10 Things about Sac State

Fall 2012

The Case for a College Degree

From the President
Causeway Carriage: A treasured tradition
Veronica Aguayo: Class of 2013
Theatre Treasure Ready for New Audience
Grandma's Gift: Heritage on film
The Case for a College Degree
Internships a win-win for students, business
Cash and Query
Solid Foundation
Food for thought
Earning degrees, not debt
Fiddyment Family
Bill, Gail, Laura, and Lisa Allen
Class Notes

From the President

We recently finalized Sacramento State’s budget for this academic year, including preparations for another drastic reduction in state support.

Like many of you, we have had to cut back at Sacramento State in response to the ongoing economic crisis. No part of our campus has been spared over the last few years, including classes, maintenance and student support programs.

This year, the reductions total more than $11 million, as we must be ready for possible “trigger” cuts that will be decided by Proposition 30 on the November ballot.

I know that I am not alone in worrying about finances. Our University’s alumni, friends and supporters are deeply embedded in the local community, so when the region’s economy suffers, the Sacramento State family does as well.

This issue of Sac State Magazine addresses that theme. We have included stories on saving money, managing money and the psychology of money. You can also find features on the value our University provides to the community and the fiscal benefits of a college education.

I want to assure you that despite the budget cuts, we are doing everything we can to protect education for our students. Campus budget decisions are based on a comprehensive, University-wide perspective that acknowledges the importance of the entire Sacramento State experience.

Quality, affordable and accessible public higher education provides immeasurable value to a community and its people, and I appreciate everyone who is helping us fight for those ideals.

As members of the Sacramento State family, you also deserve a big “thank you.”

Once again, we reached our goal for private support of the University, students, faculty and programs. We are particularly grateful for the support shown for our School of Nursing expansion and the 33 percent increase in industry partnerships through our Corporate Associates program.

While these donations do not directly affect our budget, they do make the lives of our students much better. Many of your contributions fund scholarships that keep students in school or enhance academic programs in ways that state dollars cannot. In today’s economic climate, that is especially important, and I appreciate your willingness to help our students.

Back to top.

Causeway Carriage: A treasured tradition

The Causeway Carriage ended up on the wrong side of the Causeway more times than Judy Quattrin would like to remember.

The longtime perpetual trophy for the annual rivalry football game between the Sacramento region’s two major universities—Sac State and UC Davis—was a coveted prize for several seasons of Hornet teams, says Quattrin, who was a cheerleader for the Hornets before graduating in 1966 and later taught
on campus.

“Whoever won the Causeway Classic was awarded the trophy for a year,” Quattrin says. “They used it as a motivator and a symbol for years. They also used it in parades, at halftime. For most of the alumni between 1960 and about 1995, they all remember the Causeway Carriage.”

Business owner Jeri Striezik donated the 19th century Victorian carriage to the Associated Students of Sac State in 1960. It was sent into retirement in the mid-90s. Several Sac State sources reported UC Davis representatives said the carriage had become too cumbersome and expensive to transport back and forth between the two campuses.

Now more than 100 years old, the carriage is a valuable antique according to Donna R. Jones, a curator of horse-drawn vehicles for the California Department of Parks and Recreation. She inspected it in 2005 when a major restoration project was being considered.

“This is a very well-made carriage with gracefully curving lines, hand-carved wooden details and scrolling ironwork,” Jones wrote in her report.

These days the Causeway Carriage is safely tucked away in a corner of Sac State’s campus, though it makes occasional appearances at alumni gatherings.

The fragile carriage was replaced by a less elegant but more utilitarian trophy made from a core sample taken by CalTrans from the Yolo Causeway, the short stretch of Interstate 80 between the two campuses. Though it lacks the charm of the Carriage, Hornet fans hope the new prize spends the majority of its time on the “right” side of the Causeway.

Back to top.

Veronica Aguayo Class of 2013

Sorority founder knows the importance of getting involved in campus activities

In two short years at Sac State, Veronica Aguayo ’10 (English) has packed in a college career’s worth of campus involvement—finishing her bachelor’s degree in English, beginning graduate school and, oh yes, founding a sorority.

Aguayo’s effort, Sac State’s chapter of Zeta Sigma Chi, is now 22 members strong and on a mission to unify women from diverse cultures to achieve success in education.

“We want to push education as a top priority, along with culture and sisterhood and community service,” Aguayo says. “We’re constantly striving to strengthen the bond between us as sisters and we’re also striving to push one another to graduate college, enter the workforce and get those internships.” 

Q: What were the deciding factors that brought you to Sacramento State?

A: For one, it’s really close to home. I like the small class size. All of my professors have been very attentive to their students and I really like that. I also knew I wanted to be a teacher and I heard that Sacramento State had one of the best credentialing programs in the state, so that was the ultimate deciding factor.

Q: Why did you decide to start the Zeta Sigma Chi sorority chapter at Sac State?

A: I really wanted to feel like I was a part of something. I played sports growing up and I was always part of a team. When I got to college, being a commuter student, I wasn’t part of anything—I just came to school, did my business and went to work or went home. As soon as we got the sorority established, it was a sisterhood. It’s like a family, for life.

Q: Why do you think it’s important to be involved in campus organizations and activities?

A: You get to know so many people. You form those bonds and those can lead to longtime friendships and windows of opportunity for when you’re looking for a job or need those letters of reference. Getting involved helps you stay focused on what you want to do and gives you perspective.

Q: How do you think your experiences at Sac State outside of the classroom will benefit you after you graduate?

A: The fact that Sac State is known for being one of the most diverse campuses in California—diverse populations are the types of students that I want to work with. Finding out the issues that go on in their homes or the mountains that they’ve overcome in order to achieve their goals in education—that gives me an insight into how I’m going to help the future high school students that I’m going to teach.

Back to top.

Theatre Treasures Ready for New Audience

Theatre buffs and history fans have reason to applaud. The personal memorabilia of the late  theatre professor Gerard Larson is now center stage at Special Collections and University Archives.

The Gerard and Georgia Larson Theatre Collection documents more than 200 years of the art, primarily from London’s Royal Theatre Haymarket district. It includes autographs, early playbills dating back to the mid-18th century, original artwork and literature on 19th and 20th century plays and staging.

The gift from Georgia Larson honors Gerard “Doc” Larson who taught at Sac State for 37 years. He viewed collecting as a rare opportunity to “make tangible the ephemeral nature of theatre.”

The collection is available to the public by appointment by calling (916) 278-6144.

Back to top.


Physical Therapy doctorate program underway

Sacramento State’s first physical therapy doctoral candidates are on campus this fall. The program was authorized last year and 32 students were accepted into the inaugural class out of more than 400 applicants. Sac State is the first school in the California State University system to offer a doctorate in physical therapy and the three-year program will fully replace the current master’s curriculum by 2014. The new level of educational training is designed to prepare graduates with the most current training in the field and ensure the program meets national accreditation standards.

Sac State’s Olympic tie

Stephanie Brown Trafton spent her summer abroad, but she wasn’t just sightseeing. Instead, she took a working vacation in London, where the director of operations for Sac State’s athletic department competed at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, placing eighth in the discus. Brown Trafton won a gold medal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and placed first at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. in June. Brown Trafton also manages the Hornet track and field program’s booster organization The Finish Line Club.

