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.”

University Communications Regarding Spartan Foundation

Editor’s Note: The following statement was issued to the media on May 17, 2019.

I want to assure the SJSU community that I take very seriously the recent allegations that the university misused donor funds. We hold ourselves to the highest values of honesty, integrity, and transparency. First, I want to state that between 2013 and 2016, every student who was eligible and selected for a scholarship received one, and no student scholarship was denied or withdrawn based on the availability of funds. I am looking closely into questions about whether the university’s use of funds honored donors’ intent. I will be asking an independent auditor to do a financial review relating to Athletics donations and will address any unknown problems that surface. If we discover that we have not fulfilled the intent of donors who gave to the Spartan Foundation, we will identify other resources to fulfill donors’ intent or we will return the gift.

Dr. Mary A. Papazian
President


Editor’s Note: The following statement was issued to the media on May 15, 2019.

San Jose State University remains deeply committed to conducting its fundraising and accounting practices in all areas with the highest levels of honesty, integrity, and transparency.

Any donation that is received which is specified for scholarships is directed to scholarships. Student-athletes who were selected for a scholarship received one.
In the past, the Spartan Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, raised funds to support Spartan Athletics in conjunction with University Advancement (UA).

Several years ago, SJSU leadership learned that some of the Spartan Foundation’s marketing and communications did not adequately convey how financial gifts were being used. The university responded in multiple ways. The university changed its marketing and communications to clearly state how donor gifts would be used. In addition, in early 2017, the university began the process of moving the athletics fundraising operation solely to the division of University Advancement to improve management and stewardship of financial gifts to SJSU Athletics.

University Advancement now houses all of SJSU fundraising operations, including Athletics Advancement, with experienced fundraising professionals and improved processes to better support management and stewardship of financial gifts to SJSU.

Dr. Mary A. Papazian
President


Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on May 15, 2019.

Dear Campus Community,

Many of you may have read today’s Spartan Daily article alleging the mishandling of donor funds from the Spartan Foundation during the 2013 to 2016 timeframe.

For many years, the Spartan Foundation, a 501(c)(3) entity, raised money to support our athletics program. In July 2013, accounts were opened in the Tower Foundation for the express purpose of depositing Spartan Foundation funds. The Tower Foundation is SJSU’s auxiliary organization dedicated solely to philanthropy.

Following this transition, and soon after I arrived in 2016, I was made aware that communication to Spartan Foundation donors was not consistently clear regarding use of donor funds to support student athlete scholarships. I understand that from 2013 to 2016, money specifically designated for student scholarships was in fact used for that purpose and that every student selected to receive a scholarship received one. However, I realized that we needed to review our communications with donors and pay closer attention to our internal processes. We have done just that.

Specifically, we began a systematic process of examining our athletic fundraising with respect to accounting, marketing, and communications. We took the following important steps:

The university changed its marketing and communications with donors to clearly state how donor gifts would be used.

In early 2017, the university began the process of moving the athletics fundraising operation solely to the division of University Advancement to improve management and stewardship of gifts to SJSU Athletics.

University Advancement now houses all of SJSU fundraising operations, including Athletics Advancement, with experienced fundraising professionals and improved processes to better support management and stewardship of financial gifts to SJSU.

While there remains some work to be done, our transition to a more streamlined, effective system of fundraising and stewardship is well underway.

We remain deeply committed to conducting our fundraising and accounting practices in all areas with the highest levels of honesty, integrity, and transparency.

Sincerely,

Dr. Mary A. Papazian
President


SJSU President Mary A. Papazian named to 2019 “Women of Influence” by Silicon Valley Business Journal

San Jose State University president Dr. Mary A. Papazian, was named to the Silicon Valley Business Journal's 2019 Women of Influence list. (Photo: Josie Lepe, '03 BFA Photography )

San Jose State University president Dr. Mary A. Papazian, was named to the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s 2019 Women of Influence list. (Photo: Josie Lepe, ’03 BFA Photography )

San Jose State University President Mary A. Papazian has been named one of 100 “Women of Influence” by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Each year, the SVBJ honors and celebrates the 100 most influential women in Silicon Valley. Honorees have been selected from the private, public and nonprofit sectors.

“It is gratifying to earn this distinction, but it really is the students, faculty, staff and alumni of San Jose State who are our brightest stars,” said SJSU President Papazian. “When they succeed, we all win. This honor reflects the hard work and dedication that are hallmarks of everyone associated with our university and supportive of our mission.”

The SVBJ will honor its 2019 Women of Influence award-winners at a May 16 dinner event and will feature recipients in its May 17 edition.

Papazian joined San Jose State University as its 30th president on July 1, 2016. As the leader of the founding campus of the California State University and Silicon Valley’s only public university, she is firmly committed to student success; open, transparent and inclusive leadership; fostering a culture of curiosity and discovery; and building enduring campus and community partnerships.

In addition to Papazian, six SJSU alumni are also 2019 “Women of Influence” awardees:

  • Carla Bohnett, ’91 Social Science, Lead Photographer and graphic designer, CB Photo Design Studio, Co-owner and President, Women’s Networking Alliance and Associate Director, Artful Journeys
  • Franca Cozzitorto, ’91 Psychology, Head of Enterprise Risk Management, Technology Credit Union
  • Denise Miles, ’99 Political Science, Senior Vice President, Community Relations Senior Consultant in Philanthropy Wells Fargo Corporate Philanthropy and Community Relations
  • Larissa Robideaux, ’08 MPA, Executive Director, Center for Excellence in Nonprofits
  • Andrea Urton, ’98 Psychology, ’01 MS Clinical Psychology, CEO, HomeFirst Services of Santa Clara County
  • Jie Zhu, ’98 Accounting, Partner, Petrinovich Pugh and Co.

Karen Philbrick, executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute, was a past SVBJ Women of Influence award-winner.

