Generation Now

Winter 2008

Their Work is Play

Presidents Message
Across Campus
Cool Course
Three R's of Enrollment
One for the Books
Their Work is Play
George Raya, '72
Cary Kelly, '88
East Meets West in Hong Kong
Class Notes

Presidents Message

I recently paused on one of my walks through campus to enjoy the changing colors of the leaves and reflect on just how wonderful it is to be outdoors at Sacramento State.

Our location on the banks of the American River is one of the West’s most beautiful academic settings, but it also provides extraordinary educational and recreational opportunities.

Sac State students can study the river’s ecology, hydrology and geology. They can work at internships that deal with the politics surrounding one of the state’s main sources of drinking and irrigation water. And after class is out, they can bike, Rollerblade or jog along the American River Bike Trail.

Our University is also home to a premier Aquatic Center at Lake Natoma. Since its establishment in 1981, the center has served thousands of students and visitors with academic classes and water sports.

These recreational and fitness dimensions are essential to our mission of providing a complete campus experience for our students. After all, a world-class education begins as a well-rounded education. To that end, we must offer both great academic programs and the amenities our students need to succeed and grow as healthy human beings.

That mission got a big boost with the Oct. 1 groundbreaking ceremony for our new Recreation and Wellness Center.

When it is finished in 2010, the facility will give everyone in our campus community better opportunities to improve their quality of life as they study and work. It will also complement the record number of students who will be living on campus with the completion of our new residence hall next year.

The best part is that our students led the drive to get the new center built. They proposed the referendum to raise the money, and they campaigned to get it passed. It truly was a leadership moment for our student body, and as usual, they exceeded everyone’s expectations.

We envision the Recreation and Wellness Center combining with the American River and Aquatic Center to create a natural confluence of activity at Sacramento State—one that is exciting and unprecedented in the West.

In the process, we will change the very essence of our campus and become the destination University for students who value health and fitness.


Alexander Gonzalez

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Across Campus

One Dish-y store

In started as a hobby, but by the time Lee Anderson and Cecilia Gray retired from Sac State, they had second careers as antique shop owners.

The two former faculty members—Gray was the associate vice president for Academic Affairs, Andersen chaired the Department of Design—were long-time colleagues, roommates and, as it turned out, prolific collectors. Last year, they put those collections to use, opening Dish.

The 1,000-square-foot space focuses on kitchen and dinnerware from the 30s, 40s and 50s that the partners have collected over the years.

The store was Andersen’s idea, Gray says. In noting their penchant for acquisition, “Lee said, ‘By the time we retire, we should have enough to open a shop.’ I wasn’t so sure.”

Andersen’s passion is for chrome and tends toward larger items like coffeepots, toasters and waffle irons. Gray’s leans toward smaller pieces such as Fiestaware from the 30s and fancy china of the 40s. But she also contributed more than 100 silver candy dishes to the cause.

 “Both of us were with the University for more than 30 years. When we looked at our collections, they matched the vintage of the University,” Gray says. A lot of antique stores have a sort of ‘mishmash’ approach. Our focus on that specific period.”

The store reflects Andersen’s training as an interior designer specializing in lighting. The space is divided into “rooms,” one decorated as a dining room with dishes and glassware while another has kitchen goods such as teapots and vases. And there’s that is off-limits to buying that is just for display. They also pay further homage to the 40s and 50s by keeping the store lit at night as was the custom in that era.

The clients tend to be fellow antique collectors, often looking to fill a hole in their own collections. That’s where the specializing comes. “We don’t have a lot of what you see elsewhere,” Gray says.

Zen and the art of social work

Followers of the Eastern philosophy of Zen say it helps them center their lives. Social work professor Andrew Bein says practitioners in psychology, counseling and social work can also use Zen principles to better reach their clients.

And Bein’s book on the topic, The Zen of Helping Spiritual Principles for Mindful and Open-Hearted Practice, drew accolades from fellow social workers.

Using scientific and medical criteria when sizing up a client can supply only so much information, Bein says. That’s where the “strong back-soft front” philosophy of Zen can be used, he says.

The “strong back” is used to keep the practitioner from giving up on a client as a lost cause. At the same time, though, he or she doesn’t try to pound the truth into them, so the practitioner must also have a “soft front” of open-heartedness,” Bein says.

“It’s a little different slant.”

Bein emphasizes radical acceptance, mindfulness and compassion for the client, something that traditional approaches may see as “soft” or non-scientific, he says. To that end, Bein asks the practitioner to “view one person’s suffering as a river that flows through everyone.”

The practitioner should also recognize that being with the client is an opportunity—a gift—to help that person, Bein says. If just a few circumstances were changed, it could be the practitioner who was seeking help, he notes.

Bein embraced Zen Buddhism 10 years ago as a way to manage some challenges in his personal life. He incorporated the philosophy into his profession shortly afterward, finding that it fit with the acceptance required in social work.

But he says practitioners don’t have to practicing Eastern spiritual traditions to use his concept. If they don’t wish to meditate, they could to bring a sense of the divine to the encounter, Bein says. Even an atheist can view the approach more along the lines of relaxation, he says. “It’s about being inclusive.”

Quiet please! Testing going on

Want sound advice? Then visit Sac State’s anechoic chamber, sometimes described as a sound-proof booth.

The two-story chamber, located in Sequoia Hall and run by the Physics and Astronomy Department, is designed to reduce noise to far less than a pin drop so that accurate sound measurements can be taken.

The walls are constructed of a patchwork of panels that absorb sound instead of reflecting it, and the chamber floats on its own foundation so that there is no interference from building vibrations.

Its acoustic isolation is rated above 70 db according to Gary Shoemaker, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. “That won’t mean anything to most people, but if a train were right outside the building and went past, no one inside the chamber would know it.”

The chamber is also electronically shielded and can be used for precision electronic measurements.

Students in Physics 130 (Acoustics) use the room to learn how sound behaves, how it impacts room acoustics and how it shapes loudspeaker and microphone design and use.

“This room allows students to directly observe subtle effects of sound and to measure its impact on items,” says physics professor William DeGraffenreid.  “Sound is becoming increasingly important in a number of applications, such as building design. When a building is designed, it’s important make sure outside noise doesn’t impact the ability of people in the building to have a conversation or work in a comfortable environment.”

The chamber is also used to teach the science of music. Students in Physics 186 (Musical Acoustics) learn the physical principles of vibration and wave motion as they relate to musical instruments, concert hall acoustics, recordings and the reproduction of sound.

“Musical acoustics is a good class for anyone who wants to be a sound engineer,” says Shoemaker. “They would hear music in its purest form and would get a richer, deeper understanding of how the room and the audience can affect sound.”

The chamber is one of the largest in the state, Shoemaker says. In addition to its use in teaching, it has been employed by different entities including the California Highway Patrol for a test of its sirens. 

Secret "Treasures" of the Archives

What do you give to a collection that has a little bit of everything? Donors to the University’s University Archives and Special Collections have given a treasure trove of items for scholarly research, along with some less conventional wares.

Wares like a set of dirt-caked golden shovels, a collection of historic birth control paraphernalia, and a Richard Nixon punching clown can currently be found in the archives offices in the University Library. You could also find a coiled-up snake skin, a postage stamp collection and, until recently, a piece of petrified cake left over from the University’s 50th anniversary before it got too moldy to justify its continued presence (the University recently turned 60).

Librarian Julie Thomas says the more unusual pieces often arrive as part of a larger collection of professional papers donated by retired faculty members or dignitaries. The golden shovels came from the late Sacramento Mayor Joe Serna, and have labels commemorating various groundbreaking ceremonies. The Nixon punching bag was from the archives of another former mayor, Phil Isenberg, who also was a delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention and campaigned for candidate George McGovern. The snakeskin was found in a file folder in the papers of J. Harold Severaid, the first chair of the university’s Life Science Department.

