see fairness in sport. I played rugby. I’m 4’11. In sport certain body types are going to give us an advantage. Half of the folks in the NBA have genetic advantages. As a society, we don’t worry about that for men. But when trans women want to play women’s sports, there is a narrative that it is unfair.”

Professor and Interim Chair of Kinesiology Tamar Semerjian shared findings from her latest research on making space for transgender athletes. during the Words to Action event on May 29 at Levi's Stadium. Photo by David Schmitz.

Professor and Interim Chair of Kinesiology Tamar Semerjian discussed findings from her latest research on making space for transgender athletes during the Words to Action event on May 29 at Levi’s Stadium. Photo by David Schmitz.

She noted that in her research she found that trans men are not often called out as having advantages the way trans women are.

“Trans athletes don’t go through what they go through to have an unfair advantage,” she said. “Trans women are accused of trying to get an advantage and find a place where they can dominate. We don’t have any evidence of that.”

Semerjian said a lot of school policies make trans athletes prove that they are what they say they are.

“The only criteria should be what you say you are and who you say you are,” she said. “Trans folks need a place to play. We need to make space.”

The event featured voices of LGBTQ+ community members and allies, including Patricio “El Cacahuate” Manuel, the first transgender boxer in the U.S.; Phaidra Knight, Rugby Hall of Famer and U.S.A. Rugby Board member and founder of PeaK Unleashed, and Ezra Baeli-Wang, who led a movement against North Carolina state law HB2 as a student.

While Manuel, who identifies as a black man who is transgender, has been touted as the first transgender professional boxer in the U.S., he said “there have been LGBTQ people since the beginning.”

“We are nothing new. We have always been here. My people have existed since humans have existed,” he said. “And we have always been playing sports, but we just haven’t had the visibility. We were told to be quiet or told not to talk about it.”

Guest who attend the Words to Action event listen intently to panelists and speakers. Photo by David Schmitz

Guest who attended the Words to Action event listen intently to panelists and speakers. Photo by David Schmitz

Manuel, who discovered boxing at age 16 and won five amateur championships before transitioning, said he is willing to be hated by others to “live his truth,” and talked about the importance of allies in the fight for LGBTQ rights.

“We need to use the power of allies because it can make things happen,” he said. “We are coming up against doors that you have the power to unlock.”

Knight, whose nonprofit cultivates youth leadership and development through sport, said the movement needs to start with coaches and board rooms.

“If you can’t emotionally, mentally be yourself, you’re not going to be able to physically manifest your true potential,” said Knight.

Baeli-Wang found himself an ally at a young age when his mother came out when he was 11 years old.

“I only knew that my parents would be getting divorced,” he said. “I have witnessed first-hand the destructive power of a society that forces people into lives that hide or deny their true selves. I didn’t want to be complicit in that, so I became an ally.”

As a student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, he also found that he had a voice to help others when the state passed HB2, a law to prohibit transgender people from using their bathroom of choice.

“There are certain people who will not listen to someone from a particular community because they possess a certain trait,” he said. “If those people choose to listen to me because I am heterosexual and cisgender, then it’s on me to use that privilege to amplify that message because LGBTQ+ people deserve to be heard.”

Before the end of the event, San Francisco 49ers President Al Guido announced the organization’s new 49ers Pride fan club.

“Thank you to those who spoke and inspired us today,” he said. “I was moved all day. Some of the statistics and stories shared are just staggering. It shows how much work we have left to do.”

In the News

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SJSU President Mary A. Papazian Appointed to NCAA Board of Directors

SJSU President Mary Papazian addresses attendees of the Spartan Golf Complex ribbon cutting June 1, 2017, at South Campus. (James Tensuan/SJSU)

SJSU President Mary Papazian addresses attendees of the Spartan Golf Complex ribbon cutting June 1, 2017, at South Campus. (James Tensuan/SJSU)

Media Contacts:
Robin McElhatton, SJSU media relations specialist, 408-924-1749robin.mcelhatton@sjsu.edu
Lawrence Fan, SJSU Athletics sports information, 408-924-1217lawrence.fan@sjsu.edu

San Jose, CA–San Jose State University President Mary A. Papazian has been appointed to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Division I Board of Directors.

Papazian’s term of service on the committee began at the close of the association’s May 2019 Board of Directors meeting and continues through the close of the August 2023 Board meeting.

“Representing San Jose State and the Mountain West on the NCAA Board of Directors is quite an honor,” said SJSU President Papazian. “While the NCAA manages and governs intercollegiate sports for more than 1,100 colleges and universities, the heart of the association’s mission is providing opportunities for student-athletes to earn a college degree. That academic focus is one I gravitate toward and an area where I can contribute the most in this role.”

