African-American Studies Department Receives Commendation for its 50th Anniversary

Members of SJSU's Department of African-American Studies pose with San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo at San Jose City Hall.

Members of SJSU’s Department of African-American Studies pose with San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo at San Jose City Hall.

The SJSU Department of African-American Studies received a commendation for its 50th anniversary from San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo at the November 19 city council meeting held in the San Jose City Hall.

Speaking at the event, council member and SJSU alumnus Raul Peralez, said how the department is serving African-American populations and the community by engaging in intellectual traditions that take into account historical, cultural, philosophical, political, social and theoretical perspectives.

The Department of African American Studies launched its first set of classes in the fall of 1969 after a long series of campus protests heralded a new beginning for the university and its relationship to ethnic studies. San Jose State was the second university in the country to offer an African American studies program.

The department has seen a substantial increase in the number of courses and faculty members since its humble beginnings, when the department offered only 17 courses with 10 faculty members.

By December 1973, the number of courses spiked to 35 with and 1,500 students enrolled.

In February 2002, the department implemented a new program called “San Jose State University’s Model for Black Studies.” SJSU was the first of five universities in the nation to adopt such a program.

More recently, in August 2019, the department launched a new minor in black women’s studies at the urging of students who wanted to know more about the contributions of black women in American society and various fields.

Half-a-century later, the department continues to be a place rooted in intellectual endeavors, one that dives into knowledge and experiences in the African diaspora. In October, the department celebrated its 50th anniversary under the theme “The Significance of African American Studies at SJSU.” The event brought together students, faculty and alumni from the community.

Tyler Gordon poses with Steven Millner after gifting him his live painting.

Tyler Gordon poses with Steven Millner after gifting him his live painting.

Supervisor Cindy Chavez, State Senator Jim Beall, Assemblyman Ash Kalra were among a number of public officials that attended the event and awarded commendation to the department. The department also chose the occasion to celebrate Steven Millner, ’70 Sociology, for his 40 years of relentless academic service and vast contributions to the community. Millner is the department’s longest-serving faculty member who now serves as professor emeritus at SJSU.

Millner was a sociology student and also part of the SJSU protest movement that brought African American Studies to the university.

“I was humbled to receive a tribute on the occasion of the department’s 50th anniversary, and I was especially glad to be the subject of young Mister Tyler Gordon’s creativity. In a wonderful manner, his youthful energy and attention to accurate detail capture what the department has tried to stand for over the years,” said Millner.

12-year-old Tyler Gordon came under the spotlight when he made a live painting of Millner and presented it to him at the end of the event.

At the celebrations, several alumni with deep ties to the SJSU community spoke about the significance of African-American studies as well as how Steven Millner changed their lives.

Assistant Professor Wendy Thompson Taiwo talked about the history of African-American studies and that it’s important to remember and include the history of black struggle in California. While faculty members talked about the history, purpose and goals of the department, students presented original works, such as poems.

San Jose State Celebrates CommUniverCity’s 15th Anniversary

CommUniverCity partners and participants gather for the 15th anniversary celebration. Photo by Brandon Chew.

SJSU’s student mariachi group. Photo by Brandon Chew.

San Jose, Calif. — San Jose State University’s student mariachi group opened CommUniverCity’s Celebrating Partnerships: A Quinceañera on Wednesday, November 13 in the Diaz Compean Student Union Ballroom. The event highlighted CommUniverCity’s 15 years of work to create healthy and vibrant neighborhoods through a unique partnership between underserved communities in central San Jose, San Jose State and the city of San Jose.

“CommUniverCity has come a long way over the past 15 years. We are fortunate to have trusted neighborhood leaders, collaborative city of San Jose staff, and engaged SJSU faculty members and students,” said CommUniverCity SJSU Executive Director Katherine Kao Cushing. “Our collaboration is the strongest it’s ever been and we can’t wait to see what the next 15 years have in store for us.”

More than 115,000 community members have engaged with more than 21,000 SJSU students in community-based projects. SJSU students alone have invested more than 394,000 hours in community service, valued at $8.4 million.

“Community engagement is a centerpiece of SJSU’s strategic plan, Transformation 2030,” said SJSU President Mary Papazian. “CommUniverCity’s work brings together dozens of SJSU faculty in departments ranging from materials engineering to urban planning, and this kind of interdisciplinary collaboration is critical to achieving our future goals.”

CommUniverCity received commendations from the city of San Jose, CA State Senator’s Jim Beall and U.S. House of Representative Zoe Lofgren’s Office. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo learned of CommUniverCity as a city council member. He said it is a model for bringing the classroom out into the community.

“I’m honored to be here to celebrate 15 years of partnership,” said Liccardo. “As long as I’m around, I want to do all we can to cultivate this incredible partnership.”