And while the quirky items accompany valuable historical documents and papers, and provide a glimpse of the personality and interests of the donor, they can also have research value of their own. The birth control devices dating from the early 70s, for example, were provided by Sally Wagner, founder of the Women’s Studies program at Sac State. "I could see someone finding value it those when studying that era,” Thomas says.

She adds that they are never sure what they will find when they receive a collection. “Once we received a box of human remains,” she says. “And part of our job is to know politically what to with objects, as well as how to preserve them.” After contacting a few agencies they were able to get the bones back to the appropriate tribe.

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City-campus team up

Sac State and the City of Sacramento have joined forces to improve the quality of life in Sacramento and the surrounding region.

In August, University President Alexander Gonzalez, Mayor Heather Fargo and City Manager Ray Kerridge signed a Memorandum of Understanding that calls on both parties to strengthen and expand their collaborations in areas such as planning, smart growth and service learning, internship and applied research opportunities.

“This is an unprecedented, strategic collaboration that will transform the City and the University,” said Gonzalez. “In these challenging economic times, we’ve created a way to pull our resources together and utilize the University’s faculty expertise, student intellect and energy to serve the City.”

Troops to College

A campaign is underway to raise $100,000 for scholarships and other needed support services for veterans, active-duty military personnel and their dependents who are struggling to cover the expenses of obtaining a college degree. The University Foundation at Sacramento State is raising funds to provide $1,000 each for scholarship recipients. Foundation Chair George Crandell Crandell led the way with a personal gift of $25,000 and SAFE Credit Union has given $10,000 toward the effort.

The University has more than 1,000 eligible students. The federal GI Bill covers some of the veterans’ costs, but the burden of paying for many other items falls on the students’ shoulders. The scholarships can be used for books or other academic expenses.

Science for girls

Nearly 500 middle school-age girls had the opportunity to experience the fun side of science, technology, engineering and mathematics during the annual Expanding Your Horizons conference. Sessions included “Spooky Chemistry,” where the girls learned how to use household items to make realistic looking injuries to show off at Halloween.

The conference was designed to encourage sixth- to eighth-grade girls to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by providing hands-on workshops and discussions with school and industry leaders. In addition to the workshops, there was a program for parents and guardians of the students on STEM education and career opportunities.

Mayoral debate

Sac State and its students were center stage for a debate between Sacramento mayoral candidates Heather Fargo and Kevin Johnson in October. The live televised debate was broadcast on KCRA Channel 3 and Capital Public Radio.

The invited audience was composed almost entirely of Sac State students, and the debate questions focused on issues important to the students, which were asked by students live and in pre-taped segments.

“We brought this debate to campus to give Sac State’s students the opportunity to ask the questions that they want answered,” says University President Alexander Gonzalez. “Our students have a profound connection to the region, and this thoughtful, important discussion will inform both the campus community and the mayoral candidates as we work to build a greater future for Sacramento.”

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Cool Course: RPTA34, The Outdoor Recreation Experience

Description: Students get a hands-on-to-the-extreme opportunity to understand the value and benefits of outdoor recreation experiences. They explore a variety of non-motorized outdoor experiences including rafting, rock climbing, backpacking and camping. Also stressed in the course are minimum-impact wilderness travel techniques and environmental responsibility and ethics.

Class work: Reading assignments focus on technical aspects of outdoor travel, such as cold-weather physiology and insulation, nutrition planning and equipment for mountain, desert and river recreation, hygiene and first aid. Other course readings include human experiences, such as an essay by a woman who hiked the entire Pacific Trail alone. “There are physical, psychological and sociological aspects to the experience, which we explore as part of the General Education requirements for the course,” says recreation, parks and tourism administration professor David Rolloff.

Assignments: The class backpacks into Desolation Wilderness, located west of Lake Tahoe at the crest of the Sierra Nevada, for a two-night trip. The group meets with the government agencies that oversee the land and talk with forest rangers. A three-mile hike takes the class to their campsite, where they have lunch, learn about the area, filter their water, and learn about leave-no-trace camping. Students also take a solo hike, spending two hours in solitude. “They are often amazed what they learn about themselves during that time,” says Rolloff. After returning from the trip, students talk about what went well, what didn’t, and what was unexpected. They also write reflective essays.

Students say: After the overnight backpacking experience, student Michaela Nunn says, “Just as we started, we ended in the same way: with all our gear, all our members, strong in spirit and sharing an experience that will not be forgotten.”

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Three R's of Enrollment: Reaching, Recruiting, Retaing Students

Fresh approaches are need to catch, and keep, the eye of Generation Next

Even for a group raised to multitask, recruiting students in the 2000s comes with a host of challenges, ranging from competition from other campuses to competition for attention posed by YouTube, My Space, Facebook and the like.

In the last few years, Sac State has tried a variety of new techniques—and some tried and true ones—to attract and keep students. Multimedia, solid advising and good old customer service are all part of the strategy being deployed to get more students to come to Sac State and to get them to graduate once they get here.

Lori Varlotta, vice president for Student Affairs says that enrollment at any campus is tied to both recruitment and retention. “To maintain a successful enrollment management program, a campus must admit students who have the potential to succeed, provide academic support systems for those who need a little assistance, and offer quality programs that prompt students to get involved in the campus,” she says. “This type of continuity serves both the student and the campus.”

Getting them interested

But you can’t keep a student that you can’t attract. As part of a broad effort to draw today’s students Student Affairs has created an outreach admissions counselor network they call the Dream Team. This vibrant group of recent graduates travels to high schools and community colleges around the state spreading the gospel of Sac State.

“They’re energetic and they’re high on Sac State,” Varlotta says. “They can tailor their remarks and be authentic in way students can hear.” The 10-person team started last year and all but one is an alum.

“Our primary responsibility is to talk to high school students to get them excited about Sac State,” says Dream Teamer Jasmine Murphy, whose territory includes 20 local schools ranging from Yuba City to El Dorado County. “We let them know about the admissions process not only at Sac State but for all 23 CSUs.”

Kylie Webb, who is responsible for 50 northern California high schools, including ones in the East Bay, Napa, Sonoma and San Jose, says, “Fall is the big recruitment push. That’s where the students get the hoopla of what Sac State is about. In spring we do a follow up where we talk to the ones who’ve applied to tell them the next steps in the process. And if they haven’t been admitted, we help them figure out what is missing.”

Both see the program as already having an impact.“Students are excited to see us,” Murphy says. “They know about us. And I think the fact that we’re young makes them really receptive.”

“We’re building the name of Sac State and it really is becoming a destination campus, like the President says,” Webb says.

Much of the contact at the high schools is pretty traditional: set up a table, meet with students and talk with guidance counselors. At the Sac State campus itself, tours are available on weekdays and some Saturdays.

But this semester the admissions counselors got a new tool to help, a high-tech way to reach a generation that relies on the Internet for both information and entertainment. The Voluntary System of Accountability, or VSA, website began as a way for universities to answer calls from legislators for accountability with standardized information about enrollment, graduation dates and financial aid.

Varlotta, who sits on the national task force, saw Sac State’s VSA site as an opportunity to address the campus’ recruitment needs while at the same time.

“Rather than cut and paste portions from the existing Sacramento State website, we’ve created a whole new website that supports the VSA,´ Varlotta says. “The new site is a multimedia one that includes new text, YouTube-like video clips and photos. It’s lively, active and contemporary.”

The website——uses catchy headlines that young people can relate to like Fun, Need Money and Getting In. Its design, provided by the University Public Affairs Office, carries Sac State’s “urban campus” feel. The information was inspired by members of the target audience.

“We decided, ‘Why not find out what our prospective students want to know and put together information in a style that they are more used to seeing on the web?’” says Ed Mills, associate vice president for Student Affairs. Mills conducted focus groups at two area high schools, asking students what kinds of questions they would ask on their first day on campus.

