SJSU Launches New Combined Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees

This fall, San José State University introduced a new opportunity for undergraduate students — an accelerated track to earning a bachelor’s and a master’s degree at the same time.

The new Spartan Accelerated Graduate Education (SAGE) Programs allow students to pursue the two degrees simultaneously by earning graduate credit while in their junior and/or senior year. This reduces the number of semesters required for completion of a master’s degree and saves students time and money in the process.

Students may apply to become SAGE Scholars once they complete half of their undergraduate coursework or 60 credits. Currently, SJSU has announced 11 of these combined bachelor’s and master’s programs: 10 beginning in fall (three in engineering and seven in education) and one additional program, biomedical engineering, starting in spring 2022.

“We’re providing a smooth pathway for students to transition from undergraduate to graduate education and the ultimate goal of achieving both degrees,” said Marc d’Alarcao, dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

The SAGE programs also eliminate the need for students to apply for graduate programs — a sometimes lengthy process that includes costly application fees and GRE/GMAT tests, which add additional time to prepare for and take when required.

“A big advantage of [SAGE Programs] is that we could be breaking down some of the barriers in place that are just enough to keep a student from considering this graduate degree,” said Thalia Anagnos, vice provost of undergraduate education. “This opportunity ultimately will help them achieve higher goals than they might have if they just earned an undergraduate degree.”

Susan Verducci, a professor and advisor who helps departments who prepare teachers create these programs, expressed similar thoughts: “SAGE programs are designed to reduce hurdles to graduate studies, including an advisor-supported transition between undergraduate and graduate work and a decrease in the time it takes to earn a master’s degree.”

“When you think about applying for almost any graduate program through the regular channels, you need to plan three to six months to a year in advance,” added Anagnos. “Students can complete the [SAGE application] process relatively quickly, making the decision to pursue a graduate degree easier for them.”

The seven SAGE programs in education also provide the opportunity for students to concurrently satisfy the requirements needed for a teaching credential. According to d’Alarcao, this could benefit new teachers by boosting their starting salaries.

“Getting a credential, which they need in order to teach, and a master’s degree at the same time may help them get a higher salary when they’re starting out, which is a value proposition that students will likely appreciate,” he explained.

The SAGE Programs have been designed to be as easy for students to navigate as possible. Each individual program has its own useful roadmap, outlining the required courses and the order in which they need to be taken for a successful transition between undergraduate and graduate status. This is especially important because students begin their graduate work while they are still technically undergraduates.

“SAGE programs can be highly valuable for students who know early on that they want to earn a master’s in their field of study,” adds Verducci. “The programs provide students with an integrative and cohesive educational experience toward their professional goals by allowing them to take carefully sequenced master’s-level courses as undergraduates.”

Behind the scenes of the SAGE Programs is Jeffrey Honda, associate dean of graduate programs. He’s been working with departments across campus to build the program sequences during the pandemic. The programs go through vigorous approvals from department to college to university committees, and eventually the California State University’s chancellor’s office, before they are given the green light.

According to Honda, there are a number of other colleges at SJSU that are interested in offering their own SAGE Programs to students. The next ones could be from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, he explained. Four of them are currently under review by Honda and their stakeholders.

In 2019, the College of Graduate Studies launched with a mission to develop a variety of new, independent programs, including expanding doctoral program offerings and now the SAGE Programs, which are providing additional pathways to graduate education for students.

Dean d’Alarcao is excited by the potential of the SAGE Programs and what they can do for students. “This is part of a constellation of things that we’re doing to overall strengthen the access to graduate education,” he said.

“I hope we will continue to get additional SAGE Programs developed, so we have a broad menu of these opportunities in a lot of different disciplinary areas. By virtue of having these programs, I believe more of our undergraduates will seek that graduate degree before going into the workforce.”

That is something all Spartans can be proud of.

See the SAGE Program flyer for more information.

SJSU Students Use Data to Help Serve City’s Most Vulnerable Communities

A map created by SJSU graduate students presents data from San José’s Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services.

Data has the power to transform communities.

Just ask Saritha Podali, ’22 MS Data Analytics, and Fengling Zhou, ’22 MS Data Analytics. As part of a new partnership with San José State and the City of San José — supported by the Knight Foundation — the pair played a key role in gathering, interpreting and presenting data that can help the city provide resources to those who need it most.

San José’s Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Services (PRNS) offers scholarships for qualifying residents to participate in youth activities and after-school programs. While the city has always sought to ensure the scholarships went to those most in need, certain questions persisted: Were the people receiving the scholarships getting the right amount of aid? Who was being left out, and why?

Saritha Podali, '22 MS Data Analytics

Saritha Podali, ’22 MS Data Analytics

Enter the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation who, thanks to a partnership with SJSU’s MS Data Analytics program, brought Podali and Zhou on board to tackle the issue in what was dubbed the city’s Data Equity Project.

“We define data equity as using the city’s data ethically and in ways that drive equitable outcomes for constituents,” explained Julia Chen, project manager for the Data Equity Project.

Starting in April, Zhou and Podali got to work mining PRNS data — by organizing records from 2009 to 2019 using the programming language Python — to paint a full picture of who was enrolling in the youth programs and who was receiving financial support.

“One of our primary objectives was to provide PRNS folks who might have little or no tech background with an easy-to-use, interactive experience to present the trends to their board,” explained Podali.

Fengling Zhou, '22 Data Analytics

Fengling Zhou, ’22 Data Analytics

And that’s exactly what they did: Their final presentation to PRNS and Mayor Sam Liccardo included an interactive map identifying the city’s most vulnerable communities by ZIP code and how many scholarship dollars were allocated to those areas compared to others. Plus, it highlighted where certain communities indicated a need for programs that were unavailable locally by attending those outside their immediate area.

Podali and Zhou, along with others who worked on the project, shared a list of recommendations on how to use the data, which PRNS plans to do, explained Hal Spangenberg, interim division manager of PRNS.

“We will use this data and information to help inform key decisions in the allocation and distribution of scholarship funds and hopefully increase scholarships to those most in need,” he said.

“We can’t overstate the value of the dashboards they created,” Chen added. “Now, the PRNS team has a level of data and truth they can refer to as they make their future decisions.”

