SF State News {University Communications}

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News Release

SF State: exceptional graduating students profiled

The stories of a few of SF State graduates


SAN FRANCISCO, May 15, 2008 -- San Francisco State University will confer degrees on 8,178 students at its 107th commencement on Saturday May 24. Below you will find stories about outstanding graduates, including this year’s hood recipients, who are top graduates chosen to represent their fellow students from each of SF State’s academic colleges, Liberal Studies Program and Division of Graduate Studies. For assistance in contacting any of these students, call the SF State Office of University Communications at (415) 338-1665.

Tiffany Brooks, first Guardian Scholar to graduate
Tiffany Brooks is the first student to graduate from SF State with the assistance of the Guardian Scholars program, which serves former foster care youth who are pursuing undergraduate degrees. Raised in six foster homes, Brooks never talked about college even though she earned excellent grades in school. She had assumed that when she was no longer a ward of the state, she would simply find a job and live on her own. Her last foster mother had other ideas. A Berkeley lawyer, her foster mother encouraged and supported Brooks while she applied to college. Brooks arrived at SF State just as it was forming its Guardian Scholars program. Now a San Francisco resident, she plans to pursue a career in law and help others who have gone through the foster system.

Launched in the Summer 2005, the Guardian Scholars Program is a new program at SF State that is tailored to fit the needs of undergraduate students who were formerly in foster care. Currently, there are 28 students enrolled in the program, which is expected to grow by 12 next fall.

Stephen de la Cruz, from homelessness to law school
Criminal justice studies major Stephen de la Cruz has been accepted to the Boalt School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, with a full tuition scholarship. De La Cruz' passion to improve society stems from his own challenges: being born into a single parent family in Oakland, finding himself homeless for a brief spell in his twenties, and then being diagnosed with a terminal illness in 1996. Living in the Western Addition in the 90s, De La Cruz became active in grassroots activism and involved in advocacy work on behalf of the incarcerated. He enrolled at SF State in 2006.

Kylene Guse, Fulbright Scholarship to Brazil
Community organizer and reproductive health educator Kylene Guse moved from South Dakota to San Francisco to study for a master's in human sexuality studies at SF State. Guse has been awarded a Fulbright grant enabling her to travel to Brazil to examine how limited reproductive rights affect economic, social and political inequalities. Guse will move to Brazil in January 2009 where she will interview women in urban and rural settings about how they negotiate the illegality of abortion in Brazil. Guse has boosted her skills as a Research Assistant at SF State's National Sexuality Resource Center, where she is assisting with a project that examines the risks associated with 13-17 year-old-girls’ sexual lives. She has been involved in recruiting and interviewing participants, and she plans to continue the work over this summer.

Joshua Walters, reframing mental illness
Communications studies major Joshua Walters has used his skills in theater, beat box, speech and poetry to create a theatrical one-man show that shares his experience living with bipolar disorder. The product of his undergraduate coursework, "Madhouse Rhythm" is his first full-length solo production and is showing at the JCC East Bay on May 25. "This show is about reframing mental illness -- turning something that is seen as a negative into a positive, and giving hope to others," Walters said.

As a member of the Speech and Debate Team, Walter's performances have earned him first-place wins. Outside of college life, Walters is a member of the Berkeley Poetry Slam Team and in 2002 he co-founded the San Francisco Young Adults chapter of the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance. Walters hopes his debut in Berkeley will lead to opportunities to take the show to other theaters and festivals. Walters is a native of Moss Beach, San Mateo County.

HOOD RECIPIENTS: One outstanding student from each academic college, the Liberal Studies program and division of Graduate Studies will receive the symbolic investiture of the hood on behalf of their fellow students. The hood recipients are as follows:

Katherine Kramer (Behavioral and Social Sciences), using economics to protect the earth
Katherine Kramer wants to use economics to help businesses and consumers make environmentally healthy choices. After spending several years at an Ivy League school, Kramer took time out from studying and moved to San Francisco. Working in the city's hotel industry prompted her to find out about responsible business practices. She returned to college life and has excelled in her studies, taking graduate classes alongside her undergraduate courses. In the fall, she will pursue a master's degree in economics at SF State. Kramer lives in the Tenderloin with her partner and their young child.

Andrew Hines (Business), surfer and entrepreneur discovers importance of an education (student speaker)
At 17, Andrew Hines was on the cutting edge, running his own company that used computer aided design technology to manufacture surfboards. By 19, he was out of work and looking to return to school. The Santa Cruz native enrolled at SF State to pursue a degree in business with a concentration in decision sciences and an additional major in statistics. At SF State, Hines excelled, routinely taking 20 or more credit hours per semester so that he could graduate early -- something the business major noted would also save him money. Hines, the College of Business hood recipient, will begin a doctoral program in management science and engineering next fall at Stanford University, where he hopes to learn ways to solve global problems.

