‘Dream’ Scholarship Supports SJSU Students

Edgar Sanchez Lopez is a second-year civil engineering student who received TheDream.Us scholarship.

Edgar Sanchez Lopez is a second-year civil engineering student who received TheDream.Us scholarship.

Edgar Sanchez Lopez just finished his first year at San Jose State and he is already thinking ahead to next fall, when he will take physics and a civil engineering surveying course. In his second year, he wants to get involved with the American Society of Civil Engineers student chapter to connect with his peers and he wants to find an internship to get real-life experience in his field.

Sanchez Lopez speaks confidently and his near perfect English belies the fact that he has lived in the United States for less than a decade. He moved to Mountain View from Mexico City when he was 10. His father moved six months ahead of the family, then Sanchez Lopez, his mother and younger sister joined him.

Like 550 other San Jose State students, Sanchez Lopez came to California as a child as an undocumented immigrant. He is one of eight SJSU students who received TheDream.US National Scholarship in 2015-16. The scholarships are provided through a program of the nonprofit New Venture Fund that grants renewable scholarships to eligible students who have been accepted for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  SJSU is one of fourteen universities and community colleges in California who have partnered with the TheDream.Us scholarship program. An additional 30 incoming SJSU students have received scholarships for 2016-17. The scholarship covers the cost of tuition and fees, up to $25,000 towards a bachelor’s degree.

Sanchez Lopez recalls his early days in California.

“It was tough. I had a lot of friends in Mexico,” he said. “I didn’t speak any English. I couldn’t even ask the teacher to go to the bathroom.”

He took ELL classes and became more comfortable with English.

“I started making friends and that helped a lot,” he said. “I did well in math. I was at the top of my class.”

Sanchez Lopez enrolled at Los Altos High School, where he participated in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program that aims to prepare high school students for four-year universities. The AVID program provided mentorship and advice about the college process, including an explanation of what a personal statement is and how to apply for scholarships.

Due to California State Assembly Bill 540 (known as the Dream Act), Sanchez Lopez is eligible for in-state tuition and received a Cal-grant, but is ineligible for any federal financial aid.

While he worked full-time in high school and managed two part-time jobs in his first year at San Jose State – as a tutor and working at an Express clothing store – he said the scholarships he received helped him to scale back on his work schedule without asking his parents for financial support.

“My parents haven’t given me money since I was in middle school,” he said. “I buy my own clothes. Pay my insurance, my car and gas. They have their own bills. I’d rather they use money on my younger sister.”

Before applying to college, Sanchez Lopez initially wanted to be an architect. He realized his true passion is for building and not drawing. When he was not accepted at his top-choice school, UCLA, he quickly learned about the prestigious reputation of SJSU’s Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering and warmed to the idea of studying civil engineering closer to home.

“My dad had friends who had graduated from here and they said it was a good school,” he said, acknowledging that his first year was more challenging than he had expected. “I realized I needed extra help, especially in math, and that was hard for me to admit.”

Sanchez Lopez joined study groups and visited his professors during office hours.

“I had to change my study patterns and work less,” he said.

Now that summer has started, he is back to working two jobs to save up money for the fall semester. He is optimistic that he will stay on a path to graduate in four years and he plans to become a structural engineer who builds skyscrapers.

His role model is an aunt who is the only one in his family to go to college.

“Since I was little, I wanted to do better,” he said. “I saw how my aunt was able to travel and go places. She doesn’t worry about money. I want to be able to live that life and want to provide for my family.”

He also tries to be an example for his younger sister who is 15 and will be a high school junior in the fall.

“I can help her out with her college applications because I went through the process,” he said.

For more stories of undocumented students at SJSU watch The Undocumented Story by Tina Castellanos, available below.

San Jose State’s Student Success Plan featured on NPR

As 9,861 San Jose State students graduated during the 2016 Commencement at Spartan stadium, NPR aired a national story on its Weekend Edition morning show that highlighted SJSU’s plan to increase the number of undergraduate students who complete degrees in four and six years while also improving the educational experience for all students.

Students don decorated caps at San Jose State University's 2016 Commencement.

Students don decorated caps at San Jose State University’s 2016 Commencement. See more photos from graduation on SJSU’s Facebook page. Photo by Christina Olivas

The story by reporter Gabrielle Emanuel includes interviews with Provost Andy Feinstein, Chair of Mexican American Studies and Co-Chair of the Chicano/Latino Student Success Task Force Marcos Pizarro and students.

“I have to help my family; I have to work; I have to be in school,” Tania Galica told reporter Emanuel. “I feel like it’s overwhelming. There have been times that I just want to quit – but I don’t.”

The story focuses on efforts to increase student engagement and connections to campus, including Pozole study nights hosted by the Chicano/Latino Student Success Task Force. Held around finals week, the events offers students comfort food, tips on studying and access to advisors.

