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Published by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Lakeview Center.

Contact: Christina Holmes
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SFSU To Hold 100th Commencement and Honor Class Of 2001

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., May 22, 2001 - More than 6,500 students will receive degrees from San Francisco State University on Saturday, May 26. The University's 100th Commencement brings together thousands of students, many with fascinating and compelling stories. Their backgrounds and interests are diverse but they share one goal: the desire to fulfill dreams of earning a degree and creating a brighter future for themselves and others. The following graduates - among them the Student Commencement Speakers , a mother and daughter graduating with the same major and the Hood Recipients -- represent the 6,571 students earning degrees from SFSU in 2001.

Debra Cortney and Kara Marsalek (Student Commencement Speakers)
Presidential Scholars, Phi Beta Kappa members, roommates and close friends Kara Marsalek and Debra Cortney will jointly deliver the student speech during Commencement. The two women graduate with degrees in liberal studies and in the fall will begin classes to earn teaching credentials. Marsalek plans to work with special needs students in middle school; Cortney hopes to teach in a bilingual classroom at an elementary school. The two met four years ago while living in Mary Ward Hall at SF State. After realizing they both planned to be teachers, a friendship developed. They now live off campus in San Francisco. Marsalek, 21, finished classes in December and is now substitute teaching in Brisbane. While at SFSU she was involved with America Reads and coached girls basketball in Daly City. She grew up in Nopoma near San Luis Obispo. Cortney, 22, leaves next month to spend a year in Mexico where she'll study Spanish while completing coursework for her teaching credential. During her time at SFSU she's been involved with the Reading Assistance Program and America Reads. She also volunteered at Lakeshore, Alvardo and Longfellow elementary schools and played volleyball in the University's intramural sports program. She grew up in San Jose.

NOTE: Founded in 1995, the Presidential Scholars program is the most distinguished academic award the University bestows on an entering undergraduate student. Each year about 25 newly admitted freshmen are selected into the program. They receive payment of in-state registration fees in full (renewable for four years), $500.00 per year for books and other course materials, priority registration for courses and an Internet and e-mail account. In exchange, students must complete at least 24 units per year, take at least 21 units per year on a graded basis and main tain at least a 3.25 GPA.

Jean Sandifer (One of the Oldest Graduates)
Jean Sandifer, 76, of Santa Rosa, is among the oldest graduates in the Class of 2001. Earning a master's degree in industrial arts, the longtime Bay Area resident's many passions include jewelry design, painting, grant writing, archaeology and Web design -- which is her latest interest and skill. "To me, the Internet is the window to the world," she says. Sandifer has attended SFSU since 1985, taking just a couple courses each semester. She received a bachelor's degree in anthropology in 1991 from SFSU and has completed a second bachelor's degree in art, which she will officially receive this fall. In February, Sandifer will move to Fort Worth, Texas, where she plans to paint, work as a freelance grant writer and enjoy time with her family. The Colorado native says she will miss SFSU dearly. "Throughout my years at SFSU, my life has expanded beyond measure," says Sandifer, who moved to Santa Rosa in 1998 after living in San Francisco for nearly 35 years. "The professors and staff have been kind and symp athetic to my needs. SFSU has been my home, my family."

Flo and Christina Teani (Liberal Studies)
When Christina Teani of South San Francisco lines up for SF State's Commencement ceremony, her mother, Flo Teani, will be standing right next to her. Both women are graduating this year with degrees in liberal studies. Christina, who is hearing impaired, relies on lip reading to understand others. Christina says that her disability didn't slow her down much. "My mom always told me that I can do anything I want to, so I did. It wasn't easy, but you have to be creative and find ways to get what you need. " For Christina that meant making sure her professors knew about her needs from the beginning of the semester. She also was quick to make friends with her classmates so if she missed something she could borrow notes. Flo knew right away that she wanted to major in liberal studies. She had been working as an instructional aide at Ponderosa Elementary in South San Francisco when she decided that she would like to become an elementary school teacher. This will not be the first time Flo has graduated side by s ide with one of her children. She and her oldest daughter, Teresa, simultaneously earned A.A. degrees in liberal studies from Skyline College in San Bruno.