Campus to focus on global water issues

The One World Initiative is a new program bringing together global engagement and education, both within the curriculum, and the broader campus environment. The 2012-2013 theme, “Global Perspectives on Water,” and its interconnectivity—as the key to economies, as an expanse waiting for exploration, as a tool or impediment, as a luxury and as a basic human need—will be featured by faculty, staff and students in lectures, class projects and special events to reflect how interdependent our world really is. Upcoming events are listed at csus.edu/oneworld.

Sac State to launch international MBA Plan

Sac State is stretching its curriculum to Singapore. The College of Business Administration is offering the University’s first off-site, advanced degree program with its international master’s degree in business administration. The program will prepare students to become business leaders in the global marketplace by focusing on finance, information technology management and international management. The one-year program combines online classes with accelerated face-to-face learning activities. Details: cba.csus.edu/graduate/imba.

Former Giant joins Sac State baseball staff

The surging Sac State baseball program has added a former major leaguer to its dugout. Steve Holm was hired as the Hornets’ hitting coach over the summer. As a big league catcher, Holm appeared in 59 games over three seasons with the San Francisco Giants and the Minnesota Twins during his 12-season pro career. Sac State won a share of its first Western Athletic Conference title in 2012 and hit .298 as a team.

Cool Course: Entr 187: Entrepreneurship

Description: Entrepreneurship attracts dreamers and schemers, business whizzes and inventive go-getters. The popular class provides the essentials for those interested in owning or managing a business. Students are led through the necessary steps in launching
a startup: analyzing personal and business goals, researching the market, developing a marketing plan, determining what resources are needed, determining cash flow and pro forma financial statements. The outcome is a professional business plan and financial package worthy of submitting to prospective investors.

Classwork: Sac State’s professors often call upon successful entrepreneurs for lecture material and even as guest speakers to offer day-to-day insights on the finer points of entrepreneurship. Lindle Hatton has taught the entrepreneurship class for more than 20 years. He’s utilized the expertise of Shari Fitzpatrick, founder of Shari’s Berries, and Sleep Train founder Dale Carlsen ‘84 (Business Administration), among others. “I bring in Chris Chediak, who is an intellectual property lawyer,” says Marsha Jeppeson, who taught the course last spring. “He brings a ton of expertise that really complements the students’ research. He has so much experience and gets in front of a lot of things that young entrepreneurs would miss.” 

Assignments: Hatton compels his students to examine existing organizations that are successful. ”I have them select two businesses of their own preferences from Inc. Magazine’s Top 10 list and profile them,” Hatton says. “Why are they appealing? Why would they look at that business to emulate? It gives them some perspective of what it takes to get into that fast track.” For their final projects, students—either in groups or individually—design their own business plans.

Students say: “Professor Hatton’s course gave us a lot of insight into the reality of starting a business,” says Kris Hollinger, a senior majoring in business with concentration in entrepreneurship. “The speakers that he brought in gave us real-life information about owning and operating a business. I am hoping to start my own business in the future, and the information I received from his class will be very useful in that regard.”

Back to top.

Grandma’s gift: Heritage on film

 The 1916 film is part of the National Film Registry

Gregory Mark remembers the day in 1968 when his grandmother Violet took him to the basement of her Berkeley home and dusted off three old reels of 35-millimeter film.

“She said, ‘You go do something with these.’”

Mark, a professor of ethnic studies and the director of the Asian American

studies program, promptly had the film converted to 16mm, but he didn’t find out what the movie was about until five years later at a family Christmas gathering. More than 50 family members watched The Curse of Quon Gwon, starring Mark’s grandmother, and several other family members, in a love story that sees a young Chinese American couple adjusting to the culture and customs in America.

After the initial family viewing, the film went back in storage for more than 30 years. Then in 2005, it was dusted off, digitized and its historic value fully realized when the Motion Picture Association of America recognized it as the oldest Asian American film in existence. The Curse of Quon Gwon was placed on the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2006.

“I get goose bumps talking about it,” Mark says. “To have this be a part of my family legacy, it means a lot to the whole extended family. There are three generations of our family in the film and we didn’t really recognize the historical significance of it until fairly recently.”

The film was written and directed in 1915 by Marion Wong, Mark’s great aunt, who was inspired by a trip to China during the Xinhai Revolution in 1911. She shot scenes mostly outdoors in Oakland and Fremont, using equipment from an unknown industry source. The 35-minute silent film offers an unprecedented look at art, and life, through the eyes of a Chinese American woman in the early 20th century.

The Curse of Quon Gwon made its big screen debut in 1916 and returned to its Bay Area roots in 2007 at the International Asian American Film Festival.

Sac State will celebrate the film this fall when the President’s Committee to Build Campus Unity presents a showing on Oct. 22 in the University Theatre.

Back to top.

The Case for a College Degree

When Thomas Jefferson—father of the modern American public university in addition to his Founding Father duties— established the University of Virginia in 1819, he initially resisted offering degrees, considering them “artificial embellishments.” He soon relented and ever since, earning a college degree has been a milestone on the path to achieving the American dream. But why? What makes a University diploma so valuable?

Jefferson saw education as the means to a better society, one that possessed the “art of reasoning.” Today, college graduates are still the building blocks for a better, more informed society. But they are also an infusion of talent into the workforce.

Backing that diploma are a range of skills attained not only in the discipline they study and  the other courses they take, but in the “co-curricular” activities they participated in—clubs, organizations, sports—which complement their regular curriculum. And they bring context from the social interactions they had with other students, which introduced them to new experiences and thoughts.

“In California today, what used to be possible with a high school diploma now needs a bachelor’s degree,” says Karen Y. Zamarripa, MPPA ’00, assistant vice chancellor of government affairs for the California State University system. “There is an expanded market and demand for skills. A college degree can demonstrate capability and maturity, that you can communicate and do math. And that’s not just for technical careers. All disciplines need skills and training versus years ago.”

And there is a personal payoff as well. People with a bachelor’s degree make 84 percent more over a lifetime than high school graduates, according to a 2012 study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. That translates to average lifetime earnings of $2.3 million for a college graduate versus $1.3 million for those with a high school diploma.

Recent trends indicate that possessing a degree may also be helping  graduates find employment. Another Georgetown study found that while the unemployment rate for recent college graduates was a disappointing 6.8 percent, it was substantially lower than the rate for recent high school graduates, 24 percent.

The rise of online degree programs and for-profit colleges seems at times to muddy the water about the worth of a university degree versus quick access to a diploma.

 “There is a constant battle between the pure customer service model and the standards we have for educating students, which often require everyone involved to make adjustments,” says Charles Gossett, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

“Finding that balance between faculty and students and administrators is an ongoing struggle. We’re not simply giving students a certificate and sending them out the door after having sat through so many hours of class. We want them to know something.”

That means along with technical training in a discipline, there is a strong case to be made for the experiences that set a University degree apart—insisting that students take courses outside their disciplines to build their knowledge in the arts, the humanities, the hard sciences or the social sciences, and encouraging participation in clubs or cultural activities as part of a well-rounded college education.