The questions they asked were a little surprising, Mills says. They asked “Does the bell ring between classes?” and “What is there to do besides study?” They didn’t ask questions almost always asked by parents, such as how to pay for college.

“It was a walk into their world,” Mills says. “Many were thinking about college for the first time. All they know about is high school.”

Another way the campus is reaching out to potential students is by participating in the CSU system’s Super Saturday program.

On Super Sunday, California State University officials speak during Sunday services at African American churches around the state. Following the services, CSU outreach staff and church education counselors provide information about the college application process and financial aid.

In the spring, President Alexander Gonzalez addressed the congregation at Saint Paul’s Missionary Baptist Church in Sacramento, encouraging students to go to college. “Sac State has a long and cherished connection with the region, and outreach events such as Super Sunday help us fulfill our mission of providing opportunities for everyone who wants to obtain a college education,” President Gonzalez says. “The people I meet during these events are passionate about the future of their communities, so we want them to help us tell potential students that they can succeed right here at Sac State.”

Getting them in

It’s one thing to get students interested, but how do you get them to enroll? One way Sac State is trying is by being responsive, and doing it more quickly.

With data showing that students are likely to enroll at one of the first universities that sends an acceptance, Varlotta says it’s essential for Sac State to get applications processed and word to students as quickly as possible. “We have streamlined our admissions processes by setting, publicizing, and adhering to application deadlines and by expediting our review of those applications,” Varlotta says. “Our goal is to review applications within a couple of weeks of receipt and then to notify the applicants shortly thereafter of our decision.”

To make sure students stay interested in Sac State, those who are not qualified for admission get a personal letter telling them what they need to do to be admitted at a later date. Rather than a “rejection letter,” it’s a “you’re not quite ready yet” notification.

Getting them to stay

The retention part of the equation also got a closer look. National data indicates that one of highest predictors of student success is good advising, so Sac State has instituted a mandatory three-stage advisement process, the only CSU to do so. New students see an adviser at orientation, in the fall and again in the spring.

“You can’t take it for granted that students know how to navigate the complex world of higher education. Our first year advisors provide new students with basic information that gets them oriented and keeps them on track,” Varlotta says.

The program has been so successful that advisors see about 700 students a week during peak times. “That’s exactly what we want,” Mills says. “If we can instill in them that this is a place they can come for help, the hypothesis is that they more likely to seek help than walk away. And when they get to their upper-division classes, instead of trying to figure things out in their own, they’ll go to the department for help rather than thinking ‘I don’t want to bother the professor.’”

The advisement they receive is not just course-specific, says Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Joseph Sheley. “We passed a new advising policy for campus that focuses on developmental advising, not just looking at a computer screen and checking off boxes. We are paying a lot more attention to needs of individual students.”

Varlotta says the advisors ask questions about what hours the student is working, what their commute is like, what else is going on at home. “We’re teaching them to ask questions about their own values, their work ethic, their interests. Then we use that foundation to inform their choice of classes, major and career,” she says.

One of the ironies is that as effective as individualized advisement can be, it’s often difficult for a student to feel comfortable with it at first.

“This group of students, the tail end of Generation Y, is more ‘one-on-one disconnected’ than previous groups. They are so used to being online or texting, that going into a one-on-one meeting isn’t as natural for them as it was for previous groups,” Mills says.

“But it’s so important to see and speak to them in person. From my perspective, personal interaction is key for students to feel comfortable in a new environment. Our hope is to get them connected, so they can be successful, they can be retained, and they can graduate.”

Academic Affairs and Student Affairs are also working on an early alert system to identify and help students in danger of being put on academic probation.

“We are paying a lot more attention to freshmen, in terms of mandatory advising and orientation, and a higher percentage are taking part in freshmen seminars and learning communities,” Sheley says. “Transfer students are into a major when they arrive, so advising sort of works itself out.

“But second-year students can get caught in the middle,” he says. “If they come into the year on probation, or post a bad third semester, they are in big trouble.”

Keeping them happy

Student Affairs has also gone back to the basics to enhance customer service. If a student is considering dropping out of college and they have a bad service experience, it might be the thing that causes them to leave, Mills says. As a result, all front line staff are working to share best practices and improve their service skills. The telephone tree in Admissions, Financial Aid and the Registrar’s Office has been restructured to be more user-friendly

And they have made a commitment to make contact with unhappy students.

“If we get a call from a dissatisfied student, we get back to them within a 24-hour period to let them know that we are looking into their question or issue. Typically we have either an answer or a resolution within the same day or the next one,” Varlotta says.

“After all, students do have a choice of colleges,” Mills says. “Being completely committed to student success means that we strive to provide the best service we can to all our students.”

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One for the books

Rare public history doctoral program breaks new ground

History will be in the making this year, when a group of Sac State students become the first graduates of a California university to obtain a doctorate in public history. Sac State’s one-of-a-kind public history program combines rigorous academic training with practical internship experience in the state capital.

The coursework for the joint degree takes place on two campuses, Sac State and the University of California at Santa Barbara. The first students to graduate from the program, which launched in 2001, are expected to complete their dissertations later this year.

Faculty and students say that the joint program builds upon the strengths of each of the schools. Sac State earned a reputation through its established master’s program in public history for giving students hands-on training, mostly through internships at places such as the Railroad Museum or CalTrans in Sacramento. UC Santa Barbara is among the most prestigious schools in the nation for academic and theoretical coursework in public history—it’s widely considered the “Yale of public history,” said student Paul Sandul. Students in the joint program spend a year at each campus.

“The UC Santa Barbara program had some strengths that we lacked, and we had strengths that they lacked,” said Ken Owens, professor emeritus at Sac State who worked to create the joint degree program in the late 1990s. “Sac State was widely recognized as having the best master’s program in the West. It took about five years of going through hoops to reach agreement on both campuses, but from the beginning everyone we approached about the proposal were extremely enthusiastic.”

Many of the UC Santa Barbara students were working side-by-side with Sac State graduates in state and federal offices as consultants, Owens said. So there was a “natural matching of interests and strengths” already at work when the joint degree program was finally launched, he said. Sacramento has a large concentration of research sources through the state library and state archives, as well as two large universities libraries, Owens said. “For a project that might involve a historical environmental impact study for a new highway proposal, CalTrans is the place to do much of your work,” he said. “Being here, we have quick and easy access. It is not like living in Washington D.C. or New York, where you can have problems getting access to materials.” 

Public history encompasses a wide range of work. Graduates frequently become curators of museums, work in archival management or find private sector jobs writing histories of large corporations.

Many historians serve as consultants on public projects that require extensive historical research, such as proposals to build a highway or strategic planning. Oral history and the field of the field of historical memory are also becoming increasingly popular. Historical memory examines the way that people remember events because that can have a profound influence on the concept of the past. Lastly, a number of graduates go on to become teachers at universities.

Graduates of the master’s program in public history at Sac State have found jobs at notable places, including the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., the New York state archives and the history office of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. Many others have ended up at the state or federal offices where they interned in Sacramento.

Faculty say the options for students in the joint doctorate degree program are limitless. “Our program is very internship-driven and focused on getting students jobs. Also, the Ph.D. is a degree that someone could use for a teaching position at a university,” said Christopher Castaneda, chair of the history department at Sac State. “A doctorate in public history will given someone a competitive edge when they apply for a supervisorial position in a state agency or museum. It does give students opportunity.”  

Students typically enter the joint degree program with a master’s degree. They complete three years of coursework and exams, then spend the remaining one to three years writing a dissertation. It is the only joint doctorate degree offered at Sac State, which offers an independent doctorate in educational leadership and policy. The public history students who are nearing graduation will have a “big impact in the field,” said Lee Simpson, the director of the public history program at Sac State. “They are going to go on to write great books, become excellent teachers and have a great impact.”

