San Francisco State UniversityWeb A-ZFind it FastCalendarNeed help?News

SF State's top grads to rehearse for Commencement on Friday afternoon



SF State Office of Public Affairs & Publications
(415) 338-1665


Press Release published by the Office of Public Affairs & Publications


Top grads include rap artist who begins a Ph.D. in sociology this fall, future pediatrician who helped her mother foster infants born with drug and alcohol dependencies, ethnic studies major who plans a career pursuing social justice, and self-confessed 'nerdy girl' pursuing biochemistry career

WHAT: San Francisco State University's hood recipients, the top graduates chosen to represent the 7,997 students in the class of 2006, will rehearse for the Saturday, May 27, Commencement ceremony, where a crowd of 20,000 is expected.

WHEN: 3 p.m., Friday, May 26

WHERE: Cox Stadium, behind the SF State Gymnasium, 1600 Holloway Ave. (at 19th Avenue), San Francisco

WHO: Each hood recipient is an outstanding student with a unique story and an ambitious plan for the future. Here are several of their stories:

When Valerie Francisco began rapping years ago, she gave herself the stage name Hood Scholar. Now Francisco is the hood recipient for the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences and a fledgling scholar in sociology and Asian American studies. Francisco, a native of Parañaque, Philippines, moved to the United States at age 9. She spent most of her adolescent years in Concord, in the Latino barrio of Monument. Her life experiences have shaped her academic interests. "When you're growing up in poverty, not having anything, and everybody around you doesn't have adequate housing, I really saw -- as a sociologist -- the inequalities," said Francisco, who will also be the student speaker at Commencement. She is a founder and the mass campaign officer of babae, a San Francisco nonprofit that address the rights and welfare of Filipina Americans. This fall she enters the doctoral program in sociology at City University of New York. She plans to become a professor and remain active in the Bay Area Filipino community. Francisco, now known as Sho Shock, performs hip-hop music with Rhapsodistas, a collective of four young Filipinas. "My art is a way to talk to people who wouldn't come to see me give a lecture," she said.

TaiJuana Sylvester, Division of Graduate Studies hood recipient, receives a master of science in biology. She lost her mother while pursuing her undergraduate degree at SF State. Though devastated, she discovered in herself the strength and determination she always admired in her mother, and persevered. Sylvester's professional plans are a tribute to her mother, who fostered infants born with drug and alcohol dependencies. She plans to become a pediatrician and a researcher in infectious diseases. The Fairfield resident will enter medical school at either Boston University or Stanford University this fall.

Sonia Elena Mays, College of Ethnic Studies hood recipient, receives a bachelor of arts in Raza studies and minor in American Indian studies. The San Francisco native of Bolivian, European and American Indian heritage attended SF State as a Presidential Scholar on a full scholarship. Mays originally planned to major in psychology and become a teacher, but her first class in American Indian studies altered that pursuit. "I found I could apply what I had already been exposed to at home to an academic setting that critically analyzes history," she said. Mays plans to continue her education in public policy after completing the year-long California Executive Fellowship Program, where she will learn about and work on California's public policy issues in Sacramento.

Marlisa Pillsbury, College of Science and Engineering hood recipient, receives a bachelor of arts in biochemistry. She is the first in her family to graduate high school and college. While other children watched "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" on Saturday mornings, she preferred "Bill Nye the Science Guy." The self-confessed "nerdy girl" will move on to the Ph.D. program in biochemistry at University of California, San Francisco, this fall. She plans a career in medical research and also hopes to encourage more women and minorities to pursue careers in science. "If you keep your head down and really concentrate, you just won't have time to be intimidated," the Emeryville resident said.


San Francisco State University Home     Search     Need Help?    

1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132  415/338-1111
Last modified May 24, 2006, by the Office of Public Affairs & Publications