“Data is not anonymous,” she continued. “These are people’s lives we have in our hands. It’s not just analysis for the sake of analysis; we are ultimately here to hopefully better the lives of residents of San Jose. That’s the importance of having local students doing this kind of work and bringing their local context to the table. We need to understand the community we’re serving, so it made sense to partner with the university, where there’s a pipeline of talent.”

A demonstration of the interactive map created by Podali and Zhou for the City of San José.

One of the goals of the SJSU MS Data Analytics program is to show students that they can apply analytics to solve relevant, real-world problems, explained Ruth Duran Huard, dean of the College of Professional and Global Education (CPGE).

“One of our core learning objectives is for our students to integrate multidisciplinary knowledge to engage in practical data analytics projects, from analyzing requirements to managing data, building models, presenting results and assessing societal impacts,” she noted.

“The partnership of CPGE’s Applied Data Science department with the City of San José speaks to our university’s commitment to connect and contribute within our communities,” Huard continued. “To be able to support the city in its efforts to meet its data systems needs and develop an overall data strategy has been invaluable, especially for our faculty and students.”

Mohamed Abousalem, SJSU’s vice president for research and innovation, says this collaboration is an example of how the university’s research expertise can have tremendous public impact.

“SJSU has several areas of research expertise that intersect with the City of San José’s interests and priorities,” he said. “This collaboration was a demonstration of how our students and faculty can help the city make data-informed decisions based on expertise and skill in data analytics. Our partners have a great opportunity to tap into the resources of today’s students to select tomorrow’s employees through meaningful and productive research and development projects.”

For Podali and Zhou, the experience broadened their understanding on the power of data.

“Being fair when creating policies to serve a community is hard,” noted Zhou. “But our data project provides evidence that will help the best decisions to be made.”

“This experience has helped me develop a new perspective of how data can be transformative for communities,” Podali said.

“I now realize the impact technology advancement has when it is leveraged across all walks of life,” she continued. “Studying community problems, identifying areas of improvement and assessing risks using data analytics is the need of the hour. As exciting as it is to work on groundbreaking artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, it is equally important to ensure that communities receive enough help to position themselves in today’s world of technology.”

View the students’ final presentation, and learn more about SJSU’s MS Data Analytics program

SJSU Announces New Partnership With Manchester Metropolitan University

San José State announced an exciting partnership to offer the Gateway PhD program with Manchester Metropolitan University (Manchester Met) in Manchester, England. This innovative international doctoral degree program prepares individuals for research, faculty and leadership positions in the library and information science field.

The partnership allows doctoral students to virtually attend Manchester Met and learn from the instruction and mentorship from faculty members at both universities — with the opportunity to attend an annual weeklong research workshop held in San José. The convenience of this primarily online program also allows information professionals and academics to earn their PhD degree from Manchester Met, without having to relocate to England or disrupt their current careers.

“SJSU appreciates the hard work that went into forming this unique, innovative, global partnership and is committed to ensuring the success of this program,” said President Mary Papazian. “And we’re looking forward to working with our partner, Manchester Metropolitan University, to launch and support the program.”

The School of Information (iSchool), housed within SJSU’s College of Professional and Global Education, will provide the entry or “gateway” to the PhD in Library and Information Management that will be conferred by MMU. The iSchool faculty will serve as associate supervisors and provide coordination of the program.

“Our college’s mission is to provide access to relevant, high-quality educational programs,” said Ruth Huard, dean of the College of Professional and Global Education. “It is exciting to know that through this Gateway PhD program, we are creating a solid pathway for future scholars in the information field who have a global perspective.”

This partnership is well aligned with the research and global focus of San José State, including the launch of new doctoral programs like the Doctor of Nursing Practice program, which graduated its first cohort earlier this year.

At the official launch event with leaders from both institutions, Professor Jenny Watling, pro vice chancellor international for Manchester Met, described the opportunity for MMU to “grow and diversify their global community” and build “academic relationships that will bring innumerable benefits to both institutions,” including support for achieving each other’s research ambitions.

Sandra Hirsh, associate dean of academics for SJSU’s College of Professional and Global Education, expressed similar sentiments and excitement about how this international partnership highlights the strengths of the two universities.

“This is a unique opportunity for doctoral students to benefit from the expertise of faculty at two institutions and consider research from a global perspective,” she explained. “I am also excited about the opportunities for our faculty to engage in collaborative research with international colleagues.”

The Gateway PhD program was previously offered through a partnership between San José State and Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, from 2008 to 2021. Alumni of the program have received numerous awards and honors for their original research.

San José State and Manchester Met have also worked together before: SJSU’s Department of Communication Studies and Manchester Met’s department of art and performance collaborated this past year on joint student projects, which culminated in the creation of short films. This collaboration helped formalize the relationship between SJSU and Manchester Met, further enhancing the synergies between the two universities.

“I am confident our students will take full advantage of this opportunity [of the Gateway PhD program] to engage in original research alongside their peers and expert faculty — and bring much needed insight to this unprecedented digital and information era,” expressed Huard.

Connie L. Lurie College of Education Launches First Online Undergraduate Program

Valerie Barsuglia, ’15 Child and Adolescent Development, completed one of the Lurie College’s degree completion programs to help her jumpstart her teaching career. Photo by Karl Nielsen.

San José State’s Connie L. Lurie College of Education is accepting applications for the first cohort of its fully online bachelor of art’s degree program in interdisciplinary studies with a focus on educational and community leadership.

The curriculum brings together education and the social sciences and emphasizes leadership and social justice to support career advancement. The deadline to apply for fall admission is July 1.

“The primary focus of this program is to develop the teacher pipeline, especially for folks who are already working in schools as aides or paraeducators, or for early childhood educators who want to be master teachers or site supervisors,” said SJSU Child and Adolescent Development Lecturer John Jabagchourian, coordinator of the online program.

Though the college began exploring online education options prior to 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the value of providing SJSU curriculum in online formats.

