10 Things about Sac StateSpring 2013

Celebrate President Alexander Gonzalez' 10th year with our Special Ten Issue

Presidents Message
The Buzz
10 years, 10 perspectives on Sac State
Course Correction
Wave Goodbye to the 'Commuter Campus'
Numbers Game
Class Notes

From the President

It has been a great privilege to serve the Sacramento State community for the last 10 years, and I am very excited about what we can achieve together in the years to come.

My optimism stems directly from our shared accomplishments thus far—several of which were produced despite some trying economic circumstances. In many ways, the challenges we’ve faced in recent years have brought out the very best in Sacramento State, and there are countless individual examples.

When one person chooses to make a difference at Sacramento State, the impact of that decision can resonate for generations. What may seem like a small choice—hiring a graduate, mentoring a student, connecting with fellow alumni—often can have tremendous benefits.

This issue of Sac State Magazine describes some of those individuals’ impacts on our community. Our feature story looks back at the University’s last 10 years through the eyes of 10 people close to our campus. You also can meet this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award honorees, who are making their marks in our community.

The majority of our graduates stay in the region, so when you invest in them by imparting knowledge and inspiration, the value is returned to our community. Additionally, by communicating the pride you feel about Sacramento State, it raises our profile as the region’s best resource for affordable higher education.

That’s the beauty of being part of the Sacramento State family. The work we do and the students we help create a lasting legacy of opportunity.

I am reminded of this regularly when I am out in the community. Everywhere I go, alumni tell me their stories of success and how Sacramento State made their lives better.

Thank you for embracing me as a part of this family for the last decade. It continues to be a remarkable experience, and I look forward to an even brighter future for Sacramento State.

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The Buzz

Sequoia Hall: Dean’s ‘field of dreams’

Fully believing “If you build it, they will come,” Dean Jill Trainer made a commitment to make studying more appealing, and more comfortable, for students in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Trainer is spearheading the Commit to Study program, a campaign aimed at boosting the number of hours students in the College spend on their academic workload.

With funding from the College’s Dean’s Leadership Circle giving society, the lobbies and hallways of Sequoia Hall are transforming into welcoming spots for students to actively participate in Commit to Study. The once-barren lobbies now have power outlets for laptops and comfortable tables and chairs. Bistro sets will adorn the busy hallways, allowing students space to squeeze in study time between classes and hold group study sessions on site.

“The study areas are a manifestation of our commitment to the students,” Trainer says. “If we’re going to ask them to study as much as we do, we need to give them a place to do it and that’s right here in the science building.”

It’s also an effort to wrest study time away from social networks, video games and other activities that have cut into it the past several decades. National research shows an average student’s study time has dropped dramatically. Trainer says math and science majors have an especially tough time keeping up if they don’t dedicate enough time.

“The lack of study time was shocking,” Trainer says. “The pace and rigor of college science and math classes are faster and higher than other disciplines. Students have to study a lot more to catch up and some of them have to learn good study habits.”

That’s where the faculty steps in. Professors Jeff Paradis, Jennifer Lundmark and Lynn Tashiro co-wrote a grant that now funds a support network for science, technology, engineering and math—known as STEM—majors. The program includes 20 peer leaders who conduct adjunct class sessions and act as role models for fellow students.

It’s a system that goes hand-in-hand with Commit to Study.

“We found that a lot of times when students come in as freshmen, their study skills aren’t up to snuff,” says Paradis. “There’s a disconnect from high school to college. Students need to be aware that there are study expectations.”

Trainer began formulating the plan for Commit to Study when she arrived at Sac State five years ago. It emphasizes eight study habits of successful students, including 25 hours of study time each week. Signage around Sequoia Hall, a website featuring instructional videos and the new furniture are all components.

”It sends a message to help students understand what it takes to be successful,” Trainer says.

Spotlight ON: First-Year Experience Peer Mentors

Mentors groom next generation of leaders

It’s hard to imagine Ify Agwuenu accomplishing any more during her time at Sac State. She will graduate with a biology degree in May, she owns the school record in the shot put and has already built a resume that could fill a notebook.

Agwuenu only wishes she was able to take part in the First-Year Experience Peer Mentor program when she was an incoming freshman. For the last two years, she mentored 25 students each fall, helping them feel comfortable on campus and keeping them on track academically, socially and even personally.

“I had some tough times, but one thing I learned from mentoring is that there’s always someone that has it harder than you,” says Agwuenu, who plans to become an emergency room doctor. “I always told my students to enjoy what they’re doing, try something different and don’t be afraid of failure.”

Barbara Ruggiero oversees the First-Year Mentor program. Paid peer advisors are available to any freshman who takes part in the First-Year Seminar or the University Learning Community during New-Student Orientation. More than 1,200 students were matched with mentors in 2012 and the program has more than tripled in size over the past 10 years.

“The mentors can deal with anything and everything—from the best place to get food on campus or where to get a parking permit to a death in the family or a student being homesick,” Ruggiero says. “They serve as a friend, a peer and an academic advisor and a lot of the students listen to their mentors more than they would faculty or staff.”

These seasoned students can also help the new arrivals navigate the University system, help arrange study groups or tutoring, assist with time management and provide emotional support during a sometimes challenging period. The mentors often share majors with their cohort, giving them common ground to build on.

The program provides an extra level of comfort to the participants, but for many mentors, the benefits are even greater.

“It’s a really cool job, but it doesn’t feel like a job,” says Audrey Durfor, who will work as a mentor for the third time next fall. “I’ve gotten so much out of it. You have to be organized and self-motivated, but if you want to make a difference you can totally do it.”

For Agwuenu, mentoring was a chance to expose new students to all Sac State has to offer, and have an impact on its future.

“They learned with every experience,” she says. “I think we had a lot of future student leaders.”

Playing in a traveling band

A new traveling concert program will have students from saxophonists to sopranos performing in front of new listeners, exposing urban and rural communities to different styles of music. At the same time, the music department gets valuable facetime to recruit the best high school musicians and vocalists from across California.

“This is very important to us,” Music Department Chair Ernie Hills says. “The students can increase their professional experience by performing off campus.”

The traveling music ensembles will embark on their first tour this spring, which Hills says will be somewhat of a sampler package. “The initial offering will feature a small jazz group, the Baroque ensemble Camerata Capistrano and perhaps something else.”

He notes that the tours are designed to give exposure to Sac State students while showcasing the quality and diversity of music programs at Sac State. The Baroque ensemble, for example, includes strings, winds and harpsichord, playing melodies popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. Future tours may feature an orchestra or a choir.

While going on tour is a rite of passage for professional musical groups, costs for travel and lodging pose obstacles for student groups to mount similar efforts.

Sac State’s program benefits from a gift from the estate of alumna Phyllis Irene Duval Sorichetti ’68 (Music) which will cover yearly touring expenses.

Sorichetti, who died in November 2010, was a music teacher and a child prodigy vocalist who participated in theater productions. She was also a member of the Legacy Circle, a group of donors who designate a portion of their estate to the University.

“This shows the power of Legacy Circle,” says Kevin Gonzalez, director of development. “Some student-based programs haven’t had funding in the past and have limited exposure. This was a transformational gift that will help students follow in Phyllis’ footsteps.”

New CSU leader visits campus

California State University System Chancellor Timothy P. White made his inaugural trip to Sac State in March.

During a whirlwind visit, Chancellor White met with student groups, toured the campus, visited with campus administrators and faculty, held a campus forum and sat down with The State Hornet editorial board. He also joined President Alexander Gonzalez for the annual CSU Legislative Day at the State Capitol.

Chancellor White is the former chancellor of UC Riverside. He has also held leadership and teaching positions at Oregon State University, UC Berkeley and the University of Michigan. He replaces Charles B. Reed, who retired in December.

