Sacramento State’s ambitious Destination 2010 initiative features the goal of becoming a destination campus. And, especially during an election year, Sac State is the place to be.
As the only comprehensive four-year university in the state’s capital, the University is in the midst of many of the events that shape California. The political process is evident and practiced at almost every level from students through the governor’s race—and even into national politics.
Student elections mirror and practice the best politics has to offer by designing campaigns, and debating and discussing the challenging issues that face our campus and education in California. Classroom discussions explore issues, ethics and political strategies. Student internships place hundreds of students each year in government agencies where they learn leadership by working with California’s most influential leaders. And many graduate students work as full-time, paid staff through the prestigious Capital Fellows Program.
The campus has been alive with discussion and debate about state and national politics. Programs such as LegiSchool hosted televised town-hall meetings between high school classes and state leaders. University professors were regularly featured in media interviews about California politics and issues. And in October, we hosted the year’s only gubernatorial debate. Our students are actively engaged in the processes that will shape the future of California.
This fall, Sac State launched a new “e-advocacy” program for our friends and supporters. It is a simple, yet powerful new way to advocate on behalf of Sac State and the CSU system. It features action alerts on how to help with legislative priorities of the CSU, contact information for elected officials and media, a tell-a-friend feature and much more. To find out more or to join, visit www.SacramentoState.kintera.org.
The political season has been exciting on campus and is representative of the kinds of programs, energy and expertise that truly make Sac State an important and exciting destination.
"Patient" aids nursing students
Nursing students are attending to a new patient this semester.
His name is Larry, and he’s been through a lot. Lying on the table, he occasionally groans, “I don’t feel good.” He’s been poked, prodded, stabbed, had wounds dressed, went into cardiac arrest and was administered CPR. His resilience, however, is due in large part to his manufacturer. He’s a life-size, high-tech simulated patient mannequin known as SimMan.
Nursing professor Debra Brady is one of the professors trained to work with SimMan. She conducts clinical classes in which her students work directly with the simulated patient.
“SimMan’s name changes daily,” says Brady. “Today his name is Larry. A while ago it was Mel Gibson.”
Brady can, with a click of a mouse, have Larry say things such as, “No, I don’t have diabetes,” “I am not allergic to any medications,” or “That helped.” His chest rises and falls with each breath he takes.
“It’s a highly effective teaching tool for the students,” Brady says. “My teaching time is really maximized because they live the experience, instead of hearing about it in a lecture. It gives them valuable clinical experience, and they can make mistakes without doing the patient any harm.
After the students administer care and the simulated patient is stabilized, they gather around a white board for a debriefing of the situation. The strengths and weaknesses of the treatment are analyzed, and the students discuss what could have been done differently to provide better care.
The simulated patient is new this year due to increased funding to admit more students and enhance their lab experiences. The nursing program is highly competitive and has an exceptional graduation rate—95 percent.
Larry, for one, appreciates the excellent care he gets from the students. “Thank you,” he says. “That helped.”
Fall enrollment up
More students are making Sac State their destination.
At the University has nearly 600 more students this year than last year for a total fall enrollment of 28,529. “The biggest increase we saw was with the lower- division transfer students,” says Larry Glasmire, director of special programs and enrollment analysis in the Office of Academic Affairs. “We saw a 116 percent increase in that student population.”
One reasons for the increase in first-time freshmen and lower-division transfers may be the University’s streamlined admission processes and stepped up recruitment efforts. They included using Sac State students to make phone calls and stay in touch with students who were applying, letting them know what the next steps were so they were ready when they came and in contacts with counselors at high school and community college campuses.
The campus also took advantage of web-based technology to encourage attendance at Sac State and make the application process as streamlined and user-friendly as possible. The recruitment website was also enhanced with interactive features such as a student message board and student blogs which chronicle the day-to-day experiences of six students.
And Sac State took its message to the airwaves with its first sustained radio ad campaign.
Green and Gold Gala
An event billed as “an evening of art, music and the unexpected” delivered with the performances by student artists and the announcement of nearly $5 million in gifts during October’s Green and Gold Gala at Sacramento State.
The annual event in the University Union Ballroom honored philanthropists and arts patrons Eli and Edythe Broad who contributed $2 million to build a new field house, named the Broad Athletic Facility. It also celebrated the University’s 60th year of instruction and prominently featured Sacramento State student artists.
In front of a crowd of more than 500 guests, the current and former students gave a variety of performances, beginning with a saxophone performance of “America the Beautiful” by jazz studies sophomore Joe Berry. Artist and recent graduate Hiromasa Ichihara treated the audience to his creative process performance by painting a 4- by 4-foot oil and acrylic work during the cocktail reception.
And the dinner course featured an opera performance by music graduate Eugene Chan, an accomplished singer who recently placed second in the Metropolitan Opera Western regional auditions. Chan sang “Bella Siccome un Angelo” from Gaetano Donizetti’s opera Don Pasquale.
University President Alexander Gonzalez also used the Gala to announce several new gifts:
• A $3 million bequest intention from an anonymous donor that will endow undergraduate scholarships, awards and programs.
• A $1 million endowment from the Bernard Osher Foundation to provide scholarships for 20 re-entry students annually. Sacramento State was one of only five universities nationwide to receive these funds.
• A $400,000 gift from Paul and Renee Snider to begin program planning for a new Museum of Natural History adjacent to the planned Space and Science Center.
• A $150,000 commitment over three years from the RCA Community Fund of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation to establish a new scholar in ethics.
• A $150,000 gift from Vision Service Plan for the Broad Athletic Facility. In recognition, a meeting room in the facility will be named for outgoing VSP President and CEO Roger Valine.
The evening also included numerous acknowledgements of the generosity of Sacramento State donors, including a video tribute to Eli and Edythe Broad.
Mark your calendars—next year’s Gala is scheduled for Oct. 5, 2007.
For additional photos of the event, visit: www.csus.edu/pa/galagallery/
Open for debate
The campus in the capital city was again was in the campaign spotlight as Sac State and the California Broadcasters Association co-hosted the only live statewide debate between gubernatorial candidates Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and State Treasurer Phil Angelides. The one hour event took place on Oct. 7 in Capistrano Hall.
The debate was available by satellite to all California radio and television stations and included simultaneous Spanish translation and closed captioning. Major networks carried the debate live and hundreds of media representatives were on campus covering the event.
Hosting gubernatorial debates is nothing new to the campus. Sac State and the California Broadcasters Association hosted the 2003 Recall Debate featuring the five leading candidates – an event that attracted worldwide attention. And in 1998, they also hosted a debate featuring Gray Davis and Dan Lungren.
For additional photos of the event, visit www.csus.edu/pa/debategallery/
Students offer direction
On foot. By bicycle. In the car. Whichever way you travel around campus, it’s now a lot easier to navigate courtesy of a major upgrade to the campus signage and bike trail systems.
After nearly two years of work by design students, faculty and staff, Sac State has about 100 new signs, ranging from large signs for directions to smaller ones to identify buildings.
The design students looked at existing signage, studied campus traffic patterns, checked out the signage systems at places like hospitals and shopping malls, and sought input from students and various campus offices such as Public Safety and Services to Students with Disabilities. A campus committee selected the final design plan.
The new signs will be soon visible to bicycle enthusiasts taking advantage of a more comprehensive bike path system that will soon encircle most of the campus.
In addition to widening an existing bike path along State University Drive West, bicycle lane markings and signage will be added along State University Drive South, State University Drive and State University Drive East to improve bike circulation. Additional bike racks and lockers will also be installed.
The $700,000 bicycle project is funded through grants from Caltrans and the federal government.
Vets on campus
The expanded GI Bill is bringing military veterans—including many who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan—to the Sac State campus in numbers not seen since the Vietnam War. The number of veterans using educational benefits this fall—both those who have either served active duty or are reservists—has increased to more than 500, 100 more than the year before.
Under the GI Bill, veterans can potentially earn benefits in excess of $1,000 a month as full-time students, plus extra financial incentives. The historic 1944 GI Bill provided education benefits to millions of veterans returning from the war.
Sac State is also part of a “Troop to College” initiative, made up of representatives from the UC, CSU and community college system, which helps veterans make the transition from the service to college.
