News
Go
Page Content
Page Image
Rollup Image
the-push-for-healthy-communities.aspx
  
7/19/2021 8:42 AMBeall, Alex7/12/20217/12/2021 10:40 AMSee ways the CSU is ensuring its community members have equal access to health care.CommunityStory

The Push for Healthy Communities

See ways the CSU is ensuring its community members have equal access to health care.


 

As COVID-19 took its toll on the U.S. in 2020, the numbers began to show that not everyone was equally affected by the virus. Data from the CDC and National Center for Health Statistics showed Black and Latinx populations were almost three times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 than white populations, and it was two times more likely that their cases resulted in death.

But COVID-19 only revealed the health disparities that were already rampant in the nation. And, these underlying disparities did not only affect people of color, but also occurred based on other factors such as socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, geography and age.

As the most economically and ethnically diverse university in the nation, the CSU is committed to ensuring all community members are served equally, including access to health care. Here are a few ways campuses are pushing for that access.​

A Little Motivation

The Stanislaus Recovery Center (SRC), which provides addiction recovery treatment for patients on Medicaid or Medi-Cal who are often unemployed or unhoused, is the site of a pilot study led by Shrinidhi Subramaniam, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at California State University, Stanislaus.

Working together since 2018, Dr. Subramaniam and the SRC team noticed when patients were transferring from residential to outpatient care, their participation in treatment dropped off. To address the issue, Subramaniam, her students and the SRC launched the project—funded by a Research, Scholarships and Creative Activities grant—to study whether monetary incentives, paid on reloadable credit cards, increased patient participation in outpatient services as well as improved abstinence and treatment outcomes.

“I expect the participants in our study to all be in the category of socioeconomic disadvantage, and hopefully the little bit of money that we can give them with the incentives will also encourage them to access other recovery resources through continuing care,” Subramaniam says.

Dr. Shrinidhi Subramaniam and her student team: Odalis Garcia, Breanna Anderson, Kayln Krummen-Ganz and Kieu Hanh Tran.

Dr. Shrinidhi Subramaniam​, right, and her student team, clockwise from top left: Odalis Garcia, Breanna Anderson, Kalyn Krummen-Ganz and Kieu Hanh Tran.


This pilot study is based off research she conducted during her post-doc at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine on motivational incentives in health care, including encouraging HIV patients to take their medication and chronically unemployed individuals recovering from substance use disorder to abstain from drug use. Another study also looked at the efficacy of incentivizing patients to do other important tasks like sign up for health insurance, complete job training or acquire identification like a Social Security card or ID.

Subramaniam hopes her work can expand to incentivize patients to use other services at SRC, includin​g its existing resources that link clients to training or local job opportunities—with the ultimate goal of setting up her own “therapeutic workplace” where individuals can receive treatment as well as help securing education, employment and housing.

“We have to deal with a lot of stigmas working with this population; both the stigma of addiction and the stigma that comes along with poverty,” Subramaniam says. “So, one of the major goals of my research program is to figure out what it takes to help people with that combination of addiction, unemployment and poverty to get out of their situation to the best of our ability. Of course, there are structural changes that need to be made to help people in that position, but there are also things psychology can do on an individual basis to help people access resources that are available. And incentives are a great way to help motivate people to do those difficult tasks.”​

The Next Generation

Named in honor of the unsung medical personnel dubbed heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic, the proposed Regional Healthcare Initiative Health Education, Research, and Clinical Outcomes (HEROs) Institute at San Diego State University would seek to improve health care services and reduce disparities in its community by addressing issues in health education.

“We can't address access to health care if we don't address access to health care education,” says Harsimran Baweja, Ph.D., associate professor in exercise and nutritional sciences. “Our idea is to make a grassroots-up change to health care delivery, so that these students who go out now, our alumni, will be the changemakers.”

Harsimran Baweja in the lab.

Dr. Harsimran​ Baweja: "I'​​​m very proud of the students we graduate; otherwise I wouldn't be worthy of teaching them. So that they will make the change [in health care], we need to optimize and continue to enhance the efficiency of what we are teaching them and how we are teaching them and making them better at what they're going to go into.​"​


Specifically, the goal is to implement interprofessional education, in which classrooms would bring together students from different health care programs, reflecting the interdisciplinary teams they will experience in the workforce. By introducing this type of learning, their training times would be significantly shortened, and they could independently serve patients more quickly. In addition, the institute will form clinical partnerships with community health care providers, who will likewise provide instruction and training in the classroom and likely employ the students post-graduation.

“We will be accelerating the delivery [of health care] from bench to bedside or to the community, because the problem in health care access and delivery is the pace at which it's given,” Dr. Baweja explains. “We need to reduce the burden on the health care system and reduce the burden on the money that is spent. Our trainees who will go out will know how to run the system more efficiently. We really have to create a better and more efficient work system and workflow.”

Spearheaded by Baweja, María Luisa Zúñiga, Ph.D., campus director of the Joint Doctoral Program in Interdisciplinary Research in Substance Abuse, and other faculty in research and innovation, public health and physical therapy, the HEROs Institute will also consolidate efforts currently occurring separately in the colleges. For example, the NIH-funded Addiction Scientists Strengthened Through Education and Training (ASSET) Program aims to increase the number of Black and Latinx scientists in substance abuse addiction and education, while the California Outreach Challenge, which SDSU participates in, has physical therapy programs compete for the most community service hours. Under the institute, similar programs could be implemented that extend across SDSU’s health care disciplines.

Mitchell Rauh, Ph.D., SDSU professor and director of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, performs a test for injury risk on a student-athlete. Dr. Rauh is part of the HEROs Institute leadership.

Mitchell Rauh, Ph.D., SDSU professor and director of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, performs a test for injury risk on a student-athlete. Dr. Rauh is part of the HEROs Institute leadership.​


Lastly, professors in the participating programs would imbue students with the values, cultural competence and community understanding that would prepare them to drive health care policy changes in the future.

“If we not just prep students to be ready for whatever is coming in the future, but we guide them with the value system that you have to serve your community before they graduate, then the health care system is going to be better prepared for itself than it was in the past 12 months,” Baweja says. “These are going to be the people who are going to be not only informing the workforce, but will be informing the policies in the future.”

The team is currently seeking public, private and industry partnerships to jumpstart the HEROs Institute, which is part of the​ SDSU Big Ideas Initiative​.

A Health Care Transformation

Building on the campus’s Mi Gente, Nuestra Salud (My People, Our Health) effort, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo is piloting a new institute that facilitates community-led initiatives to address health equity around the cities of Santa Maria and Guadalupe on California’s Central Coast.

“Our solution is a people’s movement for health ownership,” says Suzanne Phelan, Ph.D., professor of kinesiology and public health and co-principal investigator of Mi Gente, Nuestra Salud. “The Mi Gente, Nuestra Salud initiative flips our current system upside down, empowering people—and especially those who are currently minoritized in America—to identify and address their most pressing health concerns. We aim to transform health care into health ownership."

To meet this goal, the Cal Poly Institute for Community Health Training and Research will largely provide resources that enable existing groups to better serve all members of the community with the help of collaborators from all six of the school’s colleges. These resources will include training in health equity principles, data on the community, funding opportunities and strategies for community partnerships, health advocacy and program evaluation.

A group of health ambassadors from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo conducts community health needs assessments.

A group of health ambassadors from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo conducts community health needs assessments.


“We see this effort as collaborative and, ultimately, community-driven,” says Marilyn Tseng, Ph.D., assistant professor of kinesiology and public health and co-principal investigator of Mi Gente, Nuestra Salud. “We see the institute as providing resources that will help the process along; we are only one piece in the complex health ecosystem in Santa Maria. If we can help generate ripples that will produce larger beneficial impacts on community mobilization, health ownership and health equity, we will consider the effort to be completely worthwhile.”

To secure support for the project, the team has already forged partnerships with the city of Santa Maria, nonprofits and University of California, Santa Barbara. It also recently received funding from the California Breast Cancer Research Program to study breast cancer risk disparities in the Latinx and immigrant communities of Santa Maria.

These efforts will also be bolstered by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Women and Infants Mobile Health Unit, which, in addition to supporting local health workers and providing free medical care to uninsured women and infants, will serve as a connection point between the institute and the community.

Finally, the team hopes to introduce health advocacy and ambassadorship training into the classroom, preparing Cal Poly San Luis Obispo students to effectively care and advocate for these communities.

Inspiration for these efforts grew out of a program in Jamkhed, India, called the Jamkhed Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CRHP), aimed at empowering people to address health disparities in their communities by first addressing the social, cultural and economic challenges that exacerbate those inequities.

“All of us conduct research and teach courses in which we confront issues of health inequities rooted in systemwide, structural inequities in access to healthy environments, opportunities and resources,” Dr. Tseng says. “The Jamkhed CRHP has been successful and cost-effective in India, but more importantly, its principles resonated with all of us. We felt that health ownership was something we would like to see here given the stark disparities in health, even in our region.”
The Push for Healthy Communities
New-CSUCCESS-Initiative-Will-Enhance-Equity-and-Student-Achievement-for-CSU-Students.aspx
  
7/12/2021 12:27 PMKelly, Hazel7/12/20217/12/2021 8:25 AMLargest-ever CSU device distribution will provide iPad Air for up to 35,000 first-year and new transfer students at eight campusesAccessPress Release

​​​​The California State University (CSU) today announced the launch of the first phase of CSUCCESS (California State University Connectivity Contributing to Equity and Student Success), a bold initiative to enhance student achievement and create more equitable opportunities for the CSU community by providing industry-leading technology. As part of the initial phase which kicks off with the upcoming fall 2021 term at eight campuses​, the CSU will offer an iPad Air, Apple Pencil and Apple Smart Keyboard Folio to all incoming first-year and new transfer students who register to participate in the initiative. Students will be provided with this iPad bundle for the entirety of their undergraduate experience at the CSU.

“CSUCCESS will assure that students have immedi​ate access to innovative, new mobile tools they need to support their learning, particularly when faced with the lingering effects of the pandemic," said CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro. “The new initiative will establish a foundation for their achievement and has the potential to play a key role in eliminating stubborn equity gaps among our talented and diverse students. In addition to truly addressing equity and access, we see iPad Air as a powerful tool to prepare our students for their future careers."

Nearly half of all CSU undergraduates receive Pell Grants—demonstrating financial need­—and nearly one-third are the first in their family to pursue a bachelor's degree. The CSU works to prepare California's workforce in many of the state's key industries. For example, each year the CSU prepares more of California's teachers than any other institution, and approximately four percent of all teachers prepared in the nation. Nursing and healthcare are also areas of focus for the university, with CSU campuses conferring more than 3,000 degrees on new nurses annually.

Over the course of the past year, the CSU helped bridge the equity divide by increasing critical technology access to ensure student success in a virtual learning environment. While the CSU plans to offer the majority of instruction in person beginning in the fall term, some courses will be offered virtually, by necessity, due to ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. ​CSUCCESS will help by providing students with tools to participate in a virtual learning environment. The new CSUCCESS initiative builds on previous efforts to address the issue at scale by partnering with a global technology leader at the university-wide level to provide a high-quality, reliable device for new students. 

“At Apple, we believe that education is a powerful force for equity and opportunity, and that technology can empower all students to achieve their goals," said Susan Prescott, Apple's Vice President of Education and Enterprise Marketing. “We're thrilled that iPad Air and the incredible education apps in the App Store will be central to the experience at CSU campuses across California, and will play a part in the learning and career development of students from Humboldt to San Marcos."

As the largest system of four-year higher education in the country, with eight of its campuses (Bakersfield, Channel Islands, Fresno, Humboldt, Los Angeles, Maritime Academy, Northridge and San Marcos) participating in the first phase, CSUCCESS will mark one of the largest programs of its kind, with the potential to serve up to 35,000 students across California.   