As an NCAA Board member, Papazian will be charged with helping to sustain and advance the Association’s mission, traditions, values and reputation. Board members regularly participate in committee meetings and conference calls and address a variety of issues. Last year, Papazian served as vice chair of the NCAA Division I Presidential Forum.

The 24-member Board of Directors committee consists of one university chancellor or president from each of the 10 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences; one Senior Woman Administrator from a FBS conference; seven representatives consisting of university presidents, an athletics director and a faculty athletics representative from Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) conferences; five university presidents from Division I institutions that do not sponsor football; and a student-athlete from a Division I institution.

“President Papazian’s role and service on the Mountain West Board of Directors will prepare her well in representing the league on the NCAA Board of Directors. The combination of responsibilities to both will enable her to transition in the Mountain West Board Chair position in 2020 and we look forward to her active participation,” said Craig Thompson, commissioner of the Mountain West.

“President Papazian has an incredible pulse on the daily life of a student-athlete.  She is keenly aware of the challenges, fortitude and exhilaration student-athletes experience as they navigate their daily lives.  She is a student-centered President, and will serve all students, regardless of their gender or sport,” said San Jose State University athletics director Marie Tuite.

Papazian joined San Jose State University as its 30th president on July 1, 2016. Recent milestones at SJSU include the opening of the new, $130 million Spartan Recreation and Aquatics Center; a series of Town Hall meetings hosted by SJSU’s Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change; and the launch of a new, 10-year strategic plan known as Transformation 2030. Next week, the university and its Division of Intercollegiate Athletics will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the future construction of a new Football Operations Center.


About San Jose State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is proud of the accomplishments of its more than 260,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

About San Jose State Athletics

San Jose State sponsors 22 (nine men’s and 13 women’s) NCAA Division I intercollegiate sports programs for approximately 470 student-athletes annually. In football, the Spartans are a member of Division I’s Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the NCAA’s highest level of competition.

The Spartans’ primary conference affiliation is with the Mountain West. Selected teams belong to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF), the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and the Golden Coast Conference (GCC).

San Jose State has 10 NCAA team championships and 52 NCAA individual titles. Sixty-two (62) Spartans competed in one or more Olympic Games. San Jose State athletes have won seven gold, six silver and seven bronze medals at the Olympics.

San Jose State Commends Senator Jim Beall and Assemblymember Ash Kalra for Their Vision to Repurpose the Alfred E. Alquist Building

An aerial view shows the Alfred E. Alquist Building on the right across from the Hammer Theatre Center.

An aerial view shows the Alfred E. Alquist Building on the right across from the Hammer Theatre Center.

Contact information:

Christine Hutchins

Senior Associate Vice President for Strategic Communications and Marketing

O: 408-924-1141

C: 650-644-9329

E: christine.hutchins@sjsu.edu

Robin McElhatton

Media Relations Specialist

O: 408-924-1749

C: 408-799-3373

E: robin.mcelhatton@sjsu.edu

Redevelopment of Alquist Building May Provide Affordable Housing for San Jose State University Campus Community and Revitalize Downtown Paseo Area

San Jose, CA–San Jose State University thanks Senator Jim Beall, ’74 Political Science, and Assemblymember Ash Kalra for their vision and recommendation that the State of California relinquish control of the Alfred E. Alquist Building and make it available to San Jose State University for future campus community housing and revitalization of the downtown Paseo area.  

Their request to allocate initial planning capital from the state’s general fund to begin planning for a mixed-use housing initiative on the Alquist site is a significant contribution to jump-starting the project.

Alfred E. Alquist Building

Alfred E. Alquist Building

“SJSU is eager and open to this opportunity as one possible solution to provide much-needed affordable housing for our campus community and revitalization of the Paseo area in downtown San Jose. We thank Senator Beall, Assemblymember Kalra and Mayor Liccardo for their support and future vision that aligns with our commitment to this important initiative,” said Mary A. Papazian, president of San Jose State University.

The 130,000-square-foot Alfred E. Alquist building, located at 100 Paseo de San Antonio, is just one block from the San Jose State University campus and sits directly across from the Hammer Theatre, which SJSU operates in partnership with the city of San Jose. Paseo de San Antonio is one of the main corridors between San Jose State and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light rail and bus lines.

The three-story building, dedicated in 1983 is named after Alfred E. Alquist, a long-serving state legislator, who passed away in 2006. His wife Elaine succeeded him in office and served in California’s 13th Senate District for 6 years. The site currently houses multiple state government offices. If San Jose State acquires the building, the university will honor the Alquist legacy with a memorial on the building site.