SJSU Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Thalia Anagnos presented CommUniverCity’s awards to partners and community members. The Golden Brick award was presented to Paul Pereira, senior policy advisor for the San Jose Mayor’s Office. The Community Partner Award was presented to Jaime Torres, CORAL site manager at Olinder Elementary School. And the Government Partner Award was given to the city of San Jose’s Housing Department.

“The event was a powerful evidence that town-gown collaboration can be transformative for cities and college students,” said Cushing. “Seeing elected officials at the municipal, regional, state and national levels all voice their support for the collaboration is a wonderful affirmation of the partnership’s positive impact in San Jose.”

Alumni Tommie Smith and John Carlos Inducted into U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame

John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the Olympic Statues on the San Jose State University campus during the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. (Photo: Josie Lepe/San Jose State University)

San Jose, CA – Fifty-one years after San Jose State University alumni Tommie Smith and John Carlos were removed from the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico City, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) is awarding Smith and Carlos their highest honor. On November 1, 2019, the Olympic sprinters were inducted into the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame.

“The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame represents the pinnacle of competitive excellence in our nation, and its inspiring members are champions who have transcended sport through the legacy they leave both on and off the field of play,” said USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland. “It’s an honor to welcome the class of 2019 into this prestigious and celebrated honor roll. We thank them for their impact on sport and society, and for continuing to inspire the next generation of athletes and fans.”

Tommie Smith, ‘69 Social Science, ‘05 Honorary Doctorate, and John Carlos, ‘05 Honorary Doctorate, were SJSU track and field team members when they qualified to compete in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. After earning gold and bronze medals, respectively, they bowed their heads and raised gloved fists on the medal stand while the national anthem was playing. In doing so, they created an iconic moment in athlete activism

“It is never too late to do what is right—especially regarding those who have sacrificed so much for so long—not to benefit themselves, but in defense of human rights. Congratulations Tommie and John—two extraordinary athletes and human rights advocates who will be remembered and treasured as heroes as long as the Olympic Games shall exist. Never has induction into this prestigious Hall Of Fame been more deserved,” stated Harry Edwards, ’64 Sociology, ’16 Honorary Doctorate, and Kenneth Noel, ’66 BA, ’68 MA, Sociology, co-founders of SJSU’s Olympic Project for Human Rights.

Smith and Carlos are the second and third San Jose State athletes inducted into the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame. They join fellow Spartan teammate and two-time Olympic gold medal winner Lee Evans, ‘70 Physical Education, who was inducted in 1989.

“I cannot say enough about the sacrifices John and Tommie have made and the rich tradition of student activism they both represent for our university,” said Mary A. Papazian, president of San Jose State. “More than 50 years after Mexico City, they are still working to improve people’s lives. We are very proud that John and Tommie got their starts as San Jose State Spartans, and I am delighted to see them honored by the USOPC for the work they did and continue to do on behalf of others.”

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 145 areas of study with an additional 108 concentrations — offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 36,000 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 more than 7,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 220,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.


SJSU Presents 2018 Outstanding Seniors and Thesis Awards

Media contacts:
Pat Harris, SJSU Media Relations, 408-924-1748,

SAN JOSE, CA – San Jose State University President Mary A. Papazian will recognize this year’s top graduates at commencement ceremonies to be held May 23-25 at the SJSU Event Center and Avaya Stadium. Nardos Darkera and Sierra Peace will each receive the 2018 Outstanding Graduating Senior Award for academic achievements, leadership roles, contributions to the community and personal achievements. Emily Moffitt is the recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Thesis Award in recognition of the quality of her research.

Nardos Darkera

Nardos Darkera (all photos courtesy of the students)

Nardos Darkera, ’18 Public Health, has given back to the Spartan community while maintaining a 3.85 GPA. She has represented San Jose State as a United Nations Foundation Global Health Fellow, served as a peer teaching assistant, worked as a lead peer advisor in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts Success Center, and interned with Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. Darkera is a recipient of the Louie Barozzi Scholarship for academic excellence and community service, the Dean’s International Scholarship to study abroad in Puerto Rico, and the Health Science Scholarship to attend the American Public Health Association Meeting in Atlanta. She will continue on to the University of California, San Francisco, to pursue a master’s degree in global health. Health Science Professor Kathleen Roe predicts that Darkera “will be a leader of thought, social action, professions — and maybe even politics.”

