Feeding the Hungry

As the semester ends and the weather cools, students from the Afghan Student Association, the Muslim Student Association, and supporters took to the streets to feed the hungry.

Established this year by President Matt Mohammed, ’16 Civil Engineering, the Afghan Student Association led the distribution of homemade sandwiches, snacks and bottled water to homeless people on the streets surrounding campus following their usual Jummah prayer on Friday, Dec. 5, in Clark Hall.

“As a Muslim, it is our duty to do charity,” said Mohammed, explaining that giving alms, or Zakat, is one of the five pillars of Islam.

“Not everyone here is Muslim,” he continued, gesturing to the group of about 25 students packing food. “Anyone is welcome. This is about just about giving back. It’s cold out and people are hungry.”

Mohammed’s parents emigrated from Afghanistan nearly 40 years ago and he remains closely connected with his cultural heritage.

“It’s hard to help overseas in impoverished Afghanistan,” he says, “but it’s easy to help here in our own community.”

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Dreaming of a Greener Silicon Valley

“Most living Christmas tree programs just offer potted trees that eventually die in pots or in backyards where they shouldn’t have been planted,” says Tree Care Manager Kevin Lee, ’11 BS, ’16 MS Environmental Studies. (Christina Olivas photo)

Many South Bay lots boast Christmas conifers this time of year, but the trees at one sprawling lot stand apart. At the Our City Forest nonprofit nursery on Spring Street, you’ll find Spartans engaged in a novel effort to make a greener, merrier Silicon Valley through a new Holiday Rent-A-Tree program.

Come January, the majority of the 30 million trees that are cut and sold every year in the United States get tossed out with the trash. Bringing a living tree into your home allows you to enjoy the look and smell of a real tree with less waste, clean-up and fire hazard—and without the carbon footprint of artificial trees, 80 percent of which are imported from China.

“Most living Christmas tree programs just offer potted trees that eventually die in pots or in backyards where they shouldn’t have been planted,” says Tree Care Manager Kevin Lee, ’11 BS, ’16 MS Environmental Studies. “What makes our program different is that we offer specific trees that do well in San Jose; after the holidays, we’ll take them back and plant them in community parks and at schools where they will thrive.”

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After the holidays, the Rent-A-Tree program will plant the evergreens at parks and schools. (Christina Olivas photo)

While you won’t find a Noble Fir at the Our City Forest nursery, the organization does offer 10 different Christmas tree species, such as the Deodar Cedar. Like the two mature Deodar Cedars towering some 80 feet over Tower Lawn, the potted Deodars have fine, blue-green needles. About hip high, they will run you $25 (tax deductible) for the holiday season. A long-term goal of the program is to let renters know where their Christmas trees are planted so they can visit them and watch them grow.

Lee is one of four SJSU grads working for the nonprofit—which has planted about 60,000 trees in the area since its 1994 inception—and his love for trees goes far beyond the holidays.

“Trees are my passion,” says Lee. Originally a bio major, Lee switched to environmental science and “everything fell into place.” Strolling among the 200 Christmas trees available for holiday rental with canine nursery mascots Bodie and Poppy following at his heels, Lee says, “I’m in a master’s program now for additional learning opportunities, but this is my dream job.”

Visit Our City Forest for more information or to reserve your tree.

Yoshihiro Uchida Hall, Renewed

Walking through the newly renovated Yoshihiro Uchida Hall is a study in old meeting new. Much of the year-long construction project includes seismic retrofitting and other refurbishments not visible to the naked eye, yet threaded throughout and around the historic building, modern amenities cannot be missed.

The building’s signature spiraled turrets are still in place, but a new, glass-front main entrance encases the structure on the west side, bringing the old exterior in. What used to be a dilapidated swimming pool now houses an instructional gym. Above it, a world-class dojo lit by original floor-to-ceiling windows finally provides a venue befitting San Jose State’s premiere judo program.

Shared by the kinesiology, athletics, and health science and recreation departments, Uchida Hall houses state-of-the-art academic facilities such as an exercise physiology research lab, a stress management lab and classroom, a sports medicine center and many fully equipped, modern classrooms, as well as beautiful new locker rooms for men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball and gymnastics—all centered around the heart of the building, the retrofitted gymnasium.