Campus Message on an Investigation of Fraternity Behavior

Dear campus community,

Building an inclusive, welcoming climate at SJSU demands sustained effort and contributions from all of us. And these efforts need to support the unique academic, cultural and socio-economic needs of a highly diverse student population and campus community.

On Tuesday afternoon, the university was notified about a photo circulating on social media that caused serious concern, hurt and anger. The picture suggests questionable behavior on the part of members of an SJSU fraternity that, if determined to be true, is deeply inappropriate and completely misaligned with the values of one of the nation’s most diverse universities. It also unfortunately misrepresents the many members of our Greek community who have committed themselves to leadership and service, and are currently focused on closing out the academic year.

An investigation of the fraternity’s activities is underway by the university. To be clear, this investigation does not include the political views being expressed in the photo. SJSU respects and affirms the free speech rights of our community. Rather, this investigation will fairly consider the facts and behavior of the students involved. It will also listen to their perspectives and evaluate the impact of this incident on the SJSU community.

Patrick K. Day
Vice President for Student Affairs

 

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.

Center for Community Learning and Leadership Earns Community Award

 

SJSU's Center for Community Learning and Leadership received the 2019 Outstanding Community Partner Award from Third Street Community Center. Pictured here from left to right: Elena Klaw, CCLL faculty director and psychology professor, Rosemary Baez, executive director of Third Street Community Center and Patrick Day, vice president for Student Affairs pose for a photo as the SJSU program is recognized with a Community Photo by: Karen Guerrero, ’19 Communications

SJSU’s Center for Community Learning and Leadership received the 2019 Outstanding Community Partner Award from Third Street Community Center. Pictured here from left to right: Elena Klaw, CCLL faculty director and psychology professor, Rosemary Baez, executive director of Third Street Community Center and Patrick Day, vice president for Student Affairs pose for a photo.
Photo by: Karen Guerrero, ’19 Communications

San Jose State University’s Center for Community Learning and Leadership (CCLL) was recognized by the Third Street Community Center as its 2019 Outstanding Community Partner on Saturday, May 4. Vice President for Student Affairs Patrick Day joined faculty and staff members to accept the honor, which recognizes CCLL’s service learning and community engagement.

“We are honored that Third Street Community Center is recognizing the Center for Community Learning and Leadership and each college at San Jose State for our significant contributions,” said Psychology Professor Elena Klaw, who directs the CCLL, in addition to the Veterans Embracing Transition program. “Our center has partnered with Third Street Community Center for the past 19 years to educate, enrich, mentor and inspire downtown  youths through course-based service-learning.

During an event at Third Street Community Center, where SJSU's Center for Community Learning and Leadership received the 2019 Outstanding Community Partner Award, a group poses for a photo. Left to right: Avizia Long, assistant professor of World of Languages and Literatures, Kara Bench, SJSU Spanish student, Andrea Tully, CCLL coordinator, Sheryl Ehrman, dean of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, Patrick Day, vice president of student affairs, Elena Klaw, CCLL faculty director and psychology professor, Peggy Arana, CCLL administrative support coordinator, and Mei-Yan Lu, educational leadership professor. Photo by: Karen Guerrero, ’19 Communications

During an event at Third Street Community Center, where SJSU’s Center for Community Learning and Leadership received the 2019 Outstanding Community Partner Award, a group poses for a photo. Left to right: Avizia Long, assistant professor of World Languages and Literatures; Kara Bench, SJSU Spanish student; Andrea Tully, CCLL coordinator; Sheryl Ehrman, dean of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering; Patrick Day, vice president of Student Affairs; Elena Klaw, CCLL faculty director and psychology professor; Peggy Arana, CCLL administrative support coordinator; and Mei-Yan Lu, educational leadership professor.
Photo by: Karen Guerrero, ’19 Communications

The Third Street Community Center provides comprehensive and enriching support to greater downtown San Jose youths, including college preparatory STEM education, peer role models and mentors, and family engagement in a safe and nurturing environment. Since 2010, SJSU has provided 1,518 service-learners to support academically at-risk children at the center. This year alone, SJSU students have provided more than 5,000 hours of service to academic enrichment programsmore than 70 percent of Third Street’s 2,102 volunteers since fall 2010. The Center for Community Learning and Leadership is proud to report that SJSU service-learning students provide 45,000 hours of service within the city of San Jose each year.

“The Center for Community Learning and Leadership has done an extraordinary job of providing service learning experiences for San Jose State University students,” said Day, who attended Saturday’s event. “Through their partnership with the Third Street Community Center, they have demonstrated an optimum example of community-engaged learning experiences that have a real impact on our neighbors in the city of San Jose.  The leadership of Professor Elena Klaw and the staff in CCLL are a hallmark of an innovative urban university.”

The CCLL is staffed by a team of three that supports curricular service learning and assessment at San Jose State: Klaw; Andrea Tully, community engagement coordinator, and Peggy Arana, administrative support coordinator.

 

Honors Convocation 2019: We Are Always Learning

More than 1,300 President's Scholars were recognized at Honors Convocation May 3 in the Event Center at SJSU. Photo by Brandon Chew

More than 1,300 President’s Scholars were recognized at Honors Convocation May 3 in the Event Center at SJSU for achieving a 4.0 GPA in spring or fall 2018. Photo by Brandon Chew

San Jose State University celebrated its top students May 3 at the 57th Annual Honors Convocation in the Event Center at SJSU. This year 1,342 President’s Scholars were honored for achieving a 4.0 grade point average in spring or fall 2018 to a crowd of their family, friends, faculty and staff members.

