SJSU Civic Action Fellowship Recognized By California’s Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday

California’s Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday

Photo: James Gensheimer

The fellowship serves as a model for Governor Newsom’s proposed new #CaliforniansForAll College Service Program.

Josh Fryday, chief service officer for the state of California and head of the California Volunteers program within the Office of the Governor, visited San José State on May 28 to meet with a small group of SJSU’s Civic Action Fellows. The student-fellows are part of the university’s inaugural cohort of the Civic Action Fellowship, a national service partnership between the California Volunteers, AmeriCorps and a coalition of public and private universities.

Last year, San José State’s Center for Community Learning and Leadership (CCLL) was awarded more than $500,000 in grant funding to launch and implement the inaugural program, which helps 44 students pay for college while providing local after-school programs with STEM education and computer programming for underserved third- and sixth-grade youth.

Unfortunately, university restrictions and school closings during the COVID-19 pandemic required program leadership to quickly pivot their programming completely from in-person to virtual.

“In response, current Civic Action Fellows created unplugged project kits that they used to teach core concepts related to computer science and programming,” said Andrea Tully, CCLL’s assistant director and program director and co-primary investigator of the Civic Action Fellowship.

The original, handmade kits contained everything the young students needed to complete the activities on their own and offline. Fellows supplemented their weekly lessons using digital platforms “to collaborate with the youth to create and debug games using the Scratch programming language,” Tully added.

Despite the odds of reimagining programming practically overnight, the outcomes of the first Civic Action Fellowship at San José State were remarkable, particularly in how effective the students were at engaging the youth with fun, educational activities — and much needed one-on-one connection.

Outside of their families, the fellows were often the only social interaction many of the children had with other adults during the pandemic.

“The fellows worked as a team to adapt to learning and serving while sheltering in place, fostering what will likely be lifelong friendships with their peers and a sense of pride being a member of the SJSU Civic Action Fellowship during unprecedented times,” said Tully.

Fryday’s visit was an immense honor for SJSU; he and other staff members at California Volunteers are thrilled with the results of the CCLL’s work with the C.A. Fellowship program, which has been awarded a second year of funding for 2021.

“Higher education and public service is a natural partnership, and the program at San José State University is a model program for the entire state. The Civic Action Fellowship supports commitment to public service, and addresses challenges all Californians face — particularly in historically underserved communities,” said Fryday.

“Calling on young people to serve their communities is an investment in the future of California. Helping those students pay for college and find meaningful employment upon graduation will ensure its continued success in bettering their lives, and the lives of those around them,” he continued.

San José State’s C.A. fellowship has a nearly 100 percent retention rate. As they recruit for the upcoming academic year, nearly half of the original fellows have already applied for the second cohort, which speaks volumes about the experience it offers both fellows and its young participants.

Four Civic Action Fellows speak with Josh Fryday

(L-R) Kelli Sexton, Chris Padua and Ian Chavez, Josh Fryday, and Cielo Pano Photo: James Gensheimer

Cielo Pano, ’24 Applied Nutrition and Sciences, said being a Civic Action Fellow helped her develop essential skills that benefit her as both a student and a mentor. “I’m now a more resilient and goal-oriented person with better time management skills”

“The opportunity to meet the current Chief Service Officer of California helped us appreciate the roots of our efforts and involvement in the fellowship — and why our time and service in the program is important,” she added.

“Being a fellow during the pandemic was quite intensive, but providing entertainment and information for youth during this once in a century epidemic was really impactful,” said Ian Chavez, ’23 Computer Science. “It helps you realize how much small actions can influence the world.”

Chavez also appreciated Fryday’s visit to SJSU. “Meeting Mr. Fryday meant a lot,” he said. “I always felt that my work in the fellowship was important, but having such a prominent figure sit down and talk with us about the program was a great experience.”

Christopher Padua,’23 Forensic Science, also greatly appreciated the opportunity to meet Fryday and share his thoughts on the experience. One of the things Padua told him was: “Without this program, these young kids with so much potential may not have otherwise been introduced to these computer skills or learn that they could even do coding at all.”

Setting an example for others to thrive

The Civic Action Fellowship pilot program set a concrete example for California Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed #CaliforniansForAll College Service Program, which, similar to the C.A. Fellowship, will help eliminate financial hardship of college for students in need.

The Governor’s May budget revision includes $285.2 million in one-time funds to establish the program in collaboration with the University of California, California State University, California Community Colleges, and private California university systems.

“The #CaliforniansForAll College Program is a historic proposed investment in service from Governor Gavin Newsom. It will create debt-free college pathways for low-income students, tackle our greatest challenges, inspire a new generation to serve, and unite our communities,” said Fryday.

According to the budget summary, the #CaliforniansForAll program creates 12,500 part-time service opportunities for college students interested in addressing urgent matters related to education, healthcare, and climate and disaster response, among others. It offers both a stipend and scholarship for eligible participants.

“This program will help California’s communities tackle critical issues focused on climate action, tutoring and mentoring, and other critical areas of COVID-19 recovery, like food insecurity,” Fryday added.

San José State’s Civic Action Fellows’ specific service efforts are developed collaboratively with partners, which include Title 1 after school programs within Campbell Union School District (CUSD) Expanded Learning Programs, Sunday Friends, and Third Street Community Center, and are responsive to community needs. Thus, the experience results in meaningful progress toward achieving shared goals within the community.

“The Civic Action Fellowship truly enacts SJSU’s commitment to integrating service to the community with academic learning experiences,” said Elena Klaw, psychology professor, CCLL director and primary investigator of the Civic Action Fellowship.

“We are proud of the service that Fellows have provided toward advancing equity in STEM, providing public health education, and learning and growing as students and emerging leaders.”

Mother-Daughter Duo Named to San José State Honor Roll

The college experience throughout 2020-21 was anything but typical, but what makes the past academic year that much more unique is Yaneth Gutierrez and her daughter Eunice Romero — who were both recently named Dean’s Scholars in recognition of their academic excellence during the year.

Yaneth Gutierrez and her daughter Eunice Romero.

(L-R) Mother and daughter duo: Yaneth Gutierrez and Eunice Romero.

“My mother played a huge role towards me becoming a Dean Scholar,” says Romero. “It was her constant motivation and determination that really inspired me to push through the semester with great accomplishments.”

“It is truly an honor to continue achieving our educational goals alongside one another,” she added. “I am extremely excited for what the future holds for the both of us.”

Twice a year, SJSU honors undergraduate students’ outstanding academic achievements by including them in the Semester Honor Roll. The Honor Roll includes two special designations, Dean’s Scholars and President’s Scholars, which are reflected on the student’s transcript in recognition of their accomplishment.

To become a Dean’s Scholar, students must earn an SJSU GPA of 3.65 or higher for the spring and/or fall semester. President’s Scholars must achieve a 4.0 GPA for the spring and/or fall semester.

It’s not every day that a mother-daughter duo has the opportunity to share this type of accomplishment, and it’s not the first time they’ve marked a milestone together in their education. In 2018, they shared a memorable moment when graduating together from De Anza College in Cupertino.

Yaneth Gutierrez credits her daughter as her source of inspiration, even more so during the COVID-era when she struggled to concentrate and keep up with her coursework.

“By giving up easily I would be sending a wrong message to my daughter,” said Gutierrez.

“I wanted her to see that even during difficult times, we can still succeed, but only if we believe in ourselves and the changes we can make amongst us and our communities.”

Eunice Romero and Yaneth Gutierrez

Eunice Romero and Yaneth Gutierrez in regalia at their 2018 graduation ceremony from De Anza College.

In addition to the transition to remote learning, the past year was full of chaotic events and stressful challenges for Gutierrez and Romero. Gutierrez praises her SJSU professors not only for helping make learning enjoyable during these hard times but also challenging her to think beyond the problems our society faces.

And when Gutierrez faced unforeseen personal tragedy during the pandemic, her professors provided an outpouring of support. “My father lost his battle to COVID-19 on February 3, and [SJSU faculty] supported me, checked on me and encouraged me to do my best.”

Gutierrez will graduate this spring with a BA in Political Science. Romero is currently working toward a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and helping her father expand his welding company — which she plans to one day take over.

“[At SJSU] I have discovered an interest in entrepreneurship, and I have plans to pursue other business opportunities because I now have the necessary building blocks to pursue my career goals,” expressed Romero.

After graduation, Gutierrez plans to pursue law school, so she can help those who can’t afford legal representation.

