Fresh take on food

Fall 2013

A Fresh take on Food

From the President
The Buzz
Adventures in Listening
Spotlight ON: Student Alumni Association
Fresh Take
Mealtime Makeover
Bacteria Beware
Titans of Tailgate
Chef's Secrets
Cupcake War-rior
Class Notes

From the President

Sacramento State alumni can take great pride in the crucial role they have in the everyday lives of people throughout the region.

The impact is simply staggering. You have seen me mention the University’s leadership in areas such as health care, public safety, government and business. For this issue of Sac State Magazine, we are looking at a topic even more fundamental to everyone, and that is food.

I see examples of our influence every time I fly home from the California State University’s system headquarters in Long Beach. The Sacramento region has some of the world’s most impressive food producers, with vast acreage and resources that are part of the state’s more than $43 billion in agricultural production. These farms and ranches also surround a vibrant metropolitan area, where dynamic innovations in dining are happening seemingly by the day.

Like many other important economic segments, Sacramento State is succeeding right at the center of it all. Whether it is students bringing healthier choices to campus, high-profile alumni restaurateurs or the science of food safety, Sacramento State’s influence in food is strong.

The food and dining industry has changed tremendously in recent years. Entire television networks are dedicated to how and what we eat. Concerns over nutrition, obesity, environmental sustainability and government policy are having an increasing impact on what exactly ends up on our plates.

In other words, the context of our food is more relevant than ever. As such, we are featuring something a little different in this edition of the magazine. We engaged prominent alumni in an examination of the Sacramento region’s farm-to-fork movement.

It is no surprise to me that Sacramento State graduates are at the forefront of everything related to food. Our University is known for providing a comprehensive, well-rounded education that prepares students for the world’s most complex careers.

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The Buzz

Textbooks? Check Tomatoes? Check

Student-led market a hit on campus

A young student eyeballs a head of fresh, green-leaf lettuce while a few steps away, a professor selects the perfect baguette for his evening’s dinner. They’re not at Barcelona’s famous La Boqueria or even San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, they are at Sac State’s Serna Plaza.

The ASI Farmers Market came to fruition last spring and its roots are gaining strength. The idea for a campus farmers market originated at an ASI board meeting. Biochemistry major Nielsen Gabriel ran with it and it was one of the main platforms he used to win last year’s election for ASI president.

“I thought it was a pretty cool idea and I just jumped into it,” Gabriel says. “In the spring of 2012 we had the first one and it wasn’t the biggest market. But I like to persist with things and it kind of became my baby.

“We hit some roadblocks but we’ve been able to successfully initiate it. With enough hard work and patience it’s become a reality.”

Having fresh fruits, vegetables and baked goods on campus allows students easy access to healthy foods at a fair price and builds bonds both on campus and with others around Sacramento.

“It shows that we have an eye on the community and we’re an important part of Sacramento as a whole,” Gabriel says.

After a series of successful markets over the summer, the ASI Farmers Market already has a half-dozen vendors on board for the six events this fall and more are sure to join. While it’s not a permanent fixture at Sac State, the future is promising.

“It’s still a pilot program, but we recognize the campus certainly values a market here,” says Davin Brown, ASI’s director of student life and services. “There is a desire from students to have healthier eating options and they really value being able to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables right here on campus.”

Training the trainer

Program preps grads to teach adults

Bob Kerr is the type of student the late Bill Harris had in mind when he hatched the idea for Sac State’s career and technical studies program.

Kerr’s bachelor’s degree did not come easy. He commuted from Vallejo for the weekend classes after working stressful graveyard shifts at the Vallejo Police Department. He also hadn’t attended college full-time since 1995.

“It was definitely challenging, but if it was easy, everybody would be doing it,” says Kerr, who graduated in May and earned this year’s Dean’s Award for the College of Education.

Professor Harris started in special education, but when he saw a need to accommodate students who were interested in completing their degrees and expanding their professional horizons, he created what was then known as the bachelor’s degree in vocational education.

“Dr. Bill Harris was the visionary who saw that it could make a difference for our students and our campus,” says Bernice Bass de Martinez, who worked with Harris and now heads the foreign language department. “He was very supportive of individuals who stopped-out in completing their degrees for whatever reason. They are able to come back and complete their degrees using this pathway.”

Kerr was one of those students. He attended junior college and faced scheduling issues when he tried to get into Sac State’s program eight years ago.

But he kept at it and while completing his degree, he impressed faculty and fellow students with his dedication and focus on improving the community as a whole.

“As I saw it, he was a man who was very humble and committed to achieving high academic excellence, but also committed to serving people,” says Vanessa Sheared, dean of the College of Education. “In the midst of his career, he chose to come back to school and he balanced that with his work and giving back to his community.”

The career field of adult/vocational education is growing rapidly. Sac State’s program is designed to give students highly sought-after instructional skills and open up opportunities in the professional world, or prepare them to pursue a master’s degree.

Kerr plans to put his training to use in his work as an instructor for fellow law enforcement officers.

“It’s fun and it’s also challenging,” Kerr says of the teaching environment. “Cops are suspicious of everything. It’s the hardest group to convince of anything, especially the officers that have been there a long time, but I think my degree prepared me for that challenge pretty well.

 “I learned a lot through interacting with other students,” Kerr says. “When all the students are focused, it really raises the bar for the class. It really gets you prepared for real-world situations.”

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Milestone for civil engineering

Imagine a time when ground had just been broken on the California Aqueduct. The recently-opened Space Needle and Pan Am Building forever changed Seattle and Manhattan’s skylines. And the Port of West Sacramento opened to serve the Northern California rice industry.  

These icons of civil engineering emerged alongside the beginning of another era: Sacramento State introduced its own Department of Civil Engineering. This year, the largest department in the College of Engineering and Computer Science turns 50.

As a complement to its yearlong golden anniversary celebration, the Department of Civil Engineering invites alumni to share their memories of the program’s early years. Submit yours to Kevan Shafizadeh, department chair, at (916) 278-6928 or

Farm to campus

Before it became a center of learning, the Sac State campus was a source of produce.

When construction began in 1951 on a new home for what was then Sacramento State College, peach orchards and hop fields dominated the plot of land adjacent the American River.

Alumnus Penny Kastanis ’57 (Music) ’61 MA, (Music Education) recalled the campus’ peachy heritage during a 2011 interview with Sac State Magazine

“I was a child, and I remember hearing my parents say they were going to put a college out where the peach orchard was,” Kastanis said. “My question was, ‘Where are we going to go buy our peaches?’” 

Kastanis’ sister married into the family that owned the White and Terry Ranch. Over time, Penny says, the family members lost interest in farming, and were ready to sell when the state approached them in 1949 to purchase 244 acres of the ranch for the new campus.