President Mary A. Papazian shakes hands with a President Scholar at Honors Convocation on May 3. Photo by Brandon Chew

President Mary A. Papazian shakes hands with a President Scholar at Honors Convocation on May 3. Photo by Brandon Chew

“They have worked hard to acquire the knowledge that will prepare them for their chosen careers and to be engaged citizens in our community and beyond. In short, these students epitomize what it means to be a Spartan,” Interim Provost Joan Ficke, wrote in the event program.

During the ceremony, the college deans helped to recognize the President’s Scholars from their colleges, with students invited

The 2018-19 Outstanding Professor Susan Verducci offered an inspiring keynote speech to students in the top

President Scholar Kristine Leanos poses for a photo with her certificate during Honors Convocation May 3. Photo by Brandon Chew

President Scholar Kristine Leanos poses for a photo with her certificate during Honors Convocation May 3. Photo by Brandon Chew

5 percent, their family and friends. Verducci, who is an associate professor of Humanities who has helped to establish the Integrated Teacher Education Program at SJSU, asked students to think back to their kindergarten days. She shared writer Robert Fulghum’s list of things student learn in those early school days that remain valuable throughout their life: share, play fair, don’t hit people, put things back where you found them, clean up your own mess, and so on.

“The liberal education all students earn at SJSU aims to help them understand how these simple ethical concepts map in extraordinary complex ways onto our relationships with others, (both near and far), our relationship with the environment, and our political lives,” she said.

Verducci shared a bit about her educational journey will highlighting for students other important lessons about learning: it requires jumping into the unknown; learning is hard; it requires that you stop and consider; and learning requires humility.

“This we learn in school, especially in schools like San Jose State, where engaging with diverse others is akin to breathing,” she said. “My wish for you is that you continue to remember that we are always learning…We are always learning, an army of learners arriving each morning, ready and excited to learn, and perhaps a little scared to jump.”

John Yumul holds up his Honors Convocation certificate during the May 3 event. Photo by Brandon Chew

John Yumul holds up his Honors Convocation certificate during the May 3 event. Photo by Brandon Chew

The Office of the Provost reached out to department chairs to nominate some of these students who are in the top 5 percent to share a few words about why they chose their major, who influenced them and what makes them a Spartan for a Featured Stories site.

In addition to the President’s Scholars, 5,429 students also made the Dean’s Scholars list for achieving a 3.65 GPA in spring or fall 2018. All Dean’s Scholars were recognized with certificates from their College Dean’s Office.

Updated: SJSU Students Take Home Three Awards at CSU Competition

On April 26 and 27, a dozen San Jose State University students competed for top honors at the 33rd Annual California State University Student Research Competition at CSU Fullerton, with SJSU competitors brining home two first place finishes and one second place prize in their categories. In true Spartan spirit, each of the student projects aimed to do some greater good– through improving fuel efficiency of aircrafts; converting greenhouse gases to liquid fuels; and creating chatbot tutors in support of student success.

Sarah Ortega, ’18 Aerospace Engineering, placed first in the category of Engineering and Computer Science, graduate level; Vanshika Gupta, a student in the College of Science placed first in the category of Physical Sciences and Mathematics, undergraduate level; and Sambhav Gupta, a student in the Lucas College of Business placed second in the category of Business, Economics and Public Administration for graduate and undergraduate level.

Ortega presented her research on designing a short to medium range hybrid transport aircraft that would use batteries as part of its fuel source. She worked closely with faculty advisor, Professor and Chair of Aerospace Engineering Nikos Mourtos.

“I knew there were electric aircraft, but current battery capabilities are limited,” she said. “I wanted to design a jet transport aircraft. I also knew I wanted to design something that could be feasible in the next decade or two, so we decided on a hybrid.”

She met regularly with Mourtos and also took an aircraft design class.

Vanshika Gupta, ’20 biochemistry, worked with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Madlyn Radlauer on her project “Investigating Macromolecular Structures for the Transformation of Greenhouse Gases into Liquid Fuels.” She has presented her research at the College of Science Research Day and as part of the CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology conference in 2019.

Vanshika said she joined Radlauer’s research team during her first semester at SJSU.

“Dr. Radlauer trained me on the different instruments and polymerization techniques necessary for our projects,” she said. “For the competition in particular, she guided me in my presentation. I performed multiple runs in front of her and she advised me on improvements.”

The biochemistry student said she especially appreciated the opportunity to learn about the research projects that students from other CSU campuses presented.

“Since I started at SJSU in fall 2017, I have had the great pleasure of working with SJSU students in both the classroom and laboratory,” Radlauer said. “My research students are amazing and because each one of them comes to science via their own path, there is a wealth of perspective and experience in the group. I’m so proud to see them succeeding and sharing that success with one another.”

Sambhav Gupta, ’20 Business concentration in corporate accounting and finance, received second place for his project, “Artificially Intelligent (AI) Tutors in the Classroom: A Need Assessment Study of Designing Chatbots to Support Student Success.” Sambhav Gupta worked with Assistant Professor in the School of Information Systems and Technology Yu Chen on his project.

“There are advisors, and then there are mentors,” he said. “Dr. Yu Chen has helped me grow in both my academic career and as a person as well since I started working with her on this project back in October 2018.”

In February, the three CSU competition winners first presented their projects to a panel of judges as part of SJSU’s Student Research Competition. The students were selected along with nine others to represent the university at the systemwide event. At the SJSU Celebration of Research on April 23, the SJSU finalists were recognized in front of a crowd of students, faculty and staff.

SJSU Set to Honor 1,342 President’s Scholars May 3

SJSU faculty, students, administrators and families gather to honor students with top GPAs at the 2018 Honors Convocation. Photo by Brandon Chew

SJSU faculty, students, administrators and families gather to honor students with top GPAs at the 2018 Honors Convocation. Photo by Brandon Chew

San Jose State University will celebrate its top students May 3 at the 57th Annual Honors Convocation in the SJSU Event Center. This year 1,342 President’s Scholars will be honored for achieving a 4.0 grade point average in spring or fall 2018.