“The campus can seem overwhelming with all the offices from financial aid to academic advising. The University is a different world than the military,” says Jeff Weston, coordinator of the Veteran Affairs office on campus. “Like many students about to enter college, veterans are a little apprehensive.”
Weston said another wave of veterans may be headed to Sacramento State. Last year Congress authorized reservists—who have been called up to serve in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001—to take advantage of newly introduced benefits.
Record year for private support
Strong community support helped fuel a banner fundraising year for the University. Public contributions in 2005-06 totaled $16,239,897—the largest amount in Sacramento State history.
“This was truly a landmark year in private support for the University. Private funds allow us to provide a level of excellence beyond what is possible with state funding,” says Carole Hayashino, vice president for University Advancement. “We are extremely grateful to the donors who gave so generously to our students and programs. Their interest in the University speaks highly of the value of a Sacramento State education.”
The California State University system expects each campus to raise private support equal to 10 percent of its general fund allocation. Sacramento State’s goal for 2005-06 was $14.8 million.
Many of the gifts were in support of the Alex G. Spanos Sports and Recreation Complex. They included the first $1 million of a $2 million leadership gift from philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad to build the Broad Athletic Facility and $5 million of the $10 million that Alex G. Spanos pledged for the complex.
Other gifts included a $250,000 contribution from the Rumsey Community Fund to support activities in the Native American Studies program including an endowed scholarship, and an anonymous donation to support Asian American Studies.
The public support for the sports complex was a key to making it a reality. President Alexander Gonzalez promised students, who voted themselves a fee increase to build the new facility, that he would raise $25 million in public funding for it in order for the fee increase to go into effect.
For more information on giving a gift to Sacramento State, visit www.csus.edu/giving.
Doug Rice hears voices in his head. But that’s not a comment on his state of mind—the voices come from characters in his next book.
Rice, a professor in the English Department and author of three published novels including Skin Prayer and Blood of Mugwump, says his writing process starts with a single character saying a single line. In one instant, he knows the nature and complexities of his novel’s protagonist.
“By the time the character has uttered the first sentence, I know its entire life story,” Rice says.
For Rice, character development comes ahead of a storyline. “When I start to write a novel, I don’t know what the book will be about. I put the character in a situation that causes complications in his or her life, and sit back and watch how the individual behaves in that particular situation.”
He also does his best to strike minutia from the story. “In our everyday lives, we don’t go home and bore our partners with every single detail of the day. I don’t do that when I write either. I include in the story the moments that matter, because those are the instances that change who my characters are as people.”
And what if he runs into a boring character or situation? “Luckily, art isn’t exactly like life,” Rice says. “I get to orchestrate what happens, so if I find my character in a situation that doesn’t matter, I can ‘fast forward’ through that and move on to something more significant.”
So how does Rice know when a story is finished? “Total exhaustion,” he says.
“I know when I’ve pushed a story as far as it can go. When I get to the point of suffocation, there isn’t any language left in me to tell the story,” he says, adding that the ends of his novels never tell the whole story. “I want the readers to be able to provide their own ending. That way, the story doesn’t just belong to me. It belongs to the reader as well.”
And the survey says...
It is not easy to get someone on the phone at home in the evening to answer more than 70 questions about the state of affairs in the Sacramento Region.
But the students of Sociology Professor Amy Liu do it year after year. Last spring they conducted more than 1,100 interviews for the surveys, which each generate widespread media interest.
“The success of the surveys would not be possible without the outstanding and very professional work of our students,” Liu says.
In conjunction with the Sacramento State’s Social Research Institute, Liu has been conducting “The Annual Survey of Public Opinion and Life Quality in the Sacramento Region” since 2002. The survey is the key project of two courses required by sociology majors: Research Methods and Data Analysis.
Planning for the survey work begins early in the fall semester in the Research Methods class where Liu gets her students thinking about current events and possible questions. “The students are in touch with the issues in their communities,” Liu says. “For instance, one student was very involved in affordable housing and so we asked questions about the issue on last year’s survey.”
In addition to students, Liu seeks input from her colleagues and she stays on top of local and national issues as well. For her next survey, Liu is already considering questions on issues such as construction of the Auburn Dam. “We formulate questions that will provide good, accurate information on how the public feels about issues. The surveys are helpful to policymakers who often have no other information on how the public feels,” Liu says.
Last spring, for example, Liu’s students interviewed 1,122 Sacramento region residents on subjects ranging from a proposed arena in Sacramento to the Iraq War.
After collecting the data, Liu and her students analyze it and write a series of survey reports, broken down by topic. Each of the students then writes a research paper based on the survey work.
“The students are always very proud that they have been a part of work that has so much value to the region,” Liu says.
Building on the dream
Jennifer Piatt has captured global attention. The International Paralympic Committee invited the therapeutic recreation professor to this year’s Paralympic Games in Torino, Italy as a guest and observer—a visit that Piatt hopes will lead to future collaboration between the committee and Sac State.
Piatt is now applying to conduct research on how to increase the visibility of the Paralympics, the Olympic Games for athletes with limited physical abilities.
“I think awareness is really important,” Piatt says. “These are truly ‘Para- Olympian’ athletes. They are elite athletes. They have been training for years and these sports are their careers.”
The committee invited Piatt after reviewing her recent research that concluded those with limited physical abilities were more likely to participate in sports if recreation staffs and organizations focused on encouraging lifelong athletic opportunities.
Everyone should have the same access to sports and recreation opportunities, Piatt contends. “Playing and competing in sports is the human right of every person,” she says.
The Paralympic Games exemplify her findings, she says, by demonstrating that sports can be part of one’s life despite physical challenges.
Piatt says that for too long the Paralympic Games have been seen as a sporting event held specifically for paralyzed athletes. But the games are held for athletes with a range of abilities. For example there are Super G skiers who are visually impaired and amputees who are track competitors. Piatt hopes to change those misconceptions.
The Paralympic Games were first held in 1948 for World War II veterans with spinal cord injuries. They soon grew to include athletes with varying abilities, and began coinciding with the Olympic Games, held two weeks after the Olympics in the same venues.
Piatt and co-researcher Laura McLachlin of Chico State hope to act as catalysts in mainstreaming the games into the American sports culture. None of the Torino 2006 games were telecast in the United States. In contrast the games were shown live on television throughout Europe
The pair hope to conclude their research after attending and studying the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing.
Are high schools making the grade?
Each year, the Center for California Studies holds its Envisioning California Conference—a statewide discussion of issues affecting California. Past conferences have looked at e-democracy, the politics of power, expanding the California dream, the future of state governance, the impact of the defense industry and the legacy of Proposition 13. For this year’s conference, the topic was “How Well are We Preparing Our Young People for Life after High School?”
Introduction to conference
It is not coincidental that the great common school movement in America occurred in the 1830s, the same period of time of Andrew Jackson and the democratization of so many American institutions. It’s no coincidence because schools, teacher and quality education is essential to democracy. As John Stewart Mill once said, “You can write a democratic constitution but the only way to create a democratic people is through education.” —Tim Hodson, director, Center for California Studies, Sacramento State
We have to truly think globally … We have to have a culture of high expectations and high standards for all of our students. I truly believe that it’s not only a moral obligation, it is today an economic obligation.
We need to increase the rigor in our curriculum, and we really need to bring what I call a cultural change so that every student and teacher believes that he or she can reach a higher level …. We’re clearly seeing positive trends. But we need to do a better job in terms of that culture change. I know it’s a slogan but we’re still ‘leaving too many students behind.’ —Jack O’Connell, Superintendent, California Department of Education
Retention Rates: Why Are So Many Young Men Disappearing from Our Schools?
Every kid in middle school just wants to be accepted … So if you are a black kid this is your paradox: If you choose to be “black” you’re going to be popular with your black friends but you won’t assimilate. You’re not going to take education seriously … On the other hand if you assimilate, you’re going to move on and be educated but not going to be considered “black.”
There is another choice. There have to be positive role models for African American males, people they can relate to. We need older African Americans who can go back to these kids and say you can still be cool, you can still be popular and you can still assimilate. —Brian Coaxum, Franklin High School (Elk Grove) graduate and UC Merced student
The adult impact—whether we say it or not—about who is smart and who isn’t is huge, who is college material versus who isn’t, who gets to go into AP class versus ‘Well, we don’t want to hurt their feelings, it’s really hard work,’ is huge. And those are all adult issues.