To clear the way for the buildings, all the orchard’s trees were uprooted. But their absence proved problematic. The campus was a “sea of mud” during the first winter. And when the rain stopped, it turned into a dustbowl.

Finally, in the fall of 1953, sprinklers were installed and grass, trees and shrubs were planted. Today, the campus is home to an estimated 3,500 trees—some of which bear kumquats and grapefruit, but so far, no peaches.

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Adventures in listening

Originality key to music festival

Contemporary. Modern. Recent. By any definition of “new,” Sac State’s annual Festival of New American Music fits the bill.

And this year’s version—running Nov. 1-10—features a fusion of music, art, technology and nearly two dozen world or West Coast premieres of new works by some of America’s most prominent composers, says festival artistic director and music professor Keith Bohm ’95 (Music).

“The range of artists we bring to perform represent a crosscut of the numerous trends in contemporary American art music,” Bohm says. “Musicians and composers will be pushing the boundaries through performance techniques, use of technology and the intersection of many creative concepts that lead to striking developments that point in many new directions.”

Among the 10 days of free performances will be the debut of a piece by festival co-director Stephen Blumberg and works by alumni composers Sunny Knable ’07 (Music) and John Villec ’95, MA ’98 (Music). The Opening Gala Concert will have an alumni flavor as well with Citywater, featuring alumni Tim Stanley ’08 (Music), Jennifer Reason ’11 (Music) and Ben Prima ’09 (Music). Throughout, festival-goers will witness explorations into multi-media arts, computer-generated music and recent developments in instrumental technology.

“We want to educate the listening public by offering a broad spectrum of styles,” Bohm says. “This encourages open-minded art appreciation as well as development of discerning taste. Nothing addresses real and fundamental human needs like art and music.”

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Spotlight ON: Student Alumni Association

Nicole De La Garza figures she’s getting a head start on the camaraderie and community spirit that come with being a Sac State alumna.

As president of the Student Alumni Association, she heads up a group of around 200 future graduates. Along with boosting school pride and providing opportunities for networking, the students are able to tap into the vast Sac State alumni base for advice and direction.

“A lot of alums come back and say they wish they’d had a club like this to help them when they were in school,” says De La Garza. “One of my main goals is to try to get the word out about the Student Alumni Association to more students and make it more accessible to people.”

The appeal of a free barbecue drew Erica Brown to the student group when she was a freshman. She is now the coordinator of student programs for the Sacramento State Alumni Association, helping De La Garza and others spread their message.

“This was one of the first organizations I got involved with because I liked the idea of being able to advance my skills outside the classroom,” says Brown, a senior in communication studies/public relations who is also the executive vice president of Associated Students, Inc. “It’s really important to network and being in SAA, it’s a great opportunity to ask questions to see what alumni in your field did when they were in college, and after.”

This fall, the Student Alumni Association calendar includes a week of Homecoming festivities for both students and alumni.

“We want to engage students more and raise school pride,” Brown says of the festivities. “We hope they will become traditions for students at Sac State in the coming years and grow even bigger.”

In November, the annual Holiday Mocktail event brings dozens of alumni to campus to visit and share their experiences with students. Professional development events include a networking workshop and opportunities to conduct informational interviews with Sac State alumni.

De La Garza is scheduled to graduate in December with a degree in criminal justice. She says the benefits she’s gained from her involvement with the student alumni group have prepped her for success when she leaves campus.

“The career building was really appealing to me,” says De La Garza, who would like to be a probation officer. “I’d never done anything like that, never had a network of contacts. Now when I do leave college I know what to do.”

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Fresh Take: Sac State alumni offer food for thought on the farm-to-fork movement

A “Trend” that has been simmering for decades

It’s just after 9 a.m. on a Monday at Café Bernardo on K Street. Kitty O’Neal starts the conversation by noting that while farm-to-fork isn’t “new” it’s certainly become more visible. To illustrate her point, she holds up a copy of a recent edition of O, The Oprah Magazine, featuring Oprah Winfrey in a vegetable patch.

Kitty O’Neal: I’d like to begin by formally acknowledging where farm-to-fork is: Oprah has a farm. So it’s clearly in vogue.

Randy Paragary: It’s a movement we have been around for 30 years, coming on the coattails of what was then the “California cuisine” popularized by Alice Waters, Wolfgang Puck (and others), based on a philosophy of fresh, local, seasonal food.

In Sacramento, we’re doing the same thing. So while it’s not necessarily a brand-new concept, there seems to be a groundswell of more and more restaurants particularly—and at home too—paying attention to what they are buying.

Our connection to farm-to-fork is our philosophy of, wherever possible, using fresh, local, seasonal ingredients—whether that’s produce, meat, vegetables, fruits—to use as much “local” as we can.

Not just for “foodies”

Kali Dittrich: We have a walnut farm that we just began reestablishing in 2011, putting in 2,300 walnut trees. It will be a while before we are established but we are very much interested in distributing locally, hopefully to farmers markets. But we also want to be a part of the California economy and begin to distribute globally.

Greg Corrigan: At Raley’s, our association with produce very much connects us to what’s going on with local farmers. In fact, we started a brand-new program—a “hyper-local” program. Whereas we have sourced produce from California as much as we could, we’re now bringing it to a level so that we can source within 50 miles of an individual store, sort of drilling down to the direct store connection to the farmer. It’s fun to be part of a movement to bring healthy, local food to our customers.

Justin Wandro: One of our programs at Loaves and Fishes is very much like a restaurant in that we serve 600 to 800 meals a day to people who are primarily homeless or very low-income. Our interest in farm-to-fork is to insure we have the best, healthiest and most nutritious food to serve to our guests. We also want to support our community because our community supports us, so we want to serve local food.

On a personal level, I have four kids, so I’m committed to serving local food so I know where it came from. Good, natural food is also what we really want for our guests at Loaves and Fishes because it gives them the best chance for being healthy and improving their situations.

Joany Titherington: Our role (at the Oak Park Farmers Market) in farm-to-fork is in direct sales, introducing farmers to our customers. We started by doing surveys and when children thought hamburgers came from pigs and didn’t know what beets tasted like, and when we saw children go to school with Hot Cheetos and Coca-Cola for breakfast, we understood we needed to change the matrix. People needed to see where food came from.

We were one of the first farmers markets to allow EBT (electronic benefit transfer for public assistance benefits) payments. We started out bringing in $1,200 in EBT over a six-month period and now its up to $30,000. And we’re not just getting customers from Oak Park—they’re coming from Fair Oaks, Citrus Heights, even out of state.

Kurt Spataro: I make decisions on what to purchase for our restaurants. As a chef I’m interested in serving tasty food, which almost always means buying local and in season. And that has been true forever but it seems like there has been a groundswell of support, an interest and like-mindedness in moving this thing forward. It’s an exciting time to be a chef and restaurateur.

