San Jose Mercury News: Latina Student from Silicon Valley Creates National, Online Mentoring Program

Published by the San Jose Mercury News Feb. 18, 2013.

By Joe Rodriguez

SAN JOSE — Where Stephanie Bravo comes from, the working-class Northside neighborhood of San Jose, the title of “Doctora Bravo” sounded awfully nice in Spanish. And it almost rang true until the bright, over-achieving Mexican-American left medical school.

“Medicine wasn’t playing to my strengths,” she said recently. “It was very trying, because it kept me from doing other things that I was good at.”

One of those things earned her an invitation to the White House and recognition as an up-and-coming Latina leader. She is the founder and president of, a free online mentoring service that in fewer than three years has paired 10,000 college students across the country with 6,000 professionals eager to help them set goals and stay on course.

“It’s built like a tech company but with a social mission,” Bravo said at Santa Clara University, where she is assistant director for social media in the office of marketing and communications.

At 27, she has the big brown eyes of a curious student framed by the long, arching eyebrows of a super model, giving her a near perfect look for a millennial generation leader — optimistic, smart and cool.

What separates StudentMentor from traditional mentoring programs is that the students and mentors seldom meet face-to-face. Well, they sort of do on Skype, a video-communication service. Yet, they manage to deal with heavy issues, from choosing careers and finding money for tuition, to coping with outside responsibilities and building the confidence to stay in school and graduate.

“It’s 90 percent online, computer to computer,” Bravo explained with a laugh. “We’re millennials. We grew up using technology. Everyone is on a gadget of some sort.”

Educated girls

Growing up on the Northside, Bravo took free tennis lessons from Don Johnson, an African-American coach from back east who took a young Arthur Ashe under his wing and later helped the late tennis champion establish a nationwide tennis program for disadvantaged kids.

Bravo’s parents found the money for private piano lessons and a piano teacher in the neighborhood. Her grandfather owned El Tarasco Restaurant, a local landmark known for its mural of an ancient Mexican warrior until it was unceremoniously whitewashed after the restaurant closed. After middle school, Bravo boarded buses for the one-hour ride to a white high school in suburban San Jose.

“My mom decided education was important and that her girls needed to go to a good school without violence, drugs and high rates of failure,” Bravo recalled.

But just as the busing ultimately failed to integrate schools or deliver equal education, it didn’t work out personally for the bright, barrio girl. She still remembers being on the outside of a conversation between affluent girls discussing which stylish and expensive Coach purse to buy.

“I felt out of place,” Bravo said. “My whole world had been turned upside-down.”

After transferring and excelling at Lincoln High, a more urban campus, Bravo entered San Jose State. Still undecided about her future, she took special “interest tests” designed to help students find their true calling. She scored high on nursing. Nothing against nurses, but she was a little miffed.

“Forget that! I’m going to be a doctor,” she told herself. “I did not want to take orders. I wanted to be in charge.”

Open the mind

While taking pre-med courses at San Jose State, she joined a mentoring program for minority medical students at Stanford University. She was surprised to meet her assigned mentor, Matthew Goldstein, who was from a rich, Jewish family.

“He was a shock and I had to open my mind a bit,” she said. “But Matthew was just what I needed. He actually prompted my affinity for mentoring. He showed me that mentoring meant getting past your comfort zone, trusting other people for their experience and getting through to a sense of purpose.”

Taking a hard look around, Bravo noticed the high number of low-income, minority students dropping out of community and four-year colleges. Four of five failed to earn bachelor’s degrees by their mid-20s, she said.

After entering the University of California-Irvine medical school she started a similar mentoring program. She was already working online to raise money for orphanages and water projects in Cambodia when the idea of online mentoring popped into her head.

She took a break from medical school and teamed up with Ash Jafari, a partner in the Cambodia effort, to launch in October 2010.

“We wanted to bring mentoring to the masses,” she said.

They did, and fast. Latina magazine named her one of 10 “Next Generation Latinas” in 2012. The White House invitation came earlier in 2011. Although they were greeted by President Barack Obama, the two actually spoke with White House insiders and congressmen about the details of the program.

“That’s when the tables turned, with that visit,” Bravo said. “What I was doing had value. I liked it and decided to switch my career to education.”

Valuable contacts

Borrowing from her stereotype-busting experience with Goldstein, StudentMentor does not figure race or ethnicity into the pairing of students with mentors. It does it by field of study, career goals, financial advice and so on.

