May 2016 Newsletter: Graduate Equity Fellowship Fosters Mentorship

As a working mom and full-time student, Xochlit Garcia said it was a sacrifice to enroll in graduate school. Garcia is one of several SJSU students who received 2015-16 Graduate Equity Fellowships. The program provides a scholarship of $1,000 to $3,000 to offset the cost of tuition and also provides a faculty mentor component to help students focus on their career objectives.

“Between family, school and interning, it has helped me keep my mind on track and focus,” she said. “I’m not worried about paying additional tuition.”

Garcia, who works on the weekends, is finishing her master’s in counseling education in the Connie L. Lurie College of Education this semester and working towards a Pupil Personnel and Services credential that requires 600 internship hours.

“One of my biggest challenges has been trying to support my family in terms of time and money – juggling both those things,” she said. “The scholarship makes life a lot easier.”

She also appreciates the faculty mentor component of the program and has worked closely with Dr. Jason Laker.

“It’s good to have a mentor to discuss academic plans and the steps to achieve that,” said Garcia, who graduates in May.

Karly Comfort, a master’s of social work student in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, also completes her degree this spring. She especially appreciated having a faculty mentor. She worked with Dr. Peter Allen Lee, who helped her think critically about how the work done in classes applies to real-world situations. Comfort said the fellowship allowed her to put in many internship hours that have provided practical experience. SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success student engagement pillar aims to increase high-impact practices such as mentor programs and internships.

“It was a huge part of my professional development,” she said. “A lot of school learning is theoretical, but when we get to be in the field we really learn the skills you need to be a social worker.”

Comfort interned with a mental health family enrichment program working with children ages 0 to 5 on building parent-child relationships through play and with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, where she rotated through different departments. Her experiences at SJSU prepared her for a position at a health clinic in east San Jose where she will begin working in June.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2016-2017 Graduate Equity Fellowship awards through June 24.

May 2016 Newsletter: College of Science Students Share Research

Biological sciences majors Bianca Opara, left, and Dania Abid share their findings at the College of Science Student Research Day.

Biological sciences majors Bianca Opara, left, and Dania Abid share their findings at the College of Science Student Research Day.

On May 6 at the 12th Annual College of Science Student Research Day more than 60 undergraduate and graduate students presented work from a variety of disciplines.

Bianca Opara, ’18 Biological Sciences, and Dania Abid, ’17 Biological Sciences, both worked in Professor Shelley Cargill’s hands-on physiology lab. Abid wants to pursue a medical degree, while Opara is interested in combining research and medicine. At the recent event, they presented the process they are using to discover the effects of a high-fat diet on follicle count ratios in mice.

Opara, who is part of the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) Program, said she was first approached by program director Karen Singmaster when she was a sophomore. While Opara was at first hesitant to join the program due to timing, she decided to take Singmaster’s advice to apply when she heard from other students involved in RISE.

“I am so excited they let me in,” she said. “It helped me figure out that I like hands-on procedures.”

Carlos Rojas, ’16 Geology, with a minor in Business, used connections near his hometown of Hollister to gain access to private property for geochemistry research on the Quien Sabe volcanics of west Central California. His faculty advisor Ellen Metzger and other student researchers had completed an analysis of areas north and south of the spot he studied.

Rojas, a Marine Corps veteran, said he has loved rocks since he was a kid and was interested in learning how the landscape was created.

“It was really exciting, exploring the area and finding new results,” he said. “It is a beautiful area.”

Organic Chemistry Professor Roy Okuda has helped to organize the Student Research Day each year since its inception. He said it originally started because he realized many students were attending off-site meetings to present their posters but the work wasn’t being shared on campus. Its location in the breezeway of Duncan Hall allows lower division students to mingle with upper division and graduate students between classes.

“It gets so busy and so noisy with everyone talking,” Okuda said. “We learn a lot. Sometimes we don’t realize everything that is going on in the college.”

The College of Science event is one of many on campus that highlights the benefits to both students and faculty members of working together on research, scholarship and creative activity, a high-impact practice that is highlighted inSJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success student engagement pillar.

May 2016 Newsletter: Social Science Students Address Critical Issues

This year, the College of Social Sciences established a Graduate Student Colloquia to share research, scholarship and creative activity (RSCA) accomplishments. The April event focused on “Environmental Factors and their Impact on American Communities.”