Sacramento on the menu

Nick Leonti: The Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau is organizing Sacramento’s Farm-to-Fork Week and the Bridge Dinner (a farm-to-fork dinner prepared by local chefs on Sacramento’s Tower Bridge.)

California is one of the top agricultural regions anywhere and we’re in the center of that, so farm-to-fork carries weight here more than in other cities. It’s more important here because we’re the source of so much of the country’s food. Our farms feed the world.

That’s why it’s really catching on. When you eat at a five-star restaurant in New York, there’s probably something on your plate that came from Sacramento. When people around the country eat sushi, the rice came from here. When they eat caviar, it came from here. Just as when you want to hear jazz, you go to New Orleans, tourists want go to the source and (Sacramento and the farm-to-fork movement) is the food equivalent.

Garrett McCord: So much of the focus has been on San Francisco, but now people are starting to understand that farm-to-fork has always been here and they’re starting to investigate what we have. A lot of my writing focuses on using the ingredients from the area and trying to be as local as possible. I’m also trying to get other writers to explore the Sacramento area.

When I moved here in the early 2000s, I was told there wasn’t a restaurant scene. Now people are coming up from San Francisco to Sacramento to dine here. (Farm-to-fork) has encouraged what we do to spread outside the area.

Randy Paragary: If I can make a distinction between now and 1983, (the topic of) “California cuisine” never made it beyond the food section of the newspaper. Now with farm-to-fork you are seeing it on the front page. It’s getting more interest and becoming more mainstream and that’s good. When we talk about education, (farm-to-fork) needs that kind of publicity, not to just be stuck in the back of the food section.

Fresh and local: A source of togetherness

Kitty O’Neal: What is bringing it to the mainstream? Is it (Sacramento mayor) Kevin Johnson and other public figures? Is it events like this?

Kali Dittrich: Farm-to-fork is not an elite concept. (Instead) it gives people that sense of community. Growing up we had family dinners. This movement gives us that same community—we talk to others about the food, you don’t have to have an extensive culinary background. And I love that.

Garrett McCord: I think it’s become more accessible. The last few years there’s been a “foodie” movement—you had to know the name of the heirloom tomato you were eating. Now there are all these events like Art in the Park and everyone is being welcomed in.

Nick Leonti: There’s definitely that sense of community. (For example) I went to the Beer and Bacon on the Boulevard event. It was a hot day but it brought people together. I was proud of Sacramento coming together as one big, happy, sweaty family. And a lot of events like that are going on. During Farm-to-Fork Week locals can really get out there and have some good food and be together.

I work with visitors, and if they see us enjoying Sacramento more, visitors are going to enjoy it more. If we’re telling people about how much we love this town, they are going to be more interested. It’s great to have that community pride.

With agri-tourism and culinary tourism we’re bringing more visitors to town specifically because of this movement, which obviously benefits people who run restaurants, or trying to put people in hotels—anyone who is trying to bring money into town is going to benefit from the farm-to-fork movement.

Joany Titherington: It has been a culmination of community building a synergy around food. You see people growing gardens as infill projects, trying to build a movement. And policymakers like Darrell Steinberg and Roger Dickinson are getting more involved in moving farm-to-fork forward.

Folks who don’t have a lot of money to spend, who might not be well-educated, still want to be involved. They see the value. I think that we’ve had an impact when customers write about it on Facebook and their friends in Chico hear about it, when their friends in Stockton hear about it, and they want to be a part of it.

There are also some best practices. What was really interesting was that people from North Dakota came to see what we do. The impact is being felt outside Sacramento and that’s really encouraging.

The bitter and the sweet

Kitty O’Neal: What are some of the challenges of farm-to-fork? Is it seen as elitist, too trendy? How do you get people to see the benefits?

Joany Titherington: In my experience it’s always been about breaking bread. It’s always been cooking that brings people together to learn and experience, especially with children, to get people to come to the table. For us in Oak Park it’s a challenge because people get their food stamps once a month and they are used to going to the store and purchasing things that are easy to prepare like microwavable burritos. It’s fine to purchase those things but they shouldn’t be the sum of their diet, nor of their children’s diets.

Whenever we’ve had a food demonstration or any event that’s food-centric, in that people get a chance to taste things, we’re breaking down barriers.

Randy Paragary: Speaking of food stamps, I’ve been seeing advertising about a program called California Fresh. Is that food stamps?

Joany Titherington: Yes, that ‘s the new name. It’s SNAPs on the federal level, and California Fresh for the state.

Randy Paragary: But it doesn’t require that items that are “California fresh” be purchased? You can still buy burritos? By using those words, it sounds like there’s some kind of effort…

Joany Titherington: They are starting a marketing strategy to get people to purchase fresh (food) with their Cal Fresh cards. But people can still purchase those other things.

Garrett McCord: I’m going to play devil’s advocate and say (farm-to-fork) can be elitist. I did my master’s thesis on the exclusionary rhetoric of the slow food movement—which made me so many friends… Take the Bridge Dinner—there was the kerfuffle over people not being able to go, that it’s too expensive, etc. Of course, it’s not inexpensive to put on something like that. And limiting participation was smart to make it a cool event.

Nick Leonti: You can pay $175 for dinner pretty much any night in Sacramento but the Bridge Dinner sold out in a matter of hours so it’s hard to argue against it. And there are lots of events that week and throughout the year that are free to the public.

I talk to tour operators and they are always bringing people in for food events. It’s not just Farm-to-Fork Week, there are events all the time. We have a restaurant week, there are agriculture festivals, wine festivals, beer weeks. Farmers are also available to put together tours and locals can take walking tours of restaurants.

Justin Wandro: There are events for everybody. At Loaves and Fishes our guests aren’t going to spend $175 on dinner but we are working with the MoFo (Sacramento mobile food truck) guys about an interactive event.

There is something for everyone in farm-to-fork. There are lots of opportunities like the Sacramento Food Bank connecting with local growers. I think as much as 60 percent of their food is locally grown produce. We’re inspired by the Food Bank to do the same thing. The community in Sacramento is generous. People have great hearts and want to give back. We don’t expect all the food to be donated—people need to make a living. But we expect to try to buy food from local sources.

Sac State in the mix

Kitty O’Neal: As alumni, was there anything in your Sac State experience that put you on the farm-to-fork movement?

Garrett McCord: I was already working as a food writer when I went back to school and I made sure all my papers came back to food in some way or another. I actually stumbled on my thesis topic when researching the slow food movement. I couldn’t afford to attend a slow food event and when I told them I was a poor student and asked could I still attend, they said no. But I ended up sneaking in through the servers’ entrance, sitting in the back to take notes anyway. It’s part of the reason I’m glad farm-to-fork has become more inclusive through outreach that makes it more accessible.

