San José State Hosts First In-Person Commencement Ceremonies Since 2019

Students from the classes of 2020 and 2021 will have the opportunity to be recognized on campus.

Yanet Gutierrez

Yanet Gutierrez, ’21 Political Science, posed with family members at the campus photo experience last May. She plans to return to campus to accept her degree onstage in December. Photo by Robert C. Bain.

This month, San José State is pleased to offer in-person commencement ceremonies for the first time in two years at the Provident Credit Union Event Center. As of Nov. 30, 1,830 students from the classes of 2020 and 3,640 students from the classes of 2021 plan to participate and mark this momentous occasion.

The 13 in-person events include four ceremonies honoring the class of 2020, four for the classes of spring and summer 2021, and five ceremonies for the class of fall 2021. All ceremonies will take place between Dec. 14–17 and will be live streamed so family and friends can watch online. Members of the classes of 2020, and spring and summer 2021 will be honored on Tuesday, Dec. 14, and Friday, Dec. 17. Students graduating in fall 2021 will be recognized in college-specific ceremonies on Wednesday, Dec. 15, and Thursday, Dec. 16.

Fall 2021 graduates will also be celebrated on college-recognition websites. Each college will have searchable, shareable content, including recordings of its in-person ceremony and personalized graduate slides for all Spartans completing undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as credential students

Graduates may invite up to six guests and must use the required SJSU COVID-19 Symptom Check Tool

The university will follow the California Department of Public Health’s policies on mega indoor events, so all graduates and guests age 3 and over must provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test result within 72 hours of their ceremony (limited religious and medical exceptions may apply). Additionally, attendees aged 18 and older must provide identification to confirm they are the person presenting proof of vaccination status or negative test result, and entering the venue. Masks must be worn by all attendees when indoors.

“Things can change in an instant”

Annalycia Escobar

Annalycia Escobar, ’20 Journalism, celebrated her graduation last spring with a car parade. Photo courtesy of Annalycia Escobar,

Former Braven Fellow Annalycia Escobar, ’20 Journalism, looks forward to attending an in-person ceremony in her full regalia with her pandemic cohort. A year and a half after she completed her studies, Escobar will cross the stage on Dec. 14 as a graduating member of the spring class of 2020. 

She said going to school during the pandemic taught her “how to adapt to a constantly changing environment.”

“Having everything switch so fast has helped me in my professional life,” she added. “You have to be quick on your feet when you’re at work. Things can change in an instant. So to be able to navigate through rough times makes you stronger in the long run.”

Her determination paid off: After completing her course work in the spring of 2020, Escobar was hired as a public relations coordinator for a communications agency. 

Being able to close out this chapter of my life the right way is going to feel so nice,” Escobar said. “I worked hard to get where I am today. So celebrating by walking down that stage is going to be great.”

Celebrating family achievements

Jen Jurgensen

Jen Jurgensen, ’20 MS Mass Communications, celebrated with her daughter Riley last spring. They plan attend the December ceremony at the Event Center. Photo courtesy of Jen Jurgensen.

Jen Jurgensen, ’20 MS Mass Communications, is looking forward to inviting one guest in particular to her commencement ceremony: her 5-year-old daughter Riley.

Two months into the pandemic, Jurgensen’s spring commencement ceremony was canceled — along with Riley’s graduation from junior kindergarten. Though she was disappointed that she couldn’t celebrate in-person with her cohort, Jurgensen hosted a small ceremony in her parents’ backyard for her and her daughter.

“I handed Riley a ‘diploma,’ and she did the same for me,” recalled Jurgensen, who works as a budget and program analyst on San José State’s Alumni and Community Engagement team. “We used my mom’s diploma covers — from when she got her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at SJSU — as our diplomas. It was a really special day, and I wouldn’t have traded it for the world.”

Still, she’s excited to be walking in an in-person ceremony.

“After the struggles I faced as a student, I wanted to make sure I could properly celebrate my accomplishments. I also felt very strongly that I wanted my daughter to see me walk across the stage, so that she would understand why I had to be away some nights for class. I am really excited to celebrate with her.”

Fulfilling an important milestone

Joronica Vinluan

Joronica Viinluan. ’21 Journalism.

For first-generation college graduates like Joronica “Jay” Vinluan, ’21 Journalism, the opportunity to accept her diploma on stage with her family present, “fulfills the imagined milestone threshold.”

“You grow up expecting to experience that walk down the carpet and being handed your diploma,” said Vinluan, who helped produce Families Across Borders: A Live Event, a global virtual event that featured stories of families worldwide who were separated by immigration policies.

“Being able to graduate from a university alone is a huge milestone and accomplishment,” she added. “Not only did I want this for myself, but for my family as well. I’m glad that I am able to show my parents that their extra effort to motivate me to pursue higher education was worth it. After walking the stage during commencement, I’ll be my family’s first-generation college graduate.” 

Vinluan accepted a job as a production assistant at KGO/ABC7 Bay Area in San Francisco in fall 2021, her final semester at SJSU.

Shannon Campano, ’21 Business Administration, plans to walk in a December commencement ceremony. Photo by Alexis Sasere, NorCal photographer.

Fellow fall graduate Shannon Campano, ’21 Business Administration, counts paying off her undergraduate debt this summer as one of her biggest achievements so far. She added that the challenges of attending college during the pandemic made her more prepared for the real world. 

Self-discipline and time management were big factors in helping me navigate college during COVID-19 times,” she reflected, explaining that she learned “to keep on going when the entire world is at a pause.”

Campano plans to bring her blended family to her commencement ceremony, because in her mind, “graduation isn’t about me, but a celebration of my hard work and my family’s sacrifices to get me here.”

“No one better than her mother”

After completing her degree in May, Yanet Gutierrez, ’21 Political Science, participated in SJSU’s in-person photo experience this May, which was offered in lieu of a formal graduation ceremony, but cannot wait to bring her family to the Event Center later this month.

“There were so many moments when I didn’t think that school was for me, when I felt I was not good enough,” said Gutierrez, who had the unique honor of being named a President’s Scholar in the same semester as daughter, Eunice Romero, ’22 Business Administration. “As an immigrant, as a woman of color, I had so many aspirations in life, yet those things that held me back made me think, am I good enough to do this?

“But then I remembered, I have a daughter who needs to look up to someone. No one better than her mother.

Find more information about SJSU’s in-person commencement ceremonies.

SJSU Launches Inaugural Racial Justice Event

Transforming Communities: A Movement to Racial Justice

As protests erupted across the United States over the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020, raising the national conscience about racism, San José State University administrators vowed to combat systemic racism on campus through a series of short-term and long-term action plans.

One of those action plans begins on November 1, 2021. Transforming Communities: A Movement to Racial Justice — is designed to drive the conversation and work around racial justice. It will be an annual event every November —  which also serves as Native American Heritage Month — and will include a variety of programming from campus partners, the City of San José, local schools and community organizations.

“Part of our mission at San José State is to become a fully inclusive, anti-racist, multicultural institution of higher learning,” said President Mary A. Papazian. “To get there, we must take steps toward tangible change and, at the same time, implement longer-term strategies. I anticipate that Transforming Communities will soon become a signature event at our university, and an opportunity for the entire SJSU community to come together to learn, engage and create pathways for positive change.”

The Transforming Communities: A Movement to Racial Justice event will feature a different theme and new programs each year. Director of Advocacy for Racial Justice Jahmal Williams said this year’s theme is: Reflection. Discovery. Action.

“We believe everyone plays a part and begins from different places,” Williams said. “Some people or organizations may be in the space of reflection. Others may be seeking additional information or discovery to help drive efforts or strategies they hope to implement. While others may be just getting started with the work. No matter where they are, there is a space for everyone to get involved. We want to make sure all can participate.”

This year, there will be 27 different programs during the first 13 days of November. They include presentations, panel discussions, keynote speakers, artistic performances and open space workshops in which participants can discuss and reflect on issues around racial justice. A schedule of programs can be found on the Transforming Communities website.

Transforming Communities puts into action many of the key values of the work of equity and social justice,” said Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong (Lau). “The programming is innovative and collaborative and includes community and campus voices as not only agents of change but also generators of important conversations and connections necessary to do the work around racial justice. As an ongoing annual program, it has the potential to expand the region’s capacity for transformative change that is institutionalized and continually energized.”

SJSU Co-sponsors Event to Honor Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

RBG Memorial event

Dorit Beinisch, Former President of the Supreme Court of Israel, Highlights Panel Discussion

Though it’s been more than a year since her passing, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg remains an iconic figure to admirers in the U.S. and worldwide.

To help honor her legacy, SJSU’s Jewish Studies Program is co-sponsoring a virtual memorial event with RBG’s longtime friend and colleague, Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch, former president of the Supreme Court of Israel.

Former Chief Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court, Dorit Beinisch, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Joining Chief Justice Beinisch will be Alison Brunner, CEO at Law Foundation of Silicon Valley — whose work is dedicated to promoting social justice — and SJSU President Mary Papazian, who will deliver introductory remarks.

“RBG became an icon for so many women and girls around the world as she demonstrated how persistence, resistance, good argumentation and wit can lead to real change,” said Anat Balint, coordinator of SJSU’s Jewish Studies program.

The RBG memorial event, she said, is the first in a series of events celebrating Jewish culture in Silicon Valley.

The event takes place on October 19 at 10 a.m. and is open to the public. Pre-event registration is required. Chief Justice Beinisch, Brunner, and President Papazian will discuss RBG’s influences on social change, feminism, Jewish identity and friendship.

“I do not believe I am alone when I say that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is near the top of the list of women whom I have admired and learned from over the span of my lifetime,” said President Papazian.

“She was an extraordinary woman who never allowed barriers to get in the way of the professional and societal progress that she was determined to make. I know it will be a real treat hearing the insights that will be shared at this event.”

Chief Justice Beinisch was the first woman to lead the Israeli Supreme Court, while Justice Bader-Ginsburg was the second woman to join the U.S. Supreme Court. Both were Jewish, and each trailblazer led lives and careers dedicated to creating a more equitable society.

Over the last decade, Justices Beinisch and Bader Ginsburg met on several occasions and developed a professional and personal relationship. After RBG’s passing, Chief Justice Beinisch wrote in Israel’s leading newspaper:

“People regularly note that she was the oldest justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, but in my eyes she was the youngest of all. She was young in spirit. Young people admired her the same way they do rock stars, and she even warmly adopted the identity of a famous rapper by means of her initials.”

The event is a collaboration of the Jewish Studies Program at SJSU, Jewish Silicon Valley, the Israeli Consulate to the Pacific Northwest, Congregation Shir Hadash, Congregation Beth David, and Congregation Sinai.