It changes the dynamic among adults when they can’t pick out by skin color, by language, who the ‘good kids’ are. In fact, they begin to shift and say all of our kids have this potential. In my opinion that is the most important cultural shift, the adults being able to reinforce that whoever you are, whatever your background, you are college material if you choose that, and I will give you the support. —Granger Ward, California state director, AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination)
African American and Latino cultures have always valued education. It’s a myth that these populations don’t value education.
For young boys of color their first experience with school is generally negative ... All children enter school with a positive attitude, but early on boys of color see school as a place to be seen as inferior. They don’t see role models. The teachers don’t reflect them. Maybe the janitors reflect them. But the teachers don’t.
One of the benefits of segregation was that in the insular environment within black communities, children were buffered. People were vested in the well-being of those children … With integration they weren’t always put in classes where they had the best interests of the students in mind. —Lisa William White, professor, Bilingual/Multicultural Education Department, Sacramento State
The High School Exit Exam: Is It a Valuable Measure of our Students’ Abilities?
How could we endorse an assessment that punishes many black and brown students at a significantly higher rate than their more advantaged peers? More black and brown and poor kids passed than those in the field suggested they could … Students have defied our wildest expectations.
It’s tragic it came to this. Poor kids get less of everything … The exit exam shined a bright spotlight on our failing high schools. Kids were leaving without skills, woefully under-prepared … If we don’t believe students can learn at the highest level, we don’t institute the practices and policies to make it happen. Their diploma was not a ticket to higher ed. It was a ticket to the unemployment line or an urban or rural street cornier. The most inspiring part of all of this is that that piece of paper means something. —Russlynn Ali, executive director, Education Trust-West
If you are to have an exit exam, something that has such an extraordinary penalty attached to it—not getting out of high school—all students who are going to tested on that test must be taught all of the material that is going be tested. And number two, the students who are going to take that test must be taught that material by teachers qualified to teach it. California can’t say we’ve done this, and therefore California hasn’t reached a point where they can fairly or constitutionally keep diplomas from students who are otherwise qualified.
The state hired a consultant who showed progress as well as continuing deficits and gaps in the exit exam. Remediation is still quite spotty … If we do want a system, we need to do it in a way that is fair to students and doesn’t undermine our goals of improving the quality of education for all students, particularly in eliminating some of the ongoing inequality in the state. —Johanna Hartwig, attorney, Morrison & Foerster, LLP, firm that brought lawsuit representing students who didn’t passed the 2006 exit exam
The achievement gap must be reduced as soon as possible. It must be mitigated, it must be eliminated. We must have the same standard for all students no matter what they bring through the door. The way you can do this is with data. When we administer the same test across the board in the same language we can make comparisons we never had before. We wouldn’t have had this discussion if we had escape valves, if we had alternatives. —James Lanich, president, California Business for Educational Excellence
Measuring Success in our High Schools
We need to be very careful about what numbers we use. The data available is still primitive. For example, we’re still debating graduation rates. We have very weak methodologies for assessing what works. One of the worst is “best practices.” Unless we compare both low and high achieving schools, and are sure the bad performers aren’t doing the same thing as the high achievers, it is hard to make inferences.
Where we don’t know, we must be willing to run experiments. We must be willing to randomly try one thing with some students and one thing with other student and see if it makes a difference. That’s the only way you can tell if the things we’re talking about really matter. —Ted Lascher, professor, Public Policy and Administration Department, Sacramento State
Schools as Political Terrain
My two-word description for education policy is “hopelessly politicized.” A lot of the literature out there is dominated by think tanks that appear to have an agenda. Scholars can’t even agree what the problem is.
Conservatives tend to focus on student-centered explanations. People on the left focusing on systemic or school-centered explanations. What has emerged is a policy stalemate. Conservatives argue for the implementation of market forces to improve schools, such as vouchers and charters. People on the left argue throw money at the problem … What has emerged politically is the illusion of reform, with its emphasis on standardized testing and structural reforms. While standardized tests and structure are important they tend devalue critical thinking and writing skills—promoting rote memorization instead, depriving teachers of creativity in the classroom.
What is most unfortunate is that this focus on reform and structure and testing is that it allows politicians to claim credit for reorganizing school districts, rising test scores and other reforms without having to engage the population in a discussion of the far more complex root causes of educational failure, such as poverty, social inequality and structural changes to the economy. —Tom Hogen-Esch, director of policy studies, Center for Southern California Studies, CSU Northridge
The state legislature and the governor run education in California and the school districts get to mess around with what’s left over.
There are three kinds of areas in California: urban, suburban and rural, and they’re different. I think if you’re on a committee on education, before they let you vote you should have taken a look at small districts, middle districts and you ought to look at large districts like Los Angeles or Fresno or San Jose, so that when you vote you have an idea about how that vote affects them … We pass a lot of whitewash laws that apply to everyone. There are different needs.—Bill Lambert, director of government relations, United Teachers Los Angeles
The ways education is politicized are so numerous it’s very hard to list them. Ever since crime became a secondary issue, education became a primary issue, in some ways with the same type of politics. The competition was no longer who could propose the stiffest sentencing for burglary or whatever, the competition was who could propose the stiffest testing standards … Certainly education becomes a political plaything for a lot of people in Sacramento and Washington.
To what extent has education reform improved things, and to what extent has it messed things up more? Most teachers will agree we’ve changed things so much so often that there’s no consistency over time. We don’t have patience to sit out any particular set of problems. Politicians want to say something is not working as well as it should, so let’s change it, let’s do something different. The main thing is to be steady on the course … Keep in mind, this is like anything else—like crime, like health—there’s no fine, permanent fix, that’s just not the way things work. —Peter Schraag, columnist, Sacramento Bee
We went through a whole series of major, major architectural changes to public schools ... The dollars used to come from the local community. When it comes from the local community, people can get involved in who gets elected to local school boards and whether or not your local school board can take money out of your pocket, and people care about that. Now that it comes from the state budget it reinforces the golden rule of the political process—whoever has the gold makes the rules. And the state of California controls the purse strings, therefore, the legislature and in the governor’s office is where the policy debate happens.
We need to look at what it costs to achieve the outcomes we say we want. My hunch is that number will be much higher than people expect. And once we get the answer we’ll have to step back and say we either have to come up with that level of investment, or we have to scale back our expectations. If that‘s what it costs for every student to be at a level of proficiency, and we’re not prepared to put up that money, we have to be willing to say as a state that we’re prepared to not have all our children achieve that level of proficiency. —Rick Simpson, deputy chief of staff for Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez
Achieving a Shared Vision: Creating an Environment of Success
How well are we preparing students for life after high school? If you look at the data, we’re not doing good enough, especially for those who are underrepresented in some of our most rigorous courses. We have a moral obligation to increase opportunities for academic success, especially for those who have not been successful in our school system.
Do we have the will to educate all children? Those of us who went into education knew we weren’t going to be multimillionaires in terms of dollars. But knew we would become trillionaires in terms of life-changing experience for the children for whom we’ve had the opportunity to touch their lives. —Odie Douglas, associate superintendent, Lodi Unified School District
There, I learned that Caucasian and upper middle-class were normative conceptions of what it meant to be a Bear—our school mascot. And those Bears were the ones who overpopulated honors and advanced placement courses. They were the ones who traveled with the foreign language faculty to Spain and France. They were the student government officers. They matriculated to universities at impressive rates. Those students were also able to look at the faculty of the school, and at the stories and images embedded in the textbooks and see their cultural backgrounds reflected and affirmed.
In spite of these issues, I was determined to thrive, even though my “California distinguished” high school inadequately prepared large numbers of black and Latino youth for four-year colleges. Interestingly, my alma mater has consistently been ranked as one of the top public high schools in the United States by Newsweek magazine. But I recall a culture where I, and a host of other “minorities” from my neighborhood, was relegated to low-level, tracked courses. I often found myself longing for a curriculum that both challenged me and was relevant to my life. I also longed for teachers who looked like me, who understood my interests and goals, and saw value in my community.