Sandul, 33, hopes to be one of those graduates. The San Jose native moved to Sacramento as an undergraduate at Sac State, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in history. He was drawn to the joint doctorate degree for a number of reasons. “First and foremost, you can’t overlook the connection to UC Santa Barbara,” he said. “The school is the founding academic institution for public history. What made it even more appealing was Sac State’s location, location, location. There are a lot of great internships available in Sacramento.”

The dual campuses offer another benefit: shared resources. “Not only is a joint program between two universities, but it is between two departments. That includes faculty,” Sandul said. “I literally doubled the pool of great minds to expose myself to.”

Sandul interned with CalTrans, where he worked in the community and cultural studies office. He serves as a part-time lecturer in the history department at Sac State and has completed research on a number of public history projects, including co-publishing two books. He is working on a dissertation to be completed within a year on the suburbanization of agricultural areas. It focuses on three areas—Fair Oaks in Northern California, and Orange and Ontario in Southern California. He is examining the history of the regions to determine the consequences of suburbanization.

After graduation, Sandul likely will become a leader in his field. “I want to teach theory of public history at a university and continue to train the next generation of public historians,” he said. “At the same time, I want to come out of the ‘ivory tower’ to work in the field practicing history outside of academia in museums or historical societies.”

Under the Master Plan for Higher Education in California created in 1960, California State Universities have not been allowed to offer doctorate degrees unless it was in cooperation with a University of California. The first such program, a joint degree in chemistry between San Diego State University and UC San Diego, was established in 1965. A number of joint doctorate degree programs have been created in the past several decades, mostly in Southern California where schools are in close proximity.

The rules slightly changed recently when the state legislature allowed independent doctorates in education without a joint program, Castaneda said. He supports the development of more joint degree programs similar to the agreement between Sac State and UC Santa Barbara because it offers students access to faculty and resources at more than one campus. Castaneda predicts that joint doctoral degrees will become “the way of the future.”

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Their Work is Play

Bill Campbell: Co-owner, Spare Time Clubs

Bill Campbell (’67 Accountancy, ’70 MBA) was in college when he discovered the sport that would shape the rest of his life. Tennis became the catalyst for his professional career as an athletic club owner, and for his work as Sac State’s Director of Tennis. It also introduced him to his wife and business partner, Margie.

And while tennis was the spark, it was a paper in a Sac State business class that formed the foundation for his career in recreation.

Campbell came to Sac State to earn his accounting degree because at that time Sac State accounting students had the highest passage rate in California on the Certified Public Accountant exam. But while playing on the tennis team, Campbell learned something else, “I found I was more interested in teaching tennis than I was in playing tennis or becoming an accountant.”

After graduation in 1967, when he wasn’t studying for the CPA exam—which he passed—Campbell built a local junior tennis program. He soon had 400 children in the Fulton-El Camino Park and Recreation District tennis program.

Campbell’s next step evolved into the foundation for Spare Time, Inc.

Campbell says, “While pursuing my MBA, I became really interested in tennis and swim clubs.” In researching a paper for a financial management class, he called club owners to talk about how they ran their businesses, including asking to see their financial statements. As he traveled to tennis tournaments, he stopped at 22 clubs up and down the state. Amazingly, all of them agreed to share their data.

The business plan for Spare Time, Inc. was an outgrowth of that research and paper.

“I decided that what I really wanted to do was create environments where people could enjoy all aspects of club recreation—not just tennis,” Campbell says. Thirty years ago most private clubs were pretty simple, he says. They usually had about eight tennis courts and a backyard-type swimming pool. The membership varied widely from summer and winter.

The Campbells opened Rio del Oro Racquet Club in 1973. As a multi-recreational, year-round club, it was an innovative concept in club construction and management. The pool was heated, there were 27 tennis courts, two racquetball courts, an “exercise room” with a twelve-station universal gym and two stationary bikes. It also had child care.

And while that small gym may not seem like much compared to today’s mega-gyms, “It was novel,” Campbell says. “People could mix gym-based exercise with tennis. The whole family was at the club.”

Spare Time was also one of the first clubs in California to create “Kid’s Clubs” for teenagers and youngsters too old for child care. The clubs give them a place to do homework, work on the computer, meet friends, watch movies, play video games or ping pong and do crafts. “This type of club amenity is now standard,” Campbell says.

Since opening Rio del Oro Racquet Club in 1973, Spare Time, Inc. expanded its operations to 10 facilities and drawing 65,000 member visits each week. The newest Spare Time club, Diamond Hills Sports Club and Spa, is located in Oakley, California.

Campbell says a key factor to the clubs’ success is the loyalty of the tennis players. “When tennis players join a club, they stay. We still have tennis playing members who joined Rio del Oro in 1973,” he says, adding that he has played on Tuesdays with the same club member for the last 32 years. “There is a lot of that going on,” he says. “People form strong friendships.”

Campbell says that he and Margie believe the family atmosphere at the Spare Time clubs is an important social outlet. There is a heavy emphasis on recreational and competitive programs for children. For example, the Spare Time, Inc. Junior Tennis Academy has 220 young people, 101 of whom hold a U.S. Tennis Association Northern California ranking. Each club also has junior swim programs with as many as 300 children on some teams. “These types of activities provide for great social events for parents,” Campbell says. “They spend a lot of time here.”

Three decades later, Campbell continues to implement the strategies outlined in his college paper. “It’s been a satisfying life,” he says.

Of his greatest satisfaction, Campbell says, “For Margie and me, it’s been being a part of people achieving their goals. That satisfaction is in everything we do, whether it’s a child learning to swim or playing tennis for the first time, a player ranked number one in his or her age group, a winning team or an adult losing 50 pounds. It’s what really matters.”

Delta Pick Mello, Membership Director, California State Railroad Museum

There are trains in Delta Pick Mello’s office. Not one or two, but hundreds. She used to have animals in her office. Not one or two, but hundreds.

Mello (’81, Communication Studies) is the membership director for the California State Railroad Museum Foundation. Before that, she was the marketing director for the Sacramento Zoo.

“I have been very lucky,” she says. “I have had two of the very best jobs you could want.”

Mello graduated from Sac State in 1981 with a communications degree but wasn’t able to put it to use right away until she began working full-time in the marketing department of an area computer company. “I took on the company newsletter and really began to appreciate my communication background,” she says.

The job was satisfying, but what she really wanted was to work for a non-profit agency. “I wanted a sense of giving back to Sacramento, and so I began looking at community-based organizations.”

In 1991, a friend gave her a tip about a membership coordinator position at the zoo, and she found what she had been looking for. “I loved working there,” she says. “It was a unique opportunity to see things from behind the scenes such as animals being born.”

It also gave her a greater ecologic awareness. “I learned an enormous amount about endangered species, and I became more environmentally sensible,” Mello says.

In March, she left the zoo for the Railroad Museum Foundation. “I took this job because I love history,” she says.

The museum, located in Old Sacramento, is a cavernous building with 21 real engines and rail cars from by-gone eras and hundreds of models and toy trains.

“There’s a difference between models and toy trains,” she says, hinting that she may have learned that fact the hard way.

She manages a database of about 10,000 members for the museum and Railtown 1897, a state historic park in Jamestown, Calif. She also edits a quarterly magazine for the members and plans membership events.

“I am so fortunate,” Mello says. “The museum has a huge future, and I really look forward to being a part of that.”

Miguel Macias, Assistant Recreation Officer, Sequoia National Forest

Miguel Macias (Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration, ’07) knew from a young age he wanted to spend a lot of time outdoors, but he didn’t plan on a career in it. “I was the first in my family to graduate from college let alone continue on for a Master’s degree, so I wasn’t aware of the opportunities,” Macias says.

He had a revelation in an outdoor recreation course he took at Sac State. “Professor David Rolloff talked extensively about the national parks service and the national forest, he says. "I knew that’s where I wanted to be."