 

SJSU Honors Its History of Social Justice and Activism With Expanded, Campus-Wide “Legacy Month”

October’s celebratory, educational events build off Associated Students’ tradition.

October is always a busy month at San José State University with Homecoming activities, the start of midterms, and a variety of events and activities taking place around campus. One of the most significant recurring themes throughout October at SJSU is Legacy Month, which promises to have an even more prominent role than years’ past, especially as the university continues to repopulate and resume more in-person events.

Faculty, Associated Students and CCCAC plant the seeds

Legacy Month has traditionally centered on celebrated SJSU alumni and 1968 Olympic track-and-field medalists John Carlos and Tommie Smith, and the global impact they have had on social justice and human rights. A small group of faculty and students made sure years ago that the legacy of Carlos and Smith would never be forgotten.

Professor Scott Myers-Lipton of SJSU’s Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences conceived and led the years-long campaign to commemorate the Smith/Carlos legacy. On October 16, 2006 — the first anniversary of the unveiling of the statues — Myers-Lipton and several colleagues, including those from the African American Studies department and Ben Henderson from Associated Students, held a small event to commemorate the day Smith and Carlos raised their fists for justice in Mexico City.

SJSU’s Associated Students, along with key faculty members and staff, created Legacy Week (later, Legacy Month) as a way to honor and remember the social activism of Spartans from previous eras. Photo: Christina Olivas, San Jose State University

The following year, Professor Myers-Lipton asked the César Chávez Community Action Center (CCCAC) to become actively involved in the Smith/Carlos event, which they agreed to do. In the following years, the CCCAC took the lead in broadening the October 16 event to what came to be known as Legacy Week and, later, Legacy Month.

In recent years, Legacy Month events have placed raising awareness of Carlos and Smith’s historic stance atop the medal stand and their struggle for human rights to the forefront. CCCAC’s efforts are also designed to cultivate the next generation of social justice advocates at SJSU. Due to these efforts, the likeness of the two Spartan legends will forever be depicted and remembered by the iconic statue displayed on Tower Lawn.

“As an alumna of SJSU and part of the founding cohort of the CCCAC, I had the honor in 2008 to assist with the coordination of the inaugural Legacy Week at SJSU,” said Diana Victa, who now serves as department manager for the CCCAC.

“What started as a makeshift event in front of the statues now promises to not only deeply honor Smith and Carlos but also our rich history of student activism advocating for racial and social justice. I am proud and excited to see that the university has taken recognition of the power of Legacy Month by broadening it into something even greater for our community.”

Continuing, growing the tradition

Now, as campus efforts to address systemic racism have emerged as an ongoing priority, Legacy Month is growing in hopes of engaging even more members of the campus community. Jahmal Williams, Director of Advocacy for Racial Justice in the Office of the President’s Community & Government Relations group, said the month-long effort offers a variety of ways for students and others to gain an understanding of and an appreciation for the racial struggles that will always be a part of SJSU’s history.

(L-R) Tommie Smith, Dr. Harry Edwards and John Carlos pose for a photo on Oct. 17, 2018, in front of the statue on the SJSU campus that honors their iconic, black-gloved protest at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of that historic event. Photo: Josie Lepe/San Jose State University

“Fighting for racial and social justice is in the fabric of our campus,” said Williams. “Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Harry Edwards, the entire Olympic Project for Human Rights and so many others stand as icons in history. Their efforts should not only be studied, but celebrated and reflected upon by every student, faculty and staff member who grace our campus. We owe it to our pioneers for justice and to our community to embed this work into our university and the lives of those who will always be part of it.”

In addition to the events around October’s Legacy Month — which include a two-day conference spearheaded by SJSU’s Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change — a new symposium is planned for mid-November titled Transforming Communities: A Movement To Racial Justice. The event, which Williams hopes will become an annual tradition, is a joint effort between SJSU and local government, non-profits, organizations, schools and businesses with an end goal of creating a racially just and equitable city, county and region. An array of presentations, lectures, workshops and keynote speakers are expected.

Here are some of the ways San José State will celebrate Legacy Month this October and honor those Spartan alumni who have paved the way for future generations with their activism and commitment to human rights:

Legacy Month Kickoff

Monday, October 4  |  Noon
7th Street Plaza

Honor the rich history of student activism of SJSU. Stop by the CCCAC table to receive a free t-shirt.


Legacy Month Speaker: Leah Thomas

Wednesday, October 6  |  7 – 8:30 p.m.
Zoom Registration – Leah Thomas

Leah Thomas is an environmentalist, passionate about advocating for and exploring the relationship between social justice and environmentalism. She is the founder of eco-lifestyle blog @greengirlleah, @thegreensgirlco and The Intersectional Environmentalist Platform.


Press Conference: Racial & Social Justice at SJSU

Tuesday, October 19  |  11 a.m.
Smith and Carlos Statues

Hear the announcement of the release of the booklet “Racial and Social Justice at SJSU,” which documents 10 actions taken by SJSU students, including the actions by Tommie and John, to build Dr. King’s Beloved Community.


Continuing the Legacy of Tommie Smith and John Carlos

Tuesday, October 19  |  Noon – 1:30 p.m.
Smith and Carlos Statues

Join the SJSU campus community to reflect on the significance of Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s historic action 53 years ago in Mexico City, and its relevance to today’s struggle for racial and social justice.


Ableism in Social Justice Spaces

Spartan Legacy Training Academy

Tuesday, October 19  |  1 – 2 p.m.
Zoom RSVP – Ableism

As activists and advocates, we are often so busy organizing we forget to take the time to look at what our spaces look like and who we design them for. Learn more about what we can do in our own spaces to combat ableism.


Smith/Carlos “Teach-In”

Tuesday, October 19
Wednesday, October 20

SJSU faculty are encouraged to register and select from a variety of related topics to engage students on the university’s legacy of activism or to choose their own! These informal discussions or lectures on issues related to SJSU’s legacy of social justice and activism are designed to inspire and engage.


Legacy Month Movie Night: With Drawn Arms

Wednesday, October 20  |  6:30 p.m.
Tower Lawn

Enjoy a night on the lawn as you learn the story of the ’68 Olympic Games protest firsthand. Tommie Smith takes you through a journey of his experience that helped define a movement and changed the course of his life forever. Bring your friends and your favorite blankets.


It is Time: Voice of Athlete Activism

Thursday – Friday, October 21 – 22  |  9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
More information and RSVP – It is Time

Join the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change for a two-day virtual conference to learn about the history and legacy of athlete activism at SJSU and beyond, including keynote panels, change agent organizations and educational teachings with ISSSSC’s Words to Action workshops.


SJSU Legacy Run – A Celebration of our Community

Also part of Hispanic Heritage Month

Saturday, October 30  |  9 – 11 a.m.

Starting and ending at the Smith/Carlos statues on Tower Lawn, this new fun run will circle the perimeter of the university, highlighting SJSU’s roots and heritage in activism. A number of running groups from San José and the Bay Area will join SJSU’s Track and Field and Cross Country teams, and students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the community are all invited to register and participate.

SJSU Hosts “The Burn and Beyond: Wildfires, Drought and Environmental Justice” Webinar

San José State University brings together experts from academia, government and industry to discuss critical issues facing California today — wildfires and drought, and how they disproportionately impact historically disadvantaged communities.

On September 16, SJSU will host “The Burn and Beyond: Wildfires, Drought, and Environmental Justice” virtual webinar to address the problems and potential solutions from 2 to 3:15 p.m.

Register here

San José State University President Mary A. Papazian will moderate the discussion.

“Often, it seems as though some of our communities do not receive the attention and care that other communities enjoy and take for granted during environmental crises,” said Papazian. “Given the events that have unfolded nationally these past two years related to systemic racism and the disparities in how people are treated by our institutions, this event could not be more timely or urgent.”

U.S. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, Santa Clara Valley Water District CEO and Vice President of the California NAACP Rick Callender, and SJSU Associate Professor and Director of the Human Rights Institute William Armaline will participate in the discussion.

“Cycles of drought and wildfire are worsening in California and neighboring regions in no small part due to climate change, threatening the survival of our precious communities and delicate ecosystems,” said Professor Armaline.

“Such threats are also challenging to human rights and the ability for Californians to enjoy the fundamental security and human dignity that everyone deserves. We at the SJSU HRI are ecstatic to join our colleagues and local public agencies to investigate the problems and potential solutions to these incredible social and ecological challenges.”

SJSU’s Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center (WIRC) is on the cutting edge of wildfire research in California.

Learn more about SJSU’s research and work related to wildfires:

SJSU Establishes the Nation’s Largest Interdisciplinary Research Center in the Read about San José State’s Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center

Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center at SJSU

“On 9/11, I was a NYPD Captain”; UPD Captain Belcastro Reflects 20 Years Later

San José State University Police Department (UPD) Captain Frank Belcastro can tell you in a heartbeat where he was and what he was doing on September 11, 2001. Back then, he was a NYPD Captain about to start his regular shift for the day. Then everything changed.

A picture of Captain Frank Belcastro in NYPD gear

San José State University Police Department Captain Frank Belcastro was a member of the New York Police Department and led the response following the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Now that two decades have passed since the life-altering terrorist attacks, Belcastro shared what it was like to be a first responder in this unprecedented situation that had worldwide impact. We captured the moments that still stand out to him today, and what he would like Spartans who did not experience these tragic events to understand.

Tell us about the events as they unfolded for you on that fateful day.

Captain Frank Belcastro (FB): On Sept. 11, 2001, I was a NYPD Captain, Commanding Officer of a Borough Task Force. My unit was charged with daily tasks such as crime reduction, auto crime and graffiti investigations, evidence collection, traffic enforcement, speed enforcement, DUI patrol, COBRA (Chemical, Biological, Radiological Action Team), Truant Team/school patrol and major incident response throughout the city.

On the day of 9/11, I was scheduled to work a 4×12 shift. But, as was my regular routine, I called my office to see if anything was going on. I learned that we were on alert for mobilization because a plane had hit the World Trade Center. 

At that time the thinking was “it was an accident.” I told them that I was going to come in and gave instructions on the personnel and equipment that I wanted for our response. A short time later, I called back because I wanted to change the equipment and add personnel. As I was talking, a second plane hit. 

I knew then it was a terrorist attack. I told them to get everyone ready, and I was on my way. When I arrived, the duty captain had directed my unit, officers from three precincts, vehicles, equipment and firefighters onto a waiting ferry. When I arrived, I assumed command, and we proceeded towards Manhattan. 