Provost Feinstein and Vice President for Student Affairs Reggie Blaylock released a student success plan in May that aims to address many of the challenges the students noted in the NPR story. Their data-driven, university wide plan aims to improve graduation and retention rates while also improving student experience. SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success: College Readiness, Advising, Student Engagement and Clearing Bottlenecks was informed by discussions and meetings with many campus stakeholders, including students. Some components of each pillar have already been implemented, including additional course sections in key bottleneck courses to be offered in the fall and an expanded summer bridge program for some students in need of remediation. Feinstein and Blaylock aim to fully implement initiatives from the plan in fall 2016.

Read or listen to the NPR story online.

Moss Landing Marine Lab Shares Ocean Education with Guests

More than 2,200 visitors attended the Moss Landing Marine Labs Open House April 30 and May 1. Members of the public were invited to listen to presentations from SJSU students, faculty and staff and to engage in educational activities about marine life in the Monterey Bay.

Presenters and presentation topics included:

Laurel Lam
Habitat-based life history variations of lingcod along the US West Coast.
Fishery stock assessments are often based on quantifiable life history traits (i.e. growth rate, maturity, fecundity and mortality) and assumes that those characteristics are stable and unchanging throughout a species range or management area of interest. This results in regulations (minimum size limits, catch limits) and policies applying equally over broad geographic regions. They do not take into account regional or habitat-based variations in growth and maturation rates even though many fish species are known to grow slower, attain larger sizes, and reach sexual maturity later at higher latitudes. In my study, I will be examining lingcod, a commercially and recreationally valuable top predator found along the US West Coast, and how its life history parameters can vary both latitudinally and between two essential habitats, soft-bottom and rocky substrate. Understanding the potential for these variations can help us better understand the implications of using small-scale, regional and habitat-specific sub-stocks to manage our coastal fisheries.

Kristin Walovich
Search and Discovery! A graduate student’s search for new species of Ghost Shark.
Graduate students at MLML’s Pacific Shark Research Center are on the search for new species of the elusive and mysterious Ghost Shark. Ghost Sharks, relatives of sharks and rays, are rarely seen and so much is left to discover about these deep-sea creatures. But before we can answer questions like ‘Where do they live?’ or ‘How big do they get?’, we need something far simpler…a NAME! Join Kristin Walovich to discover how scientists find and name these strange sharks.

Jim Harvey
MLML: Who We Are, What We Do, and Where We Do It.
The director of Moss Landing Marine Labs will discuss ongoing projects and the MLML community. Join Jim as he talks about the ins and outs of MLML and shows a new introductory video!

Tracy Campbell
Microbiomes of Ecologically Dominant Zooxanthellate Anthozoans: A Tropical-Temperate Comparison
Marine bacteria are known to play an important role in cnidarian health, the cycling of organic matter, and nutrients in reef ecosystems. The breadth of investigation surrounding this relationship in tropical reefs is vast; however, little work has been done in temperate non-reef building systems. Anthopleura elegantissima is a common zooxanthellate anthozoan on the Northeastern (NE) Pacific coast, thought to be the most abundant invertebrate in the upper intertidal, yet relatively little is known about the bacterial community it harbors. In this study, we compare the bacterial communities of tropical Porites and Pocillopora species with the temperate Anthopleura elegantissima. We further compare bleached A. elegantissima polyps to polyps dark with zooxanthellae to investigate the complex relationship between host, symbiodinium, and bacteria.

Amber Reichert
First North Pacific records of the pointy nosed blue chimaera, Hydrolagus cf. trolli
The occurrence of Hydrolagus cf. trolli is reported for the first time from the central and eastern North Pacific Ocean. Using video taken during ROV surveys, specimens were identified using MBARI’s Video Annotation and Reference System database (VARS). This is a geographic range extension for this species, as it was previously only known to occur in the southern Pacific Ocean off of Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia.

Mo Wise
Nutrient Flux and Algal Biomass Dynamics in Tidally Restricted Regions of the Elkhorn Slough
Nutrients flux dramatically in estuarine systems due to terrestrial runoff mixing with incoming and outgoing tides from the coastal environment. The Elkhorn Slough has a dynamic nutrient flux regime, particularly in regions where developments such as roads, dikes, levees and railroad tracks have restricted flushing with the tides. These pocket regions have been shown to exhibit altered biogeochemical cycling, and through closer investigation I aim to analyze the nutrient cycling through the surface water, algae and sediments of each site I have chosen that all share a restricted flow pattern. It is necessary to understand the nutrient cycling and potential outcomes of these estuarine systems due to the fact that estuaries act as buffers between the land and sea environments, particularly between humans and our coastal zone.

