SJSU’s Olympic Legacy Continues at Tokyo Games

A picture of 6 SJSU alumni who will be competing at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo

Seven SJSU Spartans will participate in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo from July 23 to August 8. Not pictured: Coach Greg Massialas.

San José State has been a part of nearly every Olympics since 1924. The university will be well represented in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which run from July 23-August 8.

Seven former Spartans will participate in five sports:

  • Suzy Brookshire Gonzales, Mexico softball — first Olympic Games
  • Colton Brown, USA men’s judo — second Olympic Games
  • Michelle Cox, Australia softball — first Olympic Games
  • Emma Entzminger, Canada softball — first Olympic Games
  • Clara Espar Llaquet, Spain women’s water polo — second Olympic Games
  • Robyn Stevens, USA women’s track and field (20k race walking) — first Olympic Games
  • Coach Greg Massialas, USA fencing head coach — seventh Olympic Games, fourth as a head coach (2008, 2012, 2016, 2020)

The five female Olympic athletes are the most for SJSU in any one Olympics. Stevens is the first Spartan women’s track and field Olympian since USA shot put and discus thrower Margaret Jenkins competed in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. .

This is also the first time an SJSU alumnae will appear in softball, which returns to the Olympics schedule for the first time since 2008.

Colton Brown continues SJSU’s impressive judo legacy that began with alumnus Yoshihiro “Yosh” Uchida, ’47 Biological Science, head judo coach at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964. Brown shared his thoughts on competing in his second Olympics and his quest for a gold medal in a Q&A before leaving for Tokyo.

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

California’s Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday

Photo: James Gensheimer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four Civic Action Fellows speak with Josh Fryday

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting an example for others to thrive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SJSU Hosts In-Person Photo Experience to Celebrate the Class of 2021

From May 26 to May 28, San José State welcomed students from the class of 2021 and members of their families to campus to celebrate their graduation with an in-person photo experience. The graduates were also recognized through a virtual recognition event held by the university and recognition websites created by SJSU’s individual colleges.

“What a great week it’s been at #SJSU, celebrating our #SJSU21 graduates!” President Mary Papazian tweeted on the 28th. “This class is undoubtedly one of the most resilient and dedicated cohorts ever. We will remember them for the challenges they’ve overcome and the positive imprint they will leave. Well done!”

As state restrictions ease for large gatherings, SJSU will invite both the class of 2020 and the class of 2021 back to campus for a safe in-person commencement.

Whether you were able to watch the livestream from the campus or missed the events, check out this visual recap of the campus events below.

All photography is by Robert C. Bain, university photographer.

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

Spring graduation in-person photo experience 2021

SJSU’s Thalia Anagnos Named a YWCA Tribute to Women Honoree

Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Thalia Anagnos.

Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Thalia Anagnos in action in the classroom. Photo: David Schmitz

Thalia Anagnos, San José State University’s vice provost for undergraduate education, has been named a Tribute to Women Award winner by the YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley.

Anagnos is part of a select group of more than 40 emerging and executive women honorees who were celebrated at their 37th annual awards ceremony in May. The recipients, according to the YWCA’s recent press release, “have excelled in their fields and have made significant contributions to Silicon Valley through their dedication and leadership.”

“We’re so excited to recognize the 43 honorees who have been selected to receive the Tribute to Women Award this year,” said Adriana Caldera Boroffice, Interim CEO, YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley.

Borroffice added that celebrating these women this year is particularly special, in light of the distinct challenges “women — especially mothers, senior-level and BIPOC women — have been experiencing” during COVID-19 and the “fortitude and resilience” they showed through it all.

The Tribute to Women Awards has recognized more than 1,400 women for their remarkable achievements at work and in their communities.

“Thalia’s passion, work and impact over the years provide a model for women leaders in higher education, whose obligation is to pay it forward for upcoming generations,” said President Mary Papazian. “Working quietly and behind the scenes, she has been instrumental in the education, training and success of countless California students, many of whom have gone on to add their own valuable contributions to our communities. I can think of no one more deserving than Thalia for this year’s YWCA Tribute to Women Award.”

“I was really honored that the president nominated me,” said Anagnos. “YWCA organized a meet-and-greet with some of the other women who were nominated, and we had a lot of commonalities in terms of professional experiences and volunteer activities; it was fun to connect with them and talk about their paths, too.”

Anagnos started at San José State as a general education advisor and assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering and taught for more than 30 years before her transition to administration. Over time, she has been involved with numerous committees and held a variety of other roles, including chair of the civil and environmental engineering department, SJSU’s first director of assessment, associate vice president of graduate and undergraduate programs and, currently, as vice provost for undergraduate education.

Presently, she oversees curriculum development and assessment of general education and undergraduate programs, as well as SJSU’s articulation agreements with the state of California’s community college system. She also supervises the university’s accreditation, academic program catalog, academic scheduling and e-advising, and coordinates some student success programs.

“Being a member of SJSU all these years has been really fun because of the variety of opportunities that working at a university provides such as research, teaching, working with the community, collaborating with other universities and mentoring students and colleagues,” said Anagnos.

The strong roots she’s built at the university over time have made all the difference in the impact she’s been able to make in leadership and directly with students.

“Having those relationships with people across campus has helped me to do the work I need to do — and learn what I need to know to help me change and grow,” she added.

Read the full story of Anagnos’ impact on SJSU here.

A Remarkable Achievement: SJSU Celebrates the Graduating Class of 2021

Celebrating our 2021 Graduates with portraits of grads in the background.

We’re thrilled to congratulate our graduating class of 2021, who have shown incredible resilience, determination and grit during the COVID-19 pandemic, which spanned more than a year of their college experience.

Here are some of our extraordinary soon-to-be graduates, as shared by SJSU faculty from across disciplines, in alphabetical order: Robby Abarca, ’21 Communicative Disorders and Sciences; Diego Almaraz, ‘21 Industrial Design; Joshua Bevis, ‘21 Mechanical Engineering; Aliza Bolliger, ’21 Public Relations; Briena Brown, ’21 Sociology; Marc Aaron Casupanan, ’21 Graphic Design; Sabrina Cervantes, ’21 Justice Studies; Anie de la Rosa Clark, ’21 Master of Business Administration; Nicole Coates, ’21 MS Interdisciplinary Studies; Rachel Crawford, ’21 MFA Creative Writing; Briettny Curtner, ’21 MA Education, Counseling and Student Personnel; Zobeida Delgadillo, ‘21 Political Science; Zoe Dolak, ’21 Public Relations; Adam Elwailly, ’21 Electrical Engineering; Mateo Garcia De la Quintana, ’21 Advertising; Lydon George, Master in Urban Planning; Olivia Gerber, ’21 Political Science and Journalism; Anna Harvey, ’21 MS Transportation Management; Fatima Hassan, ‘21 Psychology; Bianca Hernandez, ’21 MA Sociology; Shruthi Kamath, ’21 Psychology; Jacob Lapinsky, ’21 History and Social Sciences; Vanndy Loth-Kumar, ’21 Doctor of Nursing Practice; Ben Newsome, ’21 MA History; Sabina Patel, ’21 Psychology; Steven Peck, ’21 Political Science; Andrea Perez, ‘21 Advertising; Abril Perez-Gonzaga, ‘21 Anthropology; Naromy Ramirez, ’21 MA Education, Special Education; Nick Randle, ’21 Graphic Design; Jasmine Marie Reyes, ’21 Music, Performance; Ralph Robinson, ’21 Master in Urban Planning; Leilani Saelaw, ’21 Kinesiology; Marc Adrian Narvadez Santos, ’21 English; Sabrina Shell, ‘21 Industrial Design; Kristina Smith, ’21 Child and Adolescent Development and Psychology; Juan Carlos Soliz, ’21 Behavioral Science; Ty Supreme, ’21 Microbiology; Amber Renee Sylva, ’21 MA English; Alice Tsvinev, ’21 Psychology; Narayani Tyagi, ’21 MS Physics; Brianna Misaki Williams, ’21 Philosophy; Neng Xiong, ’21 MA Education, Curriculum and Instruction; and William Yi, ’21 Public Relations.

In their words, they describe the important milestones reached and lessons learned while at San José State, the key takeaways gained from attending college during a pandemic, their next steps — and the transformative impact SJSU had on their lives.

Many of them are on a path to become future leaders and educators, law enforcement and urban planners, clinicians in healthcare and practitioners of art and research. Some are the first in their families to attend college, others are parents setting an example for their children to follow — all of them are shining examples of what it means to be a Spartan.

“Throughout my career, this has always been the most important and revered time on the academic calendar,” said President Mary A. Papazian. “It is the moment that officially affirms the completion of a milestone that forever will impact our students’ lives, and the lives of future generations. All of us at San José State share in the joy and excitement felt by our spring graduates, and I am delighted to welcome them into the Spartan alumni family.”

Graduates will be celebrated at the end of the semester with a custom recognition website, one for each college, and also have the opportunity to be individually recognized at a socially distant, in-person walkthrough photo experience on campus May 26-28. All of this will begin with a livestreamed virtual kick-off event hosted by the president and provost on Wednesday, May 26.

Bobby Abarca.

Robby Abarca (he/him/his), ’21 Communicative Disorders and Sciences

Milestones at SJSU:
One of my major accomplishments at SJSU was being accepted into the undergraduate speech clinic within the Communicative Disorders and Sciences department. This experience solidified my decision to become a speech-language pathologist.

I got to work alongside great student clinicians and under a supervisor that provided us with many opportunities to grow. I learned so much about producing sessions that obtained goals in an ethical manner. I believe that it prepared me for my future in graduate school.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I am actually capable of online learning! I was extremely scared of the transition to online classes, but it ended up being better than I had expected. Our professors and other faculty members were constantly providing us with encouragement and were overall understanding of the new transition.

The biggest takeaway is that it prepared me for the totally unexpected. COVID-19 had such a huge impact on all of us, but we continued to persevere.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
By far, one of the most valuable lessons I have learned at SJSU is that it is really true when people say, “When one door closes, another opens.” I am the type of person who had their entire life planned out since the sixth grade, but everything changed when I stepped foot at SJSU.

It is fine if anyone is feeling lost or confused about what to do next; just know that your journey is not over! SJSU has bountiful resources and experiences that are capable of changing your entire life!

Career goals/next steps:
I am on to my next journey of furthering my education at graduate school! The end goal is to become a speech-language pathologist providing services to those who are in need. I hope to someday return as a professor, so I am able to provide future generations with the same knowledge and resources that were once given to me as a student.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
SJSU has transformed my life for the better. I am leaving with so many memories, friends and influential advice from my professors that have made me into the person I am today.

I honestly do not know what I would be doing if I did not attend this university. SJSU has prepared me to become a better clinician, researcher and partner to others. College definitely goes by very fast, but the memories I have will last a lifetime!

Diego Almaraz.

Diego Almaraz (he/him/his), ’21 Industrial Design

Milestones at SJSU:
After being in Industrial Design for a few years, I thought it would be beneficial for us students to have exposure and networking opportunities within the Bay Area design community. I became the president of the major, and I was able to achieve these goals by having several trips to firms, guest speakers, local design events, and appearing in a design magazine.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Out of the several things learned during virtual classes, the biggest takeaway is learning how to effectively work in a remote team. Being able to figure out how to keep all our information universally accessible between us over a cloud was key to our success. This will make that transition easier into remote working and will open more doors in the future to allow for working with different people all over the world.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
The most valuable lesson that I have learned over my time at SJSU is how to work together in a culturally diverse team. Design being a universal language, it helped to create clear communication between our culturally diverse team, which made it a lot easier for us to work in unison without leaving anyone out.

Career goals/next steps:
My ultimate career goal is to open a design firm later down the line. Being able to work in a wide range of different industries — such as footwear, electronics, services and charity — and making a meaningful impact sounds like something I would enjoy doing every day. When working in so many different fields, you are constantly learning new things every day which is my favorite aspect of working in design.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
Out of the many ways that SJSU has transformed me, the most notable is how it got me to break out of my shell. Going into the design, a very social major, had a large role in that transformation because we are always together on campus working hard and building each other up. Ultimately, they made me feel comfortable to be myself, speak my mind and take initiative.

Joshua Bevis.

Joshua Bevis (he/him/his), ’21 Mechanical Engineering

Milestones at SJSU:
I received the 2021 Scott T. Axline Memorial Student Award for Excellence in Service, was hired as an instructional student assistant for the Mechanical Engineering department in 2019, was a Dean’s List Scholar in 2018, and received the Silicon Valley Engineering Scholarship in 2016.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
My experience with COVID-19 was different than most students at SJSU, as I proctored a lab during the heat of the pandemic. For me, the most important takeaway from this experience was the importance of flexibility and adaptability. Shifting curriculums, lab designs and classroom protocols to fit the requirements of the pandemic was as much of a learning opportunity as a challenge — an opportunity to test my abilities to adapt to changing requirements and uncertainty.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
My experience at SJSU was one of constant learning and growth. I went from academic probation to a Dean’s List student within a year’s time, and through that process, I learned perseverance and determination in a trial-by-fire situation. I discovered the personal discipline and life habits required to not only succeed but also excel in my passions and efforts. I also gained a wealth of experience in my engineering courses and labs which have opened the door to my career and future.

Career goals/next steps:
I will be starting at Keysight Technologies as a manufacturing process engineer in June, furthering my interest and passion for mechatronics and metrology.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
SJSU has given me the tools, knowledge and experiences to excel in the industry and among my peers and build a better life for myself and my loved ones. The lessons learned and experiences gained here have helped shape the person I am and the impact I will have on my community. SJSU was ranked #1 Most Transformative University in the nation for a reason, and I have truly experienced and benefited from that as I transition into the next season of life.

Aliza Bolliger.

Aliza Bolliger (she/her/hers), ’21 Public Relations

Milestones at SJSU:
I succeeded at challenging myself to get almost all A’s while at SJSU (only one B), which allowed me to receive Dean’s Scholar and President’s Scholar recognitions. I am also headed in the direction of summa cum laude, though I will be ecstatic just to receive my degree.

Aside from the grades, I found a major and direction I want to take for a career, which was a choice that took a lot of years to make. I also got to experience my major in a real way through my internship, and I successfully led two accounts.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
One takeaway from attending college during the pandemic is the incredible importance of being a community and keeping each other safe. We have had to become (and successfully did so in most ways) adaptable in order to protect our communities during this unprecedented time. But it also has shown me how important personal connections are to me, especially after they’re gone or different from what they were before.

Another takeaway, which I noticed both in myself and in those around me, is how resilient we are even when things are tough. Dealing with a pandemic, college, work and life in general is a tall order, and we are still working through it, but together.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
I learned through my SJSU experiences that I am stronger than I thought, and I can survive even the hardest of tasks, assignments and moments. There have been periods of time pre-COVID and during that have certainly tested a growing, young adult and budding professional, all while tackling anxiety, but I got through — and I exceeded expectations. I have gained such valuable skills, wisdom and education in my courses, but I was also given the truth of my personal determination.

Career goals/next steps:
I want to hold an internship after graduating, specifically a Disney Professional Internship. My dream is to be a Disney PR professional, but I would be excited to join another company where I could show my passion and support while flexing the skills I’ve gained at San José State University.

I ultimately look forward to opportunities to continue learning on my own and growing both personally and professionally — and maybe land that dream job one day.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
Aside from the obvious of being the place where I earned my degree, SJSU has been a unique and enriching experience both on and off campus. I wasn’t sure what State would be like after being a long-term community college student, but it transformed me more into the person who I want to be and allowed me to take the next giant steps in my life.

Briena Brown.

Briena Brown (she/her/hers), ’21 Sociology

Milestones at SJSU:
I had the honor of representing the Student Homeless Alliance (SHA) at a united press conference with SJSU’s administration to announce the implementation of SHA’s solutions to provide more resources for homeless students on campus (emergency beds, grants, SJSUCares on-campus location, etc.).

Besides being a community organizer and artistic activist, I also supported the SJSU Human Rights Institute through my involvement in the Silicon Valley Pain Index.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I have learned what I’m actually capable of during this pandemic. Being a college student during a pandemic can be difficult, but I have taught myself that I can do hard things, and I am so much stronger than I ever thought I was.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
SJSU has taught me that if the thought of doing something excites and scares you, it probably means that you should do it! When I reflect on my college experience, I only remember the opportunities/moments that I originally was so hesitant about before doing it.

Career goals/next steps:
I want to end up in a profession that helps those around me. I hope to break glass ceilings with my presence and provide support to those who need it, whether that’s on a national or local level.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
SJSU has taught me to be brave and to stand up for what I believe in. I have learned to accept myself for who I am and to work hard in absolutely everything that I do.

Marc Casupanan.

Marc Aaron Casupanan (he/him/his), ’21 Graphic Design

Milestones at SJSU:
A major accomplishment for me at SJSU was getting into the BFA Graphic Design program. To be able to do something I love, such as design, in an environment that pushes me to do my best — it has been a great opportunity and is an accomplishment for me personally.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I think the key takeaways from the online learning environment during the pandemic is the importance of connections and keeping in touch with others. An aspect that I didn’t realize I’d miss was interacting with classmates and peers. Peers kept me motivated while we were taking classes in-person, so to adjust to remote learning, reaching out to others and maintaining friendships become important. I find that having these relationships help motivate me to continue working towards better results.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
The most valuable lesson I learned at SJSU is that while self motivation is a great quality when it comes to accomplishing a task, being surrounded by a great group of people who push you, as well, is even better.

Career goals/next steps:
My next step is to pursue my passion in design, ideally working on a small team at first to get some experience working closely with others. I think for me, personally, I’d benefit within small groups because the communication aspect of the team is similar to what I’m used to from school experience.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
San José State has definitely given me numerous opportunities with the BFA Graphic Design program, being the NEO Design Club president, and working as a student assistant for the King Library. I’ve opened up a lot, and I value the chances and memories that have come from my time here at SJSU.

Sabrina Cervantes.

Sabrina Cervantes (she/her/hers), ’21 Justice Studies

Milestones at SJSU:
Academically, my proudest accomplishments are being named a Dean’s Scholar my first semester at SJSU, and being named a President’s Scholar the following two semesters. Also, during my internship with SJSU’s Record Clearance Project (RCP), I was offered a position as a staff assistant. Nothing is more rewarding than the work I get to do with this program.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The key takeaways I learned while attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic are to be disciplined and stay positive. While 2020 was a difficult year for everyone, some more than others, we students had to stay focused, disciplined and get used to the new normal, which was online learning.