The Office of the Provost reached out to department chairs to nominate some of these students who are in the top 5 percent to share a few words about why they chose their major, who influenced them and what makes them a Spartan for a Featured Stories site.

Using Education to Uplift a Community

Jenny Ballesteros

Jenny Ballesteros

Jenny Ballesteros, a political science major from the small town of Castroville, said she selected her major because she thought it would open up doors to careers that could help her uplift her community.

“I remember struggling in my first semester at SJSU because I did not have the skills to succeed,” she said, noting she attended high school in a district that lacked resources. “I had to teach myself how to study, how to take good notes, how to effectively read through scholarly articles and much more.”

Achieving a 4.0 GPA and being honored as a President’s Scholar “signifies that my hard work has paid off.”

She credits her parents for helping her along with her success in college as well as Assistant Professor Mary Currin-Percival, from the Department of Political Science in the College of Social Sciences.

“(She) gave me the opportunity to work on a research project with her,” Ballesteros said. “That opportunity has meant a lot to me because she believed in my abilities and trusted that I would be an asset to her team.”

Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science Melinda Jackson nominated Ballesteros.

“Jenny is an active member of our department, and the broader community,” she said. “She has interned in Washington, D.C., and as a communications fellow with Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN)…Balancing academics with internships, research, and community engagement, Jenny has impressed us all with her enthusiasm and passion for public service.”

Developing a ‘Warrior’s Mentality’

Omar Mustafa

Omar Mustafa

Omar Mustafa, a business administration/management major in the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business, was nominated by Professor Singmay Chou, from the School of Management.

“Omar has a positive personality and an open and sharing nature,” she said. “He is always willing to learn from his own personal experiences and apply the lessons learned to future challenges.”

He selected his major because he loves working with people and said that after making the Dean’s Scholar list several times he was determined to achieve the President’s Scholar status.

“I developed a ‘warrior’s mentality’ at San Jose State,” he said. “My experiences at this school have taught me that no task is too difficult and that every obstacle you face can, and will be accomplished.”

Rediscovering a Love of Literature

Natalie Knows His Gun-Wong

Natalie Knows His Gun-Wong

Natalie Knows His Gun-Wong is an English major who has always been an avid reader and writer. She lists her mother as having a great impact on her life.

“She supported my siblings and me all our lives and always encouraged us to do well in school while we were growing up,” Knows His Gun-Wong said.

Before arriving at SJSU as a transfer student in fall 2018, Knows His Gun-Wong had taken a year off school after attending Ohlone College and Sacramento State University. She said she felt behind because she wouldn’t be able to graduate as quickly as she had expected.

“As the semester progressed, I was able to get back into the swing of things and reignite my love for being an English major,” she said.

Some of the credit for helping her rediscover her passion goes to Professor and Chair of the Department of English and Comparative Literature Noelle Brada-Williams and Assistant Professor Cynthia Baer in the College of Humanities and the Arts who she said have helped her improve her reading skills, introduced her to literary criticism and given her a new-found appreciation of Shakespeare.

Brada-Williams nominated Knows His Gun-Wong, pointing to a thoughtful essay the English major wrote about her experience with a unique last name.

Read more about these students and others on the Featured Stories site.

SJSU Students Shine at Adobe Creative Jam

Donna Caldwell, a senior solutions consultant, leads the Adobe XD bootcamp for students who competed in the Adobe Creative Jam April 18, 2019. Photo by Robert C. Bain

Donna Caldwell, a senior solutions consultant, leads the Adobe XD bootcamp for students who competed in the Adobe Creative Jam April 18, 2019. Photo by Robert C. Bain

More than 100 San Jose State University students from a mix of disciplines and majors participated in Adobe’s Creative Jam April 18, at the company’s headquarters in downtown San Jose. The annual event allows students to gather to hear from design professionals, receive a portfolio review and compete in a live design challenge.

The 35 students who participated in the Creative Jam competition arrived at 3 p.m. for a deep, but quick tutorial on Adobe XD, a tool that allows users to design, prototype for websites and mobile apps. The tool is focused on allowing collaboration and creating user experience. By 4 p.m., students were divided into seven interdisciplinary design teams and challenged to create an app to help people digitally detox.

A team of SJSU students received the Judges' Award at the 2019 Adobe Creative Jam April 18 for designing a prototype of an app to help people digitally detox. Photo by Nathaniel Agot

A team of SJSU students received the Judges’ Award at the 2019 Adobe Creative Jam April 18 for designing a prototype of an app to help people digitally detox. Photo by Nathaniel Agot

A team of four including two graphic design students, a marketing major, a city and regional planning major, and a journalism and mass communications major approached the competition by designing an app to help people find a way to connect when they are together.

“As a group we noticed that when you hang out, people stare at their phones together,” said Sonam Dhanjal, a graphic design major. “We wanted to create an app that would be more like playtime—hanging out together and doing fun things. That’s the essence of how our app design started.”

Graphic design students Dhanjal and Christine Park said one of the biggest challenges was that they only had 30 minutes to create the visuals. Of the students, only one had used Adobe XD before the competition.

“The biggest takeaway is that we should always be creative and just keep creating,” said Amber Tsai, a business marketing major. “When you are working with people that you’ve never met before, you could build off of it with the energy your group has.”

The Adobe Creative Jam Judges Panel poses for a photo after selecting a winning prototype. Photo by Nanzi Muro.

The Adobe Creative Jam Judges Panel poses for a photo after selecting a winning prototype. Photo by Nanzi Muro.

All seven teams presented their prototypes to a panel of judges that included SJSU Associate Professor of advertising John Delacruz; Mel Day, a visiting lecturer in Art and Art History; Assistant Professor of graphic design Yoon Chung Han; Assistant Professor of media design Tina Korani; and Shannon Rhodes, an experience designer at Adobe.