When we were about two thirds of the way over, the first tower collapsed. The ferry captain stopped the ferry due to dust and debris blocking visibility of the ferry terminal. I tried to arrange an alternate dock or smaller ferries. However, nothing would work. At that point, the police dispatcher radioed that I was directed to return to base. 

But, people needed help, I was not turning around. 

I was the field commander. I radioed the dispatcher; my call: We were going into Whitehall (the Manhattan Ferry terminal). I then directed the ferry captain to take us in.

When we exited the ferry in Manhattan, the second tower collapsed. Dust and debris filled the air. I couldn’t see the hood of my patrol car. Thousands of people were running in the street, away from the devastation. You could see the fear in their faces. The primary mobilization point was not reachable. I then directed that we respond to the secondary mobilization point. 

We were eventually assigned to patrol the World Trade Center area. We searched the area, including train stations, looking for people who needed help. As we patrolled, World Trade Center #7 became very unstable. A Police Chief advised me to pull my unit back because the collapse of it was imminent. As we pulled back, the building collapsed.

One of my young officers had a brother who was a firefighter. He was missing and unaccounted for. To protect my officer, because he was distraught, I brought him into the Patrol Officers Benevolent Association Offices, several blocks from Ground Zero, and asked the trustee to keep him there. 

When building 7 collapsed, the officer called me over the radio asking for help. He had left the PBA office to look for his brother. I formed search teams, and we found him. I assigned an officer to take him home and stay with the family. His firefighter brother is the youngest firefighter to die in the line of duty, at just 20 years old.

One of my vivid memories is the eerie silence as we patrolled into the evening. The dust and debris was falling like a heavy snowstorm. Ash was piled deep on the streets and sidewalks. We were not equipped with masks. I remember the air was thick with ash and debris, including fiberglass. I rubbed my eyes due to the irritation and had abrasions under my eyes from the fiberglass and other abrasive debris. When we were relieved in the early morning hours of 9/12, we were covered in ash.

In the days after 9/11, for that first week, I was in command of Ground Zero security and recovery. My unit was charged with providing security there and for safeguarding human remains. When human remains were recovered, we took custody and delivered them to a morgue trailer, documenting the recovery. 

At one point, a firefighter’s body was recovered. I gathered my unit. We stood at attention and rendered a hand salute as his body was escorted by his fellow firefighters.

My assignment posed many challenges. There were attempts by members of the media and other persons to access the dig site. One of the hardest things for me was when officers I had worked with handed me their phone number and asked me to call them if I found their brother. I knew the reality of our operation at that time. 

Another challenge was that we were working under the threat of the possible collapse of the Deutsche Bank, which was heavily damaged. We had to evacuate on several occasions when movement was detected. On one such occasion, I was notified to evacuate all personnel because city engineers had detected that the Deutsche Bank had shifted. They believed that the building was going to collapse. I directed everyone to evacuate. 

However, a fire chief and his men refused to leave. The chief told me he was not going to evacuate. I told him that I understood what he was saying and that if he wanted to stay, I would stay with him and his men. But, I said, “I want to ask you one question, and after that, if you want to stay, we will stay.” 

I said, “You and I know the reality of what we are doing here,” and I pointed to his men. “They are alive. Is what we are doing here worth their lives? If you say yes, I will stay with you.” 

He agreed to evacuate. 

What do you remember most about September 11, 2001? 

FB: I remember that 9/11 started out as a beautiful day that became a nightmare. I will never forget the uncommon valor of the police officers and firefighters who ran into those towers to save others. Many never returned to their families.They sacrificed their lives to save others, complete strangers. Police officers and firefighters ran towards the danger while thousands fled in panic and fear. 

Our mission was clear — save lives.

I will also always recall the ash and debris raining down like a heavy snowstorm. And, the deafening silence of a deserted city as we patrolled into the night.

I will never forget the thousands of innocent persons slaughtered in a heinous attack and the selfless sacrifice of the first responders.

As a first responder in that type of unprecedented situation, how much of your response is predicated on your training versus reacting on instincts? 

FB: We are well trained, and our training helps us to react. But training cannot prepare you for everything. Your instincts are a big part. As a leader, you have to look at the big picture and make split second decisions based on experience, training and instinct. The burden of leadership is great. You are making decisions that will not only impact you but will affect everyone under your command.

As you reflect back on 20 years since the Twin Towers fell, including the nation’s united response in the days and weeks after the attack, what stands out to you most? 

FB: In the 20 years since the attack, I see that our nation is fractured. After the attack, we were united in our grief, our anger and our determination to rise from the ash. We were one people. If anything positive could come out of that infamous day, it was the unity of New Yorkers and the nation. We came together as human beings, united in our grief, working together. 

Many of SJSU’s students were born after September 11, 2021. What do you think would be most important for them to understand about that day as someone who lived through it firsthand? 

FB: I think the most important thing for our students to understand is the selfless sacrifice of the first responders. They saw people who needed help and ran toward danger. It is also important to understand that first responders are still losing their lives due to the toxins we breathed on that infamous day and the days after. To this date, more than 200 NYPD officers have succumbed to cancers caused by those toxins.

What does it mean to you to be one of several Spartans (including Captain Jason Dahl, ’80 Aeronautics Operations, who piloted United Flight 93, and Meta Mereday, ’84 Advertising) whose heroic actions saved lives on this tragic day in American history? 

FB: I am humbled to be among such an elite group. I also feel guilty about being recognized with these heroes. I survived when so many died, and that guilt will always be with me. 

Belcastro started with SJSU’s UPD in June 2008, as the Special Operations Lieutenant, in charge of Emergency Preparedness and Library Security. He was promoted to Captain at UPD in 2011.

Two Must-See Speaker Series at SJSU This Fall

San José State University is offering a number of opportunities to hear from faculty experts and prominent public figures this semester through two unique speaker series: the Spartan Speaker Series and University Scholar Series.

The Spartan Speaker Series, organized by the Division of Student Affairs, will host five free online events covering topics important to and requested by San José State students, according to Sonja Daniels, associate vice president of campus life.

“The Spartan Speaker Series covers a range of topics or theme areas that we feel are critical to the lives of our students,” she said. “We choose a wide array of speakers from politics to the arts, writers, activists, as well as disability, LGBTQ+, gender and sexual assault advocates.”

Daniels indicated that many speakers are also selected to complement activities related to cultural heritage months, such as Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15), Native American Heritage Month (November), Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month (May), and Pride/LGBTQ+ Heritage Month (June).

The University Scholar Series, hosted by the Office of the Provost, in partnership with the SJSU Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, showcases faculty research and scholarly pursuits.

“The University Scholars Series provides a space for the campus community to engage with faculty whose research, scholarly, and creative activity is insightful, engaging and forward-thinking,” said Provost Vincent Del Casino, Jr. “We get to see the breadth of topics, challenges and issues that faculty consider. It is an amazing opportunity not just to hear each other speak but to also create an intellectual community.”


Spartan Speaker Series Event Schedule

Attendees should register in advance to receive the Zoom link required to attend.

Reframing American History with Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Wednesday, Sept. 15, 1 p.m., Zoom

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones will discuss The New York Times’s 1619 Project, an ongoing initiative that aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the center of our national narrative.

Register for Nikole Hannah-Jones

Exploring Creativity with Gabby Rivera

Gabby Rivera.

Gabby Rivera. Photo by Julieta Salgado.

Tuesday, Sept. 21, 7 p.m., Zoom

​​Gabby Rivera, the first Latina to write for Marvel Comics, penned the solo series “America” about America Chavez, a portal-punching queer Latina powerhouse, as well as the critically acclaimed novel, “Juliet Takes a Breath.” Rivera will speak about the importance of prioritizing joy in queer and transgender people of color (QTPOC) communities.

Register for Gabby Rivera

Simu Liu’s Reflections on Family, Career and Persistence

Simu Liu.

Simu Liu.

Wednesday, Sept. 29, 7 p.m., Zoom

Join Canadian actor, writer and stuntman Simu Liu for “Journey to Success: Reflections on Family, Career and Persistence.”

Liu is known for his performances as Jung Kim in the award-winning CBC Television sitcom “Kim’s Convenience” and Shang-Chi in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings,” released in early September.

Register for Simu Liu

Green Girl Leah Thomas on Intersectional Environmentalism

Leah Thomas.

Leah Thomas.

Wednesday, Oct. 6, 7 p.m., Zoom

Join Leah Thomas, founder of eco-lifestyle blog Green Girl Leah and The Intersectional Environmentalist Platform, a resource and media hub that advocates for inclusivity within environmental education, to learn how to dismantle systems of oppression while protecting the planet. This is Associated Students’ Cesar Chavez Community Action Center Legacy Week speaker.

Register for Leah Thomas

Seeking Voice, Purpose and Place with Janet Mock

Janet Mock.

Janet Mock.

Tuesday, Nov. 9, 6 p.m., Zoom

As the first transgender person to sign a production pact with a major studio, Janet Mock is no stranger to breaking barriers. The Emmy-nominated writer, director and executive producer of the FX drama series “Pose” and the Netflix limited series “Hollywood” and “Monster,” Mock is also a New York Times-bestselling author of two memoirs, “Redefining Realness” and “Surpassing Certainty.”

Register for Janet Mock

 

 


University Scholar Series Events Schedule

All events will be offered in a hybrid (“live” in-person and virtual) format. Please register online to get the most up-to-date event information.

Fascism Versus Fact with Professor Ryan Skinnell

Wednesday, Sept. 22, noon, Zoom and MLK 225

Fascists don’t just come to power — they use rhetoric. One key to understanding fascist rhetoric is to understand fascists’ relationship to truth.

Join Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Writing Ryan Skinnell as he distinguishes between two kinds of truth: factual and fascist. An expert in political rhetoric and public discourse, Skinnell has written, edited or co-edited six books, including “Faking the News: What Rhetoric Can Teach Us About Donald J. Trump and Rhetoric and Guns” (forthcoming).

Register for “Two Truths and a Big Lie: The ‘Honest’ Mendacity of Fascist Rhetoric.”

Disorder to Diversity with Professor Pei-Tzu Tsai

Wednesday, Oct. 20, noon, Zoom and MLK 225

One out of 100 people experience stuttering, a speech disorder that is genetic-neurological in nature. Associate Professor of Communicative Disorders and Sciences Pei-Tzu Tsai will explore the underlying factors of stuttering and stuttering therapy to develop culturally and linguistically responsive services for individuals who stutter.

Recipient of the 2020 SJSU distinguished faculty mentor award, Tsai has worked at a summer camp for kids who stutter and at a gender-affirming voice and communication clinic at the Kay Armstead Center for Communicative Disorders. She has also established a fluency specialty clinic.

Register for “Learning from Stuttering: A Path from Disorder to Diversity.”