“I was interested in pursuing a finance career, so I looked for mentors who currently work in the financial services industry,” said Jason Au, a senior at San Francisco State. “I think the difference in background did not matter. All the mentors I got a chance to connect with were all very helpful and able to give me great insights about their careers.”

The online approach appeals especially to busy mentors with hectic jobs or family obligations, or who live far from the students best suited for them.

“Mentoring anytime, anywhere, sounded awesome,” said Joelle Brinkley, a graduate student, wife and mother with a full-time job. “I enrolled because it worked with my schedule but more importantly would allow me to actually have an impact on individuals’ lives in a new way.”

Another mentor, Rachel Collier, misses the face-to-face meetings with students, but going online makes for more frequent contact.

“It’s a simple idea that didn’t exist before,” Collier said. “What a great way to connect with people.”

With such early success, Bravo said she and Jafari are seeking grants to grow StudentMentor. Currently, the program runs on about $350,000 annually, much of that from in-kind services donated by 15 volunteers and paid part-timers.

For now, she’s happy at SCU, a Jesuit college where she can blend her social media skills with Catholic teaching on social justice and equality. She still lives in the family homestead in the old neighborhood.

“I like educating and bringing people together,” Bravo said. “That’s what mentoring is for me.”


CNN: Pairing Up to Take the Pain Out of College Search

Posted by CNN Feb. 21, 2013.

(View video.)

San Jose, California (CNN) — At 17 years old, Jessica Perez is an honor student who aspires to be the first member of her family to graduate from college.

But when it came to the application process, she felt lost, alone and ill-prepared.

“I didn’t really know where to start,” said Perez, who wants to be an astrophysicist. “There wasn’t really anybody at home that could help me figure out how I could reach my dream.”

Perez’s grandparents, who raise Perez and her two siblings, both work long hours to make ends meet. And neither continued their education beyond elementary school.

Fortunately for Perez, she was directed by her school guidance counselor to a nonprofit called Strive for College.

“It helps students who don’t really know anything about the college process,” she said. “College students come to you and they tell you how to do it because they’ve been through it also.”

Strive for College pairs high-school students with college students for free, one-on-one consultation over a yearlong period. Each pair works together through the application process for colleges, scholarships and financial aid.

“We take them through every little step of the process, because, frankly, it’s a pretty detailed process — and if you miss one step, you could ruin all your chances,” said Michael Carter, who founded the nonprofit in 2007 while he was a college freshman.

So far, Strive for College has already helped 600 low-income students across the country enter four-year colleges and universities. And it expects to help an additional 900 this year.

Carter grew up in an upper-middle-class suburb of San Jose, California. He attended private school throughout his early childhood, and he remembers his grandfather calling him a “menso” — basically translated to “moron” in Spanish — for claiming everyone in the United States got an equal shot at success.

That pessimism started to make more sense to Carter when he transferred to a public high school in his junior year.

“Going to private schools, a lot of students who didn’t do amazingly academically knew they were going to a four-year college because their parents had gone. It was just a given,” said Carter, 24. “Whereas a lot of students at my public school, even if they had great GPAs and SATs, they didn’t know if they could go to a four-year college. It was just very foreign to a lot of them.”

It didn’t help that there were two guidance counselors for roughly 1,600 students. They just couldn’t devote themselves to students who failed to approach them about college — the very students who Carter felt needed this help the most.

“This made me realize that my grandpa was right, I was a menso,” Carter said. “And it made me firmly believe that this was a problem that was solvable.”

Carter designed a pilot study during his freshman year at Washington University in St. Louis. Pairing his classmates with low-income high school students at a nearby high school, he hoped to prove that college acceptance rates could be dramatically changed.

The pilot’s success was astounding: 24 of the 27 seniors in the study were accepted into four-year colleges. In the previous year, the school’s acceptance rate was only 1 out of every 30 seniors.

“At first it was like, ‘Wow, look at this amazing miracle that happened,’ ” Carter said. “But I quickly couldn’t sleep at night thinking how many of the (students) the year before had earned the right to go (to college) and just no one helped them across the finish line.”

Carter found that his study was indicative of a more widespread problem in the United States.

“There’s over 400,000 low-income high school seniors every year who (are) qualified to go to a four-year college, and for whatever reason they just don’t go,” Carter said.