“This program is designed to provide a high-quality SJSU education to students who wouldn’t typically be able to access the strength of our faculty and programs because of work schedules, childcare requirements and the logistics of getting to campus,” said Heather Lattimer, dean of the Lurie College. “These students bring tremendous strength to the university, and this program is intentionally designed to recognize and value that strength.”

When offering information sessions with prospective students, Jabagchourian met with paraeducators and teaching assistants who are motivated to complete their degrees and need the flexibility of an online program to balance family, school and work responsibilities.

To kick off the new program, the Lurie College is offering scholarships of up to $3,600 over the first year ($1,200 per term) for the first 25 applicants who are admitted. Applicants can also apply for Federal Pell Grants, and those who enroll this fall can apply in spring 2022 for SJSU Lurie College of Education scholarships for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Jabagchourian hopes that these scholarships, coupled with the relative ease of accessing  online courses, will encourage students who have already completed their associate’s degrees or general education credits to earn their bachelor’s degrees and move up in their careers.

“This program aligns with our college’s goal of having a more diverse workforce in education and teaching, especially in the Bay Area, where teachers tend not to be as diverse as the communities they serve,” he said. “We hope to be part of the solution.”

Learn more about the new interdisciplinary studies online program.

Doctor of Nursing Practice Graduates Look Ahead to Improving Health Care

The SJSU Valley Foundation School of Nursing Doctor of Nursing Practice program graduated its first cohort in May.

Eleven members of the San José State class of 2021 are graduates of the university’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program — and they are prepared to make a difference in health care in California and beyond.

The cohort is the first to graduate from the SJSU Valley Foundation School of Nursing DNP program since the university launched its own in 2019. Previously, SJSU partnered with Fresno State University to provide a joint program.

Offered mostly online and designed for working professionals, the SJSU program was created to develop leaders in nursing, including advanced practice clinicians and nursing faculty.

California faces a nursing faculty shortage, which affects the amount of nurses graduating from programs. This contributes overall to a lack of practicing nurses in the state, said Associate Professor Michelle Hampton, who coordinates the program alongside Ruth Rosenblum, also an associate professor in the School of Nursing.

“This [faculty] shortage severely limits the capacity to enroll qualified students,” Hampton explained.

So in 2012, the California State University system launched two joint DNP programs — one in Northern California and one in Southern California — to increase the potential pool of future nursing faculty. SJSU was part of the northern consortium, which graduated seven cohorts.

Then, as part of an overall strategy to help improve health care throughout the state of California, starting with Silicon Valley, SJSU launched its own DNP program.

“This doctoral program has helped us reposition the College of Health and Human Sciences as a conduit to the ever-expanding healthcare industry,” said President Mary A. Papazian. “Not only do we want to contribute to one of the fastest growing sectors in Silicon Valley, but in doing so, we must be at the forefront of understanding and addressing the health disparities that exist within our communities’ most marginalized populations.”

Using research to enact change

While a PhD in nursing focuses on advanced research and investigation, earning a DNP degree means learning how to put that research into practice and evaluate its efficacy. Each graduate completed a doctoral project allowing them to do just that.

“Some of these students have been in practice for awhile, and they’re seeing clinical issues that they think warrant further study,” explained Colleen O’Leary-Kelly, director of the School of Nursing. “They want to look a little deeper and expand the knowledge base of these areas. And these projects that I see them working on — they’re just fantastic.”

Vanndy Loth-Kumar

Vanndy Loth-Kumar

Vanndy Loth-Kumar, for example, used existing literature and guidelines on caring for patients with schizophrenia to execute her project, “Evaluation of a Wellness and Recovery Medication Services Program” at her workplace, AACI (formerly known as Asian Americans for Community Involvement).

Established patients at AACI had been required to receive therapy in order to qualify for medication services. But the Wellness and Recovery Medication Services (WARMS) pilot program explored whether or not some patients could successfully forgo therapy and still receive the medication.

“Therapy only lasts so long for some people,” Loth-Kumar said. “Once you learn coping skills, how long do you need to continue? The pilot program allowed us to see that some people didn’t need therapy for 15 years; they were able to stay stable. It also freed up counselors to provide care for new patients.”

Because Loth-Kumar was familiarized with WARMS through her project, she was promoted to integrated services lead of the program. She looks forward to “growing and shaping the program, while being mindful of who might fall through the cracks in the system.”

“Before this program, there was a lot of me just complaining about the way things are done,” she shared. “Now, after the program, it’s a lot more of looking into the research to see what can be done. I think it really helped me develop a proactive approach to problem solving in a professional setting.”

Sandy Phan

Sandy Phan

Meanwhile, Sandy Phan, a nursing professional development specialist at Stanford Health Care, wants to improve health outcomes by addressing the nursing culture within.

Through her project, “Promoting Civility in the Workplace: Addressing Bullying in New Graduate Nurses Using Simulation and Cognitive Rehearsal,” Phan created and implemented a curriculum to help recent nursing graduates, who occupy the lowest ranks of the hierarchy and are less experienced, to develop skills to identify and address bullying.

“Bullying fractures communication and teamwork, which ultimately can trickle down into patient care,” Phan said. “Units that have bullies can cause more infections and errors, because nursing is a team-based practice.”

“The research indicates that 64 to 97 percent of nurses witness or encounter nurse bullying in their practice,” she explained. “It’s a well-known phenomenon. I think it’s because of the way nursing was founded, in a very patriarchal society. But now, we’re an integral part of the team. We’re leaders.”

Envisioning a healthier future

Lynette Apen

Lynette Apen

Lynette Apen, division dean of nursing and allied health at Evergreen Valley College, always had professional goals of serving as an advocate in nursing education, and thanks to the DNP program, she says she’s more prepared than ever to take that on.

She recently stepped into the role of president of the northern region of the California Organization of Associate Degree Nursing, which she says she might not have done as early in her career had it not been for the program.

“This degree has given me the foundation and vocabulary and — though I’m still working on it — the confidence in having conversations with legislators, these decision makers who impact the work of nurses every day,” Apen said.

Last fall, she even testified in favor of the passage of AB 2288, which allowed for flexibility in clinical hours requirements for nursing students during the pandemic and contributed to more California nursing students being able to graduate during COVID-19.

