Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, ethnic studies professor, CSU Hayward, History, 1963
"At State, I prepared for my career as a scholar, but more importantly I found my vocation, or it found me -- a lifetime commited to radical social change. I arrived at San Francisco State fresh and green as early corn from Oklahoma, a rural, working class kid, married to a fellow wandering spirit. I was not just leaving the narrowness and bigotry of Oklahoma but seeking kindred spirits. And did I ever find them. It took awhile because I was at first intimidated. It was not yet the time of strikes and uprisings when I was there, but the foundations were being built.
In Oklahoma, every slightly radical idea was labeled "communist," yet I had never to my knowledge run into a communist. I did at SF State, quite a few in my course, "Marxism, Myth and Reality," or something like that, taught by a Romanov, an anti-communist course that drew every radical on campus. The most important single occasion of that time, if not my life, was a lecture by Malcolm X. Now it is hard to believe that it was held in a regular classroom in the Humanities Building, with perhaps 100 attending. I had never heard of Malcolm X, but he became, and remains, not only a hero but a guide in my daily life.
Free speech was routinely denied during that time and is never assured. I learned at San Francisco State how precious and life-saving it is. That is what education should be about, and it is a San Francisco State tradition I am proud to share.
For those teachers who do not think they can make a difference, they should think of the few brave souls from that time, such as Marshall Windmiller who was one of my teachers at State. I have since believed that I can, as a teacher, make a difference."
David Walden, Internet co-founder and member of team of engineers that developed ARPANET, a precursor to the Internet; B.A., Mathematics, 1964
"By the spring semester of my Junior year I was sure that engineering was too boring to be my life's work, and the only subject I could switch my major to and still graduate on time after four years was math. Frank Sheehan of the Math Department became my adviser and helped me with the transfer. Professor Sheehan was one of the two best teachers I had in my four years of undergraduate and two years of graduate education.
In the spring of my junior year, I signed up for a course in numerical analysis, which included a project on the IBM 1620 computer. As usual, I didn't study very hard and missed a lot of classes until late in the term when the due date of the computer project was looming. Not knowing what else to do, I wandered over to the computer center and asked for help. Several student assistants worked in the computer center including Stan Mazor [a leading microcomputer architect]. Quickly I learned that messing with the computer was fun, and began to split my enthusiasm and almost sleepless days and nights between bridge and hacking on the 1620. I had found my destiny -- computers.
I also remember the involvement of San Francisco State students in the civil rights movement, the smell of marijuana in the (old) cafeteria, police barricades on campus and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. San Francisco State was my introduction to the wide-open possibilities of the information age and an age of social liberalism in our country."
David Sisk, professor of economics at SFSU, B.A., 1965; M.A. in 1966, both in Economics
"Like many new graduate students at SFSU, I was enthusiastic but somewhat intimidated. And none of my professors was more intimidating than Lloyd Gallardo. Shortly after the first exam, Prof. Gallardo asked me to be his assistant in the 'Principles' courses in Economics. What an honor! But again, what terror. Yet, he was understanding and helpful, and I finally began to experience his true kindness and generosity. He brought out the best in me and others. He expected us to do our best, and in turn, he gave us his best. Whenever I think back to my days as a student at SFSU, I always think of Prof. Lloyd Gallardo: scowling, gruff, uncompromising -- a really great teacher."
Ben Fong-Torres, journalist, author and an early editor of "Rolling Stone" magazine, B.A., Radio-Television, 1966
"Out of Chinatown in Oakland, I landed a world away when I enrolled at San Francisco State in 1962 and, especially, when I became a reporter at the campus daily two years later. Once I'd shown the editors that I could write a story, they assigned me to cover one of the events during "Freedom Week," a celebration of civil rights. Students were being invited to take a version of the voter registration test that Mississippi was giving to black people. I walked in [to the test] with a B-plus average; I walked out a failure.
The people portraying Mississippi registration workers had instructed us to, among other things, 'fill out the form completely.' Under 'birthdate,' I'd used a '1' for January. That, the worker said, was an abbreviation -- I hadn't been 'complete.' When I copied a 14-word section of the Constitution of Mississippi onto a space of five lines, I didn't use all five lines. Incomplete. The message was clear. In Mississippi, you couldn't be both black and a voter. In reporting that story, I learned that education was all around me, and not only in the classroom."
Eddie Y. Chin, Commissioner, Member of San Francisco Board of Education; B.A., Design & Industry, 1967
"I didn't know what a college
education was like until I attended SFSU. It opened my eyes to all the
possibilities one can do in life. SFSU gave me a real education in terms
of allowing me to obtain my B.A. while participating in the SFSU student
body as a student representative.
The Department of Design & Industry
was on the cutting edge by the reflection of its curriculum to the real
working world. It allows the students to explore and push their
potential to their limit. It's still one of the best departments on
Of course, the student strike of 1969 provided me with my first step into the political world of San Francisco.
Thanks SFSU for all you have done the past 100 years, from a kid who grew up in San Francisco's Chinatown!"
Brian A. Shinoda, "A much better person -- thanks to SFSU"; B.A., Biology, 1967
"The turbulent 60's is what I recall ... A time of 'Peace Marches,' search
for identity, and a need to be of service. Classes with Drs Alexander,
Yonenaka, Hunderfund, Swan, and Mackey -- from the economics of microbiology,
parasititology, ecology, to environmental issues. Dr Hensill asked -- what
will I do when I grow up and graduate? A question for which I had no answer
other than to be in a service arena ...
From my SFSU years, I knew what I didn't want -- a tour of service in Vietnam with the Army ... So instead I did a tour of service with the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, West Africa, teaching high school biology, chemistry, and health education, coordinating completion of a CARE -sponsored water
treatment system for a small town, and to teach diagnostic parasitology to
med techs in a village hospital.
Thanks to the great direction, 'subtle' suggestions, and great professors
in the Biology Dept. at SFSU, the step following the Peace Corps was to Univ.
of N. carolina at Chapel Hill for a MSPH in Paraitology and Laboratory Practice.
Today I am a virology specialist, covering the depts. of correction of two
states for a pharmaceutical company. Thanks SFSU for the great core
education, for the thought-provoking questions and discussions, and for the
great guidance and direction ..."