“To me, a degree has no worth if it is not used for the betterment of everyone,” said Gutierrez. “My mother taught me that it is important to care for all, not just for a few.”

Honoring academic success

This year, SJSU students proved not even a pandemic can dampen their dedication to their academic scholarship. More than 7,900 students earned Dean’s Scholars designations and over 2,700 were named President’s Scholars — the largest number for both groups in the university’s history.

On April 23, the university hosted its 59th Annual Honors Convocation ceremony to acknowledge those undergraduates who earned the distinction of President’s Scholars. The event was canceled in 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19 but resumed this year with a live-streamed virtual ceremony to commemorate these students’ achievements.

President Mary Papazian and Provost Vincent Del Casino served as hosts, with a keynote address by 2020-21 Outstanding Professor Lionel Cheruzel and congratulatory remarks from Associated Students’ Director of Sustainability Jocelyn Jones-Trammell, in addition to the Deans’ presentation of the honorees.

“Recognizing the academic success of San José State University’s top-performing students is always a delight,” said President Mary A. Papazian.

“The achievements of these scholars are an important indicator that they will make significant contributions to our society and serve as tomorrow’s civic, business and community leaders,” she added. “They are to be commended for their accomplishments and future promise.”

College of Social Sciences Establishes First Endowed Professorship With $1 Million Gift

New role will help grow the Advanced Certificate in Real Estate Development program

San José State University recently received a $1 million gift from Scott Lefaver, ’68 Social Science, ’72 MUP, to create the first-ever endowed professorship in the College of Social Sciences. The first to take on this new role will be Kelly Snider, urban planner and development consultant, who  has been named endowed professor of practice and director of the Advanced Certificate Program in Real Estate Development (CRED) in the Urban and Regional Planning department.

“Kelly has been teaching in our CRED program since it launched in 2014 and has helped establish the program as a well-respected and sought-after credential for professionals in the real estate industry,” said Department Chair Laxmi Ramasubramanian. 

“Increasing her influence and oversight to a year-round position means we can grow the number of graduate students in the CRED program and also reach more students from the community.”

Developing community, curriculum and CRED

Lefaver has championed the Urban and Regional Planning program for 50 years, ever since he graduated with the first cohort of master’s in urban planning students. Throughout his career, he has worked for both the public and private sectors, serving as the first city planner of Gilroy and the founder and former president of Community Housing Developers, Inc., a Santa Clara County-based nonprofit housing corporation.

Scott Lefaver

SJSU alumnus Scott Lefaver’s gift enables the CRED program to bring urban planner Kelly Snider on as endowed professor of practice and director of the CRED program.

Lefaver served on the Santa Clara County Planning Commission for 12 years and is currently serving on the board of directors for HomeFirst Services of Santa Clara County, the largest provider of shelter and services to the unhoused in the county. In 1997, Lefaver and business partner Stephen Mattoon established Cabouchon Properties, LLC, which specializes in purchasing, rehabilitating and managing affordable housing across the United States. 

An Urban and Regional Planning lecturer since 1974, Lefaver helped establish the CRED program in 2014 with Mark Lazzarini, ’84 MUP; Eli Reinhardt; and the late Charles Davidson, ’57 Engineering, ’14 Honorary Doctorate. Their goal? To provide practical and well-rounded approaches to planning, community development and real estate that can be applied in public agencies and government as well as private businesses.

“Development doesn’t take place on a piece of land—it takes place in a community,” said Lefaver. “Planners need to understand what development is about, and developers need to consider how communities are affected.”

The CRED program combines instruction in fundamentals of real estate development, such as project financing, legal challenges and land use entitlements. The program also addresses traditional development practices, including privately funded mixed-use and transit-oriented development, which use less energy and lower greenhouse gas emissions. 

It also explores new and emerging industries, like self-driving cars, data centers and long-term collaboration between private companies and public agencies.

“Endowed professorships generate funds that faculty can use for research, creative and scholarly activities, including employing student assistants,” said Walt Jacobs, dean of the College of Social Sciences. 

“We are so grateful for Scott’s commitment to the college. By endowing Kelly’s position, he is enabling us to make an even bigger impact not only on our students but the greater Silicon Valley community.”

“Scott’s gift beautifully represents his dedication to the university, as well as his commitment to his chosen field,” said Theresa Davis, vice president of University Advancement and CEO of the Tower Foundation. 

“San José State is fortunate to have philanthropic alumni such as Scott, who go above and beyond to support the next generation of Spartans.”

Building the future

Lefaver first met Snider in 2014, when Urban Planning Professor Emeritus Dayana Salazar and Urban Planning Professor Hilary Nixon recruited her to teach for the CRED program. 

Kelly Snider.

Urban planner Kelly Snider has been named the endowed professor of practice and director of SJSU’s CRED program.

Impressed by her track record in both the public and private spheres, Lefaver knew that the next logical step in building out the certificate program would be establishing an endowed professorship. As an expert in Silicon Valley land use, with experience as a public planner and as a private developer, Snider was the perfect fit.

“We’re trying to educate both the nonprofit, city or county government professionals and the for-profit developers, so there is a value add for everybody,” explained Snider. 

“We want to take advantage of the profitability of building and make sure that it has guardrails, so it builds inclusive, family-friendly, multicultural, healthy and safe communities. The CRED program provides the foundation that professionals need to do just that.”

Snider plans to develop mentoring and internship opportunities within the real estate development industry and expand the CRED program by partnering with regional leaders. She hopes to prepare graduates to create inclusive and sustainable projects in the communities where they work. 

This is especially important as Silicon Valley is currently experiencing one of the biggest development booms in the United States, according to Lefaver.

In its first five years, CRED alumni have landed positions in the highest levels of city administration and in prominent companies across the Bay Area. CRED alumni include senior executives at Colliers, HMH Consultants, Marcus & Millichap.

“The great thing about our environment and how people interact with it is that everyone has a story,” said Snider. “Everyone lives somewhere—we all have our environment in common. We’ve got to do a better and faster job of transforming the private, for-profit developments into places for everyone to thrive.”

For more information on the Certificate in Real Estate Development, visit SJSU’s Department of Urban & Regional Planning.

 

SJSU Hosts Global Virtual Event Examining Long-term Effects of Separating Families Due to Immigration

San José State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications tackled hard questions about the impact of immigration policies on families at Families Across Borders: A Live Connection, a  global virtual event, live-streamed from SJSU’s Hammer Theatre on March 23. U.S. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren kicked off the evening with introductory remarks about her commitment to immigration reform from her office in Washington D.C.

The event was emceed by SJSU Journalism and Mass Communication Professor Diane Guerrazzi and Joronica Vinluan, ’21 Journalism, onstage at the Hammer. Five alumnae reporters presented multimedia presentations on families from Mexico, Morocco and the Philippines about the social and psychological effects of family separation. 

Families Across Borders_2

U.S. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (center) spoke at the Families Across Borders event, streamed from the Hammer Theatre on March 23. Joronica Vinluan, ’21 Journalism (left), and SJSU Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications Diane Guerrazzi (right) anchored the evening. Photo by Bob Bain.

“The basic structure of immigration law has been unchanged, for the most part, since 1965,” said Lofgren, former immigration attorney and chair of Congress’ Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship

She recalled hosting her first hearing on immigration on Ellis Island in 2007, where she shared the story of her Swedish grandfather, then an unaccompanied minor, who had immigrated to the U.S. in search of a better life.

“I did that to remind all of us that immigration is really central to our core as Americans,” she said. “The optimism, the courage, the bravery, the value of family, the American dream that immigrants embody and their ancestors embodied is as true today for the immigrants coming to America as it was 100 or 200 years ago.”

As the co-author of the new Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which offers opportunities for farmworkers, their spouses and children to earn legal status through continued employment in agriculture, Lofgren remains hopeful that humane immigration reform is possible. She also mentioned that the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. 

The House of Representatives passed both bills last week.

Spartan journalists share stories of separation 

After Lofrgren’s remarks, Guerrazzi and Vinluan introduced alumnae reporters who shared stories live on Vimeo. 

Spartan journalist Elizabeth Rodriguez shared the story of David, whose mother returned to her native Mexico to see her dying father and whose father was deported. Left without his parents in northern California, David had to help raise his siblings.