Nick Leonti: Most of my Sac State food experience was Top Ramen or bean burritos from Taco Bell Express (laughter) but I learned a lot about Sacramento, which has certainly come in handy, and met some great people in town who are part of the farm-to-fork movement. There were all kinds of opportunities at Sac State. If you were willing to put in the effort, you could do anything you wanted.

Kali Dittrich: It was during my time at Sac State that I had the opportunity to develop our family land into this orchard, which is starting to bear fruit. I have kept up my relationship with my professor, Dr. (Dudley) Burton, from the environmental studies department. He has been so wonderful in encouraging this project. He doesn’t have first-hand experience in growing walnuts, but he brought a group of students out, just as they were starting to expand their ag education at Sac State. It was really fun to see these students wonder how to get involved in getting food from the ground and into the community, seeing that you can educate yourself to be a farmer. It’s tough when you put a lot of money into something you won’t see pay off for several years, but you can do it if you have a passion for it. Food brings out a lot of passion in people.

Justin Wandro: Professor (Steven) Jenkins from one of my communications classes had us read some really interesting books, like Fast Food Nation and Diet for a New America, which ended up changing my thinking on accepting status quo. They got me started thinking about “where is my food coming from?” I started to question the system and thought about getting more local produce in my life. It’s been very influential at Loaves and Fishes and with my own children. I want them to grow up thinking about what they’re eating.

What I also like about farm-to-fork is that it’s escalating farming. It’s creating farmers as role models, the people who actually produce what we eat.

Education forms the base

Kitty O’Neal: Events put farm-to-fork on the map but there is also an educational component. What are some everyday choices people can make on what they buy and where they buy it?

Greg Corrigan: Being in the grocery business we’re more mainstream but when it comes to trends, the reality is that connecting farmer to consumer is huge. We have millions of consumers come through each week and we’re always trying to get our fingers on the pulse of what do they want: Is it organics? Is it sustainability? What is it? And the local trend is trumping everything. You can see all the regional players are getting on the bandwagon trying to do local.

We have the ability to upload farmers’ stories on what we call our Pantry. We put up their pictures and tell their stories, in 30 characters or less, to highlight their products and where they came from. And the consumers want that. Consumers are really driving that trend. It’s coming and it’s real. They want to know where the food came from and that’s here to stay.

Kurt Spataro: I think it is about education, mostly about kids—teaching kids what these foods are and how to prepare them and that they can be delicious in unexpected ways. Parents ultimately need to be involved. They need to teach kids that it’s fun and it’s a way to make their lives better.

I think of the California Food Literacy project, which teaches children how to Identify, prepare and enjoy local fruits and vegetables at an expanding number of schools. That and the Center for Land-Based Learning which has apprenticeship programs, and Soil Born Farms which offers an educational component—those things are transforming the next generation, or at least have the potential to.

Kali Dittrich: I really believe in the education of farming and believe that young people can start farming, and continue to farm agriculture in every aspect. Being in California there is so much desire to use local ingredients—great climate, great soil—right here in our backyard. And that’s it in a nutshell. (Laughter)

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Mealtime makeover

Today’s campus dining comes with a focus on fresh and healthy

Looking back on their college days, many folks cringe at the food they thoughtlessly consumed. Like much of the fashion that came from the 70s and 80s, that food often contained unnatural colors and was not easily identifiable.

At Sac State, the days of the lunch lady in a hairnet dumping gelatinous, off-colored gravy onto a pile of mystery meat are long gone. Even the iconic, plastic cafeteria trays have disappeared, replaced by smaller plates that are often filled with a fresh, seasonal salad or a vegetable and chicken stir-fry with brown rice.

Steven Davis, director of dining services for University Enterprises Inc., the non-profit auxiliary organization responsible for campus dining services, is tasked with pleasing the taste buds of Sac State students.

When it comes to feeding college students, flavor is important, but there is a growing desire for fresh, nutritious choices.

Delivering those healthy options and doing what’s right for the environment, all while pleasing palates across campus—for students as well as faculty and staff—is a welcome challenge.

“Dining operations have evolved a lot in the last 20 years and I think a big part of it is, we have more savvy customers,” Davis says. “We definitely want to keep our fingers on the pulse of what students are saying and there seems to be more focus on healthy food. Fresh ingredients are important. There is an emphasis on nutrition—more people are reading labels now.”

Diet demands shape menus

In his 2009 book Eating Animals author Jonathan Foer estimates that 18 percent of college students are vegetarian. Campus eateries are responding as more students search for alternatives to burgers, pizza and meat-filled sandwiches.

“There is definitely a trend toward students with a keen eye for healthy, local and fresh,” says Angela Rader, director of marketing services for University Enterprises.

One solution: RF Greens, which opened this fall at the American River Courtyard. The campus’ newest eatery is designed to cater to a number of dietary requests.

“It is a vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free paradise,” Davis says. “There are fresh salads made to your liking and it will carry more than 20 fresh ingredients that are vegetarian and gluten free, along with an assortment of vegetarian and gluten-free snacks and desserts.”

In the University Union, Good Eats offers a design-your-own salad station with vegan and gluten-free options, and tofu can be substituted for any meat option. Epicure Restaurant at Sacramento State, the campus’ more upscale restaurant, offers lettuce wraps as alternatives to buns for sandwiches. Gluten-free fusilli is always available and weekly specials include vegetarian and wheat-free meals.

While healthy options are being sought out, college students are still able to indulge. Round Table Pizza, Burger King and Panda Express are mainstays.

“We are focused on giving a wide range of options and choices for the campus,” Rader says.

Comfort food in comfortable spaces

Food can comfort, strengthen and even heal, but even going back to the time of ancient Greece, where you eat is as important as what you eat. As one of Aesop’s fables goes: “A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.”     

A recent remodel of Sac State’s Dining Commons, originally built in the 1960s, replaced utilitarian cafeteria furniture with comfortable booths, tables and chairs along with several flat-screen TVs and even a recessed movie screen in the ceiling.

“We have definitely increased the ambiance,” Rader says. “We’ve done some nice upgrades so there is a warm, inviting aspect to it. We look for that with all of our retail operations.”

Any good chef will tell you presentation is a vital component of the dining experience. Playing on the popularity of restaurant exhibition kitchens, upon entering the dining hall dinner-goers at Dining Commons experience the “Exhibition Station,” where chefs slice, dice and cook up fresh plates for the guests.

“I call it ‘eatertainment,’” Davis says. “People like to have fresh food and they like to see it prepared in front of them, to have that interaction with the chef.”

Students seeking comfort food can find plenty of it and again, it reflects current trends, this time for ethnic food. Sushi, pho, Chinese and Indian and halal eateries can all be found at Sac State. Davis says theme months at Dining Commons will include international dishes and he expects requests for diversity to increase along the lines of the student population.