To top it off, a second-floor outdoor patio is open to the university community for enjoyment. A grand opening celebration and rededication with attendance from Yoshihiro Uchida and other local dignitaries is tentatively set for early November.

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Spartans Supporting Spartans

 Professor Eugene Cordero speaking at the 2012 TEDxSanJoseCA event on the topic of reducing annual carbon emissions (TEDxSanJoseCA/Flickr photo).

Professor Eugene Cordero speaking at the 2012 TEDxSanJoseCA event on the topic of reducing annual carbon emissions (TEDxSanJoseCA/Flickr photo).

“I’m inspired by work that happens on campus in areas that are very different from my own,” says Eugene Cordero, professor of meteorology and climate science. “Having the opportunity to support work others are doing allows you to feel as though you are helping.”

As regular donors and committee members for this year’s Spartans Supporting Spartans campaign, Cordero and his wife Clare, a lecturer in the engineering department, are passionate about helping. For Cordero, this campaign offers an opportunity for the campus community to come together and feel good about the university.

“You can give money to scholarships or to an outreach program that helps kids learn about science, or the library. Those are things that everyone can feel good about supporting,” says Eugene Cordero. “Our university is not just the administration; it’s the faculty, the staff, the programs, the students. I’m inspired by our students. That’s why I’m here.”

Cordero encourages his colleagues to consider what keeps them here, too. He offers this advice to fellow faculty members: “Keep using that positive energy to inspire students to learn and be creative and do great things!”

Make a gift through Spartans Supporting Spartans.

 

 

Spartans Supporting Spartans: Sami Monsur’s Staff Scholarship

Spartans Supporting Spartans

Spartans Supporting Spartans: Sami Monsur’s Staff Scholarship

SJSU staff member Sami Monsur established the Support Our Staff Scholarship after earning a degree in Spanish while working at San Jose State.

“I am a strong believer in volunteering and giving back,” says Sami Monsur, resource analyst in the Connie L. Lurie College of Education—and she’s got the scholarship to prove it. In 2012, Monsur established the Support Our Staff Scholarship, an annual $500 scholarship that provides financial support for staff members working toward a degree at San Jose State.

The impetus for the gift was her own experience: Monsur was simultaneously a student and staff member while working toward her degree in Spanish, which she completed in 2011. “My dean, Elaine Chin, offers professional development money to every staff member. It has helped many, including me, pay for books and other costs related to our studies,” Monsur says. “As a student, I really saw how much the funds helped.”

The Support Our Staff Scholarship extends similar support to staff members university-wide who are matriculated students, whether they’re employees of the university, Research Foundation or Tower Foundation.

“You can always better yourself and try to move up in the world. Staff members don’t always make a lot of money, but we do have an opportunity to get a degree,” says Monsur. “Even with the tuition fee waiver [that state employees receive], school materials like books and a laptop are expensive—especially if someone is supporting a family.”

Last year the scholarship was awarded for the first time, and now, it’s growing. As one of the gift options for this year’s Spartans Supporting Spartans campaign, Monsur’s annual contribution has already been bolstered by more than a dozen new gifts from other staff and faculty members. “As it continues to grow, hopefully we’ll be able to award two or three scholarships a year,” she says.

“There is a really strong team of staff members that keeps this university going,” says Monsur. “I’m proud of that. I’m proud of our staff.”

Make a gift to the Support Our Staff Scholarship or an area of your choice through Spartans Supporting Spartans by April 18.

 

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Celebrate 2014 Graduates and Support SJSU Alumni Association Scholarships

Quang Le, ’14 Civil Engineering

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

“I never thought I’d be here,” says Quang Le, ’14 Civil Engineering. Since transferring from an East Bay community college, Le has completed two internships and was elected SJSU chapter president for the Associated General Contractors of California. This year, he received the Alumni Association Dean’s Scholarship for the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering.

“At SJSU, there are lots of ups and downs,” says Le. Luckily, Spartans take care of each other. Supported by donations, the SJSU Alumni Association Scholarship is awarded to two outstanding students from each of SJSU’s colleges each year. Selected based on academic excellence and community service, these students exemplify the Spartan spirit: they use what powers them to impact SJSU, their communities and the world. “Receiving this scholarship gives me the motivation to keep going—academically and professionally.”