While David reflected on the challenges of long-term family separation, Spartan reporter Guadalupe Emigdio, ’20 Communication Studies, shared the story of Hector, who fled violence while immigrating from Mexico. Emigdio translated his responses about the “ugly, sad feelings” that linger when thinks of the miles keeping him from his parents. 

Both David and Hector connected to the livestream to field questions from the reporters.

Kelsey Valle, ’20 Journalism, now an assignment editor at Telemundo 48 Bay Area, produced a story about Kelsea and Ismail, a married couple and parents to an almost 1-year-old daughter. Both Spartans, the couple met at SJSU’s International House and were married in Morocco, Ismail’s home country, in 2019. 

Despite this, immigration laws and COVID-19 restrictions have kept them in different countries, even through the birth of their daughter. Kelsea connected from Turlock and Ismail from Morocco to share how they long to be together as a family once more. 

Nicole Albillar, ’20 Global Studies, interviewed a same-sex couple whose civil union was not recognized by federal immigration laws for years before they were allowed to live permanently in the same country. While Judy and Karin are thrilled to finally make a home together in San José, the years of travel back and forth took a toll.

“It’s like a knife to the heart when you hear about families being separated, regardless of the reason,” said Judy live at the event. “But when it’s the government that’s making you not be able to be together, it’s more heartless.”

Humanizing immigrant narratives

The final piece was produced by Vinluan, the daughter of Filipino immigrants who have been separated from their family members for more than 15 years. Vinluan interviewed her mother Akilah, who lives in San José, and her aunt Maria Teresa, who lives in the Philippines, to answer questions about the impact of their separation.

“When people think of immigration, they tend to think in two ways: politics or family,” said Vinluan. “I want to emphasize the humanity of immigration. If you take the time to understand different cultures, there can be new connections, especially between generations.”

Families Across Borders event

Joronica Vinluan, ’21 Journalism, (left) and SJSU Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications Diane Guerrazzi (right) anchored Families Across Borders, a live event streamed from SJSU’s Hammer Theatre on March 23. The evening included a panel of experts: SJSU Psychology Lecturer Jill Citron (upper left), Human Rights Institute Director William Armaline (center) and associate clinical social worker Yovanna Moran. Photo by Bob Bain.

The event concluded with a panel discussion with William Armaline, director of SJSU’s Human Rights Program; Jill Citron, psychology lecturer; and Yovanna Moran, associate clinical social worker in Stanislaus County. Online viewers shared questions about the effects of family separation, which sometimes include post-traumatic stress disorder, attachment disorders and difficulty trusting others.

The Families Across Borders event was an extension of ongoing immigration reporting done by San José State’s Update News, the weekly student news broadcast, said Guerrazzi. In 2018 and 2019, she taught summer journalism courses in Italy and Greece, where SJSU students reported on the refugee crisis. 

The resulting award-winning special, Beyond Borders: Refugee Realities, covered stories from Italy, Greece, Mexico, Vietnam and the Philippines. A second Update News Refugee Realities special that examines efforts to house children and place families in American communities will air in May. A Families Across Borders podcast to highlight immigrant narratives is also in the works.

Elaine Roche Wins Family of the Year Award at the 2021 Parent and Family Weekend

When Elaine Roche tuned in to watch the closing ceremony of the San José State’s 2021 Parent and Family Weekend, she did so at the invitation of her friend Whitney Albright, ’21 Communication Studies. Little did Roche know, she was about to win the Family of the Year Award during the live virtual event, held March 7 in front of 60 other Spartan families. 

Elaine Roche.

Elaine Roche is the 2021 recipient of the Family of the Year Award. Photo courtesy of Whitney Albright.

“I’m overwhelmed and humbled that Whitney nominated our family for this award,” said Roche. “When I think about what she has been able to accomplish with her pure heart and determination, I am truly amazed. The road to success is often littered with obstacles; yet while many others would have given up and turned around, Whitney persevered and managed to turn her dreams into a reality.” 

The two women met through Roche’s son Kevin, who worked with Albright for the San José Giants before Albright moved to southern California. Roche describes Albright as positive, enthusiastic, hardworking and dedicated—a kindred spirit. 

Albright had struggled to support herself, and occasionally her mother, as a student at CSU Fullerton. Her living conditions worsened when the pandemic started in spring 2020—she often had to camp out at Starbucks to access online classes. 

Roche offered her the use of her late mother’s house rent-free, making it possible for Albright to transfer to San José State to safely complete her degree.

It is incredibly humbling to recognize family members like Elaine because they do not expect recognition for the support and love they give,” said Rigoberto Flores, ’14 BA, ’17 MA, Communication Studies, program director of SJSU’s New Student and Family Programs office. 

The Parent or Family of the Year Award was established in 2019 to offer a platform for students to recognize their family or community members who help them achieve their educational goals. 

“People like Elaine receive this recognition by seeing their student succeed and one day walking the stage on graduation day,” said Flores. “We feel incredibly fortunate to be in a position where we can let our Spartan families know that we see them and truly appreciate them for all that they do.” 

Whitney Albright

Whitney Albright, ’21 Communication Studies, nominated Elaine Roche for the Family of the Year Award. Photo courtesy of Whitney Albright.

“I knew that I could never give back what she’s given to me, so this award was a very special way to show her my appreciation for all that she’s done,” said Albright. “They started to read what I had written about her, and she just looked at me and started to cry.”

“Elaine was kind enough to take me in and provide me with everything I needed to be successful in school,” Albright wrote in her nomination, which she submitted to the Office of New Student and Family Programs in early March. 

“I seriously would not have been able to be as successful, or honestly be able to attend school, if it wasn’t for the kindness and generosity of Elaine Roche.” 

Roche’s kindness reinforced Albright’s motivation to study hard, complete her degree and pursue her aspirations to work in entertainment, either as a performer or as a communications professional for a streaming services company.

“Elaine has given me so much, and all that she asks in return is that I enjoy my college experience and earn my degree,” wrote Albright. 

“Elaine’s mother, Mary Lee, is an SJSU alumna, and I am currently living in her house. I want to make Mary Lee and Elaine proud. The least I can do for her is get the best grades I possibly can, take advantage of opportunities that come with attending San José State University, and graduate.”

SJSU Staff Awards Honor Exemplary Service, Contributions and Spartan Spirit

San José State’s second annual Staff Awards culminated the university’s Spartan Service Celebration—an annual tradition of more than 50 years—which honored nearly 300 staff members in 2021 for their milestone years of service.

SJSU’s Staff Awards, sponsored by the SJSU Staff Council and the Office of the President, were hosted on March 4 and honored outstanding staff members in three categories: Spartan Spirit, Distinguished Service and Staff of the Year.

This year’s celebration is even more important, as SJSU staff in every area of the university have worked remotely and tirelessly through a global pandemic to keep operations moving forward, rising to every challenge along the way.

In particular, the Facilities Development and Operations team ensured the campus was safe and prepared for students, faculty and staff to learn and work on campus, and the Student Health Center staff continuously provided medical services, including virtual services, and lead our contact tracing efforts.

“Staff members are the driving force behind the university, connected in some way, shape, or form to all that we do,” said President Mary Papazian.

“To this year’s honorees: Thank you. You are devoted Spartans who have committed all or much of your careers to serving our students, supporting faculty and staff and being an integral member of the San José State University community.”

2020-2021 Staff Award honorees:

Each award has one winner and two honorable mentions. The winners receive a plaque and a $1,000 cash award; each honorable mention receives a certificate and a $250 cash award. This year, the Staff Council received more than 50 nominations for the three awards.

Spartan Spirit Award Winner: Erlinda Yañez, Chicana and Chicano Studies

Honorable Mentions: Cindy Aubrey, Communicative Disorders and Sciences and Tamela Sullivan, University Personnel

Distinguished Service Winner: Kim Huynh, Undergraduate Education

Honorable Mentions: Jocelyn Douglas, Moss Landing Marine Labs and Maria (Elma) Arredondo, Student Affairs Systems

Staff of the Year Winner: Rhett Frantz, Moss Landing Marine Labs

Honorable Mentions: Joshua Kas-Osoka, Peer Connections and Nha-Nghi Nguyen, Psychology

Read more about the awards and winners below.

How the awards started

When the SJSU Staff Council was formally established in October 2019, the members quickly formed a Staff Recognition Committee. The council understood the importance of recognizing their colleagues—many of whom have dedicated most of their entire careers to SJSU with dedication, perseverance and exceptional abilities.

The committee defined the award categories, developed the nomination questions and criteria, and then gained the support of President Papazian and her cabinet, who agreed to provide funding for the awards.