And the difference between going to college and not going to college can often mean limited career opportunities or growth. Over a 40-year career, college graduates on average make nearly $1 million more than someone with only a high school degree, according to the U.S. Census (PDF).

“When my first (mentee) called me and said, ‘I got into my first college. You helped changed my life,’ I started crying,” Carter said. “I was like, ‘I think I really did help change your life.’ And it was just an amazing feeling.”

With the help of high-school administrators, Strive for College targets youth who attend schools where 50% or more of the students are eligible to receive free or reduced lunch.

To participate, students must have a GPA of at least 2.0. Interested students fill out a questionnaire about their academic and financial histories as well as their interests, abilities and ambitions. Then they can attend a “speed-dating-style” session in which they choose their college student mentor.

Throughout the school year, pairs meet at the high school once a week for an hour. The process takes the students through each step: selecting their target schools, filling out applications, writing essays, obtaining letters of recommendation, targeting scholarships and financial aid, reporting test scores and completing entrance exams.

“As a mentor, your role can be coach, pseudo-parent, cheerleader,” Carter said. “But it’s that amazing near-peer connection of young people with young people … helping them through a process you just went through yourself, and taking the mystery and anxiety out of it, that I think is really important.”

Strive for College also aims to help students graduate with the least amount of student loan debt possible, ensuring stronger graduation rates and enhancing the college experience. With scholarships and financial aid, 40% of Strive students attend four-year colleges without having to come out of pocket for their tuition — compared with 32% of low-income college students nationwide.

Beginning this spring, mentors and mentees will be able to communicate and track progress over the interactive “UStrive” community website. The social network will allow students to track the curriculum’s calendar and see when their peers complete major steps in the application process. Participants can make suggestions and bookmark items of interest for others.

Carter has found that the social component helps students stay on track with their goals.

“It creates peer pressure, but of a rare, positive kind. As they see one another looking at great universities and trying to aim for great financial aid packages, then their peers, their friends also say, ‘If you can do that, I can, too.’ And they start to raise their goals,” he said. “It’s a really powerful process in which you’re building a culture of achievement in the schools.”

It’s a culture that helped Shanna Brancato raise her own academic ambitions. The former foster child had never considered college as part of her future when she was encouraged to attend her first Strive for College session in her junior year of high school.

“I’ve never really thought of myself as the greatest student. College was not on my mind,” she said. “Now I’m a sophomore at San Jose State University. My full tuition is covered, and I’m mentoring a high school student.”

Many former mentees, like Brancato, become Strive for College mentors.

“It’s that ‘paying it forward’ mentality that is building a Strive movement that will solve this problem, I think, within the next decade,” Carter said.

Carter graduated from college in 2010 and has devoted himself full-time to his nonprofit. Strive for College now has 12 university chapters working in 15 high schools nationwide, and it is planning to launch eight more chapters this year.

“The more we grow, the more students we help, the greater our impact, the bigger our movement,” Carter said. “We’ll go from changing hundreds to thousands of lives, to changing hundreds of thousands, and some day soon, even millions.

“I’m so sure this will happen, because I believe in our generation. I know our mentors. I know the students we serve. And I know that together we are going to solve this problem.”

Want to get involved? Check out the Strive for College website at and see how to help.


Working the Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Standouts in their bright red jackets, the SJSU Special Event Management Team once again played a pivotal role in the 2013 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Despite the super early mornings and long days, these students say the week they spent managing the skyboxes, chalets and on-course food and beverage operations at one of the nation’s premier pro-ams will go down as a highlight of their college careers.

Of the more than 80 Spartans who applied this year, 34 students were selected for this unique, hands-on experience featuring 56 hours of training. Team members came from a wide range of majors including hospitality, recreation and tourism management; nutrition, food science and packaging; kinesiology; and advertising.

Many of the over 240 students and alumni of this eight-year-old program say the lessons they learned combined with the Pebble Beach name have earned them interviews and jobs in the industry, including 60 students and alumni working as temporary or permanent employees right there at the resort, according to Program Director Rich Larson.

For most team members, this was their first managerial experience, overseeing up to 20 workers responsible with providing thousands of spectators with refreshments. Some worked in corporate skyboxes or chalets, while others managed concessions open to the public.

“It’s great to see students succeeding and conquering their fears,” said Pebble Beach Resorts Banquet Manager Mark Hansen, who coaches many team members through a case of the nerves when it comes to interacting with the public and corporate clients.