Senator Beall and Assemblymember Kalra’s work on the Alfred E. Alquist building is the first step for San Jose State to move forward on a mixed-use housing project that will provide much-needed affordable housing in downtown San Jose, expedite revitalization of the Paseo de San Antonio and help to re-energize downtown San Jose.

Read a Mercury News story about the proposed project.


ABOUT SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERSITY

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study offered through its eight colleges. With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce. The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 260,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

 

SJSU Grad’s Advice: Befriend Someone Different

Devdutt Srivastava graduated with a master’s in education with a concentration in special education, a preliminary teaching credential in mild to moderate disabilities and an autism certification from the Connie L. Lurie College of Education. Photo by Brandon Chew

Devdutt Srivastava graduated with a master’s in education with a concentration in special education, a preliminary teaching credential in mild to moderate disabilities and an autism certification from the Connie L. Lurie College of Education. Photo by Brandon Chew

Devdutt Srivastava celebrated the completion of his master’s in education with a concentration in special education, a preliminary teaching credential in mild to moderate disabilities and an autism certification May 22. A Bay Area native born in Hayward, he traveled to India with his mother and younger sister to visit grandparents when an accident changed the course of his life and led him to his chosen career.

“At 27 years of age, it is hard to imagine that around 23 years ago I experienced something incredibly close to death after falling from the second story of a terrace in India,” he said.

Srivastava suffered a traumatic brain injury that lead to five surgeries, intense physical and occupational therapy and special education services, including speech therapy. He is semi-paralyzed on the left side but has learned to work with this challenge over the years.

He began his education in a class for students in an early childhood special education setting after Challenger Preschool (a private preschool) took him out after being diagnosed with a disability after the accident. After he finished early childhood special education, he transitioned to a moderate-to-severe setting, which consisted of students with physical disabilities. He stayed in that class until the third grade before transitioning to a Core Support/Resource Class after repeating the third grade. Ninth grade was the last year he remained as a core support/resource student. By tenth grade, he was able to move into all general education classrooms by going on monitor. By going on monitor, Devdutt still had an individualized education program (IEP) and received accommodations (such as extensions on time). But he did not receive a period of Core Support/Resource like he previously did. Devdutt remained on monitor until he graduated Mission San Jose High School in 2011.

Devdutt Srivastava listens to speakers during the Connie L. Lurie College of Education commencement ceremony. Photo by Brandon Chew

Devdutt Srivastava listens to speakers during the Connie L. Lurie College of Education commencement ceremony. Photo by Brandon Chew

When he enrolled at San Jose State in 2011 he initially planned to be a computer science major, but decided to pursue a bachelor’s in child and adolescent development after his first year. While it was a challenge to compete and perform alongside typical developing students, he registered with the Accessible Education Center on campus and he spent a lot of time attending his professor’s office hours as well as emailing them to help clarify the content in his courses.

As a student teacher, he sees how much his presence impacts his students.

“I want to inspire students because a lot of times when I’m in these classes, I see students lose hope,” he said. “They’ll say, ‘I have a disability and there’s no hope for me,’ but I want to show them that I was in their place once, and if I can do it, so can you.”

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Today I graduate SJSU for the second time in my life with an M.A. in Education with a concentration in Special Education, a Preliminary Teaching Credential in Mild to Moderate Disabilities, and an Autism Certification. At 27 years of age, it is hard to imagine that around 23 years ago I experienced something incredibly close to death after falling from the second story terrace in India with the impact to the head. The accident (TBI) resulted in 5 surgeries, intense physical and occupational therapy, and special education (SPED) services for 15 years of which I spent the first 5 in speech therapy. Despite these obstacles, here I am in front of the world as a former SPED student who is now a trained SPED teacher. To my family, friends, classmates, and supporters, thank you for everyone’s immense support. There is a proverb which states that it takes a village to raise a child and you all were that village who made my success possible. Now as a trained SPED teacher, if there are any words of wisdom that I can embark upon to the world, they are: to those blessed with good looks, gifted intellect, strong body-build, popularity, wealth, or a life with mostly happy events, I encourage you all to befriend someone who has different circumstances than you and to embrace their differences rather than reject them. For those who have children or who plan on having children, I encourage you all to endorse your children to sit down or talk to someone different than them, especially with someone who has a disability. One will be surprised to learn things that he or she did not know about that person. To those who have a disability or to anyone who is or was enrolled in special education, never give up especially when labeled with a disability. Instead of giving up, use the resources available to your advantage so that you all can succeed in your goals and ambitions. Up next: finding a job as a SPED teacher and completing the induction program to earn permanent status. Afterwards, my plan is to join a Special Education (SPED) Ph.D program with a goal of becoming a CSU professor. For now, I am thrilled to be where I am in life. #SpartanUp. Onwards and upwards! #SpartanForLife. 🙂

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He challenges those “blessed with good looks, gifted intellect, strong body-build, popularity, wealth, or a life with mostly happy events” to befriend someone who has different circumstances and embrace their differences.