“It has been such a pleasure to recognize colleagues who give so much time and energy to the university,” said Janet Sundrud, finance systems and operations senior analyst and chair of Staff Council.

“We already knew we were working with exceptional people and now we get to honor some of them for their efforts. We hope that the Staff Council can continue to be involved in staff recognition efforts on campus.”

The Staff Council welcomes all interested staff to join and contribute to their monthly meetings and future events like this.

Joanne Wright and Erlinda Yañez

(L-R) Joanne Wright presents Erlinda Yañez with the Spartan Spirit award.

Erlinda Yañez, Chicana and Chicano Studies

Spartan Spirit Award Winner

The Spartan Spirit Award honors a San José State staff member, manager or auxiliary employee who displays exceptional Spartan spirit, passion and pride in their work at SJSU. They embody SJSU campus values such as social justice, diversity, helping and caring, and innovation, among others and demonstrate a commitment to campus and community service.

Nominees describe Erlinda’s contributions to the campus community that go well beyond the scope of her job description. Her passion and pride about being a Spartan is unmatched, and she never intentionally seeks the spotlight or recognition for her numerous activities, programming and guidance she offers to students.

Ravisha Mathur and Kim Huynh

(L-R) Ravisha Mathur presents Kim Huynh with the Distinguished Service award.

Kim Huynh, Undergraduate Education

Distinguished Service Winner

The Distinguished Service Award honors an SJSU staff member or an auxiliary staff member who has worked for the university for more than 10 years and has displayed a commitment to excellent service to the campus community with the utmost professionalism and helpful attitude.

Nominators spoke of Huynh’s unwavering dedication to our students, staff and faculty and her ability to anticipate problems and streamline processes and systems. She does it all with a can-do attitude, which has led her to be known as the “glue” of her department, attuned to others’ needs—even before they know them.

Huynh was genuinely surprised and humble about the recognition, crediting her teammates for their hard work and inspiration. “I never ever thought that I would ever be nominated for a prestigious award,” said Huynh.

“I was once a struggling student at SJSU and have seen what it takes to be successful in college. To be able to be on the other side of the desk, helping students find success in their studies, graduate and land incredible career opportunities is the best part of my job, and I love it.”

President Mary Papazian and Rhett Frantz

(L-R) President Mary Papazian presents Rhett Frantz with the Staff of the Year award.

Rhett Frantz, Moss Landing Marine Labs

Staff of the Year Winner

The Staff of the Year Award recognizes an exemplary SJSU staff member or auxiliary staff member who has made a valuable contribution to the campus in the past three years by improving the campus community and/or the California State University system through their work.

Nominators decidedly affirm Rhett’s unwavering commitment, dedication and passion for SJSU’s Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and his immeasurable impact on the graduate student experience, faculty, researchers and staff.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, he worked non-stop, 24/7 to maintain MLML’s IT services, support the transition to online learning, and ensure all complex marine research applications and data systems remained functioning when no one was allowed onsite.


The SJSU staff’s efforts are a testament of their resiliency, commitment and dedication—truly embodying what it means to be a Spartan.

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SJSU Honors Fall 2020 Graduates

Photo credit: David Schmitz

San José State University is proud to honor and celebrate Fall 2020 graduates as they complete their studies and earn their degrees. On December 18, SJSU will launch the Fall Class of 2020 graduate recognition websites. Eight of the university’s colleges will have their own recognition website, which includes slides of each graduate, congratulatory videos and other memorable content. Graduates will also receive a cap and tassel, diploma, diploma cover, and commencement book in the mail prior to the launch of the websites.

The Fall Class of 2020 graduate recognition websites are not a virtual commencement ceremony and do not replace a live commencement ceremony experience. SJSU invites all graduates from Spring and Fall 2020 who could not participate in a live ceremony due to COVID-19 restrictions, to return to campus and walk across the stage in-person at a future commencement ceremony.

“When the history books are written, and the current pandemic is a distant memory, this year’s graduating class will be remembered as a class with everlasting grit and determination,” said SJSU President Mary A. Papazian. “The Class of 2020 will be remembered for staring down the innumerable challenges they faced and for completing their long journey amid extraordinarily difficult circumstances.”

The Fall Class of 2020 graduate recognition websites will showcase the accomplishments of SJSU’s nearly 4,000 fall graduates. Each college’s site will include personalized slides that “speak” the graduates’ name, degree, and applicable Latin honors for all Spartans completing undergraduate and graduate degrees and those earning credentials from the Connie L. Lurie College of Education. The sites will also feature congratulatory messages from President Papazian, Provost Vincent J. Del Casino Jr., deans of eight colleges and community members.

Graduates can view their slides as well as their fellow graduates, download and save them to their electronic devices, and share them on their social media accounts and with friends and family throughout the world.

“The class of 2020 won’t simply be remembered as a generation in a global pandemic, but how this generation initiated change; the sacrifices made along the way, and the tremendous resilience of many communities,” said Associated Students President Zoebeida Delgadillo. “Congratulations to the Fall 2020 class. Thank you for continuing to pave the way for future generations to succeed and excel amongst it all. The future will be owned by those who overcome adversity and seek to empower a brighter and safer future.”

The Fall Class of 2020 graduate recognition websites will be on the SJSU homepage from December 18 through mid-January and will remain on the commencement website for one year.

Alumna Olive Burata Coauthors Scientific Article on Multidrug-Resistance Transporters

Olive Burata.

Olive Burata.

On November 27, Nature Communications published a scientific article coauthored by Olive Burata, ’14 BS, ’18 MS, Biochemistry. The article, entitled “The structural basis of promiscuity in small multidrug resistance transporters,” studies the small drug resistance (SMR) family, which contain protein drug exporters that help bacteria become resistant to toxic chemicals. Burata, a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan, said the publication demonstrates how scientists can unlock how SMR proteins work to help bacteria survive in the presence of antibiotics, antiseptics or disinfectant. The study provided the first high-resolution image of one of the protein members of this family that will allow scientists to study the protein in very close detail.

High-resolution structure of Gdx-Clo, a protein member of the small multidrug resistance family that has given bacteria resistance against antibiotics, antiseptics, and disinfectants. Image courtesy of Olive Burata.

“This publication really brought together all the multidisciplinary scientific training I have obtained from my two mentors: Dr. Alberto Rascón from SJSU and Dr. Randy Stockbridge from the University of Michigan,” said Burata. “Both skills and techniques that I have learned from each of their labs have significantly contributed to my rapid understanding of this work. Although early in my career, this work alone has already encompassed skills I have learned as a biochemist, biophysicist, structural biologist, microbiologist and organic chemist.”

Burata said the multidrug-resistance bacteria research could have a big impact on one of the biggest side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic—that is, the increasing amounts of resistance bacteria being produced. As people increasingly rely on disinfectants and antiseptic products like hand sanitizers, 70 percent alcohol and Lysol and bleach products, they are not only killing any COVID-19 viral particles but also exposing the bacteria to the products, “giving them ample opportunities to become resistant to them—a double-edged sword.” As a member of Rascón’s lab at San José State, she studied enzymes called proteases that are similar to the ones associated with causing viral pneumonia as a result of COVID-19 infection.

“There are a lot of labs right now trying to find ways to make these enzymes force the virus to be less deadly,” she said, adding that her experience in Rascón’s lab introduced her to enzymology and ignited a passion for learning. “Six years ago, Dr. Rascón first introduced his research work on mosquito protease enzymology during the first day of class in my last semester of undergrad. I fell in love with how amazing enzymology was and its simple application in helping human lives. I had no research experience, my grades were mediocre, nor did I have any plans after graduating, but I immediately reached out to Dr. Rascón on that same day to ask if I could join his lab. I became a different person that day with a strong sense of determination. My pre-undergrad self would have never imagined coming this far (2,000 miles from California) in pursuing my passion and having constant support from my mentors, family and friends.”

SJSU Admitted Spartan Days Go Online Nov. 16 – 20

Sammy

Admitted SJSU students can log online to experience Admitted Spartan Days from November 16 – 20, 2020. Newly-admitted Spartans are invited to participate in virtual Admitted Spartan Days Nov. 16 – 20.

