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SFSU Public Affairs Press Release

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

#113---May 18, 2000
Contact: Merrik Bush-Pirkle
phone: 415/338-1665


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., May 18, 2000 - More than 6,500 students will receive degrees from San Francisco State University on Saturday, May 27. The first class of the new millennium represents thousands of stories with an unimaginable mix of plot lines and characters. But they all share a common component: the desire to fulfill ambitions and dreams, and the hope for a brighter future-for themselves and others. Many of this year's Hood Recipients and SFSU's oldest graduate reflect these diverse stories.

Eva Levi (Oldest Graduate)
San Francisco's oldest graduate this year is 72-year-old liberal studies major Eva Levi. Commencement will be an extra special time for Levi, since she and her husband, Max, will also be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary the day after, on Sunday, May 28. Levi, whose family fled Nazi Germany in 1939 for China, was educated in an English school in Shanghai and received her GED from Galileo High shortly after she immigrated to San Francisco in 1947. A mother of three, Levi was a full-time homemak e r until her children grew up and moved out. Finding herself with free time and a desire to "widen her knowledge," Levi enrolled in SFSU. After attending classes part time for 18 years, Levi finally finished her course work last fall. She unabashedly states that she "is proud of herself for sticking it out for so long." Levi chose the liberal studies major because she thought it offered her the broadest possible educational experience. Her concentration for the major is in literature-she is especially fo nd of Shakespeare.

Kouslaa T. Kessler-Mata (Student Commencement Speaker)
Bringing American Indian issues and history to the fore is one of Kouslaa Kessler-Mata's greatest goals. She is uniquely suited to this endeavor. Herself a Chumash and Yokut California Indian from Albany, she will spend this summer in the Native American Congressional Internship program in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Morris K. Udall Foundation. She is this year's student commencement speaker, and the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences named her its distinguished graduate. She is a profess i onal violinist and earned a degree in American Studies and a minor in Native-American studies with a 3.82 GPA. She is the first American Indian to receive the Senior Scholarship from SFSU's Alumni Association, and was awarded a fellowship to pursue a doctorate program in Political Science at the University of Chicago. She held internships in Supervisor Mabel Tang's office, in Mayor Brown's Office of Neighborhood Services and at the Oakland-based California Indian Legal Services. For the past three years sh e was funded by the Jacques Johnet Scholarship for American Indians. She is co-editor of the American-Indian Studies Review journal and a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society. Her ambition: to teach political science and American Indian Studies in the CSU system.

Alicia Sandoval Gonzales (La Raza Studies)
For Alicia Gonzales, social justice and cultural awareness are not just topics from the La Raza Studies program from which she is graduating, they are the subtext of her own personal philosophy. As a result of her commitment to social justice, Washington University has awarded her a $20,000 Cesar Chavez Scholarship to attend a master's program at the university's George Warren Brown School of Social Work. She is particularly interested in the growing rates of minority youth incarceration and the lack o f educational opportunities in ethnic communities. The first in her family to earn not just one, but two degrees (the second in psychology), the Bakersfield resident has dedicated her personal and professional life to issues surrounding her community. In addition to chairing the on-campus Latin American Residents Association, she mentors at-risk teens and young women, works at the Literacy Council in her hometown, and has worked with the SFSU Urban Institute to match students with community organizations. H er ambition: to direct a comprehensive agency serving youths at risk.

Tony Van Nguyen (Special Major: Cultural Peace and Appreciation)
A 24-year-old first-generation Vietnamese-American from Seymour, Indiana, Tony Nguyen is no ordinary young man. While still in his mother's womb, he sailed with her from Saigon to America, the scent of orange peels keeping his young mother-to-be alive. The Catholic Church sponsored the family's emigration from Vietnam, and Nguyen grew up in a dual cultural dynamic: His was the first Asian family in Seymour, and he the only Asian student at his Catholic School. He learned to live between two worlds, whi c h in many ways inspired the design of his highly successful Liberal Studies degree: Cultural Peace and Appreciation. In addition to graduating with a 3.8 GPA and being named the distinguished graduate for the College of Liberal Studies and Special Majors, Nguyen was awarded a full scholarship and stipend to pursue a graduate program at George Mason University's Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. He currently works as a team leader and tutor for SFSU's America Reads program, and mentors foster teens from the Department of Social Services' Independent Living Skills Program. Nguyen defines his degree program as both a program of analytical thought and an approach for attaining peace, broadly-from finding inner peace to creating peace among different cultures and groups. Pulling together values and insights from philosophy, psychology and world religions, he has built a program that he believes can offer an intellectual paradigm for fostering cultural awareness and appreciation. He hopes one day to parlay it into a course called "Essential Values for Peace." His ambition: to define new areas of thought with regard to culture and peace as a professor at the college level.