Linda Madison (Social Work)
It took more than a brain surgeon to save Linda Madison's life. Before undergoing a 17-hour brain surgery 10 years ago, Madison's doctors told her she wouldn't survive. Yet her strength, dedication, passion and drive enabled her to survive and thrive as a crusader for the rights of the disabled and an educator of others on issues facing the disabled population. While a student at SFSU, she established the Disability Education, Action and Representation (DEAR) program, which provides mentoring for disab led students and faculty-student conflict resolution as well as class presentations to promote better awareness about disabilities. A single mother with four grown children and three grandchildren, Madison, 53, said the bond of her family helped her recover so well from the brain surgery. Madison is deaf in her right ear, hearing only a constant loud ringing in that ear. But this only helps ignite her passion. "Disability can be used as empowerment a way to grow, reach out and find your place in this world ," Madison said. After Madison recovered from the surgery, she felt the need to help others in similar situations. She founded and led the Central Coast Impairment Management Program, a Monterey-based nonprofit organization that provides support for brain-injured survivors and their families. Madison will enter the graduate program in social work at CSU Fresno this fall. She plans to establish a DEAR program on campus and at area high schools, creating what she calls a "circle of acceptance" for those with disabilities.

Joseph Richard Mullin (Hood Recipient, Humanities)
Joe Richard Mullin is an example of that rare student whose community service and activism deeply influences his outstanding scholarly work. He's worked as a volunteer and activist in the gay community. He serves as a member of an advisory committee working with the State of California to explore ways to help get drugs for those who are living with HIV/AIDS, but don't have medical insurance and don't qualify for Medi-Cal. His concern for communities that are marginalized or discriminated against has le d him to an interesting field of study. Mullin, 41, completed his undergraduate degree in humanities in December with a 3.96 GPA. Much of his coursework was in the area of American Studies. He's especially interested in the period between the American Civil War and World War I and hopes to study the emergence of broad types of discrimination and intolerance during that time in American history. Currently a graduate student in SFSU history department, Mullin plans to continue his education, with the goal of completing a Ph.D. program in cultural or American studies.

Tomoko Nazakato (Hood Recipient, Art)
While growing up in Japan, Tomoko Nazakato enjoyed collecting ceramic pottery and sculptures. However, she never thought creating her own works could be a career option, college major or even a hobby. Yet when she enrolled in a ceramics class in her first semester, she discovered a new outlet to express her emotions and those of others. She was recently one of 15 SFSU students to be initiated into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society and she's a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society. She also rec eived a Starr Foundation Scholarship for international students and the A Lon Von Hornlein Undergraduate Award for her ceramics work. She enters SFSU's master of fine arts program this fall. Nazakato, 23, has also excelled as a Japanese-English translator, a volunteer at Trax Gallery in Berkeley and an assistant in the art department's ceramics area.

Flora Loie-Effie Ham (Hood Recipient, Child and Adolescent Development)
Flora Loie-Effie Ham's global perspective on life began taking shape when she entered kindergarten and her travels have taken her around the world. She attended the prestigious French American International School where she earned scholarships from the French government to finance her education. In fact, Ham did so well at French American International that she left high school with 18 college units. She arrived at SFSU in 1996 and pursued courses related to teaching and children. She then decided to t ake additional classes in the new Child and Adolescent Development major. But Ham made her international perspective a big part of her studies and her future. During her junior year, Ham traveled to Taiwan, learning the Chinese language and culture and tutoring children. Last summer she was in Paris, volunteering her time to work in a youth camp to construct an art center for children. Ham, 23, has been selected as a Fulbright Scholar and will move to Korea for 13 months to teach English to middle and high school students while she studies the Korean language and culture.

Lydia Seen-Seen Lim (Hood Recipient, Information Systems and Business Analysis)
Six years ago, Lydia Seen-Seen Lim moved to San Francisco with her husband. While she had been born in Washington D.C., she grew up in Singapore, where she completed high school. Now that she was back in the U.S., she diligently began pursuing her dream of a college education. She took evening classes at City College of San Francisco while working. She pursued a degree in Computer Information Systems while simultaneously working on a Certificate in Internet Design and Technology through evening classes . Her time at SFSU wasn't solely about schoolwork. Lim also tutored fellow students and did volunteer work at a local church and with the elderly. Lim completed her coursework last semester and is currently an intern at Accela Incorporated's software engineering where she works on Java development for web applications.

Lamitra Monique Baez (Hood Recipient, Communicative Disorders)
Lamitra Monique Baez could have abandoned her dream of earning a degree a number of times. In fact, had she listened to some she would have never pursued a college career in the first place. But she didn't give up. At age 17 and barely out of high school Baez got pregnant. She once thought about becoming an architect but those plans were shelved as she cared for her child. She enrolled at SFSU in 1997. As a Santa Rosa resident, Baez drove nearly two hours each way to attend classes at SFSU. In April 19 98 she was the victim of a horrible car accident. She suffered major back injuries, which left her bedridden for eight months. Once she could walk and sit in a car, she returned to SFSU. She wasn't always comfortable sitting in class but she was determined to finish. Often times she brought a pillow and exercise mat to lie down on the classroom floor during a lecture. When she couldn't write because of trouble with her hands, friends took notes for her on carbon copy paper. Baez, 27, earned more than an ed ucation during her stay at SFSU. She learned what it means to silence doubts and persevere.