Lori Varlotta, Sac State’s vice president for Student Affairs, has a message for those who look at college as a strictly vocationally based enterprise. 

“That’s not what a comprehensive university is about,” she says. “When you invest in a four-year degree, the investment is for the experience.

“There may be quicker or cheaper ways to get a degree but our students are making a very deliberate decision to get the college experience.”

A university degree can be a means to an end. A university experience entails taking advantage of the opportunities along the way that add value.

“A college experience takes into account what students do both in and out of class,” Varlotta says. “At Sac State we try to be really purposeful with what we offer students outside the classroom. For example, tying a film series in the Multicultural Center to something being taught in a course, augmenting classes to include leadership training or leadership practice, or perhaps offering community service experience that helps to challenge or confirm some of the theories that are being taught in the class.”

And while some might be quick to dismiss “college life” as a frivolous distraction from the academic program, being involved can actually be good for a student’s efforts to get a diploma.

“We have wonderful data that shows students involved in high impact activities—being a residential advisor, being involved with student government, being the president or vice president of a club or organization—outperform their non-engaged student in just about every matrix in terms of GPA, retention or progress to degree,” Varlotta says.

“Parents may find that to be counterintuitive, thinking that the busier you are the less time you have to study, so you should cut back on your activity. But being active causes students to be more organized, to plan ahead and be more strategic. It helps them make responsible decisions that then become part of their decision-making as young adults.”

For Anette Smith-Dohring, workforce development manager for Sutter Health, activity outside the classroom also indicates a level of community involvement that is highly valued.

“Sacramento State graduates are very interested in their community. They are also very invested. It shows in their work with colleagues and it shows us they are in alignment with us as an organization.

“Students are so busy with work and school. If they still take the time to volunteer or lead an organization, that’s the kind of thing we want to see. We are always looking for future leaders and those that volunteer are ones we want to engage early.”

Phillip Ung ’07 (Government and History), a policy advocate for the Sacramento office of California Common Cause, adds that students who take advantage of the university experience are ultimately augmenting their degrees, more so than they could with an online program.

“Being active in college lets you experience things you wouldn’t elsewhere—the opportunity to network, to work as a team, to do public speaking. You wouldn’t get that experience in front of a computer,” Ung says. “It gives you skills the workforce needs—the ability to collaborate, to work with other people—that you get from being on a campus and participating. As convenient as a computer can be, it can’t fully replace an on-campus experience.”

Erik Fay ’84 (Human Resource Management), workforce planning group manager for the tax branch of the California Economic Development Department, says students who have been active in professional organizations have the advantage of experience working with and presenting
to groups.

“In interviews we ask ‘Have you been involved in making a report to a group or body?’ The ones who’ve been in a student organization have likely served on a board, they’ve been on teams with committee members, they have experience in planning, in organization, in working with diverse personalities and in making presentations.”

In launching his university, Jefferson embraced a curriculum that featured the “objects of a useful American education,” essentially the country’s first general education requirement: classical knowledge, modern language, mathematics, science, history. Today’s “useful objects” incorporate decision-making, critical thinking and problem-solving, all of which are highly-sought by employers, in many cases perhaps as much as technical training in a discipline.

“Employers are very clear that they want the kinds of skills students gain though general education,” Gossett says. “They want students with a broad perspective, who can write clearly and communicate orally in an effective manner.”

“Even in the professional and technical areas that students study, the faculty recognize that what we are teaching now could be outdated really quickly and so what they really want students to do is to understand how we got to that particular place in the field so they will know how to take the next step to go on.”

Sutter’s Smith-Dohring says those skills are crucial for the employees she brings to Sutter’s clinical program.

“We serve a diverse population and have patients from all walks of life, so employees have to be able to communicate well. Customer service is very important to us because our employees are interacting with people in their best and worst moments of life.”

Sutter also seeks the traits its counterparts are looking for in graduates: self-motivation, teamwork and critical thinking skills. “We want employees who can come up with creative solutions and ideas for new approaches. Sac State students are always willing to step up to the plate.”

In addition, Sutter sees the return on its investment in an annual scholarship program, in part because of the quality graduates they get, particularly in the nursing program. 

“Sac State is the region’s primary provider of baccalaureate education. We want our employees to be the best-qualified and there are areas taught in the nursing program—public health, management skills—that they don’t have in an associate’s degree program. When we are looking for a new hire, these are skills we want our staff to have.”

“College graduates bring a background in written communication that has been building since their first English class and has continued through reports, research papers and projects,” says the Economic Development Department’s Fay. “Written and interpersonal skills are essential skills to work in our department. With new staff we don’t have the time or resources to make them effective communicators. And Sac State students who’ve studied any subject have that down.”

While creating a strong workforce will help our economy grow, carrying on the Jeffersonian goal of an informed citizenry remains a noble and necessary charge of a university education.

“A college degree allows students to develop the kinds of skills they need to be successful in a profession or a field of endeavor, while at same time, it gives them the perspective beyond the technical training to be a thoughtful participant in a democratic process,” says Gossett, who is also a professor of government and public policy and administration.

“And you see aspects of critical thinking in both elements. Again, all students gain those critical thinking skills in a wide variety of settings so they learn that there are different ways to think about the arts, there are different ways to think about social problems or technical scientific problems, as well as similarities,” Gossett says.

“One of the things we hope they walk out with is an appreciation of those differences, not that any one is better than the other, but that there are simply different criteria by which you have to make decisions.”

“College isn’t just studying your major,” Common Cause’s Ung says. “It’s the general education requirements that give you a broad range of knowledge and experience with other cultures.

“When you have a college degree, you end up with a diversity of experience that comes from regularly interacting with people who come from diverse backgrounds in religion and politics. That‘s important when you are in a democracy as complex as ours. You see that politicians and propositions affect everything. Nothing is isolated. Having those cultural perspectives allow you to take that experience into account when you go into the voting booth.”

Providing the University experience to students who will populate the workforce and participate in their communities is becoming increasingly difficult.

A recent study by the Public Policy Institute of California says that the state workforce will need 1 million more new college graduates than are projected to come out of the system, says the CSU’s Zamarripa.

“Higher education needs to provide educated citizens who are civically oriented, that can hold a job, that can provide specific workforce needs for the state,” Zamarripa says. “The CSU plays a large role because of the number of students we graduate and our efforts in serving the underserved. If we want the workforce to look like California, they need to come out of the CSU.”

Zamarripa notes that the system is already providing the personnel for numerous essential programs. The CSU prepares 50 percent of the state’s teachers and administrators for K-12, 85 percent of the graduates in public administration and social work, and a large numbers of computer science, engineering and biotechnology professionals.

And it’s not just about the workforce, Zamarripa says. “It’s the economic engine the workforce provides, creating local jobs that put money back into the economy. The return on investment is tremendous.”

For example, in the Sacramento region, Sac State’s more than 210,000 alumni generate an estimated $7 billion impact on the California economy. About $2.5 million in Sac State’s graduates’ earnings can be attributed to their Sac State degrees. The University produces an annual economic impact of nearly $1 billion on the local economy and generates more than 7,300 jobs and $36 million in tax revenue.