Mobile Money and Financial Inclusion with Susanna Khavul

Wednesday, Dec. 1, noon, Zoom and MLK 225

In the United States, 50 million adults and their 15 million children have no access to formal financial services. Mobile money has made low-cost transfers, payments and financial services available to more people.

Join Susanna Khavul, professor in the School of Management for the Lucas College of Graduate School and Business, executive director of the Global Leadership Advancement Center and visiting professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, as she shares how innovative high technology firms compete in a global economy — and how mobile finance could be part of the solution.

Register for “Is Mobile Money a Digital Gateway to Financial Inclusion?”

Learn more about the fall 2021 Spartan Speaker Series and the University Scholar Series.

 

SJSU Hosts Historic Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, Showcasing Very Best of Women’s Tennis

Bay Area tennis fans hungry for a glimpse of some of the world’s top women’s hardcourt players have a rare opportunity to see many of their favorites in action early next month, as the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic (MSVC) returns to San José State in an important U.S. Open tuneup.

The historic women’s tennis event — which marks its 50th anniversary this year — takes place Aug. 2-8 at the SJSU Tennis Center. Tickets, which start as low as $20 for the opening round, can be purchased by visiting MubadalaSVC.com or by calling 1-833-94-MATCH (1-833-946-2824).

Hitting the ball at the Mubadala SV Tennis Classic

Beginning on Aug. 2, the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic will take place at the tennis courts at CEFCU Stadium in San Jose, Calif. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

“We are excited to be returning to San Jose State University for the 50th Anniversary of this historic Bay Area tennis event and to do so at 100 percent capacity,” said Vickie Gunnarsson, Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic Tournament Director. “This tournament holds a special place in history as a precursor to the establishment of the WTA and with the fight for gender equality in sports. Our former champions are some of the best players ever and given the talent we have competing this year I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or more of this year’s players joining the list of all-time greats when it’s all said and done.”

“San José State could not be more excited to again be hosting a professional tennis event of this caliber,” said Jeff Konya, SJSU athletic director. “We love showing Bay Area sports fans our exceptional tennis complex, which we feel offers a delightful fan experience, inviting hospitality options and the intimate atmosphere this tournament has become renowned for over the years.”

Highlighting the field are a collection of top-ranked American players, Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) title winners and recent Grand Slam champions. Topping the list of U.S. players will be 2020 Australian Open Champion Sofia Kenin, 2017 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic Champion Madison Keys and 2017 U.S. Open Champion Sloane Stephens.

Other top players include 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, World No. 16 Elise Mertens, 2021 Australian Open semifinalist and 2021 Wimbledon quarterfinalist Karolina Muchova, 2021 French Open quarterfinalists Elena Rybakina and Paula Badosa and Chinese star Zhang Shuai.

The Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic showcases SJSU’s exceptional tennis complex, offering a delightful fan experience, inviting hospitality options and an intimate atmosphere. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

Another recent addition to the MSVC main draw is 18-year-old British sensation Emma Raducanu, who accepted a wildcard invitation. In her first-ever Grand Slam tournament earlier this month, Raducanu advanced to Wimbledon’s fourth round, becoming the youngest British woman to reach the final 16 at Wimbledon in the Open Era.

The Mubadala event is slated to be one of the most competitive in the tournament’s storied history, with 17 of 19 players entered having won at least one WTA singles title and 15 having advanced to a Grand Slam quarterfinal or better. The field has combined to win 46 career singles titles.

Rich history and Bay Area roots

Legendary sportswoman, visionary and activist Billie Jean King and her friend Rosie Casals — a San Francisco native and, like King, a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame — played significant roles in establishing the event decades ago.

Sensing a growing passion and enthusiasm for women’s tennis, the pair joined forces and helped bring the Virginia Slims of California — the inaugural Bay Area women’s tennis tournament — to the San Francisco Civic Auditorium in 1971. It was the first event of that year’s historic tour, which paved the way for today’s WTA.

The tournament’s list of past champions reads like a who’s who of women’s tennis, including Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Andrea Jaeger, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Venus Williams, and Kim Clijsters. 

The Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic represents the first women’s stop on the US Open Series, which begins after Wimbledon and concludes with the US Open. 

Owned and operated by IMG, the WTA 500 event features a 28-player singles draw and a 16-team doubles draw with total prize money of $565,530.

Economic Outlook is Bright for California, Nationwide

California’s economy is raging back strong from the pandemic according to a California Outlook report from Beacon Economics, an independent economic research and consulting firm. The United States is experiencing a similar trend — all signs point to a return to pre-pandemic levels of economic activity by the end of 2021.

San José State University’s Center for Banking and Financial Services hosted its annual Economic Summit this week, including a panel discussion with Christopher Thornberg, a founding Partner of Beacon Economics, and Congressman Ro Khanna, which was moderated by Jay Ross, attorney at Hopkins & Carley.

Khanna represents California’s 17th Congressional District and serves on a number of House committees, including Agriculture, Armed Services, and Oversight and Reform, in which he chairs the Environmental Subcommittee.

Khanna spoke on his three areas of focus for economic recovery: clean technology and tackling climate change, equity in a digital economy, and empowerment of “essential” workers — physical laborers and those in in-person, service industries — “who make our economy run.”

Khanna sees collaboration with academic institutions and the private sector as key to each of these areas. He cited SJSU as a “model public university,” including in its “extraordinary partnerships with the private sector and government” and believes the university is a “pillar of the Silicon Valley economy.”

Beacon Economics’ recent economic and social impact report confirms Khanna’s position. The report shows that San José State generates $1.6 billion in labor in California, with nearly half in Santa Clara County alone; $606.9 in tax revenue that benefits local, state and federal governments; and $4.1 billion in economic impact statewide.

In addition, Beacon found SJSU undergraduates typically graduate with less than half the average debt of California college graduates, and are then recruited by some of the world’s biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley.

According to Lucas College and Graduate School of Business Dean Dan Moshavi, “The demand for a San José State and a Cal State education is very high.”

“But what is most critical for today’s students, especially those at SJSU, is developing ‘soft skills,’” Moshavi explained, which relate to how we work.

“One of the things we’re working on in the College of Business is career and professional readiness,” said Moshavi. “Forty-two percent of our students are first-generation students. A lot of them have not had exposure to what professional life looks like, especially in Silicon Valley. Part of what we do is prepare those students in the soft skills, in understanding what it means to walk into a professional environment and engage. That’s a high priority for us.”

This is all great news for current students who are preparing to enter the workforce — and an economy that is still in recovery.

Beacon has long partnered with San José State to provide the economic forecast at the annual summit. As Moshavi introduced Thornberg for his presentation at the event, he praised their work, saying: “Beacon has grown, as many of you have watched at this event over the years, to be one of the most respected economic forecasting firms in the state.”

Key insights for navigating a post-COVID economy

Thornberg provided a comprehensive forecast of the local, state and national economy. The annual analysis is key for Silicon Valley businesses, who can use the relevant information from his report to guide decision-making.

He described four key themes related to economic recovery that can be taken from the pandemic:

  1. Although we’ve experienced a “tragic natural disaster,” history shows that these events do not have lasting impacts on economies — a “quicker-than-normal” recovery from COVID-19 was almost guaranteed.
  2. The United States’ fiscal and monetary policies during the pandemic created a “rocketship recovery,” which means the economy will be overheated for the next couple of years, carrying risks of inflation, higher interest rates and high public debt.
  3. The recovery is “accelerating underlying trends” that were already happening pre-pandemic.
    The housing situation is stable. It’s not about pricing or a “bubble” — yet — it’s about supply of available housing for those who want it.
  4. Thornberg said this is a very different business cycle that what the U.S. experienced in 2008 in regards to the pre-recession economy (subprime lending level during the Great Recession versus a healthy economy in 2020), consumer finances (low vs. high savings rates) and underlying drivers of the recession itself (demand shock vs. supply shock).

“This [time of the COVID-19 pandemic] was the deepest recession in history and also the shortest recession in history,” said Thornberg.

Unfortunately, there is still evidence of distress in the economy because the recovery is unbalanced. For example, services are lagging behind while durable and non-durable goods are way above trend.

San Francisco, he said, is about 35 percent down from where they were pre-pandemic because of their reliance on tourism and business-related travel, while San Jose remained relatively stable.

Goods trade is hot, but supply is slow because of the extraordinary demand we are experiencing at the moment.

Overall, national profits are up, along with corporate profits; tech employment is also up, which is great news for Silicon Valley.

Restaurants, hotels, airlines and entertainment are still struggling to get back; they couldn’t rebound until the vaccine rollout and the virus was under control. Yet, travel is currently picking up, and pent up demand for it is at an all-time high — Thornberg suggested buying tickets and planning your travel for the rest of the year now, as prices are expected to continue to rise.

There is a supply crisis in housing in California. Thornberg explained that middle-income people in the state are tired of being outbid for homes and are migrating to other areas where they can find houses without as much competition. With interest rates low and mortgage rates down, we’re seeing a “panic buying market,” not a “bubble” as with the previous recession.

Commercial real estate is still slow; suburban retail in particular has been impacted because of online shopping.

The labor market is “way behind in recovery,” despite employers adding 850,000 workers in June, the largest gain in 10 months. Thornberg explained the reason is a shortage of labor supply, meaning there are a tremendous amount of jobs available but not enough people to fill them.

This is due to a few factors: Some unemployed workers were temporarily laid off and are waiting for their jobs to come back, some are still using their unemployment benefits, and others have money in the bank and are comfortable with waiting for the “right” jobs, which Thornberg described as ones that will lead to better opportunities down the road.

In addition, a great deal of people retired during the pandemic, many of them seniors, and voluntary quits are at an all-time high.

Overall, Thornberg advised the tight labor market is here to stay, and this shortage of labor supply will continue. The answer: Businesses must consider how to retool in order to compensate for the labor shortage long term.

In short, parts of the economy are still struggling, but the strong growth we are experiencing will provide relief. Thornberg stressed the importance of refraining from referring to everything as a crisis, in favor of looking toward the future — now.

“We need to think about the generations coming behind us, whether we’re talking about climate change, whether we’re talking about housing supply, whether we’re talking about the basic issue of the fiscal deficit. We need to go back to thinking about tomorrow.”

For more economic insights see Christopher Thornberg’s full presentation or register here to view the full webinar.

Celebration of Research Event Honors Investigators, Highlights Creativity

Ellen Middaugh

Ellen Middaugh, assistant professor of child and adolescent development, is one of this year’s winners of the SJSU Early Career Investigator Award. Her work was honored at the Celebration of Research on April 29.