Sierra Peace

Sierra Peace

Sierra Peace, ’18 Psychology, arrived at San Jose State as a 16-year-old freshman with her sights set on medical school. A member of SJSU’s International Neuroeconomics Institute research lab since 2015, Peace has presented two posters at the Western Psychological Association Conference. She juggled four jobs while volunteering with the Third Street Community Center, the Associated Students of SJSU community garden and the Regional Medical Center of San Jose. Her 3.97 GPA qualified her for Educational Opportunity Program Honors for four years. She was also a 2016 and 2017 Dean’s Scholar, a 2017 Hoover-Langdon Scholar and a 2018 President’s Scholar. Psychology Professor Cheryl Chancellor-Freeland describes Peace as “the most exceptional student I have encountered in my 23 years of teaching.”

Emily Moffitt

Emily Moffitt

Emily Moffitt, ’17 Environmental Studies, collected feathers from 169 birds at San Jose’s Coyote Creek Field Station, and then analyzed the feathers for stable isotopes to reveal where birds spent their breeding season. Her thesis “Using Stable Isotope Analysis to Infer Breeding Latitude and Migratory Timing of Juvenile Pacific-Slope Flycatchers (Empidonax difficilis)” revealed the species’ migratory patterns, critical information for preserving habitats the birds need to survive. She partnered with the University of California, Davis, Stable Isotope Facility to develop statistical programs and used ArcGIS to portray probable breeding origins, and support her research using isotope reference and Breeding Bird Survey data.

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. 

woman and daughter in graduation outfit hugging

Educational Opportunity Program Convocation: “Inspire”

EOP Commencement

Vanessa Gordon addresses the audience after earning the Outstanding Service Award at the 2013 EOP Graduation Ceremony (Stanley Olszewski photo).

(This week, SJSU Today’s small but mighty band of writers and photographers will take a peek at graduation receptions and convocations campuswide so we can share with you the excitement of the more than 8,000 members of the Class of 2013. We’ll post more photos on Facebook.)

The Tommie Smith and John Carlos Statue towered over attendees of the Educational Opportunity Program graduation ceremony, as participants, staff and guests enjoyed an array of foods and drinks prior to the event.

On this breezy May evening, the voices of individuals who have come so far echoed back toward nearby Clark Hall. Keynote speaker Shaun Tai, ’07 Interdisciplinary Studies, shared his voice as a Spartan who founded Oakland Digital, a nonprofit organization “that provides digital literacy education to small businesses and professional development training to students” in Oakland and the rest of the East Bay.

“Find your inspiration,” Tai said. “Inspire your community and inspire the world, starting today and starting right now.”

Coleetta McElroy, ’97 Public Administration, introduced these newly minted alumni to the benefits of the SJSU Alumni Association, announcing that EOP had taken care of a one-year membership for all.

McElroy, SJSU director of financial aid and scholarship, also called up each individual one by one. Many of the 54 graduates listed on the back of the program were in attendance with their loved ones.

Each person received one to two minutes behind the podium to share his or her appreciation. Some comments elicited chuckles such as thanking EOP for providing free food over the years, while more than one student’s gratitude for their mothers encouraged tears.

Inspiring words and inspirational people walked hand in hand among the group. Graduate Van Nguyen, a sharply dressed bespectacled man who identified himself as being in his 80s, shared a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. quote: “Not everybody can be famous, but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.”

Graduates Vanessa Gordon and Long Kieu earned the Outstanding Community Service Award and the Maria D.L.C. Romo Award, respectively.

Gordon thanked her parents, saying, “I want to make them proud and show that I could do it.”

Kieu gave a shout-out to his younger sister in the audience, who found out she was attending his ceremony at the last minute. “I want to show her, ‘You’re an inspiration to me,'” he said. “… Because of you, I want to be a role model for you.”

SJSU's Best of 2012

Olympian Tops SJSU’s Best of 2012

SJSU's Best of 2012

SJSU’s 2012 Olympian Marti Malloy is welcomed home by her coach, the legendary Yosh Uchida (Christina Olivas photo).

We’ve had an absolutely amazing year, Spartans!

When the time came for us to select the Best of 2012, it was super tough to choose just 10!

We would like to send a huge thanks to everyone who visited all of our online channels, whether it was our news, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn or Pinterest pages.

We counted up all your clicks, likes, pins and tweets and SJSU’s 2012 Olympian Marti Malloy came out on top. Read her story and join us on Pinterest to add a comment.

Ripped From the Headlines

Many more of our top stories were ripped right out of the headlines, with students loving the passage of Prop. 30 and the tuition rollback that came along with it.

Our football team making it to the Military Bowl also touched off an avalanche of national media coverage.

Whether led by an enterprising professor or intrepid students, campus research boomed with a $73.3 million NASA grant and a mind-boggling motorcycle with spherical wheels.

We also scored in the U.S. News & World Report College Rankings, coming in ninth overall among the West’s top public universities.

Enriching the Educational Experience

Student life thrived, too. In May, two undergrads and two graduate students from the class of 2012 earned accolades for their outstanding work.