Emma Sanchez-Suet (Hood Recipient, Public Health - Graduate Division)
Emma Sanchez is a distinguished student who excelled in her coursework and broke ground as an active scholar in public health. She boasts an impressive resume of projects she's been involved with since entering the master of public health program: she's co-authored three articles for peer-reviewed journals and presented at 13 public health conferences. Her work has been so well regarded that she was selected as a member of the Centers for Disease Control's National Blue Ribbon Panel on Community Based Evaluation. Sanchez-Suet was raised in Mexico where her parents still live. She earned a college degree and taught school. She then moved to Washington to be near her brother. At first she picked apples in an orchard but over time she learned English and realized her calling was in public health. She moved to California, enrolled at University of San Francisco and earned a bachelor's degree in organizational behavior. She was working at a Latino family resource center in the Mission District when she met a professor from SFSU's health education department. She enrolled in the master's program and she is one of 16 students in the first graduating class. Sanchez-Suet, 34, begins her doctoral work at Harvard University's School of Public Health where she received a fellowship.

Genevieve Lew (Hood Recipient, Asian American Studies)
Genevieve Lew has let no obstacle stop her -- either in her studies or in her compassion for those around her. She graduates with three degrees: Asian American studies and two others in business administration -- one with a concentration in office systems and the other in computer and information sciences. Through it all, Lew has earned a 3.6 GPA. Lew had always been curious about Asian American Studies. "I am a child of an immigrant family and I wanted to understand my history and why my father and hi s father and his grandfather had to leave their families behind in China to make a living in America." Along the way to earning three degrees, Lew was awarded a host of scholarships. Lew, who became disabled after an accident in 1996, also volunteers in the engineering department's Wheeled Mobility Center and has co-taught a course in wheelchair design. She plans to go to Thailand next year with a group from the project to help people learn to build wheelchairs.

Melissa Margaret Wheeler (Hood Recipient, Kinesiology)
Melissa Margaret Wheeler has already applied what she's learned about education and kinesiology dozens of times over as a P.E. teacher to high school students. She's a talented and dedicated young woman who excelled both in the classroom and on the track field. When she wasn't running, she was studying. She served on the Student Athletic Advisory Board for two years and was elected committee chair by her peers. She also was awarded the Harden Scholarship for excellence as a scholar and athlete. Since c ompleting her studies in December, Wheeler has worked as a P.E. teacher at Jefferson High School in Daly City. It's a challenging school and students immediately put her to the test. Wheeler, 24, says she doesn't look much older than the teens she's teaching but she's successfully communicated to them the importance of staying fit.

Nancy Maria Cervantes (Hood Recipient, Liberal Studies)
Although she was born in Chicago, Nancy Maria Cervantes grew up in Mexico. She and her family returned to the States, this time to San Francisco, when she was 12. At first she had difficulty adjusting to her new school, especially since English is her second language, but she received support from her teachers and graduated with honors from both middle school and high school. As the first person in her family to go to college, Cervantes had the opportunity to attend SF State's Summer Bridge Program, wh ich helps first generation college students acclimate themselves to the world of higher education. With additional support from the University's Educational Opportunity Program, Cervantes has achieved remarkable success here on campus. She now wants other bilingual learners to experience success similar to her own so she's decided to become an elementary school teacher. She says, "It is difficult for new immigrants to adapt to a new place when they do not know the language. As a teacher, I will be able to help them."

Jill Allison Stokes (Hood Recipient, Cell Biology)
Jill Allison Stokes arrived at San Francisco State three years ago and found her way to the laboratory of Dr. Zheng Hui He and his studies of plant molecular genetics. Jill -- a self-proclaimed science lover -- jumped in and made herself a valuable addition to the lab. She recalls telling Dr. He, "I'll do anything. I'll wash dishes if you want." Looking back Stokes says thanks to Dr. He she was given an endless number of opportunities to prove herself while working beside professors, post docs and grad uate students. She attended science meetings, contributed to a poster and collaborated on a paper for a plant journal. She's fond of saying that her time in the lab changed her two-dimensional view of science into a 3-D movie. Stokes, 25, grew up on the East Coast but came west and enrolled at City College of San Francisco before transferring to SFSU. She finished classes in December and now works for Exelixis Pharmaceutical Company in South San Francisco where she's an assistant research scientist in plan t biology.

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