The panel of judges selected their app “Challenge Accepted” for Judge’s Award. The app encourages groups of friends to accept dares they complete offline such as dance with no music for one minute, hold a funny face for 30 seconds, or other activities.

The other team to receive an award included five students from four majors.

Team Detox received the Audience Choice Award at the Adobe Creative Jam on April 18, 2019.

Team Detox received the Audience Choice Award at the Adobe Creative Jam on April 18, 2019. Photo by Nanzi Muro

“I was really happy to meet my teammates,” said Nhat Nguyen, a software engineering major who joined with a journalism and mass communication major, an economics major and two graphic design majors. “We found this synergy and it felt like a team and I really liked that aspect. We all worked well together and if someone didn’t know what to do, we said it out loud.”

With one hour to develop, design and prototype an app, the students divvied up the work with someone keeping track of time, someone in charge of design and someone in charge or prototyping.

“The hardest part of the competition is that the prompt was digital detoxing, but we were still creating an app,” said Jennifer Lopez, a graphic design major. “We wanted to get them away from social media and out of their regular phone usage to do some other activities.”

The team ultimately won the Audience Choice Award when they presented their app at the end of the evening.

“The biggest take away is that we learned from our teammates,” said Hoi Shan Cheung, a journalism and mass communications major. “The collaboration was really exciting.”

Their “detox” app idea creates a prompt to users that it is time to take a break from social media or online activity, asks them how much time they want to spend offline and offers option of activities such as meditating, breathing exercises or drawing.

While some students were engaged in the design competition, others signed up for a 30-minute, one-on-one portfolio review with design experts. Following the design competition and review, the students listened to presentations from two keynote speakers, Susan Wu, who as worked at CloudNOW, and Sariah Sizemore, a wellness trainer and coach who shared her thoughts on the mental and emotional implications of a reliance on digital products.

All the students on the two winning teams received a year’s subscription to the complete Adobe Creative Cloud suite and all competitors received a three-month subscription to Adobe Stock.

The planning committee for the event included Jennifer Redd, director of eCampus, Debra Caires, computer science lecturer, James Morgan, digital media art lecturer and Korani. View prototypes of all teams as well as more photos from the event online.

eCampus student assistant Thewodros Kebede contributed to this report.

Spring Graduate Cassandra Villicana Set for Stanford with NSF Fellowship

Cassandra Villicana, '19 Biomedical Engineering, poses for a photo at a Biomedical Engineering Society of SJSU event.

Cassandra Villicana, ’19 Biomedical Engineering, poses for a photo at a Biomedical Engineering Society of SJSU event.

By Abby McConnell, Office of Research

Cassandra Villicana, ’19 Biomedical Engineering, didn’t speak English before she enrolled in kindergarten in East San Jose, but by the time she started first grade, she was bilingual and doing math at a 4th grade level. Her parents, who emigrated from Mexico, emphasized the value of education to all of their children from a very young age. When Villicana’s brothers were in elementary school, her parents enrolled in an adult school to learn English, and when Villicana was born, they made sure their daughter had a head start when it came to numbers.

Cassandra Villicana has been involved in interdisciplinary research in a biochemistry lab at SJSU as well as other research projects.

Cassandra Villicana has been involved in interdisciplinary research in a biochemistry lab at SJSU as well as other research projects.

“Although my father did not receive any formal education and my mother only attended primary school, they knew core math concepts that they wanted me to understand. I remember sitting at the kitchen table after school and doing my times tables and learning long division with my mom, while my father took out card games and dominoes to help me understand statistics,” she said.

Villicana is one of two SJSU students who has been awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP). The NSF received more than 12,000 applicants in 2018 and made 2,000 offers nationwide.

The GRFP is the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, and recognizes outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees. NSF Fellows often become knowledge experts who contribute significantly to research, teaching, and innovations in science and engineering.

From Multiplication to MESA

While Villacana’s early talent for math might have been a sign of her future in STEM, she said she didn’t fall in love with science until she was a freshman at Mt. Pleasant High School in East San Jose. There, she discovered the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement Program (MESA), an organization that fosters early interest in math and science and prepares California middle and high school students to successfully pursue STEM majors in college.

Her first MESA competition introduced her to biomedical engineering and inadvertently, San Jose State. Her team was tasked with building and presenting a prosthetic arm for the National Engineering Competition, and regionals were held on SJSU’s campus. Villicana has been hooked on the possibilities of science and engineering ever since.

“It was the real world application of science and math concepts that I loved, especially the ability to translate that into an actual device that could help people. That transfer of knowledge was incredibly powerful to me,” Villicana said.

Research and Outreach

Cassandra Villicana presented her research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students.

Cassandra Villicana presented her research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students.

Helping others and transferring knowledge The values of transferring knowledge and helping people speak to the core of who Villicana is, both personally and academically. Through MESA in high school, she mentored younger students in STEM activities, and once at SJSU, through the college-level MESA Engineering Program (MEP) she continued that work. In her undergraduate career she has supported educational outreach to local schools, coordinated corporate sponsors for the Science Extravaganza and judged the MESA Engineering Design Competition. She also managed to earn the title of “Youngest Hired Chemistry Workshop Instructor” by running a support class for fellow undergraduates to help them pass one of the most failed courses on campus.

“As an engineering student, while service and outreach may be on your to-do list, it takes effort and focus to find the time to give back,” said Blanca Sanchez-Cruz, assistant director of Student Support Programs in the College of Engineering. “As Cassandra has moved forward academically and professionally, her priorities have remained linked to the local community. While she has always possessed a clear vision of what she wants to achieve, her priority is building bridges to student whose backgrounds are similar to her own, so they can see a path to college and careers in STEM.”