Ultimately, her doctoral project, “Nursing Academic Leadership: An Urgent Workforce Shortage in California Nursing Education,” could increase understanding of how to address a particular shortage of nursing program directors, which is critical to the success of nursing programs.

Apen examined trends in nursing academic leadership positions that will soon leave several vacancies with few options to fill them as well as immediate and long-term interventions to improve the workforce pipeline.

Audrey Shillington, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences, noted that the pandemic has demonstrated how vital nurses are to health and well-being.

“Despite all the health-care challenges we faced in recent months, both our faculty and students stepped up and leaned into the community needs in addition to what are already demanding roles of teacher and learner. There is no other time when such a stellar group of nursing leaders are needed,” she said.

“I am so proud of all the hard work that our faculty, staff and students have been engaged in during recent years to bring us to this celebration of our first DNP graduating cohort.”

The DNP Class of 2021 and their doctoral projects:

Lynette Vallecillo Apen
Division Dean, Nursing and Allied Health, Evergreen Valley College
“Nursing Academic Leadership: An Urgent Workforce Shortage in California Nursing Education”

Ena Andrea Arce
Health Center Manager, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center
“Programmatic Colorectal (CRC) Screening During a Pandemic: Nursing Telemedicine Education Among Latinx Adults in an Ambulatory Safety Net Clinic”

Vanndy Linda Loth-Kumar
Integration Services Lead, AACI
Public Health Nurse, Santa Clara County Public Health Department
“Evaluation of a Wellness and Recovery Medication Services Program”

Elisa Nguyen
Director of Clinical Services, Stanford Health Care
“The Effectiveness of Resilience Training for Nurse Managers: A Case Study”

Sandy Phan
Nursing Professional Development Specialist, Stanford Health Care
“Promoting Civility in the Workplace: Addressing Bullying in New Graduate Nurses Using Simulation and Cognitive Rehearsal”

Tammi K. Reeves-Messner
Assistant Nurse Manager, Kaiser Permanente
“Neuroprotective Care in the NICU: A Quality Improvement Project”

Reynaldo G. Rosario Jr.
Enterprise Quality Manager – Accreditation, Regulatory Affairs, & Licensing (Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, O’Connor Hospital, St. Louise Regional Hospital, and DePaul Health Center)
“Quality Improvement Initiative: To Improve Surgical Wound Classification”

Dominique Ellen Teaford
Supervising Public Health Nurse III, County of Santa Cruz – Health Services Agency
“Website Redesign Project to Improve the Quality and Usefulness of the Perinatal Mental Health Coalition’s Resource Website”

Stacey L. Teicher
Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Kaiser Permanente
“The Effects of Telehealth on Patient Satisfaction and Information Recall for Breast Cancer Survivors During the COVID-19 Pandemic”

Silvia L. Turner
Nurse Educator, New Nurse Employee Orientation Coordinator, VA Palo Alto Healthcare System
“Virtual Training Impact on Nurses’ Self-Efficacy of Safe Patient Handling Equipment Usage”

Colleen A. Vega
Clinical Nurse Specialist, Stanford Health Care
Lecturer, San Francisco State University
“The Effects of Virtual Reality on Symptom Distress in Patients Undergoing Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant”

Two SJSU Students Win at CSU-Wide Research Competitions

Lupe Franco and Muhammad Khan

(From L-R): Lupe Franco, ’21 MS Environmental Studies, received the Audience Choice Award at the CSU Grad Slam. Muhammad Khan, ’22 Biological Sciences, won first place in the Biological and Agricultural Sciences Undergraduate category at the 35th Annual CSU Student Research Competition.

Turning months — even years — of in-depth research into a concise, engaging presentation isn’t easy. Yet two San José State students were triumphant at two recent California State University system-wide competitions that required them to do just that.

Lupe Franco, ‘21 MS Environmental Studies, received the Audience Choice Award at the first-ever CSU Grad Slam on May 6, which was hosted by San José State.

Her research analyzed how California cities and counties are considering homeless populations in their plans to address the effects of climate change. Franco placed first in the SJSU Grad Slam, held April 29 during the university’s annual Celebration of Research event.

Muhammad Khan, ‘22 Biological Sciences, earned first place in the Biological and Agricultural Sciences Undergraduate category at the 35th Annual CSU Student Research Competition — hosted by Cal Poly Pomona on April 30 and May 1. Khan presented his research on population control of a mosquito known for spreading diseases such as Zika, Dengue fever and yellow fever.

In the CSU Grad Slam competition, graduate students condensed the theses of their research projects into three-minute presentations to be understandable by a lay audience. Prizes are awarded based on the success of their presentation, and the Audience Choice Award is selected live by the attendees of the event.

At the CSU Student Research Competition, both graduate and undergraduate students present their research through pre-recorded videos followed by a live Q&A with a jury and an audience. The event is held to recognize outstanding accomplishments from students throughout the CSU system.

Giving a voice to a vulnerable population

In her presentation (shown here at the SJSU Grad Slam), Franco included a painting by student artist Gina Geissinger of Greg Tarola, a homeless man who died on the streets of Sacramento.

Franco began her presentation with the story of Greg Tarola, a homeless man who was found dead on the Sacramento streets in November. It was 37 degrees Fahrenheit the morning he was found, and his blankets were wet from the previous night’s rain.

What’s more, Tarola had told CapRadio News just days before that he had never heard of warming stations in Sacramento.

“This is the reality for over 150,000 Californians who are experiencing houselessness, of which 68 percent are considered unsheltered,” Franco said in her presentation.

“This danger is only going to increase as climate change brings California more frequent and intense weather events, such as heat waves and floodings.”

Franco analyzed 15 climate action plans from cities and counties in California with the largest unhoused populations to understand how they were considering that demographic in their strategies to address climate change.

Her findings? No jurisdictions had met with unhoused populations before developing their plans.

“This is what researchers call the power of representation dilemma, meaning that as outsiders, planners can only make assumptions of what the community faces, which leads to the development of strategies that do not accurately reflect what the local needs are,” she explained.

Franco’s research provided an analysis of the 15 plans, and she provided a list of recommendations that the cities and counties can consider as they continue to update their plans, such as “requiring planners to have on-the-ground training with local organizations in their jurisdictions, so they can learn about important street-level issues.”