This summer, we welcomed incoming frosh with a super fun orientation program followed this fall by our largest career fair in five years.

We even set the stage for 2013, launching an initiative to roll out a whole bunch of online tools enriching the educational experience here at SJSU.

Stay tuned because things can only get better next year!

2012 Olympic Judo Bronze Medalist Comes Home

2012 Olympic Judo Bronze Medalist Marti Malloy Celebrates Homecoming

2012 Olympics bronze medalist Marti Malloy greets SJSU Judo Head Coach Yosh Uchida (Christina Olivas photo).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

SJSU judo bronze medalist Marti Malloy, ’12 Advertising, flew straight from London to the Bay Area last night just in time for dinner following the 22nd Annual Yosh Uchida Golf Classic at the Silver Creek Valley Country Club. “I would like to thank every single person who helped me along the way,” she said before several hundred judo supporters. “Judo is an individual sport, but this medal is ours.” Malloy presented a special coaches’ medal to fellow Spartan Yosh Uchida, 92, saying, “There is no one more deserving of this than you, Mr. Uchida.” Widely credited with elevating judo to an Olympic sport, Uchida still attends nearly every SJSU judo practice as he has done for the past 66 years. Malloy visited each table at the event for photos, reuniting with teammates, SJSU judo Olympians from years past, and assistant coaches including Shintaro Nakano. “Shintaro Sensei, I felt you standing on the podium with me,” Malloy said. She is SJSU judo’s first female Olympic medal winner, and only the second U.S. female Olympic medal winner in the sport. Later in the evening, Sean Clerkin of Pasadena-based architecture firm Clerkin & Clerkin, shared plans for a new dojo (judo practice hall) that will be part of the Spartan Complex Renovation and Seismic Upgrade. The complex, which houses most of SJSU’s kinesiology programs, includes Yoshihiro Uchida Hall. SJSU plans to break ground on the $56 million project in spring 2013.

Marine Science Graduate Student Receives Switzer Environmental Fellowship

Marine Science Graduate Student Receives Switzer Environmental Fellowship

Marine Science Graduate Student Receives Switzer Environmental Fellowship

Rhinoceros Auklet chick (photo by Dave Calleri)

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

Ryan Carle, a graduate student in Marine Science who studies at the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, has received a 2012 Switzer Environmental Fellowship.

The fellowship provides a one-year $15,000 cash award for graduate study as well as networking and leadership support to awardees.

The Switzer Environmental Fellowship Program supports highly talented graduate students in New England and California whose studies are directed toward improving environmental quality and who demonstrate the potential for leadership in their field.

Carle is a master’s student in the Vertebrate Ecology Lab at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, and a lead ecologist for the non-profit Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge.

His current work is centered on the conservation of a small and threatened population of Rhinoceros Auklets (a burrowing seabird similar to puffins) breeding at Año Nuevo Island. One of only a handful of islands off the California coast, the island is critical breeding habitat for seven seabird and four marine mammal species.

Professor and MLML Interim Director Jim Harvey is Carle’s advisor. View more photos on Ryan Carle’s blog.

Two Spartans Receive Emmys

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

At least two graduates of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications received Emmys at the National Academy Television Arts and Sciences 41st Annual Northern California Area Awards June 9. Mike Anderson, Photojournalism ‘10, won in the video essay (one camera only) category. His entry featured people with extraordinary jobs including a Google doodler, a crane operator, and an astronomer. Anderson’s stories air on NBC Bay Area, where he works as a web producer. Broadcast journalism alumnus and Comcast SportsNet Bay Area personality Brodie Brazil won in the on camera talent program host/moderator/reporter category. Also up for an Emmy was Brazil’s short documentary on the Spartans 1941 football team, which was in Honolulu for a game against the University of Hawaii when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

View Anderson’s composite (video examples of his work).

View Brazil’s composite.

View “They Came for Football.”

Close-up photo of a graduation cap with yellow tassel that has a green-and-white toadstool with the phrase 1up from the Mario video games. Photo by Christina Olivas

Chemistry Convocation Offers Each Grad a Moment to Share

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

A man at a podium on the left looks at a young woman wearing her graduation cap and gown, holding a microphone. Photo by Christina Olivas

Graduates at the Department of Chemistry convocation each had an opportunity to give thanks to their family, peers and professors (Christina Olivas photo).

Between Fifth and San Fernando streets, lying snugly between King Library and Dudley Moorhead Hall, the University Theatre was the perfect venue to welcome family, friends, faculty and staff to the Department of Chemistry convocation, held May 26. Audience members socialized intermission-like as they filled the contour rows of the theater, awaiting the ceremony.