“I am convinced that true and consistent student success depends on having a modern, and more importantly, reliable, computing device in our students' possession beginning on day one and continuing throughout their college experience," added Castro. “We aspire to have additional phases of the initiative that will expand access in the future to more new and current students at other CSU campuses."

The program is an important component in the CSU's efforts to recover from the pandemic and improve student success while eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps as part of Graduation Initiative 2025.

Visit the CSUCCESS website for additional information about the program. 

# # #

About the California State University
The California State University is the largest system o​f four-year higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 56,000 faculty and staff and 486,000 students. Half of the CSU's students transfer from California community colleges. Created in 1960, the mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of California. With its commitment to quality, opportunity and student success, the CSU is renowned for superb teaching, innovative research and for producing job-ready graduates. Each year, the CSU awards nearly 129,000 degrees. One in every 20 Americans holding a college degree is a graduate of the CSU and our alumni are 4 million strong. Connect with and learn more about the CSU in the CSU NewsCenter. ​​​

New CSUCCESS Initiative Will Enhance Equity and Student Achievement for CSU Students
Sylvia-A-Alva-Appointed-California-State-University-Executive-Vice-Chancellor-for-Academic-and-Student-Affairs.aspx
  
7/6/2021 11:36 AMSalvador, Christianne7/6/20217/6/2021 10:30 AMAlva joins the CSU Chancellor's Office and Chancellor Castro'​s executive team from Cal Poly Pomona where she currently serves as provost and vice president for academic affairs.LeadershipPress Release

​​​​​​​​​​​California State University (CSU) Chancellor Joseph I. Castro today announced the appointment of Sylvia A. Alva, Ph.D., as executive vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs of the California State University. Alva joins the CSU Chancellor's Office and Chancellor Castro'​s executive team from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona where she currently serves as provost and vice president for academic affairs.

“I am humbled by this extraordinary opportunity to take a new leadership role with the institution that has given so much to me and my family and to provide similar, life-changing opportunities for all Californians," said Alva. “I welcome new opportunities to engage all members of our statewide campus communities as we collectively work to achieve the university-wide student success goals of Graduation Initiative 2025."

“As an alumna of the CSU, Dr. Alva understands and embraces the transformative power of a CSU degree, and she possesses extensive knowledge of the university earned through her distinguished service as a professor, dean and provost at three campuses," said Castro. “She brings to the Chancellor's Office a deep understanding of and passion for the success of students from all backgrounds."

In her role as provost at Cal Poly Pomona, Alva leads the strategic and academic direction of the campus' Division of Academic Affairs. She also holds a faculty appointment in the Psychology Department.

Alva began her career in higher education as an assistant professor of child and adolescent development before being promoted to associate professor and professor at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). While at CSUF, she served in a number of administrative roles, starting as the educational equity coordinator for the College of Health and Human Development and culminating as associate vice president for undergraduate programs. She joined California State University, Northridge where she served as dean of the College of Health and Human Development before assuming her current role at Cal Poly Pomona.

Alva is a first-generation college graduate and a product of the CSU, having earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from California State University, Los Angeles. She earned a master's and Ph.D., both in psychology, from the University of California, Los Angeles.   

Alva will assume her new role at the CSU Chancellor's Office on August 2, 2021.

# # #

About the California State University
The California State University is the largest system of four-year higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 56,000 faculty and staff and 486,000 students. Half of the CSU's students transfer from California community colleges. Created in 1960, the mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of California. With its commitment to quality, opportunity, and student success, the CSU is renowned for superb teaching, innovative research and for producing job-ready graduates. Each year, the CSU awards nearly than 129,000 degrees. One in every 20 Americans holding a college degree is a graduate of the CSU and our alumni are 3.9 million strong. Connect with and learn more about the CSU in the CSU NewsCenter.​​​

Sylvia A. Alva Appointed California State University Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs
CSU-Statement-on-2021-22-State-Budget-.aspx
  
6/28/2021 9:07 PMSalvador, Christianne6/28/20216/28/2021 8:35 PM"The 2021-22 state budget is a bold and visionary investment in the California State University that further elevates the university's ability to meet the current and future needs of California."BudgetPress Release

​​​​The following statement can be attributed to California State University Chancellor Joseph I. Castro:

“The 2021-22 state budget is a bold and visionary investment in the California State University that further elevates the university's ability to meet the current and future needs of California.

“The budget affirms the CSU's consequential role in transforming the lives of residents of the Golden State. The recurring investment unwinds last year's COVID-induced budget reduction, acknowledges the significant strides the CSU has made in improving student achievement and advancing educational equity under Graduation Initiative 2025, and bolsters efforts to support our students' basic needs and well-being.

“One-time funding will address long-standing infrastructure needs at specific campuses and throughout the university, improving the safety of and modernizing facilities to enhance the student learning and discovery experience.

“Additionally, the budget provides a transformational investment at Humboldt State University that will accelerate the campus's contemplated transition to a polytechnic university to become an even greater resource for our state.

“There are also several other budgetary decisions that will greatly benefit CSU students. The budget will fund the expansion of eligibility for Cal Grants and increase financial aid through the Middle Class Scholarship program, which are much-needed strategies to ensure the overall of cost of education remains affordable.

“While not specific only to the CSU, the​​ state budget provides additional funding for the three public higher-education segments to build new or expand upon existing campus facilities, as well as develop more affordable housing for students.

“The direct investment in the CSU and access to additional funding will undoubtedly advance our efforts to ensure that all California students are able to earn a high-quality college degree in a timely manner without being saddled with debt. We deeply appreciate the governor and the legislature for coming together on what is indeed a historic state budget."

# # #

About the California State University
The California State University is the largest system of four-year higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 56,000 faculty and staff and 486,000 students. Half of the CSU's students transfer from California community colleges. Created in 1960, the mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of California. With its commitment to quality, opportunity and student success, the CSU is renowned for superb teaching, innovative research and for producing job-ready graduates. Each year, the CSU awards nearly 129,000 degrees. One in every 20 Americans holding a college degree is a graduate of the CSU and our alumni are 3.9 million strong. Connect with and learn more about the CSU in the CSU NewsCenter

CSU Statement on 2021-22 State Budget
rapid-response.aspx
  
6/28/2021 8:12 AMMcCarthy, Michelle6/28/20216/28/2021 8:15 AMSee how the CSU is addressing the economic consequences of COVID-19.CoronavirusStory

Rapid Response

See how the CSU is addressing the economic consequences of COVID-19.


 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, the financial impact was immediate. Businesses shuttered and, by April 2020, the U.S. unemployment rate shot up 10.3 percentage points to 14.7 percent. While the unemployment rate has now stabilized around 6 percent, businesses are reopening and the United States enters a period of recovery, the economic ramifications will still be felt for some time.

Read about how the CSU responded to the financial strains affecting its community both at the outset of the pandemic and now.

Sea wall along Buhne Point.

Match Making

For many faculty members, life became a juggling act as they transitioned to online teaching or dealt with the pandemic's effects at home. As a result, it became more difficult for them to apply for grants or research funding—especially those that require matching funds.

This was especially true for early career faculty members applying to the New Faculty Awards program funded by California Sea Grant (CASG), which supports coastal and marine science in California and requires candidates to have a 50 percent funding match from another grant or their campuses at the time of application. Many did not have the bandwidth to apply as they were still learning how to seek external funding and navigate their campuses' in-kind contributions, while campuses were anticipating financial constraints due to COVID-19.

In response, the CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST) supplied the needed matching—totaling $150,000—from a new program funded by a one-time $3 million appropriation in the state budget called the State Science Information Needs Program. Ultimately, CSU faculty conducting research in aquaculture, fisheries management, greenhouse gas emissions and sea level rise constituted five of the seven CASG awardees.

“Funding in the first few years of a tenure-track faculty position is critical in ensuring that our scientists can successfully establish their own research programs," COAST Director Krista Kamer, Ph.D., says. “Our ability to provide this support came at such a critical time for some of our new faculty. Many of them are parents and were dealing with schools and daycare facilities being closed because of COVID-19. Studies have shown that productivity by faculty members who are parents has decreased during the last year. Providing this match funding is an example of what we, as an affinity group, can do during this difficult period of time to make things easier for faculty members, reduce stress and aid their progress in their careers."

Jennifer Marlow, J.D., assistant professor of environmental law at Humboldt State University, received CASG and COAST funding to study the potential risk of sea level rise on a spent (or used) nuclear fuel site located on a bluff above Humboldt Bay. When she learned about the opportunity to apply for the grant, she had just completed her first year of teaching at HSU—with a one-year-old child at home after daycare centers closed due to COVID-19.

An aerial view of the spent nuclear fuel site on Buhne Point.​​

The spent nuclear fuel site, called the Humboldt Bay Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation, sits on Buhne Point just 115 feet from Humboldt Bay and 44 feet above mean high tide.


“As with many families, it was total utter chaos … and [the match requirement] seemed like an administrative barrier to even applying because I didn't know if I could easily secure a match," Marlow says. “The COAST offering put it over the line for me and supported me in taking on the application. Without the COAST match, I probably wouldn't have applied because I don't think I had enough energy or motivation to try to chase another sponsor."

For Marlow, the grant will help her advance her career, as pursuing external grant funding and research projects is part of her retention-promotion criteria. But it will also provide a $25,000 fellowship to a graduate student helping with her research as well as funds to hire an undergraduate student research assistant.

“It's important to have funders like California Sea Grant and COAST recognize your research, because they can help disseminate the findings," Marlow says. “It benefits so many people—the graduate students, the undergraduate students, myself, my university and the CSU—to be in the mix of these prestigious awards. It's also my hope that my community in Humboldt, as well as other similarly situated coastal communities in California, the U.S. and internationally, will benefit from the research."

PASO students and employees gathered on campus.

Access Secured

The Title V Pathways to Academic Success and Opportunities (PASO) program seeks to increase Latinx retention and graduation rates at California State University San Marcos through services for current and future students. But with a grant from the San Diego Foundation, PASO upped support efforts for incoming and first-year students during COVID-19 to ensure they received the financial support needed to enter and complete college.

“Our PASO scholars are first-generation, low-income, self-identifying Latinos, so we knew there were inequities or disparities in educational resources during a regular year, but it was exacerbated by the pandemic," says PASO Director Minerva Gonzalez.

In a regular year, PASO usually holds study skills sessions, time management workshops, financial aid information sessions in Spanish and English for parents, translates financial aid forms into Spanish, provides a computer lab, enrolls students in PASO courses and helps with school and basic needs expenses for PASO scholars. It also presents on higher education and financial aid to high school classrooms and collaborates with Student Affairs and Academic Affairs to infuse cultural validation into its services.

The San Diego Foundation logoBut with the San Diego Foundation grant, the program was also able to hire a financial aid technician to guide current students on how to access college resources, including financial aid, and help incoming freshman navigate the high school to college transition. It also funded increased virtual outreach to high school students in partnership with the Migrant Education Program and nonprofits like MANO a MANO and the Boys and Girls clubs and hands-on assistance for parents and students. This included workshops on higher education in California and how to prepare for college, Q&As on the financial aid process, communications for Spanish-speaking parents about Cal State Apply and phone banking to help students apply for and receive financial aid.

“Students and parents fell ill to COVID and lost their jobs, and so they were tenuous about enrolling or coming back for the fall of 2020," Gonzalez says. “Especially for parents, their first thought was, 'I can't afford it; There's no way I can provide financial resources for students,' which is where the financial aid became very important so they understood how the process works.

“It's not just a matter of applying for financial aid and it's not just a matter of getting the award letter," she continues. “But how do they get their funds? When do they get their funds? What does it pay for? How much is going to go to the student? How do they set up their checking account? Are these loans? Are these grants? And how much does the parent have to contribute? … As a Hispanic-Serving Institution, we're not just enrolling students. We serve them."