Efficient eateries

Students can feel good about eating on campus, knowing the providers are striving toward sustainability.

Eliminating cafeteria trays reduced the amount of wasted food by close to 30 percent. Organic options abound and Sac State’s food services participates in Meatless Mondays, a national campaign designed to “improve personal health and the health of the planet.”

And as the farm-to-fork movement gains momentum, the campus is also aiming to serve seasonal, local food. Davis says his chefs try to buy from regional farms and food suppliers whenever feasible.  Considerable effort is made to reduce waste and energy.

“We have the luxury of living in a part of the world where there is a plethora of choices for fresh food,” Davis says. “That’s a major benefit. It’s reducing our carbon footprint.”

There is a learning element as well. Davis hopes students will leave campus with an enriched view of eating rather than memories of bland cafeteria food.

“It’s not just about putting food on the table, it’s about educating students as to what is nutrition and flavor,” Davis says. “We feel it’s part of our responsibility to educate students and help them navigate these lifestyle choices.” 

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Bacteria beware

With help from campus, a budding biologist is making food safer

While most college students dream of spending summer traveling Europe with friends or renting a house on the beach and kicking back, Antonio Cervantes pictured his own personal paradise: a biology lab with petri dishes of salmonella and cholera bacteria.

Cervantes’ lab of choice happened to be 7,900 miles from Sac State at Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand.

Cervantes was selected to participate in the International Research Education for Undergraduates-Microbiology summer internship, a highly selective program run through the University of Wisconsin. Among hundreds of applicants across the U.S., just seven students were tabbed to participate and the majority of those had Wisconsin ties.

“The fact that they considered a student from out of state, I feel very honored,” Cervantes says.

The path less travelled

Cervantes isn’t the stereotypical biology phenom although he has memories of looking through medical textbooks in grade school and drilling his father—a former medical school student—with questions.

“I barely knew what a cell was, but I would read these books,” he says. “I learned very quickly because I would ask a lot of questions, but I wasn’t committed to it.”

Cervantes dabbled in journalism and psychology, waited tables and dealt cards before a junior college course in microbiology reignited his childhood passion for biology. Inspired, he joined campus organizations, including the Science Educational Equality program and the Student Association of Lab Scientists and was named a Sutter Healthcare Scholar. He also found inspiration in biology professor Susanne Lindgren, to whom he expressed his interest in research.

“She’s been a great teacher and mentor,” Cervantes says of Lindgren. “I’ve grown as a student and a person and she’s been a very strong, guiding influence since I got here.”

A team effort

The epic summer of learning and exploration in Thailand nearly didn’t happen. Cervantes got word in April—about a month before his departure date—that the National Science Foundation would not be issuing stipends for the students as it had in years past. He needed to come up with more than $4,000.

When professors and leadership in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Student Affairs and University Advancement learned of his dilemma, they went into action. In short order, they secured a combination of funds, including a Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation scholarship and a stipend from the Sac State Annual Fund.

“I was pretty scared when I got the email saying the grant was denied,” Cervantes says. “Dr. Gonzalez-Orta and a lot of others worked hard to get me over there and I’m extremely grateful.”

“He was accepted into a really competitive program and we thought he would represent Sac State and the Science Education Equality program well,” Enid Gonzalez-Orta says.

The payoff

Cervantes made sure the opportunity was not squandered. The internship was much like a full-time research position. Cervantes spent at least 40 hours a week in a lab, setting up experiments with salmonella and cholera bacteria.

“I chose a lab in Thailand that would make me a better candidate in the future,” he says. “I worked with salmonella and cholera. It was a really great experience to be on my own and independent. I was eventually able to do my own project, isolating bacteriophage of Vibrio cholerae.

“To be able to design an experiment and build it from the ground up—that was a big breakthrough.”

During his down time Cervantes didn’t venture out a lot, but he got a chance to visit one of the world’s most beautiful beaches in Kata. He also enjoyed seeking out authentic Thai cuisine.

“I didn’t find anything too spicy, but it was all delicious,” he says.

After graduating next spring, Cervantes is hoping to be admitted to one of California’s highly competitive clinical lab scientist programs. Ultimately, he would like to conduct research full time and fulfill the vision he had when he first tapped into his specialty.

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Titans of the Tailgate

To the victor goes the “Golden Spatula”

It takes more than great food and festive decorations to pull off a great tailgate party. Just ask Sac State’s Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology and the Speech Pathology and Audiology Alumni Chapter—the holder of the Golden Spatula, which honors the top tailgate at each year’s Homecoming Festival.

It’s a team effort that has led to four Golden Spatulas in five years, including the last two.

“We try to incorporate the community and our families as much as we can,” says Teala Kennedy ’08, MS ‘12 (Speech Pathology), president of the alumni chapter.

Sac State supporters tailgate before each home football game in the parking lot just east of Hornet Stadium, but the Homecoming festivities are uber-spirited. The Homecoming Festival and Tailgate Zone include live bands, jump-houses for kids and a variety of food and games.

The Golden Spatula judging is the purview of Sac State Alumni Association Board members, who visit each of close to two dozen tailgating groups, ranging from students to football parents to alumni to community boosters. Points are awarded based on: taste of the culinary offerings, creativity, presentation and hospitality.

Usually more than 100 students, several faculty members and dozens of speech pathology and audiology alumni join in the Homecoming tailgate. Students involved with the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association begin planning months in advance as they make decorations, costumes and design games for Hornet fans to enjoy in the parking lot.

“It’s amazing what they put together,” says faculty advisor Robert Kraemer.

Their food isn’t always fancy, but it is festive. Hot dogs are usually the main course—sometimes accompanied by homemade Stinger Sauce courtesy of staff member David Gleason, along with Hornet-themed cupcakes and football-shaped cookies

Laureen O’Hanlon, former department chair, led the efforts to make the tailgate an event.

“She was a competitive soccer player so she said, ‘If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it whole-heartedly,’ and from there it took on a life of its own,” Kennedy says. “Students, faculty and alumni come together for school spirit and to support our team.”

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Chef’s secrets: Sushi, cycles and Taco Supremes

Alan Wong says doing business in China is a roller coaster ride. But the Sacramento native has taken a steady climb to become one of the most influential restaurateurs in the burgeoning Chinese market.

Wong owns six successful restaurants in Beijing, including the renowned Hatsune, and four more in Shanghai. He remains involved in day-to-day operations at his eateries, but also thinks long-term about the businesses.

“My job is making sure the quality is maintained, meeting with staff to discuss issues and future planning, and coming up with new ways of impressing customers, whether it’s new dishes or new concepts,” Wong explains.

Known for bringing California-style sushi to China, Wong is hoping another trend will catch on soon. He is part of a small group of restaurant owners investing in sustainable, local food-sourcing.