Rather than dwell on what I was missing, I focused on the positives. The connections I have made with faculty, staff, students and RCP clients through a computer screen has been the greatest blessing in the most challenging year.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
The most valuable lesson I learned at SJSU is that I am capable of more than I think. I have met so many amazing people, peers and faculty, who have accomplished so much despite where they come from. It is easy to say, “I’m not qualified,” or “I’m not good enough,” and not even try. However, it takes courage to put yourself out there and accomplish something great.

Career goals/next steps:
My next steps would be to begin a career as a probation officer. I would like to go back to school after a few years to either get my master’s and become an educator or go to law school. I would like to get some experience in different fields and see what I’m most passionate about.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
SJSU has transformed my life by showing me that there are so many options out there. The Record Clearance Project has given me the opportunity to meet people from diverse backgrounds and learn many different skills that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

There is no doubt that my experience at SJSU has transformed me as a person and given me a very unique set of skills and experiences that will help me throughout my career.

Anie Clark.

Anie de la Rosa Clark (she/her/hers), ’21 Master of Business Administration

Milestones at SJSU:
A major milestone for me was to discover my competitive skills and take advantage of all opportunities the MBA offered. I participated in the Heritage Bank Certificate Analyst and took first place along with three talented undergraduate business students.

I became the first-ever MBA Hispanic Advisor with Centro Community Partners Advanced Entrepreneurs Program, setting course for future MBAs to get involved too. I managed to participate in an unpaid part-time internship at a robotics startup, and in our marketing class simulation project, my team set a new record in the simulation program for highest score since the simulation was introduced.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I could not think of a better way to spend my evenings and weekends than to spend them in MBA studies and assignments during the COVID-19 pandemic. This shifted my focus away from the pandemic, as I was so busy with readings, classes and projects.

I also appreciated interacting with classmates in similar circumstances and exchanging ideas about the unusual events that forced us to think differently. We cheered on each other. We connected with each other. We learned new ways of learning together, and we found new ways of planning, envisioning and executing ideas and strategies.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
Everyone in the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business is genuinely invested in making every student’s career successful. Full disclosure, part of my interest in pursuing an MBA at SJSU is that I am a full-time SJSU employee; I wanted to know the SJSU product.

I uncovered the gem we refer to as the best public university in Silicon Valley. As I continue my work with SJSU donors, I feel reassured to share my story, knowing that everyone at SJSU is invested in educating the leaders of tomorrow and developing better citizens, thoughtful colleagues and stronger communities.

Career goals/next steps:
I launched my consulting firm and have been in a soft launch since 2019 refining my idea and putting in place my business plan. For now, I plan to continue working on it part time and continue my focus helping entrepreneurs launch their business.

My goal is to help entrepreneurs take action on their plans and launch, iterate and continue. I call this “actionate their planning” because a plan will not prove whether it works or not until action starts. And I plan to continue my career in philanthropy as it directly relates to my main three motivators: help others, support education and do what makes us happy.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
As a results-oriented person, I transformed my approach to face situations and address challenges by building more awareness of my people-oriented skills.

Nicole Coates.

Nicole Coates (she/her/hers), ’21 MS Interdisciplinary Studies

Milestones at SJSU:
I received the CSU Sally Casanova Scholar award, which helped me in applying to PhD programs this past year. I was able to apply to 15 programs, and I have been admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pursue my PhD in brain and cognitive sciences this fall!

I also was able to maintain a high GPA at SJSU, which was another goal of mine, in order to demonstrate to PhD programs I have what it takes to pursue graduate-level work.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
This past year has taught me to be patient in a time when everything seems uncertain, and to be understanding during a time when everyone is going through hardship. While socializing was nonexistent (in-person anyway), I was reminded of the importance and need for humans to be the social animals we are and reminded of how much I cherish my family, friends and colleagues.

Most valuable lesson I learned from SJSU:
First, office hours are necessary for not only retaining information learned in a class but also making long-lasting connections that will be helpful and wonderful to have as you advance in your career.

Second, the ability to collaborate is critical, as you can learn so much from your colleagues as well as produce work that is incredibly interesting and multifaceted.

Third, don’t be afraid to express interest in someone’s work! Chances are not only are they happy you are interested, but they will also offer ways in which you can collaborate with them.

Career goals/next steps:
I will be pursuing my PhD at MIT this fall in order to study developmental psychology and cognitive science. Aside from research, I will mentor undergraduates and be involved in diversity and inclusivity efforts in higher education.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
San José State allowed me to pursue my interests that didn’t fit into one master’s program. Because of that, I have been able to collaborate with faculty from many departments as well as become a more creative and critical thinker.

Although the Interdisciplinary Studies program can be rather lonely (there’s no cohort or department that you belong to), faculty and students welcomed me with open arms. SJSU made me feel like I belonged, both as a student and as a young woman of color entering the world of academia.

Rachel A. Crawford.

Rachel Crawford (she/her/hers), ’21 MFA Creative Writing

Milestones at SJSU:
While at SJSU, I won the Dorrit A. Sibley Writing Scholarship Award for excellence in poetry in 2019 and 2020. I also won the Academy of American Poets Virginia de Araujo Prize, which led to the publishing of my poem “Visiting Side B” on the Academy’s website. I won the James Phelan Award for metrical verse in 2020, and my poem “Pleasants Valley Road, Cantelow Road, September 2020” was chosen as an award winner for SJSU’s Pandemic Pandemonium event.

My first major publication occurred during the spring of 2020 in New South Journal, and I have a poem, “The Snow Cone,” forthcoming in Reed Magazine’s first ever chapbook. I also worked with a group of Teaching Associates and Dr. Ryan Skinnell on writing a chapter that will be published in Threshold Conscripts: Rhetoric and Composition TAships.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
All people have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic in their own ways, and the things I learned the most are to have compassion for others and their circumstances and to show grace as much as possible.

I also learned how important it is to have patience for others, especially students who have family and work responsibilities outside of taking classes. While it was important for me to learn my own coursework and to teach writing skills to my students, it was also really important for me to pass on the value of having resilience and perseverance during difficult times.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
SJSU has so much to offer students in terms of resources and campus events, but it is up to each individual student how much to participate. When I attended SJSU as an undergrad, I did not participate much. In fact, I am embarrassed by the kind of student I was. However, attending SJSU as a graduate student 12 years later, I wanted my experience to be different.

I remember hearing a speech on the welcoming day for graduate students, and the speaker said to take advantage of everything in the program — read everything, attend every class, go to events and engage deeply in learning. I was inspired, and I did my best to live up to that advice.

Because of that, I graduate from the MFA program with a greater depth of knowledge and appreciation for everything I learned and everyone I encountered along my journey.

Career goals/next steps:
Next year, I will work at SJSU as a first-year writing instructor and as a supervisor for English phase II and III student teachers in the single-subject credential program. I will also continue to refine my poetry manuscript to send out for publication.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
I came to SJSU and found a community of writers and thinkers who welcomed and encouraged me. Many of the professors on campus have been my greatest mentors and supporters, and they showed me how to push the boundaries of my writing and my teaching.

Although I have always valued my family, going through this program taught me how much I truly depend on them, and for all of their help and encouragement, I am forever grateful. I feel so incredibly blessed to have attended the MFA program at SJSU, and I look forward to continuing my work there as a supervisor and first-year writing instructor.

Briettny Curtner.

Briettny Curtner (she/her/hers),’18 Psychology, ’21 MA Education, Counseling and Student Personnel

Milestones at SJSU:

  • Being a part of Faces of Learning, an arts-based research initiative hosted by Lurie College
  • Serving as an intern within the Residential Life Department at the University of Alaska Anchorage as part of the Association of College and University Housing Officers – International Housing Internship Program
  • Funding my thesis, “Misogynoir: Undergraduate Experiences by Black Women,” with the Graduate Equity Fellowship
  • Creating and facilitating 12 workshops focused on academic success, well-being and career planning workshops as a graduate assistant for Lurie College Success Center
  • Fostering awareness and coordinating initiatives relating to the Garret Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant as community mental health coordinator role with Counseling and Psychological Services at SJSU

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I learned the value of being proactive. I do not believe I would have moved to another state during this pandemic to begin my career before completing my master’s degree if I was not proactive.

Additionally, I was starting to review position descriptions that were interesting as well as intimidating while my imposter syndrome kicked in. However, by preparing for all that I could control, I learned how to prevent COVID-19 from becoming a hindrance as my career began.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
I have been with SJSU since 2014 as an undergraduate student, student employee, full-time employee and now a graduate student months away from commencement. I have learned many lessons during the seven years that I have spent with SJSU. The most impactful is the value of authenticity.

My educational background is within psychology and educational counseling, which I have used to support college students, and the rapport that can be built is priceless when it is genuine and authentic. I believe that representation is powerful, and my presence within Student Affairs, I hope, shows to others that pursuing this field is possible — regardless of a pandemic.

Authenticity in all that you do will go a long way.

Career goals/next steps:
I am four months into my new role with Utah Valley University, and my goals are to create a path towards success for students that is realistic and feasible for them. I aim to continue to learn more about the student population I now serve, adventure every weekend to somewhere new, and enjoy cuisines from places I have never heard of until moving to Lehi, Utah!

Simply put, my next steps are to be present in my new role because it is exactly the type of work I went to school for. Now, I can thrive in my new environment rather than work to survive as I did during my collegiate experiences.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
I first started with SJSU at 17 years old and am now graduating for the second time at 24 years old. San José State has provided opportunities for me to grow personally and professionally.
From within the residence halls to inside a classroom, I sought out leadership experiences that challenged me and contributed to a resume that has served me well.

Additionally, through my master’s program, I was able to facilitate research. After two years, my thesis is complete, and it would not have happened without the support of my committee chair Dr. Jason Laker and committee members Drs. Angela Birts and Lorri Capizzi.

All in all, during my time with SJSU, I learned what I enjoyed in life, what careers were of interest, and what I will continue to aspire to accomplish.

Zobeida Delgadillo.

Zobeida Delgadillo (she/her/hers), ‘21 Political Science

Milestones at SJSU:
It has been both an honor and a privilege to have served as Associated Students president and chief executive officer as well as Associated Students director of legislative affairs. Additionally, as a governing member of the California State Student Association, I’ve advocated for obtaining more state funding for the CSU system, supporting basic needs initiatives, providing funding to resources and departments and promoting student participation in the governance of the CSU system.

Other roles that have allowed me to continue my pursuit of life-long learning, personal growth and inclusion: a senator on the Academic Senate, a board member on the Student Union, a member of the Athletics Board, an orientation leader for New Student and Family Programs, and a member of Alpha Omicron Pi.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I’ve learned that learning is a two-way street. Despite being in a virtual setting, I’ve continued to allow myself to share my personal experiences and learn from others, which has given me new perspectives and enriched my college experience.

I’ve also learned ways to be more adaptable and flexible, both in academic productivity and my personal development. I would advise students to not feel constrained by the lack of in-person engagement in a virtual setting. In a campus filled with cultural diversity, your individuality is extremely respected and valued, so no matter your interests, chances are there’s a place for you.

As Spartans, you are in the place where Olympic winners, entrepreneurs and trailblazers in society once stood. Challenge yourself. Absorb everything. And above all, enjoy and trust the process!

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
My experience as SJSU and various leadership roles have taught me the importance of intersectionality, equity and transparency. Initiative and innovation are key to my principles, as my time at SJSU taught me to capitalize on my strengths and find my voice.

My authenticity has taught me to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, which means having the courage to drive innovation, engagement and advocacy. This form of confidence has further contributed to my resilience and commitment to the communities I belong to.

Career goals/next steps:
I will be attending graduate school immediately after undergrad. I’m still undecided of where I’ll attend, but I recently received admission and a scholarship to the University of San Francisco for a MA in sports management.

I hope to pursue a career in the sports industry and one day become an executive in Major League Baseball. Regardless, I will continue to be a life-long advocate for access and equality for women not only in athletics but in all sectors of society.

How has SJSU transformed your life?:
As a first-generation student and a San José native, I’ve been transformed by SJSU in ways I never imagined. I keep close to me this quote by James Baldwin: “The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I make it.” It reminds me to always have vision, dedication and strategy everywhere I go, even if it means occupying spaces that traditionally have not been meant for me.

My community at SJSU has given me utmost guidance, clarity and an outstanding support system, to which I credit my success in and outside the classroom. As I move forward, I believe that my personal and professional experiences at SJSU have laid the foundation for me to continue creating transformative change in my career and community.

Zoe Dolak (she/her/hers), ’21 Public Relations

Milestones at SJSU:
My time at San José State has been filled with so many unique experiences and opportunities.
One of my biggest accomplishments at San José State was working alongside the Journalism and Mass Communications [school] and the Dwight Bentel Hall agency team to virtually honor Dr. Anthony Fauci with the William Randolph Hearst Award for excellence in mass communications. We were able to bring one of 2020’s biggest figures onto campus and bring recognition to the school and everything that Dr. Anthony Fauci has done.

I’m also proud to have led a month-long campaign and case study about civil discourse in America for the Public Relations Student Society of America

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Attending college during the pandemic was difficult, but I learned that I’m capable of taking on challenges and creating change no matter the circumstance. In every situation, there’s always still opportunity.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
I’ve learned a lot of lessons at San José State, and I think one of the biggest ones was learning how to follow my heart. Everyone always says that there’s something you “need” to be doing or a point you “should” be at in life. But I found that listening to myself and following my own path has taught me the most.

Career goals/next steps:
Once I graduate from San José State, I plan to further the message of sustainability and climate equity in California and the United States by doing communications work with the company CALSTART. Helping to uplift other voices and empower future generations is always going to be my number one goal.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
San José State has transformed my professional life, but it also has transformed my cultural and societal views. Going to this school took me from being a young high-schooler who didn’t really know what she wanted to do in life to being a leader, a thinker and someone who has three times the amount of confidence in themselves. I am forever grateful for the opportunities the school has given me to learn how to grow and thrive every single day. Spartan up!

Adam Elwailly.

Adam Elwailly (he/him/his), ’21 Electrical Engineering

Milestones at SJSU:
One of my research papers was accepted to a peer-reviewed academic journal in the field of semiconductor electronics. I’m very pleased with this accomplishment, as the months of hard work that preceded submitting the manuscript led me to discover a passion for research, which informed my decision to pursue a PhD after graduation from San José State.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Attending classes during the COVID-19 pandemic taught me a great deal about focus. When classes moved online, I learned rather quickly that it is all too easy to become distracted and disengaged without clear structure and a few self-imposed rules to keep me focused. I hope to carry this self-discipline forward throughout the rest of my time as a student and into my career.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
My experience at San José State taught me that opportunities are rarely unavailable. One of the keys to success is learning to recognize where opportunities exist, even where they may be hidden, and being willing to take them, even when they may be difficult. The pursuit of opportunity is always worth it.

Career goals/next steps:
This fall, I will be attending the electrical engineering PhD program at Stanford University, where I will pursue research in nanoelectronics or power semiconductor devices. It is my hope that this path leads me to a rich career in electronics research.

I may ultimately pursue a university professorship, as academia lies squarely within this framework for my future endeavors.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
San José State provided me with more opportunities than I could ever have taken. In addition to laying a foundation for a career in electronics research, being a student at San José State taught me valuable fundamental skills that will be useful in any of my future pursuits.
As I graduate, my most significant takeaway about San José State is that, through their interactions with their instructors and with each other, students here can find support for any interest or career path.

Mateo Garcia De la Quintana.

Mateo Garcia De la Quintana (he/him/his), ’21 Advertising

Milestones at SJSU:
My sophomore year, I started in my first graphic design position for CommUniverCity under John Delacruz. As a junior, I served as the creative director of the Spartan Ad Club, an advertising/marketing assistant for the Spartan Recreation and Aquatic Center (a role I continued as a senior), a student art director at DBH Communications Agency on campus, and an Adobe Ambassador, which I also held my senior year.

Both my sophomore and junior years, I interned for SJSU Up&Up Festivals. My senior year, I was co-president of the Spartan Ad Club, the social media director for Something Nice Company, and a freelance product photographer.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Opportunities are everywhere — especially online now! It was an amazing opportunity to understand myself away from campus while still at school.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
The most valuable lesson I learned is that you will receive just as much as you put in. Life is not always in the classroom — there is so much more to discover and learn from clubs, people and professors that you can’t always find in the classroom. Do not be afraid to take that extra step to improve yourself.

Career goals/next steps:
I just want my next step to be something I am passionate about and want to do — something that makes me say, “Yes; I am excited to do this.” I would love to continue working in social media and product photography. I am glad I will have an amazing background from SJSU to help me move forward in my career. SJSU has been recognized by so many companies, and they know the students that come out of here are going to be great.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
San José State has transformed my life drastically. I learned a lot that will transform me into the person I want to be, and I owe it to my professors and peers that shaped me.

But most importantly, I lost a lot, whether it was through assignments, jobs, relationships or a competition. That is something I value, because it made me learn things about myself, and it made me want to do better. I am always a better version of myself than I was yesterday.

Lydon George.

Lydon George (he/him/his), ‘21 Master in Urban Planning

Milestones at SJSU:
Through leadership roles with our two urban planning student organizations (TRANSITion and Urban Planning Coalition), I have been able to help coordinate numerous events and initiatives to engage students and the community with issues in planning.

I have contributed to published public transportation research through the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) and worked as an intern for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority . Lastly, I am on my way to having earned a master’s degree in urban planning; I think that is pretty noteworthy in itself.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The pandemic has very clearly highlighted the importance of community, relationships and in-person interactions to one’s success not only as a student but also as a healthy, happy person.

We have been hardwired to move about, place ourselves in different settings to do different things, and to interact with different people, not fully appreciating how much is communicated or experienced in the process. It took a collective, proactive approach to build up and maintain my SJSU community and ensure that we were able to support each other through this rigorous academic program, and in life in general.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
I learned that true progress in academic thought and real-world problem solving is born from the collective mind. Often in the “real” world, we do not have the opportunity to spend time with people who are very different from us and are unable to truly understand the value of their different perspectives.

The Master in Urban Planning (MUP) program at SJSU is a microcosm of the beautiful diversity we see across the Bay Area, connecting students from all types of ethnic, social and academic backgrounds. Each of these people brings unique experiences, insights and knowledge to our field that are crucial for addressing issues of urban planning. As we move onto professional endeavors, it is important to remember the value in actively breaking down social and racial barriers to promote diverse voices.

Career goals/next steps:
Oh, you mean I can’t just be in classes forever? OK, in that case, I will actively seek employment in the public sector to further community/cultural enrichment and racial/social equity within systemic planning processes.