Su Yon-Rain Kim (Dance)
Though she didn't start rigorous dance training until she was 21, Su Rain Kim, a Korean immigrant, grew up with a desire to be a professional dancer-an almost impossible feat without a life's worth of training. A few classes in Korean dance during high school spurred her college ambition, and today, the College of Creative Arts is honoring Su Rain Kim as its distinguished graduate, particularly because of her exceptional talent as a dancer. She earned an overall GPA of 3.8 and is graduating with three c oncentrations in Dance: choreography, dance education and dance ethnology. She is currently teaching intermediate modern dance at Lowell High School and is choreographing their upcoming dance production. She dedicates herself to improving cultural awareness among Korean-American children. Through her association with the Korean-American Women's Artists and Writers Association she tutors underserved Korean-American children in after-school language programs. She has choreographed and danced in a wide varie ty of popular performances with SFSU's University Dance Company, choreographed Korean dance for the department's Cultural Dance and Music production, and more. Her ambition: to learn more about native Korean dance and to perform and teach dance in the Bay Area.

Jennifer Gong Shiu (Human Movement)
An advocate of volunteerism, Jennifer Shiu, a Chinese-American resident of Pleasant Hill, found that her altruism inspired a new career path, one that combines good works with improving the quality of life. The 29-year-old aspiring physical therapist traded a job in the computer industry for a degree in human movement from SFSU's Kinesiology Department, and spent a life-changing summer working with developmentally disabled teenagers at the Good Shephard Organization. She coaxed physically and mentally h andicapped youths through daily exercises, provided sensory stimulation, and became their friend. While she admits it was sometimes difficult emotionally, she said it was also one of the most rewarding experiences of her life. She has also volunteered at John Muir and Saint Mary's hospitals and served meals to the homeless at Glide Memorial Church. She is being honored as this year's distinguished graduate for the College of Health and Human Services and has been accepted to a number of graduate programs i n physical therapy. Her ambition: to work as a physical therapist with disabled youth.

Nicole Marchelle Laurent (Cell and Molecular Biology)
Through the magic of DNA sleuthing, Nicole Laurent hopes to one day put names to the faces of deceased unknown soldiers. Named this year's distinguished graduate for the College of Science and Engineering, Laurent will build upon her degree in Cell and Molecular Biology with a graduate program in forensic science at George Washington University. Before entering the program this fall, she'll spend the summer in Oregon at a federal wildlife forensics lab, where the 22-year-old Yreka, California, native w i ll use her high-tech skills in DNA extraction and analysis to track down poachers of big game animals. She successfully tested these tools while conducting field and lab work that ranged from examining genetic variations among Midwest frog species, to coaxing DNA samples out of 80-year-old museum specimens of the California marten, a ferret-like animal once thought extinct. Her ambition: to become a forensic scientist and reveal clues about mysteries involving human victims.

Kelli Elaine Stanley (Classics)
When it comes to describing Kelli Elaine Stanley, well rounded in the arts is an understatement. Before returning to San Francisco State as a junior in 1997, the 35-year-old Renaissance woman took a decade off to pursue her passion for art and literature. She wrote three screenplays, ran a successful comic book store, and studied art history in Florence. Upon returning to the classroom, she won awards for her research on William Shakespeare's portrayal of Julius Caesar, tutored students in the classics and is now graduating with a double major in Classical Archeology and Art History, all while earning a 3.87 GPA. She's also this year's outstanding graduate for the College of the Humanities. Her ambition: to attain a doctorate degree, teach the classics and write historical mystery novels set in Roman Britain.

Carla Lacap Madrigal (Communicative Disorders)
Helping and teaching others have been a central part of Carla Madrigal's life and were the catalyst that inspired her to pursue a degree in communicative disorders. As a volunteer at Laguna Honda Hospital, the first-generation Filipino-American from Daly City worked with stroke patients. She saw how hard they struggled to regain their speech, and recognized the profound reward that came from making progress. She currently works with preschool children who are speech-impaired, and is particularly satisf i ed when working with children from diverse communities and underprivileged backgrounds. The College of Education named her its outstanding graduate for 2000, and she plans to enter graduate school. Her ambition: to work as a licensed speech pathologist in schools serving disadvantaged children.

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