David Silverman (Creative Arts), becoming an artist and teacher
From an early age, David Silverman seemed destined to be an artist and educator. The youngest of nine siblings born to an artist and teacher in Michigan, David learned the power of art and expression and found his passion in drama. David headed to California where he worked extensively as a stage actor, performing in television, radio and films alongside such actors as Holly Hunter, Eddie Murphy, Will Smith and Sigourney Weaver. At SF State, the art major established himself as a gifted painter and collaborator in and out of the classroom. He established his own studio in San Francisco 18 months ago, and plans to pursue a dual career as an artist and educator. David is being honored as the hood recipient for the College of Creative Arts.

Marie Held (Education), helping children communicate
Graduating with a degree in communicative disorders, Marie Held brings to her academic experience nine years of working with people with special needs. Marie has served as an aide in SF State's speech and language disorders clinic and has volunteered at a Sonoma County kindergarten where she assisted a Down syndrome pupil in using word and picture cards to communicate. Marie will return to SF State in the fall to pursue a master's in communicative disorders enabling her to become a speech-language pathologist. A native of Kenwood, Sonoma County, Held now lives on a 40-acre horse ranch near Sebastopol.

Morrigan Yaayaginaxíx Shaw (Ethnic Studies), first graduate of american indian studies
Shaw, a member of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, is the first student to be awarded SF State's new B.A. in American Indian Studies. With an emphasis on anthropology and biology, Shaw's studies reflect her passion for matters of cultural preservation and revitalization. The Daly City resident has volunteered to work for indigenous rights of tribes as far away as British Columbia and has addressed indigenous rights before the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. Shaw will pursue a graduate degree in American Indian Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She plans a career dedicated to repatriation of Native American remains and sacred objects.

Nicole Greaves (Health and Human Services), inspired by the courage of her mother
Nicole Greaves found her calling and inspiration in her mother's struggle with a serious disease while raising three children. A resident of San Francisco, Greaves is passionate about helping people with a disease or with a disability realize their potential. Now assisting in research that will help impaired older persons lead independent lives, she will pursue a master’s degree in kinesiology at SF State. She plans to advance to a doctoral degree in kinesiology or physical therapy and eventually conduct research and clinical work that develops innovative strategies to help older adults thrive despite physical impairments.

Lisa Rau (Humanities), named an All-American in speech
As a member of the University's Speech and Debate Team, Lisa Rau's performances bring wit and insight to controversial topics. This year, Rau was named an All-American at the American Forensics Association (AFA) National Individual Events Tournament, and for two consecutive years she has been named Platform Speaker of the Year by the Northern California Forensics Association. Rau has achieved first place in a string of competitive events including Communication Analysis and Informative Speaking. Rau is receiving dual degrees in communication studies and creative writing. Over the next year, Rau plans to travel to her mother's native Colombia where she hopes to perfect her native Spanish. Rau is a native of Woodland Hills, Calif., and currently lives in San Francisco's Sunset district.

Batbileg Bor (Science and Engineering), earning a future in the U.S.
Batbileg Bor did not speak English when he left Mongolia to join his father in the U.S. Just a few years later, however, Bor argued effectively in English for the right to stay in America, despite U.S. immigration laws that required him to return to Mongolia. His plans for a career in biomedicine threatened, Bor made a passionate case about what he could contribute to society and spoke of his dreams to one day use his knowledge and skills as a researcher to help wipe out disease. Beating the odds, Bor was allowed to stay in the U.S. and will graduate with a bachelor’s in biochemistry. He will begin a doctorate program in cellular and molecular biology in the fall at University of California, Los Angeles.

Ravindran K. Subramanian (Graduate Studies), doing well while doing good
Ravi Subramanian graduates with a master’s in public administration in just three semesters while working full-time as a senior officer at the Santa Clara County Superior Court. He is known equally for his outstanding academic record as for his unselfish service to his fellow students. Ravi established a paid internship program at his office so that his classmates could earn valuable work experience to complement their academic record. Upon graduation, Ravi will assume a senior post at the California Public Utilities Commission, headquartered in San Francisco.

Courtney Good (Liberal Studies/Special Programs), fusing science and performance
Liberal arts major Courtney Good loves science and nature, but a communication studies class helped her discover her passion for storytelling. She began to dream about telling stories about science. Courtney works part-time at a Montessori school where she teaches children about science through stories and art projects. She performs her stories publicly at the Storytelling Association of Alta California. In the fall, Courtney will attend seminary in Seattle where she wants to explore how science, performance, and spirituality connect. Good is a native of San Pablo.

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