Where were those teachers—advocates—who would teach young minds to critically read, write and understand systems of power that help to perpetuate misinformation and flagrant assumptions associated with socioeconomic status, language variation, ethnicity or cultural heritage? Looking for an ally in “Bear Country” was an elusive goal.
It wasn’t until I was in graduate school that I learned that there were educators, proponents of multicultural education, who dared to speak against injustice in its various forms. Scholar Bell Hooks reflected my convictions in Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope: “We need…citizens of this nation to uphold democracy and the rights of everyone to be educated, and to work on behalf of ending domination in all its forms—to work for justice, changing our educational system …where [students] learn…to engage in rigorous study and to think critically.”
Similar to what Hook asserts, I needed critical educators in my life. Those who understood that multicultural education was more than voyeuristically reading literature about people of color, or bringing a dish to school that reflected my heritage for “Cultural Appreciation” Day. Critical educators understand that education is a form of liberation, where one can name their own experiences, analyze oppression, and work towards social justice and equity. Within the scholarship of multicultural education, I discovered an educational ideology and philosophy to articulate my journey through the K-12 education system—a system that devalued cultural pluralism and reproduced class stratification. This “critical” pedagogy, expressed in the work of scholar Paulo Freire, recognizes that teachers are “cultural workers.” They have the power to create a more just and democratic society by modeling democratic ideals and principles in the classroom.
Today, I am fortunate to work in a program that prepares future teachers to work within this equity framework. And I work with many students in the Department of Bilingual and Multicultural Education who share stories that reveal the challenges they experienced related to language, class or ethnicity, as more than 75 percent of our credential students are of color or bilingual. But the adversity that many of my students have experienced has spawned a passionate cadre of educators who desire to transform schools to challenge racism, classism and linguicism.
Lisa William-White is a professor in Sac State’s Bilingual and Multicultural Education Department. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Humboldt State University, a master’s degree in education from the University of San Francisco and a doctorate in education from UC Davis.
Sac State welcomes its first class of honors students
A liberal-arts college experience with large metropolitan university opportunities. Who says you can't have it both ways?
When Sac State launched its brand-new honors program this semester, it found 58 bright, motivated students eager to take part.
With its academically challenging environment, small classes and extracurricular activities, the honors program is designed to fill a gap, says history professor George Craft, who helped develop it. “Numerous programs have been created for student-athletes and disadvantaged students but not for students looking for something like this.”
In addition to a curriculum created especially for them—with a culturally rich, worldly emphasis—the program’s first students found a built-in social and academic network and their own home-away-from-home in the form of a student lounge.
The students come from all over the West and—in the case of German exchange student Chrissy Griesse—overseas, and are pursuing a variety of majors. Unlike the honors programs at some other universities, Sac State’s is general education-focused and will fulfill most of the University’s general education requirement. For each of the first four semesters, students will take sets of three courses followed by an upper-division component of nine to 12 units. The classes are structured to provide a global perspective, which faculty members hope will encourage study abroad.
This semester featured an honors math course, a world civilization course and the first of a four-semester seminar course on “great books.” The classes make for lively classroom conversations.
Student David Hills became interested in the Honors Program’s small class offerings during orientation. “The open-discussion type studying interested me more than sitting in a large lecture hall,” he says.
For Karissa Horton, who considers herself an aspiring evangelist, the discussions have helped her embrace others’ beliefs. “We all get to learn from each other,” Horton says. “The class discussions make me stronger because I am able to think about different points of view.”
Semester two will feature a second world civilization course and courses in speech/rhetoric and in philosophy as well as the continuation of the great books seminar. The second year includes honors courses in biology, government and ethnic studies.
Because of the small classes and ample opportunities for discussion, Honors Program Director Roberto Pomo says the relationships between the honors faculty and the students are as much about mentoring as teaching.
“And the mentoring that goes on in the classroom is equally important to what occurs outside the classroom.” he says.
The students have regular social events almost every Friday, which have included workshops on topics such as time management skills, library research tools and health issues. There is also a film series where students view classic movies by legendary directors such as Otto Preminger’s Laura and Mike Nichols’ The Graduate, and discuss them with Sac State professors.
Groups of students have also attended the University’s Green and Gold Gala and the gubernatorial debate the campus hosted in October.
Between classes, the students often congregate in a noisy former dorm room in Foley Hall. The Honors Lounge is open from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every day. Students can study, work on projects, do homework, or just hang out.
“It’s a wonderful space and they really are taking advantage of it. It’s like Grand Central Station—in a good way,” Pomo says. And it has benefits for the program staff as well. “It keeps us in the loop. We can ask them, ‘How are you doing?’ As a director, if a student wants to talk, I don’t go home. In many ways it’s the most important part of the job.”
Pomo’s involvement with the program was what helped draw Justine Yang. She initially came to Sac State for the theater program and to attend Pomo's classes. "I was interested in the Honors Program and when I found out Dr. Pomo was in charge, everything fell into place," she says.
The lounge is one of the responsibilities of the Honors Committee. “We want students to be involved with community work in service to the Honors Program,” Pomo says. “The students take care of the social events. They look after the Honors Lounge.” And an upcoming Honors Program journal will be run solely by the students.
“It’s given me a sense of community,” says Roberto Torres, who chairs the Honors Committee. Before coming to Sac State, Torres was enrolled in Richmond High School’s Law Academy and says the Honors Program is “just like being in my academy in high school.”
Pomo says one of the goals of the program is to develop a strong association with the campus. In addition to regular visits to each class, program staff will assess each student at the conclusion of each semester.
Plans call for a new “class” each year—the students come in as a group and stay together through the years that follow. Currently, the student groups are incoming freshmen, but Pomo hopes that some day they will be able to offer an honors program to transfer students.
“We have had requests from sophomores who have been in community college honors that want to be in honors program when they transfer to Sac State,” he says.
Recruitment for next year has already begun and Pomo hopes to continue to increase representation among all groups of students. “Usually honors programs are viewed as being a bit elitist,” Pomo says. “At Sac state our mission is to be all-inclusive.
“We want to attract prospective students from a wide variety of regions and school districts. It’s what Sacramento is about, it’s what the state of California is about and it’s what this university is about.”
In addition to recruitment, part of Pomo’s responsibilities include raising additional funds for the new program for things like scholarships, books and faculty research that will impact teaching. He also hopes to send honors students to conferences with faculty and bring in guest speakers with national and international reputations.
For Justine Yang the famous theater adage “break a leg” is a familiar one. And she says she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Her first on-stage faux pas was while performing a commercial skit at her high school in which she said the wrong line. And it wasn’t just any line, but a controversial one that had been ripped from the script. Instead of urging customers to enjoy Coca Cola, Yang touted “Old Gold Cigarettes.” She soon corrected herself on stage. But for Yang the mistake was “exhilarating.”
“I discovered I could mess up but I could save myself immediately,” she says. “I learned that if things go wrong, I know I can survive.”
Yang is the social chair of the Honors Program’s Honors Committee. She hopes her performing experience helps her pursue a career in broadcast journalism.
Along with drama she is interested in how others approach their lives. She has traveled to Belgium, Costa Rica, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Switzerland, Taiwan and Thailand with her Taiwanese mother. “I’m very open-minded,” she says. “I like to think that I am willing to try new things. Traveling has opened my mind to different cultures.”
Cpl. David Hills knows the value of education. He protected its reconstruction in Iraq as an infantryman. Hills’ unit provided security for engineers and contractors fixing up schools in the Kurdish region during his 2003-04 tour of duty.
“In society, education is the foundation for all the good things that can happen in a country,” says Hills, who hopes the refurbished schools he helped secure allow a new generation of Iraqis to become educated and to have careers.
Although his father and both of his grandfathers served in the military, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks solidified his decision to join the Army and ultimately the infantry. “I figured if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it all the way,” he says.
While in Iraq, Hills also patrolled roadway checkpoints, conducted raids on homes of suspected insurgents and trained Iraqi National Guard soldiers. Hills also came face to face with police corruption, reinforcing his wish to be in law enforcement.
As an honors student he enjoys being able to learn through discussion. “I kind of understand that there is more in life than just going to school,” says Hills, who now uses his Army field bag as his backpack. “I still try hard and I’m doing my best, but I understand there is more to (an education) than getting an ‘A’ on the next paper.”