Now, along with becoming “the best project manager out there,” Le hopes to mentor students who will impact their communities with innovative ideas for a sustainable future. Down the line, he dreams of endowing a scholarship in his name for other students like him—students who, he says, “you’d never think could be engineers.”

“Success isn’t just about being successful yourself, but also helping others achieve success,” says Le. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for some mentors I’ve had. I’m thankful and I want to give back.”

Give $20.14 and vote for the program that the Senior Gift will fund!

The SJSU Alumni Scholarship Program is one of three options for this year’s Senior Gift. To make a gift and vote for this year’s program recipient, download the Senior Gift form [PDF] or contact Carolyn Canete in SJSU’s Office of Annual Giving at 408-924-1782.

1. SJSU Alumni Scholarship Program
2. Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)
3. The Student Emergency Fund

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Celebrate 2014 Graduates and Support the Student Emergency Fund

Students affected by the San Bruno fire received a $500 grant from the Division of Student Affairs. (Flickr photo / smi23le)

Students affected by the San Bruno fire received a $500 grant from the Division of Student Affairs. (Flickr photo / smi23le)

“We receive many requests for help,” says Monica Garcia, assistant to the VP for Student Affairs. Garcia’s office oversees the SJSU Student Emergency Fund, which provides financial assistance when students need it most.

What can students do if their car is stolen, along with personal items inside, and they have no way to get to class or work? Or worse, what can they do if they’re in a car accident and need money for temporary transportation or uncovered medical expenses? The Emergency Fund provides monetary support for out-of-pocket expenses to students involved in unforeseen, emergency events or situations that affect their ability to function as a student.

“We fund as many requests as we can,” says Garcia, who names sudden catastrophes from severe illness to funeral travel as examples of funded appeals. “We’ve funded students who are currently homeless and living in a shelter or car, and victims of house fires that resulted in loss of clothing, books and, in one case, even a house.”

Students may apply for an Emergency Fund award for out-of-pocket expenses on a one-time basis for up to a maximum of $500; an application [PDF] can be found on the Student Affairs website.

Give $20.14 and vote for the program that the Senior Gift will fund!

The Student Emergency Fund is one of three options for this year’s Senior Gift. To make a gift and vote for this year’s program recipient, download the Senior Gift form [PDF] or contact Carolyn Canete in SJSU’s Office of Annual Giving at 408-924-1782.

1. SJSU Alumni Scholarship Program
2. Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)
3. The Student Emergency Fund

 

Daniel Harris Lucas speaks at the I AM EOP event.

Celebrate 2014 Graduates and Support EOP

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Photo: Brandon Chew, ’14 Photojournalism

“If you’re from a high-crime city and all you hear is that you’re not going to make it, know that it’s not true,” says Daniel Harris-Lucas, ’14 Public Relations. Harris-Lucas was raised in foster care in Oakland after his mother became addicted to drugs. Today, thanks in part to the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), a group designed to improve support of first-generation, low-income and historically disadvantaged students, he is about to graduate from San José State.

“EOP had a huge impact on me,” says Harris-Lucas, who was named SJSU’s first-ever African-American Homecoming King in fall 2013. “It’s a family. We support each other in major ways. When one of us wanted to drop out of school, everyone rallied around him. Last semester, my mom passed away, and my EOP family checked on me every day.”

From mentorship programs to career counseling, EOP provides enrichment opportunities as well as admission, academic, and financial assistance to help disempowered students find their power. “Without EOP I would have missed out on a lot,” says Harris-Lucas. “We have some tight bonds because we’ve been through a lot of the same things.”

As an EOP peer mentor himself, Harris-Lucas is committed to helping and advising other students. “If I help one person graduate, I’ve done something worthwhile,” says Harris-Lucas, who is applying to Georgetown University and Syracuse University for graduate school. “If people hadn’t helped me, I would not be where I am today,” says Harris-Lucas. “A gift to EOP goes a long way.”

Give $20.14 and vote for the program that the Senior Gift will fund!

EOP is one of three options for this year’s Senior Gift. To make a gift and vote for this year’s program recipient, download the Senior Gift form [PDF] or contact Carolyn Canete in SJSU’s Office of Annual Giving at 408-924-1782.