“I’ve learned there are effective and professional ways to deal with managing people,” student Rebecca Mockabee said.

When it comes to the scenery, the students will tell you the worst day at Pebble Beach will always beat the best day in the classroom! Want to learn more? Check out this super cool video from last year.

Animation/Illustration Winners

The SJSU Animation/Illustration program continues to win prizes at regional, state and national competitions. Originally conceived to give locals a chance to compete for careers in the screen arts, the program now attracts students nationally and internationally.

Recent graduate Michelle Ikemoto and a production team composed of classmates won awards for Best Film Under 30 Minutes and Best Student Film for their animated short film, “Tule Lake.” Tule Lake is a tribute to the director’s late grandmother and the risks she took to preserve normalcy for her family during their exile in the Tule Lake internment camp during World War II. The awards were sponsored by CreaTV San Jose, a non-profit that seeks to inspire, educate and connect San Jose communities using media to foster civic engagement. The ceremony was held Jan. 5 at San Jose’s historic California Theater. Previous wins for Tule Lake include first place for Animation and a tie for Best In Show in the CSU Media Arts festival in November 2012.

Two films won awards at the AsiansOnFilm Festival. “Couch & Potatoes,” a stop-motion film produced and directed by May 2012 graduate Chris Lam and senior Eunsoo Jeong, was the winner in the Short Animation category. “A Knock On My Door,” directed by Associate Professor David Chai and produced by his 2012 Advanced Animation class, took Honorable Mention in the same category. The festival, which is sponsored by, will be held Feb. 15-17 at J.E.T. Studios in North Hollywood.

Chai and team also won the gold medal in the Moving Image Category at the New York Society of Illustrators 55th Annual Exhibition for their animated short film, “A Knock on My Door.” The film has a two-fold San Jose State connection as it documents the life of David Chai’s father, SJSU Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering Hi Dong Chai. The awards ceremony was held Jan. 4 in New York City. The Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition is open to artists worldwide, and each year a jury of top professionals considers thousands of entries before selecting the best for inclusion in their exhibition at the society’s gallery in New York. Professor Chai’s accomplishment marks the first time that SJSU has received a gold medal at this prestigious venue.

Five illustrations by SJSU A/I Lecturer Inga Poslitur were accepted into the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles Illustration West 51Competition. Her illustration “Eve Redeemed” received the gold medal. The Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles was founded in 1953 to promote the professional status of illustration art as well as to foster both philanthropic and educational projects. From this small beginning, SILA has grown into a productive membership whose work is seen locally and nationally by millions in printed media, television, films, online and at gallery exhibitions. Today, SILA is firmly established as a major professional art entity on the West Coast.

Spartan Shops Hires New Head Chef

Spartan Shops Hires Head Chef

Spartan Shops Hires New Head Chef

Head Chef Mario DeLuca (photo by Sherry Estrada)

By Stephanie Fabian, Spartan Shops Marketing Manager

Spartan Shops would like to welcome the newest member of our culinary team, Head Chef Mario DeLuca.

He comes to San Jose State from the Midwest. Born and raised in Chicago, he worked throughout the Chicagoland area in several restaurants and country clubs, including his externship at the historic, 86-year-old Italian Village, where he mastered Italian cooking.

This complements the classical French cooking he learned while pursuing a bachelor’s in culinary management at Kendall College in Evanston, Ill., where he sharpened his skills under the wing of a French chef with over 55 years of experience.

DeLuca has taken part in a variety of culinary contests and holds first and second place medals in jeune commis (young chef) mystery basket competitions as well as a silver medal in the American Culinary Federation professional mystery basket competition.

Noteworthy positions he has held include executive chef at Lambeau Field (home of the Green Bay Packers) and the Rock Gardens banquet facility in Wisconsin; sous chef at the Village California Bistro and Wine Bar at Santana Row and, most recently, he was responsible for opening a newly remodeled café at the Hewlett-Packard headquarters in Palo Alto.

Chef Mario’s strong commitment to delivering quality cuisine and the highest standards of customer service will fit in well with our existing team in the catering department. He will provide leadership and direction to the culinary production staff for the Student Union Food Court and commissary as well.

Spartan Shops is excited about the breadth of experience Chef Mario brings to our organization and we look forward to displaying an array of new menu items and improved recipes to showcase at both our university and off-site events.

Student Learning and Research Commons

Student Learning & Research Commons

Student Learning and Research Commons

The view from the SJSU Student Learning and Research Commons (Elisabeth Thomas photo).

