Community Connections with The Valley Foundation School of Nursing

By: Maya Carlyle

Lily (pronouns she/her/hers) is a high school junior in San Jose, CA, with deep roots in the community.

“Well, both my parents studied at San José State University and graduated from there. It’s a really good school. Also, it’s, like, really close to my house…”

In the evening on February 21st, 2022, she reached out to The Valley Foundation School of Nursing’s general email address ( with a request; her email was polite, to the point, and a building block for her future.

I’m very interested in studying nursing in college, and I have been looking for opportunities to gain experience in the field. I was wondering if the school/office would allow me to shadow one of your nurses? If not, I was also wondering if you have any volunteering opportunities or filing/front desk jobs?

When asked why she reached out, Lily replied earnestly: “Well, I just really want to be a nurse, to study nursing in college. I’m not really looking at other paths because…. Well, my mom has had some heart problems, and I was a preemie baby, and I’ve just… I’ve grown up in medical settings, asking questions, helping out, and it just really interests me. I’ve always been interested in pediatrics (because of my own experience), and so I want to help people who are going through that, like the parents and everything.”

“So, I reached out to try to get some experience and see how everything went in a nursing program. I think I was looking up medical places near me and San José State came up and there was an email. So, I emailed them and they responded to me pretty fast, it was pretty easy.”

Between February 21st and March 18th, conversations were had and a date was set; Lily was invited to visit The Valley Foundation School of Nursing, on SJSU Campus.

“Lily was a pleasure to get to know and work with. It was inspiring to hear a young person be so excited about nursing,” commented Dr Lisa Rauch (DNP, PHNA-BC, RN; she/her), current School of Nursing Interim Director and Assistant Professor. “Though shadowing a nurse in a clinical setting wasn’t possible, I was happy to make space for her to visit the school, to talk with our faculty, and to see a nursing class in action.”

Of her visit, Lily said: “It was really fun. I had a tour of the simulation labs, I got to see the lecture part of Professor Edwards’ [Paula Edwards, MS, PHN, ADN, RN; she/her] class, I got to see a skills lab and to see the students using equipment… one was called a volumetric incentive spirometer; you breathe in and it measures lung function. I also saw students practicing a splinting method with a pillow, and practicing mock exams.

“Everyone was so nice, considerate, and welcoming. I was kind of nervous beforehand, but everyone was like ‘Do you want to come see what we’re practicing?’

“My favorite part was… I think just getting to see all the students practicing the skills, and seeing how they liked learning, and the variety of what they get to learn. It was really insightful, and nice to get experience with [what a nursing program is like] … it was really nice to see.”

Lily’s visit has been inspiring to the School of Nursing as well.

“We’re always busy – the faculty are all working nurses as well as teachers, researchers, and scholars. Our hundreds of students are dedicated to their studies and their hands-on work in the field. We are all very focused on educating tomorrow’s nurses. At the same time, we want to keep robust ties with our community,” Dr Rauch reflected. “Lily’s visit was a wonderful illustration of that. Community welcome visits are definitely something we’re thinking about for the future.”

Moments of Mindfulness brought by CHHS Student Advisory Committee

By: Liliana Gomez

This semester, on April 5, the students from the Student Advisory Committee hosted Furry Friends by bringing therapy assisted dogs to campus and help bring smiles to students. Finals is often a stressful time for students where they are experiencing a great amount of pressure from exams, papers, and presentations. The student ambassadors felt that it was important to provide a stress relieving event for students in an effort to give their brains a break from studying. Throughout the event, student ambassadors were also providing information about the benefits of therapy assisted dogs with supporting research data from Occupational Therapy student ambassador, Devyn Shum.

Devyn says: “Dogs teach us the beauty of simplicity. The endless joy they bring helps us put our stresses aside and appreciate the moment. School is a strenuous journey, and the pandemic has limited the community and comradery that normally helps students thrive. The Furry Friends event reminded students that the SJSU community continues to care for their people, despite the global hardships that have drawn many people apart. Therapy dogs teach us mindfulness and tranquility, and prove that love can be as simple as a belly rub and a smile.”

The Student Advisory Committee held another mindfulness event on May 10, with student ambassador Devyn Shum called Take a Second.  During the event, Devyn invited students to put what they are grateful for on a poster while also sharing breathing exercise tips with students.

Student Advisory Committee

Selected by their department Chair/Director, student ambassadors are selected to represent their department partly due to the involvement in their department. While on the committee, students are used as a resource for other students. Student ambassadors host monthly office hours, attend faculty meetings, meet with their chair/director, and connect with department student organizations.

This year’s roster includes:

  • Odessa Mattson, The Valley Foundation School of Nursing
  • Gisselle Ayala – Graduate, School of Social Work
  • Cora Asuncion – Undergraduate, School of Social Work
  • Corinna Costa – Nutrition, Food Science & Packaging
  • Eric Fregoso – Undergraduate, Public Health & Recreation
  • Raia Cherednikov – Graduate, Public Health & Recreation
  • Devyn Shum – Occupational Therapy

You can read more about the Student Advisory Committee’s mission and purpose at the following website:

Message from Dean Shillington – Spring 2022

Dean Audrey ShillingtonWelcome to the Spring 2022 College of Health and Human Sciences newsletter.