“For all those who have children or plan to have children, I encourage you to endorse your children to sit down or talk to someone different than them, especially with someone who has a disability,” he said.

Following graduation, Srivastava plans to take the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA) exam and will be looking for work as a middle school or high school teacher for students with mild to moderate disabilities. Though he hopes to teach for a few years, he’s not done with his own education. He has a few doctoral programs in special education in mind and hopes to someday become a California State University professor.

“The idea is to stay in school as long as I can and never stop learning,” he said. “There is always something new to learn.”

Sister City Swap: Dublin Scholar Studies at SJSU

Aiofe Grady is an exchange student from Dublin who is studying in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering during spring 2019.

Aiofe Grady is an exchange student from Dublin who is studying in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering during spring 2019.

Aoife Grady has a full schedule between the two courses she is taking at San Jose State University, working at an internship at Cypress Semiconductors and working on her thesis as the final requirement to complete her master’s in electronic and computer engineering from Dublin City University (DCU). Grady is this year’s recipient of the Pat McMahon Masters Level Exchange Scholarship that allows a student from Ireland to study at SJSU.

“Obviously there was the draw of Silicon Valley name, and I wanted to experience it,” she said. “I wanted the just to explore and travel as well, so it was a great opportunity to study abroad here, and live and meet other people.”

The scholarship Grady received is the first of its kind to be offered by a US-Irish sister city program and is aimed at deepening existing economic ties between the two cities and nations. The program is named for Patrick Ross McMahon, who was the founding chairman of the San Jose-Dublin Sister City Program. McMahon was born in Dublin and emigrated to the U.S. in 1960, eventually settling in San Jose.

At her internship, Grady is part of the Internet of Things group where she is working on her master’s thesis, which involves speech recognition and audio processing. She is not new to the company, as she completed an internship with Cypress Semiconductor’s Irish location as an undergraduate. She said the Silicon Valley location has more people and has allowed her to learn about the many different roles the company has for employees.

“I have the opportunity to work with intelligent, qualified people,” she said.

In addition to her coursework and internship, Grady has also appreciated the opportunity to live at SJSU’s International House.

“It’s a good setup that I would recommend to any international student,” she said. “It’s really interesting to learn about everyone’s culture and see how we all are adjusting.”

She will continue working at Cypress throughout the summer and hopes to submit her thesis to DCU. Before then, she hopes to take a few more weekend trips with her newfound friends in I-House, with Yosemite high on the list of possibilities.

The College of Professional and Global Education, SJSU and the Sister City Program expanded the scholarship series to allow an SJSU graduate student study in Ireland in 2017.

Megan Moriarty, a master's of fine arts in spatial studies, is studying at Dublin City College for eight months.

Megan Moriarty, a master’s of fine arts in spatial studies, is studying at Dublin City College for eight months.

Megan Moriarty, a sculptor who is earning a master’s of fine arts in spatial studies from SJSU’s College of Humanities and the Arts, is studying at DCU for eight months during which she is also working with the Dublin City Arts Office. She is focusing her attention on public sculpture and new methods of engagement with fine art.

Before embarking on the exchange program, Moriarty shared this in a blog post on her website: “When I am not bouncing around the city, I will be traveling the countryside to explore my ancestral homeland and the history of Irish art. This extraordinary journey is a culminating moment in my master’s research in how spirituality, nature, and technology are woven into contemporary art. I am so thankful to the SJSU Art faculty and fellow students who have supported my aspirations and guided me to this point.”

A Proud Spartan Grad and Mentor

Marie Bello, '19 Chemistry, graduated from the College of Science May 22. Photo by David Schmitz

Marie Bello, ’19 Chemistry, graduated from the College of Science May 22.
Photo by David Schmitz

When Marie Bello, ’19 Chemistry (concentration in Biochemistry) arrived for the College of Science commencement ceremony on May 22, she had plenty of family to cheer her on, including her toddler niece who donned a pint-sized graduation cap emulating her aunt.

“I like to think I’ve been a role model since my little sister was born,” Bello said of her younger sister who is also a Spartan. “I am able to experience hardships and obstacles first, hoping to pave a much clearer path for her.”

She adds that her nephews who are in middle school and her one-year old niece are her greatest motivators.

“I love being able to experience growing up with them and I hope that someday they understand the importance and value of education through myself and others,” she said.