I will continue to conduct academic research with my research team at MTI and pursue other opportunities to become more involved with community-based planning initiatives. I might even read a book for fun.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
Immediately, my connection to SJSU and the MUP program gave me the institutional support to connect with various, planning-related professionals in a credible, real way. SJSU has provided the education, academic/professional opportunities and personal connections to facilitate my professional aspirations.

As well, my experience at SJSU has enabled me to academically frame and address critical issues we face on a day-to-day basis, such as access to housing and jobs, racism and environmental preservation, and it has empowered me to push for progress on a systemic level.

Olivia Gerber.

Olivia Gerber (she/her/hers), ’21 Political Science and Journalism

Milestones at SJSU:
I have had the pleasure of holding a variety of leadership positions at SJSU, including serving as a resident advisor, the Panhellenic Council president, and managing editor of the Spartan Daily. I also had the opportunity to complete the Advanced Humanities Honors program and work as a student intern for Students for Quality Education with the California Faculty Association.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Attending college during the pandemic has taught me that adaptability and a strong support system can go a long way and that it’s OK to struggle and lean on those around you.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
The most valuable lessons I have learned at SJSU are the only way to know is to try — quite literally get involved in everything and anything that interests you. It’s OK to feel nervous, but don’t take yourself out of the game before it’s even started.

Career goals/next steps:
Much like my time at SJSU, my next steps are wherever the wind takes me. My goals range from investigative reporting for a news publication to traveling the world as a diplomat and everything in between.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
San José State has transformed me into a curious and confident person. I am so grateful for the diverse experiences and vibrant instructors I have had at SJSU, and I feel so ready to take on the world.

Anna Harvey.

Anna Harvey (she/her/hers), ’21 MS Transportation Management

Milestones at SJSU:
Switched jobs and semi-successfully parented my 4-year-old daughter — both with lots of love, help and advice from family, friends and mentors!

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Ask for and admit to needing help; your support network is waiting to step in, but they can’t read your mind.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
Every class and every classmate is an opportunity to learn something new.

Career goals/next steps:
I’d like to continue working towards leadership roles in transportation organizations.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
I honestly never anticipated returning to school after earning my undergraduate degree. SJSU’s Minetta Transportation Institute and the MS in Transportation Management program allowed me to do so as the full-time working mom of a toddler.

I really applied myself to show my daughter what can be accomplished in even the busiest seasons of life. This experience has strengthened my conviction in my goals and given me the opportunity to meet many other awesome people who are all engaged in addressing similar professional and societal challenges.

Fatima Hassan.

Fatima Hassan (she/her/hers), ‘21 Psychology

Milestones at SJSU:
I have always been a mental health advocate, and I was delighted to continue doing this even as a student, thanks to the Mental Health Ambassadors program at SJSU. As a Mental Health Ambassador (MHA), all the outreach work I and the other MHAs have been doing has helped many SJSU students access and learn about the mental health services available at SJSU.

I’m also on my way to finish my degree in three years, and I was able to do this while maintaining my GPA (and sanity) and the transition to online classes due to the pandemic.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Adaptability is the key to achieving anything during unprecedented times. Not everything in life is going to work out the way you intended, especially when it comes to college. The key is to learn to adapt to unexpected situations, being resourceful and using the lessons you learn along the way for personal growth.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
I have attended a lot of online events at SJSU and met some amazing people that I have learned a lot from. This taught me the importance of networking and connecting with others. Doing this has not only put me out of my comfort zone, but it has also helped me get exposed to diverse perspectives on life and meet some amazing individuals from various backgrounds.

Career goals/next steps:
The goal is to enroll in a master’s program and become a mental health counselor who serves underrepresented communities, especially immigrants/refugees. Eventually, I would like to get my doctorate and start my research as well as teaching career.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
San José State has offered me so many opportunities to learn and grow in ways I never imagined. My experiences at SJSU have pushed me to do better and achieve more than I thought I was capable of. I have met the most amazing professors who have helped me with my career goals and aspirations. I will miss the Spartan community, and I will cherish connections I have made here forever.

Bianca Hernandez.

Bianca Hernandez (she/her/ella/hers), ’21 MA Sociology

Milestones at SJSU:
A major accomplishment I had at SJSU is being the first in my family to attend and graduate from a higher education institution, and now in a few weeks, I will do it again with my master’s degree from SJSU, as well.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
No matter what is going on, I can do it. Maybe it won’t look or feel the same (Zoom meetings, no in- person meeting, social distancing), but I can still get it done.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
There will always be people around me, whether they’re teachers, advisors, co-workers or new friends, supporting and cheering me on in my educational goals.

Career goals/next steps:?
One of my ultimate career goals is to work in the community college system. It is where I learned about sociology, and I ultimately want to help other students like me navigating the higher education system.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
San José State has transformed my life by giving me so many new opportunities that will help me in my future career, and even in my last semester here, it keeps on opening new doors for me.

Shruthi Kamath.

Shruthi Kamath (she/her/hers), ’21 Psychology

Milestones at SJSU:
I am humbled to share that I will be graduating cum laude from San José State University with honors in psychology. To recognize my academic and leadership achievements, I have been awarded the President’s Scholar Award, Dean’s Scholar Award and the A.S. 55 Award.

In addition, during my freshman and sophomore years at SJSU, I was a part of the Humanities Undergraduate Honors program. Furthermore, in fall 2020, I was recognized with my team as a finalist for the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge for our innovation of SPAR — a safety companion app exclusive to San José State University.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic has better prepared me for known and unknown circumstances. Along with my peers, I have learned to rise above and recognize my resiliency. I will be sure to embrace the future and take nothing and no one for granted.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
One of the most valuable lessons I have learned from my experiences at SJSU is that
when networking and creating the brand you want to portray, it is most important to be
genuine and authentic in order to make a lasting impression.

Also, being proactive, asking for help, and getting involved in student organizations has encouraged me to see that the world is at your doorstep, and stepping out of your comfort zone is the perfect way to explore those new areas and expand your perspective. Essentially, being open to taking risks is key, so you honor your desires and are willing to put yourself out there.

Career goals/next steps:
Following my graduation at SJSU, I look forward to starting my career in program
management within the tech industry. After a few years of work experience, I hope to
further my studies by pursuing a master’s in business analytics.

My interests lie at the intersection of business, technology and innovation, with a strong passion for women’s empowerment, entrepreneurship and professional development. My ultimate goal is to use my skills and knowledge while working with others to make a meaningful impact in the community around me.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
San José State University has transformed my life through the plethora of exceptional
opportunities that have opened doors for me. Throughout the past four years, I have been
able to foster my professional interests and pursue my creative passions through my
involvement in SJSU Women in Business and Carr Lab Investigating Memory
and the Brain (CLIMB).

I have had the ability to thrive as a professional while being surrounded
by a values-driven community filled with creative, dynamic and resilient leaders.

Jacob Lapinsky.

Jacob Lapinsky (he/him/his), ’21 History and Social Science

Milestones at SJSU:
As a first-generation, low-income college student from a single mother household, I️ am the first person in my family to receive a college degree — in four years, on my own. I have been blessed with the opportunity to work for San José State’s Educational Opportunity Program, as the EOP Workshop Coordinator and an I Can I Will Mentor, while attending school full-time. I️ will be graduating with a 3.7 cumulative GPA as a double major.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I learned that things change, and those who actively work to adapt to the circumstances will succeed. Moving to remote learning left significant time for introspective thinking and to explore what I ️value — my place in the world.

From a historical perspective, we have seen pandemics similar or worse to the likes of what we are experiencing today. With books like The Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe and The Plague by Albert Camus that I have read in SJSU history courses, it is clear that this is a feature of the human experience, so this has been a historic time to attend college.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
The most valuable lesson I️ have learned from my time at SJSU has come from my Sociology of Education Professor, Dr. Yolanda Wiggins. She opened her class with a quote by Toni Morrison:

“I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.’’

I️ hope to carry that spirit to enable my future students with the tools they need to free themselves.

Career goals/next steps:
I️ plan to attend the teacher education program at SJSU and achieve an MA in teaching with a teaching credential in social sciences or ethnic studies. I️ hope to teach history, social sciences or ethnic studies at a high school in the Bay Area. I️ am committed to helping to serve historically underserved and disadvantaged communities in the fight against the opportunity gap plaguing education today.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
SJSU has transformed my life by giving me the opportunity to pursue a career that I️ am truly passionate about. My life has truly been transformed with the instruction and knowledge accrued over these four years and have made me into a person capable of thinking deeply and critically — and teaching others passionately — as well as being a proper historian.

SJSU has given me the opportunity to live a life that is not full of struggle and strife, and the tools that I️ needed to “free myself,” as Toni Morrison says. I️ owe so much to the EOP program at SJSU, and I️ am eternally grateful for my time spent working for/being a member of the program.

Vanndy Loth.

Vanndy Loth-Kumar (she/her/hers), ’12 Nursing, ’15 Master of Public Health, ’21 Doctor of Nursing Practice

Milestones at SJSU:
I was privileged to complete my Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN), a Master of Public Health (MPH), and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) through SJSU. I am appreciative of my internship experiences on projects related to promoting intimate-partner violence awareness as well as evaluating program outcomes in mental health.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I have two main takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first is that learning and personal growth can still occur during a pandemic. The second is that faculty and peers are vital in making any academic experience meaningful.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
I was able to participate in memorable internships and clinical experiences through SJSU. I was able to learn the value in the voices of the people within the community. This allowed me to gain the skills I needed for patient advocacy.

Career goals/next steps:
After graduation, my next steps include taking on a lead position with a nonprofit organization to support the integration between mental health and primary care services. My goal is to be able to provide timely access for patients who may benefit from quality mental health services.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
As a first-generation college student of Cambodian refugees, I did not intend to pursue graduate studies. SJSU changed my life by exposing me to the possibilities available with higher learning. SJSU also helped set me along a path towards supporting my community.

Ben Newsome.

Ben Newsome (he/him/his), ’21 MA History

Milestones at SJSU:
There were a couple of major accomplishments I achieved during my time at SJSU. The first was passing the cumulative exam for my program. The exam was rather stressful considering that it covered U.S. history from 1865 to the present and was timed. It was a relief to finish it and pass it on my first attempt. The second milestone that was particularly important to me was maintaining a 4.0 GPA for the entire time I was in the History graduate program.

There were several times when I worried that I would come up short, but thanks to my fellow classmates and the help I received from our wonderful history professors here at SJSU, I was able to reach my goal.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Attending college during the pandemic was tough. I learned that it takes even more personal responsibility to stay on top of assignments and your classes. I think it is important to practice self care and find ways to give yourself a break, especially when you are spending all day on Zoom.

I also felt that it was important to stay in touch with my classmates and co-workers at Peer Connections in order to maintain a sense of community. Having that connection to the school community really helped me get through the difficult days during the pandemic.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
I have learned that sometimes the hardest thing about accomplishing your goals is staying determined and positive no matter what obstacles you face. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and reach out to friends and classmates that are there with you. They are often the most valuable asset you have.

Overall, I learned that if you show up, do the work and aren’t afraid to take chances, you can get through just about anything.

Career goals/next steps:
My career goal is to get a job teaching at a community college. My next step is to look for adjunct work as a history instructor or possibly a teaching job at the high school level. I think it is important to stay open and embrace whatever opportunities come my way.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
San José State has reminded me of what I am capable of and has opened the door to numerous opportunities for me to not only grow my career but also grow as a person.

The experience has given me a new perspective on what continuing your education can do for you at any age. I know now that no matter what happens in my life, no one can take away my experiences and what I have accomplished during my time at SJSU.

Sabina Patel.

Sabina Patel (she/her/hers), ’21 Psychology

Milestones at SJSU:
My major milestones have been presenting research at conferences such as Western Psychological Association, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and the Spartan Psychological Association Research Conference, as well as repeatedly performing at a high level academically.

I developed my interpersonal skills through my experience as vice president of Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology, and president of Order of Omega, a Greek honor society.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The pandemic taught me the value of creating a good relationship with my professors early in the semester. Having that foundation along with strong organizational skills, allowed me to feel confident in my ability to manage school through these trying times.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
My experience at SJSU taught me the importance of saying yes and no to opportunities that arise. I learned when to set limits for myself while developing my skill sets. Having a strong support system helped me through challenges that I faced both academically and personally.

Career goals/next steps:
I will be pursuing a PhD in human factors and behavioral neurobiology with a primary focus of technology within the health-care field.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
San José State has taught me to be confident in my skill sets academically and professionally. I learned that self care should be used as something that supports your growth and should not be used as just a reward for hard work.

Steven Peck.

Steven Peck (he/him/his), ’21 Political Science

Milestones at SJSU:
Academically, I have had the honor of being a President’s and Dean’s Scholar during my time at SJSU. I also take pride in the various research projects I have taken on in my political science courses.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Being adaptive is probably the biggest takeaway I have from this online learning experience.
There is so much uncertainty in life — taking obstacles in stride and working to overcome them
is essential.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
Making connections is key. I have been able to learn and gain so much from the relationships that I have built at SJSU. Without them, I’m not certain where I would be right now.

Career goals/next steps?
After I graduate, I intend to continue my efforts in preserving and sharing the history of Silicon
Valley’s LGBTQ community. In terms of my career, it is my goal that my work is centered around bettering our communities.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
Through my experiences at SJSU, I have been transformed into a driven and dedicated
individual. It is hard to imagine where I would be without all the people and opportunities SJSU
has provided me. I am forever grateful.

Andrea Perez.

Andrea Perez (she/her/hers), ‘21 Advertising

Milestones at SJSU:
I never imagined how much I would accomplish in four years. I completed the Humanities Honors program and was treasurer and co-president of the Spartan Advertising Club. I served as an Adobe Ambassador and participated in the National Student Advertising Competition by the American Advertising Federation — winning an ADDY.

My senior year, I was a board member of the Inaugural Student Advisory Committee for the American Advertising Federation. I have received scholarships from the Journalism and Mass Communications department, and I have been on the Dean’s Scholar list five times.

I also worked with Academic Technology as a media production student assistant and recently became the social media manager for the Center for Faculty Development.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
One of the most important lessons I learned while transitioning to an online college experience was to take advantage of every opportunity I was offered. Even if it seems like there isn’t enough time to get everything done, or it’s an opportunity that might be out of your comfort zone, you aren’t alone — others are feeling that way too. You will end up getting so much more out of college than just going to class and taking notes.

That being said, there are times when we have to recognize there’s too much on our plate. Sometimes it’s difficult to decide to turn something down, but being clear about your intentions will bring new opportunities later on.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
It’s important to not compare your college experience with others. I spent too much time worrying I was behind or not doing enough. Now, at the end of my college experience, I am finally processing all I have done and am proud of myself for it.

Career goals/next steps:
As a management track advertising student who has worked primarily with creative track students, I’ve noticed there’s a sense of separation and lack of communication between the two areas. I want to serve as a bridge, particularly on the production side in development.

Some of the best advice I received during an agency tour was that management has to think like a creative and vice versa for a campaign to be successful. The two areas should work together and work to everyone’s strengths. I aim to begin in a creative operations position at an agency and go from there.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
The most transformative aspect of my time at SJSU was building strong relationships with the faculty and staff. If it weren’t for their recommendations, I wouldn’t hold a position on a national board or have earned a job closely related to the field I would like to enter after graduation.

Their trust and belief in me has enabled me to do more than I could have imagined.

Abril Perez-Gonzaga.

Abril Perez-Gonzaga (she/her/hers), ‘21 Anthropology

Milestones at SJSU:
A major milestone for me was getting into the McNair Scholars Program and having the opportunity to publish an article. I have also been recognized for my extensive volunteer work with the César E. Chávez Community Action Center.

My favorite accomplishment so far has been working with my professors to help contribute to research in anthropology.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The pandemic during my college experience was particularly hard, but I learned that pivoting was crucial. I had to be resourceful and make the most out of my situation while balancing online classes.

I learned that fear was not an option, so I used my discomfort as motivation to adapt.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
I have learned to question and criticize everything. Diversity and listening to perspectives that are different from mine have also enriched my experience.

Career goals/next steps:
My next steps are to take a gap year to gain experience in the field of anthropology or archaeology and then apply to PhD programs. I hope to attend Columbia University and become a professor.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
San José State has transformed my life through interactions with my professors. The enthusiasm in lectures and the devotion to students are what stood out to me. I left class every day thinking I knew it all only to have my mind blown again the next day. I am now able to think without constraint or limits and look forward to sharing my innovations with others.

Naromy Ramirez (she/her/hers), ’21 MA Education, Special Education

My name is Naromy Ramirez. My pronouns are she/her/hers. My major here at San José State is special education.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
One of the key takeaways that I’ve learned from attending college during this COVID-19 pandemic was just my ability of being able to be flexible in the locations where I study. I normally would go to the library, where I need some peace and quiet.

I knew that during this pandemic it was going to be difficult for me, given that there’s toddlers and infants at my house and with all that crying, it was going to make it impossible for me to study inside my home. So I was flexible enough to wake up earlier, six in the morning, and make a table for me outside in my yard. Six in the morning, put on some layers and get to work, do my assignments, study for my exams.

So that is one of the key takeaways that I’ve learned, is just being able, having to be flexible in order to complete my master’s program. I’m getting my master’s in special education and as a teacher I’ve learned that I need to be flexible, so this COVID pandemic actually really helped me learn that lesson that I needed to.

Career goals/next steps:
My career goals, my next steps is finding a job in teaching, and currently I’m applying to a couple different jobs. I am thinking of taking a job in a therapeutic setting STC classroom.

San José State has transformed my life.

Nick Randle.

Nick Randle (he/him/his), ’21 Graphic Design

Milestones at SJSU:
One major milestone I had at SJSU was being accepted into the BFA graphic design program. Since I transferred to SJSU from a junior college, I wanted to further my design education in the BFA. In the program, you learn how to have fun even in the most stressful of times.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I learned the importance of community. The BFA is a tight-knit group and during in-person class, we would often work together in our classroom and motivate one another. However, since the pandemic started, everyone is alone at home. I find it critical to keep in close contact with my classmates and chat over Zoom or voice-call to keep the camaraderie going.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
While at SJSU I learned two valuable lessons. The first is to accept that every project you do will not be perfect and that making mistakes is actually beneficial to learning. Second, do not feel like you have to know everything. Stay curious and always be receptive to new information and viewpoints.

Career goals/next steps:
After I graduate, I hope to pursue a career in graphic design either at a branding agency or tech company.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
At San José State, I really grew as a person and opened myself up to new people and experiences. I have also made deep friendships that I hope to continue after graduation.

Jasmine Reyes.