Costanza Rampini, assistant professor of environmental studies and Franco’s thesis advisor, said that Franco is tackling issues most people see as completely separate.

“Her work speaks to people’s desire for better solutions, for better systems, for better communities,” she said. “Lupe is a fantastic researcher and asks all the right questions.”

Marc d’Alarcao, dean of the College of Graduate Studies, agreed.

“Lupe effectively engaged the audience by presenting her work through the lens of the tragic story of an unhoused man in Sacramento who suffered because the policies that could have helped him were not designed with his circumstances in mind,” he said.

Franco plans to continue her research and interview unhoused individuals to better understand their needs as she pursues a PhD in geography from UC Davis. She’s hopeful her research can make an impact on local communities.

“With these findings and recommendations, my research can spark the initial conversation about creating equitable and just strategies that give unhoused individuals a voice and access to critical resources,” she noted. “This is what Greg Tarola deserved.”

Watch the full CSU Grad Slam event, including Franco’s presentation, here.

A new approach to mitigating disease spread

Muhammad Khan research presentation

Khan’s research explores population control of the Aedes aegypti mosquito through mutagenesis and recombinant expression.

Khan researched mutagenesis and recombinant expression in the Aedes aegypti mosquito — known for spreading potentially lethal diseases like Zika, Dengue fever, yellow fever and chikungunya — in hopes of providing a safe, new approach to control their population.

“Studying the midgut digestive enzymes of the Aedes aegypti mosquito is important locally and nationally because simulated models based on current climate data predict the expansion of mosquito ecological niches in the near future,” Khan said in his presentation.

He noted one study that estimates 390 million Dengue fever infections every year, while another found that 3.9 billion people worldwide are at risk of the disease. Current control strategies for mosquito larvae and adults include pesticides and biocides. But Khan said most of these treatments can have devastating effects on the environment.

Khan began his research through FIRES, the Freshmen Initiative: Research to Engage Students program sponsored by the W.M. Keck Foundation and led by a team of SJSU chemistry professors.

“We are very pleased to see Muhammad Khan winning a first place award at the 35th Annual CSU Student Research Competition,” said Mohamed Abousalem, vice president for research and innovation at SJSU.

“This is a great achievement and a testament to his capabilities and the sound guidance he received from his faculty mentor, Dr. Alberto Rascón, Jr. We hope that Muhammad will be encouraged by this recognition to embrace research as a way of thinking and doing throughout his career.”

Learn more about Khan’s research here.

James Nguyen contributed to this story.

San José State University Hosts First CSU-Wide Grad Slam

California State University Grad Slam 2021

Graduate students often invest years of their lives working on focused, in-depth research in their field. Ultimately, they must successfully defend their conclusions to a select committee of faculty advisors with expertise in that area of study.

Now, imagine what it would be like to distill the key ideas of that yearlong research into a presentation that is accessible and interesting for everyone — and do it in three minutes or less.

That’s exactly what graduate students from across 12 California State University (CSU) campuses will do in the first-ever CSU Grad Slam on May 6, hosted by San José State.

Grad Slam is a fast-paced, dynamic competition in which graduate students across all fields face off for the top short presentation of research. The event offers the opportunity for up-and-coming student-researchers to showcase their scholarship and creativity, while challenging them to effectively convey their work in three-minute snackable sound bites to a non-specialist audience.

The system-wide event is a collaborative effort across many of the CSU campuses. Those participating include: Bakersfield, Chico, Dominguez Hills, Fresno, Fullerton, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Northridge, Sacramento, San José, San Francisco, and Sonoma State.

As the founding university of the CSU system and its leadership in graduate education, San José State is a natural fit to host the inaugural competition. SJSU held its first Grad Slam in 2019, a few short months after the university’s launch of the College of Graduate Studies that January.

The main event

According to SJSU’s College of Graduate Studies Dean Marc d’Alarcao, the creation of this year’s CSU-wide competition encouraged a number of the other CSUs to create their own Grad Slam, from which they will send their top two winners to the system event.

A total of 21 participants from across the 12 campuses will present their research in this year’s livestream virtual competition. San José State is sending its top two winners from the SJSU Grad Slam, which occurred on April 29: Guadalupe “Lupe” Franco (first place) from the MS Environmental Studies program and Remie Gail Mandawe (second place) from the MS Physiology program.

Lupe Franco and Remie Gail Mandawe.

(L-R) SJSU 2021 Grad Slam Winners Lupe Franco and Remie Gail Mandawe.

Franco’s presentation, “Wicked Problems: Understanding How Cities and Counties in California are Tackling Climate Change and Homelessness, emphasizes the need for jurisdictions and planners to “create equitable and just strategies that include the voices of unhoused populations and gain them the access to basic resources needed to protect them from climate change.”

Mandawe’s presentation, “Targeting the Source of our Sixth Sense Using Blue Light” explores how to target and isolate gamma motor neurons in the brain using blue light and better understand why motor dysfunction and motor neuron diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, occur.

The CSU Grad Slam will start with preliminary rounds in the morning, in which small groups of the competitors will present live in three “rooms” over Zoom to panels of three judges. The top-scoring students from each room will advance to the afternoon round for the chance to win one of three cash prizes: first place, second place and the People’s Choice award.

The public can watch the event online and vote on the People’s Choice award in real time during the final segment of the program. Three different judges will score the afternoon’s competitors.

Although there will ultimately be only three winners, everyone who participates gains tremendous benefits from the process. Not only are the graduate students able to develop vital research communication and presentation skills, they can engage with and be inspired by other emerging researchers.

“I think it is beneficial to the graduate students to feel appreciated and have the opportunity to see what their colleagues are doing in a concise and interesting way,” said d’Alarcao.

“It’s invigorating to realize that you’re part of an intellectual community that has all of these different things happening, and that’s really positive for the participants.”

Register today to see CSU’s top graduate student research.