A Shifting Industry

The hospitality and tourism industry bore the brunt of the COVID-19 impact with nearly half of in​dustry jobs lost in March and April 2020. And while jobs started returning soon after, the industry had still lost nearly a fifth of its jobs​ by March 2021.

“At that point in time, the hospitality industry was shut down completely, so all of our students who work​ all lost their jobs immediately," says Lea Dopson, Ed.D., dean of The Collins College of Hospitality Management at​ California State Polytechnic Univers​ity, Pomona and executive director of the CSU Hospitality & Tourism Alliance. “Most of our students work to make ends meet and get through life, and it's part of their curriculum to work in the hospitality industry."

In April 2020, Collins College and its board of advisors put $143,000 from the board fund, endowments and the annual Hospitality Uncorked fundraiser into the Student Emergency Assistance Fund. Based on an essay and their answers to a series of questions, students received scholarships ranging from $300 to $750.

Then in April 2021, the college raised $230,000 through a virtual Hospitality Uncorked for student support and created a new $10,000 scholarship in honor of the college's founders, Carol and James A. Collins, to help a student starting his or her last year with tuition, fees, books and a laptop.

“Students have had to change gears during the pandemic and try to find jobs in other industries, and we're trying to make sure they come back to school and are supported, especially the seniors continuing their last year," Dr. Dopson says.

To prepare students for working in different industries, staff helped them redesign their résumés to focus on transferable skills, offered interview training and hosted talks by alumni who graduated during similar economic downturns in 2001 and 2008. The college also provided LinkedIn Learning opportunities students could apply to their 800 training hours requirement, while a career services coordinator helped them find new jobs.

​​Screenshots of alumni speakers and networking events.

The Collins College hosted an alumni speaker series and networking events to help students and alumni who lost their jobs during COVID-19 prepare for new positions in the hospitality and tourism industry.


In addition, the college hosted alumni networking events and made the LinkedIn Learning programs and career services available to alumni who had lost their jobs. “At the Collins College, we're constantly engaging with the industry and alumni and connecting students, so we continued that," Dopson says. “In fact, we ramped that up so we could provide support for our students and our alumni."

While other campuses in the Hospitality & Tourism Alliance have responded similarly by offering scholarships, introducing new job training opportunities and hosting meetings with alumni and industry leaders, CSU hospitality programs are also equipping students for an industry that may be permanently altered by the pandemic.

For example, Alliance leaders have partnered with SD Meetings & Events, LLC, and meetings agency Caspian to teach campuses and students how to hold engaging virtual meetings, and San Diego State University hired Adjunct Professor Mandy Brown to create a virtual events class.

“Those three partnerships brought the public and private partnership together to see what is going on in the industry and how that can translate to what is going on on campuses," says Erin Scholes, SD Meetings & Events president and SDSU faculty member. “[As a result, when our students graduate,] they are able to be hired and [possess] the skills [needed] in the industry."


​ ​​​

For more information, see how the CSU's Small Business Development Centers helped entrepreneurs navigate the pandemic.

Rapid Response
A-Commencement-to-Remember.aspx
  
6/21/2021 1:54 PMSua, Ricky6/21/20216/21/2021 11:10 AMCSU graduates donned their regalia for one of the CSU’s most unique commencement seasons yet, as campuses held in-person and drive-in ceremonies, graduation parades and virtual celebrations.​CommencementStory
Cap decoration hero image

A Commencement to Remember​


CSU graduates donned their regalia for one of the CSU’s most unique commencement seasons yet, as campuses held in-person and drive-in ceremonies, graduation parades and virtual celebrations.​

Photos courtesy of: CSU Campuses; Juan Rodriguez/CSU Bakersfield, Jason Halley/Chico State, Sean DuFrene/Cal State Long Beach, Robert Huskey/Cal State LA, Lee Choo/CSUN, Andrea Price/Sacramento State, Janine Rose Photography/Cal State San Bernardino, ​Sandy Huffaker/San Diego State, Joe Johnston/Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Brandon Sparks/Sonoma State

Share this story

facebook sharing button Share
twitter sharing button Tweet
email sharing button Email
linkedin sharing button Share

A Commencement to Remember
Preparing-for-the-Fires-2021.aspx
  
6/21/2021 3:37 PMKelly, Hazel6/16/20216/16/2021 8:20 AMLearn how campuses across the CSU continue to lead efforts in wildfire research, management and workforce preparation across multiple disciplines.CaliforniaStory

​​​​​​​Six of the top 20 largest California wildfires took place in 2020, burning more than 4 million acres. Yet experts predict the 2021 season will be even worse. Learn how campuses across the CSU are contributing to efforts to better understand, predict and manage California's wildfire crisis.

The CSU's 23 campuses touch nearly every part of California, and so, unfortunately, does wildfire. As a system that serves the state's citizens, the university is committed to finding solutions as quickly as possible.

In January 2021, eight CSU campuses came together virtually to host the first-ever CSU wildfire briefing, “Addressing Wildfire and Smoke Impacts in California." Chico State, Humboldt State, Cal State LA, San Diego State, San José State, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CSU San Marcos and Sonoma State each presented a snapshot of their areas of research and academic preparation, followed by a question-and-answer session to discuss some of the state's most pressing wildfire issues.

“Not only does the CSU have the capacity, but we have the potential to directly address the critical questions in fire science research, education and outreach in the state today," said San José State University Provost Vincent Del Casino, Ph.D., who moderated the January briefing. “Simply put, we can change the landscapes of California, and the world, for the better."

​Take a look at some highlights in wildfire research and workforce development from each of the eight campuses.

 

Chico State | Recovery & Resiliency​

men in the field wearing wildfire gear preparing a controlled burnA Chico State biology master's student and land steward at BCCER participates in a prescribed fire on the reserve. Photo by Jason Halley/Chico State​

​​

​Students at Chico State are immersed in research on wildfire impacts. “Whether assisting faculty to compile the most detailed water quality data set after an urban wildfire in history, or actively participating in fire mitigation projects on over 3,000 acres of wildlands annually, our students yearn to be part of the solution," said Eli Goodsell, director of the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve (BCCER), a 7,835-acre wildland owned by Chico State Enterprises which recently became the largest contiguous ecological reserve in the CSU thanks to a generous land donation. ​

With thousands of acres of both wild and working lands, Chico State continues to prioritize experiential learning, fire mitigation and post-fire recovery projects. This is exemplified through the recently launched interdisciplinary master's degree in wildland management as well as the campus' recognition and respect for indigenous wildfire knowledge and practices.

As a result of the devastating Camp Fire of 2018 and other catastrophic fires in the Butte County region, Chico State established a new staff liaison position for campus community recovery and created the Environmental Resiliency Collaborative (ERC) to bring campus environmental experts together to work on solutions to wildfire impacts and other challenges facing their region.

​Humboldt State | World-Class Research​​​



student lighting fire to an experiment in the labHumboldt State Wildland Fire Lab students examine flammability of hardwood species from as part of an undergraduate research project. Photo by Kellie Jo Brown/Humboldt State

​​

Humboldt State has more than 12 faculty members engaged in research related to wildland fire challenges—publishing more than 100 papers in the last decade, said Jeffrey Kane, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the university's Wildland Fire Laboratory. Areas of research range from wildfire fuels treatment and environmental impacts to incorporating traditional ecological knowledge in wildfire management. Through both private and public partnerships—including tribal governments—HSU's experts share their world-class research and knowledge to help develop a more fire resilient California. ​​

Cal State LA | Preparing the Fire Protection Workforce ​

three firefighters standing on top of firetruck looking at wildfireCal State LA's fire protection bachelor's program prepares students for top positions in firefighting operations.

​​

“Cal State LA's fire protection administration program arms graduates with technical and administrative skills that lead to some of the top fire protection positions," said Michael Thomas, Cal State LA assistant professor and retired Los Angeles Fire Department chief.

​Typically, fire protection education is limited to lower-division coursework at the community college level. However, Cal State LA's program is the only one of its kind in California, offering a bachelor's in fire protection administration and technology to students who have completed the pre-requisite lower-division courses at the community college level, then transfer to Cal State LA. “Graduates are uniquely prepared to implement the managerial skills that are crucial in commanding large-scale firefighting operations," Thomas said.

​San Diego State | Connecting Wildlands and Communities​

plane dropping fire retardant onto a wildfire SDSU researchers collaborate with the region's communities to develop climate-smart solutions and resilience strategies. Photo courtesy of SDSU Community Climate Action Network

​​

With $11 million in fire-related funding received over the last five years, San Diego State researchers have engaged in a wide range of studies, including fire mapping and modeling, climate-fire relationships, impacts of fire on wildlife vegetation and water resources, the use of innovative technology and social media to inform emergency management, and much more.

One project that highlights SDSU's contributions is the Connecting Wildlands and Communities project, funded by the California State Strategic Growth Council through the California Climate Investments Initiative and is a collaborative effort of the university's Institute for Ecological Monitoring and Management (IEMM).

“Together, we're working to bridge the gap between ecosystem and community resilience planning by assessing climate risks and coordinated strategies to reduce fire risk, promote water sustainability, and protect biodiversity in both our wildlands and communities," said Megan Jennings, Ph.D., IEMM director and SDSU assistant adjunct professor. ​​

San José State | State-of-the-Science Modeling 

pickup truck with man standing outside near with wildfire smoke in backgroundThis truck is equipped with the CSU-Mobile Atmospheric Profiling System (CSU-MAPS), which can monitor wildfires and fire weather in remote and mountainous terrain. Photo courtesy of the SJSU Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center

​​

​“We develop and operate the most advanced fire and smoke prediction system in the U.S. and it's the same system that's been adapted all around the world," said Craig Clements, Ph.D., professor and director of the new Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center at San José State. “We can forecast not only where the fire spreads, but when and where the smoke will go."

The university also has the only mobile Doppler radar in the western U.S. “We deploy it to active wildfires where we can track smoke in real-time, and it allows us to detect extreme fire behavior, such as fire tornadoes, leading to increased firefighter safety," Dr. Clements added.

SJSU offers the only fire weather-focused graduate degree program in the country, training meteorology students on fire weather forecasting—an emerging need for utility companies in the western U.S. The university also introduced a wildfire sciences minor for undergraduates starting fall 2021.

 

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo | Holistic Wildfire Solutions

professor pointing to landscape with students outsideDr. Chris Dicus, wildland fuels and fire management professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, shows fire ecology students the recovery of a former wildfire burn area. Photo by Patrick Record/California State University

​​

Cal Poly recently established its Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) FIRE Institute—a collaboration of 19 of the university's academic programs along with partner agencies—with the common goal of moving beyond traditional fire suppression and protection philosophies. The multidisciplinary institute brings together a cross-section of practitioners in forestry, fire protection, engineering, city and regional planning, architecture, and many others.

“Our approach is both a macro and micro level, from community design to evacuation modeling, from fire engineering to structural hardening, from forest management to home landscaping, from community economics to individual survivability, from air quality to responder health and safety, and from satellite remote sensing to preventing ignitions on the ground," said Dan Turner, interim director of the Cal Poly WUI FIRE Institute.

​CSU San Marcos | Firefighter Health & Career Development

wildfire fighters in the field CSUSM's online wildfire science and the urban interface bachelor's program was developed in partnership with local, state and national fire associations. Photo courtesy of CSU San Marcos

​​

“Our firefighters are working under some of the most extreme and hazardous conditions known to humans, evidenced by the dramatic incidents of occupational heart attacks and strokes respiratory illness and cancer. The destructive toll on their mental and behavioral health is only now being understood. And that's where we've made a promise to help," said Matt E. Rahn, Ph.D., director of the CSU San Marcos Environmental Leadership Institute.