Forty-three graduates obtaining recognition for B.A., B.S., and M.S. degrees were cued in to the “Star Wars” theme song. The well-received faculty processional cross-faded next with Darth Vader’s dark theme song “The Imperial March” playing in the background.

Chair Brad Stone opened the curtain by emphasizing the importance of having convocation and recognized the department team individually. Special recognition went out to College of Science Dean Michael Parrish and Associate Dean Elaine Collins.

Professor Marc d’Alarcao called each member of the Class of 2012 by name, and provided everyone with the opportunity to offer their thanks to family, peers and professors for their support during years of “blood, sweat and many, many tears,” as graduate Jeffery Berry puts it.

Among the accolades, 2012 Outstanding Graduating Senior Philip Calabretta thanked professors d’Alarcao and Daryl Eggers for allowing him to “tinker in their labs,” and professors Karen Singmaster, Brad Stone and Roy Okuda for inspiring him to teach.

The production crew for the event was the chemistry department staff, which worked seamlessly to make the ceremony memorable.

A woman is laughing and wearing fresh flowers around her head and neck at the Department of Communicative Disorders & Sciences Convocation. Photo by Christina Olivas

“Change the Lives of Others” Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences

By Sarah Kyo, Web Communications Specialist

A group photo with a Communicative Disorders and Sciences grad and her family. Photo by Christina Olivas.

Graduations often bring family members together, and the Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences Convocation was no exception. Photo by Christina Olivas.

(This week, SJSU Today’s small but mighty band of writers and photographers took a peek at graduation receptions and convocations campuswide so we could share with you the excitement of the more than 8,000 members of the Class of 2012. We’ll post more photos on Facebook.)

A blue-and-yellow candy buffet greeted guests at the Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences convocation on May 25. Once inside Morris Dailey Auditorium, graduates’ families and friends faced a stage with rows of silver chairs. Soon they would be face to face with their loved ones, who were dressed in caps and gowns.

“They are looking good, aren’t they?” said Department Chair Michael Kimbarow of this year’s graduates.

One student speaker, master’s degree candidate Jessica Abawag, said she and her fellow classmates endured this journey at SJSU for the same purpose.

“We are here to change the lives of others,” she said.

A fitting representation of why these Spartans pursued this field was keynote speaker Lateef McLeod, a poet who’s also a grant writer and blogger for the United Cerebral Palsy of the Golden Gate.

McLeod, who has cerebral palsy, gave his speech with an iPad app called Proloquo2Go. The app transformed a text file he originally typed on his Macbook into an audio recording with a male human voice.

He talked about the different Augmentative and Alternative Communication devices he had used throughout his life and the people who have worked with him. He encouraged the graduates to listen to their future clients.

“It is ultimately their communication that you’re facilitating,” McLeod said.

His speech concluded with one of his poems, “Wall,” to illustrate the importance of the work that the graduates will soon be doing.

“I yell myself hoarse like a bullfrog / but I cannot get my family and friends to get close to me / so they really know / my dreams, thoughts, desires, and feelings,” he recited. “I shiver behind this clear wall / and wait for someone to notice me / wait for a chance to speak.”

Killol Acharya with fellow student

SJSU Names 2012 Outstanding Seniors and Thesis Awards

Killol Acharya working with a fellow student on an engineering project.

Killol Acharya's love for robots inspired him to create the Robotics Club, and to serve as president of Project Enable, an organization that designs and modifies devices for the disabled (image provided by Achary).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

President Mo Qayoumi will recognize three top graduates at Commencement, which begins at 9:30 a.m. May 26 in Spartan Stadium. Approximately 8,000 candidates who completed their studies in August 2011, December 2011 and May 2012 will be eligible to participate. Around 25,000 graduates, family and friends are expected to attend the ceremony.

Killol Acharya and Phillip Calabretta have been named SJSU’s 2012 Outstanding Graduating Seniors in recognition of their scholarship and contributions to the community, and John Tilney has received the 2012 Outstanding Thesis Award in recognition of the exceptional quality of his research.

Killol Acharya will graduate with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. This Robert and Ellen Baron Student Leadership Award recipient says that his professors have been the key to his success at San José State. He is graduating with a 3.87 GPA and has demonstrated contributions on and off campus. On campus, Acharya has served as peer advisor in the Engineering Student Success Center and has been a leader in the Engineering Ambassador outreach program. His love for robots inspired him to create the Robotics Club, and to serve as president of Project Enable, an organization that designs and modifies devices for the disabled. Acharya balanced academics with community service by serving as volunteer for the city of San José and Veggielution, a sustainable food farm. Continuing his experience at San José State, Acharya plans to pursue a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Phillip Calabretta will graduate with a bachelor’s in chemistry. He says that he was not the strongest student in high school, but he feels that he has turned things around at San José State. A Howard Hughes Medical Institute SCRIBE student fellow, Calabretta is graduating with a 3.88 GPA. With his eye on a teaching career, Calabretta got plenty of practice while at SJSU. He taught general chemistry labs, facilitated workshops for the Louis-Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, and trained students in RISE, a program that provides research opportunities for underrepresented biomedical students. Calabretta also participated in the student chemistry club and mentored young students as a camp counselor at Exploring New Horizons Outdoor School. Calabretta is currently enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