“We’re banding together to create an organic farm, ensuring that at least our produce is under our control,” says Wong, who worked at Tokyo Sushi in Folsom before moving to China in 2002. “But this project is still a year or so away from being able to supply us.”

He believes these relationships can position the restaurant as more desirable in customers’ eyes. “The bonds you form by promoting local farmers can create a stronger sense of trust in their product and you can get more specialized products not normally found in supermarkets,” he says.

Wong’s restaurants have had no trouble attracting customers. His unique menu was immediately popular with tourists and expatriates living abroad, but since he opened Hatsune in 2002, his clientele has shifted.

“It used to be the foreigners [American, European, Japanese] living in China were the ones frequenting my places,” Wong says. “Now it’s mostly Chinese because it’s become almost unaffordable for the average person. And the Chinese are the ones with the most money here.”

Wong employs more than 500 people at his 10 restaurants and he said wages have increased eight-fold since he started in the business. Food costs have also increased dramatically, but his restaurants have thrived thanks to their lively atmospheres and original, delicious dishes.

Wong is almost always on the go. In 2011, he was featured in a print ad for Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1, using the computer while sitting atop his parked motorcycle along a picturesque roadway. The photo was a true-to-life portrait of the young entrepreneur.

“When I’m not in the restaurant you’ll find me on the track,” Wong says. “I’m a race bike fanatic. I have nine bikes, from custom café racers to Ducati superbikes.”

Wong can also be found in Sacramento several times a year. He owns a home in town and enjoys the area’s atmosphere. Though his favorite restaurant in town is The Kitchen, he confesses that Taco Bell is a must-have when he visits the U.S.

“I eat at award-winning restaurants all over the world, but I gotta say every time I come home to Sac my first stop is always Taco Bell!” he confesses. “I could eat 12 Taco Supremes in one sitting, no problem.”

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Cupcake War-rior

Karen Henderson '94 (Environmental Studies)

Mix a competitive spirit with a passion for great food and you get Karen Henderson’s recipe for winning—one that took her from all-American volleyball star at Sac State to champion on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.“

“I’ve been a competitor my whole life,” says Henderson. “After I opened my cupcake store (The Cupcake Shop) my daughter said, ‘You should go on “Cupcake Wars.”’ Baking’s my sport right now so why wouldn’t I compete? It was fun and I was game for it.” 

She submitted a video showing off her skills and was selected to compete on the show. Her vivacious, competitive spirit carried her to the final. Henderson impressed the judges with her elegant cupcakes in the finale: a lavender and honey with vanilla tangerine mascarpone frosting and a black velvet with dark chocolate ganache filling, anise, Italian-meringue filling and white chocolate.

“I don’t have the ability to hold back so I just went for it,” she says. “As far as being on TV, I know who I am very well so I just tried to be authentic and laugh at myself. And I have teenagers, so I have thick skin.”

Henderson has taken the same go-for-it approach throughout her life. She earned induction into Sac State’s Athletic Hall of Fame after an outstanding career as a setter for the Hornets from 1988-91. 

Before earning her degree she defied advice from family and friends and took a summer trip to Europe. Her time in Italy stoked her fires for baking. 

“I visited every bakery over there,” Henderson says. “We lived in a villa over Lake Como and everybody grew their own herbs and tomatoes for their kitchens. There were open-air markets and I was totally enamored by everything there. Unfortunately I had to come back. I wanted to be on Italy time for the rest of my life.”

Inspired by her travels, Henderson got a job as a bread maker at now-closed Greta’s Café in Sacramento. As she honed her baking skills, she wrapped up her degree in environmental studies with plans to go into city planning, or possibly teaching. But the mountains, and her sense of adventure, were calling her.

After working at several different restaurants and bakeries and making wedding cakes on an informal, part-time basis, Henderson decided to tackle another challenge. 

“My grandfather passed away and left me enough money to open a commercial kitchen,” she says. “I baked bread, cakes, cookies and I knew I had the passion for what I was doing.”

Henderson officially opened her catering and baking business—Lila and Sage—in the gold rush town of Murphys in 2005 and The Cupcake Shop opened in 2011.

More than 300 friends, family and community members gathered to watch the pre-recorded “Cupcake Wars” finale in July of 2012. The day after Henderson’s victory, which earned her a check for $10,000, she had a problem.

“We sold out in an hour,” Henderson says. “We weren’t used to lines. It wasn’t a bad problem to have. We had to make some adjustments. Some of our employees got full-time jobs immediately. The store got crazy and the local notoriety sustained it.”

Business at Lila and Sage is still booming a year later. Henderson has a strong local niche in the town of 1,200 people and tourists are flocking to the store, eager to taste the award-winning treats.

She has aspirations to expand, possibly to the Sacramento area, but right now Henderson is busy grooming the next generation of competitors in the family. Her daughter Madeline, 15, is a standout setter at Bret Harte High. Her son Ethan, 12, is a budding soccer player. Both attended sports camps at Sac State this summer.

For a go-getter like Henderson, staying put is sometimes tough, but she’s learned that it can pay off in the long run.

“I started my company eight years ago and there were times when it was slow and I would say, ‘Well, I guess it’s time to go back to school and get my master’s,’” Henderson says. “It wasn’t until about three years ago when I finally said, ‘I guess I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.’”

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Class Notes


Lorna Anderson ’60 (Education), MA ’77 (Special Education) lives in Pinehurst, N.C., and works as a real estate broker. She is also a professional accordionist, performing under the stage name “Lorna Andersson.” While attending Sacramento State, Anderson was crowned Miss California ’56 and ’57. She also recently wrote a book about her experiences with domestic abuse. A publication date is pending.

Catherine Culver ’67 (Art) displayed her watercolor and acrylic paintings at an August show at the Hovey Winery in Murphys, Calif.

Ronald Cooper ’69 (Sociology) retired in July after serving as executive director of Access Sacramento for more than 20 years. He was a founding employee of the nonprofit which operates two 24-hour cable public-access television stations, an Internet radio station and two websites.


Mahmoud Vaezi ’75 (Electrical and Electronic Engineering) is an Iranian diplomat and engineer who is currently serving as the deputy of foreign policy and international relations for the Center for Strategic Research. He was an adviser to Hassan Rouhani during his 2013 presidential campaign.

Ronald Ridley ’77 (Economics) and his wife Sandy showcased their watercolor paintings during July at an art reception at Bogle Winery in Clarksburg, Calif.

Pearl Garrido ’78 (Spanish) completed her second year as president of The Renaissance Society, a 1,600-member learning-in-retirement organization that is affiliated with Sacramento State.  Under her, the organization expanded its scholarship program to award five $2,500 scholarships to Sacramento State students this year.