Approximately 1,800 newly-admitted San José State students are invited to participate in online Admitted Spartan Days November 16 – 20 to learn about pursuing an education at SJSU. Students and parents can attend virtual presentations and workshops on Zoom and get the information they need to enroll in the spring 2021 semester. While Admitted Spartan Day has historically been an in-person event on campus, this fall SJSU is hosting all informational events online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the second time that SJSU has had to offer Admitted Spartan Days activities online and the first time offering them in the fall, said Deanna Gonzalez, director of admissions and student outreach. In spring 2020, roughly 25,000 prospective Spartans were invited to participate in Zoom workshops, virtual tours and webinars to orient them to SJSU. By making the resources available online in real time and as recorded videos, Gonzalez said, the university is making it easier for future Spartans to find the information they need to enroll.

Kristell Nunez, ’22 Business Administration, attended the spring 2020 virtual Admitted Spartan Days as a transfer student.

“I can’t express how amazing the College of Business was! They were professional, helpful, and went above and beyond in their panels,” she said. “I was amazed that they did a FAQ Google Spreadsheet with every question answered, even if many were similar. They stayed afterward to help answer more questions which was extremely appreciated. I was very happy with their panels. The panels sealed the deal for me to choose SJSU.”

Nunez is loving her first semester at SJSU. She recommends that new students get involved in clubs.

“I’m involved in the Marketing Association doing consulting for a local company,” she said. “It feels great to apply what you learn in the classroom. I encourage students to step out of your comfort zone and explore; it does wonders.”

This semester’s virtual events will kick off on Monday, November 16, with welcome messages from college deans and videos that introduce students to college life at SJSU. Admitted students can watch content live or view the recorded webinars later at a time that works for their schedule. The week will continue with virtual tours, Zoom workshops and presentations:

Monday, Nov. 16: Academic and Campus Life Kickoff

This includes welcomes from the deans and webinars with colleges. SJSU Vice President for Student Affairs Patrick Day will provide introductory remarks at 1 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 17: Supporting Spartan Success: Campus Resources

Webinars cover key services including career planning, financial aid and scholarship information, writing center services, winter session information, veteran services, international student services and more.

Wednesday, Nov. 18: Discover Spartan Life

Prospective students can learn about on-campus housing options and hear from New Student and Family Programs, Student Involvement and Associated Students, who will highlight student life activities and leadership opportunities at SJSU. Students can also watch a video guide to Spartan life, living on campus and studying abroad, as well as video tours of campus, the International House, the Hammer Theatre, the Student Union.

Thursday, Nov. 19: Supporting Spartan Success: Advising at SJSU

Students can learn about advising resources on campus and how college student success centers and the Academic Advising and Retention Services office can assist them throughout their education. Live webinars will cover the Veteran’s Resource Center, the Academic Counseling Center for Excellence in the Social Sciences (ACCESS), the Engineering Student Success Center, the College of Health and Human Sciences Student Success Center, the Accessible Education Center, the Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center and the Lucas College of Business for transfer students.

Friday, Nov. 20: Next Steps in the Admissions Process

SJSU admission recruiters will be available to answer questions from incoming freshmen and transfer students about their admission and the intent to enroll process. Additional information can be found at sjsu.edu/admissions or admittedspartan@sjsu.edu.

SJSU Alumnus and Artist Titus Kaphar’s Work Featured on Time Magazine Cover

A Black mother with her eyes closed and eyebrows furrowed, holds a white cut out of her baby. Her hand below the baby is blue.

Cover of June 15, 2020, issue of Time, featuring Analogous Colors (2020) by Titus Kaphar. Artwork © Titus Kaphar.

For its June 15, 2020, cover on the protests surrounding the death of George Floyd, Time turned to Titus Kaphar, ’01 BFA Art/Pictorial Arts. The cover features Analogous Colors (2020).

To accompany the cover, Kaphar wrote “I Cannot Sell You This Painting,” which also appeared in Time.

A 2018 MacArthur Fellow, Kaphar says art can be used to shift perspectives and sees painting as a language that offers diverse perspectives on history, justice and change.

Read a Spring/Summer 2019 Washington Square alumni profile on Kaphar.

 

SJSU’s Lisa Millora and Marie Tuite Named 2020 “Women of Influence” by Silicon Valley Business Journal

San Jose State University’s Lisa Millora and Marie Tuite have been named to the 2020 list of 100 “Women of Influence” by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Millora serves as chief of staff in SJSU’s Office of the President and acting vice president of university advancement, while Tuite is the university’s director of intercollegiate athletics.

“Lisa and Marie are extraordinary women and leaders,” said SJSU President Mary A. Papazian, herself a SVBJ “Woman of Influence” in 2019. “San Jose State is a better institution because of them, and I am grateful they are part of our leadership team.”

Each year, the SVBJ honors and celebrates the 100 most influential women in Silicon Valley. Honorees have been selected from the private, public and nonprofit sectors and include leaders in corporations, startups, small businesses, nonprofits, healthcare, education and community services. The SVBJ will honor its 2020 Women of Influence award-winners at an October 15 dinner event.

Lisa Millora, SJSU chief of staff

Lisa Millora, SJSU’s Chief of Staff, Office of the President.

“While I’m honored to be recognized in this fashion, the real ‘influencers’ at San Jose State are the faculty and staff who work each day—often unnoticed—to provide our students with the best education imaginable while helping them to become educated citizens and the next generation of leaders,” said Millora. “They, along with our students, are the true inspiration.”

As chief of staff, Millora works with the president’s cabinet to oversee the day-to-day operations of the university and its 40,000 students, faculty and staff. She drives progress on strategic priorities and promotes operational effectiveness across the top levels of leadership, through oversight of the Office of the President, Strategic Communications and Marketing, Community and Government Relations, University Personnel and, for a period of time, the Division of University Advancement. The values she learned during her days at an all-girls Catholic school, said Millora, led to a career path that would let her work toward social justice outcomes.

“Through Catholic social teaching, I learned that justice meant caring for the most marginalized in society,” she said. Working for a university early in her career, Millora said, helped her discover “the connection between the values I embraced as a child and the path I wanted to pursue professionally.”

Marie Tuite, SJSU athletics director

Marie Tuite, SJSU’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. Photo by: Thomas Sanders/San Jose State University.

Tuite, a two-sport student-athlete and Athletics Hall of Fame inductee at Central Michigan University, leads and manages a college athletics program with a $34 million budget that supports 22 sports programs, 490 student-athletes and more than 150 coaches and staff members. She is one of only 11 women nationally with the responsibilities of athletics director at a NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) institution, that organization’s highest level of college athletics competition among 130 colleges and universities nationwide. In addition, she is the only woman with the athletics director leadership position among the seven NCAA Division I FBS schools in California.

“When I read the names of the other honorees and noticed the footprint of their professional work, I was so honored to be included with these extraordinary and influential women,” said Tuite, who leads a program that has earned 10 NCAA team championships and 52 NCAA individual titles over the years. Tuite oversees a population of student-athletes, coaches and staff members who collectively participate in more than 10,000 hours of community service and campus engagement activities annually.

“I imagine the professional journey for many of them may not always be an easy path to navigate,” said Tuite. “So this wonderful acknowledgement serves as a positive beacon for all women—from every imaginable background—and a reminder to believe in and listen to our inner spirit that speaks to us every day. It’s a privilege to stand with and be included among these women of Silicon Valley.”

In addition to Papazian, Millora and Tuite join Karen Philbrick, executive director of SJSU’s Mineta Transportation Institute, and Stacy Gleixner, former associate vice president for student and faculty success, as past SVBJ Women of Influence award winners from San Jose State.

2020 Graduates Reflect on their Time at SJSU

As the unique and challenging spring 2020 semester comes to a close, some of the resilient members of SJSU’s graduating class reflect on their time at SJSU, achievements and plans for the future.

Tram Phan, ’20 Chemical Engineering

Tram PhanTram Phan’s family in Vietnam was about to fly to a different city to get visas sponsored when they learned the SJSU spring commencement ceremony is postponed for the graduating class of 2020. The news broke their hearts, as well as Phan’s.

“I know a lot of people get a degree in the U.S., but for international students, it’s a big event, much bigger,” Phan said.

During four years away from home, Phan has grown out of her shyness. She credits the San Jose State’s diverse community for helping her open up to the unknown. Today, she has more friends than she could imagine, but regrets not being able to share the culminating moments of the journey together in person.

“They are all nerdy and funny, and I like that about them. I feel like I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to my friends; I didn’t realize I’d miss them that much,” Phan said, her eyes gleaming through the computer screen.