John Tilney will graduate with a master’s in library and information science. He didn’t realize how challenging writing a thesis could be, but his diligence to “dig deeper” has paid off. For his thesis, “Containing Obscenity: The Gathings Committee, Moral Crusades, and Paperback Books,” Tilney studied the attempt to censor paperback books in the mid-20th century. Tilney’s work is the first book-length research project to examine the actions of the “Gathings Committee,” appointed to investigate the threat of obscene literature at a national level. By researching archives at Arkansas State University and New York University, Tilney was able to explore the history of censorship in U.S. publishing, uncover firsthand popular response to paperback books, and expose the social challenges around a cultural medium. Tilney says his work has assisted with his academic discipline and his commitment to completing large-scale projects.

project logo

Cesar E. Chavez Community Action Center Receives Project Cornerstone Award

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

Over 900 people representing local governments, businesses, schools, community organizations, and the faith community as well as parents and youths attended Project Cornerstone’s annual Asset Champions Breakfast on Friday, March 23, at the Fairmont San José.

The event honored the individuals and organizations whose commitment to building positive relationships with young people makes Silicon Valley a better place for young people to live and grow.

Among the award winners was the Cesar E. Chavez Community Action Center, which was honored for demonstrating our “Community Values Youth.”

“The programs through our center are successful because they are about youth empowering other youth,” said Maribel Martinez, CCCAC director.

The center’s programs include Strive for College, which provides college-student mentors for first-generation, college-bound high school students; Fuerza Escolar, which provides college-student mentors for third, fourth and fifth-grade at-risk youths; and Legacy Tours, which offers campus tours focusing on social justice and student empowerment.

CCCAC is part of the Associated Students of SJSU. Project Cornerstone is a YMCA of Silicon Valley initiative.

Woman holding potted plant, while standing near window with potted plants in Cinequest animation "Bloom." Courtesy of Emily Johnstone.

SJSU Wins Top Animation Awards

SJSU Wins Top Animation Awards

An image from "Bloom," directed by Emily Johnstone and Brian Kistler.

By Alice Carter, Animation/Illustration Area Coordinator

Animation/Illustration students Brian Kistler and Emily Johnstone share top honors for animation at the prestigious New York Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship Competition for their short film, “Bloom.”  The second place award also went to SJSU for Yung-Han Chang’s entry, “Bye, Bye Bruce.”  Both films were produced on campus by teams of Animation/Illustration students who guided the vision of the three student directors from the initial storyboards and concept design through post-production.

Represented in the competition’s very competitive illustration category are SJSU students Jeanie Chang, Cody Gramstad, Annlyn Huang, Rudy Santos Jr., Lauren Zurcher, Alexander Sparks, Ko Tseng Wei, and 2011 graduate Melissa King. Of the 8,119 illustration submissions, only 253 were accepted for the exhibition. The student scholarship exhibition will be on view at the Museum of American Illustration in New York from May 9 through June 2. The opening reception and awards ceremony will held on May 18.

Seven Spartans Receive National Science Foundation Fellowships

Seven Spartans Receive NSF Fellowships

Seven Spartans Receive National Science Foundation Fellowships

The program recognizes outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees.

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

For the second year in a row, Spartan alumni received more National Science Foundation Graduate Research Program fellowships than students from any other CSU. “This is concrete proof of the outstanding job SJSU does preparing our students for research careers,” said Michael Parrish, dean of the College of Science, which yielded five fellows. Each fellow receives three years of support; a $30,000 annual stipend; a $10,500 cost-of-education allowance to the institution; and international research and professional development opportunities. The program recognizes outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. The 2012 fellows who attended SJSU and their graduate schools are Andrew Ingram (chemistry, Stanford); Thao-Nhi Thi (Lily) Le (biochemistry, UC Santa Cruz); Natalie Chavez (molecular biology, Brown); Katherine Isaacs (computer science, UC Davis); Danielle Lemi (political science, UC Riverside); and Simon Howard (psychology, Tufts University). In addition, Amanda Shores (molecular biology, University of North Carolina) was notified two months ago that she was awarded an NSF fellowship retroactively.

Green Ninja Wins Grand Prize

March 30, 2012 — Macquarie University, The University of Melbourne and Monash Sustainability Institute have announced that the short animated film “Green NinjaTM: Footprint Renovation,” has won the Grand Prize of $5,000 at the Green Screen Climate Fix Flicks festival in Sydney, Australia.