Today Macias works as an assistant recreation officer in Sequoia National Forest, where he oversees the forest’s Wilderness area, the OHV/OSV (off-highway vehicle/over-snow vehicle) program, developed/dispersed camping, and the trail network. He also plans for district maintenance and upgrades.

When asked what his favorite part of the job is, Macias says, “There are so many things. I get to be outdoors. I’m protecting natural resources and advocating for outdoor recreation.But most important, I’ve never had a job where I felt like it was exactly right, that it was exactly what I’m supposed to do,” he says.

Brian Dulgar, Director, and Cindi Dulgar, Youth Programs Director and Operations Manager, Sacramento State Aquatic Center

Water sports are a family affair for Brian and Cindi Dulgar.

Ask them about their work at the Aquatic Center, and they tell you how it’s a place for families, friends and their children to come together. They recount how their own children are growing up at the Lake Natoma facility, joking that the girls were “born with webbed feet.” And they reminisce about the family of student workers they’ve trained and mentored over the years and who are now bringing their kids for lessons.

And while fun and family are the life of the Aquatic Center, there’s a serious side too. The facility has an education mission to fulfill for its sponsoring agencies, says Cindi (’88 and ‘05, Recreation Administration). “We have a responsibility to the California Department of Boating and Waterways to provide boating safety education programs and to Associated Students to serve students through our courses and employment opportunities,” she says.

About 4,000 children, and 8,000 members of the general public participate in the Aquatic Center’s various aquatic programs. And more than 2,000 Sac State students, Sac State students take kinesiology courses for credit, like rowing, waterskiing and wakeboarding, sailing and windsurfing, along with experiential learning courses student experience as staff members.

“We have students who are doing all sorts of things: boat repairs, equipment and facilities maintenance, applying epoxy, working with fiberglass,” says Brian (‘90, Business Administration). “We jokingly call them ‘sport utility students’ because they are learning a wide variety of things that they could only learn by doing, things they could find themselves doing on a job in the recreation field.”

That education applies to the Dulgars as well. “We learn and stay young by working with young people,”Cindi says.

The couple met as teenage competitive water-skiers and both skied for the Sac State team. Brian began working at the Aquatic Center while in college and eventually took over the administration of the facility including marketing, operations and budget. Cindi started as a student instructor and through an internship opportunity worked with youth programs, which she has grown to include leadership training for young people as well as executives.

“There are other things we could have pursued,” Brian says. “But we were able to turn an obsession of water sports into our profession.”

Janet Baker, Director of the Sacramento County Regional Parks Department

As Director of the County’s regional parks department, Janet Baker (’85, MBA) has a long-standing history with one of Sac State’s closest neighbors. The American River Parkway, which runs parallel to the campus, is one of the parks in the system she oversees.

“I grew up and played along the American River before it was the Parkway,” the long-time Sacramento resident says of the recreational area, which is nationally recognized and the “jewel” of the County’s park system. Her team also maintains and operates Ancil Hoffman, Discovery, and Riverbend parks and the Effie Yeaw Nature Center. The County’s park system also includes open space areas such as Deer Creek Hills, the Cosumnes River Preserve, four golf courses and Gibson Ranch—some 15,000 acres in all.

One of Baker’s goals is to expand and promote the County’s historic ranches, including the Dry Creek and McFarland Ranch Houses. “The ranch houses are a wonderful way for people to see pioneer life in the Sacramento Region dating back to the late 1800s.”

Baker previously worked in radio, television and the governor’s office, but felt her academic background was lacking in the nuts and bolts of business. “I enrolled in the MBA program at Sac State because I knew it would open doors in different arenas,” she says. After graduation, she applied for a job with the city's parks and recreation department and never looked back.

“Although I had no experience in parks and recreation, I believe that the knowledge and skills I gained from my MBA program were instrumental in getting me that first position,” Baker says.

Working in the parks system is not just a job to Baker. “It’s been my passion now for 23 years,” she says. “There are so many things I love about my job including working with a terrific staff, seeing children enjoy being outdoors and learning about nature, and truly making a difference—improving the quality of life for Sacramento’s neighborhoods. 

Mike Upchurch, Owner, Mad Cat Cycles

He nearly was an engineer. Until his interest in the outdoors, some sage advice from his wife, and a student job at Sac State’s Peak Adventures program—which provides a plethora of recreation activities for students—convinced Mike Upchurch (’99, Recreation Administration) to change majors and eventually open his own bicycle shop.

“I began as an engineering major but was spending my weekends playing and riding,” Upchurch says. “My wife said,” Why don’t you get into something you love doing?’ Two weeks later, I changed my major.”

Now, Upchurch’s Mad Cat Cycles is the place for Sacramento’s mountain bike crowd and he’s about to launch a new phase of the business that will draw on the programs he helped run while at the University.

Upchurch says that while the shop’s bread and butter is mountain bikes, “because that was what I was into,” he has seen interest grow in their road, racing and family bikes as well. Part of the success is the shop’s cycling team—40 riders who represent Mad Cat at area races. “It’s not a typical sponsorship. Instead I bring them in as role models, as a marketing department. In return they get discounts on equipment and repairs. It’s a fast, fun, positive group.”

That type of person touch is an expansion on Upchurch’s business philosophy. “My focus is on customer service, which was also my focus at Peak Adventures,” he says. “I see customers as potential friends and family."

Upchurch will enter the next stage for Mad Cat in the spring, offering trips and teaching people to ride. “I want to expand the offerings beyond that of a typical bike shop,” he says. “Now we do clinics on things like bike maintenance. We are involved in races. This takes us to the next level—guided tourism.”

It is rewarding every day to be doing something you love—helping people, teaching people, getting them into riding.”

Adam Lane, Recreation Therapist, California State Prison Sacramento

Adam Lane’s job is not your ordinary job and not in your ordinary location. His office is, literally, a prison where he works as a recreation therapist for the mentally ill inmates of California State Prison Sacramento, adjacent to Folsom State Prison.

Lane (’06, recreation administration) began working in the prison in February.

“The only thing I knew about prison came from television and the movies,” Lane says. “I thought it would be dark and gloomy and there would be water dripping from the walls, but it is nothing like that. The inmates are treated with respect, there is a very high level of professionalism and the people I work with are lighthearted and fun.”

But, he says, it is still a prison. “It’s a pretty safe place, but you never completely let your guard down and generally, you keep your head on a swivel.”

It may sound like Lane has a tough job in a tough place, but he’s probably a little more used to it than most. He is a former Marine who spent four years on active duty before coming to Sac State. Once here, he played rugby for the University for five years. After graduation, became a forest ranger and even worked with a fire crew.

“One of my professors said to figure out what you love and how you can get paid for it,” he says. “I love sports and I love the outdoors.”

As a recreation therapist, Lane sets up leisure activities and tournaments to help mentally ill prisoners better cope with incarceration. He said art, music and game-based therapy are a big part of helping the inmates.

“It’s called perceived freedom,” he says. “During that time, they are not thinking about the prison, but the chess game, or drawing, or whatever activity they are participating in. It gives them something to look forward to, and it helps reduce stress, depression and anxiety.”

While life at Sac State did not necessarily prepare him for a career in the prison industry, he says it did help him understand the importance of recreation.

"The recreation program at Sac State made me realize there is more to school than just what is in a book," he says. "I understand I'm not changing the world, but if I can help relieve the inmates's stress for a day or even a few hours, I have done my job."

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George Raya, ’72: Gay rights crusader

George Raya (’72, Government) can trace the start of his reputation as one of the founding fathers of gay rights to his formative years at Sac State.

“I came out when I was 19 years old. At that time, I was the undeclared representative on the student senate which proved helpful in fighting to establish the first club for gay students,” Raya says. He says the group of 20 students, “were determined but we were also frightened. At our first meeting, every time we heard a knock on the door, we were afraid it was the police coming to arrest us.”