In response, CSU San Marcos launched a fully online bachelor's in wildfire science designed with working fire professionals in mind. The upper-division coursework features a unique curriculum, including topics with a focus on climate change, the recovery of ecological systems and soils post-fire, occupational cancer exposure, and wildfire policy and law. “And it includes the first course in the nation that focuses solely on firefighter mental and behavioral health," Rahn said.

​ 

Sonoma State | More Accurate Forest Measurement​

scientific device pointed at forestThe forest understory grows dense with flammable dead branches and brush—known as “fuel load." The greater the fuel load, the greater potential for a more severe wildfire, where more carbon can be released into the atmosphere. Lisa Patrick Bentley, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology at Sonoma State, leads an interdisciplinary team focused on quantifying above-ground carbon stocks and fire fuel loads.


​“Measuring precise dimensions of trees is key to determining how much climate-altering carbon is stored," Dr. Bentley said. “Fuel loads are difficult to measure, but they need to be accurately quantified to mitigate the severity of wildfires." Her team uses terrestrial laser-scanning technology and multispectral sensors on drones to assemble detailed 3D data of the forest's structure. “Graduate student-led research is finding that our methodology can increase the accuracy and cost-effectiveness of forest management."​


 

​​​

​Whether on the ground collecting ecological data or on the front lines of a forest fire, the staff, students and alumni of the CSU are meeting the state's wildfire crisis head-on with leading-edge research and workforce preparation.

“The CSU is passionate about educating the next generation of fire scientists, at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Workforce development—which builds resilience in communities and natural environments—is a key part of the DNA of the CSU," said SJSU's Del Casino. “And CSU students are committed to our region and state. They grew up here, they want to give back, they want California to be livable, sustainable and affordable. And the Cal State system prepares them to do just that."

 

Learn more about the CSU's role​ in understanding, preventing and fighting California's devastating wildfires. 



people sitting by a lake looking at mountains on fire at night
Preparing for the Fires
CSU-Joins-Effort-to-Boost-Early-Childhood-Education-in-California.aspx
  
6/15/2021 10:36 AMSalvador, Christianne6/15/20216/15/2021 8:10 AMCampuses take part in $4.5 million partnership to better align preschool teacher preparation programs with California standards and diversify workforce.Teacher PreparationStory

Three CSU campuses—Sacramento State, CSU Bakersfield and Cal Poly Pomona—have been chosen to help transform early childhood education in California, supporting Governor Gavin Newsom's Master Plan for Early Learning and Care.

The focus of the project, titled UPLIFT CA (Universities & Partners Learning, Innovating, Fostering Equity, Transforming California ECE Degrees), is to elevate the early care education (ECE) workforce with an emphasis on supporting dual-language learners. A $4.5 million grant from the Early Educator Investment Collaborative will fund the project.

Implementing a set of expectations for all educators

According to experts, nothing is more critical to students' learning outcomes than the knowledge and skills of the adults who directly interact with them. Early childhood education is often a child's first step into the education system, and getting them started on the right foot with effective teachers will improve their chances of later success in school and life.

While PK-12 teacher preparation programs clearly articulate the competencies that teachers need to optimally support child development, a similar set of expectations is not currently in place for early-learning educators. They need only a permit whereas PK-12 educators are required to have a credential or bachelor's degree as well as undergo state-determined skill assessments.

UPLIFT CA will bring together the CSU, local community college campuses, state agencies and ECE providers to ensure future early-learning educators are fully equipped with state-determined competencies, similar to what is expected of PK-12 educators. Participating institutions will collaborate to strengthen ECE curriculum and align California's teacher preparation programs with state standards.

In turn, a competency-based system will create greater consistency across professional development programs, leading to a more coordinated pathway for community college students to complete their bachelor's degree at the CSU.

Increasing equity in early learning

A focus of the project is to prepare teachers to work with dual-language learners and increase diversity among the pool of early childhood educators.

“The Master Plan for Early Learning and Care describes a roadmap for building a comprehensive and equitable early learning system over the next decade, and critical to this plan is the development of a workforce to serve the needs of our diverse students and families," says Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, Ph.D., CSU assistant vice chancellor of Teacher Education and Public School Programs.

Approximately 60 percent of children under the age of 5 in California speak a language at home other than English, and educators often lack the skills needed to provide children with high-quality language experiences in both English and their home language.

By considering language as part of equity in early learning and care, UPLIFT CA will eliminate bias through practices and training. Supporting the development of dual-language learners is a foundation for future academic success and can break down barriers in higher education for minority students.

The CSU shares in UPLIFT CA's mission to strengthen PK-12 learning and close equity gaps in education. Annually, the CSU produces more teachers than any other institution in California, as well as having one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation, making the university a critical partner in developing California's early learning and care workforce.

To learn more about the CSU's efforts in preparing California's future teachers and educators, visit the Teacher and Educator Preparation website.​

Preschool classroom
CSU Joins Effort to Boost Early Childhood Education in California
white-house-college-vaccine-challenge-2021.aspx
  
6/9/2021 3:36 PMKelly, Hazel6/9/20216/9/2021 7:30 AMThe CSU pledges to be a Vaccine Champion University as part of new White House effort aimed at increasing vaccinations for younger Americans.CommunityStory

​​​​The California State University joins hundreds of colleges across the country in President Biden’s COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge to urge more young Americans to get vaccinated. At least 21 of the 23 CSU campuses have signed on to the challenge so far, and more are expected to join.  

 The White House and U.S. Department of Education launched this effort in early June as a way to reach younger Americans who are lagging behind in COVID-19 vaccination rates. Participating colleges are asked to commit to three key actions to help get their campus communities vaccinated: engaging every student, faculty and staff member; organizing their college communities; and delivering vaccine access for all. 

 “The CSU continues to strongly encourage all members of our respective university communities to receive a COVID-19 vaccination,” said CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro. “I urge all students—and their families—to actively do their part to protect their community.” 

 The CSU has been a leader in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines to help the state achieve its vaccination and immunity goals. The university hosted several public vaccination sites on its campuses across the state, in addition to partnering with national pharmacies to offer pop-up clinics for its campus communities.  

On April 22, the CSU announced plans to implement a fall 2021 term COVID-19 vaccination requirement upon FDA approval of one or more of the vaccines. The proposed policy—still in development—would require all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated before accessing any campus facilities.  

All institutions who sign up and take the pledge will be listed on the White House website, and the administration will feature Vaccine Champion Colleges throughout the summer in social media, events and remarks. Campus partners are asked to share successes with the hashtags #COVIDCollegeChallenge and #WeCanDoThis on social media.   

​​

vaccine distribution site outside at a college campus
CSU Campuses Join COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge 
student-research-competition.aspx
  
6/28/2021 10:48 AMMcCarthy, Michelle6/7/20216/7/2021 8:00 AMInnovation was on display at the 35th Annual CSU Student Research Competition.ResearchStory
Student Research Competition

Great Minds, Big Ideas

Innovation was on display at the 35th Annual CSU Student Research Competition​.


jump to main content  

As the CSU shapes the bright minds of our future, those minds are already working to lead California, the nation and the world to a better tomorrow. The 35th Annual CSU Student Research Competition, hosted by California State Polytechnic University, Pomona​ April 30-May 1, 2021, showcased student researchers from across the university who are finding solutions to the world’s challenges. Here are just a few of the competition’s winners.​

Alyssa McCulloch

Alyssa McCulloch

Campus: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Major/Program: Biomedical Engineering, Junior
Project: Endothelialized Silicone Aneurysm Model for In Vitro Evaluation of Neurovascular Devices

Since joining the team under Kristen O'Halloran Cardinal, Ph.D., at Cal Poly’s Tissue Engineering Lab as a freshman, Alyssa McCulloch has helped develop cardiovascular and neurovascular models for testing medical devices. These are anatomically relevant models of human blood vessels that mimic the physiological environment and allow the researchers to see how blood vessels would respond to new devices.

McCulloch’s research, which won first place in the Health, Nutrition, and Clinical Sciences; Interdisciplinary (Mixed) category, looked at building model blood vessels​ that have an aneurysm (a bulging that can lead to rupture, resulting in strokes) using silicone. She then tested how the vessels responded to flow diverters, a device that closes off the aneurysm and prevents rupture.

“The main goal was to be able to develop this in vitro device testing model that can be used as a precursor to more traditional animal studies and clinical studies in a way that is more cost effective and scalable,” McCulloch says. “The main advantage of what we're working on is you can test more configurations and/or types of devices to help make future decisions on what's going to be best for treating patients with these types of vascular conditions.”

Currently, the team is working with straight aneurysm blood vessel models, but is planning to build models that more closely resemble the winding blood vessels in the brain.

“We use a more simplified version of it now to be able to show what this model can do,” McCulloch explains. “Moving forward, we can modify the model to replicate clinical scans. The idea is we will be able to utilize this model to better understand the effect [of devices on] hu​man cells and … without being in an animal setting.”

Alyssa McCulloch doing research in the lab at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Shenaya Yazdani

Shenaya Yazdani

Campus: Cal State Long Beach
Major/Program: Pre-Industrial Design, Freshman
Project: 'Coming Home' Refugee Shelter Design

​“I think it is very important designers put their minds toward helping humanity and making an improvement in society by using their knowledge, especially in the more underprivileged areas,” Shenaya Yazdani says.

In that spirit, Yazdani developed a design for a six-person refugee shelter, which took second place in the Creative Arts and Design (Mixed) category. The shelter includes insulated walls that trap warmth, window screens that keep out insects, high ceilings that prevent the accumulation of dust and mold, solar panels that provide power and cushions that can be laid on the floor or attached to the wall.

“Refugees usually use tents or canvases that rot, decay and aren’t stable,” Yazdani says. “But by offering this refugee shelter, it gives them a sense of comfort and helps them know there’s hope in the future, and they’re able to focus more on taking care of their families.”

​The project grew out of an assignment for her design course with CSULB lecturer Michael LaForte to develop a solution to one of the world’s problems with a particular focus on the UN’s sustainability goals. Her design, which could range from 21 to 30 square meters, meets the United Nations Refugee Agency’s shelter requirements and addresses the UN’s sustainability goals around homelessness and renewable energy.

“There are about 80 million forcibly displaced people [worldwide], with 26 million of them being refugees,” Yazdani says. “And all these families are left in search of a shelter and roof over their heads. Inspired by my own family, as many of my family members have been refugees in the past themselves, I wanted to take action in a possible way to contribute to their having a safe shelter without having to worry about being displaced.”

Drawings of the interior and exterior of the shelter.

Alex Dewey, Jonathan Calderon Chavez

Alex Dewey, Jonathan Calderon Chavez

Campus: Sonoma State
Major/Program: Computer Science, Senior; Computer Science, Junior
Project: Using Machine Learning to Measure Biodiversity from Sound Recordings

“Computer science is very much a tool, but that tool needs to be applied to whatever data set you're working on, whether that be in the realm of economics, finance, biology, geology or whatever specialty,” Alex Dewey says.

Earning them first place in the Engineering and Computer Science (Mixed) category, Dewey and Jonathan Calderon Chavez’s machine learning work contributed to Northern Arizona University Ph.D. candidate Colin Quinn’s​ thesis at the intersection of ecology and information sciences. Dewey and Calderon Chavez, along with student team members Antone Silveria and Vincent Valenzuela, fed labeled visualizations of sounds that Quinn created, called mel spectrograms, through an artificial intelligence to train it to recognize patterns.

The algorithm that utilizes machine learning can n​ow recognize and categorize new recordings—including human sounds, animal sounds and nature sounds like rain and wind—helping biologists monitor biodiversity in an area over time.