The film is one of a series that has been produced by students in the film and animation departments at San Jose State University as part of The Green Ninja Project, led by Professor of Meteorology and Climate Science Eugene Cordero. With funding from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and PG&E, Professor Cordero has led a collaboration of students, scientists, and media artists to create the Green Ninja, a climate action superhero who forms the center of an education and behavior change program targeted at reducing our collective carbon footprint.

“Our goal with the Green Ninjafilm series is to communicate important topics of climate science in a way that is accessible and fun for everyone,” said Cordero.  “I am delighted that we are reaching a global audience with this work.”

Cordero in a Vimeo video box, click on the photo to connect to the video

Cordero explains The Green Ninja Project (TEDxSanJoseCA video).

“Footprint Renovation” was also screened in March at the San Francisco Green Film Festival, and won high marks from a panel of Hollywood TV and film directors, assembled at the American Geophysical Union earlier this year, for its excellence in conveying scientific ideas in a way that is easily understood by the general public. The next screening of “Footprint Renovation” will happen in Korea as part of the Green Film Festival in Seoul.

“I am really proud of the animation team and the SJSU students who have made the Green Ninja come to life,” said Assistant Professor of Animation and Illustration David Chai, who led the team of students who created the film.

Professor Cordero will be speaking at the TEDxSanJoseCA conference on April 14, 2012 in San Jose.

For more information, visit the Green Ninja website or contact Eugene Cordero.

Truong Tu playing table tennis.

Spartan Table Tennis Team Ranked Fourth in the Nation

Trung Tu playing table tennis.

Truong Tu at the 2011 Concord Open tournament (Truong Tu image).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

Table tennis is hot in the South Bay, including San Jose State, where the nationally ranked Spartan Table Tennis Club is preparing for national championships April 13-15 in Plano, Texas.

The National Collegiate Table Tennis Association is promising live online streaming of all the action, as the no. 4 ranked Spartans take the floor. SJSU’s co-ed team includes Truong Tu, ranked no. 8 in the nation for men’s singles.

Completing the roster are Sean Lee, Sally Su, Joseph Coorey, Kyle Wong and Mitchell Ong. The Spartan Table Tennis Club is one of over 250 organizations coordinated by SJSU’s Student Involvement office.

Growing up in Ho Chi Minh City, Tu started playing table tennis when he was just six years old, according to the NCTTA. He trained intensely, and was ranked among the Top 12 Viet Juniors in 2001.

Now going for an MBA, Tu joined SJSU’s team after moving to the United States for college, graduating in December 2010 with a bachelor’s in marketing.

A group of men sit on dark-let stage at San Jose Repertory Theatre for Cinequest's Rough Cut Forum. Photo by Dillon Adams

Cinequest Wraps Up Its 22nd Year

A group of men sit on dark-let stage at San Jose Repertory Theatre for Cinequest's Rough Cut Forum. Photo by Dillon Adams

Panelists discuss Spartan Film Studios’ “Always Learning” as part of Cinequest’s Rough Cut Forum at The Rep. (Dillon Adams image)

By Sarah Kyo, Public Affairs Assistant

Cinequest attendees had the opportunity to catch Spartan talent at downtown San Jose’s world-renowned film festival, including the rough cut of Spartan Film Studios’ “Always Learning” at San Jose Repertory Theatre and the shorts “Elder Anderson” and “Bloom” in the student competition at Camera 12.

For “Cheap Fun” director Zack Sutherland, five years of hard work paid off: The historic California Theatre hosted all three screenings of his feature-length comedy about a group of college friends’ escapades during a pivotal night.

“It’s kind of the theater to play your film in at this festival, and I wasn’t expecting it,” said Sutherland, ’10, Radio-Television-Film and Minor in Theater Arts. “While I was thrilled, the enormous, beautiful theater never looked more intimidating with well over 800 seats.”

This theater was also the site of Cinequest’s Opening Night and Closing Night.

“Opening Night especially will stick in my mind because we got to do so many interviews and get so much attention from Cinequest and the press,” Sutherland said. “It was the first time a reporter had ever wanted to talk to me.”

Sutherland plans to create a website for “Cheap Fun,” a Spartan Film Studios production, and is looking for a distributor to release his film to audiences. A potential screening at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont is being planned. The date is to be determined.

Encore Day

Cinequest finished on March 11 with Encore Day, offering extra screenings for films that won festival awards or were audience favorites.

One of the encores was “Worth the Weight,” a romantic comedy produced by Kristina Denton, ’07 Kinesiology. The film focuses on a 413-pound, former college football player named Sam who begins going to gym and develops a relationship with his personal trainer Cassie.