Jasmine Marie Reyes (she/her/hers), ’21 Music, Performance

Milestones at SJSU:
In the spring 2019 semester, I was in the SJSU School of Music and Dance department-wide production of Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass.” It was so different from other performances I’ve done — very artistic. I was also able to put on a successful junior recital last July during the pandemic!

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
If I really want to do something, I can’t rely on people to tell me to do it. I found myself very dependent on my professors and instructors for motivation (mostly for performance deadlines). Because I didn’t have frequent communication with them when we shut down, I really had to push myself to get work done. The discipline I grew helped me put on my junior recital after being unmotivated to practice my music for months!

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
There are so many narratives going on around me, and most of them only show one perspective of a story. I learned to do more research on my own, which consisted of looking at sources that hold various viewpoints/biases. This helped me learn things and make decisions about the world for myself, not just from social media and the news around me.

Career goals/next steps:
I will continue to train in musical theater and opera performance with private instructors and through various programs. I hope more countries become open to American travelers so I can do young artist programs in countries like Italy, Austria and France! I will also continue to teach my private voice students and build my studio.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
San José State has helped me see the world from a different view. Because the student body is so diverse, it’s full of people with various backgrounds and stories. (I was raised in an affluent neighborhood in the suburbs, which can be a social bubble.)

Music has the tendency to reflect the times (politics, issues, the world in general), and I have the privilege to reflect these stories through songs I perform and write myself. I’m grateful to my professors and instructors for helping me find my voice.

Ralph Robinson.

Ralph Robinson (he/him/his), ’21 Master in Urban Planning

Milestones at SJSU:
Preparing a robust community assessment of Eastside San José neighborhoods was the highlight of my time in the Master of Urban Planning program. I got to work directly with some tremendous residents and staff from local organizations, who taught me so much about the incredible history and culture of their community. The entire experience gave me a deeper appreciation for both the neighborhoods I worked in and the city of San José in general.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The lesson of this past year, and any challenging times I’ve encountered, is to just keep going. You have to do the best you can with what’s in front of you and find a way to get something out of every day. Stick to that and in time you’ll find yourself in a lot better spot than you were before.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
I was so fortunate to learn from the wealth of personal and professional experiences my professors and classmates brought to the program. It was such an asset to be surrounded by people who well represented the diverse perspectives and backgrounds I will encounter throughout my career in planning.

Career goals/next steps:
I have long sought to work for the public good and to help create communities that are sustainable, equitable and, ultimately, better for people. My passion for place-making and effecting positive change in human environments is what inspired me to pursue a degree in urban planning. My ultimate goal is to play a role in creating places that best provide the mental, physical and social benefits that people and communities need.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
San José State gave me the chance to pursue an opportunity I long wanted, but which I didn’t even think was still available to me. It opened back up a door that I worried had already closed. I will always be immensely grateful for everything SJSU has done for me.

Leilani Saelaw (she/her/hers), ’21 Kinesiology

Milestones at SJSU:
During my time here at San José State University, I was able to be featured in two Spartan Daily articles and two conferences where I was able to share my research and interests on adapted sports for athletes with disabilities. Through my research, I was able to win two awards: third place for best overall video and first place for most views and likes on Youtube.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Attending college through the COVID-19 pandemic taught me not to take education for granted. I also learned that I still had a voice — even though it was through a screen.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
Some of the most valuable lessons I learned here at San José State were not to be afraid to ask for help and to make an effort to stay connected with your community. That could mean colleagues, peers, clubs — any of them, because they definitely will have an impact on your future.

Career goals/next steps:
My next steps after graduation is to get my master’s in occupational therapy and to continue my advocacy and research for adapted sports.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
San José State University transformed my life. Here, I was introduced to many teachers, colleagues and peers that helped me get one step closer to my ultimate goal of becoming an occupational therapist. Also San José State University gave me a lot of opportunities to succeed and build a professional profile for myself.

Marc Santos.

Marc Adrian Narvadez Santos (he/him/his), ’21 English

Milestones at SJSU:
A major milestone during my collegiate academic career was participating in the Humanities Honors Program, in which an excellent team of professors instructed me and my cohort to connect, articulate and apply ancient, pivotal texts to the present day. I devoted three years to that program, and I cherish each lecture for making me into a more cosmopolitan scholar.

I want to recognize, celebrate and appreciate one of my favorite professors, Dr. Nancy Stork, who challenged yet improved my skills as a scholarly writer. She mentored and guided me in an independent study of advanced grammar in which I produced a 25-page research paper on verbs.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A key takeaway from that experience is learning how to control the space around me. Because all events — school, work and social relationships — were compounded into a single household and single computer screen, I needed to set boundaries for self-care and fending against digital fatigue. I had become desensitized to time and a monotonous, daily routine, which caused the days to blend in together.

Setting calendars and daily reminders helped ground me in finding critical moments to reorient myself, hydrate and breathe.

Career goals/next steps:
My next steps post-graduation are applying for graduate school to pursue my master’s degree in English education and my doctorate in English literary theory. My career goal is to become a professor — one who inspires undergraduate students to love literature from Shakespearean plays to texts from Romanticism.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
Before arriving at San José State, I was afraid and doubtful since I am first in my family to attend a university in the United States. But the San José State community welcomed me and assuaged my anxieties.

San José State transformed my life by being the first step in my pathway to becoming a professor. The Humanities and English faculty are amazing to learn from, and they helped me discover my passion for scholarly research.

By being part of the SJSU community, I cultivated long-lasting connections and friendships with fellow scholars.

Sabrina Shell.

Sabrina Shell (she/her/hers), ‘21 Industrial Design

Milestones at SJSU:
One of my memorable accomplishments is passing my first-year portfolio review for the Industrial Design program. It was a challenging and demanding year, but I was so proud that I could continue growing and learning in the program.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Stay on top of things and accomplish my assignments; write down my schedule or a list of things I would like to achieve every day. Being able to cross items off my daily list helped me stay on top of my work.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
Hard work always pays off. If your skills are lacking in something, keep working at it and give it everything. You will show others and yourself how much you have improved.

Career goals/next steps:
My career goal is to find a design company that designs products that have meaning and improve people’s lives. I would love to be in an environment where I can grow and always continue to learn as a designer.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
San José State has positively transformed my life. I am thankful for the knowledge and skills I gained in the last four years. I am most grateful for all the memories I have made and the friendships; I know I will never forget my experience at San José State.

Kristina Smith.

Kristina Smith (she/her/hers), ’21 Child and Adolescent Development and Psychology

Milestones at SJSU:
An accomplishment I had at SJSU would be graduating in four years as a double major. Another accomplishment would be getting a job working with juvenile delinquents and youths who struggle with mental illnesses.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The pandemic has given me the opportunity of connecting and networking. As soon as everything transitioned to Zoom, I found myself talking to my advisors and professors more than I did when we were in person. This helped me gain stronger relationships with my professors and mentors. Through reaching out, I was given an opportunity to be a research assistant and have been given great career advice.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
The most valuable lessons I have learned from my experience at SJSU is to network and ask questions.

Career goals/next steps:
My career goal is to become a clinical psychologist. I am wanting to work with children and adolescents who have experienced trauma. Within this, I am also planning to conduct research. My next steps consist of me gaining more research experience then applying to a doctoral program.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
San José State has transformed my life by giving me the opportunity to find myself as an adult and figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Juan Carlos Soliz.

Juan Carlos Soliz (he/him/his), ’21 Behavioral Science

Milestones at SJSU:
It is a great honor to graduate from SJSU with a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science. I’m the first one (of 12 siblings) in my family to graduate after taking a break due to medical reasons. It was also an honor to go back to college around the same time my daughter started attending SJSU, as I want to be a role model for her.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Regardless of the critical circumstances we all are in, education was my number one priority, and this time there is nothing that will stop me from accomplishing my goal. I have plans to become a social worker and provide my community with any vital information they might need.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
I have learned that no matter the setbacks, either at a professional or personal level, getting a higher education is something that will provide me with the essential tools to work with my community, who is part of my family. As such, it is my responsibility to provide an exceptional type of work.

Career goals/next steps:
My career goals are to work in the Department of Social Services as a social worker for the California In-Home Supportive Services program. I also will continue to volunteer for Sacred Heart Community Center as our community needs to receive proper information and services.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
Attending SJSU has provided me with the knowledge and guidance to expand my willingness to help the Hispanic/Latino community. Obtaining a degree in behavioral science will expand my opportunities within the Social Services department. I will be able to assist the most vulnerable people in the county.

Ty Supreme.

Ty Supreme (she/her/hers), ’21 Microbiology

Milestones at SJSU:
I think one of my biggest milestones at San José State has been the realization that my passion lies in the sciences. I came to San Jose Staté as a justice studies major, and I was able to utilize many of the opportunities the school had to offer in order to change my major to something I am truly passionate about.

Throughout my time at SJSU, I’ve been a President’s Scholar (2017-2018) and a Dean’s Scholar (2018-current). I’ve been able to maintain a GPA above 3.85 my whole academic career while playing Division 1 sports and will most likely graduate summa cum laude.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I think the biggest takeaway I’ve learned from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic is how resilient we college students really are. Many students throughout this pandemic have had to adapt like no one ever has before. Learning completely online was a change for everyone, teachers included, and everyone really tried their best to make the transition as easy as they could.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
I think my time at SJSU as a Division 1 athlete and a STEM major has really taught me that anything is possible if you really commit to it. There will be so many times where you don’t want to stay up late studying or don’t want to go to practice, but all of those little sacrifices are investments into your future.

Lastly, just make the most of every opportunity you’re given because you don’t want to leave college wishing you did things differently.

Career goals/next steps:
I am fortunate enough to have been accepted into the graduate program at the University of Toronto (the top university in Canada) for molecular genetics, where I intend to pursue my master’s then PhD.

My ultimate career goal is to make meaningful contributions in the fields of microbiology and immunology with a focus in the study, defense and treatment of infectious human diseases. I hope to secure a challenging position in a reputable organization or continue fundamental research by becoming a professor and mentoring young scientists.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
I think SJSU has helped me grow into the person that I am today. Looking back at freshman year, I would have never imagined that I would be graduating from a STEM program with plans to do a PhD degree.

There have been highs and there have been lows during my past four years here, but I would have never learned some of the lessons I needed to be taught if I had not decided to attend San José State, and for that I am truly grateful.

Amber Sylva.

Amber Renee Sylva (she/her/hers),’18 English, ’21 MA English

Milestones at SJSU:
During my time in the graduate program, through a competitive hiring process, I received a graduate assistant position as well as a teaching associate faculty position. I was also hired as a lead TA for all disciplines and a reader for the college’s accreditation process through critical thinking assessments.

I presented my research at two conferences, co-authored “Teaching Teaching as a Process: San Jose State University’s TA Program and the Development of Pedagogical Thinking” for Threshold Conscripts: Rhetoric and Composition TAships, and contributed work to “An Annotated Bibliography of Global and Non-Western: Sources for Comparative Rhetorical Studies” for Present Tense: A Journal of Rhetoric in Society.

In addition, I am the president of Graduate Resources and Academic Development for English Studies (GRADES) as well as co-VP of The Young Rhetoricians’ Conference.

Although my aforementioned accomplishments are worth noting, my biggest achievement is successfully completing graduate school while raising my family and illustrating grit and perseverance to my three daughters: Bailey (15), Aubrey (11) and Chloey (10).

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
One of the key takeaways that I have learned while attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic is to press in when it seems unbearable. Also, to grant me, my children and my students grace; for illustrating empathy, kindness and compassion to ourselves and others is where learning starts.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
Three of the most valuable lessons that I have learned from my experience at SJSU are to: build strong relationships with the professors because they are great mentors; graduate school and life is better with a cohort; lastly, believe in yourself.

Career goals/next steps:
I am applying to local community colleges for fall 2021 teaching positions. I plan on continuing my research in pedagogical methods, rhetoric and composition, and American literature. In the future, I will be applying to doctoral programs.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
San José State University has transformed my life in copious ways from academic to personal, but the most notable reflect in my ways of being more empathic, compassionate and encouraging toward others.

Alice Tsvinev.

Alice Tsvinev (she/her/hers), ’21 Psychology

Milestones at SJSU:
Engaging with and hearing experiences of older peers in a research lab, successfully maintaining GPA while working two jobs, finding the career right path with resources from SJSU.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Appreciating the moments we often take for granted because, as we’ve seen, events like this can impact our social life as well as academics. Another takeaway I’ve learned is to use every opportunity given to me, and I’ve done that during the COVID college shift by really focusing on schoolwork and my personal and intellectual growth.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
To always seek guidance and a mentor: It’s always best to learn from the mistakes and benefits from someone else’s journey to see how they may impact your future decisions.

Career goals/next steps:
I hope to attend graduate school to obtain a PhD in psychology and work towards becoming a professor while conducting my own research in behavioral and cognitive psychology.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
SJSU has given me the opportunity to stay close to friends and family while still experiencing a new and diverse academic and social environment. I met many wonderful peers and mentors that have encouraged me to continue pursuing my passions.

Narayani Tyagi.

Narayani Tyagi (she/her/hers), ’21 MS Physics

Milestones at SJSU:
I’d consider my major milestone to be my research projects. Another milestone I’m proud of is the Outstanding Graduate TA award that I received for spring 2020, which was one of the most grueling semesters for all of us.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
My key takeaways were health first (mental and physical, and yes, they both need equal care), patience (it can take you a long way) and using the resources that are available to you! There are so many resources that can help us a lot, but most of us might not be aware of them.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
SJSU taught me the difference between a leader and a boss. Even in a classroom setting, having a caring and approachable mentor/professor can work wonders that a strict disciplinarian could never imagine. This applies to all facets of life, and I’m glad to have had this experience.

Career goals/next steps:
The most natural career goal for me is to stay within academia and collaborate with the most brilliant minds around the world; therefore, my next step toward this goal is to start on my PhD in the fall of 2021.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
SJSU gave me more than knowledge. I found beautiful friendships here, which I know I will cherish throughout my life. I felt heard and seen by my mentors, which boosted my confidence and helped me realize the value of teacher-student interactions. In turn, it helped me set a similar example as a lab instructor for my students. I shall forever be grateful for SJSU for helping me see myself more clearly than I ever had before.

Brianna Williams.

Brianna Misaki Williams (she/her/hers), ’21 Philosophy

Milestones at SJSU:
My accomplishments are due in no small part to my involvement with Women in Business at SJSU, a pre-professional organization. The workshops and speaking engagements prepared me to enter the legal workfield at 19. I worked in business litigation and immigration for two years, and now I am a legal intern at the invaluable Record Clearance Project law clinic here at SJSU.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic was trying for many students. While I sympathize for those who have been impacted negatively, there were many new opportunities that arose as a direct result from sheltering-in-place: Commuter students were afforded more time to invest in other endeavors, the classroom become more accessible, and the forced integration of technology into almost all other aspects of our lives can be convenient even after we finish sheltering.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
The structure of learning at SJSU makes degree acquisition possible while working part-time, or even full-time hours. I, like many others, had to work during undergrad in order to support myself.

During this time, I was also committed to my role as president of the Women in Business [student organization] and still managed to enjoy and complete the coursework and be named a President’s Scholar. Your time is what you make of it.

Career goals/next steps:
I will be applying to law school in the fall of 2021. My work at the Record Clearance Project has instilled in me a desire to elevate marginalized communities. A career in law practice will be fulfilling and meaningful.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
My undergraduate experience at SJSU has allowed me to discover what it is that I enjoy and what it is that I am skilled at. I will forever be grateful for the professors who have been flexible and patient with me.

I will cherish and maintain the friendships I’ve formed along the way. I will be sure to give back to the SJSU community when the opportunity arises.

Neng Xiong.

Neng Xiong (she/her/hers), ’20 Child and Adolescent Development, ’21 MA Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Milestones at SJSU:
Since I did both my undergraduate and graduate degree at SJSU, and I had amazing opportunities to study abroad in South Korea, host one of the first Hmong cultural showcases with the Hmong Student Association, and learn from Dr. Kim Tsai as a student research assistant.

Currently, I am a resident teacher with the SEAL/OGSD/SJSU teacher residency program. I love teaching my students every day and growing as a teacher through the program!

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I’ve learned about the importance of a good support system from friends, family, colleagues and faculty. As attending college during a pandemic can feel emotionally and academically defeating and isolating, having people you can turn to for support during these difficult times can make the experience easier.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
As the saying goes, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” There were so many personal, academic and professional development opportunities presented to me while at San José State, such as becoming a Global Leader, that I learned to take advantage of as many of them as I could.

The other most important thing I have learned is that my voice matters. The power lies in the stories we hold, and I am happy I am able to share my story as a first-generation, Hmong womxn graduate student.

Career goals/next steps:
My next step is to teach in underserved elementary schools and use culturally sustaining pedagogy across all classrooms!

How has SJSU transformed your life?
San José State has transformed my life because I think more critically about the world I live in now. I have also challenged myself to go beyond my boundaries and become more involved in my communities.

William Yi (he/him/his), ’21 Public Relations

Milestones at SJSU:
My writing greatly improved because I was refined and tested by my major professors. It may not be perfect or the best, but I’m glad they were harsh because I needed to hear the truth and improve from there.

I saw this achievement as a major milestone for my career! I don’t have a lot of professional experience so I didn’t know how to gauge if my school work or understanding of PR was good. I was proud to be nominated by my professors because this gave me reassurance that I am on the right track.

Key takeaways from attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The smallest things matter; pay attention to the details because it all adds up to be important in the long run. People appreciate the little things and will remember you for going the extra mile. Don’t cut corners!

Communities and mental breaks are important to have. Having a community around you will support and encourage you to be your best self! Also, take a break from everything and just HAVE FUN! You need to relax and destress — otherwise, you’re just going to dread the next day.

Most valuable lessons I learned from SJSU:
Go out on a limb — meaning, be more vulnerable! We’re young adults and have our whole lives ahead of us, so why should you stay in a bubble? See new places, try new things and make new friends. You might regret it later on in life, so take this chance now because you might lose it!

Lastly, it’s OK to make mistakes and it’s OK to mess up! I was always putting myself down for my past and current mistakes, but these mistakes helped me to grow and transformed me to embrace my shortcomings, and it’s better to mess up now than later!

Career goals/next steps:
My next step is to find a job! I want to gain the necessary skills needed to be a public relations professional. I want to have a career that helps many lives through storytelling. I don’t know which industry I want to go into but overall, “I want to understand every aspect with research, timeliness, empathy and honesty. I hope to know and share your story.” This is on my LinkedIn, and essentially this is how I want to tackle every challenge that comes my way.