But Phan has been quick to measure the positive side of the picture. She appreciates the university offering graduates a choice to be a part of a future live commencement ceremony. The COVID-19-dominated spring semester has been an eye opener for her in terms of adapting to new skills and challenging environments. The transition from in-person classes to online instruction proved to be a harmonious experience for her.

“The online settings encouraged people to talk more freely in class. Even folks who were inherently shy shed their inhibitions and became more approachable,” Phan said.

The resilience Phan demonstrated during the global pandemic paid off for her. She received an unexpected job offer that has made her optimistic about the future.

“I wouldn’t have gotten to this point unless I believed in myself,” she said. “SJSU made me believe everything is possible.”

Eric Ortiz, ’20 MA History

Eric OrtizEric Ortiz went to school sporadically following his 1985 high school graduation. Three decades later, the war veteran has earned a master’s degree.

“In the military, if you quit, you die,” said Ortiz. “Even though it’s been difficult for me to go back to school at my age, I never gave up.”

Since Ortiz found it difficult to relate to students half his age, he viewed school as a place to attain a goal. But the department professors, he said, made his journey worthwhile. “I learned so much from all of them. I had the opportunity to study subjects like the French revolution, ancient Greek society in depth,” said Ortiz. “Professors Pickering, Roth and Hilde, and others brought them to life.”

Ortiz served the nation on three battlefields, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. While he’s reticent about broadcasting his Army experiences, Ortiz attributes his ability to cope with the ongoing stress of the global health pandemic to his military background.

“I found it easier to deal with the isolation surrounding COVID-19 than many of my fellow Spartans,” he said. The school’s move to online teaching didn’t bother Ortiz either. “It’s nothing new to me, having to do everything from a distance,” he said. “It didn’t bother me one bit.”

Channeling the Army principle of “hurry up and wait,” Ortiz focused his energy on research, developing arguments and preparing papers as the final semester drew to a close. Passionate about learning, Ortiz hopes his degree will open opportunities to teach history someday. His resilience shines through: “Yesterday is gone. We should work toward the future.”

Rachel Lee, ’20 BFA Graphic Design

Rachel LeeRachel Lee doesn’t dwell on the strangeness of her final SJSU semester. As online classes began to set in, seeing everyone on the screen became a routine she looked forward to. Looking back at her time at SJSU, Lee said there are two high points: a summer 2019 trip to Europe and her first design job.

During a three-week trip with her graphic design class, Lee traveled to eight countries including the UK, France, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands. “We explored many cultures, visited art museums and historic landmarks, and we participated in workshops where we exhibited our work in Katowice and Warsaw, Poland,” said Lee.

The first design job in the College of Humanities and the Arts also remains her most cherished memory from her four years at SJSU. Lee’s work was featured in The Metro, on SJSU’s North Garage, and distributed across San Jose.

“I had the pleasure of working for H&A Marketing as a graphic designer,” said Lee. “It was a great experience working with other students, faculty and staff at Hammer Theatre.”

Originally from Vancouver, Washington, Lee was glad to hear the news about SJSU’s graduate recognition websites. She was also excited about her virtual, live senior exhibition show. Along with her friends, her family virtually took part in the celebrations.

Lee wants to touch people’s lives through her design. “I’ll try to incorporate social messaging into the work I do.” Spreading positivity, helping people, volunteering for a cause is what keeps this Spartan powered up.

Ezequiel Ramirez, ’20 Justice Studies

Ezequiel RamirezHaving lived his entire life in San Jose, Ezequiel Ramirez thought he knew all about his city until he joined San Jose State. The cultural perspectives of the people he met and interacted with at school were an awakening experience for him.

“I enjoyed meeting and interacting with people from different nationalities and also people who came from different walks of life,” said Ramirez. “The school brought in everything for me. Vocabulary, education, people, habits. I love it. I love the experience right now.”

Having worked in a nonprofit as part of an internship program helping at-risk youths, Ramirez now wants to continue working with community-based organizations and to use his degree for social change.

“I’m a first-generation graduate student, and I understand the struggle of people starting from the bottom and reaching to the top,” he said. “I worked countless hours without sleep on a lot of occasions, slept in my car from long days of work and school, also was homeless at a time, but made it, and I’m still making it. I’m about to graduate.”

Not only is Ramirez the first in his family to graduate from college, he’s also the first in his family to graduate from high school on time. Having lost his father at age 11, Ramirez’s determination and strength came from watching his mother raise three kids, his fraternal twin brother and an older sister.

“My mom has always put her ambitions on the back burner while putting us first,” he said. “With me graduating college this week, I want her to know all of her sacrifices and hard work have not been in vain.”

Ramirez had dreams of decorating his graduation cap as an honor to his mom, grandmother and the rest of his family—the Ramirez, Rodriguez and Garcia households. He calms himself with his take on the COVID-19 situation: “From pressure, diamonds are made.”

Saadatou Ahmad, ’20 Accounting and Information Systems

Saadatou AhmadIn Saadatou Ahmad’s home country of Cameroon, West Africa, education is a luxury. When she came to the United States with her husband 12 years ago, she set out to chart a new course.

“Back home education is not for the poor, but here it is so encouraging,” said Ahmad. “Here, I have the support system to be a first-generation student. ”

After a stint at a beauty school and working in a salon for four years, Ahmad transferred from a community college to San Jose State as she dreamed about the future for herself and her family. Wanting to set an example for her three children–between the ages five and ten–Ahmad brought her kids to school so often “they are now used to the school environment.”

Even when she was pregnant with her third child, Ahmad continued to make it to all classes, she said, because “I always feel if I miss a lecture, I will fall behind.”

The online spring semester at SJSU was troubling for Ahmad, who loves in-person classes. While she missed seeing and talking to her classmates and professors in person, Ahmad is not someone who gives up easily. She channeled all of her time and effort to carve out a better life for her family. She recently received a full-time job offer, but she also wants to pursue more education, possibly an MBA. Right now, Ahmad is overjoyed. Her bachelor’s degree has been a long time coming. And, she said, her daughter wants to go to San Jose State when she grows up.

SJSU’s Top Academic Achievers Recognized

Students jumping up in the air and cheering with pom poms.

Photo by David Schmitz.

San Jose State University’s top academic achievers—including 1,582 President’s Scholars who obtained a 4.0 grade point average in spring or fall 2019—are being honored and celebrated this month for the hard work, determination and dedication that earned them a place at the top of their class.

“It is always a pleasure to recognize and celebrate the academic excellence of our students,” said SJSU President Mary Papazian. “They’ve spent hours on end in the library. They’ve asked penetrating questions in the classroom. They’ve been industrious and unflagging in pursuit of knowledge. In short, they represent the best of our Spartan student community, and we are very proud of them.”

Ranked against an average undergraduate enrollment of 26,518 during spring and fall 2019, President’s Scholars rank in the top six percent of the undergraduate population.

In addition to the President’s Scholars, 5,783 students made the Dean’s Scholars list for achieving a 3.65 GPA in spring or fall 2019. All Dean’s Scholars will be recognized with certificates from their college deans.

“These students clearly have a limitless future in front of them,” said Provost Vincent Del Casino. “They are tomorrow’s leaders of Silicon Valley, the State of California and beyond. On behalf of our faculty and staff, I congratulate each of them.”

“The student scholars we recognize this spring have reached this level of excellence through their own individual sacrifice and through the support of their families, friends and our faculty and staff,” said Papazian. “Their grades are more than letters; they represent an unwavering commitment to academic excellence that have earned them our admiration and respect.”

The academic success and scholastic performance of San Jose State’s top students, said Del Casino, is demonstrable proof that they have high standards of achievement and are capable of attaining lofty goals.

“I truly commend each of these students for their accomplishments and their future promise,” he said. “Their academic success is just a prelude to the significant contributions to society they will make after they graduate.”

Papazian said it was also important to acknowledge the people behind the scenes who work hard to guide and support students.

“Parents, spouses, significant others, children, relatives and friends make crucial contributions that help to support these scholars on their educational journey,” she said. “They couldn’t do it without those important people in their lives.”

Papazian also notes that with recognition comes responsibility.

“We expect much from these gifted and hard-working students,” she said. “I am confident that their academic success will translate into meaningful civic engagement, career success and other positive outcomes that will make our world a better place.”