SJSU Fall Graduates to be Honored and Celebrated Dec. 18-19

SJSU Fall 2018 Commencement
Photo: Best Grad Photos/San Jose State University

SAN JOSE, CA – More than 2,200 fall graduates of San Jose State University are expected to be in attendance at five separate fall commencement ceremonies, with more than 4,300 total graduates from summer and fall semesters being celebrated and honored.

The events take place Dec. 18 and 19 on the SJSU campus at the Provident Credit Union Event Center:

Wednesday, December 18

Thursday, December 19

A live stream of each of the five ceremonies will be provided.

SJSU’s Class of Fall 2019

There will be 2,226 graduates in attendance at the two days of fall commencement ceremonies. Additional highlights:

  • Of the 1,261 master’s degrees expected to be conferred for summer and fall of this year, 339 will participate in fall commencement ceremonies this week.
  • The university will graduate 513 new business professionals, 130 future educators, 519 new engineers, 276 health and human sciences future professionals, 206 humanities and arts graduates, 168 new scientists and 414 new social scientists.
  • The Lucas College and Graduate School of Business ceremony will feature remarks by alumna Sara Macdonald,’04 Accounting, currently a partner in the San Jose office of Ernst and Young and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.
  • The speaker at the Connie L. Lurie College of Education ceremony will be Megan Nebesnick, ’17 Liberal Studies, a master’s student graduating this fall from the Lurie College.
  • At the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering ceremony, Michael Grace will be the featured speaker. Grace, ’12 Mechanical Engineering, is currently a research and development mechanical systems engineer at Applied Materials and worked previously at Lockheed Martin Space Systems as a control system hardware engineer.
  • The College of Health and Human Sciences featured speaker will be student Markis Derr, graduating this year in public health.

San Jose State has a total of 4,377 graduates in the class of 2019’s summer and fall semesters.

For Love of a Veteran: Grad Student Erin Cerasaro Inspired by Husband’s Service

Erin Cerasaro, left, works with Professor Elena Klaw on research to support veterans on transitioning to college. She was inspired to pursue a master's by her husband, a former Marine.

Erin Cerasaro, left, works with Professor Elena Klaw on research to support veterans on transitioning to college. She was inspired to pursue a master’s by her husband, a former Marine.

Erin Cerasaro is a graduate student who is part of the Research and Experimental Psychology program in the College of Social Sciences at San Jose State University. When she first moved to the Bay Area and started thinking about completing a graduate degree, she reached out to SJSU Psychology Professor Elena Klaw to volunteer in her research lab.

“I was trying to figure out how to go back to school and I needed another letter,” she said. “I reached out to several professors and Dr. Klaw gave me the opportunity to volunteer in her lab.”

Cerasaro had initially started a graduate program years before in Southern California, but she took a leave of absence. Her husband, a veteran who served as a Marine in Afghanistan, inspired her to again pursue a graduate degree.

“He was medically separated from the Marines because of a back injury,” she said. “A chiropractor saved his life and helped him to be capable of living his life again.”

Her husband decided to pursue a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and they moved from San Diego when he enrolled in a program in Northern California.

“I watched him to go school and saw how he was thriving,” Cerasaro said. “I saw how much it meant to him to help people and it made me want to do that as well.”

The psychology program at SJSU and Klaw’s research lab offered that opportunity. Klaw is the director of the Veterans Embracing Transition (VET) Connect Program, which focuses on developing best practices for serving military veterans in their pursuit of higher education.

“I’ve learned to do qualitative research and it has been inspiring to watch her work,” Cerasaro said of Klaw. “She’s always on the go and it’s amazing to watch her teach a class, run VET Connect, run her lab, and work on Students Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. It’s helped me see where I want to be when I graduate. I want to go on to get my PhD.”

Cerasaro continues to look to her husband for motivation.

“He has had issues with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and I’ve watched him overcome so many obstacles to get where he is today, to maintain and go beyond what is normal for him,” she said, adding, “Studying for hours, exercising to maintain his back and the things he does to maintain his mental health just truly is an inspiration.”

School of Information Researchers Recognized By Emerald Publishing

Emerald Publishing, a firm that has a portfolio of 300 journals, 2,500+ book titles and more than 1,500 case studies on the impact of research, recognized articles authored by two SJSU professors and one alumna.

Their annual Literati Awards recognizes articles in four categories: Highly Commended Paper, Outstanding Paper, Outstanding Reviewer and Outstanding Author Contribution.

College of Professional and Global Education School of Information Associate Professor Hsuanwei “Michelle” Chen and Professor Patricia Franks received an award for Highly Commended Paper for “Voices in the Cloud: Social Media and Trust in Canadian and U.S. Local Governments” in Records Management Journal. Their study examined two questions: Can local government use social media to increase citizen trust and if local government can use social media, what can be learned about the administration of social media that results in an incrase in citizen trust of government. The pair examined 20 local governments in Canada and the USA.

Emily Coyne, ’16 MLIS, received an award for Outstanding Paper for “Big data information governance by accountants” in International Journal of Accounting and Information Management. Her work with colleagues from the University of Memphis, Tennessee, aims to address a lack of understanding about Big Data in the accounting field. The researchers look at ways to address how accountants can turn Big Data into useful information as well as how they can assist with information governance.

Governor Signs Bill Allowing CSUs to Offer Doctor of OT Degree

An Occupational Therapy master's student works with clients during an on-campus clinic to help them improve dexterity. A new bill has cleared the path for SJSU and other CSUs to develop doctoral programs in OT.

An Occupational Therapy master’s student works with clients during an on-campus clinic to help them improve dexterity by using a cotton candy machine. A new bill has cleared the path for SJSU and other CSUs to develop doctoral programs in OT.

Governor Gavin Newsom approved Assembly Bill 829 Aug. 30, clearing the way for San Jose State University to offer a Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree. The next step will be for the Chancellor’s Office to approve an executive order that will set the scope and guidelines for the new degree

In anticipation of the approval of this bill and pending approval by the Chancellor’s Office, faculty in the College of Health and Human Sciences (HHS) Department of Occupational Therapy have already begun work on developing curriculum for a doctoral degree.

“They started about a year ago in anticipation of this going through,” said HHS Interim Dean Pamela Richardson. “We are looking at what the balance will be between the master’s and doctoral programs.”