Are you a student looking for a comfortable place to work on a research paper, where you can borrow a computer and get help from a librarian?

Then you might want to check out the SJSU Student Learning and Research Commons at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library. A grand opening and dedication will be held 1 p.m. Jan. 31 in the space, which is above the Children’s Room.

“This new space brings technology and support together in one physical place, and it will continue to grow and change as technology and student needs grow and change,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Junn.

The commons also offers a glimpse of the future for libraries.

“Today information comes to us. With e-books and databases, students can do much of their research from home or even while riding public transit,” said University Library Dean Ruth Kifer. “But even as information becomes increasingly digital, students still need a physical space to talk, plan and learn.”

Need a printer or wifi? No problem. Both will be available at the commons, along with desktops, laptops and iPads. You’ll also find meeting space with whiteboards for group projects. And in case you’ve got a question, library staff will be right there for research and technical support.

You’ll need your Tower Card to get in. This commons is for SJSU only. On Jan. 31, everyone will be treated to complimentary coffee and hourly giveaways.

For the rest of spring term, the commons will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Students Learn #ItCanWait

Did you know…

  • taking your eyes off the interstate to read a text is like driving blind for the length of a football field?
  • driving while texting is like piloting a 3,000-pound metal missile with your eyes closed?
  • more than 100,000 crashes annually involve drivers who are texting?
  • drivers who text are almost 25 times more likely to crash?

Speakers shared these facts and more at a “Txtng & Drivng… It Can Wait” news conference Jan. 25 in the SJSU Event Center. Vice President for Student Affairs William Nance opened the event by recalling his response when AT&T offered to help: “I said, ‘Absolutely, we’ll figure out how and when to do it.’” AT&T Regional Vice President for External Affairs Marc Blakeman announced an Apple version of DriveMode is in the works. This Android and Blackberry app sends auto-replies to people who text, email and call while you’re on the road so you can keep your hands on the wheel. University Police Department Chief of Police Peter Decena, San Jose Police Department Commander of Traffic Enforcement Jason Ta and SJPD Officer Jim Hagen (all SJSU alumni!) noted police will hold 23 texting and driving enforcement events this year.  Associated Students of SJSU President Calvin Worsnup was the first of many to take a spin on AT&T’s texting and driving simulator, which looks alot like an arcade driving game equipped with a cell phone for texting. Some students were super cautious, both most crashed within minutes. KGO Bay Area News, the San Jose Mercury News, Spartan Daily and Update News covered the event to help spread the word. To learn more, check out the “Txtng & Drivng… It Can Wait” website, where you can watch videos and take the pledge “to never txt and drive.”

Spartans at Work: NASA Ames

Where will an SJSU degree take you? We hit the road to find out, visiting summer interns and recent grads on the job in the Bay Area and beyond. Our video series continues with Ali Guarneros Luna, ’10 ’12 Aerospace Engineering. She is a systems engineer at NASA Ames Research Center. Read more about her experience!

Spartans at Work: The Walt Disney Family Museum

Where will an SJSU degree take you? We hit the road to find out, visiting summer interns and recent grads on the job in the Bay Area and beyond. Our video series continues with Alex Turner, ’14 Animation/Illustration. He’s an education intern at The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. The museum’s collection includes some 25,000 works Disney and his staff used in creating his characters and films. Educational programs include a summer camp, where Alex works. Read more about his experience!

Spartans at Work: SolutionSet

Where will an SJSU degree take you? We hit the road to find out, visiting summer interns and recent grads on the job in the Bay Area and beyond. Our video series begins with Miguel Martinez, ’13 Advertising. He’s a summer intern at the San Francisco office of SolutionSet, the second largest independent marketing services company in the U.S. Read more about his experience!

Major Decisions: Music

Daniel Matthews shares how his passion for music has grown as he works towards his major in music with an emphasis in jazz studies. The music program at SJSU brings people together from all over the world. SJSU’s prime location gives music majors many opportunities to find gigs throughout the Bay Area, including venues in SF and Santa Cruz.

Major Decisions: Sports Management

Alyssa Wong is working toward a master’s degree in sports management through San José State University’s Kinesiology Department. In this feature, Alyssa explains how her original interest in athletic training soon changed after she started to explore the business aspect of sports. Alyssa currently works at the Timpany Center, a non-profit therapeutic facility providing a 92° warm-water pool and 102° spa, operated by SJSU’s department of kinesiology. Find out how a love for sports and business can set the stage for a fulfilling career in athletics.