Thomas Madura studies the lives of massive stars — from how they’re born to how they die a giant, explosive death.

He also investigates ways to teach young blind or visually impaired students about astronomy, which Madura, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at San José State, says is usually thought of as a “visual science.” By 3D printing models of nebulae, planets, star clusters and the like, Madura’s work lets those students hold pieces of the galaxies in their hands.

Madura was one of two faculty awarded the prestigious SJSU Early Career Investigator Award (ECIA) for his work at the university’s annual Celebration of Research, hosted virtually by the Division of Research and Innovation on April 29. The ECIA recognizes tenure-track faculty members who have excelled in research, scholarship and creative activity at an early point in their careers.

The Celebration of Research, which drew more than 400 attendees, honored both students and faculty for research, innovation and creative activities. In between awards and recognitions, the event also featured artistic performances and accomplishments.

Ellen Middaugh, assistant professor of child and adolescent development, also received the ECIA award for her work on youth civic engagement — particularly on how to teach social media and Internet skills to those aged 15 to 25.

The goal of Middaugh’s work is to create informed, empowered and ethical civic engagement among adolescents and young adults, “so that people really understand the issues that affect them, they feel that they can have a voice, and they’re mindful of how their words and sharing of information impact other people,” she said.

The event also recognized the work of the two ECIA recipients from 2019, who would have been honored during last year’s Celebration of Research had the event not been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kim Blisniuk, associate professor of geology and 2019 ECIA recipient, was celebrated for her work investigating how landscapes change overtime from earthquakes and climate change.

Also a 2019 ECIA recipient, Yue “Wilson” Yuan, assistant professor of justice studies, was honored for his research studying the origins of fear of crime and how individuals and communities — Asian and Latino, in particular — react to criminal victimization.

The program also featured a special highlight of the “Teeter-Totter Wall” design project, created by Virginia San Fratello, the chair of the Department of Design, and UC Berkeley professor Ronald Rael. Earlier this year, San Fratello was presented with the prestigious Beazley Design of the Year award for her creativity, which brought together people at the U.S.-Mexico border on bright pink seesaws and received international recognition.

Guadalupe Franco, a student in the MS Environmental Studies program, won first place in the SJSU Grad Slam. She presented her three-minute thesis presentation on tackling homelessness and climate change.

Recognizing student research and creative activities

SJSU students took part in two research-based competitions — the 2021 SJSU Grad Slam and the SJSU Student Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (RSCA) Competition — for which the winners were announced at the event.

In a Grad Slam competition, graduate students condense the theses of their research projects into engaging, three-minute presentations — which must be understandable by a lay audience. Prizes are awarded based on the success of their presentations.

Guadalupe Franco, in the MS Environmental Studies program, received first place for her thesis, “Wicked Problems: Understanding How Cities and Counties in California are Tackling Climate Change and Homelessness.”

Second place went to Remie Gail Mandawe, who is in the Physiology master’s program, for “Targeting the Source of our Sixth Sense Using Blue Light.”

Celebration of Research attendees voted live for the recipient of the People’s Choice Award. They selected Holt Hanley, who is in the Meteorology master’s program, for his thesis “Estimating the Key Drivers of Wildfire Using Artificial Neural Networks.”

Both Franco and Mandawe will represent SJSU at the CSU Grad Slam on May 6 — the first system-wide competition, which San José State will host.

The eight RSCA Competition finalists — Aeowynn Coakley, Muhammad Khan, Terri Lee, Tomasz Lewicki, Victor Lui, Alaysia Palmer, Nicholas Roubineau and Hung Tong — went on to compete in the 35th Annual CSU Student Research Competition, held virtually on April 30 and May 1.

Khan, ’22 Biological Sciences, won first place in Biological and Agricultural Sciences – Undergraduate category at the state-wide event for his research, “Mutagenesis and Recombinant Expression of Aedes aegypti Serine Protease I (AaSPI), a possible N-Terminal Nucleophile (Ntn) Hydrolase.”

The SJSU Choraliers gave a socially distanced performance.

Amid the honors and recognition, the ceremony elevated artistic feats. Directed by Jeffrey Benson and featuring Vocal Performance major Daniel Rios, the SJSU Choraliers performed a socially distanced rendition of “I’ll Be On My Way” by Shawn Kirchner.

Spartan Film Studios showed their short film “Breakfast,” based on the short story by John Steinbeck and made in large part by SJSU students. The film has been accepted into the Beverly Hills International Film Festival.

The pathway to transformation

In 2019, Mohamed Abousalem joined San José State as the inaugural vice president of research and innovation with a goal: to realize the university’s potential for growth and increased societal impact through research. The Celebration of Research highlighted accomplishments in achieving that goal.

“No wonder San José State University is ranked the #1 Most Transformative University in the nation,” Abousalem said.

“Through the great research work that our faculty and students do, we are able to contribute to solving today’s problems and mitigate tomorrow’s challenges, alongside our industry and community partners.

“Public impact is the primary goal for the San José State University research enterprise,” he continued. “We are focused on bringing real value to our local and global communities, while supporting the scholarly careers of our faculty and providing our students with unique experiential learning.”

SJSU President Mary Papazian noted that when the university developed its Transformation 2030 Strategic Plan, leadership “quickly realized that research was a strategic growth area for the university.”

For example, one of the goals within the plan is to Excel and Lead.

“One of the ways we do that is by engaging students through faculty-mentored research, scholarship and creative activities,” Papazian explained. “Another one of our Transformation 2030 goals is to Connect and Contribute. And indeed, our research aligns with this goal.

“Our research and innovation brings value to our communities by contributing to an improved overall quality of life and by fueling economic growth. This will become even more critical as the state and regional economy emerges from this pandemic.”

Those who missed the event or want to catch it again will soon be able to access a recording on the Division of Research and Innovation website.

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 Yanet 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: Yanet 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.

Yanet 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.”

SJSU Fire Weather Research Workshop Highlights Advances in Wildfire Prediction and Tracking

Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center

Photo courtesy of the SJSU Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center

California braces for yet another menacing fire season

Twice a month, San José State researchers collect samples from local vegetation, or “fuels”—and what they found for April was foreboding: Craig Clements, director of the SJSU Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center, told KPIX 5 News last week.

“This is the time of year when the fuels should have the most moisture content of the season, and they’re actually the lowest we’ve ever measured for April,” he said in the news report.

But there’s hope: Fire prediction and tracking tools are advancing—a key takeaway from SJSU’s Fire Weather Research Workshop held April 8-9—and the university is leading the effort in providing fire management agencies with state-of-the-art resources to help curb the spread of wildfires.

The virtual event drew hundreds of researchers, students and fire management stakeholders from 20 countries to discuss the latest research and technology on fighting wildfires.

On the same day, California Gov. Gavin Newson announced a $536 million plan to prepare the state for the upcoming fire season. The California Legislature passed the package on April 12, and Newsom signed it April 13.

Intel from above the flames

Once a windstorm and an ignition come together, there’s little to be done.

“There’s nothing you can do to stop that fire,” explained Clements.

The best shot is to try to contain the fire with an “initial attack,” he continued. “That’s where remote sensing technology comes in, because the sooner you can detect the fire, the faster you can get into it.”

WRF-SFIRE is a forecast and modeling system—and a crucial resource to help curb the spread of wildfires—that relies on remote sensing technology. Developed and operated by SJSU, the system pairs data from satellite and infrared imaging with a simulation tool, and it combines a weather forecast model (Weather Research Forecast) with a fire-spread model (SFIRE).

During the workshop, faculty shared updates on WRF-SFIRE, including the addition of wildfire smoke dispersion forecasts, improved data input and analysis, more options for running simulations, and even a mobile-friendly interface.

Adam Kochanski, assistant professor of wildfire modeling, shared how WRF-SFIRE now can model smoke behavior based on fire-spread predictions.

Adam Kochanski, assistant professor of wildfire modeling, shared how WRF-SFIRE now can model smoke behavior based on fire-spread predictions.

But while tracking and prediction technology is advancing, not enough satellite and infrared imaging data is being gathered in day-to-day fire management operations, noted Miguel Valero Peréz, assistant professor of wildfire behavior and remote sensing at SJSU. He said that bringing that process up to speed is crucial and requires widespread collaboration.

“We need to collaborate with everyone—fire management agencies, academia, industry. We can only solve this problem if we work together,” Valero Peréz emphasized.

Solving a bigger problem

Newsom’s package may be able to help the state get ahead of the game as another dangerous fire season approaches. His plan provides funding to invest in workforce training, vegetation and terrain management, home protection and more.

But the effort to track conditions needs to be year-round, Clements told NBC Bay Area News.

“We need to be doing predictions for the conditions that would lead up to a severe fire season, so using the state-of-the-science modeling we have at San José State and running that operationally throughout the whole season versus a fire here and a fire there like we usually do,” he explained on the news report.

Joaquin Ramirez is principal consultant with Technosylva, Inc., a wildfire technology company that partners with SJSU by using WRF-SFIRE to assist management agencies like Cal Fire during fire season. In 2020, they offered Cal Fire support with more than 9,000 fires.

Wildfires in 2020 California

Joaquin Ramirez of Technosylva, Inc., a wildfire technology company, provided a look back at 2020 fires in California.

He said the workshop is proof of the exciting research and technology in progress, but that there’s still much to do when it comes to solving the wider problem.

“An all-hands job is needed, starting from supporting citizens that understand that we have to live with fire in a smarter way—and that we need to support scientists as much as we support our firefighters.”

A community service

Clements said that while the workshop is about exchanging research and ideas, it’s also about providing information directly to those fighting fires on the front lines.

Because it’s free and several topics are covered in a shorter amount of time, it can be a good alternative to a conference, which might not always be an option for fire management agency employees.

“It’s part of our service to the community to host this workshop and to have it to be free to anyone,” he explained. “It’s about accessibility to the knowledge.”

WRF-SFIRE is available on mobile platforms

WRF-SFIRE is now accessible on mobile devices, a new addition to the system by wildfire researchers at SJSU.

Martin Kurtovich, senior utilities engineer for California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), said their staff participated to engage on important fire science topics—particularly wildfire modeling and predictions for forecasting future fire conditions.

He added, “I appreciate the important work being done at SJSU in not only conducting important research on California wildfires but also training future leaders in wildfire management.”

Learn more about SJSU’s Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center here.

Spartan Speaker Series to Focus on Racism, Mental Health, Gender and More, Kicks Off Feb. 10

This semester, the San José State community can take a deep dive into topics such as racism, activism, mental health, gender and identity. The Spring 2021 Spartan Speaker Series at SJSU kicks off virtually on Wednesday, Feb. 10, with comedian, host and producer Baratunde Thurston. The entire series is free and open to the public.