Bello will be attending the University of the Pacific Stockton to pursue a Doctor of Pharmacy. She credits her family for supporting her along the way as well as professors Elizabeth Migicovsky and Ningkun Wang.

“They are professors who have a real passion for sharing their knowledge and ensuring students understand the materials taught, which makes a really big impact on student work ethic,” Bello said. “As their former student, I definitely was a lot more motivated and appreciative of what I was learning.”

Her first year on campus left her feeling a little confused and unsure of what she wanted to do, but she slowly she found her bearings after the first semesters.

“As the semesters went on, slowly but surely, I was able to find study techniques that worked best for me and learned to improve my weaknesses,” she said. “Thank you, SJSU, for the wonderful four years. The friends and faculty members that I have come across will remain in a special place in my heart. I am proud and excited to be an SJSU alumna.”

SJSU Celebrates the Class of 2019 at Commencement May 22-24

College of Engineering students cheer during commencement in fall 2019. Photo courtesy of Best Grad.

College of Engineering students cheer during commencement in fall 2018. Photo courtesy of Best Grad.

Media contact: Robin McElhatton, 408-924-1749, robin.mcelhatton@sjsu.edu

SAN JOSE, CA – San Jose State University will honor more than 6,800 graduates during spring 2019 commencement with seven ceremonies to be held May 22-24.

All will be streamed live on the SJSU website, where a schedule of the ceremonies has been posted.

The Class of Spring 2019

As articulated in Transformation 2030, SJSU’s recently announced strategic plan, this is a campus of change agents and a community that thrives in the face of challenges. The graduates of the class of spring 2019 reflect these values and priorities.

  • As the university reaffirms a commitment to graduate education with the formation of a new College of Graduate Studies, this spring the university will grant 1,816 master’s degrees.
  • SJSU will grant 46 doctoral degrees, including 35 doctorates of nursing practice and 11 doctorates of educational leadership. These graduates will be future university faculty members as well as educators and clinicians.
  • The university will graduate more than 400 new education professionals, 1,400 health and human sciences professionals and 640 engineers.
  • SJSU’s commitment to providing quality research and service-learning opportunities is reflected by a number of undergraduate students who have been accepted to doctoral programs, including two students who have received prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, Andrea Coto, ’19 Civil Engineering,  and Cassandra Villicana, ’19 Biomedical Engineering.

Individual Honors

Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton, '59 Journalism, will receive an honorary degree at the College of Social Sciences Ceremony May 24.

Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton, ’59 Journalism, will receive an honorary degree at the College of Social Sciences Ceremony May 24.

  • George Skelton, ’59 Journalism, a dedicated political reporter who served as the Sacramento bureau chief and a White House correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, will receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters during the College of Social Sciences commencement ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m. May 24 at Avaya Stadium.
  • Carrie Bowers will receive the 2019 Outstanding Thesis Award at the College of Science ceremony. Bowers completed a master’s in meteorology in December 2018 and used numerical simulations to better understand the Diablo Winds of Northern California and the impact they might have on preparing for wildfires. She played an instrumental role in connecting members of SJSU’s Fire Weather Research Lab to California fire management agencies.
  • Two students will each receive the 2019 Outstanding Graduating Senior Awards for their academic achievements, leadership roles, community work and personal achievements. Hyung Ik “David” Han will be recognized at the College of Social Sciences ceremony where he will receive a bachelor’s in psychology. Qurat Syeda will be recognized at the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business ceremony, where she will receive a bachelor’s in accounting.

College speakers

SJSU alumna Huy Tran, ’87 Materials Engineering, director of Aeronautics at the NASA Ames Research Center, will deliver the commencement address at the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, at 3:30 p.m. May 24 at Avaya Stadium. She completed both a bachelor’s and master’s in mechanical engineering and first connected with NASA as an intern in 1982. She manages a staff of 250, 300 contractors and oversees a $200 million annual budget for 10 aeronautics projects. She was the chief engineer on creating heat shields for Mars exploration. Tran has received the Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal (1998), the Exceptional Service Medal (2003) and the Outstanding Leadership Medal (2008 and 2016). She won the Government Invention of the Year Award 2007 at the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology.

Entrepreneur John Baird, a principal partner with Velocity Group, will deliver the commencement address at the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business at 10 a.m. May 23 at Avaya Stadium. Baird is a member of SJSU’s Tower Foundation Board of Directors as well as a member of the advisory board for the College of Business’ Global Leadership Advancement Center, and served as a lecturer at SJSU for 17 years. He has provided coaching for executives from Apple, Nike and Twitter as well as new venture founders such as Zesty, BloomThat and TownSquared. With Velocity, he is focused on supporting early-stage founders.