To learn more about Chancellor White and the CSU system, visit calstate.edu.

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Energy efficiency efforts get a charge

Are electric cars the wave of the future? A new partnership between the University and SMUD might offer some hints. Funding from a Department of Energy grant enabled SMUD to offer the campus use of two Chevy Volts—General Motors’ plug-in hybrid electric vehicle—to use for parking patrols and other University travel. In exchange, the utility will be able to collect real-time data on electrical use and charging patterns.

Sac State, Crocker to U-Nite again

For the second year, the annual Festival of the Arts will kick off with University Night Out, or U-Nite, at the Crocker Art Museum. The April 11 event will feature artwork, dance and music by Sac State faculty throughout the museum. Events move to campus for the rest of the six-day Festival, showcasing offerings from the departments of theatre and dance, music, design and fine art. Details: csus.edu/al or crockerartmuseum.org  

Speech Pathology and Audiology turns 60

There’s cause for celebration in the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology. In addition to marking its 60th anniversary of graduating highly skilled speech pathologists and audiologists, more than 14,000 people have been served at its Maryjane Rees Language Speech and Hearing Center. The clinic offers affordable treatment for clients of all ages for a variety of disorders as well as valuable clinical experience for students. Future plans for the program include a move to Folsom Hall to join the School of Nursing and the Department of Physical Therapy in the Center for Health Professionals.

Construction Management Gets an Upgrade

Its graduates have been involved in some of the most visible buildings in northern California: Sacramento International Airport’s Terminal B, the Sheraton Grand and Sutter Health’s new Women’s and Children’s Center as well as Sac State’s Broad Athletic Fieldhouse, Hornet Bookstore and The Well. Now, after 40 years as a successful program within the University’s Department of Civil Engineering, Construction Management is now an independent academic department. Graduates earn a bachelor of science degree with a minor in business administration.

The science of sport

A team of Sac State researchers has launched a ground-breaking study on the art of football placekicking, using the University’s new 3-D motion-capture cameras. Kinesiology and Health Science professors Michael Nave, Rodney Imamura and David Mandeville created a mini football field surrounded by eight infrared cameras to track kickers in real time, but recording their actions at super-slow speed. The results are fed into a computer where the professors analyze every movement of the kicker’s body. The findings could eventually tell coaches the specific factors that contribute to a successful kick.

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Blue Print for a 21st century campus

How do you create a welcoming campus and offer new programs to meet student needs in a 10-year time span?

 At Sac State creativity, ingenuity, generous private support and thoughtful planning enabled the University to expand opportunities for living and learning while assuring that no space went to waste.

Construction of a new Hornet Bookstore and The Well set the plan in motion and many buildings have been recycled, reused and repurposed as a result. Here is a look at some of the buildings that, with clever retooling, now have a new life:

Athletics Center

Hornet Athletics offices and the Sac State Ticket Office moved into the former Student Health Center, which is now of part of The Well recreation and wellness center that opened in 2011. The football and track and field offices were already housed in the Eli and Edythe Broad Fieldhouse.

Yosemite Hall

Yosemite Hall is the new space for the ROTC program, which relocated in 2012 from the Public Safety Building on the southeast end of campus after Hornet Athletics moved to the former Student Health Center.

Folsom Hall

The School of Nursing switched homes to the former CalSTRS Building on Folsom Boulevard, moving into the completely revamped 60,000 square-foot facility in 2010 after many years in El Dorado Hall. Folsom Hall also includes University Transportation and Parking, which changed places to make way for the American River Courtyard residence halls in 2009, and it will soon house the Department of Physical Therapy.

Del Norte Hall

Del Norte Hall, formerly the Hornet Bookstore, now houses a 214-seat lecture hall and a 45-seat collaborative classroom. There are also classrooms and office space for the College of Continuing Education, lab and office space for archeological research and offices for Division of Human Resources. A new Hornet Bookstore, which includes offices for University Enterprises, Inc., opened in 2007.

What’s next?

Sac State is in the process of renewing its master plan, thinking ahead to what the campus will need in the decade to come. The most pressing need remains a modern science facility but the University will also explore ways to keep students connected to campus—such as the potential for additional student housing—and new opportunities to engage the community with the campus.

10 Years 10 Perspectives on Sac State

I think the value of the University as Sacramento’s four-year university can’t be overemphasized,” says Sac State President Alexander Gonzalez. “We provide the backbone of the workforce that’s needed here in Sacramento, and we are an important part of the social and economic fabric of the region. Our programs provide a level of interaction both at a social and an economic level that people can’t overlook.”

Eric Guerra ’03 (Electrical and Electronic Engineering), MPPA ’08 had a hand in helping bring Gonzalez to the capital city, and he’s had a front-row view of Sac State’s ascension over the past decade.

“I was on the selection committee and I really advocated for him,” says Guerra, who was ASI President and a California State University student trustee in the spring of 2003 when Gonzalez began his tenure. “He had a strong vision for how Sac State could be perceived in the capital region. He came in with some new energy and he knew exactly what Sac State needed. I have to say he’s been successful.

“There’s definitely a sense of pride and acknowledgement of the University in the community,” Guerra says.

Sac State’s influence on the state capital continues to grow, particularly through the Capital Fellows programs. Operated by the Center for California Studies at Sac State, Capital Fellows has risen to national prominence over the past decade—including being named among the top 10 internships in the country. Before he was chief of staff for Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, Guerra was a Capital Fellow. The program gives students from all over the country the chance to work at the state Capitol and be a part of the governing process.

“Being an alum, I would argue it is the top fellowship in the nation,” Guerra says. “It’s preparing leaders immediately, right out of college, to be policy experts, and they’re advising officials in a state that sets the tone for the country.”

Gonzalez agrees that Sac State plays a crucial role in helping the region establish its place in an evolving economy.

“Sacramento is the seat of government, and the region has historically been in the middle of economic change, whether it’s the epicenter of the Gold Rush or a hub for the railroad,” Gonzalez says. “I think Sacramento’s role in California is changing once again and only growing in importance.”

Strides in education

Brian Fury and Viridiana Diaz had a tough time satisfying their appetites for education, but Sac State supplied them with new programs that boosted their respective careers.

After a job in the computer industry fizzled, Fury ’08 (Biological Sciences), MA ’11 (Stem Cell Research) returned to school to study biology. He was a standout undergraduate at Sac State and put in countless hours in the biochemistry lab, working closely with Sac State professors Thomas Peavy, Tom Landerholm and others.

“I just kept asking for more and more,” Fury says. “So many teachers were really inspiring and encouraging on an individual basis. At the end of my undergraduate years I was still interested in taking my lab skills to the next level.”

Fury managed the University’s CIMERA (Center for Interdisciplinary Molecular Biology Education Research and Advancement) Lab for two years when Peavy came to him with good news—after years of planning and petitioning, Sac State’s stem cell master’s program was launching. Fury joined 10 classmates in the first cohort and earned his degree two years later, setting the stage for his current role as lab manager at the highly regarded UC Davis Stem Cell Research Center.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything greater to come along,” Fury says of the stem cell master’s program.

It shows how Sac State is responding to the demands of the job market, preparing graduates who are well equipped and ready to meet challenges of emerging industries and evolving communities.

“What I’m trying to do is get the campus to think differently, to not only survive but thrive in this environment,” Gonzalez says. “We still have to look at our programs and how we deliver them. The discussions we will be having going forward are how do we align our resources, our values and our goals all together so we continue to move forward and at the same time serve our students and the region as best we can.”

Diaz’ passion for education and ties to Sac State are equally strong. She directs the University’s College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP)—a program she participated in as an undergraduate—and she possesses four Sac State degrees.

