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.

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 Celebrates Honors Convocation

By Melissa Anderson, Executive Communications Specialist

Photo: David Schmitz

Family, friends, faculty and staff packed the San Jose State University Event Center April 24 to recognize the academic achievements of 3,977 undergraduate students at the 53rd Annual Honors Convocation.

The event started promptly at 6 p.m., with the faculty processional into the Event Center to the sound of a brass ensemble conducted by Associate Professor Kathryn Adduci. The ensemble accompanied Associate Professor Layna Chianakas, a mezzo-soprano, who performed the National Anthem.

The atmosphere was jovial as the students all competed to cheer the loudest when each college dean stood up at the podium to read out the names of their departments or degrees. Each dean asked all the Dean’s Scholars present to stand to be recognized while saying a few words about their programs. This year, 3,557 students earned the distinction of being a Dean’s Scholar by maintaining a 3.65 GPA in two contiguous semesters of the last three semesters.

4.0 GPAs

The group of President’s Scholars who maintained a 4.0 GPA in two contiguous semesters of the last three were invited to come up on stage to state their name and major. President Mohammad Qayoumi and Provost Andy Feinstein shook hands with each student to offer a personal congratulation. This year, 420 students earned the distinction of being a President’s Scholar.

The two speakers for the evening included Robert Foster, ’69 Public Administration, who received an honorary doctorate of Humane Studies, and Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Communication Studies Anne Marie Todd, who received the 2014-15 Outstanding Professor Award. Each of them discussed the importance of connections.

Photo: David Schmitz

Photo: David Schmitz

Foster, who is former mayor of Long Beach, a former president of Southern California Edison, and a former CSU trustee, said his mother was in the audience.

“She can finally tell her friends her son is a doctor,” he joked, after President Qayoumi and Provost Feinstein conferred his honorary degree.

Foster told students to remember those who set the stage for their success.

Staying Connected

“Remember the sacrifices of your family, spouses and friends,” he said. “Never forget you stand in the place of so many who came before you. Stay connected and engaged – and supportive to this university.”

Photo: David Schmitz

Photo: David Schmitz

Todd spoke about the way in which students can connect to the world and each other.

“Your SJSU network will be invaluable to you,” Todd told students, noting the ease of staying connected via social media and online resources.

But she noted the amount of screen time may be to the detriment of connecting in more personal ways to others and to the environment.

“The natural world around us is undergoing drastic, catastrophic change,” she said.

She encouraged students to think of ways to work together to implement positive changes, with a suggestion for one easy way to start.

“Rethink screen time,” she said. “Spend an hour a week where you live. Just take a walk and see what it means to be connected.”

 

Robert Foster

Corporate and Civic Leader to Receive Honorary Degree

Robert Foster

Robert Foster

Media contact:
Pat Harris, 408-924-1748

 SAN JOSE, CA – Distinguished retired Southern California Edison president and former Long Beach mayor Robert (Bob) Foster, ’69 Public Administration, will receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at the San Jose State University Honors Convocation on April 24 at the Event Center.

“Robert Foster has always credited San Jose State with teaching him strong study and work ethics and the ability to think and question—skills that he used to serve California,” said President Mohammad Qayoumi. “His distinguished careers in both the private and public sectors merit this significant award.”

Industry leader

Foster dedicated his career to resolving the state’s energy issues. As chief of conservation and deputy director of the California Energy Commission, Foster led the effort to establish statewide energy efficiency standards in the late 1970s, among the first in the United States.

He joined Southern California Edison (SCE) in 1984, where he worked his way up from operations executive to president. Under Foster’s leadership, SCE developed the nation’s largest renewable, clean energy programs including solar, geothermal, biomass and wind energy. In addition, he played an essential role in restoring SCE to financial health after the California energy crisis of 2000 and 2001.

Civic leader

As mayor of Long Beach from 2006 to 2014, Foster implemented comprehensive pension reform, saving the city nearly $250 million over ten years. In addition, he presided over significant air and water quality improvements and the lowest crime rate in over 40 years, and he worked to transform Long Beach into one of the most bike friendly cities in the nation.

Foster served as trustee to the California State University system from 1997 to 2006 and as chair of the Board of Governors for the California Independent System Operator from 2010 to 2014. He serves on three corporate boards and several advisory boards.

His community involvements are many, including serving on the Long Beach Public Library Foundation Advisory Board, Long Beach Police Historical Society, Rotary Club of Long Beach, Long Beach Community Foundation, and the YMCA of Greater Long Beach.

In recent years, Foster partnered with Professor Emeritus of Political Science Larry Gerston to co-teach a public policy class and in 2013, Foster received the Outstanding Alumni Award from the College of Social Sciences.

Honors Convocation

Over 3,970 undergraduates who earned a GPA of 3.65 or higher in at least two contiguous semesters of the three prior semesters will be honored at this year’s ceremony at 6 p.m. April 24 in the Event Center.