Stephen Johnson ’78 (Economics) was named executive vice president for corporate affairs by AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines Inc. and US Airways Group Inc. His position oversees corporate and legal affairs, government and regulatory affairs, labor relations and real estate.

George Lenzi ’78 (Accountancy) was featured in the Sacramento Business Journal’s 2013 CFO of the Year edition. Lenzi received a “Large Private Company” award, recognizing his success as CFO of Radiological Associates of Sacramento.


James Cantele was named vice president of worldwide sales for OneSpin Solutions. Previously he served as vice president of global sales and field operations for Polyteda Software Corporation.

Uttam Dhillon ’82 (Psychology) was named chief oversight counsel for the U.S. House Financial Services Committee. Led by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Dallas), the committee maintains jurisdiction over issues pertaining to the economy, banking systems, housing and international financing.

Lawrence Bawden ’83 (Mechanical Engineering-Technology) is the CEO and chairman of the board for Bloo Solar, based in El Dorado Hills, Calif. The company’s trademarked three-dimensional “solar brush” technology is advancing to the pre-production phase, signifying an important advance for the solar industry.

Kenneth Jong ‘83 (Civil Engineering) was promoted to San Francisco-area manager at Parsons Brinckerhoff. In his new position, Jong is responsible for managing the firm’s operations in the Bay Area, including client relations, project performance, staffing, business development and marketing.

Kenneth Meibert ’84 (Psychology) will be the chief executive officer for the forthcoming Aurora Santa Rosa Hospital in Santa Rosa, Calif. The psychiatric hospital, scheduled to open in 2013, will offer inpatient and outpatient programs for adults and adolescents.

LaVera Forbes ‘85 (Communication Studies), MS ‘85 (Counseling) recently received a doctorate in mind-body medicine from Saybrook University.

Jeffry Mann ’85 (Chemistry) made a gift to create the Russell-Forkey Research Award, named in honor of Sacramento State chemistry professors Jack Russell and Dave Forkey, which supports faculty-mentored student research. Mann directs a San Francisco-based intellectual property practice, focusing on patent and licensing strategies for chemical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology research.

Mathilde Mukantabana, MA ’86 (History) was named the Rwandan ambassador to the U.S. The Consumnes River College history professor presented her credentials to President Obama at the White House in July. Mukantabana, who came to the U.S. 33 years ago to pursue an education, is a long-time activist for Rwandan independence, recognized for raising awareness about the 1994 genocide, creating the nonprofit Friends of Rwanda Association and establishing a school for Rwandan social workers. 

Daniel Miller ’86 (Journalism) announced his candidacy for District 3 supervisor in Nevada County. Miller is currently serving his second term as the mayor of Grass Valley. He is an independent insurance agent and co-owner of Future Generations in downtown Grass Valley.

Jeffrey Grubbs ’87 (Accountancy) was featured in the Sacramento Business Journal’s 2013 CFO of the Year edition. Grubbs received a “Medium Private Company” award, recognizing his success as CFO and COO of Bickmore.

Machelle Martin ’87 (Communication Studies) was named vice president of human resources, training and development for Golden 1 Credit Union. Previously, she served as a human resources executive for Comcast.

Lissa Severe ’87 (Marketing) was hired as an account manager for Gauger + Associates in San Francisco, where she leads accounts including Northern California Presbyterian Homes and Services, the Peninsula Regent and the Heritage.

Mark Siewert ’87 (Liberal Studies), MA ’90 (Education), CRED ‘88 (Multiple Subject Credential), CRED ‘88 (Learning Handicapped), CRED ‘94 (Resource Specialist) was appointed principal of Andrew Carnegie Middle School in the San Juan Unified School District. Before accepting the position at Andrew Carnegie, he was principal for LeGette Elementary School and interim principal at Oakview Elementary School.

Scott Haggard ’89 (Psychology) was appointed to serve as the police chief of Orinda. He previously worked at the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department and the Sacramento County Probation Department.

Chevelle Newsome ’88, MA ’90 (Communication Studies) was named Sacramento State’s dean of Graduate Studies.She had served as interim dean since the post was established five years ago. She previously worked as a special assistant to the President, associate dean of Graduate Education, administrator-in-charge of Educational Equity and Student Retention and director of Academic Enrichment Programs.

Gloria Hernandez ’89 (Education), MA ’96 (Education), EDD ’11 (Education Leadership) was named the superintendent of East Palo Alto’s Ravenswood City School District. Hernandez previously worked as the assistant superintendent for the Twin Rivers Unified School District. She is also a former faculty member in the Sacramento State bilingual/multicultural education department.


Dan Bessey ’91 (Accountancy) was hired as the chief financial officer of ThermoGensis Corp. Previously, he was the vice president and chief financial officer of SureWest Communications.

Ann Edwards ’91 (Social Work) was named Solano County’s Health and Social Services director. In her role, Edwards will manage more than 1,100 employees and oversee administration of public assistance programs, health clinics and child welfare.

Eric Karlson ’91 (Social Science), MA ’95 (Economics) was hired as an associate director by dunnhumbyUSA. Previously, he served as senior demand-side specialist at SMUD.

Mary Morris ’91 (Accountancy), MBA ’97 was appointed as administrative services director for the City of South Lake Tahoe. She previously served more than 10 years as the finance and administrative services manager/chief financial officer for the San Juan Water District in Granite Bay, Calif.

Scott Syphax ’91 (Business Administration) delivered the keynote address at Drexel University’s third commencement for its Sacramento campus. Syphax also received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree and serves on the Drexel board of advisors.

Leticia Paras-Topete ’92 (Criminal Justice) was named interim probation chief of the Sutter County Probation Department. She joined the department in 1992 and was promoted to deputy chief probation officer in 2006.

Jerry Reed ’92 (Economics) was promoted to chief lending officer of the Alaska USA Federal Credit Union. Reed joined the company in 2008 as executive director of mortgage and real estate lending.

Deena Spann ’92 (Business Administration) was featured in the Sacramento Business Journal’s 2013 CFO of the Year edition. Spann received a “Largest Private Company” award, recognizing her success as director of accounting for Koinonia Family Services Inc.

Richard Battersby ’93 (Criminal Justice) delivered the keynote address at the 2013 Green Fleet Conference. Battersby is the director of fleet services at UC Davis and is the coordinator of the East Bay Clean Cities Coalition.

Doug Pitkin ’93, MA ’96 (English) was named head coach of the girls’ basketball team at Hanford High School in Hanford, Calif. In addition to coaching, Pitkin was also hired as an English teacher.

Kevin Wagner ’94 (Economics) was hired as vice president of marketing for Diablo Technologies, based in Canada. He previously served as vice president of product and program management for OCZ technologies.