Her most recent diploma is from the doctoral program in educational leadership, the campus’ first independent doctorate. And while it proved to be an excellent fit for Diaz ’00 (Communication Studies), MA ’03 (Spanish), MA ’10 (History), EdD ’12 (Educational Leadership), the timing was challenging.

“I’m a planner and sometimes things don’t work out like you plan them,” says Diaz, whose son, Mateo (now 3), was born while she was in the program.

She says the degree gives her a new perspective on her career providing guidance to dozens of students from migrant farm worker families each year. Many of the students are English-language learners and are considered at-risk for dropping out. Instead graduation rates among CAMP students at Sac State are often higher than those of non-CAMPers.

“I think my doctorate program changed my views and made me become a more proactive person,” Diaz says. “It’s designed for leadership practitioners and it’s only facilitated my job. You learn how to strategize, cope with change and look at different options before making data-driven decisions.”

Caring for students

Programs like CAMP, which address the needs of target populations who have not been traditionally represented among the college-going population, figure to grow in importance as the state’s demographics continue to shift.

Janay Swain ’06, MSW ’09 remembers the intense anxiety of sitting in traffic on the H Street Bridge on her first day of college, fearing she would be late and feeling all alone. In foster care since age 14, Swain studied and worked to earn scholarships and financial aid, but the college campus was initially an unnerving place.

“I got here and I said, ‘Wow, I’m really here alone. There’s no one here in my situation,’” Swain says. “It was really hard. I had some bumps in the road and I could have used support.”

After her arduous experience, Swain set out to assist other foster youth in similar situations. She bent the ear of President Gonzalez and he was fully supportive in the creation of the Guardian Scholars Program.

“President Gonzalez opened up his own home to have Christmas parties (for Guardian Scholars students) and he is just a very compassionate, empathetic man for students that are vulnerable and need support,” Swain says.

“Without that support a lot of us would be floundering, but now the graduation rate for Guardian Scholars is close to 80 percent.”

Gonzalez says those opportunities to make an impact on the lives of students is what drew him to higher education and, ultimately to become a university president.

“I’m always asked, ‘What makes you do this?’” he says. “It really is the fact that I know we’re going to make the difference for a lot of students. I liked working with students as a professor, but I realized I could have a lot more impact on a greater number of students as an administrator.”

The President isn’t the only one that has rallied around the Guardian Scholars Program. Community support has made it a resounding success.

“We’ve found it to be a phenomenal program,” says Dale Carlsen ’85 (Business Administration), the founder and CEO of Sleep Train and a donor to Guardian Scholars. “One of the things I really appreciate about it is the mentorship. I had the support of my parents and siblings, but that’s not always the case for these students. To have somebody there to help guide them is a critical part of what we think is a fantastic program.”

Swain is now a social worker for Sacramento County and continues to be a tireless advocate for foster youth. She received the Rising Star Award at the Sac State Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Awards in 2012.

College was also uncharted water for Charles Caraway ’09 (History). He thought he wanted to be a police officer after his years in the Marine Corps, but decided law enforcement was not the career for him and enrolled at Sac State at age 27.

“I always kind of thought if you had enough intelligence you could get far enough in life,” Caraway says. “Now I have a very clear realization that you aren’t going to go anywhere without a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.”

As a veteran surrounded by students nearly 10 years younger than himself, Caraway still had doubts about college, but Sac State’s Veterans Success Center helped change his perspective. The program provides mentoring, tutoring and other services to former military members and their families.

“I talked to the staff and they kind of held my hand through the college process. For me it was kind of a touchstone—I could always come back to base and then head back out on campus,” Caraway says.

He recently graduated near the top of his class from McGeorge School of Law and is working as an attorney in Sacramento.

Building blocks for success

Evidence of expanded student support services and new academic programs can be found University-wide. At the same time you can literally see signs of growth in other aspects of the campus over the past decade. From The Well and the Academic Information Resource Center to the revamped Hornet Bookstore and upgraded facilities for student-athletes, it’s an inviting place.

“We need to make sure that the campus is always interesting and attractive to students,” Gonzalez says. “To me, the future of the campus really has to include a comprehensive focus on campus life. Going to class is only one part of it. I think the soul, the emotional interaction, the interaction with faculty and staff—that’s all part of the educational experience too.”

Perhaps no department embodies the campus life’s leap forward better than the School of Nursing.

The program has always had an excellent reputation, but Sac State’s nursing department was tucked away in tiny El Dorado Hall for many years. In 2011, nursing marched into a new era in a bright, new building. A $1.8 million Campaign for Nursing helped fund the expansion which increased the space for students from 10,000 to 60,000 square feet.

Folsom Hall was a picture-perfect training facility for Felicia Thongpet ’12 (Nursing), who was in the first class to have all of its courses in the building.

“We do our simulation exercises and it looks just like a hospital,” says Thongpet, who graduated in December and was recognized with the Leader of the Future award by the California Nursing Students’ Association.

“We learn what we need to do in situations in a hospital. Because of these professors and these facilities, I feel really well-prepared to go and take my board exams and to go into the world and practice as a nurse. I’m really excited to do that.”

Intercollegiate Athletics also got a badly needed upgrade with the addition of the Eli and Edythe Broad Fieldhouse, adjacent to Hornet Stadium. The privately funded Fieldhouse is home to locker rooms and offices for football and track and field, as well as an impressive weight room and other first-class amenities.

Sac State alumnus Ken Macias ’79 (Business Administration), MS ‘90 (Accountancy) put his support behind the Broad Fieldhouse project because he wants to see the Hornets have the ability to compete at a high level and be a point of pride in the region and beyond.

“It goes deep,” Macias says of the Fieldhouse’s impact. “Our sports teams need proper facilities to compete in Division I sports and when they are doing that, it ultimately enhances the vitality of the University.”

Macias has seen the evolution of Sac State from a traditional commuter school with sometimes less-than-inviting facilities to a vibrant, active campus with many attractions for students and visitors. As part of President Gonzalez’ advisory committee he’s seen the vision for the school begin to bear fruit.

“We want to bring Sac State more prominence in the community and through the CSU system and improve the campus as a destination,” Macias says. “I think now there is much more of a community life on campus. The changes on campus have been dramatic and have enhanced the learning environment.”

Hornets impact the neighborhood, and the globe

Learning opportunities expand well beyond the classroom at Sac State. More than a third of students are involved in community service—including those in the 65th Street Corridor Project.

The program is creating pathways to college for at-risk youth at Will C. Wood Middle School and Hiram Johnson High School near the Sac State campus. It also gives students valuable experience in working with youth as mentors and tutors.

Psychology professor Gregory Kim-Ju says many students who were a part of the 65th Street Project in high school have gone on to attend Sac State and some have even become mentors at their former schools. The project draws Sac State students from a variety of majors, allowing them to earn credit for their time, and helping develop leadership skills that can be keys to their future.

“It’s valuable, meaningful experience for them,” says Kim-Ju, who has been involved with the Project since arriving on campus 10 years ago, the same year as President Gonzalez. “We’ve had a number of tutors who have gone on to work at community organizations using those same skills at their jobs.”

This service learning—enhancing learning opportunities through community service opportunities tied to course content—is emphasized in departments across campus.

“From my perspective with President Gonzalez being here, he’s been very explicit about making stronger connections to the community and I’ve seen more and more programs that faculty members are starting up with connections outside of the University,” Kim-Ju says.

Building community engagement has been key for President Gonzalez. “I think one of the big changes we’ve seen since I’ve been here is our impact in the community,” he says. “We have become integrated as part of the region. So when people think of any important issue, they think of Sac State.”

While the 65th Street Corridor Project is making an impact close to campus, the new One World Initiative is expanding the viewpoints of students, faculty and staff on campus through its inaugural topic, “Global Perspectives on Water.”