San Jose State—Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,740 employees—is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.

 

Big Dreams for Spring 2015

Just a touch of rain greeted 30,000 Spartans heading to campus for the first week of spring term 2015.

This includes 500 new transfer students and 450 new graduate students making the transition to SJSU.

It’s time to dream big, with everyone is settling into new classes in hopes of earning good grades.

Check out the new student success centers and growing Student Academic Success Services staff, along with Ask Me tables across campus.

Of course friends can help, too. Many of our over 400 student organizations are recruiting new members outdoors this week.

The discussion continues on how to help San Jose State become an even more welcoming community.

Famed Princeton Professor Cornel West, author of “Race Matters,” will speak at April 9. You might remember him from “The Matrix” movies.

Spring term ends with Honors Convocation and Commencement. Finally, all that hard work pays off for more than 7,000 new grads.

Does this include you? Claim your place in history and enter a drawing for a $10,000 scholarship for you or someone of your choice.

List your profile on the CSU Class of 3 Million yearbook. This major milestone signifies the huge influence our alumni have in shaping California.

It’s true SJSU students and alumni are excelling every day in many ways. There are lots of reasons to be a proud Spartan!

Honors Convocation

Over 3,545 undergraduates were honored at the 2014 Honors Convocation April 25 in the Event Center.

The university’s top academic performers, seated in rows, flooded the floor as family and friends packed the stands. All rose as faculty and SJSU Air Force Color Guard entered.

The President’s Scholars, all 4.0 students, self-introduced and then crossed the stage, producing a stream of names and majors displaying the amazing diversity at SJSU.

Each dean congratulated, as a group, his or her Dean’s Scholars, undergraduates who earned a 3.65 or higher GPA in at least two contiguous semesters of the three semesters prior to the event.

Also honored were the 2013-2014 Outstanding Professor Winifred Schultz-Krohn and alumnus Charles W. Davidson, who rose from humble beginnings to become one of the region’s most successful and influential real estate developers.

After receiving an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Davidson delivered a short speech addressing the classic question for college speakers: What can the youths of today do to build a better tomorrow?

Start with yourself, the only person over whom you have complete control,” Davidson said. “Always keep in mind your moral compass and keep it balanced. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. To thy own self be true. Keep this in mind and you can help make this a better society.”

Cisco CEO Address Honors Convocation

Cisco CEO Address Honors Convocation

SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi and California State University Board Chair Bob Linscheid hood Cisco CEO John Chambers after he received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters (Robert Bain photo).

A willingness to “change the rules,” “take risks” and “constantly reinvent” are the hallmarks of strong companies and universities, said Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers at the 51st Annual Honors Convocation held April 26 in the Event Center.

Chambers received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at the gathering, which celebrates SJSU’s top academic performers, including over 250 Spartans who earned 4.0 GPAs. Family and friends packed the stands to cheer for honorees, who were seated in rows blanketing the full length of the floor.

One of the most remarkable things about attending an event like this one at SJSU is many of the people in the stands don’t have college degrees themselves, but they recognize the value of their loved ones’ achievements. So they liked when Chambers credited universities with making our region an international powerhouse.

But he emphasized San Jose State must have the “courage and conviction” to innovate or risk being “left behind.” Referencing SJSU’s online initiatives, he urged this campus to lead the CSU and the nation through tough times because those at the head of the pack are the product not of their successes but their “setbacks and challenges.”

And what about the topic on the minds of the many students about to graduate? After noting that six percent of Cisco’s workers worldwide are SJSU alumni, Chambers closed by saying, “we are still recruiting” and “we would like to see the best and brightest at Cisco.”

Read a guest column by Chambers, addressed to the Class of 2013, in the San Jose Mercury News.

Cisco CEO Chambers

Honorary Doctorate for Cisco CEO John Chambers

Cisco's John Chambers to Receive Honorary Doctorate

Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers will receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at the San Jose State University Honors Convocation (photo courtesy of Cisco).

Media contact:
Pat Lopes Harris, pat.harris@sjsu.edu, 408-656-6999

SAN JOSE, CA –Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers will receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at the San Jose State University Honors Convocation.

“John Chambers is widely regarded as a transformational leader representing the attributes that the California State University system and San Jose State exemplify,” President Mohammad Qayoumi said. “His extraordinary achievements in business and his leadership in the fields of education, public service and philanthropy embody the ideals of the CSU and serve as an example of SJSU’s aspirations for its diverse student body.”

As chairman and CEO of the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet, Chambers has been lauded by government leaders and publications worldwide for his visionary strategy, his ability to drive an entrepreneurial culture, and his warm-hearted, straight-talking approach.

Chambers has served two American presidents. President George Bush appointed him as vice chairman of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council to provide industry experience and leadership to help protect the critical infrastructure of the United States. He also served on President Bush’s transition team as a member of his Education Committee and on President Bill Clinton’s Trade Policy Committee.