The college anticipates admitting the first cohort in 2022-23.

“The OTD gives graduates additional training in research and evidence, more coursework in program evaluation and program development, and will have a capstone project and experience,” Richardson said. “They will have more potential for leadership opportunities.”

A doctoral program also will build a pipeline for future educators.

“Most academic programs hire OTDs as faculty so it creates opportunities for teaching as well,” Richardson said.

The College of Health and Human Sciences already offers one doctoral program with another in development. This year marks the first year SJSU is offering a Doctor of Nursing Practice on its own following six years of offering a joint program with Fresno State University. The College is also working on the final stages of a  doctoral degree in its newly created Department of Audiology. Faculty are in the final stages of developing the curriculum, gaining conditional accreditation and recruiting audiology students for the first cohort to begin in fall 2020.

“These are certainly elevated health degrees and there will be lots of opportunity for interprofessional education,” Richardson said. “It will increase the visibility of our College as producing healthcare leaders across a variety of disciplines.”

She noted that accrediting boards in most healthcare disciplines require programs to provide interprofessional education so that graduates are prepared to work effectively on healthcare teams.

“This gives us an opportunity to build robust doctoral programs and ramp up the amount of collaborative research opportunities for faculty and students,” she said. “It takes research active faculty to appropriately train and mentor doctoral students.”

McNair Scholar Angeles De Santos-Quezada Reflects on Educational Journey

Angeles De Santos-Quezada poses for a photo at her graduation from the College of Social Sciences May 24.

Angeles De Santos-Quezada poses for a photo at her graduation from the College of Social Sciences May 24.

By Abby McConnell

To anyone who knows her, it’s no surprise that McNair Scholar Angeles De Santos-Quezada graduated with honors, with a bachelor’s in Political Science and a minor in Applied Research Methods. Politics, advocacy and education have always been at the forefront of her life. She grew up in Encarnacion de Diaz, Jalisco, a small town in Mexico, with a mother who emphasized the importance of intellectual enrichment and a father who practiced law and often discussed the likes of Plato, Socrates and Marx at the dinner table.

This background served her well, especially after De Santos-Quezada moved unexpectedly with her mother and three siblings from Mexico to her grandmother’s home in Concord, California. De Santos-Quezada’s mother is a U.S. citizen who moved to Mexico in her 20s to be with De Santos-Quezada’s father, and later decided to naturalize her children.

Angeles De Santos-Quezada, right, poses with fellow orientation leaders.

Angeles De Santos-Quezada, right, poses with fellow orientation leaders.

Leaving the only home she’d known and transitioning into an American high school as a junior wasn’t easy for De Santos-Quezada, from making new friends to being placed in classes as an “English Language Learner.” Being labeled ELL meant she was placed on the easiest academic track in her new high school, essentially retaking many classes that she had completed with honors at a private Catholic middle school in Mexico. De Santos-Quezada quickly became bored and frustrated, aware that this route wouldn’t get her to college, which had always been her plan.

“I wasn’t sure what to do, but when I told my mom what was happening, she told me I needed to advocate for myself to have my schedule changed. She made it clear that no one else was going to do it for me,” De Santos-Quezada said.

She set up a meeting with her counselor as soon as she could, and was on a college preparatory track shortly thereafter. For De Santos-Quezada, this was not only a lesson in the importance of speaking out and speaking up, but also firsthand experience of the disenfranchisement many non-native speakers feel when they enter the U.S. educational system.

SJSU graduate Angeles De Santos-Quezada plans to attend the University of Texas, Austin in fall to pursue a master’s in Education Policy and Planning.

SJSU graduate Angeles De Santos-Quezada plans to attend the University of Texas, Austin in fall to pursue a master’s in Education Policy and Planning.

“When I was about to graduate high school, one of my teachers told me that I was a ‘normal’ English speaker. I didn’t know I was abnormal! ELL students are often treated as less intelligent simply because English isn’t their first language. Obviously, that is discriminatory and also a false premise. When students are labeled in this way, they are put at a disadvantage and aren’t set up to succeed. I knew then there was something deeply wrong with the system.”

She loved SJSU immediately, in part because the Spanish architecture and diverse community reminded her of home. Freshman year held the allure of living on her own for the first time, but she was also lonely during her first weeks in the dorms. Her resident advisor was a huge source of comfort and guidance for De Santos-Quezada and was instrumental in helping her find her place on campus. The experience inspired her to become an RA, which she has done for the last three years. In that time, she has helped nearly 200 first-year students navigate the transition to college and take advantage of all that SJSU has to offer.

Advising students about the best ways to maximize their college experience while connecting with like-minded people is one of her favorite aspects of the job, in part because she can relate. When she felt most isolated at SJSU, she realized she needed to seek out clubs and opportunities that reflected her background and interests like she had in high school, so she began attending meetings via the Adelante Latino Task Force that later involved into the Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center.

“By becoming a part of the Latinx campus community, I was able to find my place at SJSU and thrive,” she said.

And thrive she has―in the fall, she is headed to the University of Texas, Austin to pursue a master’s in Education Policy and Planning (MEd). In her undergraduate career, De Santos-Quezada has also been named a President’s scholar, has published and presented scholarly research, studied abroad in Slovenia, and become an outspoken advocate of social justice and diversity programs for underrepresented students.

“As a first-generation college student, Angeles exemplifies the transformative power of educational opportunity and is already ‘paying it forward’ to help other students find their own paths to success,” said Dr. Melinda Jackson.

De Santos-Quezada credits much of her success at SJSU to TRIO programs such as Aspire, and of course, the McNair Scholars Program, which is specifically designed to guide underrepresented students in applying to doctoral programs. She also acknowledges her family’s unwavering support along with many mentors and professors, including Dr. Maria Cruz, Dr. Sergio Bejar Lopez, Dr. Vanessa Fernandez, Dr. Lilly Pinedo-Gangai and Dr. Jason Laker, among others, who guided her along the way.

“I am lucky,” De Santos-Quezada said. “I was able to stand up for myself and take advantage of the resources around me and connect with all kinds of mentors and programs. Not all ELL students are able to do that, and so they get lost in our educational system. Part of my goal in getting my PhD is to answer the question: How can we treat our differences with pride instead of seeing them as positive or negative stereotypes? All I know right now is that we have to change the system from the inside out.”