Honors student Karissa Horton hopes to one day become an evangelist. And she is off to a good start.
As a top competitor in the North American Bible Quiz Tournament, she is fluent in the principles of Christianity. For four years her Sacramento-area team has placed in the top 20 nationwide, winning third place in 2004. Thousands of students participate in the games—similar to the TV-game show “Jeopardy”—and compete locally, regionally and statewide. The top two teams in each state then compete nationally.
“I love it,” Horton says. “Its purpose is to help you have the word of God in your heart, but you get to do it with a competitive spirit.”
As for the Honors Program, Horton says it has helped her embrace others’ beliefs. “I am the most outspoken about my faith in terms of the discussions in class,” says Horton. In turn, she says, “I am learning how other people think or how they express their points of views.”
Along with competing and playing piano, the Honors Committee member enjoys working as a church peer counselor. “I’ve always been somewhat of a youth counselor,” she says. “If my friends have had needs, I’ve always been there for them.”
Roberto Torres says he’s experienced the divide between rich and poor. And as an aspiring U.S. Senator, he hopes someday to close that gap.
“I’ve seen so many injustices by the government that it’s made me want to do something more than just protest,” says Torres, who chairs the Honors Committee.
Moving to Richmond from San Francisco at a young age, Torres witnessed discrepancies between the opportunities offered in each area. He became interested in changing what he saw after enrolling in Richmond High School’s Law Academy.
He soon was working as a summer intern in the Oakland District Attorney’s office and as the chair of the City of Richmond’s Youth Commission. As chair he organized an anti-violence conference that led to plans for a safe and fun recreational “youth café” now under development in the city.
Torres’ mother has been his inspiration to pursue law and public service. An immigrant from El Salvador at 18, she quickly learned English and landed a law firm position. Throughout any hardships, he says, “She’s handled it so well. I hope that when I go through something (difficult) that I can be like her and stay strong.”
Torres is hoping to join Sac State’s debate team and participate in student government through Associated Students.
German ballerina Chrissy Griesse may be graceful when she lands a perfect pirouette. But, she is anything but demure when presenting a new business idea.
When she was just 17, the German giant Volkswagen awarded her a special recognition prize for her daring entry in its annual business plan competition—usually reserved for the “over-30” entrepreneurship crowd.
Griesse is part of a new generation of Germans pushing for recognition of the value of young entrepreneurs. In Germany, those in their early 20s are typically pushed toward entry-level positions. “There is so much potential going lost,” says Griesse, who is an Honors Program committee member and the coordinator of its student lounge. She hopes to one day establish a business organization for teens similar to Future Business Leaders of America in Germany.
Griesse’s father introduced her to business while running his dental practice. “I use to job-shadow him at his business and whatever I didn’t like I started criticizing,” she says. Now as a barista for Java City, the international student is already gearing up to tell her supervisors how they can better expedite service and increase revenues. “They would be so much more effective if they rearranged the design of their shops,” she says.
Meeting the special needs of the Sacramento Region's Southeast Assian community is the focus of new program in social work
Working with women at the Hmong Women Heritage Association, Sac State student Dao Moua Fang is being introduced to what it takes to become a good social worker.
Closely following the guidance of social workers in the association’s Kashia Health Program, she conducts educational workshops for cancer support groups and provides case management for Hmong cancer patients. Fang’s projects are part of a new program at Sacramento State aimed at preparing social workers to work primarily with the Southeast Asian community.
It’s giving students like Fang a new way of looking at the experiences of others. And Fang says she feels that she’s becoming more than just a by-the-books social worker.
“Dual perspective is a very powerful tool when working with ethnic communities such as Asian Americans, because they seek help within their own community before going to human service agencies for assistance,” Fang says.
Fang, who is of Hmong descent, is part of a graduate social work program that is believed to be one of the only such programs of its type in the country.
“These students are very dedicated to the field of social work and to the communities they intend to serve,” says Serge Lee, coordinator of the program and a noted social work researcher. “They care very deeply about their clients and they are learning how to provide social services for people who really need them.”
And social services agencies are more than grateful for the work of the students. Other Sacramento State students do assessments, crisis intervention and ongoing therapy for children and families in the mental health program at La Familia Counseling Center in Sacramento.
“The students have been very helpful,” says David Nylund, who is a clinical supervisor at the center and a professor of social work at Sacramento State. “One of our students, due to his Hmong background, is able to use his cultural knowledge with Hmong clients. This helps with La Familia’s multicultural and diversity focus.”
Lee said that program grew out of concerns from the Hmong Women’s Heritage Association, the Asian Pacific Community Counseling program and Asian Resources, Inc. The agencies turned to Sac State for its expertise in social work to develop a program that would provide better training for social workers to specifically address the needs of individuals and families in the Southeast Asian community.
About 70,000 people in Sacramento County make up the Hmong, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Mien and Laotian communities, according to the 2000 Census.
A study Sac State researchers released earlier this year found that Southeast Asian ethnic groups in the region have the highest poverty rates and the greatest need for social services.
In addition to economics, Lee said, other factors make the social work program vital to the Southeast Asian community in Sacramento. “Many Southeast Asians are still assimilating into the mainstream of American society and adjusting to life in the United States,” said Lee, who is believed to be the only person of Hmong descent in the country to have earned a doctorate in social welfare.
The 19 students in the program take all their classes together as a group and study subjects required of all social work students such as social welfare policy and social work with vulnerable populations. But unlike other students, they take 18 specialty seminar sessions that allow them to learn more about the life-changing experiences of groups who escape from their native countries, become refugees in other countries and ultimately settle in America.
The students spend three days week—20 hours—working in the field at Sacramento area social services agencies. For example, some students are working on a mental health internship, where students learn about therapy, psychiatry, nursing and other mental health issues.
In other cases, students focus on child abuse and neglect prevention efforts, accompanying workers to see how such cases are investigated and intervention approaches are developed.
Next fall and spring, the students will begin handling cases themselves. During their third year they work on their thesis projects.
By then, student Dao Moua Fang hopes to have the skills she needs to aid Hmong women, many of whom were traumatized by the war in Laos and also may have lost a spouse or child in the conflict. “Due to the fact that Hmong have no concept of mental health, many of these women can’t tell the difference between emotional pain and physical health problems and often attribute their poor health to physical and spiritual causes,” Fang says. “I feel that if there are more Hmong social workers working together with a psychiatrist to deliver responsive mental health services and coordinate culturally sensitive support groups for these women, then they will be able to overcome their trauma.”
After posting the best overall record in its Div. I history (1991-present) and setting numerous program records last year, the program enters the 2006-07 season with one goal in mind: winning its first-ever Big Sky Conference championship. One of just three teams to reach the Big Sky Tournament each of the last four years, Sac State will enter the season with seven returners, including six of their top eight scorers from last season, including all-conference selections Alex Bausley and Loren Leath.
The team is working to improve its record for the third consecutive season under head fourth-year coach Dan Muscatell. He welcomes the largest incoming class of his tenure, while also returning six letter-winners from a year ago, including all-conference guards Kim Sheehy and Stephanie Cherry. The Hornets will prepare for their run at a conference championship with a tough preseason, including games at Gonzaga, Washington State, Louisville and Kansas.
After winning six league championships in the last seven seasons, expectations for the team will once again be high. Last season, Sac State claimed the Western Athletic Conference title and advanced to the NCAA Championships for the second time in school history. Juniors Melissa Genovese, Nicole Giao and Alexis Tsurumoto as well as sophomore Marina Borisova will lead the team and attempt to fill in for the seven seniors who graduated last year.
One season removed from a 35-20 overall record and a 14-6 mark in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference, Sac State will look to post its fourth straight season with at least 30 wins. The Hornets, who finished just one game out of first place and narrowly missed a selection to the NCAA Regionals, return 13 players from last year’s team which posted its most victories since the 1995 season. Among those returners are three all-conference selections: outfielder Hilary Johnson, pitcher Cassie Cervantes and catcher Jamie Schloredt.