1. SJSU Alumni Scholarship Program
2. Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)
3. The Student Emergency Fund

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Distinguished Service Award: Julia Curry Rodriguez

Photo: Thomas Sanders, '15 MFA Photography

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes a faculty member for exemplary service in a leadership capacity to the university and/or community or profession that brings credit to San Jose State University. This year’s winner comes from the College of Social Sciences.

She will be honored at the 15th Annual Faculty Service Recognition and Awards Luncheon on March 11, 2014. Tickets are available for purchase. 

“I don’t want to just tell my students that I believe in them,” says Julia Curry Rodriguez, assistant professor of Mexican-American Studies and recipient of this year’s Distinguished Service Award.  “I want to show them that I do. You have to give them hope.”

For the undocumented, minority, at-risk and first-generation students Curry works with as an educator and activist, hope can make all the difference. “There are so many students who come here with a background like mine—students who are economically disadvantaged or are of color who go to college and feel like imposters,” says Curry. “They should never feel like that.”

Curry is a dedicated advocate of undocumented students at San Jose State and across California. She serves as advisor of Student Advocates for Higher Education (SAHE), the student support group for undocumented immigrants. She also works with AB 540 students and their families to address their unique challenges, assisting them with admissions and personally helping them bridge language and cultural barriers.

“My greatest rewards as an educator are working with students and the community, and speaking with others about the rights of undocumented students,” says Curry. “It is my responsibility to fill my students with the knowledge that they can do anything that they want. Everything these students hear in the media about people like them is that they don’t know how to succeed, and I totally disagree with that. I hold up a mirror and say, ‘Look at yourself and be proud.’”

“Through her work as an activist and educator, Curry has been able to help create a climate of respect, tolerance, and an appreciation for diversity not only at SJSU, but in our community,” writes one of her nominators. “She has brought attention to some of the most difficult issues facing our world today. She is a true advocate and leader in the fight for equality and social justice.”

“Having the opportunity to work at a campus that is filled with dedicated students who aspire to greatness is so extremely fulfilling,” says Curry, who continues to mentor her students in their careers even after they graduate, writing more than 100 letters of recommendation each year.

“One of my students who is now in graduate school at Texas A&M told me, ‘I want to be like you. I want to teach what you teach,’” says Curry with a smile. “And I said, ‘Go get a Ph.D. Then come back and take my job.’”

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Outstanding Professor Award: Winifred Schultz-Krohn

Photo: Thomas Sanders, '15 MFA Photography

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

The Outstanding Professor Award recognizes a faculty member for overall excellence in academic assignment. This year’s winner comes from the College of Applied Sciences and Arts.

She will be honored at the 15th Annual Faculty Service Recognition and Awards Luncheon on March 11, 2014. Tickets are available for purchase.

“Even as an undergraduate, I wanted to teach occupational therapy,” says SJSU Professor Winifred Schultz-Krohn, recipient of this year’s Outstanding Professor Award. “The idea of working with individuals to discover their aptitudes despite their limitations—what they can do, not what they can’t do—is very inspiring. I was so excited as a student, and I see that same excitement my students today.”

Schultz-Krohn generously shares that excitement—and a considerable amount of chocolate (yes, chocolate!)—with her colleagues and students. In fact, her passion for the sweet stuff is second only to her commitment to teaching and helping those in need.

“A woman came into the clinic,” Schultz-Krohn says, speaking of one of three occupational therapy clinics that double as a practicum sites for graduate occupational therapy students. “Due to a traumatic brain injury, she had lost her ability to swallow. The student asked me to help because I have expertise in swallowing. Turns out she was a huge chocolate pudding fan!” The woman was partnered with an OT student and, by the time their work was done, she had improved her ability to swallow. And she got her chocolate fix.

Schultz-Krohn shows her dedication in sugar-free ways, too. For more than a decade, Schultz-Krohn and her students have offered occupational therapy services —from job readiness to parenting—to families and children who live in a homeless shelter in San Jose. She recalls a woman who had returned to the shelter with a message for her: “You and your students made all the difference. I now have a job, an apartment and insurance. Thank you for believing in me.”

She also believes in her students. A mentor to more than 150 students, she helps students present their research at professional meetings, a key step in launching their careers. “Publishing and presenting research with my students is the most rewarding part of my job as an educator,” says Schultz-Krohn, who is a member of the Academic Senate and serves on many university and professional boards and committees. “I’ve had students present research at state, national, and international occupational therapy conferences. Several students presented their research in Chile. Standing up there at a podium, they just own it.”