“There is this disconnect around what community needs, Zamarripa says. “If we can’t provide the workforce, businesses will either go somewhere else or bring in the people they need. That’s not necessarily bad, but it’s regretful.”

An accomplished workforce, an informed electorate, an economic stimulus. What’s the verdict on the value of higher education?

Back to top.

Internships a win-win for students, business

Keeping track of more than 1,000 ever-changing renewable energy projects is no simple task, which is why James W. Reede, Jr. is grateful for Cheyanne Barba.

The Sac State junior is a valuable resource at the California Energy Commission’s Downtown Sacramento office. She landed an Honors Program Internship with the agency last year and has impressed Reede with her work ethic and smarts.

Hundreds of Sac State students serve as interns through different programs each year, setting up mutually beneficial relationships between students and businesses, government offices and non-profit organizations. The students are usually compensated financially, and more importantly, gain invaluable on-the-job experience.

Barba monitors and updates a database of all the renewable energy projects across the state under the leadership of Reede.

“I’ve learned a lot about renewable energy and made a lot of nice connections with people in the business,” says Barba, who is majoring in psychology and plans to attend graduate school and focus her studies on cognitive neuroscience.

Often, students wind up landing full-time jobs with the organizations in which they interned.

“Many of the people that have been here for 30 years or more started out as interns,” Reede says. “The student interns ultimately add dollars to the community. We give them the ability to pay for tuition, food and shelter while they are in school and we’re providing work experience, which is critical.”

Sac State’s Honors Program Internships allow local organizations to tap into some of the highest achieving students on campus.

“We’ve had Honors Program interns before and the thing I’ve discovered is they are conscious of the work they do and they have that tenacity to achieve,” says Reede, who is an adjunct professor of environmental science at Sac State. “To be an honors student you have to bust your behind. If someone sees that you’re in the honors program they know that you have a high level of work and achievement.”

Back to top.

Cash and query

Examining the psychology of money
“Show me the money!”

Cuba Gooding Jr.’s line from Jerry Maguire was a well-worn catchphrase in the late 1990s and early 2000s as the U.S. economy boomed.

As we now know, many lenders ignored the famous credo during that time and when the housing bubble burst a few years later, underwater homeowners could only comfort themselves by whistling the line from The Beatles’ song “Money:” “The best things in life are free…”

The roller coaster of an economy over the past decade has altered the financial landscape, and the way money is viewed by many Americans. Sac State economics professor Suzanne O’Keefe says there are valuable lessons to learn from the market downturn.

“I hope the recession has made people more cautious,” she says. “People get into feeling like, ‘Oh, if my neighbor can afford it than I can afford it.’ They don’t worry about paying for it in the future. They just want to have it now. That’s just not a good long-term strategy for spending over time.”

Modern culture’s emphasis on money can be linked to rises in materialism and consumerism, according to the American Freshman Survey. The annual survey of college students by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute shows that the proportion of students who said being wealthy was very important to them increased from 45 percent for baby boomers to 70 percent for Generation Xers and 75 percent for millennials.

The recent economic troubles may have tempered those ambitions, at least temporarily muffling “Money’s” chorus, “Money, that’s what I want…”

Carefree consumers are harder to find

California appears to be regaining its footing after a sharp economic slump where the jobless rate in the state shot from 5.6 percent to 11.9 percent between 2007 and 2011. Statistics on unemployment and job growth from the first half of 2012 were encouraging, but there won’t likely be a quick remedy for the economic hangover.

Those employment levels are directly related to decreases in consumer spending. Many would-be buyers are keeping tighter grips on their wallets and close eyes on their credit cards.

“I don’t think people are quite over the recession yet,” O’Keefe says. “They’re still taking that into consideration with any large purchase. People are more reluctant to take on too much in terms of spending and getting into debt. I think after the experience of the last few years, people probably have a little better understanding of how they need to be careful with their spending habits.

“Hopefully people aren’t risking an investment like a house that is so integral to their lives. Some investments are almost like gambling—you don’t know which way it’s going to go. We just need to be realistic about buying, and about lending money.”

The crime-money connection

The common perception for much of the past 50 years was that crime rates follow the same curve as unemployment. The theory followed simple logic. With less legitimate jobs available, more people would turn to illegal means of obtaining money.

The Great Recession defied that notion.

“The number of people in corrections has gone down in recent years,” says Jennie Singer, a Sac State criminal justice professor.

In 2009 during the heart of the recession, the FBI reported an 8 percent drop in the nationwide armed robbery rate and a 17 percent reduction in the auto-theft rate from the previous year. Crime rates have gone down steadily each year since then.

Though there are several other factors at play, including improved anti-theft devices and better policing methods, a poor economic state does not seem to directly inspire crime. Even during the Great Depression as the national unemployment rate hit 25 percent, crime rates in many cities went down.

While individual prosperity, or a lack thereof, may not affect crime rates, Singer says communities that lack resources tend to have higher crime rates. In places where schools are run down, facilities are poorly maintained and law enforcement is lacking, crime generally follows.

“If you have an urban area with poor school districts and few resources, that’s a breeding ground for kids with nothing to do who are more likely to join gangs and get involved with crime,” she says.

Degrees hold their worth

The value of the American dollar remains sketchy and the Euro is in the gutter. A college degree is one of the few commodities holding its own as the recession lingers.

“Unemployment rates are much higher for people with less than a college education,” O’Keefe points out. “It’s more valuable than ever to have a college degree and even a graduate degree. People with college educations are the ones who are most secure during a recession. Hopefully our university can also be a part of the rebuilding of our community as our graduates go on to start businesses and become strong employees for the state or for private industry.”

Singer says education is perhaps our greatest tool when it comes to crime prevention as well. She has seen numerous lives change through learning and academic achievement. She helped start Ascend, a Sacramento regional program that emphasizes education and life skills training as an alternative to jail.

“We have a lot of offenders who had never thought about community college—never thought they were good enough or smart enough—and we teach them, ‘Yes you can, and here’s how you do it,’” Singer says. “We’ve found that when they’re enrolled and taking courses and working toward a degree, the recidivism rates are amazingly low.”

Generational insight

When it comes to finding solutions to today’s issues, it’s often wise to look at the past. As the U.S. plunged to its deepest economic valley some 80 years ago, people found a new resolve and a new set of values.

Seniors in the silent generation, who grew up in the Great Depression often have prudent financial advice that has stood the test of time.

“There is an older cohort of seniors, mostly in their 80s and 90s, that had a real sense of wanting to save,” says gerontology professor Joe Rodrigues. “They may remember the Depression and hard times so they tend to be thrifty, more conservative and diligent about saving and being responsible with money.”

The baby boomer generation, on the other hand, is notorious for its carefree spending. The peace, love and understanding of the 60s and 70s didn’t necessarily translate to fiscal responsibility for millions of Americans born between 1946 and 1965.