Tina Cruce ’96 (Accountancy) was featured in the Sacramento Business Journal’s 2013 CFO of the Year edition. Cruce received a “Judge’s Choice” award, recognizing her success as CFO of Tim Lewis Communities.

Paul Burke ’98 (Accountancy) was appointed as the principal of Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills, Calif. Prior to joining the El Dorado Union High School District, Burke served as principal of Samuel Jackson Middle School.

Tonja Fontes ’98 (Accountancy) was featured in the Sacramento Business Journal’s 2013 CFO of the Year edition. Fontes received a “Small Nonprofit/Public Agency” award, recognizing her success as CFO of California Association of Health Facilities.

Lori Prosio ’98 (Communication Studies) is leaving her position as senior vice president of San Diego-based communications firm Katz & Associates and starting her own public relations firm. Prosio’s first client is 7-Eleven Inc.

James Bridges, MA ’99 (Educational Administration) was named superintendent of the Jefferson School District. Bridges served as principal of Jefferson School for the past 11 years, where he also taught seventh grade from 1995-97.

Jason Sia ’99 (Music), MM ’02 (Music), a professional pianist, performed his first solo show at the Haggin Museum in Stockton, Calif. George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and “Embraceable You” were among the 11 selections in his 60-minute program. Sia regularly accompanies the Sacramento Valley Choir


James Kim ’00, MBA ’11 (Business Administration) was featured in the Sacramento Business Journal’s 2013 CFO of the Year edition. Kim received a “Small Private Company” award, recognizing his success as CFO and COO of Community 1st Bank.

Sean Martin ’00 (Accountancy) is the chief financial officer and director of information technology for the Pollock Pines School District.

Margaret Redmon, MBA ’00 (Business Administration) was named as president of Mercy Foundation. She previously served as chief operating officer at Turtle Bay Exploration Park where she oversaw development, membership, marketing and special events.

Brian Jensen, MA ’02 (Government) was appointed regional vice president for the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California. For the last six years, he worked as a government relations consultant for the Sacramento and Sierra divisions of Pacific Gas & Electric. Jensen is currently chair of the Rocklin Area Chamber of Commerce.

Karen Raines ’02 (Humanities), MA ’07 (History) was appointed by the Mission Inn Foundation to serve as the Jane Clark Cullen intern, where she is cataloging an extensive collection of materials held by the foundation. She is a doctoral candidate in public history at UC Riverside. 

Cynthia Anderson ’04 (Business Administration) was hired as the regional vice president of sales for Huntington Hotel Group. With more than eight years of experience in the hospitality industry, Anderson will oversee sales and marketing.

Ryan Kennedy ’06 (Criminal Justice) was named the Santa Cruz County Sheriff Department’s new public information officer. He was hired by the department in 2009 as a patrol deputy. In addition to his role as a media liaison, Kennedy will serve as a defensive tactics instructor and crisis negotiator.

Eric Vander Veen, MS ’08 (Accountancy) was elected president of the San Joaquin Chapter of the California Society of Certified Public Accountants for 2013-14. The group has more than 800 members from San Joaquin, Calaveras, Mariposa, Merced, Mono, Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties.

Thomas Carroll, MA ’09 (Higher Education Leadership) was selected to serve as Sacramento State’s interim director of Student Organizations and Leadership, where he previously served as assistant director.


Blake Menezes ’12 (Business Administration) is the social media strategist at San Francisco-based Autodesk, an international firm that creates 3D design software for entertainment, natural resources, manufacturing and engineering. He was selected by the White House Office of Digital Strategy to live-tweet President Obama’s State of the Union address in February 2013.

Lindsey Pavao, a semifinalist on season two of NBC’s “The Voice,” accepted a position in music discovery and social media management with Radio 94.7 (KKDO, 94.7 FM). Pavao recently moved back to Sacramento after a Northwest acoustic tour and is writing songs for her upcoming album “The Symptom.”

Sonia Ortiz-Mercado, MA ’10 (Higher Education Leadership) was hired by Sacramento State’s Office of Public Affairs and Advocacy as director of state and federal relations. She previously worked for more than 12 years in student service programs and governmental relations at the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

Payam Fardanesh, MBA ’11 (Business Administration) started selling Silk Road Soda to Sacramento-area cafés, restaurants and specialty food markets. The carbonated beverage is based upon a family recipe from his native country of Iran. A complete list of locations where Silk Road Soda is available is at

Marci Jefcoat ’11 (Chemistry) interned this summer at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C., where she worked in the conservation department, treating headsets from NASA’s Skylab and Gemini missions. In August, she began a second conservation internship at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

Kyle Cassano, MBA ’12 (Business Administration) was recognized by the Sacramento Business Journal as a “40 Under 40” nominee. Cassano co-owns Sacramento Marketing Labs LLC.

Shauna Poovey ’13 (English) was hired as a mortgage loan originator assistant by Cherry Creek Mortgage Co. Inc. in Port Angeles, Wash. Poovey lives with her husband, Travis and son, Jonah.

60 years of Causeway

The traditional gift for a 60th anniversary is a diamond. If you’re a Hornet fan, you’d probably rather have a chunk of concrete.

This November marks the 60th regular-season meeting of the Sac State Hornets and the UC Davis Aggies—the only opponent that has been on the Hornets’ schedule every season since they began fielding a football team in 1953.

While the winner of the longstanding rivalry will get bragging rights for the coming year, the victor will also take home the
Causeway Classic trophy which is fashioned from a piece of the Yolo Causeway.

 Amaze your fellow Hornets with these fun facts about the Causeway Classic

•    The inaugural Hornet-Aggie game in 1953 was also Sac State’s first Homecoming Game of the first football season.

•    The annual meeting has only been known as Causeway Classic since 1983—in the 1970s, coach Ray Clemons referred to the matchup as the “internal Sacramento Valley championship.”

•    The Causeway Classic title comes from the Yolo Causeway which separates the city of Davis from Sacramento. But one State Hornet sports reporter claimed it was named, “’Cause CSUS wants to win, ’cause UC Davis wants to win, and ’cause the winner will be able to brag for the next 12 months.”

•    For years, the winning squad gained custody of the Causeway Carriage, a full-size 19th-century Victorian
carriage. The carriage still makes appearances at Sac State Homecoming celebrations and Causeway Classics.

•    Prior to the 1990 game, injured Sac State quarterback Bobby Fresques received phone calls from San Francisco 49ers Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott and Steve Young. A motivated Hornet squad posted its fourth-straight Causeway victory.

•    Caltrans provided the material for the Causeway Classic trophy, taking a concrete core sample from one of the pillars that holds up the Yolo Causeway.

•    In 2009, Sac State honored Hornet coaching legend Bob Mattos, by wearing the name “Mattos” on the back of every jersey. The game ended with the “Mattos March,” an 89-yard scoring drive that resulted in a 31-28 Hornets victory.

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