About San Jose State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study offered through its nine colleges.

With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is proud of the accomplishments of its more than 260,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

Longtime Journalist George Skelton to Receive Honorary Degree

Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton, '59 Journalism, will receive an honorary degree at the College of Social Sciences Ceremony May 24.

Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton, ’59 Journalism, will receive an honorary degree at the College of Social Sciences Ceremony May 24.

San Jose State University announced today that George Skelton, ’59 Journalism, a dedicated political reporter who served as the Sacramento bureau chief and a White House correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, will receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters during the College of Social Sciences commencement ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m. May 24 at Avaya Stadium.

Skelton has written about government and politics for more than 50 years, contributing to The Los Angeles Times since 1974. An Ojai native, he started writing for a weekly newspaper in high school, worked 30 hours a week at a newspaper while attending junior college, and transferred to San José State in 1957. Skelton wrote for The Sacramento Union while pursuing his degree and covered sports in San Francisco.

He moved to Sacramento in 1961, where he has written extensively about Capitol politics and government ever since. His twice-weekly column “Capitol Journal” has run since 1993.

In December 2011, the Sacramento Press Club honored his 50 years of California reporting with acknowledgments by former governors George Deukmejian and Gray Davis, and former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw.

SJSU Presents 2019 Outstanding Seniors and Thesis Awards

 Graduates of the class of 2018 file into Avaya Stadium for commencement. Photo by David Schmitz

Graduates of the class of 2018 walk into Avaya Stadium for commencement. Photo by David Schmitz

San Jose State University President Mary A. Papazian will recognize this year’s top graduates at commencement ceremonies held May 22-24 at the SJSU Event Center and Avaya Stadiums. Hyung Ik “David” Han and Qurat Syeda will each receive the 2019 Outstanding Graduating Senior Award for academic achievements, leadership roles, contributions to the community and personal achievements. Carrie Bowers is the recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Thesis Award in recognition of the quality of her research.

Unwavering Determination

David Han is one of two recipients of the 2019 Outstanding Senior Award and will be recognized at the College of Social Sciences commencement ceremony.

David Han is one of two recipients of the 2019 Outstanding Senior Award and will be recognized at the College of Social Sciences commencement ceremony.

Hyung Ik “David” Han, ’19 Psychology, has worked as a peer mentor at Peer Connections, a student assistant in the Center for Accessible Technology and an instructional assistant for a biopsychology course, while maintaining a 3.922 grade point average and engaging in research.

Psychology Professor Cheryl Chancellor-Freeland first met David in one of her most challenging courses, biopsychology, in which he earned a rare A+.

“He stood out among 125 classmates largely because of his superior intellect, and also because of his determination to master neuroanatomy and physiology despite his visual impairment,” she said.

Han went on to take four more courses with the professor, and due to his mastery of the course material and ability to help others learn the difficult material, she invited him to join her International Neuroeconomics Institute lab as a research assistant and to also serve as an instructional student assistant for the biopsychology course. The latter position is generally reserved for graduate-level students.

“David carved out his own niche and now serves as laboratory co-manager,” Chancellor-Freeland said.

Han has received numerous awards and scholarships including a California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) grant in 2016 to pursue his own research. A member of Psi Chi, the international honor society for psychology, where he served as campus liaison for the year of 2017-2018 school year, and the United States Association of Blind Athletes, Han received a fellowship with the public defender’s office of Santa Clara County, where he researched the stress that indigent clients, especially non-citizens, face in the courtroom.

“I have found encouragement and peace while serving my community which helped me to overcome various obstacles,” he said.

Experiencing the World

Qurat Syeda is one of two outstanding seniors in the class of 2019.

Qurat Syeda is one of two outstanding seniors in the class of 2019.

Qurat Syeda, ’19 Accounting, moved solo to the United States to study business, earning the Beta Alpha Psi Scholarship, the Gus Lease Scholarship, the Atkins Scholarship, the Financial Executives International Silicon Valley Rising Stars Scholarship and the Financial Women of San Francisco Scholarship—all in recognition of her commitment to excellence and community service.

“I have always been passionate about learning,” she said. “But I wanted to do more than just learn about the world from books. I wanted to experience it. So I made the bold decision to move out to the U.S. on my own for my undergraduate degree, the first in my family to do so.”

As an international student who achieved a stellar 4.0 grade point average, Syeda has also been dedicated to helping other students succeed.

“Qurat is not only focusing on her academics, but trying to help others as well,” said Michael Williams, an accounting lecturer. “She is competitive and wants to be the best, but not at the expense of other people.”