“One World has an annual theme based on a topic of global importance and it’s broad enough that virtually any discipline can engage with it,” says geology professor Lisa Hammersley, who arrived at Sac State the same year as the President. “It’s almost an impromptu learning collaborative and students can start making connections across disciplines. It helps to splice together their curriculum.

“I think a global perspective is very important in today’s world,” she says. “A lot of our students are local and they often stay in Sacramento after graduation, so it’s definitely important for us to give them that perspective while they’re on campus, to try and inject global thinking into the curriculum.”

Exposure to varied viewpoints helps ensure that whether graduates remain in the capital city or venture elsewhere, they are well-equipped to make a difference in their professions and in their communities.

“That’s the value of higher education and Sacramento State, Gonzalez says, “to get students to think differently and to solve problems.”  

President Alexander Gonzalez

Alexander Gonzalez has served more than three decades as a professor and education leader, including the last 10 years as the 11th president of Sacramento State. A native Californian and the first person in his family to graduate from college, President Gonzalez has devoted his career to ensuring greater opportunities for students.

Prior to his arrival in Sacramento, President Gonzalez served as president of CSU San Marcos and as a faculty member and provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Fresno State.

At Sacramento State, he implemented his Destination 2010 initiative to transform the campus into a premier metropolitan university. The concept created new academic and student programs, boosted community partnerships and built a welcoming campus featuring new buildings and other amenities.

As he celebrates his 10th year on campus, President Gonzalez is embarking on a new initiative, Redefine the Possible, focusing on progress, innovation and marshaling intellectual resources.

Eric Guerra ’03 MPPA ’08

He initially studied electrical and electronic engineering at Sac State, but the powers of science can’t compare to the energy Eric Guerra feels when he’s helping shape public policy. Sac State gave him a blend of analytical skills and public policy training that is perfect for his current position as chief of staff for assemblyman Al Muratsuchi. Late Sac State professor Tim Hodson spotted Guerra’s talents and convinced him to apply for Capital Fellows, setting the stage for a budding political career.

“I was working in a lab before Capital Fellows and I began recognizing that the ideas of 38 million people all come here to the Capitol,” says Guerra, who is vice president of administration for the Sac State Alumni Association. “I gained an understanding of how dynamic public policy is and I got the bug.”

Janay Swain ’06 MSW ’09

After navigating a difficult road as a foster youth transitioning to college life, Janay Swain forged a vision to help students following in her footsteps. And she found a strong ally in President Alexander Gonzalez. The result was the Guardian Scholars Program, which has helped boost graduation rates among former foster youth over the past five years, thanks to the hard work of many people on campus and the support of the community.

“President Gonzalez really engaged us and embraced the program with open arms,” says Swain, who is now a social worker with Sacramento County Child Protective Services. “A lot of students from foster care don’t have people to support them and they need a place to go on campus where people can help them navigate through the whole college system.”

 Brian Fury ’08 MA ’11

Give Brian Fury a lab coat and a petri dish and he’s a happy man. He was at the top of his class in the first cohort of the Stem Cell Research Master’s program at Sac State, graduating in 2011. He and several fellow Sac State grads work at UC Davis Health System’s Institute for Regenerative Cures in Sacramento, on the front lines of research that is taking aim at cancer, HIV and other diseases. Fury  is the manager of manufacturing in the Good Manufacturing Practice facility and also an ESC/iPSC Cell Culture Specialist, meaning he gets to spend plenty of time on the cutting edge of bio-research.

“The driving motivation for a lot of us is we have connections to the diseases we’re working on cures for,” Fury says. “We have family members or close friends that suffer from these conditions and we know what they are going through.”

Viridiana Diaz, ’00 MA ’03, MA ’10, EdD ’12

When students visit with Viridiana Diaz they get more than the standard spiel about the importance of education. Diaz can’t hide her passion for Sac State and she’s got the degrees to back it up. Four of them to be exact. She is the director of the College Assistance Migrant Program—the same program that first brought her to Sac State. After moving to California from Mexico at age 12, Diaz quickly developed a taste for academics.

“I think I could have majored in anything because I just love school,” says Diaz, adding that the tools she gained through the Educational Leadership doctorate are directly applicable to her work with CAMP.

Charles Caraway ’09

Before stepping onto the Sac State campus, Charles Caraway wasn’t sure college was a great investment. Five years and two degrees later, the Marine Corps veteran is a shining ambassador for higher education. The Veterans Success Center helped Caraway tap into his talents as a student as he earned a bachelor’s degree in history before graduating eighth in his class from McGeorge School of Law in December.

“I had zero knowledge about college when I got here,” Caraway says of his experience at Sac State. “A lot of veterans come into college and have anxiety and the Veterans Success Program has people that know how to help them deal with that.”

Ken Macias ’79 MS ’90

Ken Macias has a good perspective on the Sac State campus, having earned degrees in two different decades and served as an active alum ever since. As a member of President Alexander Gonzalez’ advisory committee he’s helped the campus make major strides over the past decade. As a donor, Macias played in integral role in establishing one of the most impressive landmarks on campus: the Broad Fieldhouse.

“Comparing the campus when I went to school to today, it’s an immense improvement,” Macias says. “The changes on campus have been dramatic and have enhanced the learning environment for the students and for the community.”

Gregory Kim-JuAssociate Professor of Psychology

Sacramento State is a long way from the Dominican Republic, where Gregory Kim-Ju served as a Peace Corps volunteer before beginning his professorship in 2003. But Kim-Ju felt right at home, thanks in part to his involvement with the 65th Street Corridor Project. The program has helped improve grades and test scores in the neighborhood just south of the Sac State campus. University students from various majors serve as mentors to the youngsters and the program aims to provide pathways to college for underserved youth.

“To come to a university that has that kind of community emphasis, it’s been a very easy transition for me,” says Kim-Ju, who started the same year as President Alexander Gonazlez.

Felicia Thongpet ’12

Folsom Hall is a sparkling building with the latest training equipment and an environment perfect for grooming eager nursing students. Felicia Thongpet is a gleaming example of the type of work-ready graduate the Sac State nursing program is aiming to produce. She credits her dedicated professors, supportive classmates and the remarkable facilities for stoking her passion for the nursing field.

“We’re here at Folsom Hall all the time and my classmates are like my second family,” says Thongpet, who was the California Nursing Students’ Association Leader of the Future award recipient. “Knowing that when you wake up in the morning you’re going to work and you get to help someone feel better and educate people about how to feel better health-wise, it’s just a great field to be in.”

Lisa Hammersley Associate Professor of Geology

She grew up in London, studied volcanoes in Central America and traveled all over the globe, so the One World Initiative is right up Lisa Hammersley’s alley. The Sac State geology professor, who arrived at Sac State the same year as President Alexander Gonzalez, helped formulate the program, which looks to provide students and the campus community a global perspective on one key issue each year. She says the One World Initiative has galvanized the campus behind one cause and brought people together who normally wouldn’t cross paths.

“I’m a scientist, but I’m interested in lots of different things and One World allows me to interact with people in a lot of different disciplines,” Hammersley says. “Everyone has an expertise that they bring to a topic. We definitely benefit from the perspective of all the other people I work with in different fields.”

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New scholarship marks President’s tenure

To recognize the contributions President Alexander Gonzalez and his wife, Gloria, have made to Sacramento State and to the community, the net proceeds from the 2013 Green & Gold Gala will endow a scholarship for students who aspire to follow the Gonzalez’ examples of dedication and perseverance.

 The award, the President Alexander and Gloria Gonzalez Public Service and Community Leadership Scholarship, forever acknowledges the Gonzalez’ commitment to the campus and the region. It will be awarded annually to a California State University, Sacramento student who demonstrates his or her dedication to his or her community by actively improving community structure, addressing educational or social issues and by his or her pursuit of a career path that will focus on improving California for the benefit of its residents.

