Master of Chemical Engineering Graduate Student, Jinann Alzaghari, and her Transformative SJSU Experience

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Jinann Alzaghari (23′ M.S., Chemical Engineering)

Jinann Alzaghari has called SJSU her home since her undergraduate years. Now, a current graduate student, Alzaghari details how the university has shaped her personal and educational journey. 

Choosing to continue her graduate education at SJSU was an easy decision for Alzaghari, “I chose to study at SJSU specifically because of my relationships with the professors. The smaller class sizes allowed me to form close connections with them, which has proven to be very beneficial in my time at SJSU. For example, the industry connections that my professors have has helped me obtain internship opportunities and work toward my career goals.” It was her positive undergraduate experience that solidified her decision to apply to the Master of Chemical Engineering program to invest in her education, further her knowledge, and develop her research skills.

Community, Belonging and Research at SJSU

SJSU offers a plethora of resources and valuable connections that help students throughout their education, as well as organizations that help provide a sense of community and belonging. 

“My involvement in student organizations such as the Muslim Student Association and American Institute of Chemical Engineers has allowed me to dedicate time to my social life and form a community of peers with similar interests and aspirations.” For Alzaghari, these resources and organizations are what allowed her to “grow holistically.” 

The Master in Chemical Engineering program offers students the opportunity to develop their research skills in laboratories, which is one of the reasons Alzaghari chose the chemical engineering program. Alzagahri’s interests currently lies in “conducting research in the field of carbon capture and storage, with the goal of optimizing techniques to reverse greenhouse gas emissions and combat the effects of climate change.”

After graduating this spring, Alzaghari hopes to continue using and developing her research skills in the field of carbon capture at a start-up in the Bay Area. SJSU gave her the resources she needed and we cannot wait to see what she will accomplish.

Lucia Znamirowski: Current Graduate Student Making an Impact in Research

At San José State University, research is at the forefront. Our graduate students have opportunities to participate in cutting-edge research that speaks directly to each student’s passion.

Lucia Znamirowski is a current graduate student studying a Master of Fine Arts in Pictorial Art. She spoke to us about two research projects she has been involved with and how SJSU professors have made a meaningful impact throughout her graduate education.

Lucia was involved in a two-year research project, titled: “The San Jose Story Map Project.” This research project, she tells us, “aims to use the power of stories to reveal San José in a new and different light,” as well as highlight the history and culture of San José. Not only was she able to work with professors Rhonda Holberton and Revathi Krishnaswamy, but in this project she was able to take a role as a Project Manager, an opportunity that allowed her to be the lead, and work more closely with the professors and project.

Lucia calls another research project she was part of particularly insightful, “The Future Farmers exhibition: Bones, Tones, and Phones.” The show was produced as part of a month-long residency at SJSU, which she says, “aims to engage geologists, ceramicists, sound artists, printmakers, and the SJSU marching band, in a series of explorations and actions focused on soil.” The two soils they looked at were: “Corcoran clay from the San Joaquin Valley, which bears evidence of the agricultural history of the Central Valley and the current reality of drought across the state, and a JSC-1A Lunar Soil Simulant, a volcanic ash whose chemical composition closely resembles lunar soil, which proposes the possibility of life beyond earth.” She worked closely with Shaun O’dell on this project as a graduate print assistant. 

We asked Lucia why taking part in these research projects was imperative for her graduate studies, and she said, “working closely with artists and assisting on projects has been an invaluable resource to my practice as an Artist.”


What excites Lucia the most about her research and her SJSU program is “the professors. Working with professors, such as Rhonda Holberton, has pushed me into a generative environment to create my thesis. The support I received was through working on projects at SJSU and creating curriculum for new classes in the art department.” Because she is a current teacher, her tuition was waived, which is another reason why she chose SJSU.

“The professors at SJSU have allowed me to peek behind the curtain and they’ve continued to mentor me as I begin to transition out of SJSU,” Lucia said. As for her next steps after completing her degree, Lucia said she is open to all possibilities. By participating in research, graduate students are given the opportunity to transform not only their lives, but on a local and global level, too, and Lucia was able to do that.

Two Global Criminology Graduate Students Making a Difference in the Community

The Master of Science in Criminology graduate program at SJSU brings students from all walks of life and for various reasons –although sometimes, those reasons overlap. This is what happened with two recent graduates Mayra Lopez and Carina Fonseca, who are both working towards bettering their communities.