“Dr. Wynn dreams big for her students,” wrote graduate student Colleen Norlander in her nomination. “And she gives of her own time, energy and passion to see these goals accomplished.”

Schultz-Krohn offers this advice to her students: “Uncover the real, authentic you in whatever you’re doing.”

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Outstanding Lecturer Award: Olenka Hubickyj

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

The Outstanding Lecturer Award recognizes a lecturer for excellence in teaching effectiveness and service to the San Jose State campus community. This year’s winner comes from the College of Science.

She will be honored at the 15th Annual Faculty Service Recognition and Awards Luncheon on March 11, 2014. Tickets are available for purchase.

In 2008, Olenka Hubickyj had been a researcher at NASA for 25 years, studying the formation of giant planets, when she got wind that San Jose State was looking for a science professor. She had never taught before, but “the idea kept haunting me,” says Hubickyj. “So I said, ‘why not?’”

Now a lecturer in physics and astronomy, Hubickyj is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Lecturer Award. She continues her research and serves as director of Systems Teaching Institute at NASA Ames’ University Affiliated Research Center, where she helps place students into internship research positions.

Hubickyj, who wanted to be an astronomer at age nine, knows that her zeal for science is powerful. “My kids tell me to tone down the geek,” she says, laughing. “But when I tell my students something and see their eyes … I just love it. I always tell them I want to change the course name to ‘All Things Fantastic.’”

“Dr. Hubickyj’s enthusiasm is truly contagious,” writes one of her students. “I believe that had I taken her course as an incoming freshman I would have been inspired to pursue astronomy as my major.”

Department Chair Michael Kaufman echoes this sentiment in Hubickyj’s nomination: “What is immediately evident when one walks by one of Olenka’s classrooms is the energy flowing from it.”

The child of Ukrainian immigrants who had come to New York City via a refugee camp in post-war Germany, Hubickyj can relate to many SJSU students in a way that transcends science. “I spoke a different language at home and had to straddle two cultures. I understand what it’s like for these kids who have family, cultural and academic obligations,” she says. Though accepted into a prestigious private school, she attended the City College of New York for financial reasons. “I came from a school like SJSU. If it hadn’t been for CCNY, I wouldn’t be here. Going there did not mean I was less intelligent than students at elite schools. Now it’s my turn to reinforce that message here.”

One of Hubickyj’s approaches is to allow students to express their understanding of astronomy on their own terms. A requirement of her Descriptive Astronomy course is a semester-long research project where students can present their research through any medium: she has received a symphonic poem about a mission to Mars written and performed by a music composition major, a full press packet about the Big Bang from a hospitality student, and more space art than she can fit in her office.

“To help students find their power you must respect them,” says Hubickyj. “You must give second chances and make it safe to learn.”

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President’s Scholar: Jo Farb Hernández

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

The President’s Scholar Award recognizes a faculty member who has achieved widespread recognition based on the quality of scholarship, performance or creative activities. This year’s winner comes from the College of Humanities and the Arts.

She will be honored at the 15th Annual Faculty Service Recognition and Awards Luncheon on March 11, 2014. Tickets are available for purchase.

Ask Jo Farb Hernández, professor of art and art history and this year’s recipient of the President’s Scholar Award, how she feels about the fact that she is considered one of the primary experts in the field of outsider art, and she will smile. “I don’t care for that term,” she says. “Humans have a tendency to classify things. Outsider art has come to refer to works created by those who are isolated from the mainstream art field, but this isn’t a movement like other fields. These creators don’t fit in a box.”

Neither does Hernández. After 25 years in the art and museum world, she was invited to apply to SJSU in 2000 for an unusual faculty appointment. The arrangement, in which she is encouraged to both do and teach, works well for Hernández. Three-quarters of her time is dedicated to directing the Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery, overseeing the six student galleries, managing the university’s art collection, and coordinating a weekly speaker series and presentations for the art department. The remaining quarter of her time is spent teaching related classes in museum studies and associated subjects.

“It’s important to have a teacher-scholar model in a professor,” says Hernández, who also serves as executive director of SPACES (Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments). At SPACES, a nonprofit that focuses on the international study, documentation and preservation of art environments and self-taught artistic activity, she developed the most extensive public archive on the subject in the world.