The first recipient was announced at this year’s Gala, held March 22. You can learn about this stellar student at csus.edu/sacstatemagazine
If you’d like to make a gift in honor of the Gonzalezes visit csus.edu/giving.

Course correction

Innovation and “smart” thinking are all the rage in technology. Why not in higher education?

Forward-thinking new programs and streamlined operations in the College of Business Administration and the College of Education are helping Sac State keep pace with the demands of students and employers.

The new Business Honors Program features a curriculum designed to prepare students to start in upper-middle management after they graduate, instead of starting at the bottom and working up.

Rather than studying one subject at a time, and learning to combine those skills gradually after they graduate, students hone their problem-solving skills by tackling a variety of different subjects within each Honors course, says Associate Dean Seung Bach.

“The classes reflect an actual situation in a business,” Bach says. “We integrate the ‘101s’ in a different way with multi-disciplinary courses.”

Ongoing campus efforts to build partnerships with the global community got a boost from the new International MBA, which launched in Singapore in the fall.

While obtaining a business degree in the United States remains an attractive goal for international students, not all of them can afford to do so, says Associate Dean Monica Lam. Now students in Southeast Asia can obtain high-quality business training without having to relocate.

Other offerings aim to keep the University competitive. Sac State is now one of only four schools in California with a concentration in financial planning with curriculum created to prepare students to sit for the Certified Financial Planner exam. And the new Center for Entrepreneurship acts as an incubator for promising startups, providing office space and expertise to launch new business ventures.

Sac State is also finding ways to better serve education students. A joint effort in the College of Education is consolidating services and programs, and centralizing operations—without sacrificing classes.

“Our goals are to deliver innovative models and practices, and to increase opportunities for faculty, students and staff to collaborate and build learning communities,” says Dean Vanessa Sheared.

The organizational changes allow faculty to work across program areas and participate in team-teaching wherever possible. Counseling and advising have also been streamlined.

—Contributed by Communication Studies Major Matthew Urner

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Wave goodbye to the commuter campus

There’s the resident, there’s the commuter. Now meet… the resi-muter.

Instead of sprinting to the parking lot after class, a growing number of Sac State’s 28,500 students are climbing walls in The Well, studying in the library, shooting pool in the University Union or meeting with fellow club members in the River Front Center.

“I think Sacramento State has really started to change its image from a commuter campus to something other than that,” says Lori Varlotta, vice president for Student Affairs. “Even if a campus has a lot of students living off campus, depending on the kind of activities and services that are offered throughout the day, at night and on weekends, it can feel more residential, hence the term ‘resi-muter campus.’

“In the last 10 years, we’ve made significant strides in that direction.”

A number of targeted efforts, including the Destination 2010 initiative, helped the campus evolve over the past decade into an inviting, vibrant environment where students are more likely to plop down and relax after class or meet with study groups after hours. Keeping students on campus, engaged in activities is a concerted effort that continues at several levels.


A campus with an active student life and a diverse population inspires a corresponding array of clubs and activities to suit the interests of students. Roughly half of the student population is involved in at least one of the nearly 300 clubs or organizations at Sac State. And that’s good for both the social and academic life.

“We have extensive research over decades that shows students involved in activities on campus have a stronger connection and that positively impacts GPA and graduation rates,” says Sara Henry, Sac State’s director of Student Organizations and Leadership. “Student club leaders are more likely to stay in school than non-participants. On a campus this size, it helps people find their niche and develop relationships.”

There are clubs for everything from sports to politics to cultural interests as well as 35 Greek organizations and 118 groups that are directly tied to academics. Charisse Francis says she was a typical “commuter” student when she first started at Sac State, but now a junior, she’s heavily involved in several organizations, including the First Year Experience Peer Mentor Club, the Family Studies Student Club and Zeta Sigma Chi sorority.

“My first semester I would come to campus, take my classes and go home,” Francis says. “Then I got involved with the honors society and from there I’ve made different connections and that’s how the other clubs came along.”

Experience in clubs and organizations can bolster students’ resumes and sometimes lead directly to employment. Associated Students, Inc. is the official governing body of Sac State students. In addition to providing hands-on leadership training, ASI also  employs around 200 students each year, offering them the chance to earn money while gaining valuable experience.

Setting the foundation

Students still commute, of course. The campus sees 25,000 cars come and go each day, but students are spending more and more time at the University, engaging in activities outside the classroom and taking advantage of the many services offered to them.

While many spaces at Sac State, such as the University Union and River Front Center, are campus stalwarts that undergo continual tweaks to adapt to student needs, others sprang up as part of recent efforts to energize the campus. Sac State blossomed with the emergence of The Well recreation and wellness center, the Hornet Bookstore and the Academic Information Resource Center.

The Well was a hit from the start after opening its doors in 2010. Nearly 75 percent of the student population is enrolled in Well programs, where there are endless possibilities for exercise, health and nutrition services, and plain-old fun.

 “The building and the programs here have definitely changed the dynamic on campus,” says Mirjana Gavric, director at The Well. “The Well—both the facility and its many programs—entices people to come, work out, hang out, to venture out and try new things and have a centralized place where they can be active and healthy with their friends.”

It’s also the home of Peak Adventures, which offers an abundance of trips and activities, and Sac State’s intramural sports programs, which attract 5,000 participants each year.

Nestled between The Well and the hive of activity known as the University Union is the Academic Information Resource Center, four floors of computer labs and comfortable study space. It opens early and closes late to ensure students have a place to cram for exams and convene for group projects.

And when students need a break from the books, they head to the Union. An active game room, a food court, an art gallery, meeting rooms and auditoriums for lectures, movies and music offer both a respite and a gathering place.

“I think the Union is like the living room of the campus,” Gavric says.

Students on the north end of campus have a crash pad of their own: River Front Center which received a recent makeover. Food options range from gyros to sushi to burritos and indoor and outdoor seating provide space to visit or catch up on studies.

Breaking the commuter campus cycle

As the University strives to keep students on campus during the days and evenings, except for the occasional all-nighter most students still spend their nights elsewhere. But options to live on or near campus are expanding.

In 2009 Sac State added its first new residence hall in 20 years with the apartment-style American River Courtyard. The green-certified building increased Sac State’s residential population by more than 50 percent and Varlotta hopes the campus can double that number again in the near future.

Boundaries posed by the roads, river and railway that border the campus by necessity limit the number of students the University can house, but many of the neighborhoods in the area are the next best thing. More than 20 percent of Sac State students live within five miles of campus, including the University-operated Upper Eastside Lofts, which offer students the feel of residential living with the flavor of off-campus life.

Extending the reach

Though residing close-by may not be an option for a majority of students, Sac State continues to search for ways to meet them halfway, Henry says, pointing to efforts to expand campus leadership programs that offer incentives for students who get involved with campus life.

“There’s a lot of energy around trying to engage students and that’s an important thing for us to build on.”

thewell.csus.edu, peakadventures.org

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Numbers game: Hornets who wore No. 10

So what’s in a number? For Otis Amey, LaVerne Simmons-Barnett, Bill Barker and Blake Crosby, choosing a jersey number ranged from carefully considered decision to random chance that seemed to bring good luck. But the four athletes had one thing in common: They wore the number 10 for Sac State.

Wide receiver (Fred) Otis Amey proclaims that the number 10 is the greatest number in sports.

“I did some research on the number 10 and because of my faith I looked to the Bible,” Amey says. “Every number has a meaning in the Bible and the number 10 represents a full completion. So every time I caught a pass I was making a full completion and that’s my number.”

And Amey made a lot of completions. He holds nearly every receiving record at Sac State including career yards, receptions and touchdowns and the single-game record for receptions. His 17 career 100-yard games are 10 more than any other Hornet.