Villicana has been involved in a range of research activities, from collaborating on a real-time heart rate monitor prototype at Chung Yuan Christian University in Taiwan through the Global Technology Institute Program at SJSU to laser development at Boston Scientific Corporation, researching ways of destroying kidney stones and prostate scar tissue without invasive surgery. For the past two years, she has conducted research in Dr. Laura Miller Conrad’s biochemistry lab, working to reverse the effectiveness of antibiotic-resistant pathogens from the inside-out, by blocking the pathways that make them immune to some of the world’s most commonly used antibiotics.

Taking the Next Step

This research was at the core of Villicana’s proposal for the NSF fellowship, and she also incorporated her interest in microfluidic device design.

After gaining admission to twelve graduate programs, Villicana decided to take her NSF support with her to Stanford in the fall. Choosing Stanford had much to do with the sense of community she experienced during her campus visit, which felt very similar to the one she was a part of at SJSU. She acknowledges it will be challenging to leave behind supportive professors and advisors, including Dr. Karen Singmaster, Susan Arias, MESA Program Director at SJSU, Miller-Conrad and Sanchez-Cruz, not to mention peers and friends from programs like the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE), Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) and MEP.

“At least at Stanford, I won’t be far,” Villicana said. “For me, it’s a huge bonus that I can stay local. I love the idea of being able to come back to SJSU and support the organizations that helped me, while using my experiences to show underrepresented students what is possible.” 

Forbes Names SJSU to 2019 Best Value College List

Graduates celebrate at Avaya Stadium during San Jose State University's College of Social Sciences Graduation in 2018. Photo: David Schmitz

Graduates celebrate at Avaya Stadium during San Jose State University’s College of Social Sciences Graduation in 2018.
Photo: David Schmitz

Forbes again named San Jose State University to its 2019 list of America’s Best Value Colleges. The university moved up from #55 on the list in 2018 to #40 this year. SJSU was listed as #13 in California.

Forbes evaluated 650 top colleges in the nation to measure what they believe students care about most. Instead of ranking colleges based on student SAT scores and acceptance rates, the Forbes methodology evaluates institutions based on alumni salary, debt, student experience, the American Leaders List (based on Forbes roster of successful people and their alma maters), academic success and graduation rates. Forbes listed SJSU as #314 on its overall list of top colleges, #103 of public colleges and #64 in the west.

SJSU, which has a student population of more than 33,000 offers in-state tuition of $5,742 and offers financial aid to nearly 70 percent of its students.

Other national rankings

Money ranked SJSU as #2 among public universities and #8 overall, SJSU’s Lucas College and Graduate School of Business and #4 Most Transformative University for 2018.

U.S. News & World Report listed SJSU as #3 in the nation among public engineering programs offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees, #5 among the West’s top public universities offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees, #18 among the nation’s top veteran-serving academic institutions, ranking #20 overall and  #4 among public universities.

SJSU Workshop Shares Latest Research with Fire Agencies and Others

SJSU's first-ever Fire Weather Research Workshop drew fire agencies, community members and others to learn about the latest scientific research on fire weather.

SJSU’s first-ever Fire Weather Research Workshop drew fire agencies, community members and others to learn about the latest scientific research on fire weather.

San Jose State University hosted the Fire Weather Research Workshop April 26 with emergency operations personnel, researchers, students and community members gathered to learn about the latest work around understanding wildfires in the region. Associate Professor of Meteorology and Climate Science Craig Clements, who is also the director of the Fire Weather Research Laboratory at SJSU, said the all-day workshop was the first of its kind in the state.

Craig Clements, associate professor of meteorology and climate science and director of SJSU's Fire Weather Research Laboratory. Photo by David Schmitz

Craig Clements, associate professor of meteorology and climate science and director of SJSU’s Fire Weather Research Laboratory.
Photo by David Schmitz

“We are bringing together stakeholders from fire agencies, community members, homeowners to learn about cutting-edge research,” Clements said, during a morning session of the workshop.

Heather Kane, ’19 Meteorology, presented her thesis work about how different fire weather indexes compared to the raw data from four recent fires–the Thomas Fire, the Mendocino Fire, the Camp Fire and the Carr Fire. The indexes are meant to predict what conditions will lead to a wildfire to grow to a point of being unmanageable.

“The Camp Fire was an extreme wind event,” she said. “All three indexes responded well to the wind spike. But fires are part of an earth system, so it is not solely about weather. We have to look at topography as well to determine when a fire will become large or unmanageable.”

Kane, who plans to complete her thesis work in the fall, is currently employed with Southern California Edison as a meteorologist.

“I really enjoy emergency management and I feel like what I’m doing matters,” she said. “I am grateful I chose SJSU because it has opened my eyes to a different world. I can help people with the skills I have.”

Kane was one of 17 presenters who included graduate students, professors, researchers and emergency responders.

“The workshop is great and we are learning different things,” Kane said. “Operational workers and scientists are talking together. We have a common goal to help people–saving their homes and their lives. We do it from a distance and they do it on the front lines.”

The workshop was sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Fire Weather Research Laboratory at SJSU.

Interdisciplinary Science Building Groundbreaking Draws Crowd

SJSU celebrated the historic groundbreaking for the Interdisciplinary Science Building April 25. Photo by Josie Lepe

SJSU President Mary A. Papazian speaks about the vision for a Science Park during the groundbreaking. (Photo by Josie Lepe)

San Jose State University celebrated the historic groundbreaking of a new Interdisciplinary Science Building (ISB) today – the first new academic building in more than 30 years and the first new science facility in nearly 50 years – with hundreds of people turning up for the event. The building is the first phase of a planned Science Park that will push the boundaries of the traditional science education model that will make teaching, research and collaboration inseparable.