Carina Fonseca | Alumni, Master of Science in Criminology ’22

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Carina Fonseca

For Carina Fonseca, earning a graduate degree in Global Criminology was rooted in part from her desire to understand the criminal justice system at a deeper level, and to better understand the United State’s place in criminology, globally.

Carina says that she was able to put her degree into practice right in her own community, “the program has given great insight surrounding the school-to-prison pipeline. With this, I have been able to look for small, but mighty ways to make an impact among the youth in my hometown and the larger city of Fresno. For example, my partner and I have the pleasure of hosting Back to School drives which includes barbering services. A fresh haircut may not be much, but we believe it can make all the difference when embarking on a new educational journey.”

Carina’s goal after graduation was to work in the probation department, and just a few months after she graduated, she accomplished it and now works as a Probation Officer. Stating how her degree allowed her to obtain this job in a competitive field, she says, “I believe obtaining a graduate degree placed me alongside those qualified candidates that have a plethora of background experience.” 

When we asked Carina if she had advice for future graduate students, she shared some words of wisdom, “my best recommendations would be to not read into things, trust your gut feelings and always remain positive. Do not adapt to one single way of operating, but instead, adopt small methods and mold them into what works best for you. Copying another’s time management plan may not work seamlessly for another. As a student, you know yourself best, do what works for you. When in doubt, reach out to your peers; ideally your peers may be having the same concerns.”

Mayra Lopez| Alumni, Master of Science in Criminology ’22

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Mayra Lopez with her sons

For Mayra Lopez, obtaining a master’s degree in Global Criminology was also rooted in her passion for justice studies, but it was her experience working with the homeless immigrant population in Santa Clara County that pushed her to obtain her degree. Her two sons were her inspiration and motive for completing her degree, noting, “being the first and only one in my family to obtain a master’s degree, I wanted to begin to pave the path for the future of my two sons. My sons are why I continue to work hard to obtain my dream job and to one day create a federal database for migrant deaths.” 

Mayra’s advice to students interested in Global Criminology is, “[to go for it.] The program is not hard; it is up to the student how complicated they want to make it on themselves. If you are interested in Global Criminology or Justice Studies and are passionate about a specific topic, you will enjoy the program.” She notes that her student success was also due in part to the professors who were supportive, and were there to help her understand the course topics. As for her future plans, Mayra hopes to pursue a Doctorate degree.


Both Carina and Mayra noted the flexibility and format of the program as one of the top reasons for choosing SJSU.

Carina says, “I chose SJSU mainly because of the accessibility and format of the program. Not only did I understand what was expected from the beginning but there was not any room for confusion. Many of us in the program have families and with a family, education is not an easy feat. SJSU understands real life. SJSU wants you to succeed.” 

Mayra says, “I chose to attend SJSU because the Master’s degree in Global Criminology was completely online, and it worked perfectly with my busy life as a mother, wife, and professional. SJSU will always have a special place in my heart. During my undergraduate, I had my first son, and being able to enroll my son at the Child Development Center, allowed me to graduate on time. SJSU has excellent resources for everyone and everything. I enjoyed going to the writing center to get help, and they always gave the best feedback[…] SJSU was a fantastic experience, and I am proud to have attended. I am a proud Spartan.

Sally Casanova Scholars 2022-2023

Three SJSU graduate students were named Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholars for the 2022-2023 year. Congratulations to these outstanding scholarship recipients! 

Nathan Lewis | Graduate Student, Physics ’23

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Nathan Lewis

“I began my graduate studies at SJSU in Fall 2021 semester. This was not the path I planned on taking, since I intended to go straight to a PhD program, but it has nevertheless proven to be very rewarding. I had the opportunity to do research in high energy theory, a subfield of physics I’d been very passionate about since I was in high school. I was able to teach physics laboratory courses, which further cultivated both my teaching skills and my passion for teaching. I value these opportunities not only because they will aid me in my career, but also because they have bolstered my confidence in my abilities and my sense of accomplishment and purpose. Just as I am grateful for the opportunities presented to me at SJSU, I am also honored to have received the Sally Casanova scholarship. It will both aid my professional development and career and contribute to my sense of accomplishment and purpose. My goal in obtaining my PhD is to contribute to the search for a unified theory of fundamental physics. Even after the advent of quantum mechanics and general relativity in the 20th century, physics theory remains fragmented and incomplete. For the past few decades, physicists have relentlessly worked to unite physics theory into a unified, complete framework. I am proud to dedicate my career to this endeavor and would feel very fulfilled if I could contribute significantly to this pursuit.”