Sac State enters its second year as an affiliate member of the Western Athletic Conference with an elevated pitching staff, a talented incoming class of freshmen and junior college players, and a solid group of returning position players. All-conference third baseman David Flores returns after a breakout season a year ago. The pitching staff returns left-hander Mick Joyce, who finished last year with a staff-best 3.09 ERA. Right-hander Mitch Lively will be one of the team’s top relievers after making a team-leading 22 appearances in 2006.
Track and Field
Senior David Nichols will look to become a three-time All-American this spring. The shot putter has earned All-America honors each of the last two seasons, including a sixth-place showing last spring at the national championships. The Hornet women will also continue their quest for a Big Sky Conference title. Senior Roshena Duree will lead the way after being named the conference’s Field Athlete of the Year last season. In June, Sac State will serve as host for the NCAA Div. I Outdoor Track and Field Championships for the third straight year.
Despite a roster that featured six freshmen last season, the Sacramento State women’s tennis team was able to win its fifth-consecutive Big Sky Conference title. With five players returning in 2006, the Hornets look primed to win another league title. Sac State, which welcomes back all-conference performers Cecilia Helland, Luba Schifris and Joyce Martinez Gutierrez, enters the season having won 34-consecutive matches against Big Sky competition, a streak which dates back to 2002.
After being crowned the Big Sky Conference’s co-regular season champions last season, the team will return four players in 2007. That includes first team all-Big Sky selection Gabriel Loredo. In addition, the team welcomes a recruiting class that was ranked the 18th-best in the nation among Div. I teams by the Tennis Recruiting Network. The men’s tennis team has accounted for six conference championships in the last nine years.
After winning last year’s Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association championship for the first time since 2001, the Sacramento State women’s rowing team will look to repeat as conference champions in 2007. The Hornets welcome back 26 student-athletes this year to a program that has won four conference championships since the rowing team gained intercollegiate status in 1995.
The Hornet women will be one of the favorites to win the Big Sky Conference championship. Last season, Sac State placed third but the team returns the core of its lineup and has also added transfer Erica Haney to the mix. Senior Margaux Sheehan has been the top golfer on the team the last two years. Head coach Adam Pohll continued his rebuilding of the men’s golf program. A talented group of young players will guide the team during the spring. That group includes local products Grant Norton and Robert Budenbender
Building a better student-athlete
Go on, call them muscle heads. But today’s student-athletes are embracing concepts of smart strength conditioning that are helping them build both brain and brawn.
Modern approaches to intercollegiate athletics incorporate weight training as an essential part of an overall fitness regimen. The goal is to build not just muscle but power and explosiveness.
“We’re here to build better athletes, not better bodybuilders,” says Director of Strength and Conditioning Gary Uribe, who joined the Hornet athletics program this summer from the perpetual sports powerhouse University of Southern California. “I don’t call the plays, I don’t diagram the offense or defense. But I can make them better athletes.”
Athletes who are strong and fit are more likely to be better competitors and less likely to get injured, he says.
And keeping athletes from getting injured can be as important to their success in the classroom as it is on playing field, court or track.
When student-athletes are injured, it affects their ability to perform at their potential, says assistant professor Harry Theodorides, who works with graduate students in the strength and conditioning option through the Kinesiology and Health Science Department.
“Injury prevention is the primary goal of strength training because an injury can inhibit a student-athlete’s ability to continue to practice and play at a high level,” he says. “You hear older athletes talk about how training prolonged their career and how it helped them in terms of staying healthy.”
Strength and conditioning is not an old profession compared to other facets of coaching, Uribe says. “As in any sport, there’s a psychology to it and no ‘one size fits all.’ Athletes come in a plethora of personalities and it’s important to learn how individual athletes respond. It’s one thing to train the body. We want to work the mind as well.”
Sac State subscribes to a movement-based program, which incorporates free weights and non-weighted activities to improve athleticism. The idea, Uribe says, is to go for overall strength and fitness and then become more sports-specific, working on functionality for each athlete’s position in his or her sport. It’s important to duplicate the movements of the position the athlete will play—standing on one leg, twisting, pushing.
“The old school of strength and conditioning was weightlifting alone, with a focus on ‘big,’” Uribe says. “That’s not enough within competitive sports that are multidirectional. You have to be able to do more than one move, because if after one move you’re done, and the other guy can do two or three moves, you’re not going to be successful.”
Uribe actually starts by working outside the weight room on foot speed and agility.
“All collegiate strength and conditioning programs do the same thing as we do—the same squats, the same bench presses,” he says. “But we also focus on spending as much time on movement outside.”
Those movements may include agility drills such as the speed ladder, hurdle work and medicine ball training. Then they come inside and use weights. For example, during the off-season football players work out four days a week: two speed days and two strength/power days. Eventually the movements and weight training build on each other.
Other drills work on change of direction and speed. The athletes also do strength and power moves that don’t use weights. Instead of the traditional “crunches” and other vertical abdominal movements, they do more twisting, multidirectional moves, focusing on the “core,” the area around the trunk and pelvis.
“We place a premium on training the athlete’s core, because a stronger core enables the athlete to move more efficiently,” Uribe says.
Theodorides adds that a strong body and core may help the student-athlete perform better and limit injuries.
But if an athlete does get injured, Uribe says it’s important he or she keeps up with conditioning so that when the athlete is ready to return, there is not a lot of catching up to do.
How the training staff deals with injury depends on the program and the type of injury, of course. But Theodorides says it typically involves a team approach that could include the athletic trainer, physical therapist, team doctor and sports psychologist. “Everyone is a team member focused on getting the athlete back to the playing field,” he says.
Uribe says that as a strength coach, he needs to know how the athlete is limited by injury so that he is able to address that in conditioning. For example, a “throwing” athlete such as a pitcher or a quarterback might need to back off on shoulder exercises if an injury occurs. But the student still can do alternative exercises to work the same muscle group. A player with a torn labrum would have a hard time doing overhead lifts such as a shoulder press but could do shoulder-shrugs to continue to work on that particular muscle.
“For most the part there’s an alternative as long as it’s a temporary injury,” Uribe says.
Both Uribe and Theodorides see a huge upside for student-athletes in the new athletic facilities being built on campus. Uribe says the larger space and advanced equipment will allow them to be functional for all team sports. Today, athletes have to come to the weight room in shifts to lift. Beginning at 6 a.m. most mornings until well into the evening each of the campus’s 20 sports teams take turns coming in for workouts at two separate facilities. And large sports teams such as the 85-person-strong football and track teams can’t all be in at once and have to split up even further.
When the new Broad Athletic Facility opens it will be double the size of the current setup, Uribe says, and will be large enough to house all the teams under one roof.
Theodorides sees the weight room as a learning lab, where students in the kinesiology program learn about the value of strength and conditioning programs as they learn to be strength and conditioning coaches.
“As with the graduate strength and conditioning program in the Kinesiology and Health Science Department, the graduate students will get the opportunity to work with the head strength coach, student-athletes and latest equipment at the collegiate level in the new Broad facility.”
And it will help the ultimate goal—more competitive student-athletes.
“We’re here to help the teams get better,” Uribe says. “Then we get to sit back and watch them compete. It’s the best thing about being a strength coach. Your reward is seeing athletes go out and be successful.”
The influence of Spanish-language radio mogul Amador Bustos and his wife Rosalie reaches far beyond the airwaves.
The Bustoses—among the most prominent Hispanic couples in Sacramento—are devoted philanthropists. Their efforts are felt throughout the area artistically, culturally and educationally.
At Sacramento State, they contributed to the Joe and Isabel Serna Center. And they are members of the President’s Circle, providing President Alexander Gonzalez with insight on the area’s emerging issues.
Amador Bustos is thankful he can give back to the University. “We have received the benefit of several employees who were graduates of Sac State,” says Bustos, who—during the rise of his first broadcast company—admired and worked with the late mayor and professor Joe Serna.
Amador Bustos, listed by Hispanic Business in 2005 as one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the country, made his fortune by expanding Spanish-language broadcasting. He began in the industry by selling advertising for a San Jose radio station while Spanish-language radio was just beginning to emerge. In 1992, he started Z-Spanish Media in Cameron Park with one radio station, 92.1 FM. In only eight years, Z-Spanish Media grew to include 32 stations. Bustos sold Z-Spanish in August 2000 for reportedly more than $450 million. He now owns Bustos Media LLC made up of 25 radio stations and two television stations in 10 markets.