Record-Breaking Job Fair

SJSU Career Center's Fall Job/Internship Fair attracted 175 employers and 2,500 students (Jessica Olthof photo)

SJSU Career Center’s Fall Job/Internship Fair attracted 175 employers and 2,500 students (Jessica Olthof photo)

They were dressed in suits, coats and tie, jackets and dresses, pumps and wingtips. They had resumes in hand, and cell phones tucked away. They were waiting for this moment ever since earning early-bird status by completing a Job Fair Success Webshop (online workshop) weeks ago, when SJSU Career Center staff walked them through the ins and outs of looking for a job. All that was left now between them and the recruiters was a rousing speech. As soon as it was over, these job seekers were on their feet, scrambling down the bleachers, angling to be the first to hit the floor Sept. 27 at the SJSU Fall Job/Internship Fair, the largest such event in five years. By day’s end, an estimated 2,500 students visited the fair, which drew so many employers that their booths spilled out of the Event Center and onto the San Carlos paseo, where they met with students under sunny skies. More than 175 recruitment teams represented just about every imaginable sector (from Kohl’s to Enterprise Rent-a-Car to the U.S. Army), with a heavy emphasis on high tech (Cisco, IBM and Oracle, for example) given SJSU’s Silicon Valley location.

The SJSU Alumni Association was on hand to greet the many recruiters who were SJSU graduates, back on campus to share what they know. It was not hard to imagine the day the students who worked so hard to be first on the floor would one day return themselves as young professionals seeking to recruit the next generation.

SJSU Launches Major Tech Initiative

Media contacts:
Pat Lopes Harris, SJSU Media Relations, 408-656-6999
Andrea Cousens, Cisco Communications, 310-270-8903
Meredith Ehrenberg, Nexus Communications, 949-265-6088

SAN JOSE, CA – As the only large public university in Silicon Valley and as the major source of workforce power for the region’s tech industry, San Jose State University has launched a five-year, $28 million initiative to partner with Cisco and Nexus IS Inc. to upgrade the campus’ information technology infrastructure.

Moreover, San Jose State is supporting faculty in using and applying next generation technologies to better support students’ learning by partnering with corporate neighbors and with other cutting edge educational efforts such as Harvard-MIT-UC Berkeley’s edX and Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative.

SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi outlines the long-term potential for this tech initiative in his white paper, “Reinventing Public Higher Education: A Call to Action.”

“The university sits in a position of real opportunity given the double incentive of recent technological advances coupled with the decline in state support for public education,” President Qayoumi said. “Never before in the history of higher education has technology provided such important challenges and opportunities. We must reinvent teaching, learning and educational delivery systems.”

The Next Generation Technology Project reflects “SJSU’s Strategic Plan: Vision 2017,” developed after President Qayoumi’s 49 town hall meetings with students, faculty and staff who collectively identified five distinct campus priority goals including supporting “Unbounded Learning,” “21st Century Learning Spaces” and “Agility Through Technology.”

Students work together in class

These SJSU electrical engineering students are working on problem sets in class after viewing edX lecture videos at home, a concept known as a “flipped class” (Christina Olivas photo).

An Integrated Plan

San Jose State selected Cisco and Nexus to upgrade the campus’ infrastructure in accordance with a fully integrated and comprehensive plan designed to improve the learning experience for students. Plans for the first 18-24 months include the following:

  • SJSU will develop a total of 51 next-generation learning spaces with all the equipment needed to enable high-definition recording, indexing and transcription of lectures and classroom experiences within the next 18 months. Eleven next-generation learning spaces will be completed this fall, with the remaining 40 to be completed by the start of fall 2013.
  • SJSU will make Cisco Show and Share® and TelePresence® available at no cost to all students, faculty and staff within the next 18 months. These services will be fully integrated with audio and video recording equipment in the 51 next-generation learning spaces, providing students with access to classroom experiences, lectures and meetings anytime and anywhere.
  • SJSU has brought Cisco WebEx® web conferencing to the campus community.  WebEx provides access to live lectures inside the 51 next-generation classrooms and beyond, anytime and anywhere faculty members and students connect using cameras on their own computers.
  • SJSU will consolidate phone service from five separate systems into a single Cisco Unified IP Phone system for the entire campus within the next 18 months.
  • SJSU will expand its free, secure wireless Internet service, utilizing Cisco wireless solutions to serve all students, faculty, staff and guests campuswide.