“The purpose of this work is specifically for biologists to have a way of measuring the environment,” Dewey says. “People will be able to use this information to better analyze the effects that certain builds have on an environment, how the ecosystem is changing and where animals are located.”

This work is also part of a larger project and partnership called Soundscapes to Landscapes, which includes Sonoma State and provided the sound recordings. The two computer science students got involved through a computer vision course with Assistant Professor of Computer Science Gurman Gill, Ph.D., and completed the work under SSU Geography, Environment & Planning Department Professor and Soundscapes to Landscapes team member Matthew Clark, Ph.D.

“I wanted to take part in this research project and learn about how we can address certain issues like climate change that we face in Sonoma County,” Calderon Chavez says.

A sound recorder placed in a bush.

Claudia Rocha

Claudia Rocha

Campus: CSU Monterey Bay
Major/Program: Psychology, Senior
Project: “WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS!”: Using Youth Participatory Action Research as a Tool to Advocate for Latinx Youth During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Claudia Rocha took first place in the Behavioral, Social Sciences, and Public Administration (Undergraduate) category with her project aimed at helping the Gonzales Youth Council (GYC) understand how COVID-19 impacted youth mental health and schooling. The GYC is an elected group of sixth through 12th graders who give youth a voice in Gonzales, California, city government.

“When COVID hit, the youth decided they wanted to understand how to best support their peers, especially because they had known there was a history of mental health problems in their community like suicides or attempted suicides,” Rocha says.

Rocha’s research mentor and CSUMB Assistant Professor of Psychology Jennifer Lovell, Ph.D., developed a relationship with the GYC in February 2020 through a community-based research initiative called Gonzales CoLab. She then brought on Rocha and another undergraduate researcher, Selina Espinoza, to support the GYC’s research efforts.

The team worked with the GYC to develop the group’s survey, determine factors to measure mental health and train the students in analyzing the data. Rocha specifically conducted workshops to teach council members how to analyze data from open-ended responses. Armed with the data, the GYC was able to present their findings to stakeholders and advocate for more mental health resources for local youth—ultimately resulting in the city hiring an additional clinical social worker to support students.

“It was about giving youth a platform to see what other youth needed and to actually use the data to make a community level change,” Rocha says. “It gave the GYC the chance to be leaders and have their own expertise to bring to the table because they have their own unique insight into what it is to be a middle and high school student during COVID.”


Take a look at the complete list​ of this year’s CSU Student Research Competition winners and more coverage​ from CSU campuses.


Great Minds, Big Ideas
True-Grit.aspx
  
6/4/2021 11:29 AMKelly, Hazel6/4/20216/4/2021 12:00 PMMeet just a few remarkable graduates from the class of 2021, many of whom overcame significant challenges on their path to earning a degree, and learn how they plan to pay it forward. Student SuccessStory
​​​Every spring, the California State University confers more than 120,000 degrees on the most diverse group of students in the nation. Those numbers continue to increase each year under Graduation Initiative 2025 as dedicated and talented faculty and staff continue to work to improve student success. CSU students are just as extraordinary, and behind each of those students is a story of determination to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. Whatever their background, the CSU helps them find their voice and gives them the tools they’ll need to be leaders in their communities. 

Meet just a few remarkable graduates from the class of 2021, many of whom overcame significant challenges on their path to earning a degree, and learn how they plan to pay it forward. 

Angelica Trujillo | CSU Bakersfield

Though CSU Bakersfield graduate Angelica Trujillo decided she wanted to become a pharmacist at age 15, she didn’tA woman and her young daughter. immediately travel that road. After high school, she enlisted in the United States Army where she served for eight years, including a deployment in Iraq in 2010. At 32, with a young daughter to care for, Trujillo enrolled at Bakersfield College and eventually transferred to CSUB where she declared a biochemistry minor.

As a full-time student and a parent who also works up to 35 hours a week at her job, Trujillo’s responsibilities were made especially difficult last year as she and her 7-year-old daughter’s classes were both delivered virtually. She persevered, though, and will continue her education at the Chapman University School of Pharmacy in Irvine this fall.

“Angelica is an exceptional student who completed her education while overcoming almost insurmountable setbacks,” says Karlo Lopez, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry at CSUB. 

Read more about Angelica Trujillo at CSUB News.

Jesus Barba | Chico State

Growing up as the son of farmworkers in Salinas, California, Chico State graduate Jesus Barba was surrounded byA smiling young man wearing a white polo shirt. agriculture, but it wasn’t until he joined Future Farmers of America that he began exploring careers in the field.

“Agriculture has always been around my family, in the sense that they have always worked the fields,” Barba said. “I want to stop that trend and be the one inside the company and not the one in the field picking the produce.”

Now Barba, a first-generation college student, will graduate summa cum laude with a degree in agricultural business. During his time at Chico State, he earned Dean’s List recognition every single semester and served as a teacher’s aide for agricultural ecology. Barba plans to continue his education by pursuing a master’s degree and possibly even a Ph.D. in the next few years, and eventually start his own company in agriculture. 

Read more about Jesus Barba at Chico State Today

Marci Bertuzzi | Cal State East Bay

Cal State East Bay graduate Marci Bertuzzi calls herself a victor, and rightly so: The veteran, single mom and dom​esticA woman wearing a graduation cap and gown. abuse survivor has overcome many obstacles on her journey to earning a degree. Following high school, Bertuzzi served several years in the United States Marine Corps during which time she gave birth to a daughter and endured an abusive relationship with the child’s father. 

While earning a bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in entrepreneurship, Bertuzzi maintained a 3.95 GPA while raising her daughter and even founding her own oil and gas consulting firm.

“I want to show my daughter that while life will throw you curveballs, it’s how you swing the bat that determines your ultimate success,” she says. “You can do anything if you really want it.”

Learn more about Marci Bertuzzi at East Bay Today.
 

Caleb Charles | Fresno State

Fresno State graduate Caleb Charles always knew he wanted to be a lawyer, and his dreams were realized when he learned about the Central Valley Regional Pathway to Law Pipeline, a collaboration between Bullard High School, Fresno City College, Fresno State and the San Joaquin College of LawA man wearing a graduation cap and gown. that provides a pathway for underrepresented students from minority backgrounds to earn law degrees and increase the diversity of the members of the State Bar of California. 

In addition to his studies, Charles served as a member of the Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity and participated in the Student Advocacy Project, representing Fresno County residents appealing low-level citations. Charles also earned the Fresno State Philosophy Department’s 2021 undergraduate student of distinction honor.

Charles says he plans to become a criminal defense and civil rights attorney to advocate on behalf of those who have been unjustly charged with crimes. 

Learn more about Caleb Charles at Fresno State News.  

Mehtaab Brar | Cal State Fullerton

When Mehtaab Brar began attending Cal State Fullerton, the Fresno native found a community of peers and mentors in the Male Success Initiative, which offers students of color programming, resources and a network of peer and faculty mentorsTwo smiling young men sitting on a couch. to support their journey through higher education. 

Similar male success initiatives are offered at several CSU campuses and align with Graduation Initiative 2025 goals to eliminate equity gaps between underserved students and their peers by fostering a sense of belonging for them on campus.

“The Male Success Initiative has given me a support system outside of my classes,” says Brar, who will be part of the inaugural class of scholars graduating this year. “To have such a motivated group of men around you, makes you want to be the best version of yourself.”

Brar plans to continue his education in medical science, with a goal of attending Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Pennsylvania, and eventually become a plastic surgeon.

Learn more about Mehtaab Brar in Titan Magazine

Jacqueline Cruz | Cal State Long Beach

In August 2019, Jacqueline Cruz was preparing to start a master’s program in public policy at Cal State Long Beach, but herA woman wearing a graduation cap and gown. plans were almost derailed by a motorcycle accident that left her needing six surgeries and temporarily wheelchair bound. Cruz was able to continue her studies through grit and family support. She says the struggle her parents endured while she was growing up inspired her to achieve her dreams.

“My parents are both Mexican immigrants,” Cruz says. “They came to this country with nothing but an American Dream. I will be forever in debt to them.”

Cruz, who is also a CSU Dominguez Hills alumna, will receive a master’s degree in public administration from CSULB. 

Learn more about Jacqueline Cruz at CSULB News
 

Denise Nguyen | CSUN 

California State University, Northridge graduate Denise Nguyen attended community college somewhat aimlessly until being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, a setback that helped give her clarity about her future. The first-A smiling young woman.generation college student decided she wanted to become a leader in the public health industry and use her voice to improve health equity.

While at CSUN, Nguyen was a member of the CSUN Model United Nations team, won the Best Data Visualization Award at CSUN’s DataJam, and was recognized as a Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholar, which supports the doctoral aspirations of CSU students who have experienced economic and educational disadvantages.

During the pandemic, Nguyen served as a Vietnamese-English translator at her local community center for people filing unemployment claims and created an escort program for elderly Asian Americans. She plans to attend Johns Hopkins University in the fall and hopes to eventually help build health care legislation in Washington D.C.

Learn more about Denise Nguyen at CSUN Today.  

Zobeida Delgadillo | San José State

San José State graduate Zobeida Delgadillo certainly managed to squeeze as much out of her time at the university asA smiling woman standing outdoors. possible. She served as Associated Students president, chief executive officer and director of legislative affairs, as well as a governing member of the California State Student Association, where she advocated on behalf of the CSU’s half-million students.

Delgadillo also served as 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. She says these experiences helped her find her voice and gave her a platform to lead. 

“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,” says Delgadillo.

Delgadillo has earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and plans to pursue a master’s degree in the fall. She has received admission and a scholarship to the University of San Francisco to study sports management.

Learn more about Zobeida Delgadillo in the SJSU Newsroom


​Special thanks to ​​​CSU campus writers and photographers Kelli Ardis​​, Michelle Borges, Cathi Douglas, Matt GushTiffany Harbrecht, Benjamin Kirk, ​Debra Cano Ramos and Garvin Tso.​​
A grid of eight photos of smiling men and women.
A smiling woman wearing a graduation cap and gown.
True Grit: Remarkable Grads of 2021
30-Days-of-Pride.aspx
  
6/7/2021 8:27 AMMcCarthy, Michelle6/1/20216/1/2021 9:00 AMLGBTQIA awareness is always in season, but during Pride Month in June, there's a heightened sense of visibility and community.DiversityStory

30 Days of Pride

LGBTQIA awareness is always in season, but during Pride Month in June, there's a heightened sense of visibility and community. These CSU faculty members, students, alumni and staff are committ​ed to breaking down closet doors year-round.​

The LGBTQIA community is blessed with activists who dedicate their lives to fighting for equal rights. Past luminaries such as Harvey Milk, Sylvia Rivera, Audre Lorde and Edith Windsor changed the course of history, making their names synonymous with the movement. There are also those who may not garner the same widespread attention but still make huge strides in the ongoing effort for equality—people like pride center counselors, student leaders and faculty members who provide support.

While many pride celebrations may be virtual this year due to the pandemic, nothing can dampen the celebration. Click on each day below to meet just a few of the LGBTQIA members of the CSU who represent all the colors of the rainbow.

01
Robert Garcia, Ed.D.
Mayor of Long Beach
Alumnus, Cal State Long Beach
'02, '10
 

Robert Garcia, Ed.D. is Long Beach's first openly LGBTQIA elected mayor and the first person of color and Latino American to hold the office. Dr. Garcia is a first-generation student and was part of the first cohort of students to graduate from CSULB's​ doctoral program in educational leadership.


​02
Sally G​earhart
LGBTQIA Activist, Professor, Author, San Francisco State Professor Emerita
 

Sally Gearhart is the first out lesbian to obtain a tenure-track faculty position in the U.S.—a distinction she achieved while teaching at San Francisco State.