In 1996, the couple established the Bustos/Lopez Family Fund that awards $5,000 scholarships to Hispanic high school seniors each year. So far they have helped 50 students attend college.
“I feel like I am one of their cheerleaders,” says Rosalie Bustos, who takes a personal interest in each student and corresponds with them every semester. “These kids are so intelligent they just need the financial assistance to get where they are going.”
She is also the vice president of the Mexican Cultural Center of Northern California.
Amador Bustos sits on the Broadcast Music, Inc. and American River Bank boards, and is a member of the Investment Committee of Hispania Capital Partners, a Chicago-based investment fund.
He credits his own personal work ethic for his success. “Don’t be pushy. Be ‘pully,’” he advises students. “Pull work toward you, do not push it away. Pull people to you instead of pushing them away
While she was studying botany at Sac State, it is unlikely Cary Williams-Nunez (Environmental Studies ’96) ever envisioned she would trade in her garden gloves for boxing gloves. But soon after graduating she found herself captivated by the sport.
Now as one of only a handful of women boxing promoters in the world, Williams-Nunez is the CEO of Sacramento-based Prime Time LLC, the parent company of Prime Time Boxing and Fitness, and Prime Time Productions, businesses she co-founded.
In July, she promoted “Rumble at Raley Field,” the biggest professional boxing event ever held in the Capital Region. Fourteen boxers competed in seven fights with special guests including the “King of 4 Rounders” 1996 IBA World Super Heavyweight champ Eric “Butterbean Esch, and famed referee Richard Steele. And she brought a decidedly female perspective to the event by including female bouts and male ring cardholders.
Not afraid to step into the ring herself, Willams-Nunez earned her Level IV Olympic Boxing coaching certification in 2001. As a coach, her petite frame and ladylike voice is deceiving. “Everyone keeps expecting me to be this large woman who looks like a man. That’s unfortunate,” she says. “I think strength can be looked upon as a feminine trait.”
And there is no doubt that Williams-Nunez is tough. “I was taught to get up and brush myself off (if I fell down),” she says.
And when she falls, she falls hard—such as the time she fell 40 feet into a Santa Monica lake as a competitor on NBC’s “Fear Factor.”
“I basically got pulled on a speeding raft with a helicopter overhead, reached up and climbed a rope as far as I could,” she says of her 2004 appearance. “I was bruised on my whole left side. I landed sideways.”
Williams-Nunez is also a fitness columnist, expert and model. She appeared on the cover of Muscle & Fitness Hers in August. And she is working with the magazine’s editor on a “Knocking Out Obesity” campaign by developing boxing programs for kids nationwide.
She says boxing as a form of fitness is gaining steam, and hopes it creates more fans of the sport. In January, she and her husband, retired professional boxer Angelo Nunez, will open a second gym in Roseville.
“Boxing,” she says, “is a life-changing experience.” As she would know.
The buzz started here
What the initial Herky the Hornet mascot may have lacked in flash he made up for in substance, according to Chet Shelden (Elementary Education, ’57). And Shelden should know. In 1955, he became the first to sport a green and gold hornet costume for Sac State.
His attire was made of crinoline, a stiff mesh material. Nothing like the elaborate plush of today’s costumes.
“My costume may not have been as fancy and nice as they have now, but it was fun,” Shelden says of his uniform, which was made by friends. “Basically it was made up of a big head, leotards, tights and a long stinger. We painted my black eyes on and I wore the crinoline costume and a little pair of wings. And it got cold out there in November, I’ll tell ya.”
Shelden recalls leaping around the field and getting the crowd going with the school’s cheerleaders. “I didn’t have any famous moves,” he says. “But I had a lot of school spirit. You can’t be a mascot and be inhibited. You have to be a little crazy.”
The student council and the athletics department chose a hornet—over the elk—as the school mascot on Dec. 5, 1947. (Though no record exists, the name Herky is believed to be short for “Hercules.”) It wasn’t until 1953 that the new university fielded its first football team. And it wasn’t until 1955, when Shelden volunteered during one fateful rally committee meeting, that the team had somebody to embody its school spirit.
Shelden’s newfound role was rare at the time. Only a few California teams had mascots, including Humboldt State’s lumberjack. The country’s first university to have a mascot was the University of Illinois, which in 1929 introduced a Native American in costume.
Shelden played his role in Sac State history through 1957. Unfortunately, neither he nor the University have the costume or any photos.
After graduating, he taught in Costa Mesa for 18 years before moving to Siskiyou County where he taught in a one-room school. Shelden retired in 1989, but then taught as a substitute for the San Juan Unified School District for a year and a half. For the past 13 years he has been a music specialist at Greer Elementary School.
Shelden says he looks back fondly on his years as mascot. And he especially misses Sac State’s close-knit school spirit.
“(As a mascot), I think you have to be dedicated to the idea that you are there not only to support the team, but the school as well,” he says.
Shelden and his wife Eudora, “Dora,” (Elementary Education, ’57), live in Sacramento. They have four children and eight grandchildren.
Whether serving in Iraq or working for a high-profile governor, U.S. Army Col. Don Currier (Criminal Justice, ’84) says he manages to stay grounded.
“I know how things will play out in the field,” says Currier, who first began his dual career as both a cop and an Army private. “I have enough experience to know the way things are in reality.”
For 25 years Currier has influenced criminal justice decisions at the city, county, state, national and even international levels while remaining close to the fray. And he will continue to do so following his recent appointment by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to be the chief legal counsel for the California State Lottery. Before leaving for Iraq this past summer, Currier worked as Schwarzenegger’s deputy cabinet secretary on emergency services and military issues.
“Don was a dedicated member of my staff and I know he led his soldiers with that same zeal and integrity,” Schwarzenegger says. “I’m pleased to know he is home safely from Iraq and willing to serve California again.”
Of Schwarzenegger, Currier contends the former movie star expects his advisors to be prepared. “If he sees the ‘Emperor is not wearing any clothes,’ he’ll call you on it,” he says.
In Iraq, Currier commanded 4,000 military police as they trained 150,000 Iraqi police officers in Baghdad. He says citizens are struggling to find faith in the country’s new justice system which lacks clear cooperation between law agencies, and firm jurisdictional boundaries. Despite the challenges, Currier says he is “proud of the gains we made in training police officers.”
Currier’s civilian career has included stints as the director for the certification division of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, as chief legal counsel and later chief deputy director at the Governor’s Office of Criminal Justice Planning for Gov. Pete Wilson, and as counsel to the State Assembly Committee on public safety. He also served as deputy district attorney for the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, and as a police detective, patrol officer and training officer for the Sacramento City Police Department.
His military assignments have included operating an enemy prisoner of war camp in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm and working as a military police company commander during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. He has received the Combat Action Badge and two Bronze Stars, and many other military and service medals.
During his time at Sac State, Currier was the student senate chair and in 1997 the Criminal Justice Department gave him its Alumni Honors Award.
Though growing accustomed to positions of influence, Currier strives to ensure that government officials make realistic decisions, just as he does of his soldiers.
“When I tell a soldier to do something, it isn’t something I wouldn’t do,” Currier says. “And chances are it isn’t something I haven’t already done.”
Jacqueline (Jackie) Walden, Ph.D., ’68, B.A., Psychology, ’89, M.A., Anthropology, moved two years ago to Grants Pass, Ore., where she serves on the board of directors and ethics committee of the local Lovejoy Hospice. Her specialization in gerontology prepared her for these challenging positions. In addition, she authored one of the chapters in Left Coast Press’ new publication Women in Anthropology: Autobiographical Narratives and Social History. In it, Walden thanks her mentors George Rich and Melford Weiss, professors in Sac State’s Anthropology Department for their help in her career.
Donna Bledsoe, '70, B.A., English, ’75, M.A., English, was awarded her master's degree in English on the basis of her fine arts project, a book of poetry called Scars, a copy of which is on file in the University Library. She is an active poet again and publishes a blog at email@example.com with her newer works. She invites Sac State students—past, present, and future—to visit and make comments.