Spartan Judo Legend Turns 100

On April 1, 1920, a pioneering judoka, coach, educator and leader was born to Japanese immigrants who worked in California’s Imperial Valley. Yoshihiro Uchida, ’47 Biological Sciences, ’04 Honorary Doctorate, started competing in the sport as a 10-year-old in Garden Grove, Calif., and years later brought judo to San Jose State as an engineering student, where he coached police students on the martial art. His education was interrupted by the U.S. Executive Order 90266, which forced thousands of Japanese Americans to live in internment and incarceration camps around the nation.

The former men’s gymnasium in the then-Spartan Complex West building was used as a registration center for Santa Clara County Japanese Americans before they were sent to internment camps during World War II. Uchida served in World War II while his family was interned in Poston and Tule Lake and returned to San Jose State in 1946 to complete his studies and resume coaching. He persuaded the Amateur Athletic Union to sanction judo in 1953, and San Jose State went on to win 51 out of 56 national championships under his leadership.

Uchida is credited with establishing a judo weight system to keep the sport safe and fair. He helped establish the Palo Alto and San Jose Buddhist Judo clubs. In 1997, the Spartan Complex West building was renamed Yoshihiro Uchida Hall in his honor and rededicated in 2014 following a renovation. A plaque was placed outside the gymnasium to denote its historic significance. In 2018, he was recognized for 70 years of service at San Jose State. Uchida has been awarded SJSU’s Tower Award and was inducted into the SJSU Legacy Hall of Fame and the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame, as well as the Order of the Sacred Treasure from the emperor of Japan.

Due in part to his advocacy, judo was introduced at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, where Uchida coached the first U.S. Olympic team. His proteges have gone on to claim world titles and Olympic medals. There have been 20 Olympians and four Olympic medals: 1984 silver medalist Bobby Berland, ’84 Marketing; 1988 silver medalist Kevin Asano, ’89 Accounting; 1988 bronze medalist Mike Swain, ’85 Marketing, and 2012 bronze medalist Marti Malloy, ’10 BS, ’15 MS, Mass Communications.

“Yosh Uchida is a legendary figure and an inspiration in so many ways,” said SJSU President Mary Papazian. “His commitment to excellence over the years is matched only by the commitment he has demonstrated to generations of students. He brought San Jose State to prominence when he brought judo to the Olympics in 1964, and he continues to this day to bring honor to our university.”

This April 1, San Jose State wishes a very happy centennial to Uchida, who is still coaching and educating into his second century. While in-person birthday festivities were originally planned in spring 2020, unfortunately they have been postponed due to COVID-19 health concerns. San Jose State encourages alumni, friends and fans of Uchida to share their favorite stories, anecdotes and memories of Uchida using the hashtag #SJSUYosh100.


 

Instructions to download:

For Windows:

  1. Click the image thumbnail and the picture will open in a new window.
  2. Right-click the picture.
  3. Click “Save Picture As.”
  4. In the “Save Picture” dialog box, select the folder where you want to save the file and then click “Save.”

Learn more on how to save a picture from a web page for Windows.

For Mac OS:

  1. Click the image thumbnail and the picture will open in a new window.
  2. Do one of the following:
    1. Right-click the picture. Click “Save Image As.” In the “Save Image” dialog box, select the folder where you want to save the file and then click “Save.”
    2. Drag the image to your desktop or control-click the image and choose “Save Image to Downloads” or “Save Image As.”

 

President Mary A. Papazian Joins Council of Graduate Schools’ Humanities Coalition Advisory Committee

SJSU President Mary A. Papazian.

SJSU President Mary A. Papazian speaks at a 2018 Frankenstein Bicentennial event at San Jose’s Hammer Theatre. The event was one of several that SJSU’s College of Humanities and the Arts sponsored that year to explore the ethical, artistic and imaginative impacts of Mary Shelley’s literary masterpiece. Photo: David Schmitz.

San Jose State University President Mary A. Papazian has agreed to serve on the Council of Graduate Schools‘ (CGS) Humanities Advisory Committee for The Humanities Coalition, a new effort that will expand CGS’s work to understand and support the careers of PhDs.

The endeavor seeks to further enhance CGS’s understanding of humanities PhDs and their careers, and to refine humanities-specific strategies for curricular change and program improvement. One component of the new initiative is additional research to better understand the nature of early career transitions for humanists.

A scholar of the 17th century metaphysical poets and English Renaissance era, Papazian has long been a staunch advocate of the arts, humanities and creative disciplines in higher education.

In an op-ed published in the October 29 edition of the Sacramento Bee, she asserted that “the liberal arts must remain a vital part of higher education for the sake of the future of our students, our economy and our society.” The partnering of STEM disciplines with the liberal arts, she writes, can lead to true academic impact at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Last summer, Papazian delivered a well-received speech at the CGS Summer Workshop titled “Humanities for the 21st Century: Innovation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” There, she pointed out that “the hard skills learned from STEM programs are essential, but employers actually are desperate for candidates who have balanced their personal portfolios with both digital capabilities and human understanding.”

In a CGS press release announcing grant funding for The Humanities Coalition, CGS President Suzanne Ortega said, “We hope to learn more about the kinds of transitions humanities PhDs face as they move from graduate school to career. Humanities PhDs have a wide variety of career pathways in front of them. We need to make sure they know what they are and how to access them.”

Over the course of the five-year project, the advisory committee is expected to guide CGS’s efforts to increase the impact and reach of The Humanities Coalition and provide insights for addressing challenges and opportunities specific to various humanities disciplines.

CGS will issue a Request-For-Proposals (RFP) to CGS member institutions to participate in the project as funded partners and will continue to work with its current partners to collect data in both STEM and humanities fields.

Joining Papazian as Advisory Committee members are a distinguished group of educators and academics, including Carlos Alonso, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University; Susan Carvalho, associate provost and dean of the Graduate School at the University of Alabama; and Patricia Easton, executive vice president and provost at The Claremont Graduate University.

Commencement 2019 Highlights

Media contact: Robin McElhatton, 408-924-1749, robin.mcelhatton@sjsu.edu

SAN JOSE, CA – San Jose State University honored more than 6,800 graduates during spring 2019 commencement with seven ceremonies held on May 22-24. All ceremonies were streamed live on the SJSU website.

Spartan Superheroes

Graduating Spartan superheroes celebrate the power of an education.


Among the class of 2019 were outstanding students Hyung Ik “David” Han, ’19 Psychology, and Qurat Syeda, ’19 Accounting, and former firefighter and SJSU’s Fire Weather Research Lab graduate Carrie Bowers, ‘18 MS Meteorology and Climate Science, who received the 2018 Outstanding Thesis Award. Graduating students such as Devdutt Srivastava, ’19 MA Education, Teaching Credential, overcame significant obstacles while pursuing their education. Marie Bello, ’19 Chemistry, arrived at SJSU’s Event Center with her extended family in tow. Bello will be attending the University of the Pacific Stockton to pursue a Doctor of Pharmacy. The act of accepting a college diploma was very important to Alice Perez, ’76 Graphic Design, who flew from Glendale to San Jose on May 22 to recognize her degree 43 years after completing her education.

The SJSU Experience

San Jose State graduates describe their Spartan experience.

SJSU Graduates Will Change the World

Spartan graduates share how they plan to apply newfound skills to change the world.

Melissa Anderson contributed reporting to this story.

“They Migrated So I Graduated”

Photo: Josie Lepe

On December 19, hundreds of San Jose State University graduates crossed the stage at the Event Center at SJSU to accept their degrees. Among those celebrating, a young woman in her cap and gown sat, quiet and contemplative, on the cold cement. The Mercury News photographer Randy Vazquez, ’15 Journalism, tweeted a photograph of Tania Soto, ’18 Child and Adolescent Development, that included the phrase she’d written across her cap: “They Migrated So I Graduated.” The tweet quickly went viral, begging the question: Who is Tania Soto and what is the story of her cap?

Soto says that her cap is dedicated to her parents, who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border to provide a better life for her and her brother. When she was in third grade, her father confided that he’d only been able to attend school through second grade—her mother through third—because he had to help support his family. Motivated by her parents’ sacrifices, Soto resolved to pursue a college degree and create the life her family envisioned for her.

“My parents had to work jobs that no person with an education would do, because it’s hard work,” she says. “They had to live with other family members, because rent was too high and the income was too low. I wanted to show my dad and mom that their sacrifices weren’t being thrown away. They were the ones who motivated me and gave me strength every time I felt like dropping out. I am where I am today thanks to them.”