Baratunde Thurston
Deconstructing Racism with Baratunde Thurston

Thurston will give his talk, “How to Deconstruct Racism and Laugh at the Same Time,” at 7 p.m. via Zoom. An Emmy-nominated host who has worked for The Onion, produced for The Daily Show and even advised the Obama White House, Thurston is the author of the New York Times bestseller “How to Be Black.” He’s also the executive producer and host of “We’re Having a Moment”—a podcast examining the intersection of the global pandemic, the fight for racial justice and the spotlight on policing in the U.S—as well as “How to Citizen with Baratunde,” which offers different perspectives on how to improve society collectively.

Student Affairs, who produces the series in collaboration with the César E. Chávez Community Action Center (CCCAC), received requests for speakers focusing on racial justice, journalism and the media. “Baratunde Thurston is a wonderful choice to represent these topics,” says Adrienne Jensen-Doray, assistant director of Student Involvement. “He addresses the social and political landscape in the U.S., as well as trauma and healing. He also provides perspectives on life as an entrepreneur and a podcaster—two topics of interest to many of our students.”

When planning the series as a whole, Jensen-Doray says themes such as “racial justice and mental health and wellness were critical, given the needs and interest of our students and current events. We also considered heritage months, such as Black History Month, Women Herstory Month and Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American (APIDA) Heritage Month.”

Thurston will conclude his presentation with a Q&A.

Alok Menon

Exploring Gender and Identity with ALOK

Later in the month, Alok Vaid-Menon (ALOK) will serve as the keynote speaker for the 15th anniversary of the CCCAC. In “Beyond the Binary,” on Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m., ALOK, a gender non-conforming writer, performance artist and mixed-media artist, will explore themes of gender, race, trauma and belonging. They are the author of “Femme in Public” and “Beyond the Gender Binary.” In 2019, they were honored as one of NBC’s Pride 50 and Out Magazine’s OUT 100.

Since its inception in 2006, the CCCAC has sought to connect SJSU students with civic engagement opportunities that deepen educational experience while promoting a lifelong commitment to activism and social justice, which are at the heart of the legacy of César Chávez.

“As we move into thinking about the next 15 years for the CCCAC and the world, it’s important we bring a keynote speaker that represents a community not often given the platform to influence the next generation of social justice leaders,” explains Diana Victa, department manager of the CCCAC. “ALOK is the best fit because of their leadership in spreading awareness of gender identities, specifically gender non-conforming folx.”

Thea Monyee

Bridging Mental Health and Activism with Thea Monyee

The CCCAC will also present the “A Conversation with Thea Monyee: Sustaining Joy in the Midst of Social Change: Bridging Mental Health and Activism,” on Tuesday, March 2, at 3 p.m. Monyee, a poet and marriage and family therapist, self identifies as a “Black Woman Creative.” She has appeared on HBO, BET, Spectrum, OWN, Fox Soul and TV One, and her work stems from her commitment to healing, which she believes can only occur in a liberated and non-oppressive society.

“It was very important to us to address mental health this semester,” says Jensen-Doray. “Monyee does this through an activist lens, which we hope will resonate with students.”

Simon Tam

Making Trouble with Simon Tam

Finally, the series will conclude on Wednesday, April 14, at 7 p.m. with a talk by Simon Tam. In “Slanted: How an Asian American Troublemaker Took on the Supreme Court,” Tam will share how he helped expand civil liberties for minorities through the unanimous victory of the U.S. Supreme Court case, Matal v. Tam, in 2017. “He offers a unique perspective on identity and justice, as well as the intersection of arts and activism,” says Jensen-Doray.

Tam is the founder and bassist of The Slants, an all-Asian American dance rock band. He also leads the nonprofit The Slants Foundation, which supports arts and activism projects for underrepresented communities. Tam’s talk will include a musical performance, and he will take questions from participants after his talk.


Attendees of any of the talks should register ahead of time in order to receive a Zoom link.

“I hope those who attend multiple events in this series notice the commonalities and prevalence of specific advice—whether it is about forging your own path, building resilience or mentorship and the role mentors have played in our speakers’ lives,” says Jensen-Doray.

She also adds that Student Involvement seeks input from SJSU students, faculty and staff to identify pertinent themes and speakers-of-interest for the 2021-2022 series. Those interested can provide feedback here.

San José State Celebrates Black History Month

Every year, San José State honors Black History Month by offering events, speaker series, workshops and lectures that recognize Black and African-American heritage, cultures and contributions to society. This year’s events will take place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are hosted by a number of different departments across campus. While these events are held in February, the university remains committed to fostering a culture of anti-racism and addressing systemic racism on and off campus throughout the year. Events this spring include, but are not limited to:


Black History Month Open Mic

Thursday, February 4, 6 p.m.

Join The Black Leadership Opportunity Centre, Student Union, Inc. and Mosaic for the February Open Mic night in honor of Black History Month. For more information, check out Mosaic’s YouTube video stream or contact the center at mosaic@sjsu.edu.


Center for Literary Arts Presents: Kiese Laymon

CLA

The Center for Literary Arts presents Kiese Laymon in conversation with Keenan Norris.

Thursday, February 4, 7 p.m.

The Center for Literary Arts is pleased to present Kiese Laymon, the best-selling author of Heavy: An American Memoir, in a reading and conversation with San José State Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature Keenan Norris.


SCARRED JUSTICE: The Orangeburg Massacre 1968

Poster of the three protestors who were killed.

Monday, February 8, noon

Fifty-three years ago, on the campus of South Carolina State University, the South Carolina Highway Patrol opened fire on a group of civil rights protestors, killing three and wounding 28. Join the Department of African American Studies and the Africana, Asian American, Chicano, and Native American Studies Center of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library for a special film screening of Scarred Justice: The Orangeburg Massacre 1968 with discussion to follow.


SJSU Reads: Confession of Copeland Cane with Keenan Norris

SJSU Reads.

Tuesday, February 9, noon

San José State Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature Keenan Norris will read an excerpt from his forthcoming novel, The Confession of Copeland Cane. Set in East Oakland, California, The Confession of Copeland Cane introduces us to a prescient and startlingly contemporary voice, one that exposes the true dangers of coming of age in America: miseducation, over-medication, radiation and incarceration.

Norris’ 2013 novel, Brother and the Dancer, won the James D. Houston Award. He has also published the chapbook By the Lemon Tree and served as editor for the critical volume Street Lit: Representing the Urban Landscape. The Confession of Copeland Cane will be published in June 2021.


Teach-In Panel Discussion: Dr. Angela Davis and the Indispensability of Black Feminism and Socialism in 2021

Barbara Ransby, Neferti X.M Tadiar and Bettina Aptheker.

Tuesday, February 9, 3 – 5 p.m.

This second event of the Human Rights Institute Lecture Series will feature a virtual teach-in panel discussion of Black feminism and socialism by internationally-known scholars Barbara Ransby; Neferti X.M. Tadiar; and Bettina Aptheker, ’76 MA Mass Communications. Each guest will present a brief but provocative talk before engaging directly with questions from the viewing audience.


All-African People’s Revolution Party Film and Dialogue Series

All-African People's Revolution Party.

Tuesdays, February 9, 16, 23, and March 3

Co-sponsored by the Africana, Asian American, Chicano, and Native American (AAACNA) Studies Center, celebrate Black History Month by joining the All-African People’s Revolution Party Film and Dialogue Series, featuring short films, speeches, guest presenters, and more covering a variety of contemporary issues with discussion to follow.

  • Feb. 9: Africom and Militarism
  • Feb. 16: #ENDSARS and Police Violence in Africa
  • Feb. 23: Power of Words
  • Mar. 2: Cuba and Sanctions

Spartan Speaker Series: Baratunde Thurston on How to Deconstruct Racism and Laugh at the Same Time

Wednesday, February 10, 7 p.m.

Baratunde Thurston is an Emmy-nominated host who has worked for The Onion, produced for The Daily Show, advised the Obama White House, and cleaned bathrooms to pay for his Harvard education. He’s the executive producer and host of We’re Having A Moment, a limited-run podcast series that captures this defining moment of pandemic, policing, and race in the U.S. He’s also the creator and host of Live On Lockdown, has hosted the iHeartMedia podcast Spit, wrote the New York Times bestseller How To Be Black, and serves on the boards of BUILD and the Brooklyn Public Library.


Shaun Leonardo: ConSortiUm

Thursday, February 11, 5:30 p.m.

Shaun Leonardo’s multidisciplinary work negotiates societal expectations of manhood, namely definitions surrounding black and brown masculinities, along with its notions of achievement, collective identity, and experience of failure. His performance practice, anchored by his work in Assembly—a diversion program for court-involved youth at the Brooklyn-based, nonprofit Recess—is participatory and invested in a process of embodiment.

ConSortiUm is a ground-breaking collaborative group that generates opportunities to include artists, curators, students, faculty, staff, and other allies from across the CSU campuses in visual arts-based dialogue. The CSU system represents the largest public four-year college system in the country, with more than 480,000 students enrolled at 23 campuses. Formed in Spring 2020 in response to the distance learning implemented by the CSU during the Covid-19 pandemic, ConSortiUm members are dedicated to responding to current societal issues and the pressing demand for an end to systemic and overt racism in California and beyond.


ISSSSC Sport Conversations for Change presents: We are Family – Sport, Politics, Culture and the Black Family

Thursday, February 11, noon

Over the past year, race, racism, and anti-Black racism has been at the forefront of national and international conversations and centered Black people and DEI initiatives in the management and operations of businesses and organizations. This event, hosted by the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change, will examine these issues and the experiences of Black athletes, coaches, sport professionals and their families. ISSSSC will celebrate Black History Month 2021 with scholars and leaders to discuss the significance of Black people in sporting spaces, examine the role Black athletes and coaches have played in political conversations, identify the influence and commodification of Black sport figures in cultural spaces, and explain how these experiences are affecting the representation, identity and diversity of the Black family.

Panelists:

  • Travis Boyce, chair and associate professor of African American Studies, SJSU
  • Letisha Engracia Cardoso Brown, assistant professor of sociology, Virginia Tech
  • Billy Hawkins, interim department chair and professor of health and human performance, University of Houston

Human Rights Institute Lecture Series: Keynote with Dr. Angela Davis

Dr. Angela Davis.

Thursday, February 11, 5 p.m.

The culminating event for the SJSU HRI Human Rights Lecture Series, featuring the 2021 keynote human rights lecture from UC Santa Cruz Distinguished Professor Emerita Angela Davis. Following the lecture, join for a discussion of how these ideas are shaping political struggles in our region and across the country.