03
Eric Kupers
Theatre and Dance
Department Chair,
Cal State East Bay
 

Eric Kupers helped assemble CSUEB's first-ever Inclusive Performance Festival, a grassroots event committed to radical inclusion of artists and activists with and without disabilities, of all shapes and sizes, from all cultures, all gender expressions and all art forms and modes of communication.

04
Krystle Tonga
Assistant Director, Cross-Cultural Leadership Center 
Alumna, Chico State '11
 

Krystle Tonga enhances the work of diversity, equity and inclusion at Chico State by educating and promoting inclusive practices that elevate the experience of under-represented and marginalized communities at the faculty, staff and student level.

05
Ramon "Ray" Visaiz
Graduate Student
CSU Channel Islands '16
 

As an undergrad, Ramon Visaiz single-handedly planned CSUCI's first Rainbow Graduation. He even secured renowned LGBTQIA author Ronni Sanlo, Ed.D., whose life was the inspiration for the movie called Letter to Anita, as the guest speaker. He is currently pursuing a master's in education at CSUCI.

06
Bowen Neumann
Lead Peer Counselor
Sacramento State Pride Center
 

Bowen Neumann has worked at the Pride Center as a peer counselor since spring 2020, where he has supported students through their personal and academic endeavors. Neumann has helped his peers feel seen, heard and appreciated during one-on-one sessions.

07
daniel soodjinda, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Stanislaus State
 

Daniel Soodjinda, Ph.D., is an associate professor of liberal studies and teacher education. He has conducted research with LGBTQ+ Asian American students At Stanislaus State, Dr. Soodjinda serves as a mentor in the LGBTQ+ Mentorship Program.

08
Bonnie Sugiyama
Director, San José State PRIDE Center and Gender Equity Center
Alumni, Sacramento State '04, '11
 

Bonnie Sugiyama has worked on social justice issues as a student and a professional at several CSU campuses for 20-plus years, including: the advocating and founding of the Pride Center at Sacramento State; the re-visioning and creation of the Sonoma State University's Center for Culture, Gender and Sexuality (now the HUB); and the founding director of the PRIDE Center at SJSU.

09
thelma iwuchukwu​
Graduate Student, Occupational Therapy
CSU Dominguez Hills
 

Thelma Iwuchukwu has been connected with the Queer Culture & Resource Center at CSUDH for more than two years. Initially, Iwuchukwu was a volunqueer, then became employed as a student assistant. Prior to the pandemic, she facilitated community-building and educational efforts within CSUDH's physical space. During the pandemic, she collaborated with other student advocates and volunqueers to curate digital spaces such as the Flipgrid class titled Queer Culture & Community, promoted peer wellness and engagement on CSUDH's Discord group-chat platform and facilitated other social and educational events for the community and campus.​

10
James Martinez
Trustee, Fresno County Board of Education
Alumnus, Fresno State '10
 

James Martinez is the director of operations for the Associated Students, Inc. at Fresno State. He is recognized at the state and national levels as the first openly gay male elected official in Fresno County.

11
Eric Gonzaba
Assistant Professor, American Studies
Cal State Fullerton
 

Eric Gonzaba was recognized with the Emerging Open Scholarship Award from the Canadian Social Knowledge Institute for the project Mapping the Gay Guides, which explores American LGBTQIA spaces since 1965.

12
Bianca Tonantzin Zamora
Writer and Social Justice Educator
CSU Monterey Bay
 

Bianca Tonantzin Zamora serves as a coordinator and national workshop leader for CSUMB's Otter Cross-Cultural Center. She has served as the chair of the Monterey County LGBTQ+ Collective, manages the Queer Trans Mentorship Program and Rainbow LGBTQ+ Graduation Celebration at CSUMB and has curated the campus Werk Witch Drag Show. Zamora believes in and celebrates the power, brilliance and knowledge of Queer communities.

13
Chrystian Smith
Student
San Diego State
 

Chrystian Smith is the Associated Students Vice President of Internal Affairs for the 2020-21 academic year, a peer educator at the SDSU Pride Center and a Quest for the Best honoree.

14
Eloy Garcia
Student
Cal State San Bernardino
 

Eloy Garcia cofounded The Pride Pack, an LGBTQIA club on campus, and created the podcast LPDcast, which provides first-generation students of color with skills, habits and resources that are conducive to leadership and professional development.

15
Laurel Holmstrom-Keyes
Professor, Women and Gender Studies, 
Sonoma State
 

Laurel Holmstrom-Keyes coordinates a series of online forums called Tuesday Talks and helps maintain the LGBTQIA community listserv and website. She keeps the SSU LGBTQIA community connected by sending out reading and movie-viewing lists. Holmstrom-Keyes was instrumental in launching SSU's Safe Zones Program, has served on numerous coming out and educational panels and offered training for the campus community.

16
Amber St. James
Activist
Alumni, San Diego State '20
 

Amber St. James is a SDSU Strategic Planning Committee member. St. James has long been a strong advocate for improved visibility and support for members of the LGBTQIA community and for the university's strategic plan, with a particular focus on diversity, retention and success initiatives. St. James was the president and founder of the Black queer organization BlacQ Space​ on campus and lead programmer of SDSU's drag shows.

17
Dan Perez-Sornia
Associated Students Staff Coordinator
Alumni, Humboldt State '20
 

Dan Perez-Sornia was the first nonbinary member of the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority at Humboldt State. “Even though sororities and fraternities are very gendered organizations, it's important to know times are changing," Perez-Sornia says. “I'm the embodiment of that change."

18
Andrew Spieldenner, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Communication
CSU San Marcos
 

Andrew Spieldenner, Ph.D, is one of two new North American delegates to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), which is leading the global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 by connecting governments, nonprofits and the private sector in providing life-saving HIV services. As a non-government delegate, his duties include developing and negotiating with member states to advance progressive HIV policies around the world.

19
Andrew Oca
Student
Cal Maritime
 

As an openly gay cadet at Cal Maritime, Andrew Oca's mission has been to bring visibility to the LGBTQIA community on campus. Through his many leadership roles, including being president of the Gay-Straight Alliance, Oca has helped shape the school's uniform and grooming standards to be more inclusive to transgender and gender-nonconforming cadets. Next year, he'll be the vice-chair for culture on the Cal Maritime Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, as well as the university's student housing director. He hopes to utilize the full potential of these positions to create a more inclusive campus and leave a lasting legacy for all future LGBTQIA cadets at Cal Maritime.

20
Frank Rojas
Journalist
Alumnus, Dominguez Hills '19
 

While at the L.A. Times, Frank Rojas wrote a personal essay on his coming out story​. He was also a member of The Wall Las Memorias Project a community health and wellness organization dedicated to serving the Latinx LGBTQIA community of Los Angeles. Rojas recently graduated with a master's from USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. 




21
Jay Bettergarcia
Professor, Psychology
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
 

Jay Bettergarcia launched the SLO ACCEPTance Project​, a multiyear series of trainings that equip therapists to better serve the LGBTQIA community.

22
Grace Vallejos
Student
Cal Poly Pomona
 

Grace Vallejos is the president of Cal Poly Pomona's Out in STEM chapter, which advocates for fostering community and spreading awareness of minority intersectionalities. “LGBTQIA advocacy means appreciating our queer ancestors, who gave their lives fighting for our rights and whose work we can still continue today," Vallejos says. “During the pandemic, a sense of normalcy, comfort and family away from home were needed more than ever. One of the most powerful ways to advocate can be as simple, yet profound, as cherishing the people and communities you already love."

23
cynthia wang, Ph.d.
Assistant Professor, Communications Studies 
​Cal State LA
 

​​Cynthia Wang, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the department of Communication Studies. ​She was named a 2021 ​Emerging Scholar by Diverse Magazine. Her research interests include the role critical theory and rhetorical perspectives play in the discourse around social justice issues, particularly as mediated by social network platforms. Dr. Wang is the founder of The ArQuives​, a digital location-based LGBTQ story-telling platform.​

24
Jason June
Author
Alumnus, CSUN '13, '16
 

Jason June has written queer-inclusive young adult books, including Mermicorn Island and Jay's Gay Agenda, published by Scholastic and HarperTeen. “This last year has taught us so much about how the universe can throw so many punches our way," he says. “What we really need now is a chance to laugh, a chance to connect to each other."

25
Micah Savin
Ph.D. Candidate
Alumnus, CSU San Marcos '18
 

When Micah Savin was 25, he lost the love of his life, Philip, to AIDS. Philip's last request was for Savin to “love others as you have loved me." That experience sparked his passion for neuroscience, specifically the impact AIDS and HIV have on the brain. A first-generation American Indian college student, Savin overcame numerous obstacles on the path to earning his degree, including being homeless for portions of his childhood. He is now in the Ph.D. program at Fordham.

26
Kris Grappendorf
Lecturer, Department Chair Kinesiology 
CSU Bakersfield
 

Kris Grappendorf has long been an advocate for and mentor to many LGBTQIA students. She began as co-chair of the LBGTQIA faculty staff affinity group in its inaugural year and launched the first of many LGBTQIA events on campus. Grappendorf initiated the proposal to seek the Campus Pride designation as an institution and assisted with the first Lavender Graduation Celebration. She also helped develop the first-ever Pride Week on campus and worked with the athletic department to create its first Pride Night at an intercollegiate volleyball game. 

27
Julia Balén, Ph.D.
Professor, English and Freedom & Justice Studies
CSU Channel Islands
 

Julia Balén, Ph.D., has helped move the needle significantly in terms of LGBTQIA awareness at CSUCI and in the community with her social activism. In the wake of several LGBTQIA suicides/murders, Dr. Balén organized a service learning project for her LGBTIA studies class. She had students research different aspects of bullying and organize a local anti-bullying summit​ for educational and religious leaders to learn more about how to create safer spaces for our youth. The summit resulted in ongoing social action and activism.

28
Alisha Valavanis
General Manager and CEO,
Seattle Storm
Alumna, Chico State '00, '04
 

Alisha Valavanis has been an outspoken advocate for equality related to women's sports. In 2016, she was presented with the Chico State Distinguished Alumni Award. Valavanis led the Seattle Storm to a fourth WNBA Championship in 2020​.

29
Ken Yeager
Political Science Lecturer, Former Politician, Activist
San José State
 

Ken Yeager was the first openly gay elected official in Silicon Valley, the first as a trustee of the San Jose-Evergreen Community College District, the San Jose City Council and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. He is currently working on a groundbreaking history project focused on the LGBTQIA community in the San José-Santa Clara region. The website queersiliconvalley.org​ is now considered the prime repository of local LGBTGIA history.

30
Annika Anderson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Sociology,​ Director/Principal Investigator for Project Rebound
Cal State San Bernardino
 

Annika Anderson, Ph.D., leads a team that seeks to establish an alternative to the revolving door policy of the criminal justice system by eliminating barriers that prevent the formerly incarcerated from succeeding and graduating from college. Dr. Anderson was selected as a 2016 Summer Research Institute Fellow​ for The Racial Democracy, Crime & Justice Network at Rutgers University-Newark's School of Criminal Justice.

To meet more remarkable members of the CSU LGBTQIA community, visit Portraits of Pride.

30 Days of Pride
mental-health-first-aid-faculty-2021.aspx
  
5/27/2021 3:21 PMRuble, Alisia5/26/20215/26/2021 11:05 AMMental Health First Aid training program empowers CSU faculty to become mental health allies for students.WellnessStory

​​​​Living through a pandemic has shown us all the importance of mental health like never before. Faculty across the CSU's 23 campuses know this first-hand as they interact with their students during what has been an exceptionally challenging time for many—both academically and personally.

While each CSU campus offers critical Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) for students, some may be initially reluctant to seek professional help, but they may share mental health concerns privately with their instructors.

A 2021 survey from Boston University's School of Public Health indicated that university faculty members are increasingly involved in responding to their students' mental health concerns, yet report a lack of training on how they should respond.