Raya and other club founders received a great deal of support, but also strong resistance. After taking their fight to court, the Society for Homosexual Freedom found its place on the campus.

“We had a lot of acceptance from the students at the University,” Raya says. “Through the club, we worked to demystify homosexuality. Our message was we were the same as everyone else.”

After graduation, Raya attended UC Berkeley where he made critical ties to gay activists in the Bay Area. In 1974 became the first full-time gay rights legislative advocate in Sacramento.

Raya’s first victory was AB 489, the Willie Brown Consenting Adult Bill. The reform legalized sex between consenting adults and opened the door to gay rights legislation. Raya says, “We wanted to advance gay rights when there were none.” Other states followed California’s lead.

The passage of the bill was the conduit to a historic meeting at the White House in 1977. For the first time in history a president allowed a formal discussion of gay rights in the White House. Raya was one of 14 activists from across the nation chosen to participate.

“The results of that three-hour meeting led to many important federal policy changes that altered lives of gays and lesbians for the better,” Raya says.

Currently working as a case manager for the County Department of Human Assistance, continues to participate in causes close to his heart. He is a board member of Sacramento’s Capital Crossroads Gay Rodeo Association ( and is a member of the Sacramento Parks and Recreation Commission.

“The rodeo association recently donated $8,000 to Saddle Pals, a program of the United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Sacramento,” Raya says. “I’m also working to establish a Trees Commission for the City. I’ve worked on national and state issues, and now I want to work with my neighbors on concerns closer to home.”

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Cary Kelly, ’88: Character Study

Sac State has produced a number of characters in its time but perhaps none like Cary Kelly (‘88??, Teaching Credential.)

Kelly, who received her teaching and library credentials from the University in the1980s, is the lower school librarian at Sacramento Country Day School. She’s also Scarecrow Clod Strawbottom, Lady Beatrice Teaselpaw, the Cat in the Hat, and a number of other characters inspired by the many books on her shelves. Kelly has a closet full of costumes, props and stage makeup at her disposal to help her transformations. Her goal is to inspire her students to love reading, learning and the library.

“When I become a character,” Kelly says, “the students are totally engaged. The youngest are wide-eyed and giggling, thinking that they are so clever to have guessed it is Mrs. Kelly under the wig. In their minds, it is permission to be creative, theatrical and a little wild and crazy. The learning takes on a new dimension.”

Kelly grew up in Fresno but graduated with a master’s in fine arts degree from the University of Utah. Her interest was in dance, not library science, and after graduation, she danced professionally with Ballet West in Salt Lake City for 10 years. The love of dance came naturally for the niece of Deane and Barbara Crockett who founded the Sacramento Ballet in the mid-50s.

Kelly moved back to Sacramento in 1975 and danced with the Sacramento Ballet for a season. She also taught part-time at Sac State and decided that teaching was something she wanted to do full-time. In 1985, she enrolled in the teacher credentialing program on campus.

Kelly earned her credentials over the span of three years, coming one night a week. “I came on campus mostly in the evenings and had a wonderful experience,” she says. “It was classes, coffee, and conversations about books, curriculum and kids. I met such outstanding colleagues. We still keep in touch and network.”

After receiving her credentials, she began working at Sacramento Country Day School as a sixth grade teacher and in 2000 became the librarian.

Kelly says she was blessed to have had the opportunity to dance professionally. However, she says, “Being a librarian is the world’s best job and every bit as exhilarating and rewarding as dancing.” 

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East meets West in Hong Kong

Sac State alumni from California reached across the Pacific to their counterparts in Hong Kong during the International Alumni Summit held Oct. 25-26.

Led by Alumni Association president John Barney (’85 Business Administration), a group of 36 University alumni, faculty and officials met with former Sac State students living in and around Hong Kong, exchanging information and strengthening ties between that city and the Sacramento campus.

Organized by Priscilla Lau (’72, Economics) and businesswoman Winnie Leung (’66 Business Administration) the conference included presentations on sustainable energy practices, doing business in Asia, and community service efforts in both Hong Kong and Sacramento.

One of the meeting’s highlights was a presentation by Anthony Hutchinson, public affairs officer for the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong. The most important relationship in the world at this time, Hutchinson said, is the one between China and the United States.

Association President Barney stressed the importance of this kind of endeavor. “Maintaining these relationships with alums makes the University and the Alumni Association stronger,” he said. “All of the speakers were dynamic. Everybody who shared their information at the conference allowed us to grow in our continuing education.”

A handful of alumni from both sides of the ocean took turns telling the crowd about their own Sac State experiences. Charles Yeung (‘93 Business Administration ) recalled how committed his professors were, working with him to improve his grades. “I want to thank the professors who were so dedicated to their teaching,” Yeung said.

He also remembered how friendly Sacramento people were, which helped him with his English. “They’re willing to talk with you.”

“We heard some very moving stories of how the Hong Kong alumni were connected either through a professor or a time on campus and how much they love their alma mater,” Barney said.

The trip and conference were arranged through the Alumni Association, College of Continuing Education and University Advancement.

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Class Notes


Stan Barrick, ’67, B.A., Mathematics, ’70, Education Credential, ’75, M.A., Teacher Education, is a professor of learning skills at Sac State where he coordinates the math program for 1,300 remedial math students—about 35 percent of the first-time freshmen. He is also the content co-author of a Sac State website for high school students that gives authoritative advice regarding mathematics preparation for students interested in attending the University. In addition, Barrick oversees an e-learning program for students who completed the Early Assessment Program and are conditionally exempt in their last year of high school. He and his wife, Holly, live in Gold River.

Elizabeth Hurst Jones, ’68, XYZ B.A., Social Work, ’75, M.S.W., created the Parent Support Program while employed by Sacramento County in the Department of Social Welfare. As a counselor and since her retirement, Jones has worked with homeless programs and was a Stephen minister for Foothill United Methodist Church. She reports that one of her cases was ongoing for 18 months, but has proven to be a great success. She makes her home in Cameron Park.

Lee Ferrero, ’69, XYZ B.A., Recreation Administration, is president/CEO of the Private Industry Council of San Luis Obispo County, Inc. He is also a member of the Leadership San Luis Obispo board of directors and has been appointed to the dean’s advisory committee of the Cal Poly State University School of Business. A special first has occurred in the Ferrero family—Lee and Valerie’s first grandchild, John Ferrero Stout, arrived this past fall in Long Beach, Calif.

Bonnie Neff, ’69, B.S., Business Administration, has just completed her 27th year teaching at Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento and was honored at Drexel University in Philadelphia, receiving an award for distinguished teaching during spring commencement. She was among four teachers from across the nation to win the honor in this year’s “Behind Every Graduate Award” program, presented to teachers who had steered students toward college and academic success. At Sac State, Neff’s original career choice was to either be a stenographer/court reporter or an information officer for the United States government. Years ago, a chance fill-in as an economics teacher at a local high school put her on the path to becoming an educator. She lives in Sacramento.


James Tong Wong, Jr., ’70, B.S., Biological Sciences, is the principal at Will C. Wood Middle School and was honored by Sac State President Alexander Gonzalez for his reading program at the school. His students read more than 15,000 books this past school year. The program is part of the 65th Street Corridor Community Collaborative Project that places University student tutors in Will C. Wood classrooms and sponsors student and parent field trips. Wong lives in the River Park area of Sacramento.

Margaret Fortune, ’73, M.A., Education, has been appointed to the California State University Board of Trustees. In March, she was named CEO of Project Pipeline, a Sacramento-based non-profit with a 20-year track record of credentialing public school teachers. Prior to that, Fortune was a senior advisor in the Office of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for two years. She also served as an education advisor and director of public affairs for the governor. Her experience also includes two years as assistant secretary in the Office of the Secretary for Education, chair of the commission on Teacher Credentialing and service on the California Children and Families Commission. She lives in Granite Bay.