Amey always envisioned a post-college football career and says he would tell himself, “One day I’m going to play in the NFL.” In fact, as a young kid in Union City, Calif. he used to practice his autograph and pass it around to fellow students on the playground. 

That dream became a reality, but Amey still can’t believe that he played for his hometown team—San Francisco 49ers. As a free agent in 2005, he had to beat out several draft picks and was 11th on the receiver roster.

“I still remember the first game I ever played in, it was on 9/11 and sold out,” Amey says. “They asked me right before the game to be the starting punt returner and the very first time I touched the ball I ran it back for a 75-yard touchdown.”

Amey went on to play in the CFL, the Arena League and returned to Hornet Stadium as a member of the United Football League’s Sacramento Mountain Lions. In the fall he was on campus in a non-football capacity advising students in the Student-Athlete Resource Center.

While Amey set records at Hornet Stadium, the Sac State women’s volleyball team made history on Colberg Court, winning back-to-back national championships in the early ‘80s.

The first title came in 1980, the year before the NCAA began sponsoring women’s athletics, when the Hornets claimed the AIAW Div. III national championship. The following year they were crowned the NCAA’s inaugural women’s Div. II national champion.

LaVerne Simmons-Barnett ’86 (Business Administration) was a middle-hitter for Sac State for both teams and 32 years later is still part of the Sac State community, serving as the campus’ director of Accounting Services.

When Simmons-Barnett started her volleyball career in her junior year in high school, she had to get talked into trying out for the team, as volleyball wasn’t originally on her mind. What was on her mind? College.

“Coming to Sac State was just a natural fit. I’m a Sacramento native, my sisters attended college here and the people in the athletic community were really supportive,” she says.

Simmons-Barnett’s number 10 was assigned to her at Sac State and while she doesn’t attribute the number to the teams’ success, she does give credit to Coach Debby Colberg, who she says coached her “from the ground up.”

“I was just glad to be a part of the first women’s volleyball team to win an NCAA national championship for the school,” says Simmons-Barnett. “I’m proud to still be a part of the campus and I can’t wait to see more changes being made.”

She praises President Gonzalez for making improvements that were needed campus-wide.

“It’s hard not to notice all of the changes over the years, from athletics, academics to the architecture,” she says.

While jersey numbers have special meanings to many athletes, Bill Barker ’66 (Physical Education) chose his out of sheer necessity.

Barker was in second grade when he first started playing basketball and picked the number 10, not because it was his favorite number, but because it was the only jersey that would fit him. As he got older he decided to stick with it and says 10 always seemed to bring him good luck.

Barker wore the number when he played guard for the Sac State men’s basketball team from 1964-65 and, at 27, was the oldest player on the team.

“During my time on the team we had one of the greatest coaches in NCAA basketball history, Ev Shelton,” says Barker. “As a team we had love for the game and we were connected, which made my time at Sac State even more memorable.”

Though he’s traded the hard court for the golf links, Barker stays connected to the basketball program as a member of the 6th Man Club, Sac State’s basketball booster organization. He says he appreciates the opportunity to support head coach Brian Katz’ efforts to build the basketball program into a widely respected institution on and off the court.

Blake Crosby’s choice of jersey number came from a rooting interest in baseball—he was a fan of the San Diego Padres and their shortstop Chris Gomez wore the number 10. His decision to play the sport had a more familial tie.

“I grew up around the game,” says Crosby ’09 (Communication Studies). “My father, Ed Crosby, played major league baseball and he was a scout in Southern California for more than 20 years, plus I wanted to be like my older brothers.”

Those brothers included Bobby Crosby, the former shortstop for the Oakland Athletics and 2004 American League Rookie of the Year.

Crosby played at Sac State from 2007-09 and batted .397 as a senior in 2009, the ninth best single-season batting average in school history. Drafted by the Athletics, he played one season of minor league baseball.

He put the knowledge and understanding he gained to work as a scout for the Toronto Blue Jays and in 2012 he was named the Blue Jays’ amateur scout of the year.

“My parents told me to find what I loved to do and then figure out a way to make money doing it,” Crosby says. “As a scout I get to evaluate baseball players on a daily basis and work with guys who are Ivy Leaguers and others that have never been on a college campus.”

Ten. For Amey it is a divine number, for Crosby it is a favorite number, for Barker it is a lucky number and for Simmons-Barnett it’s just a number, but one with a lot of memories.
—Contributed by Communication Studies Major Alyssa Huskinson

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Class Notes


Henry Morita ’62, MA ’68 (Education) has dedicated 50 years of service to improving education. Following his graduation in 1962, Morita became a teacher at Westmore Oaks Elementary School in West Sacramento. He went on to serve as principal of Sutterville Elementary School and Fair Oaks Elementary School. Despite retirement in 1996, he remains an active member of several community education programs. In February 2008, Morita served as a consultant for the Trainer of Trainers Model Project in Sri Lanka, following a devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Maridee Hays ’64 (Art), MA ’74 (Fine Art) is hosting an art exhibit at the Napa Main Library. The exhibit is part of the Art in the Library program. Hays currently teaches several classes through the Napa Valley Adult School including “Spontaneous Painting,” “Creativity in Water Media” and “Collage-Stress Buster.”

John McDowell ’67, MA ’70 (Sociology) was appointed by Assembly Speaker John Perez to serve as chairperson of California’s Student Aid Commission. In 1978, McDowell founded the Labor Center at Los Angeles Trade Technical College which he still directs. Since 1999, he has served as political director of the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild, AFT Local 1521. From 2009 to 2011, McDowell was president of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, a statewide professional association advocating for community college faculty.

Marjorie Louise Boulton ’69 (History) is a member of the Rancho Cordova History Society. While studying as a history major at Sacramento State in the late 1960s, she was required to write an original research paper for Dr. Howe. The research paper became a 60-page project which is now a published book, A History of Rancho Cordova.

R. Stephen Winter ’69 (Physical Education) was honored at a dedication ceremony for Manteca High School’s new swimming pool. The pool was named after Winter, a former swim team member, coach and dedicated community activist.


George Ellis ’70 (Philosophy) celebrated the release of his book A Symphony of Silence: An Enlightened Vision. The book is a compilation of diverse stories sharing the common experience of inner silence. The book is being distributed by MUM Press and Amazon.

Harold Geiogue, MA ’71 (Government) was appointed to the California ScholarShare Investment Board. Geiogue was the chief consultant to the California Assembly Education Committee from 1995 to 2002, and was assistant state treasurer to the California State Treasurer from 1991 to 1995. He served in the California Legislative Analyst’s Office as a principal program analyst from 1975 to 1990 and as a higher education consultant from 1967 to 1975. Geiogue was a budget analyst for the California Department of Finance from 1965 to 1967.

Kelly Hamilton ’71 (French) is one of more than 70 women included in a recently published book called Military Fly Moms. The publication features a collection of stories told by women who were or are military aviators and also mothers. Hamilton grew up in a military family and took her first flying lesson at 19. She joined the Air Force in 1973, becoming the first mother to complete training. She was the senior ranking woman to fly in the first Gulf War and was instrumental in addressing the repeal of the combat exclusion law. Hamilton retired from the Air Force in 1998 and is now an airline captain.

Marguerite Ann Story-Baker ’73 (Social Welfare), MSW ’75, MPPA ’82 has been working for Sacramento County since 1977. She has also had a private counseling practice since 1982. Story-Baker is currently serving as the acting administrator for Sacramento County Alcohol and Drug Services.

Daniel Logue ’76 (Government) was re-elected to represent California’s 3rd Assembly District. Before serving as an assemblymember, Logue owned a real estate business. He currently resides in Loma Rica, Calif.

