November 2017 Newsletter: Cilker Conference and Scholarship Promotes Arts in Education

Photo: Luisa Morco San Jose State University students and community members participate in the 2017 Marion Cilker Conference for the Arts in Education in a session where they learn to incorporate music into class lessons.

Photo: Luisa Morco
San Jose State University students and community members participate in the 2017 Marion Cilker Conference for the Arts in Education in a session where they learn to incorporate music into class lessons.

By Melissa Anderson

Marion Cilker, a 1939 alumna of the College of Humanities and the Arts, had a lifelong passion for arts in education that she wanted to share with future generations of teachers. 70 years after her own degree completion, she donated to the Connie L. Lurie College of Education to establish a scholarship and conference to foster the same ideals in prospective and current educators.

Cilker was both an artist and an educator who worked at Turlock High School in California’s central valley for many years – teaching stagecraft and art. But her love of the arts was born long before that, even before she attended what was then known as San Jose State College. She discovered art in high school, and it led her to her college major, a career and travels around the world, including a first trip to Europe after high school to see art masterpieces.

Sarah Henderson, ’18 Child and Adolescent Development MA, is one of three recipients of the Marion Cilker Scholarship for Infusing Art into Education, who shares the same passion for arts in education as Cilker.

“I applied (for the scholarship) because my research interests involve arts in education and arts as a means for higher positive outcomes for children in schools,” she said, noting that the scholarship is helping her complete her education as well as prepare for her future goal to continue research in that area. “I would like to obtain a PhD, possibly become a professor, and work in advocacy with nonprofits or policy-influencing organizations in order to shift public perception on the arts.

Katelyn Palmer, who will complete her single-subject credential in spring 2018 for teaching art, is another of the scholarship recipients. After she graduates, she hopes to get a position as an art teacher at a high school or middle school with a high special-needs population.

“I think making art collaboratively can be synonymous with making connections so I hope to give students more tools to communicate and advocate for themselves and others which they can learn inside the classroom community and bring out into the world,” she said.

Henderson and Palmer both volunteered at the 2017 Marion Cilker Conference for the Arts in Education, co-sponsored by the College of Education and the Santa Clara County Office of Education. The Nov. 3-4 conference brought together students, teachers and parents with local artists and arts organizations to share the joy of teaching through the arts. The conference included a half-day session on Nov. 3 that was free for SJSU students with about 200 in attendance and a half-day session on Nov. 4 for teachers, parents, administrators and interested community members. About 80 people participated in the Saturday sessions held at the San Jose Museum of Art, the Children’s Discovery Museum, Movimiento do Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (MACLA), San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and Works/San Jose where artists and arts organizations gave presentations and planned activities.

“The best part of participating was attending sessions and exploring the Children’s Discovery Museum,” Henderson said.

She led a group of attendees to presentations and participated in activities on Saturday that included creating a nature journal and creating instruments out of recycled objects as well as writing lyrics to the tune of any children’s song.

Palmer met with presenters and on Saturday participated in a workshop called “String it Up Recyclable Art.”

“I loved getting to interact with teachers who are at different points in their careers,” she said. “I talked to a lot of teachers about why they were attending the conference and they talked about how much they valued art which gets me really excited to be in a school and collaborate with teachers in other subject areas.”

Henderson agreed that the artistic activities benefit students well beyond art class.

“The developmental outcomes for children who have consistent education in a variety of arts (music, fine art, sculpture, sewing, theatre, dance) are much higher than for those who do not,” Henderson said, noting that arts education requirements across the nation are inconsistent. “We are robbing our children of access to creative thinking and self-expression by cutting arts programs and undervaluing the importance of the arts.”

During welcome remarks at the Friday morning session, SJSU President Mary Papazian shared her own thoughts about arts in education.

“The arts open up a world of creativity and curiosity, of innovation and collaboration,” Papazian said. “I want this to expand. I am encouraging our campus community to see all academic disciplines as complementary—humanities and the arts; the sciences and technology; social sciences and business; health and other applied disciplines. It is at these intersections where magic happens.”

Henderson reiterated that thought.

“It is important to understand that no field can exist without the arts—engineers need to use CAD software to imagine their creations; programmers need to work with designers to create an attractive product; all companies need advertisers to sell their products using imagery,” she said.

