Occupational Therapy Students Present at Annual Conference

San Jose State University’s Occupational Therapy department will be well represented at the American Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference March 30 to April 2, in Philadelphia. Department Chair Wynn Schultz-Krohn shared that 40 students will be presenting research projects that they complete as part of collaborative work with faculty. The conference is designed for practicing occupational therapists with several years experience so it is an accomplishment for student presentations to be accepted. This year’s event celebrates 100 years of the profession.

Poster presentations will be given on topics ranging from the relationship between stress factors and occupational engagement among occupational therapy graduate students to the effects of swaddling during bottle feeding in infants born preterm to fostering imaginative play in homeless preschool children, among others. One group of students who worked with Schultz-Krohn were selected to be highlighted as early researchers and will give a podium presentation on the efficacy of the cognitive orientation to daily occupational performance (COOP) intervention for children with developmental coordination problems. The students in the group include Nancy Huang, Monique Afram, Cameren Muller, Ashley Sanches and Tiffany Tzuang.

More than 50 OT students also presented at the Occupational Therapy Association of California Annual Conference in Pasadena in fall 2016.

March 2017 Newsletter: Education Expands Beyond Global Borders in International Experience Initiative

By Barry Zepel

Silicon Valley is considered by many to be the technology capital of the world and what happens here has a profound influence on the entire world. As San Jose State University continues to prepare students to join the 21st-century workforce, the College of Applied Sciences and Arts (CASA) encourages many of its undergraduates to take at least one academic course abroad, taught by an SJSU faculty member, before they earn their degree.

Unbounded Learning, one of the major goals established by the Vision 2017 initiative, asked faculty and students to think outside the classrooms. CASA’s International Experience Initiative began in fall 2015 and now requires students enrolled in majors in five schools or departments within the college – School of Journalism and Mass Communications and the departments of Occupational Therapy, Hospitality Management, Kinesiology, and Justice Studies – to complete the requirement. About 175 students are anticipated to participate in eleven faculty-led programs with CASA faculty in 2017 (additional faculty-led programs are offered by faculty in other colleges as well).

“The goal of CASA’s international experience requirement is to introduce students to international and intercultural perspectives as a way to prepare them to live and work in an increasingly globalized world,” said Pamela Richardson, an associate dean in CASA who oversees the International Experience Initiative.

Accompanied by SJSU faculty members on their international excursions, which usually last about three weeks, the destinations and cultures have been as diverse as the subjects studied.

Shirley Reekie, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology, is scheduled to lead her course in Sports, Culture and Recreation to the United Kingdom again this summer, while Deepa Singamsetti, lecturer in the Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging, will return to Puerto Rico to lead courses in food, culture and the environment. She plans to do it again – in India – next winter. This summer Lynne Andonian, an associate professor of occupational therapy, and Ruth Rosenblum, an assistant professor of nursing, will repeat their 2016 course offering on interdisciplinary health care, again in Finland.

Diane Guerrazzi, an associate professor, and Halima Kazem, a lecturer, in the School of Mass Communications taught a class in Greece and Germany last summer that documented the path of refugees from Syria and other countries into Europe. They plan to take another class of 14 pupils to Greece and Italy this summer, again to cover the migration of refugees from Syria as well as other Middle East and African countries. During their upcoming three-week trip, the students will learn how to write and produce documentary broadcast reports while visiting refugee camps, relief agencies and a small town in Italy that has taken in an extraordinary number of refugees. Both Guerrazzi (broadcast) and Kazem (print) have extensive international reporting experience.

“A faculty member from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University told me how impressed he is with the international experience we offer our students,” said Guerrazzi, who also serves as SJSU’s representative on the California State University Council of International Programs. “I know from my own experience of leading these international educational trips that every person would tell you how life-altering they are. They certainly broaden their world perspectives.”

Megan Dejan, an SJSU senior who studied global leadership in Paris last summer with Dr. Matt Cabot’s class, agrees with Guerrazzi about the positive impact that the international learning experience had on her. The public relations major said she “had the opportunity to network and work closely alongside Europe’s top strategic communications firms, including the International Chamber of Commerce, Ubisoft … as well as the European Union.”

“This class opened my mind to become more globally competent (and) to become a young global leader,” Dejan said. “I am now inspired to travel and build my global network through my passion with public relations.”