Karyn Domich, ’72, B.A., Family and Consumer Sciences, has returned to campus after a 30-year career at Sac State and her retirement in May 2005, to take on a special assignment in the Alumni Relations office. She is the chapter relations coordinator for the Alumni Association and will be the liaison for the alumni chapters, establishing and supporting the growth and stability of this component of the Association. Domich formerly was in the President’s Office and the Office of University Advancement. A longtime volunteer with the Intercollegiate Athletics Department, she is also serving on various event committees of the Stingers. She is part of a long line of Sac State alumni.
Duane Hoffman, ’75, B.S., Business Administration, joined the California Franchise Tax Board after graduation and in 1981 started a program which taxed nonresident professional athletes based upon performance duties in California. Since then, most other states have followed his lead in taxing non-resident professional athletes and entertainers. Over his 25-year career, numerous articles have been written about Hoffman and his job, among them in The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Most recently, The Sacramento Bee featured him and the program’s so-called “jock tax,” which generated more than $7 million in the fiscal year 2004-05, the last year tax records are available. He lives in Rancho Cordova.
Gwen Schoen, ’74, B.A., Family and Consumer Sciences, has come full circle since she graduated from Sac State. She says that she is probably one of the few people who decided at a very young age exactly what she wanted to do and made it happen. In 1979 she was hired as a home economist in the “Katherine Kitchen” department of McClatchy Newspapers. Katherine Kitchen was a staff of home economists who wrote about food, fashion and home furnishings for the Sacramento, Modesto and Fresno Bee newpapers—which she says is very similar to being a local Betty Crocker. Besides writing, she did recipe demonstrations and a lot of public speaking about fashion trends, cooking and nutrition. When the Katherine Kitchen department was dissolved in the mid ‘80s, she was reassigned to the Sacramento Bee and became the fashion writer. About 10 years later she began working on a new section called “Time and Money” which focused on consumer affairs. When the food writer left the paper in 1995, Schoen returned to the food section as the primary food writer, a position which she still has. She lives in Carmichael and has been married 35 years.
John H. Leach, ’76, B.A., Government, is the site operations director at The Hermitage, Home of President Andrew Jackson. Located just outside Nashville, Tenn., the National Historic Landmark is the third largest presidential site in the United States and the recipient of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Trustee Emeritus Award for Excellence in the Stewardship of Historic Sites. The 1,120-acre historic site and farm consists of 32 historic structures, a visitor center, 600 acres of farmland and 100 acres of cattle pasture. Leach’s responsibilities include security, gardens and grounds, museum cafe, housekeeping, farms, and building maintenance. He resides in Hermitage, Tenn. with his wife and daughter.
Carolyn Parks, ’77, M.A. Special Education/Gifted Education, began her career with a first place national award for drama in 1949—screen legend James Dean took sixth. As she entered UCLA, she got married, ending her “drama queen” dreams. However, after graduating, she came to Sac State and earned her master’s degree. Her thesis/project is on file in the library and lately, she has seen many of her concepts put into practice in public education. Teaching for years, Parks continued to use her Sac State project in her own classroom. After retiring, she did “studio teaching” which required credentials from elementary through secondary. She has also worked on several films and commercials, including Breakdown, shot partly in Colfax, What's Love Got to Do with It, and Diggstown. When a commercial required climbing down a canyon to an American River gorge, she decided she was getting too old for that kind of occupation, so now she heads music, drama and poetry groups with Sac State’s Renaissance Society. She says, “I enjoyed Sac State more than UCLA—I was older, more experienced and given professional freedom. Thanks, Sac State.”
Brian Purtill, ’77, B.S., Criminal Justice, has been counsel to the Santa Rosa law firm of Spaulding McCullough & Tansil LLP since May 2004. Currently, he is also on the faculty at the Empire School of Law, teaching civil procedure for the academic year of Fall 2006/Spring 2007. Purtill and his wife, Jymmey, ’78, B.S., Nursing, live in Sebastopol.
Mark Booher, ’87, B.A., Drama, interim artistic director/associate dean of the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, has been named permanently to the position since December 2005, has been an Allan Hancock College Fine Arts Department faculty member and served as the conservatory director of acting from 1999-2005. The conservatory’s acclaimed two-year training program, the only one of its kind on a community college campus, has infused the national theatre scene with thousands of actors and theatrical technicians since its inception. As an actor, director and choreographer, Booher has been involved with many prestigious regional theatres as well. He received his M.F.A. in Acting from UC Irvine and is a member of Actor’s Equity Association and the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. He lives in Santa Maria with his wife, Lindy, and two children.
William Eaton, ’89, B.S., Criminal Justice, joined the Los Angeles Police Department after graduating from Sac State, where he also played football. He has risen through the ranks and in August, was promoted to captain. Eaton is married to Elizabeth Free Eaton, ’89, B.S., Criminal Justice, who is also employed with the Los Angeles Police Department as a detective. They live in Valencia.
Donna Thayer, '83, B.A., English/Journalism, ’86 Teaching Credential, ’03, M.A. Educational Leadership, has been in the education field for 20 years and was recently appointed an assistant principal in the Lodi Unified School District. She was formerly a consultant at the California Department of Education where she worked on the California High School Exit Exam. Prior to that, Thayer worked in the Folsom Cordova Unified School District as a teacher, district lead teacher and administrator.
Richard Daskam, ’90, B.S., Business Administration (Finance), a realtor, has been appointed to the 2007 Multiple Listing Service Committee by the Pacific West Association of Realtors. He is an agent/partner at Keller Williams Realty Los Alamitos and will serve on the MLS Committee for one year. Pacific West Association of Realtors is the largest realtor association in California, and has nearly 13,000 realtors in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Daskam is also a director for the 2007 California Association of Realtors and is serving on several committees for that group. While in college, he was on the staff of The State Hornet and worked in the Sac State Sports Information Office. He makes his home in Long Beach with his wife Michelle and their family.
Regina Truhart, ’96, B.A., Music (Voice), has been named assistant professor of costume technology at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. As a graduate with a master’s degree in fine arts from the College-Conservatory of Music, Regina has returned there after teaching costume technology at the University of Florida and the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. She is a recipient of the United States Institute of Technical Theater Award of Distinction, and a first-place winner in the National Opera Association video competition. Her credits include work with the Washington National Opera, Seaside Musical Theater in Daytona Beach, Fla., Utah Shakespearean Festival and Opera Theatre, and Music Festival of Lucca in Italy. In Cincinnati, Truhart has worked with the Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Opera Outreach and College-Conservatory of Music. She lives in Cincinnati.
Robin Zasio, '91, M.A., Social Work, returned to school to earn her doctorate in clinical psychology in 1999 at The California School of Professional Psychology in Alameda. Currently she owns and operates two drug and alcohol residential recovery homes. Zasio also owns and directs The Anxiety Treatment Center located in Sacramento, where she specializes in treating anxiety and related disorders utilizing cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure and response prevention techniques.
Stefanie Aeder, ’06, B.S., Kinesiology, Meloney Greer ’05, B.A., Education (Child Development), and Jessica Hoffman, ’05, B.A., Communication Studies (Public Relations), all former Sac State gymnasts, were featured in Stick It, an April 2006 release from Touchstone Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment. The movie, starring Jeff Bridges, follows a rebellious 17-year-old in the regimented world of elite gymnastics. In the film, Aeder, Greer and Hoffman perform in two competition sequences and are featured throughout the finale. They auditioned in Los Angeles after their final competition at Sac State. Aeder lives in Portland, Ore., Greer in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, and Hoffman in Escondido.
William E. Greep, ’05 B.S., Business Administration (Accounting Information Systems), has been promoted by Hearst Argyle Television to director of engineering at WMTW-TV in Portland, Maine. He was previously assistant chief engineer at WISN-TV, the Hearst station in Milwaukee. Prior to joining Hearst Argyle Television, he was the manager of outside engineering at KXTV-TV in Sacramento.
Catherine Labbé, ’06, B.A., English, who worked as an assistant while a student at Sac State, has been named the University Alumni Center’s event manager. Serving clients from the campus and the community, she coordinates the use of the Center for meetings, conferences, social gatherings and weddings, to name just a few of the events booked into the space. Before coming to the Alumni Relations Office, she worked as a manager of a local cafe, and brings her experience in customer service to her position at the Alumni Center.