Sneaker History IS Black History

Sean Williams showcasing his sneakers on a stand.

Monday, February 15, noon

Sean Williams, a sneaker expert and consultant, will deliver a talk on the history of sneakers and its importance to Black history, with a Q&A session to follow. This event is hosted by the Department of African American Studies.


Department of Economics Provocative Lecture Series: “Why the Study of Economics Neglects Race, and What Can be Done About It?”

Wednesday, February 24 at 5:30 p.m.

Gary Hoover, economics professor and the executive director of the Murphy Institute at Tulane University, will speak about strategies for bringing race into the teaching and study of economics. Hoover received his PhD in economics from Washington University in St. Louis in 1998 and is the co-chair of the American Economic Association Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession. He has also served as the vice president of the Southern Economic Association. He is the founding and current editor of the Journal of Economics, Race, and Policy. He has been a visiting scholar at the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin.

Hoover is also available on Friday, February 27 to meet with students and faculty members in small groups. Email SJSU Economics Professor Matthew Holian to book a time.


Frederick Douglass: Living History Presentation

Thursday, February 25, 11 a.m.

The San José State History Department is hosting a Chautauqua-style Living History performance, featuring James H. Armstead, Jr. as the iconic abolitionist Frederick Douglass. This event is free and open to the public. The departments of African American Studies, Communication Studies, the Black Leadership and Opportunity Center, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and the College of Social Sciences are co-sponsoring this event.

______________________________________________________________________________

Beyond Words: Doing Justice – An Interview with Judge Thelton Henderson

Thursday, February 25, 7 p.m.

The Department of African American Studies co-sponsors an interview with Judge Thelton Henderson, who served on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Throughout his career, he has made transformational decisions on affirmative action, environmental protection and police and prison reform. In 1997, he ruled that Proposition 209, California’s anti-affirmative action initiative, was unconstitutional. This event is hosted by the San Jose/Silicon Valley Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).


Professional Development Workshop for Writers of Color, featuring Lynette Wanzer

Saturday, Feb. 27, 10 a.m.
Sunday, Feb. 28, 10 a.m.

Join the Diasporic Peoples Writing Collective for a two-day online professional development workshop for writers of color with writer Lynette Wanzer.

The interactive workshop covers finding free and low-cost professional tools that can strengthen your submissions, contest entries, grants and MFA applications, as well as creating a literary submissions calendar, drafting effective personal statements and a literary C.V., identifying trusted submission sites, grants, fellowships and residencies in markets that welcome writers of color.


Super Sunday

President Mary Papazian will provide a Zoom presentation at Emmanuel Baptist Church on Sunday, February 28, as part of California State University’s annual Super Sunday event, an effort to engage and serve underrepresented students. Vice President of Student Affairs Patrick Day will visit the Maranatha Christian Center, masked and socially distant, on the same day.


For more information about SJSU’s Black History Month events, please contact the Mosaic Cross Cultural Center at mosaic@sjsu.edu or The BLOC at africanamericanblackssc@sjsu.edu.

 

 

College of Engineering Celebrates 75 Years with Events All Semester Long

Collage of the College of Engineering with a 75th Anniversary badge

The Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering at San José State University is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2021.

“A special mission of this celebration is to let our students know that they are part of a historic college community, and they can be proud of our heritage of innovation,” said Dr. Sheryl Ehrman, the Don Beall Dean of Engineering. “Accordingly, we’re creating opportunities to educate them and the public about some of our key engineering alumni who are shaping the world now, and to share our pride in this global and diverse community of students, faculty, and staff.”

Dr. Ehrman added, “While it has admittedly been difficult to plan festivities during the pandemic, we believe we have enough offerings to sustain engagement with our students and alumni even while everyone is online in the spring, and we are hoping for more in-person celebrations in the fall.”

The College will debut new web pages this semester, with a robust timeline and historic photos, some contributed by alumni.

During January and February, students are participating in a college-wide student video competition with the theme: “My club/my major/my department is the best because…” Students can be as creative as they like in their submissions. Students, faculty and staff will vote for their favorite entries and five winners will be announced in late February during National Engineers Week.

Multiple speaker series focusing on engineering careers, the industry landscape of Silicon Valley, and engineering activism for social justice will be featured February through May.

For late April, the college plans to publish a double issue of its alumni magazine, Engineering at San José State, with a feature from every department.

A student clubs showcase, with breakout rooms, will be a new feature of the virtual Annual Engineering Awards ceremony in May. Other plans for the year include engineering movie nights and special lapel pins for graduating seniors. Visit the College’s website to read about more developments.

Collaborative of CSU Art Museums and Galleries Announces Virtual Event Series

The newly formed ConSortiUm, a ground-breaking collaborative project of art museums and galleries from the California State University (CSU) system, is pleased to announce a virtual event series that actively engages students, faculty and staff members, and communities through visual arts-based dialogue.

The inaugural program, PLATFORM, launched in September 2020, includes six live virtual conversations with contemporary artists, collectives, and curators whose work is critical to current re-imaginings of the art world and the world at large.

“The goal of the PLATFORM speaker series is to be accessible to anyone in any discipline. It is to make sure we address the issues that are going to be at the top of our student’s minds as well as the faculty’s minds at this moment in time,” said Natalie and James Thompson Art Galleries Director and Collections Manager Alena Sauzade.

According to Sauzade, all of the speakers in the series have been hand-chosen to be meaningful during these times, and the talks will not just pique the interest of art historians and designers but it’s meant to cut a broad swath “that could address contemporary topics ranging from the environment to immigration to social justice,” said Sauzade.

The Thompson Gallery is the first of all the ConSortiUm art museums and galleries to transition to a digital format back in April 2020. “We hosted our first webinar lecture at the end of the spring semester. I brought that idea up to the ConSortiUm members as a possibility,” said Sauzade.

The PLATFORM speaker series fits well with the gallery’s Tuesday night lectures and all the other great programming that’s happening in the College of Humanities and the Arts. Most of the gallery’s program has shifted online, including lectures and exhibitions, without impeding content and productivity.

San José State will be co-hosting two lectures next semester. Spring 2021 lectures will feature Oakland-based People’s Kitchen Collective and multidisciplinary artist Shaun Leonardo.

According to Sauzade, all of the speakers’ sessions will be inspiring for students, especially People’s Kitchen Collective, a group of social activists artists who work with local issues of food insecurity and food poverty in the Bay Area. “It may seem that art is disconnected from something like food, but actually it’s not at all,” said Sauzade.

The final event for 2020 will occur on Thursday, November 12 at noon and includes a presentation by Forensic Architecture founder Eyal Weizman. A London-based artists’ collective, Forensic Architecture undertakes advanced spatial and media investigations into cases of human rights violations, with and on behalf of communities affected by political violence, human rights organizations, international prosecutors, environmental justice groups, and media organizations. The collective’s work often involves open-source investigation, the construction of digital and physical models, 3D animations, virtual reality environments, and cartographic platforms.

ConSortiUm recognizes that CSU students are integral to creating a new future, and is therefore committed to providing access to a multiplicity of voices and inspiration as students discover and nurture their own agency.

All events will be presented live via Zoom with access to all CSU campuses. Recordings of the events will be available for post-live stream viewing and archived by the sponsoring institutions. These events are free and open to the public.

EVENT INFORMATION: 2020

Artist Beatriz Cortez in conversation with Erin Christovale, Associate Curator, Hammer Museum
Thursday, September 24, 5:30 p.m.
Hosted by Cal Poly Pomona, CSU Long Beach, and CSU Northridge To register for the Zoom webinar visit: https://www.cpp.edu/platform-csu-art-speaker-series/ .

Postcommodity : A conversation with artists Cristóbal Martínez and Kade L. Twist Thursday, October 22, 5:30 p.m.
Hosted by CSU Humboldt, CSU Long Beach and Fresno State

Forensic Architecture: A conversation with founder Eyal Weizman
Thursday, November 12, noon

Hosted by CSU Bakersfield and Sacramento State

The CSU system represents the largest public four-year college system in the country, with more than 480,000 students enrolled at 23 campuses. ConSortiUm formed when CSU announced remote teaching would continue through the end of 2020. ConSortiUm members are dedicated to supporting students, artists, and their campuses’ surrounding communities during the pandemic, while also responding to the pressing demand for an end to systemic and overt racism in California and beyond.

2020 ISSSSC Sport, Society and Social Change Conference

A single black line morphs midway into a person running with golden wings.

San José State University’s Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change (ISSSSC) will host its inaugural Sport, Society and Social Change Conference: Dream With Your Eyes Open: (Re) Imagining Sport in the Age of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter.

The two-day virtual conference takes place on November 12 – 13 from 9:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. (PST).

Thought leaders, scholars, social change organizations, athletic administrators, athletes, and students will discuss the legacy of social activism and ways to promote social change and equity.

ISSSSC Executive Director and Associate Professor of African American Studies Akilah R. Carter-Francique says the inspiration for the conference comes from the musings of C. Wright Mills’ ‘The Sociological Imagination’ (1959). “Mills’ concept of sociological imagination promotes “the awareness of the relationship between personal experience and the wider society.”

The event includes keynote speakers, panel discussions, presentations, and community conversations highlighting personal experiences, on-going challenges and acknowledging people, groups, and organizations’ efforts to promote social change.

“The ISSSSC wanted to create a space that brings a variety of communities together to discuss the state and role of sport locally to globally, to educate, to network, to share ideas, research and innovations, and to support one another in efforts to promote social justice and social change. We especially want to use this space to engage the next generation in the legacy of equity and social justice and to, in the words of Dr. Harry Edwards, ‘ . . . teach our children to dream with their eyes open, Carter-Francique says.

Keynote speakers on November 12

  • Shireen Ahmed, Sports Activist, Public Speaker, Writer, Independent Journalist, CA
  • Dr. Jules Boykoff, Professor and Department Chair, Political Science, Pacific University, USA
  • Dr. Amira Rose Davis, Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies, Penn State University, USA
  • Dr. Jamil Northcutt, Vice President, Player Engagement, Major League Soccer, USA

Keynote speakers on November 13

  • Dr. Algerian Hart, Associate Dean of the Graduate College and Professor of Kinesiology at Missouri State University and President (2020-2021) North American Society for the Sociology of Sport
  • Dr. Kevin Hylton, Emeritus Professor of Equality and Diversity in Sport, Leisure, and Education, Leeds University, UK and Chair Sheffield Race Equality Commission, UK
  • Dr. Nicole LaVoi, Director, Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women, University of Minnesota, USA
  • Rachelle Patel, Director of Marketing and Events, Laureus Sport for Good, USA

Conference Agenda

The conference will also feature pre-recorded 5-minute lightning talks from SJSU students on topics related to sport and social justice. Students who submitted presentations are eligible for awards ranging from $50.00 to $150.00

Conference Registration

The ISSSSC will continue conversations about the legacy of social justice and equity through its “Sport Conversations for Change” webinar series, internship program and educational collaborations.