Jayne Balthazar, an SJSU alumna, traveled to Paris in summer 2014 with Linda Levine, a lecturer in the Department of Health Science and Recreation.

“It was the first time I earned a scholarship and traveled independently (of my family) and shared a room with someone I barely knew,” Balthazar said, noting that she also raised money on her own to take the trip.

She said Levine and her husband David Buseck, an SJSU lecturer and co-instructor of the program, helped the students navigate the city and learn many things.

“When we first arrived in Paris, we didn’t know how to use the Metro, but we had Linda and David there to help us.”

Students who seek an alternative from the study abroad requirement – due to financial hardship, serious personal life situation, or physical limitations – may petition CASA to substitute a one-unit online seminar in conjunction with 20 hours of volunteer service to a San Jose organization that helps individuals or groups and represents a cultural heritage other than their own.

Further information about the program is available online.

March 2017 Newsletter: Spartan Pride Increases Student-Alumni Engagement

Photo: Moses Kinnah SJSU Alumna Marina Donovan, '84 Public Relations, offers career advice to a current student during the Spartan Success Series 'Major to Career Exploring the Journey' event in fall 2016.

Photo: Moses Kinnah
SJSU Alumna Marina Donovan, ’84 Public Relations, offers career advice to a current student during the Spartan Success Series ‘Major to Career Exploring the Journey’ event in fall 2016.

By Barry Zepel

In the nearly four years since “Spartan Pride” became one of the five core areas of the university’s Vision 2017 Strategic Plan, San Jose State Alumni Association staff members have worked to engage and connect the various sectors that make up the campus community.

Two of the most important elements are students and alumni.

“We recognized what it means to be a Spartan,” said Brian Bates, associate vice president for Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving. “It is the determination, perseverance and grit that each of our students displays towards earning their degree and getting to be an alum, and the extra efforts that our faculty and staff members dedicate to helping the students reach their academic goals.”

Dozens of town hall sessions conducted by the university, in planning for Vision 2017, found that the campus community felt it was important to foster pride for “being a Spartan” in San Jose State University graduates even after they leave campus. Bates said it was important to make the extra effort to invite alumni back to campus and “make them feel welcome.”

“One of the things that emerged the last few years is how much they valued the opportunity to come back to campus and talk to the current students,” he said. “In addition to liking how the campus has changed, alums like how the students engage them and ask questions – many times the kinds of questions they might not ask their professors.”

One of the key initiatives related to the “Spartan Pride” goal has been the creation of a career-oriented program connecting students with alumni established in their fields or industries of interest.

The Spartan Success Series – hosted by the Student Alumni Connection of the Alumni Association – was created in partnership with the university’s Career Center, and held its inaugural events in the spring of 2015. It features career development events providing students and alumni with opportunities to network with industry experts made up of SJSU graduates. Sessions include on-campus and virtual workshops, panels and resume review conferences.

The program has continued to grow in the last few years as more than 400 SJSU alumni have volunteered as career experts, panelists and resume reviewers. That growth was aided by the creation of an online form on which alumni are invited to offer their time and expertise.

“Through providing a combination of both on-campus and virtual workshops, our students have learned to sharpen their skills, build their network, explore career pathways and acquire a competitive edge to carry them into the workforce,” the alumni leader explained.

“It is a win-win-win situation for our students, for our alumni and the university,” added Bates, who also serves as executive director of the SJSU Alumni Association.

Alumna Rene Siegel, ’88 Public Relations, is one of the most dedicated to current San Jose State students.

“I’m passionate about empowering people because I wish I had someone who believed in me when I was a scared and confused college student,” said Siegel, who is founder and president of High Tech Connect, a marketing and communications consulting agency located in Pleasanton. “I want to share my experience to help even more students find their confidence and build a career that reflects their own definition of success.”

Siegel, who earned a bachelor’s in Public Relations, also serves the university as a guest lecturer, was a keynote speaker for the SJSU Student Leadership Conference, and teaches a public relations class during the fall semester. In addition, she and her “team” at High Tech Connect have also provided job-hunting tips and advice for students as well as alumni, including online resume and LinkedIn profile reviews.