Carol A. Garcia, ’76, B.A., Liberal Studies, has been selected as one of the recipients of the Nabisco 100 Calorie Packs “Celebrating 100 Extraordinary Women” contest. A fifth-generation Roseville resident, Garcia was nominated for her work in the South Placer area and was among thousands of women who were nominated. A breast cancer survivor and activist, she founded the South Placer UC Davis Breast Cancer endowment to raise $1.5 million by 2010 to endow the Breast Cancer Research Chair. The program has raised $500,000 in just two years. She is a senior vice president with Granite Community Bank, N.A., and she and her husband, Orlando, have two grown daughters.


Vito Tomasino, ’83, B.S., Economics, M.A., International Affairs, is currently working for Boeing Aircraft/SSE Inc. in St. Louis, Mo. Recently, his novel Kracek was published and is available at, and other sites. The book tells the story of Captain Viktor Kracek, a thinking man’s fighter pilot, who sees his enemies, not as faceless inhuman beings, but as good men and women who simply find themselves on the other side of a war none of them want. While others see war as an extension of diplomacy, Kracek sees it as a failure of leaders to resolve their differences with reason. Excerpts can be read on Tomasino’s website,

Jill Jeffers Bissell, ’85, XYZ B.A., Liberal Studies, ’85, Education Credentials, is a self-employed clinical psychologist with an emphasis on restoring family harmony. Bissell is involved in training parents who have adopted Ukranian orphans and their caseworkers on how to work with traumatized children. Bissell resides in Sacramento with her husband, John.

Kathleen (Kathy) Sanborn, ’89, B.A., Psychology, is a musician, recording artist and author living in Grass Valley, Calif. She has appeared on dozens of radio stations and her interviews have been published in many magazines and newspapers, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. Her biography is in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who of American Women. Sanborn’s new music CD “Peaceful Sounds” dives into controversial topics including war, poverty and homeless veterans in a style that ranges from folksy jazz to adult alternative. For more information, visit


Christopher N. Cruz, ’90, B.S., Criminal Justice, has been employed with the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons since graduation. He recently relocated back to the Sacramento area where he is CEO for the Eastern District of California, located in the federal building in downtown Sacramento.

Ronnie L. Cobb, ’92, B.S., Business Administration, is the manager of diversity and inclusive programs for the Kaiser Corporation, overseeing all internal and external diversity programs for the region. Prior to his role at Kaiser, Cobb served in corporate-level human resource positions at Paychex Corporation for eight years, and at The Money Store overseeing hiring for 42 states and Europe. He started his career in human resources with the State of California and County of Sacramento. As a student at Sac State, he also played on the men’s basketball team. He lives in Sacramento.

Tanya D. Markis, ’92, B.S., Biological Sciences, is self-employed as a partner in an optometry practice in Grass Valley, Calif. She met her business partner, Diana Holcomb, while attending Sac State. They were both pre-optometry students majoring in biological sciences, and both went on to attend the College of Optometry in Fullerton, Calif. Markis is now married and has a six-year-old son. She says her practice is doing well and she loves her new home and location.

Henry Kreuter, ’94, M.A., French, and former Sacramento Mascot, the Big Tomato, has just produced his second fitness video. He has served on the boards of the American Church in Paris and the Spanish Association of Jeet Kune Do. He lives in Santa Barbara where he runs He can be reached at

Max Santiago, ’95, B.S., Criminal Justice, is a 26-year veteran of the California Highway Patrol and serves as the assistant commissioner and inspector general. He provides executive-level oversight to departmental operations to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations and statutes. He also works independently to identify and solve problems before they become critical issues. Santiago formerly served as the deputy chief of staff in the Office of the Assistant Commissioner where he oversaw, among other departments, the CHP Academy. He has served throughout the state and in 2005, he served as a special officer of the Louisiana State Police and as Gov. Schwarzenegger’s and the commissioner’s representative to the Louisiana State Police and Louisiana governor during emergency operations in the New Orleans region. He is a graduate of the 214th Session of the FBI National Academy, in Quantico, Va., and a member of Class 43, California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training Command College. Santiago is a member of the International Association of Highway Patrolmen and the FBI National Academy Associates. He lives in Elk Grove.

Jason Jones, ’96, B.A., English, has earned his doctorate in educational leadership from St. Mary’s College while conducting a study in Long Beach about effective math teachers. His plans include speaking at conferences and conducting large-scale policy research in education. Jones and his family have created the Dwight Jones Memorial With Kids in Mind scholarship fund in memory of his late father and they are raising money to give to deserving students from Siskiyou County. He currently manages a children’s enrichment program in the tri-cities area of Union City, Fremont and Newark, Calif. He says the program “gives back to the community opportunities for summer enrichment for children entering grades 4-9.” Jones has taught English at the secondary level for three years and worked in a program that serves disadvantaged students and provides retention opportunities for eligible students to succeed in college. Among other career positions, he spent three years with the University of Phoenix as the department chair for the graduate education program. Jones and his wife, Brooke, live in Pleasanton, Calif.

Ruben S. Lerma, ’96, B.A., Art, ’97, Credential (Education Art), has graduated from Officer Candidate School Phase III training at North Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Wash., and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army National Guard. Lerma was formerly a security forces supervisor with the California Army National Guard in San Luis Obispo. He has served in the military for six years. He lives in Sacramento.

Stephanie Parsons, ’96, B.S., Biological Science, has been hired as project manager for the biological resources and land management group in the Central Valley/Sierra region at Environmental Science Associates, an environmental consulting firm in Sacramento. Parsons has more than 12 years of experience and was a biologist and project manager at Quad Knopf. She lives in Cool, Calif.

Susan List Bassett, ’97, B.A., Government-Journalism, and her husband Kevin Bassett welcomed their son, Jack Walter, on Dec. 7, 2007. She is home full-time with Jack and working part-time providing legislative and research support for a government affairs group. She is a former Assembly Fellow and State Hornet editor-in-chief. The Bassett family lives in Gold River.

Debbie Chan, ’97, B.S., Accountancy, has been promoted from manager to senior manager at Macias Gini & O’Connell LLP, a statewide certified public accounting and management consulting firm. Chan has 10 years of experience and has been with Macias Gini & O’Connell for seven years. Her expertise is in working on financial and compliance audits for governmental entities and retirement systems. She is a Sacramento resident.

Michelle Cordova, ’97, XYZ B.A., Two-Dimensional Art Studio, has been pursuing her artwork and has shown her work in several Sacramento galleries. She married in 1996 and moved to the Greenhaven area to be near the Sacramento Delta, the main inspiration for her work. Since graduation, Cordova has traveled extensively, including journeys throughout The Netherlands, Belgium, England, Wales, Ireland, Italy, and Japan. Michelle credits her teachers at Sac State for the passion she has for painting: Jack Ogden, Jimi Suzuki and Brenda Louie, and for art history: the teachings of Dr. Catherine Turrill and Frank LaPena. She is also an Art-o-Mat artist. Art-o-Mat machines are old vending machines refurbished to sell art the size of a cigarette pack. She has sold several of these small works at the Crocker Art Museum and in several locations throughout the United States. 

George D. Singewald, ’97, B. S., ’03, M.S., Criminal Justice, was awarded the Distinguished Service Award and a Life Saving Award from the Sacramento Police Foundation. Singewald has been a member of the Sacramento Police Department SWAT team for the last 10 years. He was recognized for his dedicated and valuable service to the department and for heroics in providing emergency aid to an injured child. Singewald, his wife and six-year-old son live in Sacramento.

Diedra (DeDe) Stirnaman, ’97, B.A., Communication Studies, reports that she is very happily married to Ray, a command sergeant major in the Army. Stirnaman is a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, headquartered in Washington, D.C. She has volunteered to deploy to Iraq to be the public affairs director of the Gulf Region Division at the Corps’ headquarters in Baghdad. They make their permanent home in Odenton, Md.