Much like first aid training, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training prepares lay-people to provide aid to individuals in distress until they can be connected to professional help.

How and when should instructors intervene if concerns arise about a student's mental well-being? When is it considered a crisis? These are some of the questions CSU faculty have been exploring as they become certified in Mental Health First Aid, a virtual training program instructed by two CSU professors—Bonnie Gasior, Ph.D., professor of Spanish at Cal State Long Beach, and Darci Strother, Ph.D., professor of Modern Language Studies at CSU San Marcos.

Drs. Gasior and Strother are now offering the National Council for Mental Wellbeing-led  trainings to faculty across the CSU—and the demand continues to grow. By the end of the 2020-21 academic year, they will have trained six cohorts comprising more than 150 CSU faculty as certified Mental Health First Aid responders.

Much like first aid training, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training prepares lay-people to provide aid to individuals in distress until they can be connected to professional help. In addition to reducing the stigma around mental health, the program teaches participants how to respond to common mental health and substance use issues that are sometimes exacerbated by the high-stress environment of college, and better equips participants to help students find social support networks and resources for recovery within and beyond their campus community.

After becoming certified to offer MHFA training and leading sessions for groups of faculty on their respective campuses, Gasior and Strother connected with Emily Magruder, Ph.D., director of the CSU Institute for Teaching & Learning, to create a university-wide training program in partnership with campus faculty development centers. After all, 75 percent of mental illnesses develop before age 25, making colleges ideal locations for early identification, and faculty are often in a position to serve as “first responders."

During her 10-year stint as a CSULB faculty advisor, Dr. Gasior explains that she was always struck by the number of students who would confide in her about a mental health challenge. “For each student who came in with an academic problem, I would have another disclose a mental health issue," says Gasior, who helped bring the faculty-focused MHFA program to CSULB as a Provost Leadership Fellow and was awarded a CSU Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award (FILA) for her efforts.

Similarly, Strother's time as a department chair and as an ongoing faculty mentor convinced her that she needed more tools in her skill-set to support student success, and that knowing how to address her students' mental health needs better would make her a more effective educator.

The program Strother and Gasior teach is specifically focused on training faculty and the unique challenges they may face when interacting with university students in the virtual or physical classroom.

The whole idea is to enable faculty to feel that they can intervene. They can deescalate. they can get that person to the appropriate professional."—​Dr. Bonnie gasior, Cal state long beach professor

“The whole idea is to enable faculty to feel that they can intervene. They can deescalate. They can have de-stigmatizing conversations and they can get that person to the appropriate professional to find the help that they need," says Gasior.

A critical topic covered in the coursework is suicide, says Strother, explaining that they have participants go through an exercise in which they learn to develop a sort of “muscle memory" by asking another human being—even if it's on Zoom—“Are you having thoughts of suicide?"

“It's a really, really uncomfortable exercise. Every time I do it, it's uncomfortable," she says. “But we need to not be afraid to have those conversations and to have them in ways that are direct, and not stigmatizing."

Strother points to data from a fall 2020 survey by the American College Health Association that reports 2 percent of college students surveyed attempted suicide in the last 12 months. “Not just thought about it, but actually attempted suicide. If you have 50 students in a class, one of them may have attempted suicide in the last 12 months. College professors need to know about that," she says, adding that a faculty member's ability to help a student get immediate attention can really make a difference.

Strother adds: “We should never be comfortable with suicide, but we should also never bury it because it's out there. It's among us. Students having thoughts of suicide may be present in every class that we teach, unfortunately. So faculty in all disciplines would be well-served to know what to do and to be able to have those conversations."

​Gasior and Strother emphasize that the faculty's response and feedback on the MHFA trainings has been reaffirming and rewarding. “It speaks really highly to the dedication of the faculty in the CSU that so many of them are willing to step up to the plate and do this training on top of their regular workload," Strother says. “The faculty are coming to this work because they see value in it. And because they're incredibly committed to their students' well-being." Addressing student engagement and well-being is an operational priority of Graduation Initiative 2025, the university-wide effort to increase graduation rates for all CSU students while eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps.

​Because the demand for MHFA faculty training has far outpaced the pair's capacity to offer them, the CSU Institute for Teaching & Learning plans to expand the program in 2021-22 to add additional faculty instructors. In fact, their current coordinator, Sailesh Maharjan, a faculty member in psychology as CSUSB, will receive his instructor certification this summer.

“Just like every community needs as many people as possible trained in physical first aid, every community also needs as many people as possible who are trained in Mental Health First Aid," Strother affirms. “It's just something that strengthens communities across the board."


​If you are in crisis or considering suicide, immediately call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), call 911, or go to your nearest ER.



hand-drawn graphic recording from faculty training session
First Responders for Mental Health Challenges
Picture-This--60-Years-of-Educational-Excellence-.aspx
  
5/24/2021 8:14 AMMcCarthy, Michelle5/24/20215/24/2021 9:00 AMTake a visual stroll down memory lane and witness the transformational experience of the CSU throughout the years.Story

​​​​​There's something about big milestones in life that can evoke feelings of nostalgia. All of a sudden, you're rustling through old scrapbooks, dusting off photographs and calling to mind memories that bring a smile to your face.

When the California State University blew out 60 candles last April, we marked the occasion on a grand scale. Following a theme every month, all 23 CSU campuses shared photos from their past and present. Images include faculty members, students, staff and alumni from all six decades of the CSU's existence, capturing moments from the rich experience of college life.

Since the signing of the Donahoe Higher Education Act into law on April 27, 1960, the CSU has grown to become the largest system of four-year higher education in the nation. When you stop to think about the vast number of lives touched by the university, it can be awe-inspiring.

We invite you to revisit the CSU's celebration of 60 years of educational excellence. Here's to 60 more!​

View the complete CSU 60​th anniversary photo collection.

College students pose for a photo.
Picture This—60 Years of Educational Excellence
a-letter-to-my-freshman-self.aspx
  
6/23/2021 10:38 AMBeall, Alex5/24/20215/24/2021 8:00 AMOn the eve of graduation, five CSU students reflect on their transformational time on campus, the wisdom they’ve gained and the insight they’ll take with them.  CommencementStory
A Letter to My Freshman Self

A Letter to My Freshman Self

On the eve of graduation, five CSU students reflect on their transformational time on campus, the wisdom they’ve gained and the insight they’ll take with them.


jump to main content  

They say hindsight is 20/20. Wouldn’t it be great to travel back in time and give yourself advice, armed with the wisdom experience affords? While that option isn’t feasible, reflection can still serve as a valuable exercise. For instance, take a moment to remember what it was like on your first day of college. It was probably a little overwhelming to step into a new environment surrounded by unfamiliar faces while battling doubts brought on by imposter syndrome. Imagine if you only knew the confidence and growth that awaited you at the conclusion of your college education. As these CSU Trustee Scholars ​prepare to don a cap and gown, we asked them to pen a message in a bottle to their former selves.


Patricio Ruano

Patricio Ruano

CSU Channel Islands ’21
Biology, Global Studies

Dear Patrick (people call us Patricio now),

How’s it going? How are you feeling going into your first year of college and the rest of your life? Scared? I heard that’s a good thing! It shows you care. The next few years will be life changing—you’ll transform from a person who hadn’t walked the middle school stage and barely got through high school into the queer man who just got into medical school with a scholarship. You need to believe; it’s the first step in changing yourself.

Nobody told me this, but this process just cannot be done on your own, and that’s for a reason. No matter how much you try to memorize an organic chemistry mechanism or try to juggle 20 roles at once, you need your community of people to catch you when you fall. Build your village of support—peers, supervisors and those who also look up to you as you give back to them. In doing this, you won’t just begin to believe, but realize you belong at Channel Islands.

Patricio Ruano Video Thumbnail

I wish we would have doubted ourselves less. I wish we would have had more pride in our presence as a first-generation college student. That is part of becoming a success: proving to ourselves our own capabilities. You will study abroad, engage in cancer research, help develop volunteer programs and mentor so many others. Your seat at college was given to you for a reason; do not doubt yourself in what you can do. You’re right where you need to be to become a change in the world for the better. Enjoy your time in college, and I can’t wait to see our parents​, tias’, tios’ and tita’s faces when you’re wearing that graduation gown!

Sincerely,
Patricio


Breanna Holbert

Breanna Holbert

Chico State ’21
Agricultural Science, Education

Dear Bre,

At the end of my time here at Chico State, I finally found you—the “you” you and I have dreamt of becoming all of our lives: a confident leader; a gifted storyteller; and a charismatic, aware and intelligent future educator. But more importantly, I have found the “you” who is at peace with oneself so much that all she wants to do is be happy, in turn being better for the people she cares so deeply about. Even though not perfect, and I haven’t arrived yet, I am growing closer every day to the person you, myself and your family can be proud of.

I often see you as a draft horse, strangely. You know the ones that have the blinders up. The ones that can only see what’s in front of them, the blinders shielding you from unsuspected distractions. Even though it has gotten you so far, Bre, I encourage you to remove them. Staying focused toward our goals of graduating and being successful is important. However, I can only imagine how much value an opportunity to get to know someone I never thought I’d befriend, offer someone the time of day, take on a new adventure outside of my comfort zone could have added to my life ahead. You will experience so much. Don’t you worry. But, try this. Take off the blinders that only keep your sight on what’s ahead and encourage yourself to take a moment to look around at the beauty that is your educational journey.

Bre, you and I still have so much more to learn about life. Today, I hope these words meet you and encourage you to live for all that is around you. A true blessing to be where you are in your life. Don’t waste it.

With all my love,
Bre


Jayden Maree

Jayden Maree

Cal State Long Beach ’21
Aerospace Engineering

Dear Jayden,

This is your first day in a new country, and the journey will surely be wild. Let me tell you now, it will not be smooth sailing, but at least you took a risk. As John A. Shedd said: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” There is no way I could prepare you for the absolute storm that is to come, but the most important thing I can tell you is to take care of your health. At the end of the day, all you truly have is your health. Being young may be a license to make mistakes and to grow, but there are pains no person should experience and a wisdom you would rather not have gained.

Jayden Video Thumbnail

I know there is a lot of pressure to perform, but you will regret working your health away. So, take care of yourself because the quality of your life depends on it. In your case, grades do not always reflect learning. There will be things much more important than grades; you just have to find them. You sit on the shoulders of those who built society and have your own influence to bring. Don’t doubt that change is possible, because somebody will always take note of who you are and what you bring to the table. Be yourself and live with the urgency to be. Life as you know it may change at any moment (and trust me, it will), so just be, while you can be, in the world freely. Peace out, brother bear.

Yours truly,
Jayden


Anthony Lawson

Anthony Lawson

CSUN ’21
Psychology

Dear Anthony,

The road ahead of you is filled with many different opportunities. Each one can lead you on a path to success. I know you’re scared, but I can’t imagine another person more prepared for any situation. Losing your brother has caused you to doubt yourself and all facets of life, but you have to use his death to empower the person you know you can be. Despite the immense pain you and your family are suffering, you control your destiny. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, meet new people, try new things and adapt to any situation.

Your brother has left you some big shoes to fill, and now it is up to you to represent his life through you each day. Talking about the death of a loved one is never an easy task, but I implore you to spread his story amongst your community every day. People need to be aware of the life and legacy of David Josiah Lawson. Be the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. There are so many people out there waiting for someone to take charge and become a community leader. This task may sound hard, but nothing of value comes easy. It is the burden of this responsibility that will define you and who you choose to be.

Be the best version of yourself in anything you do; you don’t have to live anyone else’s story. You may not realize it now, but the hard work you put in each day will be noticed. You have a bright future ahead of you, and others are counting on your voice. Go out and be the person I know you can be. Your legacy is one that will inspire many.