November 2017 Newsletter: Braven Prepares Students for Careers After College

Photo: Brandon Chew Students in the Braven Accelerator network with industry and nonprofit leaders who teach them valuable skills that will help them search for their first job post graduation.

Photo: Brandon Chew
Students in the Braven Accelerator network with industry and nonprofit leaders who teach them valuable skills that will help them search for their first job post graduation.

By David Goll

At the age of 19, San Jose State University junior Nasheli Arce can already visualize how her business career could look.

The young woman who spent part of her childhood in a town near Mexico City with her eyes on a global career spends one night a week at Facebook Inc. as part of a course she is taking through SJSU’s College of Science and nonprofit Braven. The Lucas College and Graduate School of Business management information systems major is enrolled in the three-unit Braven Accelerator course, a program created to help underrepresented students attain skills that will help them succeed in their career searches after graduation.

Taught both online and in person, one of the main features of the Braven course is small-group work, pairing six to eight students with career coaches from a variety of Silicon Valley high-tech companies and nonprofit organizations. Tianna Hall, a project manager at Facebook, leads Arce’s group. Her group meets at the Menlo Park-based social networking giant.

“She really pushes us to go above and beyond,” Arce said of Hall, one of 20 career coaches working in the program, who volunteer 60 hours per semester. “As humans, we tend to settle into our comfort zones. One of the best things about this class is that it teaches us to put the extra into the ordinary. We have to break those habits and patterns. We have to keep challenging ourselves.”

Arce is one of 127 students in this fall’s cohort of the local Braven Accelerator. SJSU is one of only two universities nationwide to form a collaboration with the four-year-old Chicago-based nonprofit along with Rutgers University in Newark, N.J. San Jose State joined with Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley as part of an initial 10-week pilot program for Braven in spring 2014.

After the pilot, Braven officials decided to focus resources solely at SJSU where they felt they could have the biggest impact. The program expanded to a 15-week credit course in fall 2015, according to Andrea Schwartz Boone, executive director of Braven Bay Area. Dr. Melanie A. McNeil, professor of chemical engineering, is teaching the course this fall.

“Parts of the course are online, and then students meet in person to practice their skills,” Schwartz Boone said of the class format.

Classes are held Tuesday and Wednesday nights, with sessions held both in Washington Square Hall on campus and scattered about Silicon Valley at the job sites of career coaches such as Arce’s group leader Hall. In addition to Facebook, other coaches work at Google Inc., LinkedIn Corp., eBay Inc., Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and Teach for America.

Schwartz Boone said she and other members of her Braven Bay Area team began their research for the program by going directly to employers.

“We asked what it takes to get hired and what it takes to get promoted at their companies,” she said.

In talking with employers, five areas of career-searching competency emerged: the ability to network and communicate, operate and manage, solve problems, work as part of a team and development of self-driven leadership, or softer skills, such as being able to learn from both successes and failures.

By the end of the 2017-18 academic year, 600 SJSU students will have completed the Braven program. So far, Schwartz Boone said 96 percent of the students have either graduated or continue to make progress toward their degrees, while 76 percent have had at least one internship as compared to 49 percent of first-generation students at large state schools nationwide.

Perhaps most importantly, 75 percent of Braven’s SJSU alumni who have already graduated have secured what Schwartz Boone calls a “strong job” within six months of finishing college. “Strong” jobs are based on salary amounts, health benefits and whether the position requires a four-year college degree.

“We are seeing some exciting outcomes,” she said.

Dr. Elaine Collins, associate dean of the College of Science, is proud to show off another exciting outcome: two awards recently bestowed upon Braven’s SJSU course. During October, a committee of the CSU/CCC/UC 2017 California Higher Education collaborative Conference recognized the Braven course with its Focus on Efficiency award, while the University of South Carolina’s National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition gave the program its Institutional Excellence for Students in Transition Award.

During the on-site classes, students receive instruction and feedback on their skills not only from the coaches but also from one another, Collins said. The Braven program is geared primarily to sophomores and junior transfer students new to campus, in hopes of helping shape their academic, internship and career trajectory. Collins said team-building exercises help students to develop “stories” about themselves to create an identity and give them a sense of purpose at college.

“Often, first-generation college students feel at some point like they don’t belong,” Collins said. “In this course, we help them not only develop stories about themselves but progress to developing their own personal professional story, too.”

View Braven’s recent Bay Area Report.