Ronald Ridley ’77 (Economics) and his wife, Sandy, will be showing more than 20 watercolor paintings at Bogle Winery this July. An art reception will be held on July 6 in the wine tasting room. The Ridleys have been teaching watercolor at the Elk Grove Fine Art Center for the past few years.

Don Nottoli ’78 (Government/Journalism) completed another year of service as chair of the Board of Supervisors for District 5. This marked the fourth time since Nottoli was first elected to the board in 1994 that he chaired the five-person board. He also served in that capacity in 1997, 2002 and 2007.

Patti Scott-Baier ’78 (Nursing) is the aquatics director for the Tuolumne County Aquatic Master’s program in Sonora, Calif. The program is for swimmers over 18 who train for regional and national competitions. Scott-Baier has been a swim coach for nearly 15 years.

Stephen Sellers ’79 (Government) was appointed assistant director for response at the California Emergency Management Agency by Gov. Brown. Sellers has been assistant secretary for prevention, information analysis and operations at the California Emergency Management Agency since 2009.


Michael Jones ’80 (Criminal Justice) was appointed by Gov. Brown to serve as a Placer County Superior Court Judge. The Folsom resident previously worked as a senior partner at Hansen Kohls Jones Sommer and Jacob LLP.

William O’Keefe ’80 (Business Administration) is the executive vice president of Interwest Insurance Services. He is also serving as a trustee for United Cerebral Palsy of Sacramento.

Mark Wright ‘81 (Business Administration) was recently named Accountable Health Care IPA’s new president. Wright’s previous health care experience included serving as the chief of the Division of Financial Oversight at California’s Department of Managed Health Care.

Benjamin Buggs ’82 (Marketing) and members of the Faith Bible Church of Vallejo launched a “Faith Food Fridays” program to feed underprivileged people within the community. Since its launch in June 2011, the program has become a beacon for Vallejo residents in need.

Elaine Howle ’82 (Business Administration) was appointed state auditor for the California State Auditor’s Office. Howle has served in multiple positions at the California State Auditor’s Office since 1993 including state auditor, deputy state auditor and principal auditor. She served as supervising state financial examiner for the California Employment Development Department from 1992 to 1993 and in multiple positions for the Office of the Auditor General from 1983 to 1992, including supervising auditor and entry-level auditor.

Vicky Neibauer ’82 (Accountancy) was elected to serve on Cameron Park’s Community Service District board of directors. Neibauer has worked as a county budget management analyst for 25 years.

John Torres ’82 (Criminal Justice), MS ‘85 (Criminal Justice) was promoted from the position of special agent in charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives, in Los Angeles to deputy assistant director in Washington, D.C.

Michael Ledwich ’83 (Finance) was appointed vice president and commercial banking officer for Rabobank, serving customers in Napa and Sonoma counties. He was recently named a “Leader in Commercial Banking” by the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Rabobank, Ledwich served as senior vice president and relationship manager at Charter Oak Bank in Napa, Calif.

Dale Carlsen ’84 (Business Administration), founder and chief executive of Sleep Train Mattress Centers, was named 2012 Sacramentan of the Year by the Sacramento Metro Chamber. Also, Carlsen recently announced a naming-rights sponsorship agreement with the Sacramento Kings’ NBA arena. Sleep Train Arena marks the company’s fourth naming-rights sponsorship, joining amphitheaters in Yuba County and Concord, Calif. and Ridgefield, Wash.

Scott Schuh ’85 (Economics and Journalism) is the director of the Consumer Payments Research Center and an economist in the research department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. He has served as an economist for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers, and as a research associate at the U.S. Census Bureau. Schuh has taught at Johns Hopkins University and Boston College.

Kyle Guse ’86 (Accountancy), MBA ’88 was hired to serve as chief financial officer, general counsel and secretary for Atossa Genetics, Inc. Guse is a licensed certified public accountant and lawyer. During the past year, he practiced law as a partner in the Silicon Valley office of Baker Botts LLP.

Nancy Purcell ’86 (History/Social Science), ’87 (Credential) is the principal of Fern Bacon Middle School in South Sacramento. Since beginning as principal two years ago, Purcell has helped boost the school’s academic index from 647 to 747.

Steven Gee ’87 (Accountancy) advanced to the final table of the 2012 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Ultimately, Gee, a retired state worker, finished in ninth place and earned more than $750,000.

John Wells ’87 (Marketing) was promoted to executive vice president of Mechanics Bank. Wells has been a professional in the banking industry for more than 20 years.

Todd DeGrandmont ’88 (Chemistry) was named a “classroom hero” after being nominated by students in the Lodi Unified School District. DeGrandmont has taught chemistry and physics at Lodi High School for 23 years. Before his teaching job, he worked as a laboratory chemist.

Kenneth DaRosa ’89 (Psychology), MA ’07 (English) was appointed chief deputy director of the California Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery. DaRosa has served in multiple positions at the California Department of Finance since 2004, including program budget manager, assistant program budget manager, principal program budget analyst and staff finance analyst.

Traci Reilly ’89 (Finance) was elected to the Lafayette, Calif. city council. She previously served on the local Crime Prevention Commission and has been its chair since 2008. Reilly, her husband and three children have lived in Lafayette for almost 20 years.

Oscar Villegas ’89 (Criminal Justice) was re-elected to serve on West Sacramento’s city council. Villegas’ wife, Katie, who is also a Sacramento State graduate, was elected to serve as Washington Unified School District’s trustee.


Debra Bradford ’90 (Accountancy) is now executive vice president and chief governance officer at Bridge Capital Holdings in San Jose.

Marek Robinson ’90 (Psychology) was promoted to president of authorized dealer groups at Honeywell International Inc. Robinson has been employed by Honeywell since 1995. Most recently, he served as the company’s western region director of sales.

Kay de Lange ’91 (Art) was honored with a reception hosted by the Art on the Divide Gallery in Georgetown, Calif. De Lange’s art education spans more than 50 years including degrees from Miami University, the Cleveland Institute of Art, Sacramento State and Folsom Lake College. De Lange also studied under the guidance of internationally acclaimed Japanese American potter Toshiko Takaezu.

Mark Hilsenberg ’92 (Criminal Justice) was promoted to serve as the lieutenant patrol commander for the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office. As lieutenant patrol commander, Hilsenberg will respond to and manage major crime incidents and other emergency events throughout the county.

Anthony Suine ’92 (Business Administration and Finance) was appointed the new benefit services division chief for CalPERS. Suine will oversee a staff of more than 250 people and be responsible for day-to-day operations, providing benefits to CalPERS retirees, beneficiaries and survivors.

Sharath Babu, MS ’93 (Computer Science) published his first book titled, Cross the Rubicon, Corporate Arranged Marriage. Prior to writing his book, Babu spent the last 25 years working in IT for several global companies. He currently lives in Bangalore, India with his wife and children.

John Cordeiro ’93 (Finance) has been named chairperson of the Waddell & Reed President’s Council. This marks the fifth time that Cordeiro has been named to the President’s Council and the first time he has been named chairperson.

Cheryl Van de Streek ’93 (Liberal Studies) received a Love of Learning Award from the Phi Kappa Phi academic honor society. Van de Streek is currently a primary teacher at Breckinridge County public schools in Kentucky. Her international teaching assignments have included Kuwait, Chile and South Korea.

Jennifer Lombardi ’94 (Government/Journalism and Counseling) is the co-founder and executive director of Summit Eating Disorders and Outreach Clinic in Sacramento. The clinic is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of eating disorders.

Mike Milligan ’94 (Environmental Studies) was hired as the sports marketing director at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Casino Resort. After graduation, Milligan spent 10 years as an environmental consultant focusing on the management of hazardous material cleanup projects. In 2004, he decided to pursue a career in the sports marketing field by working for the Tahoe Mountain Club’s golf marketing and sales program.