“Boomers like instant gratification,” Rodrigues says. “Generally speaking, they have debt, they don’t plan well and many are really going to be in difficult shape when they are retiring. They may realize their 401k is poorly funded, and their pensions and social security won’t be sufficient for them to live the lives they’re accustomed to.”

While baby boomers may indulge at times, they are also generous. Many charities have seen giving increase, or at least remain steady, in the past several years despite the recession. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, giving went up 0.9 percent from 2010 to 2011, even when accounting for inflation.

“I’ve seen giving go up,” says Mark Drobny, owner of Mark Drobny Law Offices and University Foundation at Sacramento State board member. “As the needs go up, more people step up and feel compelled to give. Some of the largest endowments and gifts to Sac State have taken place in the last five years.”

Drobny’s observations fall in line with wealth transfer estimates predicting $41 trillion in inheritance and endowments between 1998 and 2052, according to the Social Welfare Research Institute at Boston College. But not everyone has their affairs in order. Drobny points out almost half of Americans do not have estate plans or wills in place when they pass. Rodrigues says financial planning and budgeting should be points of emphasis, even from a young age.

“I tell my students, ‘It sounds crazy, but from the moment you start working you need to be thinking about retirement,’” Rodrigues says. “We’re living longer and it’s a great thing, but we’re also living with more chronic conditions and we’re more likely to acquire some of these conditions over time. You have to be prepared for aging and retirement.”

Back to top.

Solid Foundation

Financial oversights yield high returns for students, donors, and volunteers

In a family’s history, there is often a single moment that influences its course for generations to come. For the Sacramento State community, on a quiet end-of-semester day in December 1986, the California State University, Sacramento Trust Foundation—since renamed The University Foundation at Sacramento State—was born, with a calling to manage philanthropy to the University in a 501(c)(3) organization.

“The University Foundation is the volunteer oversight of the funds raised through the University’s full-time development department,” explains George Crandell, chair of the University Foundation and one of its founders. “We are there to provide a margin of excellence beyond what state funds can do.”

Over the last two-and-a-half decades, the University Foundation has helped to direct more than $48 million in private support for Sacramento State, and has grown an endowment to more than $25 million of funds that spin off annual returns for scholarships, program operating funds and facilities. Some of those funds are designated to be used immediately—called current-use gifts—to buy equipment or fund student travel to a conference. Others are invested in an endowment fund, which provides the University with annual investment income to be spent for the fund’s designated purpose, while retaining the principal.

Crandell says that private support for academic and student-life priorities is particularly important in the age of declining state support and rising tuition and fees. The evidence of generosity from alumni, friends, corporations and foundations spans the campus and has helped students through scholarships and provided funds for undergraduate research through programs like the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience. It has improved facilities including the School of Nursing’s new home in Folsom Hall and provided essential venture capital for emerging needs.

“It’s exciting to be able to take anyone from our community and find a connection with a University program or scholarship,” says Crandell.

Board member Tina Treis ‘80 (Accountancy) agrees, calling the University Foundation board members “ambassadors for the University.”  She believes that the organization is a big part of the University’s economic engine, creating a personal connection between the University and alumni or the business world.

She recounts how the University Foundation board adopted the Veterans Success Center, then known as Troops to College, several years ago. “We found there was a need to help our veteran students assimilate back into civilian life. It’s not just the financial piece, but also support during the transition.”

The University Foundation board championed a campaign and helped with the funding that created the Center. Today, it is recognized as a model among California State University campuses for the services it provides. Treis says it is exemplary of how donors hear of a need at Sac State and are willing to step forward with support.

“When we established the University Foundation, we made a conscious decision that our mission is to make the money work in ways the donors wanted it to,” says Crandell. During these last few years of a volatile economy, the board has reaffirmed this commitment by returning 5 percent—well above the standard interest rate most donors see on their personal investments—to scholarships and other endowed programs. Any additional revenue is reinvested to grow the endowment.

Treis says that careful and accountable money management—not to mention an independent audit and outside investment counsel—ensures that the University Foundation meets its responsibilities to use donors’ gifts according to their wishes.

“It’s all about the students,” Treis says. “Everything we do as a board we ask how it will benefit the students. That’s why I’m involved.”

Your gifts to Sacramento State are part of this legacy. Visit csus.edu/giving to support your favorite program today.

Back to top.

Food for thought

Healthy eating doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg- just a little time and thought

Organic, cage-free, cruelty-free, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, gluten-free, free range, farm fresh, paleo-friendly, grass-fed, locally grown… whew!

When did trying to find a healthy lunch turn into an upper-level biology exam? And why does each fancy label on our food seem to add an extra dollar, or two, to the price?

To the rescue comes Dianne Hyson, spreading the word that eating healthy can be simple, and cost-effective.

Hyson has written a doctoral dissertation so she’s pulled more than a few all-nighters. The nutrition expert and interim associate dean of the College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies, can empathize with students who scarf down pizza or sip lattes during late-night study sessions.

But Hyson insists there are simple and inexpensive ways to eat healthy, even as a busy college student. The main issue: Many people eat convenience foods in excess.

“The way that Americans eat right now, they’re eating too much of the things that aren’t expensive—the fat, the sugar, the convenience foods,” Hyson says. “If you’re defining food by calories then certainly you’re going to get more calories per dollar, but are they the calories you want to get?

“You can get a small handful of M&M’s and for a very small amount of money you’re going to get a lot of calories. You can look at a big plate of broccoli or strawberries and if you compare the same small amount of M&M’s that was eaten, you end up with a similar price.”

The confusion comes from reports that concluded healthy food was more expensive than unhealthy foods. But a USDA study released this year found that not to be the case. Earlier research had measured food in calories per dollar. The recent report was based on edible weight and price per portion.

Time may be the most precious piece of the puzzle and it’s certainly a huge factor for college students.

“I don’t want to cook for an hour to make something I’m going to eat in 30 seconds,” says junior Jared Kay.

Freshman Lupe Ramos agreed prep time is a huge priority for students with hectic schedules. “If you want to eat healthy, you have to make it yourself. We just go to the grocery store and whatever’s cheaper, that’s what we get. It’s usually just food that we can make really fast. We only have time to stop and make a meal once in a while.”

But preparing meals doesn’t have to be an expensive, time-consuming chore, Hyson says. Sacramento is host to several year-round farmers’ markets, where the freshest fruits and vegetables are available at reasonable prices. Sac State students helped bring a farmers’ market to campus last spring and organizers hope to make it an ongoing enterprise. The Well recreation and wellness center also offers classes on healthy eating.

By combining the fresh ingredients with some of Hyson’s thrifty favorites (rice, beans, whole-grain tortilla wraps), healthy meals can be just a few minutes away. She points out a healthy diet will lead to a higher, more sustainable energy level and a greater ability to focus—not to mention the numerous long-term health benefits.

“The bottom line is: You have to make it a priority,” Hyson says. “There has to be some planning and some thinking about eating healthy. “

Back to top.

Earning degrees, not debt

Programs help students manage money

Markell Williams could be considered somewhat of an oddity: a college student, with a savings account.

The junior is attending Sac State on a football scholarship, but it wasn’t always that way. He started as a walk-on and didn’t receive scholarship money for two years. As a result, Williams is careful not to squander what he worked so hard to attain.