How has SJSU transformed your life?
San José State has transformed my whole direction in life. I came to SJSU for accounting but I’m going to leave with a major in public relations. This was only possible because I went to SJSU and found a community here that encouraged me to find a different major that fit my personality.

SJSU was the best decision because I found my community, major, and passion. As a high-schooler, I didn’t see the need to go to college, but after coming to SJSU, I hope everyone attends this school. Go Spartans!

Geology Professor Kim Blisniuk Unearths New Information About Southern California’s Next “Big One”

Kim Blisniuk, Associate Professor of Geology

Photo: Patrick Record

Ten years ago, two female geologists went for a hike in the Coachella Valley desert along a southern portion of the San Andreas Fault. One of them was Kimberly Blisniuk, now an associate professor of geology at San José State University. The pair spent days in the desert, traversing the landscape, studying its ridges and formations.

They weren’t sure what they were looking for. The San Andreas is a well-studied fault: The roughly 750-mile geographical rift running the length of most of California is positioned to set off what’s known as the next “Big One”—a massive earthquake predicted to strike Southern California, devastating the Los Angeles area, in particular.

Still, Blisniuk wanted to see if the terrain revealed something—anything—that might have been missed or not yet understood by geologists before them.

Sure enough, she found something. And after a decade of work to confirm her discovery, Blisniuk’s research, published March 24 in Science Advances, indicates that the highly anticipated earthquake—which scientists say is about 80 years overdue—might not ravage LA as much as previously thought.

Read the full story about Blisniuk’s findings here.

SJSU Staff Awards Honor Exemplary Service, Contributions and Spartan Spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020-2021 Staff Award honorees:

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

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

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

Distinguished Service Winner: Kim Huynh, Undergraduate Education

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

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

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

Read more about the awards and winners below.

How the awards started

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne Wright and Erlinda Yañez

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

Erlinda Yañez, Chicana and Chicano Studies

Spartan Spirit Award Winner

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

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

Ravisha Mathur and Kim Huynh

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

Kim Huynh, Undergraduate Education

Distinguished Service Winner

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

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

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

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

President Mary Papazian and Rhett Frantz

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

Rhett Frantz, Moss Landing Marine Labs

Staff of the Year Winner

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

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

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

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


SJSU Highlights Its Own Women Leaders in Celebration of Women’s History Month

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting some of San José State’s extraordinary women leaders and alumnae, showcasing the transformative impact women have made upon their lives—and the positive impact women can have as mentors, friends, family and aspirational figures to emerging women leaders.

Featured Leaders

Mary A. Papazian, President, San José State

Jenny Ming, ’77 Applied Sciences & Arts; Board Member, Levi Strauss & Co. 

Sheryl H. Ehrman, Don Beall Dean, Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, San José State

Brandi P. Jones, ’96 Education; Vice Dean and Professor, Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California 

Ann Agee, Interim Dean, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, San José State

Lisa Millora, Vice President for Strategy and Chief of Staff, Office of the President, San José State

Colleen Wilcox, Board Member, Tower Foundation Board of Directors

Ruth Huard, Dean, College of Professional and Global Education, San José State

Heather Lattimer, Dean and Professor, Connie L. Lurie College of Education, San José State

President Mary Papazian

Mary A. Papazian

SJSU President

What women in history do you admire? 

Mary Papazian (MP): There are so many women who have made contributions and impact, ranging from Eleanor Roosevelt to Ruth Bader Ginsberg, as well as lesser-known women such as my own mother. Justice Ginsberg was an extraordinary woman who never allowed barriers to get in her way of the professional and societal progress she was determined to make. Her work in women’s rights, in particular, had a profound and lasting impact on our society.

I can actually draw a line from my own mother to RBG! When she was early in her marriage to my father, Mom was about to start a job when she became pregnant with my brother (her first child). That immediately cost her the job, since in those days pregnant women were not allowed in the classroom. This forced my Dad to set aside his educational pursuits and the trajectory of our family, and their careers and educational paths changed.

RBG later helped alter not only that line of thinking, but—just as important—the policies and laws that allowed it to manifest in society. So her perseverance, bravery and progressive thinking led to tangible changes for women everywhere, for generations.

What women in your life supported you on your journey to achieving your goals and aspirations?

MP: My mother was probably the first woman who I came to admire deeply. She was an educator herself, having taught high school English and American history for 30 years. She was always proud of me and supportive of my goals and ambitions, and she encouraged me to consider academic and career possibilities that she may not have had given the era in which she lived.

There have been many others along the way, of course. At each stop in my professional and academic career, I benefited from the generosity of a wide range of advisors, mentors and supporters. From my days as a PhD candidate through the growing challenges of university teaching, scholarship and leadership, I experienced the immense value of those professional networks.

What is your advice for emerging women leaders at SJSU and across the country?

MP: Having women in positions of leadership is more important than ever. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been enormous for everyone in society, of course, but perhaps these stresses are felt even more acutely by women. Still, women remain greatly underrepresented in the ranks of university administration and leadership across the nation, despite the increasing numbers of women college graduates.

My best advice? We must continue effectively to harness the experience, wisdom and power of women leaders to help find, prepare and move more women into college presidencies and other executive and leadership. I would counsel all women leaders—no matter what positions we hold—to be intentional about serving as door-openers, role models and sounding boards, so women who are seeking advancement are not alone.

By paying it forward for upcoming generations, we can ensure that the leadership in higher education appropriately reflects the diversity of our society, and we can continue to better meet the complex and diverse needs of our students, faculties, communities and employers.

Tim Cook, Malala, and President Papazian

SJSU President Mary A. Papazian meets in late 2019 with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai and Apple CEO Tim Cook on the SJSU campus. Papazian moderated a discussion that examined the impact of a partnership between Apple and Yousafzai on expanding access in girls’ education around the world. Photo: Jim Gensheimer.

Jenny Ming, ’77 Applied Sciences & Arts

Board Member, Levi Strauss & Co.

What women in history do you admire?

Jennie Ming (JM): There are so many admirable women in history. If I have to pick one, it would Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG). She was on the federal bench for 25 years and a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

Throughout her life, RBG was a leading voice for gender equality, women’s interests, and civil rights and liberties. She did all this while balancing being a wife, mother and grandmother. She taught me to believe in myself, and that I can be anything I want to be.

What women in your life supported you on your journey to achieving your goals and aspirations?

JM: There are many women who have supported me throughout my life, starting with my mom and sisters.

I was also fortunate to have incredible mentors and bosses at work. Most notable was my first boss at the Gap: Patti DeRosa. She taught me how to bring my real and best self to work and to be authentic and fair to those that you work with. Patti gave me the confidence that I can do and achieve anything.

What is your advice for emerging women leaders at SJSU and across the country?

JM: Find what you are passionate about. Work with people you respect and can learn from. Believe in yourself and do not be afraid to fail. You can be anything you want to be.

Sheryl Ehrman, Dean, College of Engineering

Sheryl H. Ehrman

Don Beall Dean, Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering

What women in history do you admire? 

Sheryl Ehrman (SE): I admire women historians like Margaret Rossiter and non-fiction writers, like Margot Lee Shetterly, who have researched and promoted women’s advances in STEM. When I was growing up, it seemed like the only woman ever mentioned in the history of science was Marie Curie, and there is much more known now about the advances so many women have made.

What women in your life supported you on your journey to achieving your goals and aspirations? 

SE: My grandmother Dorothy Tombaugh, who had a MS degree in chemistry and ended her career as a high school science teacher, developing methods to teach chemistry and biology to visually impaired students.

My mom Sandie Ehrman, who loved building things but wasn’t allowed to take shop class as a girl in school. She learned how to work with her hands from my grandfather Roy Tombaugh, and she majored in home economics/textiles and design in college. My daughter loved being able to draw a dress design (at age 4) and having my mom create a pattern and make it for her.

My high school calculus teacher Mrs. Mitchell, who was so enthusiastic and confident about math, and so good at making math fun (donuts on the day we learned about toroidal shapes, for example).

Because of my grandmother

and Mrs. Mitchell, there was never a question in my mind that women could [or could not] have careers in STEM, and my mom’s design/construct skills made her a great role model.

In my career, Dr. Sandra Greer, formerly the provost at Mills College, and before that a faculty member in chemistry and chemical engineering at the University of Maryland College Park, was a great mentor, as I started my career as a professor.

What is your advice for emerging women leaders at SJSU and across the country?

SE: Your perspective and your voice are important. Women tend to be overcautious rather than overconfident. If you’re afraid to step up and try something new because you aren’t sure you are fully prepared, consider stepping up anyways and be ready to keep learning and growing.

Brandi Jones, SJSU Alumna

Brandi P. Jones, ’96 Education

Vice Dean and Professor, Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California

What women in history do you admire?

Brandi Jones (BJ): Fannie Lou Hamer, Mary McLeod Bethune, Shirley Chisholm, Harriet Tubman

What women in your life supported you on your journey to achieving your goals and aspirations?

BJ: My mother Aretha M. Jones and my junior high school principal Dr. Linda Caillet.

What is your advice for emerging women leaders at SJSU and across the country?

BJ: In the words of Shirley Chisholm, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

Ann Agee

Interim Dean, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library

What women in history do you admire? 

Ann Agee (AA): The many women throughout history who have worked in and advocated for libraries.

The mission of libraries is to provide free and open access to information, and this access changes lives. For centuries, women in libraries have battled for books and resources, so their libraries could provide their patrons with the tools for lifelong learning.

What women in your life supported you on your journey to achieving your goals and aspirations?

AA: Too many to count! Throughout my life, my mother has supported me in every way. Experienced librarians have served as mentors and given guidance that has helped me attain my professional goals. Women friends have provided emotional support and lots of opportunities to laugh.

Never underestimate the power of perspective!

What is your advice for emerging women leaders at SJSU and across the country?

AA: Persevere. In academia especially, persistence is needed to achieve important goals. If you have an objective, it might be the work of years to reach it and pushing through obstacles—maybe more than once—to successfully realize your goal. By persevering, you can learn from your mistakes, then just keep going.

Lisa Millora, SJSU chief of staff

Lisa Millora

Vice President for Strategy and Chief of Staff, Office of the President

What women in history do you admire? 

Lisa Millora (LM): I believe there is so much value in every woman’s lived experience. That said, I especially admire the women who have broken barriers for other women and transformed lives through their courageous actions.

Those who come to mind immediately are Corazon Aquino, Dolores Huerta, Malala Yousafzai, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Oprah Winfrey, each of whom overcame numerous obstacles—personally and publicly—to stand up for the most marginalized among us. All heroes have friends, co-organizers and partners who walk alongside them in creating change.

I also admire groups like the all-women’s mountaineering team that climbed Annapurna as part of the American Women’s Himalayan Expedition in 1978. This team demonstrated what a dedicated group of women can achieve—and challenge the limitations imposed upon us of what we can do.

In doing so, this team changed the narrative about a woman’s place in the world.

What women in your life supported you on your journey to achieving your goals and aspirations?

LM: First and foremost, my mother, Anita Santiago Lansang-Millora. She was raised in the Philippines by her single mother, a widow as a result of World War II’s Bataan Death March. Seeing how her educated mother was able to support her and her brother as a teacher, my mother instilled in my sisters and me a belief in the power of education.

She encouraged us to pursue college degrees, telling us that they would allow us to be independent, and they would be assets that no one could ever take away from us.

This belief, combined with her strong ethic of care and sense of social justice, drove her to pursue an MD which she used to serve one of the poorest communities in my hometown for her entire professional career.

Uncommonly kind, my mother also showed me that women could be both kind and strong, hold others accountable while being respectful, and work full time while being fully present to my sisters and me.

Amazing women—my three sisters, Jenni, Laura, Ngoc, Jeanne, Kimmie, Monica—and countless others—have helped me achieve my dreams.

Collectively, they have taught me how to love and respect myself, picked me up and dusted me off, challenged me, kept me honest, cheered me across both metaphorical and literal finish lines, and supported me through every chapter, every joy and every sorrow of my life.

Lisa Millora and daughter reading together

What is your advice for emerging women leaders at SJSU and across the country?

LM: Don’t let any single moment—good or bad—define you. That means not resting on your laurels just as much as it means not letting failure keep you from creating the life you desire. If I’ve learned anything on my journey, it’s that the way we respond to failure is far more important than the mistakes we make.

Colleen Wilcox

Board Member, Tower Foundation Board of Directors

What women in history do you admire? 

Colleen Wilcox (CW): Certainly Eleanor Roosevelt, whose famous quote “You must do the thing you think you cannot do,” has encouraged me down many challenging paths that I probably would never have pursued without that encouragement.

What women in your life supported you on your journey to achieving your goals and aspirations?

CW: My older cousin Carolyn showed me a professional trajectory that I hadn’t witnessed from my immediate family or friends and gave me the encouragement to believe it was as simple as putting one step in front of the other toward my goals.

What is your advice for emerging women leaders at SJSU and across the country?

CW: Take advantage of every opportunity afforded you and reach for those that haven’t crossed your path—and kindness always matters.

Ruth Huard, Dean, College of Professional and Global Education

Ruth Huard

Dean, College of Professional and Global Education

What women in history do you admire?

Ruth Huard (RH): I respect and admire those who have both honed their minds and opened their hearts to act and positively change the lives of others, their community, their country or humankind— women like Mother Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu, code breaker Elizebeth Friedman, [American nurse] “Angel of the Battlefield” Clara Barton, suffragist Susan B. Anthony, mountaineer and teacher Junko Tabei, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

What women in your life supported you on your journey to achieving your goals and aspirations?

RH: I am fortunate to have been surrounded, supported and mentored by strong, smart women who selflessly do and act—my grandmothers who advocated for quality education in impoverished communities; my undergraduate advisor, Mary Gauvain, who challenged me and my peers to make opportunities rather than wait for them to be offered; my mom, who showed me the significant impact of opening our home to strangers; and Barbara Hayes-Roth, my boss as I entered the startup world, one of the few female CEOs in Silicon Valley and an early innovator and leader in applied AI [artificial intelligence].

What is your advice for emerging women leaders at SJSU and across the country?

RH: Develop a bias for action, have the courage “to do” and keep moving forward—and be fully present, engaged and intentional with what you are doing and those you are doing it with.

Heather Lattimer, Dean and Professor, College of Education

Heather Lattimer

Dean and Professor, Connie L. Lurie College of Education

What women in history do you admire?

Heather Lattimer (HL): I so appreciate women who broke rules and pushed boundaries.  A few in particular: Lilian Ngoyi, Madeleine Albright, Nana Nama’u, Ida B. Wells, and Isabelle Allende.

What women in your life supported you on your journey to achieving your goals and aspirations?

HL: My mom always encouraged and supported me. I’m an only child and only grandchild, a reality that can carry a lot of expectations. But I never felt pressured to be or become something to please others. I was allowed and encouraged to explore possibilities and dream big.

What is your advice for emerging women leaders at SJSU and across the country?

HL: Don’t be afraid to be ambitious in your aspirations and advocate for yourself. For my generation, the message (explicit or implicit) was often that women shouldn’t be openly ambitious, that we should work hard and wait to be noticed. But that’s not the way the world works. Speak up, share your goals, advocate for your future. Doing so will strengthen our whole community.

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.

President Papazian’s Message on Thousand Oaks

Dear Campus Community,

We learned this morning about another inexplicable mass shooting, this time in southern California. Though details continue to emerge, the news media has reported at least 12 deaths.

We also know that the shootings took place in Thousand Oaks, not far from a sister campus, CSU-Channel Islands. In fact, several other college campuses are in close proximity to where the incident took place and were likely impacted in some way by this latest act of indiscriminate violence.

There is a gut-wrenching feeling many of us experience when such events take place, particularly when we may have personal connections with the victims and those close to them. It seems like only yesterday that we mourned the loss of life in Pittsburgh and Kentucky after the recent shootings there.

The SJSU community grieves for those impacted by last night’s horrific events. We join our CSU-Channel Islands colleagues and peers, as well as others in the greater Thousand Oaks community, in solidarity, sadness, and mourning.

Again, I would remind everyone about the range of services we offer to students and employees who may feel weighed down by grief, fear, anxiety, anger, or isolation. Those services include counseling and psychological services, and support through our Employee Assistance Program.

Please continue to take care of yourselves and those close to you. Especially at times like this, it is important that we affirm our values for inclusion, equity, diversity, and basic safety for all of our campus communities.


Dr. Mary A. Papazian

President’s Message on Campus Safety

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on August 23, 2018.

Dear All,

I want to update you on an incident that occurred near campus yesterday involving one of our students.  As Alert SJSU subscribers know, a student reported he was held at gunpoint and forced to withdraw cash from several ATM machines. The ordeal began at the 7-Eleven store on East San Salvador Street. The suspect has been described as a male in his twenties with a dark complexion and hair dyed yellow. He was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, black sweat pants with a white stripe, and a JAMZ-brand gray backpack.

The student returned to his residence, where his roommate suggested he call police. I would like to commend both individuals for enabling the San Jose Police Department to launch an investigation immediately, with assistance from the University Police Department. The suspect remains at large. Anyone with tips or information is asked to contact SJPD’s robbery unit at 408-277-4166 or UPD at 408-924-2222.

In the meantime, our Student Affairs team has been in contact with the student, who is understandably shaken but otherwise physically unharmed. I know this report has left many of you shaken as well, whether you are a student or a faculty member or a staff member. UPD is asking all of us to remain on alert and aware of our surroundings. Confronted with a similar situation, police urge us to call 9-1-1 and leave the line open.

We are committed to keeping you safe and informed. This is why we frequently send Alert SJSU messages. We recently installed additional indoor and outdoor security cameras on both the main and south campuses. As classes begin this fall, you should see increased police presence on and around SJSU.

So please, be sure to report all crimes to the police, use our blue light phones and connect with our safety escort program.


Dr. Mary A. Papazian, President

President’s Welcome Back Message

Dear Campus Community,

As classes begin for this Fall 2018 semester, and as we celebrate the return of our faculty and students, I am delighted to welcome each of you to a new academic year full of promise and new challenges. As I am sure you feel as you walk the corridors and pathways of our campus today, San José State is humming with energy, enthusiasm, and hope for the possibilities that this year will bring.  I am looking forward to sharing this transformative year with all of you.

I particularly want to offer a heartfelt greeting to our extraordinary student body.  This fall, we welcome more than 3,800 new first-time freshmen, another 3,800 new transfers, 1,600 new graduate students and 135 new credential students. All together, nearly 35,000 of you will pursue your studies at San José State University this year, one of the largest, most diverse, and best prepared classes in our history.