May is always such a wonderful time around the university.  It is a time of endings and beginnings.  Students and faculty are busily working to wrap up the final weeks of the spring semester which means many large projects and exams.  In many cases, our students are demonstrating a full semester of learning that culminates in these projects.  Endings include the last of the academic year for most of our students, but for 1415 students, it means the end of their undergraduate studies here at SJSU.  I walk through campus and see so many students in caps and gowns, self-consciously posing for photographers, preparing for that nexus between their ending and their beginning.

Commencement comes from a French word that means beginning.  This year, 83% of high school students will graduate. In California, 26% of high school students will enroll in a 4-year college—and about half of those will graduate college. There are many paths that brought our students to this accomplishment.  At SJSU about half of our graduates are made up of students who came straight from high school and the other half transferred here from a community college.   On this planet, only 6.7% of the world’s population hold a college degree.  Yes, you read that correctly—less than 7% of people in the world have a college degree.  Our dedicated faculty and staff have done tremendous work to train the next generation of health professionals, to help them on their pathway to their ending and their beginning.

We don’t accomplish this alone.  We have a tremendous number of incredible community partners who worked with us to help our students develop crucial skills. Skills to address health inequities, build healthier communities and families.  We are deeply grateful for our community partners who have helped make this commencement possible.  You will read about some of our partnerships in this newsletter.

CHHS DEI Profile – Dr. Michael Dao

Dr. Michael DaoMichael Dao – Department of Kinesiology

What is your role in your department/school?

I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology

What would you identify as one of the most significant actions you have taken to advance the cause for diversity either in the classroom, your community or your profession?

Probably my attention to include readings from different authorities that represent the diverse classrooms at SJSU. I am attentive to including writers of color, indigenous writers, and women in my syllabus to ensure that students are engaging with a wide variety of voices.

How have you integrated topics of DEI into hiring new faculty and/or admitting students?

I think from the Department of Kinesiology we are very conscious to ensure that our hiring practices are underpinned by DEI initiatives such as highlighting DEI research and teaching from potential candidates and also making sure or job postings are posted on DEI websites

Tell us about how you and why you became attentive to DEI topics. What prompted this change in your department/school?  What did the process look like?

I became attentive as I grew up and became more engaged with critical discussions. I just came to the conclusion that there were historical, social, and systemic reasons for the inequities people face. As such, the university is a good place to start having more conversations to better dismantle these unjust institutions that we work and exist. I find that more departments are slowly realizing our role in the inequities that people face so it’s down to us to start pushing the needle a little. The process is an ongoing one but at least we have more awareness and pay more attention to the topics.

What support did you need to make it happen?  Did you draw on existing resources or examples that were helpful in guiding your change?

Institutional support is key. Having support from your department chair makes it easy to bring up difficult conversations that not all people are ready to engage with. I didn’t really draw from existing resources but I have drawn from the CEED committee and people in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Tell us one book, one article, one documentary, or one movie you’ve read or watched that you would like to suggest to others that helped shape your thinking about DEI work.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

CHHS DEI Profile – Dr. Shaum Bhagat

Dr. Shaum BhagatShaum Bhagat – Department of Audiology 

What is your role in your department/school?

My role is Professor and Department Chair for the Department of Audiology.

What would you identify as one of the most significant actions you have taken to advance the cause for diversity either in the classroom, your community, or your profession?

The most significant actions I have taken to advance the cause of diversity include participating in mentorship opportunities for a diverse group of young people interested in the professions of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. Through these opportunities, I have met young people and provided guidance concerning future careers in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. I have also been fortunate in having the opportunity to serve as a faculty mentor for students conducting Doctor of Audiology research projects. These opportunities have allowed me to listen and learn from young people interested in our professions, and have been instrumental in shaping my thinking concerning the importance of DEI in the higher education environment.

How have you integrated topics of DEI into hiring new faculty and/or admitting students?

In our department mission statement, we indicate that graduates of our program will be ethical, culturally sensitive, and committed to evidence-based practices. In order to help our students achieve these goals that are a necessity for professional practices in the 21st century, we must integrate DEI topics in recruiting both students and faculty. I have also been influenced by the CHHS mission statement concerning promoting health equity and social justice.  I have contributed to a team-based approach of developing our program using DEI principles in order to provide a welcoming environment for diverse faculty members and students.

Tell us about how and why you became attentive to DEI topics.

As a child from a middle-class family with an immigrant heritage from South Asia, my experiences and those of my family members allowed me to realize that there are health inequities and social injustices that need to be addressed, and it is imperative that solutions are created for these social problems. I believe that there should be equal opportunities for all people to access health care.

Tell us one book, one article, one documentary, or one movie you’ve read or watched that you would like to suggest to others that helped shape your thinking about DEI work. 

If I were to have only one choice, it would be “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The passages from the letter that are particularly inspiring for me include “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”  These words are at the heart of my personal philosophy and remind me that there is much work to be done that requires direct action.