Greg Bongey
Cool Critters! The Amazing Stories of Distinctive Sea Creatures That We Rarely Talk About
We humans are pretty knowledgeable about our fellow creatures of the land. For instance, most of us can tell the difference between a deer and an antelope, even though they look similar. But the ocean is different world from ours, and it is filled with many distinctive creatures that most of us have never heard of. Have you ever heard of a sea butterfly? Or a boxer crab? We all know about sea stars, but what about basket stars? Come learn about these creatures and more!

Drew Burrier
The Motion in the Ocean
A brief introduction to Physical Oceanography and Internal Waves.

June Shrestha
Ocean Optimism: Success Stories of Marine Conservation at MLML
We frequently hear of the problems threatening our oceans: global warming, invasive species, and human impacts. But where are the success stories? This talk will highlight research at MLML that have successfully informed conservation efforts to show that not all is “doom-and-gloom” for our oceans.

Victoria Vasquez
Changing The Fate of Lost Sharks: How to Bring Lesser known Species Into the Spotlight
‘Lost Sharks’ refer to chondrichthyan species that suffer from a severe lack of attention resulting in them being forgotten by the public and science. As new species are discovered, many fall within generas already heavily populated with ‘Lost Sharks’ and thereby threatens them with the same forgotten fate. In an effort to prevent the ‘Lost Shark’ pattern, an innovative naming process was used for a new species of Lanternshark, discovered off the Pacific coast of Central America. Four young shark enthusiasts, ages 8 to 14, were bestowed the naming privilege and the process was recorded. The new species is named Etmopterus benchleyi n. sp. in honor of Jaws author and subsequent shark conservationist, Peter Benchley. The common name, the Ninja Lanternshark, refers to the uniform black coloration and reduced photophores (light-emitting organs) used as concealment in this species, which are reminiscent of a ninja’s typical outfit and stealthy behavior.

Catarina Pien
Changes in the Elasmobranch Assemblage of a California Estuary
Elkhorn Slough is an estuarine embayment that drains directly into the Monterey Bay. Estuaries are environmentally productive environments providing important habitat for many marine mammals, migratory birds, and fishes, and is known to be used as a nursery for flatfishes and some elasmobranch (shark and ray) species. Over the past several decades, Elkhorn Slough has undergone several natural and anthropogenic changes, leading to both physical and biological changes, including shifts in the shark and ray populations in the Slough. Annual shark derbies and student theses have provided insight into some of the historical changes, and my thesis aims to describe the current assemblage of sharks and rays and how they are using Elkhorn Slough.

Amanda Heidt
The Path to Becoming a Marine Scientist
If you are considering pursuing marine science into higher education, or if you’d just like to learn a bit more about getting involved and the work being undertaken by students at Moss Landing, drop in for this talk regarding the path to a career in marine science, its oftentimes humorous misconceptions, and what it means to conduct research here at Moss Landing Marine Labs.

Stephanie Schneider
Ecology of Seabirds nesting at a large colony in Northern California
Despite its modest reputation, Castle Rock National Wildlife Refuge is the most populous single island Common Murre colony in California. This 16 acre island in northern California provides nesting habitat to over 150,000 Common Murres and thousands of other seabirds. Since 2006, wildlife biologists have used video and audio recordings to study the diet and reproduction of seabirds at Castle Rock. Join us and discover more about the fascinating lives of seabirds nesting at Castle Rock.

Alex Olson
Drips & Slicks: Mercury Speciation in the Ocean
A review of mercury pollution and investigating its transport into California coastal fog.

Two Salzburg Scholars Named as Outstanding Seniors

Erin Enguero and Anna Santana are the recipients of SJSU’s 2016 Outstanding Graduating Senior Awards  in recognition of their scholarship and contributions to the community. Both will be recognized at Commencement, beginning at 9:30 a.m. May 28 in Spartan Stadium. Read about the Outstanding Thesis Award recipient Amanda Feldman.

Erin Enguero

Erin Enguero (photo by Inderpal Kaur)

Erin Enguero (photo by Inderpal Kaur)

Since age 11, having a hearing loss has influenced how Enguero identifies herself academically and socially. She has evolved from a self-described “cautious pre-teen to an ambitious young woman striving for excellence” in her educational and community endeavors.

Carrying a 3.796 GPA, she has earned numerous scholarships and has been recognized as a CSU Trustee Award winner, SJSU Salzburg Scholar and 2016 American Kinesiology Association Undergraduate Scholar.

While Enguero’s hearing loss has taught her to adapt using her existing strengths, she says she is proud “not just for overcoming my disability, but for finding the courage to explore my identities as a student, leader and, ultimately, an agent of change.”

Enguero graduates in May with a bachelor’s in kinesiology. In fall 2016, she plans to pursue a doctorate in physical therapy at California State University, Fresno.