Bates noted that credit for the positive results of the Spartan Pride initiative, and specifically the Spartan Success Series, has to be shared by the entire San Jose State community.

“We (alumni association) couldn’t do it all ourselves. It wouldn’t have happened without buy-in from every academic and administrative department of the university, including Spartan Shops and Athletics,” he said. “Of course, having a dedicated force of alumni volunteers and enthusiastic students is key.”

Biology Professor Receives APS Early Career Innovative Educator Award

Dr. Katherine Wilkinson

Dr. Katherine Wilkinson

Katherine Wilkinson, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, has received the American Physiological Society’s 2017 ADInstruments Macknight Early Career Innovative Educator Award. The award recognizes her laboratory activity in which she developed “A Hypothesis-Driven Laboratory Component for an Upper-Division Undergraduate Neurophysiology Course.” Wilkinson, who works closely with student researchers in the Wilkinson Neurophysiology Lab, was originally encouraged to apply for the award by a former lab student. The award includes travel to the spring APS Experimental Biology meeting, an honorarium and lab equipment for the campus.

SJSU Students Illustrate Their Perceptions of ‘Fake News’ During Adobe Creative Jam


By Barry Zepel

San Jose State University students used their creative wits, quick thinking and ability to collaborate using Adobe Creative Cloud Applications when challenged to design graphics in a tournament sponsored by the university’s eCampus Department and Silicon Valley-based Adobe Systems, Inc. Students applied to participate and nine pairs were selected to compete.

It was all part of the Feb. 24 “Adobe Creative Jam,” where the competing teams had three hours to produce computer-generated graphics that represent — to their imaginations — the theme “Fake News.” They were only informed of the topic, a phrase coined following the 2016 presidential election, by the event host at the start of the evening competition held in the Student Union.

Following the contest, each team’s design was projected on a screen while the competitors explained what the “fake news” catchphrase, used regularly by President Donald Trump, meant to them. Listening was an audience of more than 100 fellow students and six design and creative professionals. The creative professionals judged the submissions while the audience members also had a chance to cast a vote for the “People’s Choice Award.”

The artwork produced by the team of Mariella Perez and Miles Vallejos, both senior graphic design majors, was judged best by both voting bodies. Their design depicted many current national issues, including “Immigration,” being swept under a rug portrayed by the American flag.

“It was a fun challenge,” according to Vallejos. “It definitely took me out of my comfort zone.”

Perez explained how they approached the Creative Jam challenge. “We devoted the first hour to ideation and the final two hours to execution,” she said.

While the general audience honored just one team, the panel of judges recognized an additional twosome. Earning that second place nod, for their entry “News is Defined by Truth,” was the team of Vasudha Varma, a graduate student working on her master’s degree in human factors, and Ashley Chung, a freshman majoring in animation. Varma and Chung became acquainted online and only met in person for the first time just before the Creative Jam began.

In addition to getting a trophy, each winning competitor received a year of creative cloud membership from Adobe that allows them to use the software package for free after they complete their studies. As current SJSU students, they already have complimentary access to Adobe products.

Additional students who attended, while not selected for the design competition, still benefitted from the event. They were able to have their personal design portfolios reviewed and evaluated by creative directors and design professionals from organizations such as Facebook, Yahoo and other Silicon Valley-based agencies and technology companies.

Jennifer Redd, director of SJSU’s eCampus, noted that the Creative Jam is an example of the university’s partnership with Adobe.

“Tonight’s event was an opportunity for our students to showcase their skills as it relates to the Adobe Creative Cloud,” Redd said. “We work closely with Adobe and offer their software applications for the benefit of our students, faculty and staff.”

The company also hosts an annual Adobe Day in which SJSU faculty and staff visit the downtown San Jose headquarters to learn more about new products or features of existing products that can be used to enhance teaching and learning.

Adobe, which sponsors similar events for other universities around the country, is able to promote its software products on campus to discover how the students use them.

“Our goal tonight was to show what is available to San Jose State students and faculty, in terms of our mobile applications and desktop applications, while extending that into other disciplines outside of just the creative ones,” said Liz Arias, Adobe’s customer success manager whose clients include SJSU and other CSU campuses.

The graphic designs of each of the teams that competed in the Creative Jam, can be viewed online via Adobe’s Behance Portfolio Review website.