Marlene Andrade | Graduate Student, Chicana and Chicano Studies ’23

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Marlene Andrade

“As a first-generation Chicana scholar, this accolade brings me so much pride and joy for my community. This recognition also further affirms that my research is necessary and that my educational trajectory has prepared me to continue on a path to becoming a professional scholar. Following the completion of my Master’s thesis, my future studies will continue to highlight the voices of Indigenous, Black, and other People of Color in environmental scholarship. GIven our current environmental climate, the voices of those who have historically cared for and valued Earth as sacred, need to be illuminated—along with their epistemologies and spatial collectivities that honor nature and other living things. Consequently, it is no surprise that their epistemic and cultural practices center the land and regard it as a place of resistance. Thus, I will develop research and literature that will honor Communities of Color and the spaces they occupy and create in order to sustain themselves. In that process I will also confront mainstream notions of environmentalism and sustainability that have failed Communities of Color. Being a graduate student at SJSU and receiving my Master’s degree from Chicana and Chicano Studies, has fostered profound critical analyses, transformative praxes, and interdisciplinary lenses which are essential for a scholarly career. I am very thankful for the guidance and endless support from Dr. Johnny Carlos Ramirez, Dr. Christine Vega, and Dr. Jonathan D. Gomez—I aspire to cultivate a pedagogy that embodies all the benevolence, empowering knowledge, and tools they have gifted me with.”

Victoria Visueta | Graduate Student, Chicana and Chicano Studies ’23


Victoria Visueta

“It means so much to me to have been given this scholarship as it has allowed me the opportunity to continue to grow and flourish in my work as a scholar. In the future I hope to continue my research in the field of Education language and literacy as well as continue to work toward a professorship.” 

Greg Tomlinson Inspiring the Next Generation of History Graduates

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“I wanted to be some form of history educator the moment I realized that that was something I could do with my life.” – Tomlinson

From a young age, Greg Tomlinson thought of nothing else than to become a history educator. We recently had the opportunity to chat with him about his passion for history, his time at San José State University (SJSU) as both an undergraduate and graduate student, and his Ph.D research.

Tomlinson says he has a personal reason for making history his career pathway, “[I was] influenced by geography and family history.” In Boston, he grew up surrounded by early American and revolutionary era history and took numerous trips to the Museum of Fine Arts. “Those trips were formative events in [my] life, and what distilled [my] deep fascination with history,” he reflected.

He was drawn to German history, specifically, because of his family history. His maternal grandparents were German-Jews who immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1936 to escape Nazi persecution. “My interest in German and intellectual history made a MA concentration in modern European history a natural fit,” said Tomlinson.

How SJSU Paved the Way to a Ph.D.

Of his graduate experience at SJSU, Tommlinson says, “I received a high-quality education at SJSU. My professors taught informative and engrossing courses on a variety of topics. The history writing, methodology, and historiography classes offered at SJSU, perhaps more so than any of the other great classes I took there, best prepared me for the Ph.D. process and my subsequent scholarly endeavors.”

After completing his Master’s at SJSU, Tomlinson was accepted into Louisiana State University’s history program. He told us that what attracted him to the program was the opportunity to further study Germany and to work alongside Suzanne Marchand, an intellectual historian who focuses on modern Germany.

For his research topic, he chose to study land in nineteenth century Bavaria. “Nineteenth Century Bavaria is largely under-examined, especially in English language scholarship,” noted Tomlinson.


When we asked Tomlinson how SJSU was formative for his education, he said, “The faculty in the history department, especially intellectual and modern European historian Mary Pickering, Civil War American historian Libra Hilde, and American historian Stanley Underdal, were my favorite professors and I took as many of their classes as I could. I found their course content fascinating and edifying. Most importantly, their office doors were always open, and they never hesitated to offer constructive feedback, a word of encouragement, and further reading suggestions.”

Now, Tomlinson is back home at SJSU as an Adjunct Lecturer in the history department and is planning on publishing a journal article based on his research. Tomlinson’s time at SJSU as an undergraduate and graduate student were instrumental in propelling his history educator career forward–and we are certain other historians will follow in his footsteps.