As this historic class begins the year, I also am delighted to welcome 65 new tenure track faculty members, as well as our new Vice President for Student Affairs Patrick Day, interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Joan Ficke, and Dr. Heather Lattimer, our newly arrived Dean of the Lurie College of Education.

As I remarked in my welcome back address yesterday, I anticipate that this will be an important and transformative year for San Jose State.  We continue to build our facilities and our programs at an incredible pace to better support our teaching, research, and service missions. I am sure we all are looking forward to the completion and opening of the new Spartan Recreation and Aquatic Center. This state-of-the-art facility will provide a place for you—whether students, faculty, or staff—to recreate, swim, exercise and keep fit.  Stay tuned for a grand opening sometime in early April, with membership and other information on its way in the months ahead!

We also hope to break ground on our new Interdisciplinary Science Building, the first new academic building in 30 years for SJSU!  I look forward to keeping you up to date on all these developments.

As always, our campus will be buzzing with constant activity throughout the semester. Keep an eye out for events such as a series of activities tied to the 50th Anniversary of the iconic medal stand protest by SJSU student athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968. Throughout October, we will celebrate SJSU’s legacy of social justice and student activism symbolized by the actions of Smith and Carlos, as well as many other Spartans over the course of our storied history. There will be a town hall meeting, a film series on student activism, and an exhibit in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library entitled, “The Power of Protest: Speed City and the Olympic Project for Human Rights.”

I hope these activities provide you a taste of what should be an exhilarating year for all of us here at SJSU!

Again this year, returning students and members of our faculty and staff are volunteering at three “Ask Me” tables across campus from Aug. 20-24 to help acclimate anyone who might have questions. All students – both new and returning – as well as faculty and staff members are encouraged to stop by a table to learn about your university and all that it offers.

I am looking forward to a transformational year as we all work together to chart the future of San José State!  I want to hear from you as we continue to grow and learn together.  Please do not hesitate to send me an email with your thoughts, questions or concerns.

Welcome home.

Dr. Mary A. Papazian


President Papazian to Deliver 2018 Fall Welcome Address


Media Contacts:
Pat Lopes Harris, 408-924-1748,
Robin McElhatton, 408-924-1749,

SAN JOSE, CA – President Mary A. Papazian will deliver the Fall Welcome Address at noon Aug. 20 in the Diaz Compean Student Union Ballroom.

The president will highlight significant developments including the following:

  • Record enrollment of 35,000 regular and special session students, and the appointment of 65 new tenure-track faculty members.
  • An emphasis on student success, research, innovation and graduate programs.
  • The spring 2019 completion of the Spartan Recreation and Aquatic Center, and plans for an Interdisciplinary Science Building and a 1,600-bed residence hall.
  • The establishment of a permanent campus food pantry with Second Harvest Food Bank.
  • A commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the moment Spartans John Carlos and Tommie Smith took a stand for human rights at the 1968 Olympics.

All students, faculty, staff, community members and the news media are invited to attend this event. The address will be streamed live. Classes begin Aug. 21.

About San Jose State University

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

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

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

President Appoints Interim Provost

Dr. Joan Ficke

Dr. Joan Ficke

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on June 20, 2018.

Dear Campus Community,

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Joan C. Ficke has accepted my invitation to serve as interim provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at San Jose State, effective July 16, 2018. Dr. Ficke brings to San Jose State more than three decades of relevant experience as a professor and higher education leader at Montclair State University (Montclair, New Jersey), which has much in common with San Jose State. Founded as a teacher’s college, Montclair State has grown into a comprehensive multipurpose research institution with three campuses approximately one hour from Manhattan.

Dr. Ficke most recently served as dean of The Graduate School at Montclair State, where her staff of 20 administered 140 programs at the master’s and doctoral level for 4,000 students. She previously served for more than a decade in various leadership roles, culminating in senior vice provost, where she was responsible for all faculty personnel matters, the university registrar, career services and special sessions. Earlier in her career, Dr. Ficke served as interim dean of students, director of the women’s center, executive director of the New Jersey Business Group on Health, and president of the faculty union.

For nearly two decades, Dr. Ficke was a professor in Montclair State’s Department of Public Health and Department of Exercise Science and Physical Education. You will find an extensive list of her scholarly achievements, activities, research and publications on her resume, which we have posted online. She received her bachelor’s from Montclair State, and her master’s and doctoral degrees from New York University.

Dr. Ficke has agreed to serve in this interim role while we conduct a national search for a permanent provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.  Dr. Ficke will not be a candidate for the permanent position.

I also am very pleased to announce that Dr. Melinda Jackson, Chair of the Department of Political Science, has agreed to chair the search committee for our next permanent provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. We will share the full committee roster as soon as we can confirm each member’s ability to serve in this important role. The search officially will launch at the start of the 2018/2019 academic year.

Meanwhile, please join me in welcoming Dr. Ficke to San Jose State.


Dr. Mary A. Papazian, President



President Papazian’s April Blog

President Mary A. Papazian congratulates students at Honors Convocation on April 20 (photo by Brandon Chew, ’19 Photojournalism).

President Mary A. Papazian congratulates students at Honors Convocation on April 20 (photo by Brandon Chew, ’19 Photojournalism).

As we head into the final weeks of the semester, I want to begin with some good news for our students: California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White has just announced that there will be no tuition increase in 2018-19. While this is certainly good news for students, we are not out of the woods yet. I encourage all to continue your advocacy with our legislature to ensure that the CSU is a priority and is recommended for full funding in the next fiscal year.

Keeping tuition at the current level means our students can focus on pursuing the degrees we offer here at San Jose State as they prepare for success in their chosen fields. California’s commitment to higher education, represented by fully funding the CSU budget request, combined with the professional opportunities our state offers contribute greatly to SJSU placing among the top colleges and universities in the nation, as evidenced by the CollegeNET Social Mobility Index (#4) and the Forbes Best Value Colleges (#55). More on budget in a moment.

During these final weeks of the semester, we have a whirlwind of activities and events ahead of us. Students and faculty are preparing for finals and our soon-to-be graduates are full of anticipation for what the future holds. This year we are on track to confer degrees to graduates who are about to embark on a new phase in their Spartan journey as alumni. I hope to see all our graduating students at the commencement ceremony for their college, along with many friends, family members, faculty and staff members, and peers who I know will want to be part of the festivities.

Appointments and Searches


As many of you know, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Andy Feinstein will be departing SJSU in June to become president of the University of Northern Colorado. Andy worked within his own division of Academic Affairs to help create and implement many innovative programs and initiatives that brought more than 250 new tenure-track faculty members to San Jose State, elevated research, scholarship and creative activity, and made significant progress with plans for an Interdisciplinary Science Building to be constructed near Duncan Hall.

More information about our transition plan will be shared with the university community soon. In the meantime, I hope you all will join me in wishing Provost Feinstein farewell at a reception in his honor from 3 to 5 p.m. May 7 in the Student Union Ballroom. Please be sure to RSVP by May 1.

VP for Student Affairs

We are making progress on our search for a vice president for Student Affairs. Four candidates are visiting SJSU this week and are meeting with students, faculty and staff in a series of conversations and open forums (see the full schedule online). For those who are unable to attend in person, videos of each forum will be posted to the cabinet-level search page by end of day April 27. I encourage everyone to complete the online feedback forms for each of the candidates by 5 p.m. May 2 to insure we have robust input into the selection of the best candidate for San Jose State.

Other Appointments

On April 16, Dr. Michael Kaufman was appointed as dean of the College of Science after a comprehensive national search. Michael has more than 20 years of experience at SJSU and has served in multiple leadership roles, most recently as interim dean for the college. I am confident that he will provide enthusiastic and strategic leadership as we continue to make progress on the Interdisciplinary Science Building and other important initiatives within the college.

 On April 23, Joanne Wright will take on the position of senior associate vice president for University Personnel. Joanne moves into this new position from her current role as senior director, Academic Employee Relations and deputy Title IX coordinator, a position she has held since joining SJSU in 2015.  Prior to that, Joanne enjoyed a long career as counsel and an administrator in personnel and employee relations matters in both the public and private sectors.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Kaufman and Ms. Wright on these new roles.

A Commitment to Diversity

One of the most admirable aspects of academia is our tradition of preserving a core set of values through many years and leadership transitions. This applies to San Jose State’s commitment to diversity, and especially our commitment to nurturing a community where everyone feels welcomed, supported and successful. This is, of course, much easier said than done, as recent events at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo remind us. Let me be clear: Such behavior has no place at San Jose State.

We don’t have to look too far into the past to remember that we have had our own experiences with poor judgment and intolerant behavior. There has been a great deal of effort to move toward a more inclusive and healthy campus climate since San Jose State concluded its own hate crime task force, and I appreciate the efforts in which so many of you have engaged to bring about meaningful change. All of you have been touched by our Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, a perpetual reminder of the value in making thoughtful and respectful choices in all aspects of campus life, from classrooms and residence halls to offices and events. Even what one of us posts on a personal social media account can reflect on all of us.

To our students, I would like to make clear that we are here to support you. We firmly believe your participation in campus life, including Greek Life, will make you a stronger student and a more well-rounded individual. Our Student Involvement office, now in the Diaz Compean Student Union, is staffed with professionals who value your personal growth through many registered student organizations.

But remember, membership in these organizations, and our community, is a privilege and a responsibility. I am not afraid to take quick action if such action becomes warranted, although I have every confidence that it will not be necessary here at San Jose State. Should you have any concerns or questions, our Title IX Office is available to assist even if you would like what you share to remain confidential.

Budget Priorities: Student Needs

The campus budget outlook is changing as I write this. When we held our campus budget forum on April 19, Chancellor White was considering a tuition increase for the coming academic year. Less than 24 hours later, we learned that the chancellor decided against a tuition increase, in light of our strong economy and strong expressions of legislative support for the CSU system. This is predicated on progress with the Graduation Initiative and increasing enrollment to meet the needs of our state’s high school and community college graduates.

At the SJSU budget forum, we took a deep dive into the CSU’s budget request. We saw how the governor’s proposed appropriation of funds to the CSU falls short of our needs by $171 million, and we discussed the importance of legislative advocacy work. I would like once again to thank all who have participated, including the Associated Students of SJSU and many members of our faculty and staff. As Chancellor White wrote, “our future is now clearly and unambiguously in the hands of lawmakers.”

While the state’s budget process continues through June, San Jose State must move forward with its own budget plans with the goal of supporting stable operations in the years to come. For this reason, San Jose State will proceed with its three-year budget planning process, including our decision to apply any available funds to shared priorities such as the Graduation Initiative, student support and campus safety.

We are committed to remaining in contact and seeking your input as this situation evolves. Vice President for Administration and Finance Charlie Faas is available to assist with questions. You can reach him at

Enhancing Student Success with EAB

As we focus on student success, I am pleased to share we are making steady progress in launching our EAB Student Success Collaborative partnership. Last week, EAB representatives visited campus to meet with Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, IT leaders and advisors in preparation for our initial rollout of new advising tools. Through EAB’s Student Success Management System, we will be better able to predict when students need additional support to stay on track toward graduation and how to communicate with them about resources that can help them. This new tool also will facilitate interactions between various departments and groups that provide advising resources on campus. As we continue our focus on student success, these types of interdivisional collaborations that combine technology solutions and personal interactions will be essential to enhancing student support and student success.

Honoring Top Students

Our commitment, as always, is to our students, and last week’s Honors Convocation provided a renewed sense of purpose, mission and pride. On April 20, our Event Center hosted our 56th annual Honors Convocation.  Filled to capacity for a rousing recognition of our top students, we honored a record number for academic achievements—4,105 Dean’s Scholars maintained a GPA of 3.65 or higher in two contiguous semesters of the last three while 505 President’s Scholars maintained a 4.0 during the same period. I had the pleasure of saying a few words to the President’s Scholars, a stellar group of undergraduates who have reached a level of excellence through their own individual sacrifice and through the support of their families, friends, our faculty and staff. It was an honor to shake hands with so many students that evening. Read personal stories of some of our 2018 scholars online.

Honors Convocation also provides an especially poignant time to celebrate our 2018 Faculty Award Winners. Joining me on stage for the evening’s celebration were our Outstanding Lecturer Deb Nelson, President’s Scholar Carlos Sanchez, Outstanding Professor Peter Beyersdorf and Distinguished Service Award Recipient Roy Okuda. These four professors exemplify the important role all our faculty members play in inspiring our students to dream big and supporting them in achieving those dreams. Thank you to all the faculty in attendance who cheered on our students and to the planning committee who put on another wonderful event.

A Breadth of Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity

On April 4, I was delighted to attend the Celebration of Research and meet many students and faculty members who are engaged in interesting and impactful research, scholarship and creative activity. When I speak of these endeavors on our campus, I prefer to use the full phrase rather than the campus shorthand of RSCA. Using the entire phrase allows us to educate our community on the breadth of work that is conducted here and the importance of expanding access to these opportunities for faculty to engage with our students.  We know that faculty engagement in research, scholarship, and creative activities not only strengthens our faculty but also creates opportunities for students to learn from mentors, empowering them to learn using hands-on techniques.

I was especially excited to learn about the topics pursued by our 2018 Undergraduate Research Program Student-Faculty Research Pairs. We have 45 student-faculty pairs who have pursued projects on a host of topics, illustrating the rich variety of pursuits that exists across our entire campus. From adding to our understanding of driverless cars to the representation of minorities in television to climate change, our students and faculty have selected work that is timely and has the potential to make positive change in our community and beyond.

During the event, we also honored our 2017 Early Career Investigator Award recipients. Assistant Professor Ehsan Khatami, from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Assistant Professor David Schuster, from the Department of Psychology, surely deserve the title. As recent arrivals to our university—Khatami joined us four years ago and Schuster five years ago—they have already made tremendous progress in earning grant funding, publishing their findings and building strong research labs that provide opportunities to engage with students.

Our research, scholarship and creative activity take different shapes for different disciplines. Some endeavors are pure discovery, others are applied projects with industry partners. Interacting with everyone the afternoon of the Celebration of Research reminded me of why we must continue to provide support for these important activities. I encourage everyone to review the SJSU Research Foundation 2018 Annual Report to learn more about this $57 million enterprise.

Celebrating a Legacy of Poetry

As a scholar of English literature, I was especially pleased this month to celebrate San Jose State’s rich legacy of poetry. As some of you may know, we have a long history of creative endeavors. Thank you to professors Annette Nellen and Alan Soldofsky for continuing to highlight the legacy of Edwin Markham, famed alumnus and writer of The Man with the Hoe, and Dr. Henry Meade Bland, a professor who helped to establish in 1867 our very first literary journal, The Acorn, as well as the many accomplished writers who have been part of our university community through the years.

This year, Legacy of Poetry Day included a community poetry reading outside the Hammer Theatre on April 12 and was part of a broader weeks-long poetry festival with a theme of “Celebrating the Poetry of Migration and Diaspora.”

After our community gathering outside the Hammer Theatre on April 12, I was pleased to spend the evening in dialogue with Armenian-American poet Peter Balakian as part of the Center for Literary Arts Reading and Conversation series. My husband Dennis and I have known Peter for many years, and it was wonderful to share the stage with a talented writer and dear friend. More than 300 people were in attendance to hear Peter read from his selection of poetry that touches on the experience of the Armenian diaspora. The gravitas of his work clearly shows why he won a Pulitzer Prize for his collection of poetry, Ozone Journal.

During the evening, I was pleased to engage with Peter as well as audience members as we explored the importance of culture and what happens to the culture of people who are displaced. It is an especially timely topic as the United Nations recently has reported that 255 million people around the world are migrating annually, often to escape military conflicts, political or social oppression, or to increase their economic opportunities. As a university that is committed to supporting a variety of students, faculty and staff members, including those who are immigrants or the children of immigrants, the conversation with Peter was a reminder of the perseverance of many in our community. My appreciation to Cathleen Miller, the director of the Center for Literary Arts, and her staff and students for coordinating such a wonderful event.

International Scholarship

On April 19, I was honored to represent San Jose State at the Dublin-San Jose Sister Cities flag-raising ceremony just a block from our campus border at City Hall. In a wonderful example of town-gown partnerships, the founding chairman of the Dublin-San Jose Sister City committee Pat McMahon also served as president of the Center for Literary Arts, where he once introduced renowned Irish poet Seamus Heaney at an event. Heaney is credited with saying, “I can’t think of a case where poems changed the world, but what they do is they change people’s understanding of what’s going on in the world.”

Six years ago, the Dublin-San Jose Sister City committee developed the first master’s degree scholarship exchange. The most recent recipients include Aidan Smyth, who is studying electrical engineering while living in SJSU’s International House and interning at Cypress Semiconductor, and Gurpeet Pannu, a music student who is spending a semester living and studying at Dublin City University. We are fortunate to be able to expand access to international experiences for our local students with support from generous donors and to offer international students exemplary opportunities to study at our university.

Academic Achievements

Drabble Appointed to NIH Study Section

Dr. Laurie Drabble, a professor in the School of Social Work in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, has been selected to serve as a member of the National Institutes of Health’s Center for Scientific Review Community Influences on Health Behavior Study Section. She will begin her term on July 1 and serve through June 2022. Through her service, Dr. Drabble will have the opportunity to contribute to the national biomedical research effort.

Fulbright Appointments

San Jose State is honored to have two faculty members appointed as U.S. Fulbright scholars. Dr. Cathleen Miller, a professor of English and director of the Center for Literary Arts, will serve as the first distinguished chair of humanities at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, where she will teach creative non-fiction and continue research into the phenomenon of women’s migration throughout the world. Dr. Victoria Rue, a lecturer in the Department of Humanities, has been awarded a United States Fulbright Scholar appointment to the Palestinian Territories (West Bank). Her work in the field of comparative religions is exemplary and this appointment serves as a testament to her leadership in the broader field of humanities.

Athletic Achievements

Congratulations to our women’s gymnastics team, which has won the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championship for the second year in a row. Senior Kaitlin Won lived up to her name winning the all-around individual championship and sophomore Chelsey Andrada finished first in the vault.

Several spring sports teams recently competed in and other squads are nearing their respective conference championships. Sophomore Sean Yu of the men’s golf team finished third at the 2018 Mountain West Championship in Bremerton, Wash., the highest individual finish by a Spartan since we joined the conference in 2013.

Big things continue happening at South Campus. Last December, we had a ribbon-cutting ceremony for our new outdoor tennis complex. On Friday afternoon, April 27, we will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony for our new softball field right next to the Spartan Tennis Complex.