Spartans Host Safe and Green Halloween Festival Oct. 20

San Jose State University’s CommUniverCity and the city of San Jose partnered to host the 10th Annual Safe and Green Halloween Fiesta at McKinley Elementary School Oct. 20. Students and faculty from many departments, including Health Science, Environmental Studies and the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business worked together to host an afternoon of fun for neighborhood children and their families. SJSU students planned fun activities to teach kids about sustainability and health.

‘Disability at Work’ Panel Teaches Students to Expand Their Horizons

Attendee Rosse Strada poses for a photo with panelists Joseph Fox, Karo Caran and Victor Tsaran at the "Disablilty At Work" Panel hosted by Communications Studies students.

Attendee Rosse Strada poses for a photo with panelists Joseph Fox, Karo Caran and Victor Tsaran at the “Disablilty At Work” Panel hosted by Communications Studies students.

By Riley Wilcox and America Yamaguchi, Communication Studies students

On May 5, San Jose State University students hosted a panel on “Disability at Work. Students enrolled in Communication Studies 132F Dis/Ability Communications with Professor Bettina Brockmann coordinated the three-person panel event that was open to the public in the Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Library. The event was widely publicized, with invitations going out to the entire Communication Studies department as well as all Accessible Education Center (AEC) registered students, and a Facebook event post that made it clear the event was open to the public. The panel’s purpose was to inform the audience about employment and accessibility difficulties for people with disabilities.

The speakers included Victor Tsaran, technical program manager at Google, Karo Caran, who also works in accessibility at Google and is an  accomplished author, and Joseph Fox, senior vice president at SAP Ariba.

Tsaran and Caran presented together, speaking on their experiences growing up as vision-impaired children in Ukraine and Poland respectively, and the differences in their experiences in mainstream and specialized education programs. Tsaran and Caran both work with Google to increase the accessibility of the user interfaces for Google and Google Play. They concentrated on perspectives in ableism for people with disabilities, and the similarities between ableism and other forms of oppression such as racism, sexism and homophobia.

Dreams became a theme that emerged throughout the event. Caran pursued a dream of studying Chinese that early instructors had hesitated about due to her vision impairment.

“I work in the business of dreams,” Tsaran said. “I had a few dreams—I wanted to teach history at my school of the blind. But [when I came to the United States], my dreams expanded as my horizons were expanded.”

He noted that his university’s dedication to accessibility created a capacity for dreams he had not had before. Working in the tech industry, the pair also spoke on how computers are “great enablers,” that allow people to speak, get their point across and have a sense of self. Caran explained that because times are changing, and so much of the world is now accessed through an electronic platform, society must more than ever make sure that computer technology is accessible for everyone.

Joseph Fox, who also works in the tech industry, is the parent of four children, three of whom are on the Autism spectrum. Fox spoke on always having a “parent view” before having a “business view.” He said he has found as a father, as an employer and as a student, there were many challenges for people with disabilities. Fox presents frequently on the benefits of hiring a neurodiverse workforce, informs parents of resources for their children, informs young adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder on toolsets and programs to aide them, and highlights for employers the best ways to incorporate accessibility into the workforce. Some of his key advice includes self advocacy and the benefits of finding peers and mentors who can help young adults to obtain the accommodations they need. He also recommends employers to develop hiring processes that do not involve interviews because people who are capable of the job may not always be impressive during interviews. Under Fox’s leadership, SAP Ariba announced in May 2013 a goal of having one percent of its global workforce represented by those on the Autism Spectrum.

After Fox’s presentation, the floor was opened to audience questions. Some of the key messages were that accessibility development requires trial and error, and that the best way to reduce ableism is to maximize exposure by reading and meeting more people with disabilities.

SJSU Students Host ‘Disability at Work’ Panel

Event flier

Event flier

Students enrolled in Professor Bettina Brockmann’s Communications Studies 132F Dis/Ability Communication course are coordinating a panel on “Disability at Work,” May 4, from noon to 1:15 p.m., in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Room 225. The event is designed to expand awareness of the largest minority group in the world and the United States – people with disabilities, according to the students. They will moderate a discussion that includes guest speakers from Google and SAP Ariba, who will share opportunities for the implementation of accessibility and inclusion strategies. The presenters will use their innovative approaches to engage the audience in exploring a new perspective of the concept of disability.

Guest speakers include Victor Tsaran, from Google, Karo Caran, from Adecco at Google, and Joseph Fox, from SAP Ariba.