Anna Santana

Anna Santana with civil rights activist Dolores Huerta (courtesy of Anna Santana)

Anna Santana with civil rights activist Dolores Huerta (courtesy of Anna Santana)

At age six, Santana transferred schools three times in less than a year in search of a bilingual teacher. This daughter of former farmworkers says this was just part of the struggles that “have shaped my dreams and aspirations.”

Today, Santana advocates for the education of migrant families through the Apoyo Campesino project, which seeks to change a state regulation that forces students to move to a different school after each growing season ends.

In addition, Santana is the founder of the College Awareness Network, which has been integral in bringing students from marginalized schools to university campuses to promote a college-going culture.

A double major in sociology and Spanish, Santana will receive her bachelor’s degree in May. As a McNair Scholar, she maintains a 3.9 GPA and has been accepted to Stanford University for graduate school. Like Enguero, she is also an SJSU Salzburg Scholar and participated with the 2015 cohort.

Salzburg Scholars Connection

SJSU Salzburg Scholars have a history of achieving top accolades at San Jose State. See the list below of Outstanding Graduating Seniors, an SJSU Outstanding Thesis Award recipient and two CSU Outstanding Research Award recipients.

SJSU Outstanding Graduating Senior (highest recognition an undergraduate student can receive from SJSU)

  • 2016 | Erin Enguero (SJSU Salzburg Scholar 2013)
  • 2016 | Anna Santana (SJSU Salzburg Scholar 2015)
  • 2013 | Travis Lopez (SJSU Salzburg Scholar 2012)
  • 2011 | Andrew Ingram (SJSU Salzburg Scholar 2010)
  • 2011 | Mojgan Mohammadi (SJSU Salzburg Scholar 2010)

SJSU Outstanding Thesis Award (highest recognition a graduate student can receive from the university)

  • 2015 | Sarah Aghazadeh (SJSU Salzburg Scholar 2012)

CSU Outstanding Research Award (highest recognition a graduate student can receive from the CSU System)

  • 2015 | Mary Okin (SJSU Salzburg Scholar 2013)
  • 2011 | Darci Arnold (SJSU Salzburg Fellow 2006)
CSU Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholar
  • 2014-2015 | Mary Okin (SJSU Salzburg Scholar 2013)
  • 2012-2013 | Sarah Aghazadeh (SJSU Salzburg Scholar 2012)

See the full list of current and former Salzburg Scholars.

Pat Lopes Harris contributed to this post.

May 2016 Newsletter: Spartans Prep Middle School Students for College

Alissa Macklin, a freshman art major, volunteered to share her Spartan story with dozens of middle school students at the African American College Readiness Summit on Feb. 13

“I had a rough start in middle school,” she said, noting that her grades dropped and her GPA bottomed out at 1.167 when her parents divorced. “I was going through a lot, but I learned you can’t let a situation with your family end your education.”

Macklin said she worked extra hard in high school to increase her GPA by taking classes from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. While she considered universities in Chicago, she opted for San Jose State to be close to family members who live in the East Bay.

“Chicago is cold and it was far from my family,” she said. “I wanted to be close so I could go to my parents’ (homes) to eat.”

Macklin was one of many SJSU students, alumni and community members who talked to hundreds of middle school students from schools in Santa Clara County about how they can prepare for college. The two African American College Readiness summits – a fall event for high school students and a spring event for middle school students – served at least 1,000 students this year.

The program is one of many hosted at San Jose State with K-12 schools and community partners to foster a college-going culture in Santa Clara County. As part of SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success, university leaders are focused on working with partners to increase college readiness. The plan calls for increasing participation in the college readiness summits from 1,000 to 1,500; increasing College Day participation from 1,400 to 2,000; and increasing participation in the Advancing Latino/a Achievement and Success conference from 1,000 to 1,500 students, among other initiatives. The pillar aims to ensure high school students are eligible for CSU admission and prepared for college-level courses.

Macklin, who wants to be a teacher and an artist, advised students to seek out help to understand financial aid, stay positive about their ability to thrive in college and to make connections on campus.

“I got involved in a lot of clubs such as the Black Student Union,” she said. “Only four percent (of SJSU students are African American), but we are close knit.”

Katasha Blade, a teacher with one of the visiting middle schools, also talked about her journey to college.

“I wanted to become a teacher because I was in foster care with one sister,” she said. “I didn’t grow up with parents. I wanted to be a teacher to help other people.”

Blade, who attended historically-black Hampton University, in Virginia, said she focused on keeping her grades high, preparing for college entrance exams and engaging in extracurricular activities. While in college, she said she had two jobs and took 18 credits a semester.

“You have to know that you can do it,” she told the room full of middle school students. “Never settle. You need to push yourself harder.”