Mindful of the dramatic budget cuts that continue to loom for the state and public higher education, the first year of the project will be funded by proceeds from the sale of San Jose State’s Educational Broadband Service spectrum, facilitated by the Federal Communications Commission to increase educational programming accessible via the Internet. Other funding sources include the ongoing SJSU Information Technology Services office budget, SJSU’s new Student Success, Excellence and Technology Fee, and SJSU’s continuing education program.

Dr. Mohammad Qayoumi

Dr. Mohammad Qayoumi

Supporting Student Learning

The goal is not to replace conventional teaching methods, but build on what we do now in order to enhance student learning and preparation for the workplace. Numerous studies have shown outcomes improve when instructors and students combine traditional and new teaching methods using the latest technology.

For example, “lecture-capture” software and equipment will allow students to review as many times as needed all aspects of a classroom presentation, including slides and whiteboard notes. This could benefit all students on all topics, but will be especially helpful for challenging classes heavy with complex material or for students who speak English as a second language.

“This is a top priority for San Jose State, which seeks to provide access to higher education and professional opportunities for many first-generation Americans in the heart of Silicon Valley, where science, technology, engineering and mathematics are at the core of the industries driving the regional economy,” Qayoumi said.

New Teaching Methodologies

In addition to the IT infrastructure upgrade, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Junn, along with Associate Vice President for Academic Technology Catheryn Cheal, are leading efforts to strategically employ and assess new teaching methodologies with faculty and other key industry leaders such as Adobe to deepen San Jose students’ skills with new technology products and services.

“San Jose State University is uniquely positioned to be pioneers in the use of academic technology because we are the only large, public university located in the heart of Silicon Valley. It has been incredibly gratifying to reach out to the industry leaders in our backyard, and receive such a positive response in terms of partnering with our faculty to develop and use technology to enrich and deepen our students’ learning and skills in the digital world,” Provost Junn said.

Dr. Ellen Junn

Dr. Ellen Junn

“Our graduates go on to become top hires for many of the tech industries here in Silicon Valley,” Junn said. “So, it’s no surprise that San Jose State and our technology partners want to invest more in our students by working closely with our faculty to become cutting edge adopters and forerunners in the use of academic technology to enhance student learning.”

Some of the new programs that will be launched this fall for faculty include the following:

  • Enhancing students’ use of Adobe® Creative Suite® software and digital media.
  • Innovating learning with Apple products such as iPads, iBooks, iTunesU and iMovie.
  • Designing more effective learning experiences for students by creating online, hybrid and flipped (viewing recorded lectures at home so instructors can work with students in class) courses.
  • Implementing lecture capture and video conferencing.
  • Introducing the use of online student writing support tools such as ETS Criterion.
  • Joining with Harvard-MIT-UC Berkeley’s edX initiative and with Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative.
  • Tracking and measuring student learning with learning analytics and learning dashboards.
  • Utilizing assessment tools such as ETS Major Field Tests and ETS Proficiency Profile to measure student learning outcomes and support institutional reporting.
  • Leveraging game-based resources for student learning.
  • Making educational materials from the KQED and PBS LearningMedia archive available to faculty and students in partnership with the University Library.

“At SJSU, we seek to become recognized leaders in developing innovative and effective curricula, reinventing and supporting faculty work, deepening student engagement with academic and professional learning and expanding our international and global connections by utilizing effective new technologies to meet academic goals,” Provost Junn said. “It’s a very exciting time to be at San Jose State—we are a community of faculty, students and staff who are on the move!”

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,500 students and 3,850 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.

Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Information about Cisco can be found at For ongoing news, please go to

EdX is a not-for-profit enterprise of its founding partners Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that features learning designed specifically for interactive study via the web. Based on a long history of collaboration and their shared educational missions, the founders are creating a new online-learning experience with online courses that reflect their disciplinary breadth. Along with offering online courses, the institutions will use edX to research how students learn and how technology can transform learning-both on-campus and worldwide. Anant Agarwal, former Director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, serves as the first president of edX. EdX’s goals combine the desire to reach out to students of all ages, means, and nations, and to deliver these teachings from a faculty who reflect the diversity of its audience. EdX is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is governed by MIT and Harvard.