 “You’ve really got to limit yourself going out to eat, paying for gas, making car payments,” Williams says. “You have to put away money for bills and prioritize. Anything I have left, I can have some fun with.”

Unfortunately, Williams’ fiscal responsibility is all too rare among college students. When consumer debt is added in, the average college graduate leaves campus owing close to $40,000 according to a survey by Accounting Principals.

In some cases it’s because student loans, or credit cards, are being used for more than just basic needs.

Helping students avoid the pitfalls of poor money management is part of Gina Curry’s job as student financial services director.

“I think we have seen a decline in students having these skills coming out of high school,” Curry said. “I’m surprised when students come in and don’t know the difference between a debit card and a credit card, or they don’t know how to write a check.” Curry and her staff have access to students during orientation and at private workshops throughout the school year at various sites. She also works alongside the Financial Aid office to help keep students on track financially.

“Every opportunity we have to talk to a student is an opportunity to educate them,” says Anita Kermes, director of financial aid, “from teaching them about budgeting to warning them about credit scores and giving them resources.”

Mark McGushin works with student-athletes like Williams, helping them manage all aspects of their lives, including money management. The scholarship athletes receive their money in four increments throughout the school year and budgeting for several months is often a challenge.

“One of the first things I ask them is, ‘Where are you spending your money? Is it on wants or needs?’” says McGushin, coordinator of life skills and student-athlete development. “We encourage them to make smart decisions.”

Williams said young scholarship recipients sometimes don’t recognize the need to keep a handle on spending.

“The big issue, I think, is sometimes they have scholarships and they think it’s unlimited so they go out and buy a bunch of food, clothes or video games,” says Williams, who is majoring in sociology. “Really, the scholarship is just enough for you to get by.”

Curry sees the mission of Sac State as preparing students to succeed not only in their chosen fields, but also in negotiating the hurdles encountered off campus.

“Students should walk out of here with more than an academic degree.”

Back to top.

Fiddyment Family

Hornets keep farm buzzing

 Pistachios grow in grape-like clusters, thrive in warm, dry climates and have a distinct green color that makes them stand out.

For local pistachio producer Fiddyment Farms, the same can be said for their enclave of present and future Hornets. The family-owned company features a healthy cluster of Sacramento State products—grandmother, grandson and a pair of “extended family”—once green (and gold) clad students, who are flourishing in the capital city’s summery environment.

Dolly Fiddyment ’52 (Education), the senior Sac State alumna in the company, put her degree to work as a schoolteacher in the San Juan School District for 23 years. But back in the mid-60s, she had the intriguing choice of determining which crop to grow at Fiddyment Farms.

“The family historically was in the turkey, sheep and cattle business,” she says. “There were two new crops in California (pistachios and kiwis) and we wanted to put one of them in. I chose pistachios.”

They planted their first trees in Roseville in 1965. Forty years later the company moved its headquarters to Lincoln where—though the nuts are now grown in Bakersfield—the processing plant produces between 2 and 3 million pounds of pistachios each year, about 250,000 pounds of which are sold under the Fiddyment Farms label.

The company focuses on freshness and character, selling its pistachios at farmers’ markets, specialty stores and now at Whole Foods markets in the region.

“We concentrate on quality products,” says general manager Tom Dille ’69 (Business Administration). “There are a lot of pistachios out there, but ours are cleaner, neater and tastier. We still roast them the same way we always have—in small batches. Our goal is not to stay small, but to stay quality-oriented and stay special. We offer something a little better, a little different.”

Dille, who joined the company in 1996, was the College of Business Administration’s Alumnus of the Year in 1986. He also worked with the campus to get Fiddyment Farms involved with the College’s Corporate Associates program, which links the University to area businesses.

Fiddyment’s business manager Diane Wood ’98 (Business Administration) is also a Hornet. “I had significant business experience prior to attending Sac State,” Wood says. “But studying different aspects of business contributed to a well-rounded understanding of the field in general and the emphasis on finance at Sac State helps a great deal with what I’m doing now.”

Dolly Fiddyment’s grandson Bryan Barrett is the latest to continue the family and company ties to the campus. He is in charge of warehouse safety, among other responsibilities, at Fiddyment Farms and will join Sac State as a business administration major this fall.

“I work with the general manager, the sales manager and the office manager and try to get things to run as smooth as possible,” Barrett explains.

There’s another Hornet in the family—Dolly’s daughter Diane Fiddyment ’79 (History)—but not in the family business. Diane is a successful business owner in the Bay Area, as well as a member of the National Leadership Council for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Dolly says it’s been an adventure helping usher the company founded by her husband’s family into the 21st century.

“It’s been fun watching Fiddyment Farms develop,” says Dolly, whose husband David is a UC Davis grad. “It’s been a fun ride for years and now we’re seeing it really grow.”

Back to top.

Bill, Gail, Laura and Lisa Allen

Family keeps big wheels turning 

The bus yard was a giant playground through the eyes of a 4-year-old Bill Allen. From the time he could walk, Allen had few doubts about his professional future.

He remembers going with his father to his business in Woodland as a toddler and looking in awe at the massive vehicles.

“What 4-year-old boy doesn’t want to work with his dad at the bus yard?” asked Allen ’77 (Business Administration) who is now president of Sacramento-based Amador Stage Lines. “It’s the family business and I knew I’d be here from the womb to the tomb.”

Allen’s wife Gail plays a key role in the business, supporting in the business development and sales departments. Gail ’76 (Recreation Administration), MBA, ’81, spent many years in the recreation and tourism industry and has been inducted into the California Travel and Tourism Hall of Fame.

Bill says his college years taught him valuable lessons in and out of the classroom. Allen took part in an intense tutorial program during his first two years on campus.

“It was a little different from the normal college experience, but I liked it,” he says. “There were a couple hundred of us that stayed together for two years and got all of our general education credits satisfied. It gave me a good base. I got to know the professors and the other students really well.”

Under Allen’s leadership Amador Stage Lines has turned into a regional operation, with a second office in Reno and more than 80 employees. The company is fully utilizing the skills and talents of the Allen family. 

Allen got creative when it came to passing on the family tradition. His daughters Lisa and Laura Allen took on roles in marketing and promotions for The Sactown Hopper—an Amador Stage Lines bus designated for revelers in Downtown Sacramento.

“We came up with the idea for the Hopper,” Lisa says. “We wanted a party bus. It’s been running since March and it’s going really well.”

Laura ’10 (Criminal Justice and American Sign Language) worked for a year at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont before joining the family company with her sister. They got the wheels rolling on the Hopper—a bus open to all, but aimed at Sac State students who want a safe way to get to and from Downtown.

“We work in marketing and on special projects,” Laura says. “We run the Sactown Hopper and get the word out on that, and we set up other special trips and events.”

Lisa ’11 (Communication Studies) is putting her Sac State degree, and her experience in extracurricular activities, to good use at Amador. She was the president of her sorority—Sigma Kappa—and says her campus experience enhanced her classroom education. Now she helps coordinate the rolling party that is the Sactown Hopper.