“This honor means the world to me,” Denton said. “To have our film be so well-received and brought back to play again for more to experience — it’s a dream come true. To have worked so hard on something, for so long and have people get that much joy on a simple, superficial level and also on a deeper more emotional level, makes me feel like mission accomplished.”

One of her most memorable moments was the night of the film’s world premiere when she and about 70 cast and crew members, family members and close friends walked to San Jose Repertory Theatre together.

“I’ll never forget rounding the corner of the theater and seeing the line that formed outside before the film started,” Denton said. “It was down the block! I couldn’t believe it!”

Fostering Young Filmmakers

The image of two young, aviator-attired boys gliding on a skateboard adorned Cinequest 22 posters, guides and passes. It was an appropriate illustration for this year’s festival, which shone a special spotlight on youth filmmaking, thanks to initiatives such as Picture the Possibilities and Adobe Youth Voices.

At SJSU, Cinequest director and co-founder Halfdan Hussey has been working with college students through his RTVF course, The Business of Film.

“The business side of the film arts is rarely taught and it’s critical to making films and reaching audiences,” Hussey said.  “And I like to teach the process of creating any kind of business. I’ve had a unique experience in that I know both the artistic and the business sides to producing and to distribution, festivals and sales.”

Students experienced the behind-the-scenes operations of a film festival through volunteering at Cinequest.

“I got into creating a film festival because of the wonderful treatment I received at festivals as a 23-year-old filmmaker,” Hussey said. “It’s great to understand all sides of the film and creative processes, and volunteerism and internships are great real life experiences, not to mention there’s beauty and power in giving.”

Business student wearing grey sweater giving speech in front of a mic

Student Raises Funds for “Green” Water Bottle

Business student wearing grey sweater giving speech in front of a mic

Junior business administration major and Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge winner JD Leadam speaks at an Acceleration campaign event (SJSU Alumni Association photo).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

A business administration major’s award-winning idea for environmentally friendly water bottle is gaining traction.

JD Leadam is moving quickly to capitalize on his first place finish at the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge this past December, when he presented his idea for a reusable, biodegradable water bottle made of a renewable resource, industrial hemp. The challenge is an annual Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship event.

“I could still be sitting in the seat of a classroom dreaming up ideas, but because of the competition, it’s all starting to happen like a snowball effect,” he said.

Leadam, who also received the Most Innovative Idea, Best Elevator Pitch, and People’s Choice awards, shared his experiences at an Acceleration leadership committee gathering held at Club Auto Sport in San Jose.

Leadam’s has been pouring energy into his own 30-day crowd sourcing funding campaign, set to expire in just over a week. As of Feb. 10, Leadam has raised nearly $10,000 from 93 backers.

“I’m looking to raise $15,000,” Leadam said. “This is the amount that I calculate will get me through the plastic testing phase and the design and the tooling of the mold itself.”

Leadam credits his advisory board, which includes the president of a consulting firm specializing in injection molding, an investment banker from Morgan Stanley, and Avon U.S. President Brian Connolly.

“Experts in a given field can be a great resource to an entrepreneur or a small business trying to get started without the formal responsibilities of a board of directors of a company,” Connolly said.

Leadam’s updated plans include manufacturing his bottles locally, which Leadam says will keep jobs in the United States and decrease the size of his product’s carbon footprint.

“The greener I can make this product, the better,” he said.

Notable speaking engagements in the works for Leadam include appearances at Humboldt State University and a TEDx conference this April in Denver.

Four people with big checks from the milk board.

Nutrition Professor Nominates Winning “Maestra Positiva”

Four people with big checks from the milk board.

Steve James of the California Milk Processor Board awards ceremonial checks to Christina Rodriguez and Father Eddie Samaniego, accompanied by Associate Professor Marjorie Freedman (GOT MILK photo).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

When the California Milk Processor Board, creator of GOT MILK? and its Spanish-language counterpart TOMA LECHE, launched a statewide contest in search of three “Maestros Positivos,” they found just who they were looking for right here in San Jose, with help from an SJSU faculty member. Associate Professor Marjorie Freedman of the Department of Nutrition, Food Science, and Packaging nominated Christina Rodriguez, who serves on a steering committee for an SJSU food justice program Freedman oversees. A registered nurse, Rodriguez provides basic health care and nutrition services through Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church’s Health & Nutrition Ministries. She hosts monthly health fairs at her church to test blood sugar and pressure, donating her time and money to purchase testing equipment. The California Milk Processor Board awarded each of three “Maestros Positivos” $5,000 ($2,500 for each winner and $2,500 for each winner’s charity of choice) for exemplifying positivity in the area of health and nutrition in their respective communities. Freedman joined Rodriguez at a celebratory event Jan. 25 at the church.