Jeffrey Weaver ’94 (Environmental Studies) presented a lecture called “Perspectives on Managing and Conserving California’s Native Trout Species” at Sierra College in Rocklin. Weaver is a scientist with the Department of Fish and Game.

William Gear, MS ’96 (Physical Education) is serving as assistant professor for the department of health and physical education and the director of the athletic training education program at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Gear received his doctorate in exercise physiology from the University of Pittsburgh, his master’s from Sac State and his bachelor’s degree in physical education from CSU Long Beach.

Cristina Mendonsa ’96 (Government/Journalism) was named Sacramento’s Best News Journalist by The PM Show. Mendonsa is a television news anchor for KXTV. She is also a past recipient of the Sacramento State Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award.

Peter Willson ’96, MA ’01 (Communication Studies) was named one of Sacramento Business Journal’s “40 Under 40.” Willson is the director of development for the Powerhouse Science Center.

Matt Neal ’97 (Health and Safety Studies) was hired as executive director of University Retirement Community in Davis. Neal previously served as director of operations for a retirement living facility in Carmichael. He is also a licensed California nursing home administrator.

Delette Olberg ’97 (Government) was named U.S. director of public affairs for Trina Solar. Prior to joining Trina, she worked as director of public affairs for Edison International. She also served as special advisor to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Baldwin Chiu ’98 (Mechanical Engineering) debuted a music video for his song “Dim Sum” on his “Only Won” YouTube channel in January. In addition to being a rapper, singer and songwriter, Chiu is a licensed mechanical engineer. He is also a spokesperson for the White House initiative “Stay With It.” Chiu is a past recipient of the Sacramento State Alumni Association Rising Star Award.

Lisa Wasserman ’98 (Recreation Administration) is serving as the director of catering and conference services at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino. After earning her bachelor’s degree in recreation and leisure studies from Sac State, Wasserman worked at the Hyatt Regency in Sacramento followed by the Hyatt Regency San Francisco. Wasserman has been with the Silver Legacy since 2010 as the catering and convention manager.

David Reynen, MPPA ’99 received a Love of Learning Award from the Phi Kappa Phi academic honor society. Reynen is currently a research scientist with the California Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program. He completed his second master’s degree, in aging and health, at Sac State in December to go along with his master’s in public policy and administration and a certificate in gerontology. Reynen is currently pursuing a doctorate in public health leadership from the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle.


Nicholas Leonti ’00 (Media Communication) was promoted to director of tourism for the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau. Before joining the bureau in 2005, Leonti worked at The Sacramento Bee. He also worked as a freelance writer and is an active blogger.

Samuel Reeve ’00 (Finance) was hired as executive vice president of consulting services at Performensation. Prior to joining the firm, Reeve worked at BlackRock, McKesson and Automatic Data Processing, specializing in corporate compensation. Reeve lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.

Edward Tubbs ’00 (Communication Studies) will retire from his position as fire chief for both the Piedmont and Albany, Calif. fire departments in May. Before joining the departments, he served as assistant fire chief with the city of Dixon. Tubbs began his 28 years in fire service in Davis.

Chase Armer ’01 (Economics) was named one of Sacramento Business Journal’s “40 Under 40.” Armer is currently part-owner of Planned Solutions Inc. in Folsom.

Victor Almager ’02 (Psychology) was recently appointed to superintendent of the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility in Camarillo, Calif. by Gov. Jerry Brown. Almager has nearly 30 years of correctional experience, serving most recently as a supervising agent for criminal affairs in northern California.

Hilary Anderson ’02 (Finance) wrote and illustrated the children’s book My Heart: A Tender Story of Adoption. The self-published book was inspired by her personal experience with adoption. Anderson currently lives in Placerville with her husband and three children.

Gregory Reed ’03 (Marketing) was hired by Fiberon as regional sales manager for Montana and western Canada. Prior to Fiberon, Reed worked as territory manager for Taiga Building Products.

Christopher Clark ’04 (Criminal Justice), who has been in law enforcement for more than six years, was promoted to sergeant. Clark is a graduate of the U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidate School and U.S. Air Force ROTC program, where he became a pilot. Following his honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, Clark began his law enforcement career with the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office. He holds basic, intermediate and advanced certificates from the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training and is currently near completion of his master’s degree in emergency services administration from CSU Long Beach.

David Inniss ’04 (Business Administration) was named one of Sacramento Business Journal’s “40 Under 40.” Inniss is currently the senior director of product marketing for IntelliBatt in Sacramento.

Hong Zhang, MA ’04 (Fine Arts) and her two sisters are hosting an art exhibit at the Sacramento State University Library Gallery. The exhibit, called “Three Sisters Bound to the Elements” features works based on the elements of water, earth and wood. Zhang also hosted a lecture in conjunction with the exhibit, which runs through May 24.

Eric Ortega ’05 (Kinesiology) is returning for a second consecutive season as the Fresno Grizzlies’ athletic trainer. A resident of Watsonville, Calif., Ortega has worked for several other minor league baseball teams.

Micah Runner ’05 (Communication Studies) was named one of Sacramento Business Journal’s “40 Under 40.” Runner is currently serving as the economic development manager for the city of Rancho Cordova.

Christopher Lee ’06 (Graphic Design) is working as a designer and illustrator. Lee has done work for several companies, including Target, Adobe and Absolute. He currently resides in southern California.

Ryan Coogler ’07 (Finance) wrote and directed a film that was featured at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The film, titled Fruitvale, tells the story of Oscar Grant, who was fatally shot by a BART police officer on New Year’s Day 2009. In addition to being a filmmaker, Coogler works with at-risk youth as a counselor at juvenile hall in San Francisco.

Kyle Glanker ’07 (Construction Management) was named one of Sacramento Business Journal’s “40 Under 40.” Glanker is currently working for Kitchell CEM as board chair for West Sacramento.

Melissa Whaley ’07 (Communication Studies) is working as an academic advisor for the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at UC Davis. After receiving her undergraduate degree, Whaley completed a graduate degree in journalism and media studies at San Diego State University.

Trina Drotar ’08 (English), MA ’11 (Creative Writing) taught a free creative writing workshop at the South Natomas library branch. Drotar is a Sacramento-area poet, writer, editor and artist. She is the former editor of Poetry Now and Calaveras Station.

Jason Teske ’08 (Marketing) graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. He is now an Air Force Reserve Airman 1st Class.

Ryan Greenleaf ’10 (Photography) was one of three photographers chosen from across the country to participate in the “Restart a Photography Business Makeover” course offered by renowned photographer Jasmine Star. During the workshop, Greenleaf will work on areas like branding, marketing and honing his online presence.

Annette Kassis, MA ’10 (History) hosted a discussion and signing for her new book Weinstock’s: Sacramento’s Finest Department Store. The book traces the origins, growth, innovations, decline and closure of the former downtown Sacramento retailer. Kassis is a historian specializing in media, advertising, consumerism and popular culture.

N.T. McQueen ’10 (English) published and illustrated a children’s book titled Moses Jones and the Case of the Missing Sneaker. The 24-page children’s mystery book follows Moses Jones as he searches for a missing shoe. McQueen plans to continue the Moses Jones “case of” adventure series with other books.

Vincent Vicari ’10 (Journalism) and Britney Rossman ’10 (Journalism) are co-hosts of The Sacramento Sunset radio podcast streaming live every Sunday night at 10 p.m. The two started the program, while working at Sac State’s student-run online radio station, KSSU.com.

Clark Burke, EED ‘11 (Education Leadership) will serve as deputy superintendent of the Manteca Unified School District. Burke previously served as the director of human resources for the Eureka Union School District. He is also a 15-year U.S. Army and Reserves officer.

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