“The breadth of discovery and research in the Interdisciplinary Science Building will be astonishing,” said SJSU President Mary A. Papazian. “The College of Science will rightly take its place among the most modern and innovative science colleges in the Bay Area, and indeed, the country.”

During the ceremonial groundbreaking, Papazian said the ISB will be both functional and symbolic.

“It will symbolize our growing bond and ongoing synergies with Silicon Valley and the tech industry,” she said. “It will symbolize our connection to the City of San Jose and to the entire region. It will symbolize who we are and what we want to be known for at San Jose State University.”

Michael Kaufman, the dean of the College of Science, shares how the new building will integrate teaching, research and collaboration. (Photo by Josie Lepe)

In his remarks, College of Science Michael Kaufman described the three existing buildings that house departments from the College of Science as having “163 years of experience” – the Science building, which opened in 1957, MacQuarrie Hall which opened in 1965 and Duncan Hall, which was completed in 1972.

“When these were built, classrooms were designed to be faculty-centric and static,” he said. “There were few spaces for students to interact outside of a traditional classroom, and research space was largely an afterthought.”

The eight-story, $181 million ISB, which will be funded using California State University systemwide revenue bonds, will house chemistry and biology teaching and research lab spaces, an interdisciplinary Center for High Performance Computing and a data and science information lab for the College of Professional and Global Education. Adjoining research labs the building will have “collaboratories” that recapture hallway spaces to allow student research teams to gather away from instrument setups and chemicals to present and discuss results. In addition, the building will have collaborative hubs on every floor for students and faculty to work together.

“Research is a fundamental part of higher education, but as my fellow scholars know well, its value extends beyond new knowledge,” Kaufman said. “When involved in research, our students build practical skills and work to solve some of our biggest disciplinary and interdisciplinary problems.”

The College of Science serves 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students in the disciplines of biology, chemistry, computer science, geology, mathematics and statistics, marine science, meteorology and climate science, physics and astronomy, and science education. Of the student population, 45 percent are women, and 1 in 5 are from traditionally underrepresented groups.

“By engaging in hands-on research, we provide students with the opportunity to move beyond theory, develop collective ideas in the classroom, and apply it to open-ended problems that push the frontiers of their fields and help solve societal problems,” he said.

Krista Wirth,’ 17 biological sciences, minor in chemistry, who is now a lecturer in the College of Science and served on the ISV advisory team as a student representative, shared a student’s perspective.

Krista Wirth, ’17 biological sciences, minor in chemistry, who is now a lecturer at SJSU, shares some remarks during the groundbreaking April 25.  (Photo by Josie Lepe)

“I joined the building planning committee because my experience as a student at SJSU in science paved the way for my future,” she said. “I joined the Spartan community as a first-generation college student, and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life or how to do it.”

Her experience with scientific research with Associate Professor of biology Shelley Cargill empowered her in discovering her interests and in shaping her ambitions.

Wirth served on the advisory team with graduate student Anthony Balistreri, who has since graduated and gone onto a PhD program at the University of Michigan. They advocated for research and collaboration, and sustainable and environmentally-friendly design.

“It was important to us to include student-centered collaboration spaces—spaces where students could study, exchange ideas, find inspiration, and use science to tackle all sorts of issues,” Wirth said. “We wanted state-of-the-art learning spaces that would empower Spartans with knowledge and skills to support their success here at SJSU and in their journeys thereafter.

At the event, representatives from the offices of Assemblymember Evan Low, an SJSU alumnus, Assemblymember Ash Kalra and Congressmember Zoe Lofgren presented Papazian and Kaufman with congratulatory resolutions.

 

SJSU’s 2nd Annual Student Success Symposium Draws Hundreds

 

Students and faculty share their experience with service learning projects through CommUniverCity at the Student Success Symposium April 15.

Students and faculty share their experience with service learning projects through CommUniverCity at the Student Success Symposium April 15.

San Jose State University hosted its 2nd Annual Student Success Symposium April 15, with more than 260 faculty, staff and students from SJSU, other California State University campuses and community colleges.

The event featured two keynote speakers who discussed serving first-generation and diverse student populations as well as 20 breakout sessions around topics ranging from developing flipped classrooms, service learning programs, peer education and more. The symposium was sponsored by the Division of Academic Affairs, the Division of Student Affairs, a Department of Education First in the World Grant and a Department of Education Project Succeed grant.

Professor Patricia Backer, who served on the executive committee for the symposium, started the day-long event with a brief call to order before introducing SJSU President Mary A. Papazian.

Student success means “developing students who will become innovators and creative forces in our economy,” said SJSU President Mary Papazian, during her welcome remarks. “It means our students have the confidence and the tangible skills they need not only for their first professional job, but their next job after that.”

Innovating New Classroom Models

Associate Professor Laura Sullivan-Green leads a discussion about flipped classroom models. She and a team of faculty at three CSUs are researching the teaching method's ability to improve learning outcomes in gateway STEM courses.

Associate Professor Laura Sullivan-Green leads a discussion about flipped classroom models. She and a team of faculty at three CSUs are researching the teaching method’s ability to improve learning outcomes in gateway STEM courses.

Laura Sullivan-Green, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and Ravisha Mathur, chair of child and adolescent development, hosted a break out session about their research on flipped classroom models. As recipients of a First in the World Grant, SJSU faculty are collaborating with colleagues across three CSUs to create active learning models for gateway science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses with historically low success rates. In a flipped course, students are exposed to content before they come to the classroom and during in-person class sessions faculty members act as facilitators and provide clarification of the content students studied on their own. These two steps are followed up with post-class work that includes reflection, complex practice and advanced work.

“Students can be nervous about learning before they come to class,” said Sullivan-Green. “But once they get the structured, they are engaged with it.”

To launch their session, they asked participants to write down ideas about how to connect with industry professionals. After a few moments, they called everyone back to their seats and looked over the lists.