 # # #

Cisco and the Cisco logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Cisco and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and other countries. A listing of Cisco’s trademarks can be found at Third-party trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners. The use of the word partner does not imply a partnership relationship between Cisco and any other company.

Adobe and Creative Suite are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.


President Delivers Fall Welcome Address

President Delivers Fall Welcome Address

President Qayoumi discussed the budget, including the governor’s tax initiative on the November ballot, and the transformative changes needed to balance the books given the avalanche of reductions San Jose State experienced in the recent past (Robert Bain photo).

Media contact: Pat Lopes Harris, 408-656-6999

SAN JOSE, CA – San Jose State University President Mohammad Qayoumi delivered the Fall Welcome Address Aug. 20 in Morris Dailey Auditorium. The speech was streamed live, and a video recording and transcript are available.

An annual tradition, the Fall Welcome Address provides the opportunity for us to come together and reflect on recent accomplishments, identify emerging issues and challenges, and review priorities and opportunities for the coming year.

Associated Students of SJSU President Calvin Worsnup opened the event, noting SJSU will begin the year with 400 student organizations, reflecting the vibrancy and diversity of our student body.

Academic Senate Chair Beth Von Till encouraged faculty, staff and students to transform the unanticipated challenges facing SJSU into new opportunities to teach and mentor our students.

President Qayoumi discussed the budget, including the governor’s tax initiative on the November ballot, and the transformative changes needed to balance the books given the avalanche of reductions San Jose State experienced in the recent past.

Unlimited Opportunities

The president also explored the many ways SJSU has made progress in this challenging environment, including the development of strategic and academic plans reflecting the unlimited opportunities for partnering and fostering innovation given our location in Silicon Valley.

For example, Qayoumi reported Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Junn is preparing for SJSU’s first cluster hire, which means hiring a cross disciplinary group of faculty members with expertise in a specific field. In this case, that field is cyber security.

“This is a time of great challenge, but it is also a time of great opportunity,” the president concluded. “There is still much more work to be done and as budget cuts deepen, there will be difficult consequences. I believe that if we take advantage of the opportunities to transform now, we will be a stronger, better university.”

San José State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,850 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.


Back-to-School Event for Veterans

SJSU Offers Back-to-School Event for Military Veterans

Speakers included Mark Pinto, an SJSU Career Center veterans student assistant (Christina Olivas photo).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

Students who are military veterans started fall 2012 with a new back-to-school event and program designed to facilitate their adjustment to and success in academic life.

Held Aug. 22 in the Burdick Military History Project Lounge (Industrial Studies 239), the event was open to all vets, including the nearly 290 SJSU students here on the G.I. Bill. For a full agenda, see below.

Damian Bramlett, an Army infantry veteran, graduate student, and SJSU’s new veteran coordinator, was among the organizers. He noted the event was to include guest speakers from various departments within the university discussing the benefits and services available to veterans on campus.”

Joining together to organize the event were the SJSU Career Center, SJSU Center for Community Learning and Leadership, and a new office supporting students who are veterans.

The VITAL Initiative

SJSU is one of 15 colleges and universities selected for the second cohort of VITAL, the Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL) initiative, a Veterans Administration program founded in November 2011.

Collaborating on SJSU’s VITAL proposal were Bramlett, Professor of Psychology Annabel Prins, who is also a clinical psychologist with the VA National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and Palo Alto VA clinical psychologist Shana Spangler.

Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday in Clark Hall 240A, VITAL offers services beyond the educational benefits articulated by the G.I. Bill, including housing assistance, health and mental health care coverage, and VA home loans.

Other planned VITAL services are individually tailored resource maps for connecting with campus and community resources; outreach to community colleges to facilitate transferring to SJSU; faculty and staff training on veteran mental health issues; and maintenance, enhancement, and evaluation of the National Center for PTSD campus toolkit.


10 a.m. Welcoming Remarks, Professor of History Jonathan Roth
10:10 a.m. Center for Community Learning & Leadership and veterans course, Professor Elena Klaw
10:15 a.m. SJSU Counseling Services, Elaine Chin
10:20 a.m. Education Benefits, Andrei Ingalla
10:25 a.m. SJSU Career Center, Melodie Cameron
10:30 a.m. VITAL, Shana Spangler
10:35 a.m. Veterans Student Organization, Mark Pinto
10:40 a.m. Disability Resource Center, Amy Lehman
10:45 a.m. Q & A