As a peer educator at SJSU Peer Connections and the Jack Holland Student Success Center, she has tutored and mentored more than 500 students.

“Her creativity in constantly adapting her tutoring approaches is fervent,” said Laura Roden, a lecturer in the Department of Accounting and Finance. “Always self-examining, soliciting student feedback, looking for ways to improve.”

A member of Lucas College and Graduate School of Business’ Sbona Honors program, Syeda also earned second place at the 2016 PwC Case Competition and the 2016 ISACA Research Case Competition. Syeda has accepted a position with the accounting firm PwC.

“She demonstrates remarkable interpersonal and communication skills,” said Accounting Professor Maria Bullen, noting the student’s dedication to peer education. “She is truly giving back by her considerable involvement in helping her peers.”

Examining the Small Stuff

Carrie Bowers will receive the Outstanding Thesis Award at the College of Science commencement ceremony.

Carrie Bowers will receive the Outstanding Thesis Award at the College of Science commencement ceremony.

Carrie Bowers,’18 MS Meteorology, had nine years of experience with the U.S. Forest Service, four of those on a hotshot crew in Northern California that uses hand tools and chainsaws to cut away vegetation during wildfires, before she enrolled in a master’s program at San Jose State.

“I love science and I love weather so I thought, gosh, I’ll go pursue my master’s in meteorology,” she said. “As a student studying fire, I feel like it’s a lot smaller scale. You have to study the details—the smaller things that make fires do what they do—whether it’s large-scale atmospheric patterns or even just small patterns around differences in terrain or small differences in temperature that determine where that fire is going to go.”

Her master’s thesis does just that.

Bowers conducted the first detailed climatological analysis of the Diablo winds of Northern California, the strong offshore downslope wind system thought to be responsible for some of California’s largest wildfires.

Her thesis, titled “The Diablo Winds of Northern California: Climatology and Numerical Simulations,” presents high-resolution numerical simulations of three significant Diablo wind events, examining the impact of this phenomenon to better understand and prepare for large wildfires in Northern California. She recently presented her findings to fire professionals, meteorologists and other researchers at the Fire Weather Research Workshop April 26.

Bowers helped Associate Professor of Meteorology and Climate Science Craig Clements connect SJSU’s Fire Weather Research Laboratory to Tahoe National Forest professionals for specialized training, enabling undergraduates and graduate students to collect research data at wildfire incidents.

“That really allowed us to connect with people in the fire and made sure we were talking with operations and safety people,” she said. “Everybody knew where we were and we knew what was going on. We were also able to get data from them, but also provide them data.”

“Carrie is a very dedicated student who has a great ability to eek out the details of what she is studying,”Clements said. “Carrie brought a sense of professionalism to the lab with her extensive experience as a hot-shot firefighter with the US Forest Service. Her experiences from the fire line helped motivate all the lab’s team members, not only in the classroom, but out in the field as well.”

He described Bowers as a natural leader and said he was honored she selected SJSU for her graduate studies.

“Her project on Diablo winds was a topic I was wanting to focus on for 10 years, and Carrie took that project idea and created the first quantification of these winds systems and the first numerical studies of their dynamics,” he said.

Bowers has returned to the San Diego area, where she used to live. She is now working for San Diego Gas and Electric as a fire science meteorologist.

“To have it work out the way it did is really amazing,” she said. “I always wanted to get down to San Diego because it’s where I grew up. Here I am, working a wonderful job with wonderful people. I’m using my meteorology knowledge and my fire experience and knowledge.”

Julia Halprin Jackson contributed to this report.

Cyber Spartans Encourage Next Generation of Coders

During March 2019, SJSU students mentored elementary school students while teaching them about cybersecurity as part of the Cyber Spartans program at Sherman Oaks Elementary School.

The Center for Community Learning and Leadership (CCLL) and the Jay Pison STEM Education Program partnered this spring to offer a unique afterschool program to students at Sherman Oaks Elementary School in the Campbell Union School District. Through the Cyber Spartan program SJSU students engaged as mentors and teachers to underserved youth while teaching them about cybersecurity and coding.

Luan Bao Dinh, ’19 MS Applied Mathematics, served as co-program manager of Cyber Spartans while taking courses and working as a graduate teaching associate in the math department. He graduates this spring, one of 1,816 students completing a master’s degree.

“Cyber Spartans is a program that uses already available kid-friendly computer languages like Scratch to teach underserved youth the cybersecurity content with integrated computer science concepts,” said Dinh, who helped to develop curriculum for the program. “My favorite part was when I had to create different modules in Scratch. I get to create these fun games while reviewing all of the computer science concepts I also need for my master thesis.”