“All these things are active,” Sullivan-Green said. “Not one said sit and listen to a professor. So this is a wonderful way to segue into our presentation.”

Since receiving the grant in 2015, the principal investigators on the grant have created faculty learning communities, held regular discussions and offered summer training sessions to support faculty in moving to a flipped class room model that promotes active learning. They have been focused on a calculus course that was identified as a bottleneck for STEM majors, that had success rates as low as 40 percent. Now that the course has been piloted, the final phase of the grant will include comparing it to traditional courses.

“We have an external evaluator who will be looking at every factor for student success to determine if students are more engaged,” Mathur said.

During their presentation, Mathur and Sullivan-Green asked faculty members who attended to brainstorm what types of pre and post activities they might use in their own courses as well as what in-class activities would work.

One professor noted that it was important to think about learning outcomes for each module, and not just providing activities to keep students busy.

They closed the session with tips on finding source material for pre-class sessions including simulations, podcasts, text books, trade magazines, academic blogs, simple experiments or assignments to engage with people who work in a specific field.

Engaging in the Community

More than 260 higher education professionals and students attended SJSU's Second Inaugural Student Success Symposium April 15.

More than 260 higher education professionals and students attended SJSU’s Second Inaugural Student Success Symposium April 15.

In another breakout session, students and faculty from CommUniverCity presented their experiences engaging in the community.

Alex Dahl, a master’s student in environmental studies, is engaged with the project “Growing Sustainably: Garden Education and Garden Club.

“I am the link between the elementary school students, SJSU students and the community partners,” she said.

Always passionate about elementary education, she said the project has helped open her eyes to the importance of offering environmental and outdoor activities for K-12 students.

“I realized how many people are living with no way to access true outdoor experiences,” she said. “I am studying this as part of my thesis.”

Michael Oye, a lecturer in material and chemical engineering serves as a faculty advisor for CommUniverCity projects.

“Students get a chance to design their own projects, work in groups and go out and do something good,” he said. “It helps them get engaged with their majors and it’s also good for the community.”

The symposium executive committee included Patricia Backer; Sullivan-Green; Gregory Wolcott, interim AVP for transition and retention services; and Stacy Gleixner.

View the full list of breakout sessions and speakers online.

Science Students Make a MARC

Graduating MARC students (l-r): Nebat Ali, ’19 Microbiology, Mulatwa Haile, ’19 Biological Sciences, Brianna Urbina, ’19 Biological Sciences, and Natanya Villegas, ’19 Microbiology. Photo: Roman Goshev.

Graduating MARC students (l-r): Nebat Ali, ’19 Microbiology, Mulatwa Haile, ’19 Biological Sciences, Brianna Urbina, ’19 Biological Sciences, and Natanya Villegas, ’19 Microbiology. Photo: Roman Goshev.

Between maintaining a strong GPA, studying for entrance exams, developing a strong resume and paying application fees, the path to graduate school can be a steep learning curve. For 30 years, the Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (U*STAR) program, sponsored by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, has provided financial support and mentorship for undergraduates who are underrepresented in the biomedical sciences to do research and prepare them for doctoral training. Directed by Microbiology Professor Cleber Ouverney, the MARC program offers two years of support in the form of educational grants, research and conference opportunities, and workshops designed to prepare students for graduate school. The MARC program works in synergy with other programs on campus such as Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (RISE), also funded by NIGMS and administered by Dr. Karen Singmaster in the Chemistry Department. For instance, a number of students may start their research experience in RISE before they move to MARC.

“The National Institute of Health is trying to diversify the scientists that are making decisions in science,” says Ouverney, a native of Brazil who pursued his graduate education in the U.S. “They are trying to fund students who are not normally seen in the sciences. About 75 to 80 percent of MARC students enter competitive PhD programs.”

One such alumnus is Alejandro Lopez, ’16 Psychology, who worked in Biological Sciences Professor Katherine Wilkinson’s lab before beginning his PhD program in neuroscience at Emory University. He says that his MARC experience prepared him well to apply for graduate school and instilled in him the desire to inspire others to study science.

“I want to make sure I stay involved in any type of program that encourages support for minority or underrepresented students like myself in the future, because I know that I was given so many opportunities being in the MARC program,” says Lopez. “I’ve always been taught to pay it forward. In 10 years I’d like to continue mentoring and teaching students and encouraging them to pursue hopefully a PhD in whatever STEM field they choose.”

Nebat Ali, ’19 Microbiology, Mulatwa Haile, ’19 Biological Sciences, Brianna Urbina, ’19 Biological Sciences, and Natanya Villegas, ’19 Microbiology participated in the MARC program. Ali worked in Biological Sciences Professor Miri VanHoven’s genetics lab before getting accepted into UCSF’s PhD in biomedical sciences program. Haile worked in Biological Sciences Professor Katherine Wilkinson’s neurophysiology lab and will be starting a PhD in neurophysiology at UC Irvine. Urbina worked in Biological Sciences Assistant Professor Rachael French’s genetics lab and will be pursuing a PhD in biochemistry, molecular, cellular and developmental biology at UC Davis. Villegas will be starting a PhD in molecular biology at the University of Oregon after completing her work in Biological Sciences Associate Professor Katherine Wilkinson’s neurophysiology lab.

The Future of Science

This week San Jose State University will celebrate the historic groundbreaking for its new Interdisciplinary Science Building on Thursday, April 25, at 10 a.m. on the university’s campus in front of Duncan Hall.

Following the ceremonial groundbreaking and program, attendees can see the future of SJSU science firsthand at the College of Science 15th Annual College of Science Student Research Day, located nearby in the Duncan Hall breezeway. More than 100 student-faculty teams will present original work in all science disciplines.

Complete ISB groundbreaking event information may be found at sjsu.edu/sciencepark.