“I don’t mind speaking in front of large groups. We’ve been doing a lot of TV interviews and that’s been fun,” Lisa says. “I can talk for days, so that helps.”

For more information on the Sactown Hopper visit amadorstagelines.com.

Back to top.

Class Notes



Ted Hoffman ’68 (Business Administration) was named the 2012 Alumnus of the Year by Sacramento State’s College of Business Administration. Hoffman is currently the managing principal at Alliance Ventures in San Francisco. He is an avid supporter of Sacramento State, served on the University’s Business Advisory Council and helped create a business executive mentorship program for students.


Ralph Schmidt ’68 (Mathematics) is a candidate for Washington State’s 18th Senate District. Schmidt is a retired information technology consultant who previously worked for the U.S. Department of the Treasury. He also served in the U.S. Air Force. He currently lives in Camas, Wash. with his wife. He has two adult children.



Ronald Holte, MBA ’72 recently published an e-book titled Guidelines for Organization of Working Papers on Operational Audits. The book is now available for purchase on most online book sites.


Ted Puntillo ’72 (Criminal Justice) was recognized as the 2012 Veteran of the Year for California’s 8th Assembly District. Puntillo served in the U.S. Army from August 1966 to August 1969, and advanced to the rank of sergeant. Following his military service, he worked for the U.S. Postal Service, serving as postmaster in Davis from 1981 to 2001. In 2008, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Puntillo deputy secretary for veterans’ services in the California Department of Veterans Affairs, a position he held until 2011 when he became Solano County’s veterans’ services officer.


Doug Taggart ’73 (Environmental Studies and Journalism) is a former State Hornet reporter. Taggart’s work capturing the 1973 demolition of the Alhambra Theatre was featured at the Sacramento Preservation Roundtable.


Robert Robb ’75 (Physical Education) is currently a contract editor for Grand View Media Group and edits Whitetail Journal and Predator Xtreme magazines. He is also on the pro staffs of Gore-Tex, Nikon Sport Optics, Hoyt Archery and Gold Tip Arrow Company.


Mary Arnold, MSW ‘76 was a candidate for Wisconsin State Assembly. Arnold ran in the 37th District Democratic Party primary election held on Aug. 14. She was a school social worker in Wisconsin and currently serves on the Columbus School Board. She lives in Columbus with her husband Henry St. Maurice and daughter Emma.


Lee Arguello ’78 (Government) is the vice president for the Placer County Veteran Stand Down. One of his top priorities is to combat homelessness among veterans.


Robert Caldwell ’78 (Business Administration) will serve as first vice president and commercial lending manager of California Bank & Trust. He will be responsible for the commercial lending team in both Fresno and Sacramento.


Alfred Konuwa, MA ’78 (Economics/Public Policy and Administration) has been selected to participate as a fellow in the 2012 Class of the E. (Kika) De La Garza Fellowship Program. Konuwa is currently vice president of Woodland Community College.


Sarah Backus ’79 (Government) is seeking re-election as judge for New Mexico’s 8th District Court. Backus has served as chief judge of the district for the past 10 months.


Ross Cofer ’79 (Accountancy) was a finalist for the Sacramento Construction Financial Management Association’s 2012 Executive of the Year award. He is currently at partner level with GALLINA LLP.



Burt Peterson ’80 (Accountancy) was a finalist for the Sacramento Construction Financial Management Association’s 2012 Executive of the Year award. Peterson is currently the CFO of Viking Construction. He previously worked as CFO of Benco Contracting & Engineering and Earl Construction. During college, Peterson served as chapter secretary and president of Sacramento State’s accounting honorary fraternity, Beta Alpha Psi.


Darius Engles ’81 (Criminal Justice) retired at the end of July as Pacific Grove police chief. Engles joined the department in 1998 and rose through the ranks, serving as corporal, sergeant and commander before being promoted to chief in 2006. Besides police chief duties, Engles served as a representative in groups including the Monterey County Executive Committee of the Community Corrections Partnership, Monterey County Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council, Monterey Peninsula Special Response Unit, Monterey County Gang Task Force Steering Committee and the Emergency Communication Users Advisory Committee.


William Ford ’81 (Accountancy) was recently named to Strathmore’s board of directors. Ford is the controller for energy holding company WGL Holdings and for Washington Gas Light Company, the metropolitan Washington, D.C. gas utility. Ford is also the current board chair of the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras, which he has served on since 2008, and a resident partner at Strathmore.


Maura Twomey ’81 (Business Administration) was appointed as the executive director of the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments. Previously, Twomey served as deputy director for the California Transportation Commission and as chief of external audits for the California Department of Transportation.


Cheryl Dell ’82 (Communication Studies) received an honorary degree from Drexel University. Dell is the publisher and president of The Sacramento Bee. She was previously publisher of the Tacoma News Tribune and Tri-City Herald.


Sheila Jacketti, MBA ’82 is now a real estate agent at RE/MAX Gold Coast’s Camarillo office.


Alan Segal ’82 (Recreation Administration) was named head coach of Tulane University’s sand volleyball program. Segal has 12 years of experience as a college head coach, garnering nearly 300 wins during his career.


Abel Lopez ’83 (Criminal Justice) is the owner and CEO of MJA Real Estate Solutions. He specializes in real estate services to property owners who are involved with a foreclosure, bankruptcy, probate, divorce or relocation.


Jeffrey Walkuski ’83 (Physical Education) received the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence. Walkuski is an associate professor of physical education at SUNY Cortland.

Dale Carlsen ’84 (Business Administration), founder of Sleep Train Mattress Centers, won the 2012 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in the retail and consumer products category in northern California. An independent panel of judges selected Carlsen for the award, which recognizes entrepreneurs who excel and succeed in areas such as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.


Charlene Carveth ’84 (Biological Sciences) was named El Dorado County Agriculture Commissioner. Since 1996, Carveth has worked for the El Dorado County Agriculture Department as an inspector and biologist. She lives with her husband in Colfax.


Steve Biondi ’85 (Construction Management) was awarded CEO of the Year by the Sacramento Construction Financial Management Association. He recently celebrated 25 years as CEO of Biondi Paving, Inc.


Peter Carr ’85 (Business Administration) is serving as Orland’s new city manager. Carr previously managed Biggs, a small Butte county farm town, for five years. He lives with his wife Julie and four children in Chico.

Terri Edinburgh ’85 (Recreation Administration), ’04 (Education) was named 2013 Sacramento County Office of Education Teacher of the Year. Edinburgh is a special education teacher at Prairie West Elementary School. Prior to joining Sacramento County, she served six years as a para-educator in a special day class at Valley Oaks Elementary School.


Christine Hodgins ’85 (French) is exhibiting her sculptures and drawings at the William Thonson Gallery at the Morris Graves Museum of Art in Eureka. Hodgins’ exhibits are titled “Black and Bone” and “Subliminal Realms.”


David Affleck ’86 (Business Administration) was recently ordained as a deacon at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, Maine. Affleck was an ordained minister in the Episcopal Church from 1995 to 2008, when he joined the Catholic Church.  He and his wife Katherine live in York, Maine and have two adult children.