“While her husband and mother were there to celebrate her achievement, Soto was heartbroken to learn that her father couldn’t get off work. She says that crossing the stage, accepting her diploma and shaking President Mary Papazian’s hand was her father’s moment as much as it was hers. Still, she savored the experience.

“I had been waiting for this moment for six years and to finally be able to walk across the stage was so surreal that I just wanted to cry and scream with happiness,” she says. “This accomplishment represents hard work. It taught me that any goal is reachable, no matter the obstacles that come to you.”

When she spotted Vazquez’s tweet, Soto was surprised and humbled by its response. Her belief in the impact of education is echoed in her work at an infant toddler center in Palo Alto. She plans to use her experience, coupled with her expertise in child development, to inspire kids to plan for college.

“I want to work with children and families in the community where I grew up,” says Soto. “Many of the families and children in my community do not have aspirations of obtaining higher education, and I want to change that. I want to make sure children learn about college and all the resources available.”

Perhaps some of Soto’s future students will one day follow in her footsteps, crossing the stage at the Event Center at SJSU, becoming Spartan graduates themselves.

More than 4,000 San Jose State University students graduated in December 2018, joining a community of 270,000 Spartan alumni.

 


 

SJSU Presents 2018 Outstanding Seniors and Thesis Awards

Media contacts:
Pat Harris, SJSU Media Relations, 408-924-1748, pat.harris@sjsu.edu

SAN JOSE, CA – San Jose State University President Mary A. Papazian will recognize this year’s top graduates at commencement ceremonies to be held May 23-25 at the SJSU Event Center and Avaya Stadium. Nardos Darkera and Sierra Peace will each receive the 2018 Outstanding Graduating Senior Award for academic achievements, leadership roles, contributions to the community and personal achievements. Emily Moffitt is the recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Thesis Award in recognition of the quality of her research.

Nardos Darkera

Nardos Darkera (all photos courtesy of the students)

Nardos Darkera, ’18 Public Health, has given back to the Spartan community while maintaining a 3.85 GPA. She has represented San Jose State as a United Nations Foundation Global Health Fellow, served as a peer teaching assistant, worked as a lead peer advisor in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts Success Center, and interned with Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. Darkera is a recipient of the Louie Barozzi Scholarship for academic excellence and community service, the Dean’s International Scholarship to study abroad in Puerto Rico, and the Health Science Scholarship to attend the American Public Health Association Meeting in Atlanta. She will continue on to the University of California, San Francisco, to pursue a master’s degree in global health. Health Science Professor Kathleen Roe predicts that Darkera “will be a leader of thought, social action, professions — and maybe even politics.”

Sierra Peace

Sierra Peace

Sierra Peace, ’18 Psychology, arrived at San Jose State as a 16-year-old freshman with her sights set on medical school. A member of SJSU’s International Neuroeconomics Institute research lab since 2015, Peace has presented two posters at the Western Psychological Association Conference. She juggled four jobs while volunteering with the Third Street Community Center, the Associated Students of SJSU community garden and the Regional Medical Center of San Jose. Her 3.97 GPA qualified her for Educational Opportunity Program Honors for four years. She was also a 2016 and 2017 Dean’s Scholar, a 2017 Hoover-Langdon Scholar and a 2018 President’s Scholar. Psychology Professor Cheryl Chancellor-Freeland describes Peace as “the most exceptional student I have encountered in my 23 years of teaching.”

Emily Moffitt

Emily Moffitt

Emily Moffitt, ’17 Environmental Studies, collected feathers from 169 birds at San Jose’s Coyote Creek Field Station, and then analyzed the feathers for stable isotopes to reveal where birds spent their breeding season. Her thesis “Using Stable Isotope Analysis to Infer Breeding Latitude and Migratory Timing of Juvenile Pacific-Slope Flycatchers (Empidonax difficilis)” revealed the species’ migratory patterns, critical information for preserving habitats the birds need to survive. She partnered with the University of California, Davis, Stable Isotope Facility to develop statistical programs and used ArcGIS to portray probable breeding origins, and support her research using isotope reference and Breeding Bird Survey data.


About San Jose State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study – offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 260,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area. 

Students and Faculty Members Recognized for Environmental Effort

Photo: Courtesy of Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful

Photo: Courtesy of Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful

Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful, a community organization that works closely with the SJSU Center for Community Learning and Leadership and CommUniverCity, has received a 2015 Outstanding Environmental Project award from the Friends of the San Francisco Estuary.

“This award demonstrates the value of collaboration, as a community of stewards, to raise awareness, educate, restore and preserve our precious waterways,” said CCLL Director Michael Fallon. “On yet another front, the partnership between SJSU, the city of San Jose, and environmental organizations is benefiting our community.”

More than 200 SJSU students and faculty members have been volunteering their time and talent to help clean and care for Coyote Creek, a 64-mile long waterway spanning Henry Coe Park near Gilroy, San Jose, and the San Francisco Bay.

A multidisciplinary approach

Spartan volunteers include faculty members and students from the departments of Environmental Studies and MIS (Management Information Systems), and the School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Volunteer Mary Yan, ’16 Environmental Studies, appreciates Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful Program Manager Deb Kramer’s passion and attitude “about bringing organizations together to work towards the same goals.”

“All the issues and connections to the creek are very interesting to me,” Yan said. “I am hoping that Coyote Creek becomes a successful restoration story one day without any reason to continue cleaning it up.”

Wildlife, homelessness

Photo: Mary Yan, ’16 Environmental Studies

Coyote Creek is a wildlife habitat and location for an important steelhead trout restoration project. Bike and hiking trails line the banks, which have also become a refuge for the homeless.

Acutely aware of the need to mitigate the environmental impact of homeless camps while caring for those who live there, SJSU advertising and public relations faculty members and students organized Coyote Creek Howl, a one-day summit in April focusing on ecological and human issues.

Communication studies students produced “Journey Through Homelessness: Silicon Valley’s Unsolved Problem,” described as “a thought and emotion provoking performance that immersed the audience into a world ignored by the masses and experienced by the few.”

Work continues

On Oct. 2, SJSU hosted the premiere of “Exodus from the Jungle,” a documentary on the closure of the nation’s largest homeless encampment, which was located within a mile of campus, on the banks of Coyote Creek.

As a new academic year begins, Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful continues to connect this generation of Spartans with service-learning opportunities. The goal? Gifting a vibrant watershed, and the knowledge of how to rally community support to protect it, to future generations.

 

SJSU Alumni Association Awards Scholarships

Randy Vazquez,  '16 Journalism

Randy Vazquez, ’16 Journalism

More than 50 students received $150,000 in scholarships at the SJSU Alumni Association Scholarship Awards Reception on Sept. 15 in the Student Union.

“All of the scholarship recipients have a clear vision of how they will achieve concrete goals and make a difference after completing their college degrees,” said Alumni Association President Coleetta McElroy, ’97 Public Administration. She also serves as the university’s director of financial aid and scholarships.

Honorees

The honorees represent seven colleges and a cross-section of majors. They include:

  • James Keeley, ’16 Therapeutic Recreation, is a disabled veteran who works with homeless veterans.
  • Maria Stone, ’16 MA French and MS Physics, seeks to participate in space research looking for life on other planets.
  • Melissa Tracy, ’17 Child and Adolescent Development, chose her field based on her personal experience with foster care.

Read about more scholarship recipients and learn how to apply next year on the Alumni Association website.

Generous Support

Photo: Randy Vazquez,  '16 Journalism

Linh Dieu Do, ’16 Chemical Engineering, received the Hal Riddle Memorial Scholarship (Photo: Randy Vazquez, ’16 Journalism).

The SJSU program is among the most generous in the California State University system.

“What makes this program remarkable is these scholarships are funded by Spartans, for Spartans,” said Associate Vice President of Alumni Relations Brian Bates. “The donors—people in our community including teachers, accountants and artists—believe in creating opportunities through education for generations to come.”

In this way, alumni and students alike are part of a long legacy at San Jose State, spanning a half century of giving and receiving. And this legacy will continue, as this year’s recipients vow to pay it forward.

Paying it Forward

Linh Dieu Do, ’16 Chemical Engineering, received the Hal Riddle Memorial Scholarship, named for a lifelong educator and member of the Alumni Association’s Santa Clara County chapter.

“I am really hoping that someday I will be successful and will be able to come back and support my fellow students,” she said. “I work by this: Once you put your heart, your soul, your mind into something you love, nothing can stop you.”