“I love all aspects of scholarship—the field work, photography, meeting the artists, traveling, researching, writing. I’ve tried to study in areas that others haven’t, to fill in the gaps in the art historical record.” Hernández goes to great lengths to accomplish that goal: she has taught herself to read Gallego and Catalan to access articles and books only printed in those languages.

In her 13 years at SJSU, Hernández has published 11 books and catalogs, as well as 46 articles in journals and encyclopedias in four countries. She has curated 45 exhibitions in the United States, Japan, Korea and Spain, and has received 23 honors and awards, including a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Residence Award to do extended research in Spain for her latest book, Singular Spaces: From the Eccentric to the Extraordinary in Spanish Art.

Teaching is a natural extension of her research. “I love working with the students,” she says. “It is so rewarding when I get through to a student by sharing the passion that I have and leading them to ways to discover their own passions. I’ve spent my career trying to break down different barriers in art, and I try to infuse that into my teaching. My goal is to open minds and hearts.”

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What would Dr. King say?

Bronze bust of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by renowned artist Sascha Schnittmann at King Library (Christina Olivas photo).

Bronze bust of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by renowned artist Sascha Schnittmann at King Library (Christina Olivas photo).

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The students of San Jose State have long stood on the frontlines of civic and social justice movements. Over the decades, Spartans have rallied against everything from environmental pollution and unfair wages to chemical weapons and, most famously, racial inequality, as immortalized by the statue of Tommie Smith and John Carlos in their 1968 Olympics Black Power salute. This statue, along with the Cesar Chavez Memorial Arch and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, represents the dream of social justice that San Jose State strives to embody.

But, given the recent alleged hate crimes in our residence hall, is true equality still just a dream? With Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day upon us, we’ve turned our ear to the community. Below is a small selection of comments posted on news stories and social media by individuals near and far, along with some of King’s most poignant words.

What do you think King would say today?


“I read that a university freshman was harassed for three months in a dorm community regarding his racial identification, yet the problem was not identified by the university until a parent intervened. I worry that the university is losing the battle of survival in the 21st century.”

-Gerald McMinn, ’72, posted on Washington Square online

King: “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus characterthat is the goal of true education.”

“Don’t deny him his education. Make him do community service in the inner city.”

Tim Nourie, posted on KTVU Channel 2’s Facebook page 

King: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

“Haven’t any of you people heard of hazing? I am not saying it’s right; hazing is stupid and unnecessary and causes a lot of BS. Despite what I think, it happens. I agree this kid and his accessories should definitely be slapped with some consequences because of what they did. It doesn’t matter if the victim was black and the perpetrators were white. It was people doing stupid things to a person.”

Brianna Marie, posted on KTVU Channel 2’s Facebook page

King: “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

“Being a blond-haired, blue-eyed, white guy around enough people who assume I probably don’t care for some non-whites and feel free to express their true feelings, I can tell you racism is alive and well in mainstream America. There is still a long fight that needs to be waged, and the fight only gets worse the longer some folks continue to deny that racism is still a factor in America. It is, be embarrassed by it, and don’t perpetuate it by pretending it isn’t.”

Andy, posted on CNN’s website

King: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

“Perhaps a little jail time might help…but that costs money and it’s time to stop trying to jail or imprison everyone who doesn’t think like you. Could there perhaps be a teach-in, and allow them to admit they were wrong without resorting to jail or prison? Unless you’re hell-bent on vengeance, I think that’s a better direction to go in.”

Blair Whitney, posted on the Mercury News’ website

King: “I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream.”

Students talk with Ken Burns

The San Jose State Department of Television, Radio, Film and Theatre Arts sat down with award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, who was on campus to accept the 2013 Steinbeck Award.

When students asked how he chooses his subjects, Burns said, “I don’t make films about things I know about; I make films about things I want to know about. If I were given one thousand years to live, I’d never run out of topics.”

While his films range from war to baseball, some common themes present themselves in each, among them race and feminism. With each film, Burns engages in what he calls “emotional archeology,” during which he excavates larger emotional truths beyond dry dates, facts and events.

And how did he get started?