Diverse Issues in Higher Education recently recognized 41 Spartan student-athletes of color with the publication’s annual Arthur Ashe, Jr., Sports Scholar Awards. San Jose State was No. 1 nationally among colleges and universities for the most student-athletes receiving this honor in 2018.

And, finally, congratulations to Dr. Harry Edwards (Class of ’64, ’16 Honorary Doctorate), who will be inducted into the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-America Hall of Fame at the end of June. This prestigious honor recognizes student-athletes that excelled academically and athletically, achieved success in one’s professional career and are committed to philanthropic causes. Dr. Edwards is joining San Jose State alumna and 1980 U.S. Olympics team fencer Dr. Stacey Johnson (Class of ’80), a 2017 inductee, in this Hall of Fame that now has 150 distinguished honorees from among the millions of student-athletes that participated in intercollegiate athletics through the years.

Creative Achievements

Graphic Design Program Tops Rankings

Animation Career Review 2018 Graphic Design School rankings listed our graphic design program in the top 7 percent nationally and the top 5 percent among public universities. This high ranking is a nod to the strong reputation of our program that allows students to learn the foundational aspects of design while they build a versatile portfolio that has landed our graduates positions at top firms, including Pixar Animation Studies and Google, among others.

In the Heights Premieres

This Friday, SJSU’s production of In the Heights opens at the Hammer Theatre. The award-winning show from Lin-Manuel Miranda is a collaboration between the Department of Film and Theatre and the School of Music and Dance. Watch our students perform in this story of the American Dream set in a Hispanic-American neighborhood in New York City, through May 6. Tickets are on sale now.


As we head into the final month of our semester, the pace of events and activities promises to stay just as energetic as recent weeks. Tonight, CommUniverCity will celebrate 13 years of university, city and community engagement. Tickets are free with registration online. Stop by the Duncan Hall Breezeway from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 27 to see the accomplishments of many of our students at the College of Science Student Research Day. On April 28, the Native American Student Organization will host its first ever Community Powwow. And we will, of course, have many more opportunities to celebrate the achievements of our students as we close out the semester, starting with the Braven Live Your Legacy event on May 16.

Please also remember that while the end of the year is a joyful time, it can also be a stressful time. Counseling and Psychological Services and the Behavioral Intervention Team are available to support students who may need services during these final weeks of the semester. Faculty and staff, please refer students who may be in need of support to these resources. In addition, counseling is available at no cost to all faculty and staff members through our employee assistance program.

In closing, I especially want to encourage everyone to attend the Strategic Planning Steering Committee’s final university-wide event of the year, from 10 to 11 a.m. May 7, in the Diaz Compean Student Union Ballroom. I hope you will join me as our task force chairs share the latest iteration of desired outcomes and action items that will form the foundation of our next strategic plan. Please RSVP for the event online.

Let’s work together to finish out the semester on a strong note!




SJSU Provost to be Appointed President of University of Northern Colorado

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on April 10, 2018.

Dear Campus Community,

It is with mixed emotions that I write to share with you the news that the University of Northern Colorado has announced today that it has selected SJSU Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Andrew Hale Feinstein as its next president, effective July 9. Please join me in congratulating Andy on his new appointment. He will remain with SJSU through the end of the academic year.

Andy first arrived at San Jose State as deputy provost in 2013. Following a national search, he was appointed to serve as provost in April 2014. Andy accepted these roles during a time of transition, when the university was working toward ending a long-time structural budget deficit, making substantial improvements to retention and graduation rates, and addressing concerns about diversity and inclusion. Working in collaboration with colleagues in every division and throughout the greater community, he helped develop a number of effective plans, positions and offices. He currently co-chairs the Strategic Planning Steering Committee and the Comprehensive Campaign Committee.

As provost and senior vice president, Andy worked within his own division of Academic Affairs to help create and implement many innovative programs and initiatives that brought more than 250 new tenure-track faculty members to San Jose State, elevated an emphasis on and financial support for research, scholarship and creative activity, and made significant progress with plans for an Interdisciplinary Science Building to be constructed near Duncan Hall. In addition, he led the re-affirmation of the university’s accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

With advanced degrees in hospitality management, Andy has been constantly engaged in campus activities and life, supporting our faculty, staff and students on every level. Andy’s commitment to shared governance and collaboration with colleagues across all divisions will be sorely missed.

Again, please join me in congratulating Andy. Upon formal confirmation of Andy’s appointment as president of UNC, I will communicate with the campus about next steps in our search for a successor.


Mary A. Papazian, President



President’s Message on the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on April 4, 2018.

Dear students, faculty and staff,

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. No single quote, photo or film of Dr. King can encapsulate all he accomplished in the name of human rights. A non-violent journey he began as a young man in service to his congregation, community and home state carried messages that resonated deeply across our nation, around the world and through time. Indeed, he was a Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

I am reminded of this, and I believe all of us are, when we cross our campus and pass by the monument our students built in memory of our alumni and Olympians John Carlos and Tommie Smith, who took a stand for human rights at the 1968 Olympics, six months after Dr. King’s assassination. In doing so, they became part of the history of a tumultuous year that also saw the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy.

The Smith/Carlos sculpture, and today’s anniversary, reminds us Dr. King’s journey continues. It is my hope that each of you will take a moment to reflect on this day’s significance. Dr. King’s last speech, in support of sanitation workers seeking equal pay and work conditions, is well remembered for its reference to work that would outlast him.

Local school students, community members, and our campus community will gather today at our library, named in Dr. King’s honor, to mark his passing. Beginning at approximately 3:50 p.m., 50 chimes will ring, ending close to 4:01 p.m. PST, the moment when Dr. King was struck down outside the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.


Dr. Mary A. Papazian, President






President Papazian’s March Blog

President Papazian in conversation with Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State, 2005-2009 (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Photojournalism).

President Papazian in conversation with Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State, 2005-2009 (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Photojournalism).

For many around the world, spring’s arrival is a time of celebration. I hope all of our students and faculty members are spending spring break with friends and family, or supporting an important cause through participating in an alternative spring break program. As I write this message, I can see our beautiful campus. The sun has returned, the sidewalks are quiet, and I would like to take a moment to share a few thoughts.

Remembering Dr. Jennifer Gonzales, Veterans Ally

I begin on a rather somber note to acknowledge the deep and personal loss felt by many on our campus as a result of recent events in Yountville.

Among the four individuals who lost their lives on March 9 was Dr. Jennifer Gonzales. Jennifer was a Veterans Administration clinical psychologist who worked with San Jose State from May 2015 to September 2016. She provided services to military and student veterans, and helped launch our Veterans Resource Center. In fact, Jennifer was here recently to celebrate the center’s grand opening in the Diaz Compean Student Union.

Jennifer grew up in the South Bay and although she was not a San Jose State graduate or employee, she responded to our call for assistance with veterans’ services at SJSU. Her work here was funded by a grant program called VITAL, or Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership, which supports military veterans pursuing college degrees. Her many specific contributions include assistance creating a VA Campus Toolkit and an online course focused on student veterans.

In addition, Jennifer worked closely with our students, faculty, and staff. One faculty member shared that “most striking…was her ability to meet student veterans ‘where they were at.’ In her role as a clinical psychologist, she was able to engage veterans in whatever level of care they needed.  For some veterans, this involved access to academic accommodations and tutoring, for others it meant involvement with peer-support specialists or groups, and for still others it included individual treatment.”

After Jennifer completed her work at San Jose State, she accepted a new role, which took her to the San Francisco VA and the Pathway Home program located on the grounds of the Yountville veterans home. In the past year, she was married, and she and her husband T.J. Shushereba were expecting their first child.

Please join me in sending your thoughts to all who knew and loved her.

Campus Safety Updates

It is not lost on me that the recent gun violence, like that which took Jennifer’s life, is top of mind in our community as well. Campus safety has never been more complex. As a university president, and as a mother of two college-age daughters, there is not a moment in time when I am not at some level thinking about this topic, if not discussing it with all of you and our campus leadership team.

Let me start with some news. As some of you know, Chief of Police Peter Decena will step down March 30 to become chief of the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department. Please join me in thanking Chief Decena for eight years of service to the San Jose State community. Chief Decena’s deep commitment to our campus is rooted in his own experience pursuing bachelor’s and master’s degrees here. He began his policing career with us in 1980, left to join the San Jose Police Department, and then returned to serve as our chief. We soon will commence a national search for a new chief.  An interim chief will be appointed shortly.

In the context of campus safety, I encourage all of you to be our eyes and ears. “See something, say something” works, as evidenced by several recent incidents, and on a campus as large and complex as ours, we most certainly need to engage all of you.

Should you come across any information that causes you to question campus safety, please check first with the University Police Department, which is available 24-7 at 408-924-2222. UPD immediately will investigate and validate information and then take appropriate action as needed, which includes informing all campus community members.

In addition, resources are available on a confidential basis to all impacted by sexual misconduct and violence, whether or not those seeking assistance choose to file a police report. For more information, please contact the San Jose State University Title IX Office at (408) 924-7290. Our Title IX office takes every report seriously, and will respond accordingly.

A final note: All students, faculty and staff are invited to take part in our bi-annual safety walks. Help spot safety concerns while touring campus with Vice President for Administration and Finance Charlie Faas, University Police Department representatives, Facilities Development and Operations personnel, and all interested community members. The next safety walk is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. April 2. Meet outside the FD&O building at South Ninth and East San Fernando streets.

Appointments and Searches

As Provost Feinstein shared last week, we have appointed a new dean for the Connie L. Lurie College of Education. Dr. Heather Lattimer will join us from the University of San Diego, where she is a professor of education and the executive director of the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education. She has a proven record of collaborating with local school districts, community partners and industry leaders, and in developing new programs. She will join us August 1.

In addition to her time spent in higher education, Dr. Lattimer has nearly 10 years of experience teaching multiple subjects at the middle school and high school levels. Indeed, she began her teaching career right here in San Jose! The professional beliefs and practices she expressed during the search process – a commitment to diversity, dedication to ensuring student success, and a passion for preparing educators who prioritize equity and excellence – connect with the college’s mission and our university goals.

I look forward to working with Dr. Lattimer when she joins us this summer and hope you will offer her a warm Spartan welcome in August. I also would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Paul Cascella, who has served as interim dean for the past 18 months and will continue to lead the college through the end of July.

There are several more searches under way. We now are accepting applications for vice president for Student Affairs. Candidates for dean of the College of Science and the senior associate vice president for University Personnel visited campus in recent weeks. Expect to hear more on these positions soon.

“Behold the View”: Alumna Nancy McFadden

This past week, we lost a remarkable alumna, Nancy McFadden, ’84 Political Science. She passed away on March 22. I was not here when San Jose State invited her to deliver the Commencement address in May 2014, but it is clear to me that she was the perfect candidate to speak at the university-wide ceremony held in Spartan Stadium, where she received an honorary doctorate. Nancy dedicated her entire career to public service, including senior leadership positions in the administrations of both President Bill Clinton and Governor Jerry Brown.

Often, I have heard people say her address was unforgettable to those present at the time, and now we know it was equally meaningful to Nancy herself. The Sacramento Bee’s obituary begins with an especially powerful quote from that speech, described as one of her favorite memories. In the address, she urged graduates not to forget kindness and gratitude as they changed the world:

“I hope you live life not for the accolades but for the experience itself. Climb the mountain not to plant the flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world and not so the world can see you. I hope you don’t let fear stop you. I hope you take a pause every so often, and I wish you so much more than luck.”

Nancy was selfless and always demonstrated, even when the pressure was on in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, that our most precious role in life is mentoring those who follow us. This is a trait common in SJSU alumni, I have come to learn in my first two years here. I encourage all of you to read the full story. Please join me in keeping Nancy’s loved ones in your thoughts.

Inspiring Student Success

Like Nancy, the students who spoke at our first-ever Student Success Symposium on March 15 have embraced challenges and flourished.

As I shared at the event, when we discuss student success, we often focus on graduation rates, the equity gap and other data points that can easily be measured. But behind each number and data point, we have students with dreams and aspirations.

More than 230 faculty, staff and students attended this inaugural event to hear from innovative national leaders in higher education and listen to our current students who shared their unique educational journeys.

  • Jabriel White is a transfer student from Riverside who admitted SJSU wasn’t his first-choice school. But now in his second semester, he said San Jose State is a perfect fit. Connecting with student organizations has made him feel at home.
  • Puneet Sanghera started as a pre-nursing student and then took a semester off to care for an ailing family member. She returned to enroll in a new major and hit her stride working in a neurophysiology research lab on campus. Puneet graduates this spring and has been accepted into a graduate program at San Francisco State University.
  • Asya Evelyn is a sophomore political science major who has her sights set on affecting positive change now and after she graduates. She already is involved in promoting the kind of social justice for which our university is known through her work with the MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center.
  • And Jose Jaime Esquivel Patricio is working hard to earn his aerospace engineering degree as he promotes social change as the president of Student Advocates for Higher Education. While engaged in outreach to local high schools and prospective SJSU students, he completed a summer research program at Stanford last year.

These students — like all the students we serve — have remarkable stories that have led them to San Jose State.  It is up to us to help them succeed through graduation and beyond.

I encourage you to visit the Student Success Website to find ways to get involved in our efforts.

A Conversation with Condoleezza Rice

It was an honor to welcome Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State (2005-2009), to SJSU on the evening of March 22. The event organizers and I are especially appreciative that Dr. Rice arrived early and was able to spend 30 minutes speaking with a small group of business and economics students. Their questions and her responses were enlightening! An especially memorable moment was when she recalled why she switched majors from music to political science while she was in college at the University of Denver.

“Find something you are passionate about, and try something hard,” she said. As Secretary Rice described her own journey, she remarked on how as a college student at the University of Denver, she was particularly inspired by a faculty member who loved his subject. His name was Josef Korbel, and in a stroke of serendipity, he was the father of Madeleine Albright, who also served as Secretary of State (1997-2001).

My thanks to all who attended the main event, which included a 20-minute address by Sec. Rice, followed by my on-stage conversation with her. During the event, she covered a lot of ground, from international and national affairs (“Democracy is only as strong as its weakest link…If you are a citizen of a democracy, you need to own it.”) to intercollegiate athletics (“The student part matters as much as the athlete part.”)

Perhaps most memorable for the students in the crowd was Sec. Rice’s advice on writing papers. “At some point, you have to ask yourself, ‘What is my greatest weakness?’” she said. She admitted hers was procrastinating. She urged students to finish required reading early to give themselves time to think it over, and to create an old-fashioned outline so that the writing took care of itself.

Dr. Rice was the first in our new speaker series, “Insights,” which promises to bring to SJSU a variety of perspectives on economics, business and international affairs. I would like to express my gratitude to the Valley Foundation for underwriting this series and to all who helped with preparations for Dr. Rice’s visit.

Discussing Gender, Sport and Society

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I also must mention the significant and invigorating discussions we hosted on March 14 at the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change town hall, “Words to Action: Gender, Sport and Society.”

We were fortunate to have more than a dozen distinguished guests, some who were trailblazers of the early Title IX era, and others who are active today as executives, attorneys, advocates, coaches and TV commentators. In the larger context of the #MeToo movement sweeping our country, the timing of this conversation could not have been better. Thank you to all who helped orchestrate the day’s activities.

As a woman university president at a time when only 23 percent of college and university presidents are female (the California State University is exceptional, with more than half of our campus presidents being women), I had the extraordinary experience of listening to our panelists and experiencing their words and emotions while sitting between my two young adult daughters, something I will never forget.

The event fostered discussions with my family about the challenges we do and will face. And professionally, I think often of the issues we explored at the town hall, especially in the context of the tech culture of our region. I have always felt a personal responsibility to pay it back and create pathways of true opportunity for women and girls, as well as for all members of underrepresented communities.

Equity and Engineering

Speaking of tech culture, the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering hosted the 2018 Silicon Valley Women in Engineering Conference on March 17. The conference is in its fourth year and is a truly remarkable collaboration involving our university, community and tech companies, with the goal of diversifying the engineering workforce.

Women engineering students from SJSU and local community colleges gathered in the Diaz Compean Student Union to learn from women and men who have broken barriers in every engineering discipline, including executives from leading companies such as Google, Intel, IBM and more.

As Dean Sheryl Ehrman said, news stories nationwide point toward a new empowerment in our pursuit of gender equity. Our appreciation goes out to the sponsors who made the event possible, including the Mark and Carolyn Guidry Foundation, which has supported the conference since 2015.

Business-Higher Education Forum

As we recognize the important connection between business and higher education, it was a true pleasure to participate in a panel discussion and host a dinner March 14 and 15 with the Business-Higher Education Forum. Based in Washington, D.C., this national organization seeks to foster partnerships between higher education and the corporate community in support of workforce development. The dinner at our own Hammer Theater was followed the next day by a panel, at Amazon Web Services in East Palo Alto, focused on cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, automation, cloud and digital skills gaps.

I was pleased to share information about existing and potential collaborative efforts to provide our students with the academic and practical skills needed to further their careers and support the region. This is at the heart of what we do as a university, and an area of focus where I see tremendous opportunity for growth. Conversations like this one help the tech and higher education worlds better understand the challenges each face.

The setting for the dinner the opening night was the practice hall on the fourth floor of the Hammer Theatre. It was an appropriate location given it is reflective of San Jose State’s partnership with the City of San Jose, which enables us to operate the Hammer for the benefit of all who live, work and enjoy the arts in the South Bay.

Among those in attendance were former CSU Board Chair Bob Linscheid, Chancellor Timothy White, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo President Jeffrey Armstrong and CSU Maritime Academy President Thomas Cropper.

Attending from San Jose State were Vice President for Information Technology Bob Lim, College of Science Dean Michael Kaufman, Lucas College and Graduate School of Business Dean Dan Moshavi, and Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering Associate Dean of Extended Studies Jacob Tsao.

Academic achievements

MESA Schools Program

It always is impressive to see positive media coverage of future and current San Jose State students. My thanks to Susan Arias, of the SJSU MESA Schools Program within the College of Science, for sending me this link to a story about Campbell Middle School. What a thrill to see so many girls and boys excited about their achievements at a recent event here at SJSU. MESA is a national program that provides middle and high school students with hands-on, real-world opportunities to explore science, technology, engineering, and math.

Spartan Daily

On the topic of media coverage, SJSU’s own Spartan Daily newspaper received two second place awards at the National College Journalism Convention this month. The student journalists received second place in the Best Newspaper category and second for Best Special Issue in a competition that included nearly 100 university and college papers. And in true Spartan spirit, the winning special issue edition, entitled “Divided/United,” focuses on hot topics such as political partisanship, immigration policy and more. The Spartan Daily, Update News and Spear Magazine also won 13 awards in a statewide competition. Congratulations to our student journalists and their faculty advisors!