San José State Hosts Multiple Virtual Career Fairs

Screenshot of the SJSU Career Center webinar showing a slide that says We're Hiring! with three cards that say Explore Internship, University Internship, and Full-Time.

SJSU students had the opportunity to meet with employers like Microsoft during special Employer Insight workshops. Microsoft University Recruiter Brian Cuadra provided information on internship and job opportunities.

How can San José State students connect with potential employers during the COVID-19 health pandemic? In an era when students and recruiters can’t meet for an actual handshake, the San José State Career Center has leveraged the new career fair feature in Handshake, SJSU’s student career management platform, to host virtual career fairs.

More than 2,500 SJSU students have participated in six fairs since the fall 2020 semester began, according to Catherine Voss Plaxton, interim associate vice president of student services. The Career Center first offered virtual career fairs in the 2016-2017 school year. Also in that year, the team established career fairs for five, broad career pathways, offering possibilities for every major.

Handshake dashboard that lists career fair events for students to attend.

SJSU students can register for virtual career fairs using SJSU Handshake.

“By using Handshake, we can easily promote fairs to SJSU’s 9,200 local employers and the over 60 percent of undergraduate students who actively use the system,” said Voss Plaxton. “We were the first Bay Area campus to post a virtual career fair schedule and invite employers to recruit this fall.”

Students can access online resources to prepare for the virtual fairs, including job fair success webinars, individual career counseling appointments and access to VMock, an online resume-building tool. The Career Center also has offered four Employer Insights events with top employers to share advice for getting jobs at their companies. More than 175 students participated in a recent session that featured Microsoft representatives. Two additional Insights events are planned for fall 2020.

Shawn Klein, ’21 Human Resources Management, signed up for a one-on-one online meeting with Stacey Caceres, talent acquisition manager for Enterprise Holdings, during the Business, Logistics and Financial Services Virtual Job/Internship Fair on September 29.

“My experience was great,” said Klein, who works as a peer career advisor at SJSU and is looking for a job in HR. “I didn’t have to wait in any lines. I was able to get one-on-one time or a group session with everyone I needed to talk to. In the past, there were some employers I would’ve needed to wait 30 minutes just to speak to. Sometimes I never got the chance. To be able to set when you want to talk to someone and to see their availability helps save so much time. It gives you the ability to get face time with everyone. ”

Virtual fairs can make recruiting more convenient for employers as well. Zuleica Pena, ’15 Business Administration, who works in talent acquisition at the accounting firm PwC, attended a special Meet the Firms virtual event for accounting majors on September 17.

“We had a very positive experience with having Meet the Firms be virtual this semester,” said Pena. “The video platform was great quality and easy to use. The fact that student profiles were easy to access definitely made things run a lot smoother.”

More than 130 employers have participated in SJSU virtual career fairs this fall. According to exit surveys conducted by the SJSU Career Center, 60 percent of student attendees agreed or strongly agreed that the event helped them identify next steps to take in career preparation, while 74 percent recommended the virtual fairs to fellow SJSU students On November 3, Spartans can participate in a Graduate and Professional School Virtual Career Fair, a partnership between the College of Graduate Studies and the Career Center.

SJSU Legacy of Poetry Day 2020: Staying Home—The Way to San Jose

Media Contacts:
Alan Soldofsky, alan.soldofsky@sjsu.edu
Gaia Collar-Schilling, gaia.collar-schilling@sjsu.edu

San Jose State’s Poets and Writers Coalition will host the annual Legacy of Poetry Day Reading and Celebration in honor of National Poetry Month as an online event this year, which will premiere on YouTube April 23. This year’s event will focus on the theme “Staying Home: The Way to San Jose.” The theme is designed to include poems inspired by the poets’ personal and family stories of how they settled in and made their home in San Jose and Silicon Valley, or how they’re coping with sheltering in place in San Jose or nearby Silicon Valley communities. Interested community members can participate via Zoom starting at 4 p.m. on April 23.

This year’s keynote poet is Ellen Bass, poet, educator, bestselling nonfiction author and winner of the Lambda Literary Award. Bass is a former Santa Cruz poet laureate and is SJSU’s 2021 Connie and Robert Lurie Distinguished Author-in-Residence. Her newest collection of poems, Indigo, was published in April 2020 by Copper Canyon Press. Her poems frequently appear in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, The New York Times Magazine and other publications. She is also a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Joining her as featured readers are Janice Logo Sapigao, newly appointed Santa Clara County poet laureate; Mighty Mike McGee, former Santa Clara County poet laureate; Arlene Biala, ’90 Psychology, former Santa Clara County poet laureate; Sally Ashton, ’01 English, former Santa Clara County poet laureate; Gary Singh, ’94 BA, ’98 MA, Music, poet and Metro columnist; and Tskaka Campbell, award-winning poet and spoken word artist.

Alan Soldofsky

Alan Soldofsky, director of SJSU’s Creative Writing program, at the 2015 Legacy of Poetry event. He is organizing virtual events for National Poetry Month this year. Photo by Christina Olivas.

These featured poets will be followed by SJSU faculty poets, including Alan Soldofsky, director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing, Michael Tod Edgerton and Joseph Navarro, as well as Darrell Dela Cruz, ’07 English, ’11 MFA Creative Writing, Linda Lappin, ’97 English, ’07 MFA Creative Writing and Mark Heinlein, ’09 MFA Creative Writing. They will be followed by San Jose community poets and award-winning undergraduate and graduate student poets.

Poetry Contest: #Best20secondPoemsSJSU

As part of this festival, SJSU students and members of the SJSU community are invited to submit a 20-second poem for a special contest—the amount of time the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends we spend washing our hands. Poems can be submitted on social media using the hashtag #Best20secondPoemsSJSU. If chosen, poets will be asked to send an audio or video file to be posted on the Legacy of Poetry website. Submissions are open until May 1.

The Legacy of Poetry Reading and Celebration is made possible by the following SJSU campus sponsors in conjunction with the SJSU Poets and Writers Coalition: the Department of English and Comparative Literature; the College of Humanities and Arts; the Center for Literary Arts and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library. Community co-sponsors include Poetry Center San Jose and Copper Canyon Press.

Earth Month 2020 Goes Online

Student on the tower lawn doing a yoga pose.

Yoga on the Tower Lawn, one of many resource fair activities for Earth Week 2019. Photo by David Schmitz.

Fifty years ago, on April 22, Gaylord Nelson created history by choosing to commemorate the legacy of the only home we know, Earth.

Affected by the devastating oil spill off the Santa Barbara coast in 1969, the former U.S. Senator and Wisconsin governor led a grassroots movement with the hope that the day would inspire people to listen to the environment and collectively share the responsibilities that humans owe to the planet.

The founder of Earth Day, Nelson, ’39 Political Science, was an SJSU alumnus. Despite COVID-19 derailing full-scale campus events and activities, San Jose State remains committed to Nelson’s story.

This year, Earth Month has moved online. A good benefit to having an online celebration such as this, is “that not many people are driving, and that’s way less air pollution already,” said Debbie Andres, ’07 Chemical Engineering, SJSU senior utilities and sustainability analyst.

This April, the SJSU Office of Sustainability is running a robust social media campaign, the Earth Day Eco Challenge, in collaboration with campus Environmental Resource Center (ERC) and Cesar Chavez Community Action Center (CCCAC). In addition, there are a host of exciting educational events and activities in the form of virtual teach-ins, reading assignments, workshops, green career panels, and discussions, all of which will offer an opportunity for students to join in the environmental conversations.

Earth Day was founded on the spirit of teach-in—an activity Nelson designed to educate people about the environment. According to Katherine Cushing, professor of environmental studies, “there are many sources out there that discuss possible linkages between large scale environmental issues, such as climate change, air pollution and the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Earth Day assignment, “COVID-19, Climate Change, and the Environment,” that Cushing built for her students will help put many different factors surrounding these issues in perspective.

Cushing has been spearheading the effort to provide the faculty with resources for incorporating a sustainability component in their courses this month. Six different assignments are available that are applicable to majors from a wide range of academic disciplines, ranging from business to biology.

A plaque in front of a tree which says planted in honor of Gaylord Nelson.

Every year, students plant a tree on campus. Photo by David Schmitz.

April Events:

Menstruation, Stigma, Zero Waste Period

Tune into this pre-recorded event posted on both the Sustainability Office’s and Gender Equity Center’s YouTube channel. Get to know about the taboos, misconceptions, and sustainable methods for a greener world. This event is brought to you by the Gender Equity Center and the Office of Sustainability. All genders welcome.

April 16: Being the Change: Book discussion

Noon–1 p.m.

This one-hour discussion on climate change will run with Eugene Cordero, SJSU meteorology and climate change professor. The group will be reviewing Chapters 1-6 of Being the Change by Sara K. Ahmed. Register to attend Being the Change.

April 21 and 23: Sustainable Designs and Buildings on the SJSU Campus

April 21: 9–10: 15 a.m. and 1:30–2:45 p.m.
April 23: 9–10:15 a.m. and 1:30–2:45 p.m.

Join Art History Professor Molly Hankwitz and her students as they present a series of brief presentations on sustainable design materials and resources on the SJSU campus. Featured buildings include the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, the Student Recreation and Aquatic Center, and the Diaz Campion Student Union. Original posters designed by students will also be previewed in honor of Earth Day. Register in advance for this meeting.

April 22: The Climate Reality Project

12 p.m

The climate crisis is already affecting ecosystems and communities across the globe, but it is not too late to take action. This climate reality presentation will show you how. The presentation is non-partisan, from the perspective of science. The presentation is broken into three parts—”Must We Change,” “Can We Change” and “Will We Change.” Engage with Emeritus Professor and Director of Sbona Honors Program & Thompson Global Internship Program Bill DeVincenzi and ask any questions you may have. Register for The Climate Crisis: What you need to know.

April 29: Green Career Panel

Noon–2 p.m.

The Green Career Panel will be hosted in partnership with the Career Center, followed by networking opportunities. Learn from and engage with panelists from the California Water Efficiency Partnership, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, The City of San Jose, Rising Sun Power. Register for SJSU Green Career Panel Registration.

April 30:

Participate in the SJSU Earth Month Instagram Giveaway! Learn more at @sjsugreencampus via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Learn more about the university’s sustainability practices by reviewing the 2017-2020 SJSU Sustainability Report.