Sister City Swap: Dublin Scholar Studies at SJSU

Aiofe Grady is an exchange student from Dublin who is studying in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering during spring 2019.

Aiofe Grady is an exchange student from Dublin who is studying in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering during spring 2019.

Aoife Grady has a full schedule between the two courses she is taking at San Jose State University, working at an internship at Cypress Semiconductors and working on her thesis as the final requirement to complete her master’s in electronic and computer engineering from Dublin City University (DCU). Grady is this year’s recipient of the Pat McMahon Masters Level Exchange Scholarship that allows a student from Ireland to study at SJSU.

“Obviously there was the draw of Silicon Valley name, and I wanted to experience it,” she said. “I wanted the just to explore and travel as well, so it was a great opportunity to study abroad here, and live and meet other people.”

The scholarship Grady received is the first of its kind to be offered by a US-Irish sister city program and is aimed at deepening existing economic ties between the two cities and nations. The program is named for Patrick Ross McMahon, who was the founding chairman of the San Jose-Dublin Sister City Program. McMahon was born in Dublin and emigrated to the U.S. in 1960, eventually settling in San Jose.

At her internship, Grady is part of the Internet of Things group where she is working on her master’s thesis, which involves speech recognition and audio processing. She is not new to the company, as she completed an internship with Cypress Semiconductor’s Irish location as an undergraduate. She said the Silicon Valley location has more people and has allowed her to learn about the many different roles the company has for employees.

“I have the opportunity to work with intelligent, qualified people,” she said.

In addition to her coursework and internship, Grady has also appreciated the opportunity to live at SJSU’s International House.

“It’s a good setup that I would recommend to any international student,” she said. “It’s really interesting to learn about everyone’s culture and see how we all are adjusting.”

She will continue working at Cypress throughout the summer and hopes to submit her thesis to DCU. Before then, she hopes to take a few more weekend trips with her newfound friends in I-House, with Yosemite high on the list of possibilities.

The College of Professional and Global Education, SJSU and the Sister City Program expanded the scholarship series to allow an SJSU graduate student study in Ireland in 2017.

Megan Moriarty, a master's of fine arts in spatial studies, is studying at Dublin City College for eight months.

Megan Moriarty, a master’s of fine arts in spatial studies, is studying at Dublin City College for eight months.

Megan Moriarty, a sculptor who is earning a master’s of fine arts in spatial studies from SJSU’s College of Humanities and the Arts, is studying at DCU for eight months during which she is also working with the Dublin City Arts Office. She is focusing her attention on public sculpture and new methods of engagement with fine art.

Before embarking on the exchange program, Moriarty shared this in a blog post on her website: “When I am not bouncing around the city, I will be traveling the countryside to explore my ancestral homeland and the history of Irish art. This extraordinary journey is a culminating moment in my master’s research in how spirituality, nature, and technology are woven into contemporary art. I am so thankful to the SJSU Art faculty and fellow students who have supported my aspirations and guided me to this point.”

Spartans Make the Most of Summer 2010

By Teresa Ruiz, Web Content Specialist

The 2010-2011 academic year starts this week. But before fall overcomes you, check out how these Spartans made the most of their summer break.

Seniors and graduate students from the meteorology and climate science department spent part of their summer in Arizona studying the Southwest Monsoon. Department Chair Alison Bridger traveled with 10 students and blogged about the group’s experience making forecasts and hoping for storm activity on the road.

Group photo of SJSU meteorology team.

SJSU meteorology team.

The trip included stopping at a national landmark new to many on the trip. “Having gotten into the park (which took about 20 minutes in a long line), a gasp came from the students when they caught their first sight of the Grand Canyon – nice!” wrote Bridger. “We then drove along the south rim, stopping at every possible turnout and taking pictures.”

Spartan athlete Aalim Moor took a moment to reflect on completing his freshman year at SJSU, while looking ahead to a new basketball season. “I think that the management of my workload was the hardest thing to adjust to,” said Moor in a recent post on Spartan Hoops, a blog about SJSU basketball. “I learned the hard way the first semester by having to stay up late at nights and cramming for tests. Having had those experiences, I think now I’ll be able to handle the road trips and workload with greater focus.”

Associated Students of SJSU President Tomasz Kolodziejak also said he feels prepared to take on a new academic year, after taking part in a week-long seminar at the Panetta Institute. Kolodziejak joined 27 other students from around the state to sharpen their leadership skills and broaden their understanding of public policy. “As a business administration major and the new president of the Associated Students, hearing the speakers was an inspiring and invaluable experience for me,” he said. “It will certainly enhance my term at Associated Students. I came back with a head full of ideas and a paper ream of notes.”

Do you have an interesting summer experience you would like to share? Join the discussion by telling us about it on Facebook, or email Teresa.Ruiz@sjsu.edu.

University Library Launches New Website

The University Library, housed within the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, has launched a new website providing a seamless gateway for SJSU students and faculty members to access academic resources. The site also highlights unique and valuable services.

“The library did extensive usability testing with 47 people, including undergraduates, graduates and faculty, to make sure that the new site would be intuitive and easy to use for an academic audience,” said John Wenzler, associate dean for digital futures, information technology and technical services.

View the website.

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U.S. News Rankings 2011

San Jose State Among Top 20 in the West, Engineering Nationally Ranked

Contact: Pat Lopes Harris, 408-656-6999

SAN JOSE, Calif., — Once again, San Jose State University has excelled in the U.S. News & World Report college rankings. The 2011 edition of “America’s Best Colleges,” available now online, shows SJSU at 14th overall among the West’s top public universities offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

“It is wonderful to see San Jose State consistently ranked among the top 20 in the West,” President Don W. Kassing said. “Our university community works hard to keep SJSU among the nation’s best comprehensive universities.”

SJSU’s Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering also received top marks, ranking seventh in the nation among public engineering programs offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees, excluding service academies.

Read more from U.S. News & World Report.

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 27,400 students and 3,190 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.