Ligia Machado ’87 (Business Administration) was promoted to partner in PwC’s national tax services state and local tax practice, based in Sacramento.


Gregory Rice ’86 (Business Administration) joined Oracle Corporation as director of product management for Oracle ATG SaaS Solutions in San Francisco.


Brenda Sims ’86 (Business Administration) is the newest member of Lyon Real Estate’s El Dorado Hills office. Prior to joining Lyon, Sims worked with Del Webb, Elliott Homes, Reynen & Bardis and Richmond American Homes.


Robert Taylor ’87 (Business Administration) was appointed executive vice president in Jones Lang LaSalle’s new Stockton office. Taylor was previously with Buzz Oates Group, a commercial development firm.


Susan Webster ’88 (Business Administration) is working at the University of the Pacific’s Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences as a development officer.


Andy Eilers ’89 (Accountancy) signed a publishing deal with CelebrityPress to release a book titled In It To Win It: The World’s Leading Experts Reveal Their Top Strategies for Winning in Business and in Life! Eilers is the director of sales and marketing for First Service Insurance in Roseville.


Brian Lewis, MA ’89 (Communication Studies) is the new CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education in Washington, D.C.  Lewis was previously chief strategy officer and interim CEO at the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. He was also executive director of the California Association of School Business Officials and governmental relations director for the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association. 





Natalie Gentry ’93 (Social Science) has joined Standard Retirement Services, Inc. as a relationship manager for its Walnut Creek retirement plans office. Gentry will support the northern California area. Prior to joining Standard, Gentry was a key client relations manager for ING.


Andrew Sisk ’93 (Accountancy) has been appointed as the auditor-controller for Placer County. He will serve the remainder of his predecessor’s term, which runs through the end of 2014.


Tod Buis ’94 (English) was awarded the John H. Darlington Educational Scholarship by the Nevada County Superior Court. The $1,000 scholarship is available to students who are planning careers in alcohol and drug abuse counseling. Buis is currently a student at the Breining Institute, working towards a registered addiction specialist certification. He has also applied to Sacramento State’s master’s degree in social work program.


Karen Henderson ’94 (Environmental Studies) recently won a $10,000 prize on the Food Network program “Cupcake Wars.” Henderson owns Lila and Sage at 219 Main Street in Murphys (www.lilaandsage.com). She wowed judges with a fragrant lavender-honey cupcake, topped with a tangerine mascarpone, and an almond cupcake with salted rose buttercream icing, accented by a marzipan flower.


Jesus Barela ’95 (Art), MA ’08 (Art Studio) showed some of his large-scale paintings at the El Dorado Hills Second Saturday event. His work is a combination of abstract and surrealist art.


George Plescia ’95 (Government) is a candidate for California’s 39th Senate District. He is a small business consultant and served three terms as the 75th District’s Assemblymember, from 2002 until 2008. He currently resides in La Jolla, Calif. with his wife and daughter.


Michelle Cordova ’97 (Art) was interviewed by the San Jose Examiner for her role in the Art-o-mat movement. Cordova has painted for Art-o-mat since 2007. Many of her paintings are inspired by the Sacramento Delta wetlands. Her work will be featured in KVIE’s 2012 Art Auction at the end of September.


Christian Kiefer, MA ’97 (English) recently published his debut novel, The Infinite Tides. Kiefer, a professor at American River College, is also a published poet (“Feeding into Winter”) and musician (The Christian Kiefer Band.) He and his wife Macie live with their five children near Newcastle.


Krista Bernasconi ’99 (Liberal Studies) is now the sole proprietor of KFB Public Affairs, a consulting firm in Roseville. Bernasconi is transitioning from her previous position with SureWest.



Alicyn Yaffee ’00 (Media Communication), Casey Lipka ’10 (Jazz Studies), Emily Messick ’12 (Music Education), Kim Davis ’11 (English) and a colleague formed an all-female music group, called the Cave Women 5, and performed at the In Flow jazz festival in Downtown Sacramento. Four of the members studied at the Sacramento State music department. The group’s music reflects a versatile style ranging from jazz to samba to alternative rock.


Camron King ’00 (Government) is the executive director for the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission. For the past eight years, King was the vice president of state government relations for the California Association of Winegrape Growers.

Micah Hale, MA ’01 (Anthropology) has joined Dudek as a senior archeologist. Prior to Dudek, Hale was a principal with ASM Affiliates.


J.R. Wheeler ’01 (Business Administration) is now a commercial banking relationship manager at Wells Fargo. Based in Medford, Ore., Wheeler is responsible for providing financial services to companies throughout Southern Oregon. Wheeler is also chairman-elect of the Grants Pass and Josephine County Chamber of Commerce board.


Shawne Corley, MPPA ’02 was appointed to serve as interim Sutter County chief administrative officer. Corley was formerly the assistant Sutter County chief administrative officer.


Robert Valdes ’02 (Art Studio and Ethnic Studies) was a finalist in a competition to have art exhibited at the Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino. Valdes’ work has previously been featured at the folk art festival in Sacramento.


Reha Zamani ’04 (Communication Studies) was featured in, and helped produce, an Afghan film titled Farishteh. The film explores the issue of temporary marriage under Muslim law, called sigheh, and how it affects women in the Muslim world. Zamani currently lives in Los Angeles. She aspires to open a performing arts school for young women in Afghanistan.


Shara Perkins Murphy ’05 (Public Relations) is the new director of the Sacramento Gay & Lesbian Center.


Jateen Bhakta ’06 (Digital Media) is the co-founder of the development company Appsynth Media, based in Oakland. Bhakta specializes in mobile app development and programming.


Amanda Misetich ’07 (Liberal Studies) has earned a master’s degree in education from Brandman University. A resident of Monterey, Misetich has taught fourth grade in Salinas for the past three years.


Kirk Anderson ’08 (Kinesiology) played one year in the National Indoor Football League, then went into coaching. Anderson is currently the head football coach at Mira Loma High School in Sacramento. At Napa High School, he was honorable mention All-Monticello Empire League, the Indians’ MVP and a captain.

Anne Elbrecht, MA ’08 (History) gave a lecture on the Armenian genocide at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research Center in Belmont, Mass. Elbrecht researched the Armenian genocide for her master’s thesis and is the author of Telling the Story: The Armenian Genocide in the New York Times and Missionary Herald, 1914-1918.


Cody Kitaura ’08 (Journalism) is the new editor of the Elk Grove Patch. He previously worked as the editor of the Rosemont Patch and as a city government reporter for the Elk Grove Citizen.


Jorge Plasencia ’08 (Economics) is a manager at the family-owned business La Esperanza Bakery at 5044 Franklin Blvd. in Sacramento.


Josh Schlottman ’08 (Family and Consumer Sciences) is a certified strength and conditioning coach. He will be leading a lecture on sports nutrition for the teenage athlete at HealthQuest Fitness Center in Napa.



Jim Shepherd ’10 (Art Studio) has been publicly showing his collection of artwork since 2008 in the Sacramento area. Shepherd has been featured in Submerge magazine and on CBS 13 Sacramento.

Back to top.