When Professor Vanessa Arnaud was a graduate student at UCLA, she was selected as the best among 2,300 teaching assistants. Little wonder why she has been a stalwart in Sacramento State’s Honors Program since its inception in 2006. Or that she was selected by Professor Roberto Pomo to serve as his interim successor during the spring semester while he is on sabbatical.
“She has contributed to the formation of the Honors Program’s upper division curriculum and continues to teach Honors 1 and 103,” Pomo notes. “The students begin and end their Honors educational experience with her. She’s also responsible for the development of the Honors Program International Leadership Forum that draws specialists to the campus to lecture on global issues.”
One of Arnaud’s prime responsibilities is to ensure that students complete their public service component. The capstone project in Honors 103 consists of 30 hours of public service, a community-based research paper, and the creation of social media projects for presentation at the International Forum.
Last year her students connected with several community partners seeking assistance. Their activities included mentoring students at a continuation school, aiding an organization for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, writing grants for a non-profit cultural and educational association, composing social networking sites, introducing English-learners to various aspects of American culture, and creating a movable, on-campus English Language Café for students. Honors students also augmented a public school’s counseling services by helping with financial aid applications for college. A couple of students worked with Project R.I.D.E., which offers therapeutic recreational horseback riding instruction for students with disabilities in the region. They also produced an instructional video on horseback safety.
Two years ago her students focused on the E.M. Hart Senior Center in Midtown, where they spent hours listening to the life stories of residents. The one-on-one encounters allowed students to interview seniors and then create a poster-board display of photographs to illustrate those stories.
These outreach efforts, made in conjunction with the Community Engagement Center, underscore Sacramento State’s longstanding commitment to public service. They also punctuate the lifelong learning theme that the energetic professor stresses in her classes. Arnaud’s overarching objective is to help students make the connection between the philosophical constructs they are discussing in the classroom and specific problems in the community.
In praising Professor Pomo for his unstinting six-year service as director, Arnaud cites his strong, inspiring leadership. “I hope to maintain his vision while an internal campus-wide search takes place during spring semester for his replacement,” she says. “I look forward to working closely with Honors students and faculty on many upcoming events, including the Spring Convocation, One Book Long Read, Africa Conference, and CSU Honors Conference in Fresno. I will continue the program’s development of e-folio as an assessment tool for all Honors students. I also hope to develop some new international service learning opportunities.”