“I am very fortunate, but it is good fortune born in tragedy,” said Burns of his beginnings as a filmmaker. His mother died of cancer when he was 11-years-old. When Burns was up late watching movies with his dad and saw him shed tears, he decided to become filmmaker. “I instantly understood the power of film,” he said.

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The Power of Gratitude: Practicing Compassion

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

ThanhThuy Luu, ’13 Nutritional Science, ’16 MA Public Health

When donors help students achieve their goals, they are practicing compassion.”

Just three months after ThanhThuy Luu, ’13 Nutritional Science, ’16 MA Public Health, arrived in San Jose from Saigon, Vietnam, in 2008, she started her first semester at San Jose State. “I worked in the food industry in Vietnam and I burned out. I fell in love with nutrition,” says Luu. A first-generation college student, Luu already held a two-year degree in chemistry from a university in Vietnam when she decided to follow her heart into nutrition science.

In no time, she was excelling. In 2011, Luu was named a President’s Scholar, and this year she received an Alumni Association Dean’s Scholarship for the College of Applied Sciences and Arts. “It is financial support but, more importantly, it is great motivation,” she says. “I came here not long ago and it is great to be recognized. I feel accepted into the academic community.”

Now enrolled in the master’s in public health program, Luu’s goal is to work as a health educator with English- and Vietnamese-speaking adults and seniors and ultimately teach as a university professor. “I am grateful for the cultural diversity at San Jose State,” she says. “The traditions, beliefs and values here are from all over the world. I enjoy that because it helps me prepare for my career.”

“I grew up in a Buddhist family; compassion is what I was taught as a child,” says Luu, who was nine years old in 1975 when Saigon was captured by the North Vietnamese forces and her brother, a soldier fighting for South Vietnam, was imprisoned. “Public health is more than nutrition. My passion for public health is built on the compassion I have cultivated in my life. When donors help students achieve their goals, they are practicing compassion.”

View The Power of Gratitude series.

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Power of Gratitude: A Winning Attitude

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

David Fales, ’13 Psychology

I’m so grateful for everything I’ve received here. It’s something I’ll remember forever. It’s been a great time.”

“If I hadn’t gotten a scholarship,” says David Fales, ’13 Psychology, “I probably wouldn’t be going to school here.” Which would be too bad for the Spartans. Since the quarterback came to San José State on a football scholarship in December 2011, he has become a single-season record holder in seven categories. In the 2012 season, Fales led the Spartans to an 11-2 record—throwing more than 4100 yards and 33 touchdowns with a pass completion rate of more than 72 percent—that culminated in a Military Bowl win and a move to the Mountain West Conference. Fales has not disappointed this season either: the Spartans are once again bowl-eligable following their last win, during which Fales threw for a school-record 547 yards and six touchdowns to spoil the Fresno Bulldogs’ perfect season.

“I always tell everybody that I don’t know what exactly I would be doing without the scholarship,” says Fales, who transferred from a junior college where he shouldered the cost of his education. “I’m very fortunate. Life is a lot easier now.”

Right now Fales is focused on football, but he has other plans in the works following his graduation in December. “I want to see how long I can play football and hopefully ride it out for a little bit longer. After that, I want to get involved in sports psychology.” Fales was first exposed to the profession during a brief semester at Wyoming. “They had a sports psychologist there and he really got me interested in working with teams.”

“I’m so grateful for everything I’ve received here,” says Fales. “Being with the football team, the different experiences we’ve had, the relationships I’ve built in the two years I’ve been here. It’s something I’ll remember forever, and the relationships I have now I’ll have for the rest of my life. It’s been a great time.”

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Power of Gratitude: Being Inspired

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

Gary Ortega, ’12, ’14 MA Jazz Studies

“Teaching challenges you to be a better person, for yourself and for others. Thank you to all of my teachers for keeping me inspired.”

“The music department is close-knit,” says Gary Ortega, ’12, ’14 MA Jazz Studies. “You are dependent on each other for ensembles; your music and your livelihood are reliant on it. It’s a community—a music family.”

Ortega has the opportunity to study, work and play with this family in part due to the Katherine Peterson Alumni Association Scholarship. Awarded on the basis of academic achievement, need and community service, this scholarship has allowed Ortega to say goodbye to the days of waiting tables so he can focus on more important things, like running his music lessons business, teaching instrumental music to third through eighth graders at St. Leo the Great School and staying involved with the nonprofit organization, San Jose Jazz.