Sincerely,
Anthony


An Thien Le

An Thien Le

Cal State Fullerton ’21
Business Administration, Accounting

Dear An,

I recently thought about you and how nervous you would be to start your four-year journey, namely your bachelor’s degree. I believe you would have so many questions that no one could answer you thoroughly. Thus, I decided to write you this letter to share the true story that you may not find anywhere else.

I am here to tell you that your four years will be gone in the blink of an eye, so please enjoy every moment of this journey. You will feel disappointed when you receive a bad grade from an exam you worked so hard for. Additionally, you will feel hopeless when you get rejections from several job interviews you believed you nailed. However, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Remember, you will have your faculty members, family and friends who are there by your side to encourage and support you whenever you fail. Moreover, believe in yourself and put a hundred percent effort into every goal you set. Take advantage of everything your school offers and participate in the school community, which can help you develop yourself both personally and professionally. Finally, never forget to sleep and take care of your health.

An Thien Le Video Thumbnail

Even though this is also the time to look back on all the circumstances that have happened to me since I was a freshman, it is not the time for me to feel regret. As a human being, I could make mistakes and miss some great opportunities in my life. Yet, I believe that as long as I do not give up and move forward, new success and opportunities will be waiting for me in the future. Therefore, do not worry too much if you cannot stick to the plan you have formulated; there will always be​​ a plan B to get to where you want if you are willing to overcome all the challenges on the road to success.

Sincerely yours,
An​


Meet more CSU Trustees’ Award winners who demonstrate superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service and financial need.


A Letter to My Freshman Self
1 - 15Next
  
  
  
  
  
  
Page Heading
Page Image
Rollup Image
  
  
  
New-CSUCCESS-Initiative-Will-Enhance-Equity-and-Student-Achievement-for-CSU-Students.aspx
  
7/12/20217/12/2021 8:25 AMLargest-ever CSU device distribution will provide iPad Air for up to 35,000 first-year and new transfer students at eight campusesLargest-ever CSU device distribution will provide iPad Air for up to 35,000 first-year and new transfer students at eight campuses
New CSUCCESS Initiative Will Enhance Equity and Student Achievement for CSU StudentsAccessPress Release
Sylvia-A-Alva-Appointed-California-State-University-Executive-Vice-Chancellor-for-Academic-and-Student-Affairs.aspx
  
7/6/20217/6/2021 10:30 AMAlva joins the CSU Chancellor's Office and Chancellor Castro'​s executive team from Cal Poly Pomona where she currently serves as provost and vice president for academic affairs.
Sylvia A. Alva Appointed California State University Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs LeadershipPress Release
CSU-Statement-on-2021-22-State-Budget-.aspx
  
6/28/20216/28/2021 8:35 PM"The 2021-22 state budget is a bold and visionary investment in the California State University that further elevates the university's ability to meet the current and future needs of California."
CSU Statement on 2021-22 State Budget BudgetPress Release
Jimenez-Sandoval-Appointed-Fresno-State-President.aspx
  
5/19/20215/19/2021 9:00 AMThe CSU Board of Trustees has appointed Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, Ph.D., to serve as the ninth president of Fresno State.
man in suit standing outside
Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval Appointed President of California State University, FresnoLeadershipPress Release
may-2021-budget-revise-statement.aspx
  
5/14/20215/14/2021 1:00 PMThe Governor’s May Revision budget proposal provides significant additional funding to public higher education and the CSU.
California Capitol Building
Statements from California State University Leaders on Governor’s May Revision Budget ProposalBudgetPress Release
CSU-COVID-Vax-Requirement-FDA-Approval.aspx
  
4/22/20214/22/2021 1:00 PMRequirement would go into effect for the fall 2021 term contingent upon one or more vaccines receiving full approval.Requirement would go into effect for the fall 2021 term contingent upon one or more vaccines receiving full approval.
woman administering vaccine in man's arm
CSU to Implement COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement Upon FDA ApprovalPolicyPress Release
reopening-california-2021.aspx
  
4/6/20214/6/2021 4:50 PMCalifornia State University Chancellor Joseph I. Castro today released the following statement on Governor Gavin Newsom’s outline of next step in state’s pandemic recovery.California State University Chancellor Joseph I. Castro today released the following statement on Governor Gavin Newsom’s outline of next step in state’s pandemic recovery.
building with text overlay: CSU Chancellor Statement
CSU Statement on California’s Milestone of 20 Million COVID Vaccinations CaliforniaPress Release
Economic-Impact-Study-2018-19.aspx
  
4/1/20214/1/2021 8:50 AMNew economic impact study quantifies the CSU’s economic contributions to the state including supporting the creation of 209,400 jobs annually throughout California.New economic impact study quantifies the CSU’s economic contributions to the state including supporting the creation of 209,400 jobs annually throughout California.
woman in graduation clothing
The CSU Provides Sevenfold Return on State’s Investment ImpactPress Release
KGI-pathway-school-of-medicine.aspx
  
3/25/20213/25/2021 9:55 AMSeeking to provide access to high-quality medical education, Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) and the CSU are creating a pipeline for qualified CSU graduates to enter the KGI Pathway Program at the School of Medicine.
healthcare student checking blood pressure of patient
CSU Establishes Admissions Pipeline with the KGI School of MedicineCareersPress Release
statement-dream-promise-act-2021.aspx
  
3/18/20213/18/2021 3:15 PMCalifornia State University Chancellor Joseph I. Castro released the following statement on HR 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021, passed today by the U.S. House of Representatives.California State University Chancellor Joseph I. Castro released the following statement on HR 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021, passed today by the U.S. House of Representatives.
man standing outside talking to college students
CSU Statement on Passage of American Dream and Promise Act of 2021DACAPress Release
CSU-Statement-HEERF-2021.aspx
  
3/11/20213/11/2021 1:25 PM"This assistance will empower our talented and diverse students to persevere in obtaining their degrees and thus become future leaders who positively impact our communities and society."
building with blue sky behind it
building with blue sky behind it
CSU Statement on Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund BudgetPress Release
CSU-Statement-on-Immediate-Action-Agreement-for-Relief-to-Californians-Experiencing-Pandemic-Hardship.aspx
  
2/17/20212/17/2021 2:00 PM“The bold plan to fully restore the previous cut to the California State University budget is a tremendous development for the university and our students and their families throughout the Golden State," says Chancellor Castro.
CSU Statement on Immediate Action Agreement for Relief to Californians Experiencing Pandemic HardshipBudgetPress Release
California-State-University-Fresno-Presidential-Search-Committee-to-Hold-Virtual-Open-Forum.aspx
  
2/2/20212/2/2021 3:35 PMThe CSU Board of Trustees is beginning the search for a new president of California State University, Fresno to succeed Joseph I. Castro, Ph.D., who became CSU Chancellor in January 2021.
California State University, Fresno Presidential Search Committee to Hold Virtual Open ForumLeadershipPress Release
Academic-Achievement-and-Student-Success-at-the-CSU-Continue-to-Benefit-from-Philanthropic-Support.aspx
  
1/26/20211/26/2021 3:05 PMDespite the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic recession, the educational mission and work of the CSU continues to resonate with donors, supporters and other friends of the university.
Academic Achievement and Student Success at the CSU Continue to Benefit from Philanthropic Support PhilanthropyPress Release
CSU-Faculty-Staff-Honored-for-Outstanding-Contributions-to-Student-Success.aspx
  
1/25/20211/25/2021 9:35 AMAnnual Wang Family Excellence Awards honor extraordinary dedication and contributions in teaching, scholarship and service to CSU students.Annual Wang Family Excellence Awards honor extraordinary dedication and contributions in teaching, scholarship and service to CSU students.
CSU Faculty, Staff Honored for Outstanding Contributions to Student Success FacultyPress Release
1 - 15Next
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
Page Image
Rollup Image
  
the-push-for-healthy-communities.aspx
  
7/12/20217/12/2021 10:40 AMSee ways the CSU is ensuring its community members have equal access to health care.CommunityStory
The Push for Healthy Communities
rapid-response.aspx
  
6/28/20216/28/2021 8:15 AMSee how the CSU is addressing the economic consequences of COVID-19.CoronavirusStory
Rapid Response
A-Commencement-to-Remember.aspx
  
6/21/20216/21/2021 11:10 AMCSU graduates donned their regalia for one of the CSU’s most unique commencement seasons yet, as campuses held in-person and drive-in ceremonies, graduation parades and virtual celebrations.​CommencementStory
A Commencement to Remember
Preparing-for-the-Fires-2021.aspx
  
6/16/20216/16/2021 8:20 AMLearn how campuses across the CSU continue to lead efforts in wildfire research, management and workforce preparation across multiple disciplines.CaliforniaStory
people sitting by a lake looking at mountains on fire at night
Preparing for the Fires
CSU-Joins-Effort-to-Boost-Early-Childhood-Education-in-California.aspx
  
6/15/20216/15/2021 8:10 AMCampuses take part in $4.5 million partnership to better align preschool teacher preparation programs with California standards and diversify workforce.Teacher PreparationStory
Preschool classroom
CSU Joins Effort to Boost Early Childhood Education in California
white-house-college-vaccine-challenge-2021.aspx
  
6/9/20216/9/2021 7:30 AMThe CSU pledges to be a Vaccine Champion University as part of new White House effort aimed at increasing vaccinations for younger Americans.CommunityStory
vaccine distribution site outside at a college campus
CSU Campuses Join COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge 
student-research-competition.aspx
  
6/7/20216/7/2021 8:00 AMInnovation was on display at the 35th Annual CSU Student Research Competition.ResearchStory
Great Minds, Big Ideas
True-Grit.aspx
  
6/4/20216/4/2021 12:00 PMMeet just a few remarkable graduates from the class of 2021, many of whom overcame significant challenges on their path to earning a degree, and learn how they plan to pay it forward. Student SuccessStory
A grid of eight photos of smiling men and women.
A smiling woman wearing a graduation cap and gown.
True Grit: Remarkable Grads of 2021
30-Days-of-Pride.aspx
  
6/1/20216/1/2021 9:00 AMLGBTQIA awareness is always in season, but during Pride Month in June, there's a heightened sense of visibility and community.DiversityStory
30 Days of Pride
mental-health-first-aid-faculty-2021.aspx
  
5/26/20215/26/2021 11:05 AMMental Health First Aid training program empowers CSU faculty to become mental health allies for students.WellnessStory
hand-drawn graphic recording from faculty training session
First Responders for Mental Health Challenges
Picture-This--60-Years-of-Educational-Excellence-.aspx
  
5/24/20215/24/2021 9:00 AMTake a visual stroll down memory lane and witness the transformational experience of the CSU throughout the years.Story
College students pose for a photo.
Picture This—60 Years of Educational Excellence
a-letter-to-my-freshman-self.aspx
  
5/24/20215/24/2021 8:00 AMOn the eve of graduation, five CSU students reflect on their transformational time on campus, the wisdom they’ve gained and the insight they’ll take with them.  CommencementStory
A Letter to My Freshman Self
Eli-Broad-Philanthropist.aspx
  
5/18/20215/18/2021 8:25 AMBroad’s generous legacy throughout the CSU will positively impact generations of students in California. PhilanthropyStory
man in suit
A Legacy of Impact: Honoring Late Philanthropist, Former CSU Trustee Eli Broad
the-ripple-effect.aspx
  
5/17/20215/17/2021 8:00 AMGraduation day is an exhilarating event. But what happens after the confetti settles? We spoke to CSU alumni to see how a degree impacted their lives post-graduation.AlumniStory
The Ripple Effect
a-time-to-celebrate.aspx
  
5/10/20215/10/2021 4:15 PMWhether in-person or virtual, 2021 commencements will be a time to remember for CSU graduates.CommencementStory
A Time To Celebrate
1 - 15Next