“In the College of Social Sciences, we value research that addresses critical issues facing 21st century society and beyond,” Dean Walt Jacobs said. “Our graduate students are the next generation to lead this effort, so we wanted to highlight their initial investigations. After our first graduate student research colloquium, a student approached CoSS Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Director Ruma Chopra to express her enjoyment of the event and to volunteer for next year’s colloquium, so we will definitely continue.”

The research projects undertaken by students and their faculty mentors investigated vulnerable populations in the community. Matthew Gloria-Dalton, a communications studies student, reviewed portrayals of mental illness in mass media. Christal West, a Mexican American studies student, explored the role of ethnic studies in informing trauma intervention for youth of color. Ida Wilson, an anthropology student, examined the underground economy in Oakland. Other presenters included John Linford and Joseph Holman, economics students who studied automobile collisions in California, and Ana Lucrecia Rivera, a geography and global studies student, who identified urban heat islands that can impact vulnerable residents in Santa Clara County.

The colloquia was supported by the Academic Affairs RSCA and Professional Development priority group work from 2014-16. Research opportunities are an integral high-impact practice in SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success student engagement pillar.

May 2016 Newsletter: Student Success Centers Support Advising

College student success centers provide general education advisement and other resources for students. Here, Career Center Advisor Lynn Chang discusses potential career paths with Raghev Srivastava, ’15 Philosophy.

College student success centers provide general education advisement and other resources for students. Here, Career Center Advisor Lynn Chang discusses potential career paths with Raghev Srivastava, ’15 Philosophy.

Gisela Gray-Peoples joined the College of Humanities and the Arts Student Success Center as interim director a year ago, but she has been involved in student advising for years, first as an advisor in Academic Advising and Retention Services and later while teaching what she refers to as “academic bootcamps,” Science 2 and 90T.

She said she likes the college-based success center approach. The success centers were supported by the Academic Affairs Educational Excellence and Student Experience priority group work from 2014-16 and will be integral to supporting SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success advising pillar.

“It is good because it allows us to form closer bonds with both faculty and students,” she said. “It allows us to work with the students, first by giving information on their general education, answering any questions about university policy and helping them to follow roadmaps. We then send them off to see their major advisor to learn specific information about their major.”

In the fall 2015 semester, H&A’s Student Success Center had 2,131 visits with students and Gray-Peoples said the word is still getting out about the one-year old center.

“We can help them to get their questions answered and connect to resources,” she said.

The staff comprises two full-time advisors, a part-time advisor and three student peer advisors who provide general education advising with referrals to other places on campus for questions outside their expertise.

The space also provides support for faculty members, Gray-Peoples said, noting that she recently hosted a “Graduation 101” session for faculty advisors. H&A faculty members heard from representatives in the registrar’s office about the steps students need to take to apply for graduation, and how to submit major and substitution forms.

“It helps faculty and students alike,” she said. “We can make sure we know what all the common problems are so we can be more proactive as opposed to reactive.”

Gray-Peoples said the center staff members are working on marketing their services to all H&A students and plan to have more workshops on different subjects in the fall semester.

SJSU Cultural Showcase Highlights Student Performers

More than 100 people attended the 2016 Third Annual SJSU Cultural Showcase in the Student Union Ballroom on April 21. The event was founded three years ago by a group of SJSU Salzburg Scholars upon their return from a summer global seminar. The students sought out a way to connect the diverse student performing groups on campus while also highlighting the multiculturalism of the campus community.

Student performers auditioned this year for a panel of judges consisting of professors, a student representative and a staff representative with expertise in dance, performing arts or cultural affairs. This year’s event featured Pride of the Pacific Islands, Grupo Folklorico Luna y Sol de SJSU, Akbayan SJSU and a solo performance by Shivangi Agarwal who danced to a traditional Indian welcome song. In addition, guest artists were invited to perform this year. They included Nyantara Narasimhan on violin and Arvind Bhamidipati on tabla drums, who performed a south Indian song, and Mariah Miller (known as Unique Praiz) who performed mime to a gospel song. Following the performance, guests were invited to mingle with the artists at a reception with cultural food.