Alice Winston Carney, ’98, M.A., Communication Studies, was recently installed as president of Soroptimist International of Greater Sacramento, a worldwide organization of professional and business women who work through service projects to advance human rights and the status of women. Carney is also a faculty member in the Communications Studies Department at Sac State. She and her husband, James, live in Sacramento.

Shelia Townsend Grigsby, ’98, B.S., Physical Education, ’99 and ’04, Education Credential, was named Teacher of the Year at Rio Linda Junior High School. She has taught physical education at the school since 2003. Before that, she spent five years teaching the same subject at Martin Luther King Jr. Junior High. Excelling in several sports, Grigsby played on varsity teams in high school even though she was a freshman and was later given a five-year scholarship sponsored by both Sac State and the Grant Union High School District (now Twin Rivers Unified School District). While in college, she was also a point guard for the Hornets until a knee injury ended her collegiate career. Grigsby and husband Frank live in Rio Linda with their children Riley, 6, and Tyler, 2.

Danielle Newton, ’98, B.A., ’00, M.A., English (Creative Writing), moved from Sacramento to Seattle in 2004 and then last year relocated to Auburn, Wash. to work at Green River Community College where she works in the Foundation Office.

David Enns, ’99, B.M., Music and Music Management, writes, “I never thought my degree would lead to the job I have now…honking bulb horns under my armpits and ‘legpits.’” Dave has been on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “America’s Got Talent” where he was a semi-finalist, “The Gong Show” which he won, and many other domestic and overseas media. He’s been in half-time shows at NBA, NHL, MLB, AFL, Eurocup ALL-STAR, college and minor league games. Enns has also been the emcee at concerts, churches, Magic Castle in Hollywood, and colleges across the nation. He invites you to check his website, Enns and his wife, Amy, ’99, B.S., Speech Pathology and Audiology, reside in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Rebecca Gardner, ’99, XYZ B.A., Government and Humanities, has joined McDonough Holland & Allen PC, a leading California law firm representing both private and public sector clients. Gardner is an estate planning and probate associate in its Business Services Practice Group. She is a director of the Sacramento Estate Planning Council, a founding member of Professionals in Estate Planning and a member of the Sacramento Area Special Needs Trust Study Group. He is also a member of the Sacramento County Bar Association and the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section. Gardner earned her juris doctorate from the UC Davis School of Law in 2003 after graduating summa cum laude from Sac State. She is a board member of the Sacramento State Alumni Association and lives in Citrus Heights.

Danielle Roberts, ’99, B.S., Biological Sciences, has worked for the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff’s Criminalistics Laboratory for the last seven years. Currently, she is a forensic toxicologist who is assigned to the Forensic Alcohol Unit. Roberts is responsible for the blood and breath alcohol programs for both Contra Costa and Solano Counties. She maintains more than 30 breath alcohol instruments in both counties as well as analyzing alcohol and the effects of alcohol on the human body. Currently, she owns a home in Brentwood.


Eric (EJ) Renner, ’00, B.S., Recreation Administration, is a special education teacher, teaching students with mid- to moderate-level learning disabilities at the middle school level. Renner actually walked with the Class of 1997 at commencement but officially graduated in 2000 by finishing “my outstanding six units.” He also received his education certificates in 2006. In college, Renner participated in Air Force ROTC in 1990-91 and later was an officer in Associated Students, Inc. He lives in Fair Oaks.

Samuel Ellison, ’02, B.S., Business Administration (MIS), is the IT manager at Macias Gini & O’Connell LLP in Sacramento. He was the IT supervisor at the company for more than five years and excels in network management, Citrix, and database administration. He makes his home in Sacramento.

Prudence Pugeda, ’02, M.S., Accountancy (Taxation), has been promoted from senior manager to director at Macias Gini & O’Connell LLP in Sacramento. Pugeda has more than 16 years of accounting and tax experience. Her expertise includes tax planning and compliance for multi-faceted businesses such as consolidated corporations and multi-state companies. She assists businesses in the preparation and review of complex tax provisions and provides sophisticated tax and financial solutions to high net-worth individuals. She lives in Elk Grove.

Andrea E. Garcia, ’04, B.A., Communication Studies (Public Relations), is a health and social services reporter for Solano County’s Daily Republic. At the California Newspaper Publishers Association awards this past year, she garnered first place for feature writing for “Cancer as Creator,” a cancer survivor’s story; second place under the best writing category for “A Mustard Seed,” a story of a developmentally disabled man and his struggle in life; and second place for arts and entertainment coverage. Garcia’s past accomplishments include additional California Newspaper Publishers awards and Associated Press awards. Garcia graduated magna cum laude and is a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Lambda Pi Eta. She lives in Fairfield, Calif.

Sarah Keesling, ’04, B.A., Communication Studies, is the business development manager at Brower Mechanical Inc., a commercial air conditioning contractor in Rocklin. She is responsible for commercial account management, commercial maintenance projects and assisting in the growth of the company. Keesling was formerly a business development officer at Granite Community Bank in Granite Bay and has eight years of sales experience.

Nancy Van Leuven, ’04, M.A., English, received her bachelor’s degree from CSU Fullerton and began her first career in journalism, publishing a well-respected book. Twenty-five years later, at the age of 49, she returned to the classroom to earn a master’s degree at Sac State. With the encouragement of many of the University’s English faculty, Van Leuven applied to and was accepted by the Communications Department at the University of Washington, where she began her doctoral studies in the fall of 2004, graduating in 2007. She was offered a tenure-track faculty position in communications at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts where she is now living with her two golden retrievers in Quincy, Mass.

Asha Davis, ’05, B.V.E., Vocational Education, has been awarded a Workforce Development Award by the Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce and local businesses. She attended Yuba City schools before entering Sacramento State and returned to live in Yuba City where she is a deputy public guardian in the Yuba County Public Guardian’s Office. Davis is studying for a master’s degree in business and wants to use her degree to further her career in social work.

Tyler Oaks, ’05, M.A., Spanish, had her debut mystery novel Ruby Rest released by Sterling House Publishers under their Pemberton Mysteries imprint and it is available at area book stores. A synopsis of her first novel can be found at Oaks finished her novel while living in Modesto where she was teaching Spanish at Modesto Junior College. She now lives in Napa.

Candace Dodge, ’06, B.A., Public Relations, is the new executive assistant and scheduler in the office of Rep. Howard McKeon in Washington, D.C. Prior to this position, Dodge served as executive assistant and scheduler to Rep. John Doolittle. She resides in the Washington, D.C.

Andrew Frishman, ’06, XYZ Education Credentials, is the internship coordinator at Met Sacramento High School, a small innovative charter school in downtown Sacramento. Frishman is asking for any Sac State alums who are interested in mentoring a student to please contact him via e-mail at, or learn more about the school at

Lo N. Saeteurn, ’06, B.S., Criminal Justice, has completed U.S. Navy basic training at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Ill. He completed a variety of training during the eight-week program that included classroom study and practical instruction on naval customs, first aid, firefighting, water safety and survival, and shipboard and aircraft safety. The final exercise is “Battle Stations.” This gives recruits the skills and confidence they need to succeed in the fleet. He lives in Sacramento.

Linda Park, ’07, B.A., Journalism, is the Elk Grove Citizen’s new lifestyle editor. Park is a Vietnamese immigrant who moved to Marysville when she was an infant. Her family relocated to south Sacramento after the 1986 flood when they were ordered to evacuate. After graduating from Hiram Johnson High School, she went on to study at Sacramento City College and then enrolled at Sac State. She continued to attend college while pregnant with two children, who are now 8 and 1. Until she graduated in the summer of 2007, Park was a writer and the feature editor for The State Hornet. The Park family live in Elk Grove.

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