Prior to joining Cisco in 1991 as senior vice president, worldwide sales and operations, Chambers spent eight years at Wang Laboratories and six years with IBM. He was voted the Most Powerful Person in Networking by Network World magazine and has received many other accolades, including the Distinguished Industry Leader Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Chambers holds a law degree and a bachelor’s in business from West Virginia University. He later received an MBA in finance and management from Indiana University.

Honors Convocation

Over 3,500 undergraduates who earned a GPA of 3.65 or higher in at least two contiguous semesters of the three prior semesters will be eligible to participate in this annual ceremony at 6 p.m. April 26 in the Event Center.

San Jose State University — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,850 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.

A group of graduates pose with diplomas with a professor at commencement. All dressed in black cap and gowns smiling.

SJSU to Honor Three Distinguished Graduates at Commencement and Honors Convocation 2011

photo of James E. Thompson

James E. Thompson will serve as commencement speaker.

Media Contact:
Pat Lopes Harris, 408-656-6999, pat.harris@sjsu.edu

Commencement 2011:
http://www.sjsu.edu/commencement/

Download Photos of the Honorees:
http://www.sjsu.edu/commencement/photos

SAN JOSE, CA – San Jose State University’s 2011 Commencement speaker will be James E. Thompson, founder and chairman of The Crown Worldwide Group, the world’s largest privately-held group of international moving companies. Also, Major General Anthony L. Jackson will receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at Commencement, and Los Angeles Times Columnist Steve Lopez will receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at Honors Convocation. These three gentlemen are SJSU alumni.

“All three honorees personify what we strive to nurture here at San Jose State: excellence, integrity, and service,” said Interim President Don W. Kassing. “They also exemplify the breadth and depth of our academic offerings, which evolved over our 154-year history to serve our region and beyond.”

Commencement will begin at 9:30 a.m. May 28 in Spartan Stadium. Approximately 7,000 candidates who completed their studies in August 2010, December 2010 and May 2011 will be eligible to participate. Honors Convocation will begin at 6 p.m. April 29 in the SJSU Event Center. Nearly 3,000 undergraduate students who earned a GPA of 3.65 or higher in at least two contiguous semesters of the three prior semesters will be eligible to participate.

James E. Thompson

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from SJSU in 1962, Thompson settled in Japan. Upon recognizing the need for a reputable international moving service, he established a small company in Yokohama.  Today, Hong Kong-based Crown Worldwide’s 4,000 employees operate over 250 locations in 55 countries, serving governments, corporations, diplomats and private customers. Thompson remains a U.S. citizen and permanent resident.

Thompson is a member of the SJSU College of Business Global Leadership Council. He also founded SJSU’s Thompson Global Internship Program, which offers students opportunities to live abroad while completing a project for Crown Worldwide. In Hong Kong, he serves as chairman or board member of numerous charitable organizations. His particular interests are charities related to children, cancer, education and HIV/AIDS.  Thompson has received numerous commendations including the Gold Bauhinia Star, awarded in 2003 by the Hong Kong government for distinguished service. He is married with a son and daughter.

Major General Anthony L. Jackson

Maj. Gen. Jackson has served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 35 years and is among the highest ranking African Americans in this branch of the armed forces. In his current post as Commanding General, Marine Corps Installations West, Jackson oversees Camp Pendleton, Twentynine Palms and other western bases where Marines train for advanced combat operations. While attending SJSU on a full football scholarship, Jackson played three varsity seasons and was team captain in 1970. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from SJSU in 1971 and 1973, respectively.

In 1975, Jackson enlisted in the Marines to attend Officer Candidate School and began a steady rise up through the ranks, completing assignments throughout the United States. He is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va., and the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. His many assignments have included: Assistant Chief of Staff (G-5), First Marine Force, deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II; Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Marine Forces, Central Command; and Director of Operations and Logistics, U.S. Africa Command, based in Stuttgart, Germany. Jackson is married and has two sons.

Steve Lopez

Lopez joined the staff of the Los Angeles Times in May 2001 after four years at Time Inc., where he wrote for Time, Sports Illustrated, Life and Entertainment Weekly. Prior to Time Inc., Lopez was a columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer, the San Jose Mercury News and the Oakland Tribune. His work has won numerous national journalism awards for column writing and magazine reporting. Lopez earned a bachelor’s in journalism from SJSU in 1975.

A California native, Lopez is the author of three novels and a book of non-fiction, “The Soloist: A Lost Dream, An Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music.” The book is based on columns Lopez wrote for The Los Angeles Times about his friendship with a downtown Los Angeles musician. The volume also formed the basis for the 2009 film of the same name starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx. Lopez is married and has two sons and a daughter.

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 29,000 students and 3,190 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.