“This award will be contributing to the success and completion of my master’s degree this spring with a lighter financial burden,” says Ortega, who is currently teaching jazz improvisation at SJSU. He plans to continue teaching to children and adults after he graduates. “Teaching challenges you to be a better person, for yourself and for others. And you get to help other people be better. Thank you to all of my teachers for keeping me inspired.”

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The Power of Gratitude: Shooting High

Ta’Rea Cunnigan in uniform and basketball in-hand.

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

Ta’Rea Cunnigan, ’15 Psychology

Basketball is only temporary but the relationships you make with people can last a lifetime!”

Ta’Rea Cunnigan, ’15 Psychology, is known for her skills on the basketball court, where she’s been helping lead the Spartans to victory. But the 5’9” guard is far from being all brawn and no brains. She has made the most of her San Jose State Athletics scholarship, as a Dean’s Scholar, Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar, Capital One Academic All-District VIII honoree and Academic All-WAC honoree for two years running.

As a psychology major with a kinesiology minor, Cunnigan has big plans for her future. She is shooting for a career in sports psychology, working with children and collegiate athletes to help them develop the mental stamina to balance the demands of being a student-athlete. “Through my scholarship, I’ve had the chance to inspire and work with young girls who want to play collegiate sports and get a college education,” she says. “I understand and can help them reach success, not only in academics, but in their sport as well.”

“I am most grateful for the friends and relationships I have made while being at San Jose State,” says Cunnigan. “Basketball is only temporary but the relationships you make with people can last a lifetime!”

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The Power of Gratitude: Sharing Success

Quang Le, ’14 Civil Engineering

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

Quang Le, ’14 Civil Engineering

Success isn’t just about being successful yourself, but also helping others achieve success. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for some mentors I’ve had. I’m thankful, and I want to give back.”

“I never thought I’d be here,” says Quang Le, ’14 Civil Engineering. Since transferring from an East Bay community college, Le has completed two internships—with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and with The CORE Group construction company, where he served as lead estimator on a hospital project. This year, he was elected SJSU chapter president for the Associated General Contractors of California and he received the Alumni Association Dean’s Scholarship for the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering.

“At SJSU, there are lots of ups and downs,” says Le. “Receiving this scholarship gives me the motivation to keep going—academically and professionally. It gets hard.”

Le is quick to share the credit for his success. “A lot of people helped me out,” he says. Now, along with becoming “the best project manager out there,” Le hopes to mentor students who will impact their communities with innovative ideas for a sustainable future. Down the line, he dreams of endowing a scholarship in his name for other students like himself who, he says, “you’d never think could be engineers.”

“Success isn’t just about being successful yourself, but also helping others achieve success,” says Le. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for some mentors I’ve had. I’m thankful, and I want to give back.”

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The Power of Gratitude: Coming Home

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

Dylan Wondra,’13 Behavioral Science/Anthropology

“This scholarship does something extra to help soldiers coming home. It makes us feel appreciated.”

Two weeks after Sept. 11, 2001—on the day after his 17th birthday—Dylan Wondra, ’13 Behavioral Science/Anthropology, enlisted in the Navy. His heart filled with purpose and patriotic duty, he rose rapidly through the ranks as an airman, covering the globe by sea and land, and eventually, deciding to pursue a college education—something he never thought he’d do.

“To go from excelling at military life to being the lowest and the oldest student in remedial classes is incredibly difficult,” says Wondra. But a year into San Jose State, he was back at the top of his game. Newly married, he had just been recognized as a Dean’s Scholar in 2011 when he received word that he was to deploy—this time to Kuwait for 15 months. With his life “flipped upside down,” Wondra once again put his education on hold.

After returning to SJSU in spring 2013, Wondra received a veteran’s scholarship, funded by Cisco. “I believe that all student veterans deserve the scholarship money due to their unwavering dedication to the United States of America,” he says. With a pregnant wife at home, the scholarship was especially useful. “It’s so nice that there is a scholarship program just for veterans. Finding a job is the hardest part for vets,” says Wondra, who turned down a job in law enforcement to pursue new passions through education. “This scholarship does something extra to help soldiers coming home. It makes us feel appreciated.”

View The Power of Gratitude series.