Dinh also appreciated seeing how much the kids enjoyed the lessons.

SJSU students pose for a photo with elementary school children who participated in the month-long Cyber Spartan after school program.

SJSU students pose for a photo with elementary school children who participated in the month-long Cyber Spartan afterschool program.

Every Tuesday and Thursday in March, SJSU students met with the elementary school students from 3:30 to 5 p.m. for cybersecurity lessons and coding practice. The program initially received seed funding from Symantec, a company that produces cybersecurity products. The month-long afterschool program culminated with a visit from Cisco professionals who shared their experience working in cybersecurity as well as the importance of attending college in their success. SJSU’s Associate Professor of Psychology David Schuster, who has a National Science Foundation Career Award to study human factors in cybersecurity, moderated the panel.

“More students than ever have daily access to computers and the internet,” said Campbell Union School District Superintendent Shelly Viramontez. “Teaching them to think more about how they’re engaging with technology is a crucial life skill that our teachers reinforce daily. The SJSU Cyber Spartans partnership enhances and extends those lessons into the afterschool hours and the kids are really energized.”

Candice Lee, ’18 Psychology, was recruited to work as part of the Cyber Spartan team through Schuster’s VECTR Laboratory. In fact, she has been accepted into the master’s program for Human Factors/Ergonomics in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering for fall 2019.

“The program was completely new to me, and I think it is incredibly meaningful and of service to our community,” Lee said. “Teaching and Exposing STEM-related fields, especially safe cybersecurity behaviors, will not only protect our future generation but perhaps spark some interest and curiosity in the future of technology.”

Lee said she especially appreciated the opportunity to see how a younger generation that has grown up with ready access to technology interacts and learns in different modes.

“They have different attention spans and different ways or modes of learning than I did when I was younger,” she said. “So adjusting the curriculum, the presentation or the pace of the educational materials was certainly an interesting challenge.”

Joanna Solis, a CSU STEM Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) who works with CCLL and the Jay Pinson Stem Education Program, helped the SJSU team develop the curriculum and served as a liaison between the SJSU mentors and elementary students.

“As the program culminated seeing everyone’s happy faces is something I will always remember,” she said. “Seeing how close youth became with their mentors and the positive friendships that were established was very rewarding to see. Teaching youth cybersecurity concepts and having them relay back the information in their own words was a very satisfying experience.”

Diverse Issues in Higher Education names SJSU a Top Producer of Asian American Graduates

 

Students don their caps and gown during fall commencement in December 2018. Photo by David Schmitz

Students don their caps and gown during fall commencement in December 2018. Photo by David Schmitz

Diverse Issues in Higher Education named SJSU a top producer of Asian American graduates in its May 2 edition.  Each year, the magazine publishes lists of the top 100 producers of associate, bachelor’s and graduate degrees. The release coincides with Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and the lists are based on the number of domestic students, not including international students. The announcement comes as SJSU prepares for spring 2019 commencement May 22-24.

Diverse Issues in Higher Education named SJSU a top producer of Asian American graduates; the university ranked #1 for most business administration, management and operations graduates. Photo by David Schmitz

Diverse Issues in Higher Education named SJSU a top producer of Asian American graduates; the university ranked #1 for most business administration, management and operations graduates. Photo by David Schmitz

SJSU was listed #6 overall for the number of Asian American students completing a bachelor’s in any discipline and made the top 10 lists for 12 areas of study. SJSU ranked #1 for most business administration, management and operations graduates; #2 for education; transportation and materials moving; and visual and performing arts; and #5 for communications and journalism, and justice studies related fields; among other degree areas.

The university also fared well for the number of master’s degrees completed, ranking #8 for all disciplines combined; making the top 10 lists for seven areas of study. SJSU was listed #1 for engineering and library science; #2 for parks, recreation, leisure and fitness studies; and #3 for rehabilitation and therapeutic professions.

To compile the list, Diverse Issues in Higher Education analyzed the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistic’s Integrated Postsecondary Education data set for 2016-17. The complete lists for all races and degree type can be found online at www.diverseeducation.com/top100.

The Chinese and the Iron Road Exhibit

In commemoration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month the Africana, Asian American, Chicano and Native American (AAACNA) Studies Center is hosting a new exhibit, “The Chinese and the Iron Road.” The show opened on April 25 and runs through May 24. The traveling exhibit by the Chinese Historical Society of America celebrates and honors the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad by Chinese immigrant laborers.

Local scholar Connie Young Yu, whose maternal great-grandfather worked on the railroad, will give a presentation on the exhibit May 16, at 6 p.m., in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Room 255.

For more on the exhibit, visit the Chinese Historical Society of America’s website.