In other good news, our School of Music and Dance’s University Dance Theater students were invited to perform their work, Exoskeleton, at the American College Dance Association Gala Concert this month in Tempe, Arizona. The performance earned them an invitation to attend a national conference and to perform their work at the Kennedy Center. Only two dozen works were selected for this honor from nearly 700 that were submitted.

Athletic achievements

Our student-athletes also have provided reasons for us to celebrate this month. Senior Madison Aurin was named USA Softball Collegiate National Player of the Week for games ending the week of March 18. In four games, all Spartan wins, Aurin hit three home runs, was the winning pitcher in two Mountain West victories over San Diego State and was credited with a pitcher’s save in a non-conference victory over Fairleigh Dickinson to earn the national honor.

We also received word that 38 Spartans were named to the Mountain West’s All-Academic team for the fall sports of football, women’s volleyball, men’s cross country, women’s cross country and women’s soccer.

Chalk up another national championship for the women’s team at the 2018 National Collegiate Judo Association championships in Ames, Iowa. The Spartan men finished second. San Jose State’s Shadi Ebrahim was named the tournament’s “Outstanding Female.”

I mentioned my personal response to our Town Hall on March 14, but would like to add that our football team showed their commitment to advocating for their female peers with their attendance. “It’s important for our guys to hear the discussion,” said Head Coach Brent Brennan after the event. “Treating people with respect is one of our team’s core values.”

Next month, our men’s golf team will continue with tradition as it hosts the 72nd annual Western Intercollegiate, the longest-running men’s college golf tournament west of the Mississippi, at the Pasatiempo Golf Course in Santa Cruz, April 7 and 8.

Upcoming events

We have many more upcoming activities planned for April, including the SJSU Celebration of Research April 4, Faculty Service Recognition and Awards Luncheon April 5, distinguished American pianist John Nakamatsu in concert April 7, Legacy of Poetry Day April 12, and Honors Convocation April 20, when we will recognize a record 4,600 students for their academic achievements.

Three campus organizations will celebrate significant milestones: MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center will mark its 20th anniversary on April 11, CommUniverCity will mark its 13th anniversary on April 13, and the Associated Students of SJSU will mark its 120th anniversary on April 27.

Dr. King Remembrance

The 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death is April 4. University and community members will gather at our library, named in his memory, to ring chimes 50 times in King’s honor. The chimes will begin at 3:50 p.m., and end at 4:01 p.m. Pacific Time, the exact date and time in 1968 when King was struck at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tenn. I would like to thank Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications Michael Cheers for helping to organize this event.

Budget Forum

An SJSU Budget Forum is planned for 11 a.m. to noon April 19 in King 225/229. Vice President for Administration and Finance Charlie Faas will describe our plans for the coming year. Provost Andy Feinstein and I will be available to answer questions.

Governor Brown’s budget proposal provides less to the California State University system than expected. Many CSU leaders including me are doing all we can to explain our needs to legislators. Meanwhile, we will plan thoughtfully, with a firm commitment to our priorities, including instruction, student support, campus safety, and the Strategic Plan.

Looking forward

Our campus is indeed quiet now, with most faculty members and students away for spring break. In addition, on Friday, we will close in observance of Cesar Chavez Day, which marks the birth and legacy of the human rights leader, memorialized with the beautiful arch outside the Diaz Compean Student Union. Rest now because April promises to be another busy month!



President’s Message on Dudley Moorhead Hall

Dear students, faculty and staff,

I am writing to you this morning to provide more information on an incident that occurred yesterday on our campus.

First and foremost, I would like to express my gratitude to the people who discovered a potentially dangerous situation yesterday and reported it immediately. While I know campus safety is a prime responsibility of campus leadership, we most certainly need everyone to be our eyes and ears. Please do remember, “see something, say something.”

With respect to the incident, at approximately 1 p.m., the University Police Department learned of a message written on a wall inside a women’s restroom on the third floor of Dudley Moorhead Hall. The message suggested a shooting would occur at 5 p.m. UPD took the threat seriously and immediately opened an investigation with assistance from the San Jose Police Department and others.

After preliminary assessments, campus leadership concluded that it was unlikely the threat was credible. For this reason, we decided that classes should remain in session and business continue as usual. Nonetheless, UPD took extra precautions by increasing police presence in and around DMH. As the investigation continues, UPD will remain on alert.

As the situation evolved, we shared available information via Alert SJSU. I know that many of you wanted to know more: faculty and students wondered if it was safe to go to class, and staff considered closing our business offices. During an incident like this, we always consider how to tell everyone what they need to know so that we can keep our campus community safe. This is a topic my leadership team takes seriously, and we will be further evaluating yesterday’s actions.

In closing, I know yesterday was difficult for many on our campus. Please send your feedback to my office at Your thoughts, concerns, and ideas will continue to help us shape our next steps.


Dr. Mary A. Papazian, President

President Papazian’s February Blog

President Mary Papazian, third from the right, connects with Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center interns Erick Macias-Chavez, Ana Ferretiz, Paola Quintanilla, Flor Sario and Janely Cerda at a spring welcome event February 5 (photo by David Schmitz).

President Mary A. Papazian, third from the right, connects with Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center interns Erick Macias-Chavez, Ana Ferretiz, Paola Quintanilla, Flor Sario and Janely Cerda at a spring welcome event February 5 (photo by David Schmitz).

It is hard to believe we are nearing the end of February—the beginning of this semester has just flown by. There is much to do in terms of sharing our story and advocating for our university, while working to connect with many of you on campus. I had the pleasure of engaging with students at the Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center Spring Welcome February 5, interacting with university stakeholders at the Strategic Planning Presentation and Community Conversation February 9, and seeing many of you at other events earlier this year. Before we get any further into this term, I would like to share recent news, updates and notes on upcoming events.

Enhancing Campus Security

First, I am sure campus safety is on all of our minds in light of recent events in Florida. A public university like ours is defined to a great extent by a sense of trust. We open our doors and our hearts to one another to create a place that is safe—physically, emotionally and intellectually—so that we may share and grow as individuals and as a community. But this distinction can make us, as we see with each incident on our campus or elsewhere, quite vulnerable.

I most certainly understand that it is the responsibility of campus leaders to do all we can to keep you safe. We are fortunate to have the University Police Department and its more than 25 sworn officers serving San Jose State. UPD recently installed, throughout campus, some of the most advanced security cameras available. Using this technology, our officers were able quickly to find and arrest an alleged robbery suspect in January.

The Behavioral Intervention Team is another important resource. This collaborative team seeks to identify and assist individuals who may pose a danger to themselves or others. The team very intentionally includes members from all parts of campus to make it clear that we are seeking input and assistance from everyone.

In addition to all of these efforts, we always will need your help. We need your eyes and ears, your quick thinking and your action. As I mentioned in my February 15 message to campus, we want to hear from you should you ever become fearful that someone in our community may hurt themselves or others. Similarly, let us know should you ever become concerned about something you see online (for example, something violent posted on social media).

The Red Folder reference guide is an icon on the desktop of most university computers and is the best source of information on who to call depending on the situation at hand. If the concern is immediate or you feel a threat or crime is imminent, call UPD at 408-924-2222 or dial 911 from a campus phone.

Remembering Professor Kate Sullivan

While I have much good news to share this month, including the momentous opening of new student centers, upcoming events with elite visitors to our university, and updates on generous gifts that support our programs, I also have some sad news.

In late January, we lost a devoted professor, Dr. Kate Sullivan, who passed away due to complications from a heart attack. Kate helped to found the Department of Hospitality Management and taught at San Jose State for nearly 30 years. Our condolences are with her son, family members, colleagues and students. A Celebration of Life will be held at 3 p.m. March 5 in the Diaz Compean Student Union Theater. There will be a short program to remember her followed by a reception. The campus community is invited.

Kate was a dedicated teacher who was admired by her students, and she mentored many graduates as they launched their hospitality and tourism careers, always willing to provide a positive reference with her many industry contacts. Kate’s legacy includes her work to initiate hospitality programs overseas in Dubai and Vietnam in order to provide our students a global experience.

I was able to see Kate interact with her students when my husband Dennis and I attended an event hosted by two of her classes. The biannual Beers Around the World Tradeshow that Kate developed was a partnership between her beer appreciation and her conference, convention and event planning classes. Kate created the concept to give students real-world experience, in the context of a beverage tasting event. Although students were in charge, she was always there, with a smile for everyone in the room.

Highlighting Black History

February is Black History Month, and we have had a full slate of activities that celebrate the diversity of our students while acknowledging the challenges we still face. Enlightening visitors included author Natalie Baszile, entertainer W. Kamau Bell and a group of student photographers from New York.

I encourage all of you to visit the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library’s Jennifer and Philip DiNapoli Gallery to view “Harlem Reimagined.” On display through the end of March, these remarkable photos are the work of students and alumni from San Jose State and three San Jose and New York high schools, brought together by SJSU Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications Michael Cheers.

These young photographers followed in the footsteps of famed photographer James Van Der Zee, who leveraged his skills and vantage point within the Harlem community more than a century ago to capture the community’s rich cultural life. The group focused on changes that are underway today in Harlem, as a new generation of residents settles in, bringing gentrification to parks and streets bearing the names of black luminaries such as Harriet Tubman, Duke Ellington and Dr. King.

In more ways than one, the project came full circle when the students from New York traveled to San Jose for the exhibit’s opening. I had the pleasure of attending the event and meeting many of the students and instructors who were involved in this unique project. Having walked these same streets myself while I lived and worked on the East Coast, I was genuinely inspired by the images, which are posted without credits to emphasize that their work was a collaborative effort.

Setting Goals Through Strategic Planning

Speaking of collaborative efforts, we are well on our way to having a new strategic plan to guide our university through the next 10 years. As I said when we started this journey together at our kick-off event in September, whatever we spend our days doing—teaching, managing, coaching, building, communicating, serving—the future of our university depends on our collective openness to dreaming. And planning.

On February 9, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee presented the results of our collective dreaming in the form of the five draft goals. I appreciate all the students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community members who shared their hopes for the future of our university, and who were candid about the challenges we face. We heard many voices at our campus and community conversations last fall that helped us to define areas of focus that will allow us to grow as a world-class public university while remaining relevant and impactful in our community.

Thank you to the Strategic Planning Steering Committee co-chairs Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Andy Feinstein and Stefan Frazier, chair of the Academic Senate, and the rest of the committee members for their efforts in designing an inclusive process. The work continues this spring, with steering committee members leading task forces that include students, staff, faculty, administrators and community members, as well as representatives from across our divisions.

The task forces will develop action items that will move forward each of our draft goals: Educate for Engagement and Innovation; Academic Excellence and Leadership; Thriving Quality of Life; Connect, Engage, Contribute; and Campus Development and Sustainability. At the end of this semester, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee will be ready to present a plan for us to evaluate. I encourage all of you to learn more and provide input online.

Visiting the State Capitol

While our Strategic Plan will encompass many factors, there is one in particular that is of great interest to our elected officials, and that is workforce preparation. I was one of four campus presidents recently invited by the California State University Office of Advocacy and State Relations to participate in a luncheon with several key state senators, and then to make a presentation to legislative staff members in the Capitol.

I was asked to focus my presentation on engineering and healthcare, both major drivers of the California economy. In our roundtable discussion and the presentation to legislative staff, I was pleased to share statistics showing our impact on the region and throughout California and to highlight many innovative programs and partnerships developed by faculty members with industry connections in emerging fields of study.

These programs include our Microscale Process Engineering Laboratory, where students are learning to design, among other things, tiny devices that could be implanted inside the body to improve health outcomes, and our doctorate of nursing practice, through which we provide professional development opportunities for clinicians such as alumna Mercy Egbujor, who delivers healthcare to San Jose’s homeless.

The presentation was well received, and I would like to thank the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering and the College of Applied Sciences and the Arts for their help developing supporting materials. Many legislative staff members were intrigued and wanted to learn more about how to support student success and engagement.

Connecting with Alumni

Student success extends well beyond the day our students graduate with their degrees, so I am always pleased to connect with our alumni. I recently attended a luncheon with the Saratoga Rotary Club. It was such a warm and welcoming group! Although I delivered formal remarks, it was not long before we were simply talking about the many connections between San Jose State and this group of civic leaders. Many attended SJSU, but they were especially proud to tell me about one outstanding alumnus.

Are you familiar with the story of Benny Pierce? Raised in Los Gatos, he attended college and was a quarterback at San Jose State. His teammates included a name you might recognize, legendary 49ers Coach Bill Walsh. Pierce went on to a very long career teaching and serving as Saratoga High School’s head football coach, leading the team through 31 winning seasons. Today, the high school’s football field bears his name.

But what really caught my attention was how Mr. Pierce achieved so many victories. As I later learned while reading a profile in the school paper, he stressed that every single player, even those on the practice squad, contributed to victories. I hear this time and again from great coaches: teamwork leads to lasting success.

Planning to Attend the Student Success Symposium?

Speaking of teamwork, I encourage you to attend our inaugural Student Success Symposium March 15, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the Diaz Compean Student Union Ballroom. The day will feature a strong line up of national educational leaders who will discuss best practices and innovative ways to increase graduation rates, close the equity gap, and provide an excellent educational experience for all students. Please RSVP online by March 9.

Confirmed guest speakers include UCLA Professor of Education Sylvia Hurtado, who has been involved with the Higher Education Research Institute; George D. Kuh, the creator of the National Survey of Student Engagement and a promoter of high-impact practices; and Timothy Renick, vice provost and vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Success at Georgia State University, which has made great progress with its equity gap.

These speakers will provide new perspectives on supporting students that I hope will help us in creating action items to achieve our own goals.

Welcoming Three New Student Success Center Directors

I also am pleased to share that we have made one momentous stride in the realm of student success—we opened three new student centers, and all have terrific new leaders. On February 14, I joined a reception celebrating these appointments.

Lilly Pinedo Gangai has already planned many activities this spring for the Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center. She has 12 years of experience in higher education and most recently worked as an academic advisor in our Academic Advising and Retention Services Office.

Paula Powell has nearly 21 years of experience and was the founding director of the University of California, Santa Cruz African-American Student Life Resource Center. As the newly appointed director of our African American/Black Student Success Center, she is committed to student achievement and inclusion.

Ana Navarrete Avina joins the UndocuSpartan Resource Center from the College of Humanities and the Arts Student Success Center, where she was an academic advisor. She is a passionate advocate for immigrant rights and will serve our undocumented students well.

Recognizing Our Promise: Gifts to the University

These new centers are made possible in part by the foresight and generosity of those who see our promise. Last February, we announced that South Bay philanthropist Lupe Diaz Compean had made a $15 million gift commitment to the Student Union. In August, we announced that business leaders Gloria and Michael Chiang had made a $2.5 million gift commitment to the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business.

Then, on February 7, we announced that alumni Larry and Dierdre Solari have made a $5 million gift commitment to support football personnel and facilities.  I have had the pleasure of meeting the Solaris, and I was struck by their appreciation for what athletics brings to young lives.

Larry sees the value of intercollegiate athletics through the prism of his own experience as a young man who loved playing baseball, as well as a businessman who worked his way up to president of the Owens-Corning Fiberglass building materials group. “As an athlete, you learn discipline, you learn to work hard, you learn by practicing and staying with it,” he says. “In the business world, hard work, dedication, and commitment to your company will lead to better things for you and better things for the company.”

Many of our graduates share the Solaris’ story: hard work—intelligently applied—changes lives. Now the Solaris would like to pay it forward. Keep in mind that this is about far more than one program. “I really believe that a strong football program enhances the reputation of the university. It makes more people aware of who we are,” Mr. Solari says. His challenge to other alumni? “Embrace and support the university.”

Embrace. That’s a strong word, and it is in reference to the entire university. Make no mistake about this; while these gifts fund specific needs, they also serve as a reminder of San Jose State’s tremendous impact.  And they are a call to action to our many alumni and friends to invest in our university so that we can continue to fulfill our mission as an innovative, student centered, transformational institution that is making a difference.

Insights Speaker Series: Condoleezza Rice

Another recent gift to the university is funding a new speaker series.  Underwritten by the Valley Foundation, the Insights series will include a variety of perspectives on economics, business and international affairs. Our first event will feature Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State (2005-2009). Students (with Tower ID) may claim a free ticket at the Event Center Box Office. Tickets for faculty, staff, alumni and community members are available via Ticketmaster.

Recognizing Women of Excellence Mentors

We also are fortunate this spring to be piloting a new mentor program for student-athletes on the Spartan Women’s Basketball team. “Women of Excellence” pairs each player with a mentor for one-on-one interactions off the court. I had the pleasure of meeting some of these mentors on February 10 at the Spartan game against Colorado State University. These mentors truly excel in their fields and areas of expertise, and they include leaders from our community and our university. I know they will inspire our student-athletes to find their own path to greatness beyond basketball, and I hope this connection will motivate our students to affect positive changes in their communities after graduation. I look forward to watching the relationship between the players and mentors grow this semester.

I appreciate the work Athletics has done to create this program, including Women’s Basketball Head Coach Jamie Craighead and Athletics Director Marie Tuite. Thank you as well to those who are serving as mentors this season.

Athletics Updates

We had a terrific turnout of Spartans for our Football Signing Celebration in the Diaz Compean Student Union on February 7. The ballroom was buzzing as Coach Brennan and his staff described the young men joining our football program in 2018. Everything you want to know is available here.

Congratulations to seniors Cambree Harbaugh, the 2018 Mountain West champion in the women’s indoor long jump, and Nicole Iloanya, the second-place finisher in the women’s triple jump and new school record holder in the event. When we started the women’s track and field program in 2013, Cambree and Nicole were two of our first three scholarship student-athletes in the sport!

Our women’s swimming and diving team is sending eight swimmers and three divers to post-season competition in early March. At the Mountain West Championships, senior Colleen Humel was second in the 200 backstroke and Junior Brenna Bushey was second in the 100 butterfly.

And, finally, junior Ryan Welage was named to the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-District VIII team as one of the top five men’s basketball student-athletes in eight Western states and all of Canada this season. Ryan is a kinesiology major, 2017 SJSU Dean’s Scholar honoree and among the top-100 NCAA Division I players in scoring average. Ryan had a 4.0 GPA last fall.

Looking Forward

As you can see, February has been a busy month and the rest of the semester promises to be just as full of activities and opportunities. I hope to see you at our upcoming events and I look forward to continuing our work together, providing excellent educational experiences for all of our students.