SF State Magazine { University Communications }

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Guess Who

Can you match these famous faces with their SF State mentors?

A.Ernest Gaines B. Annette Bening C. John Burton D. President Barack Obama  E. Lisa Cholodenko  F. Frank Robinson G. Anne Rice H. Willie Brown I. Kent Nagano. Photos from left to right, by each row, Doug Dugas, Courtesy of Annette Bening, courtesy of John Burton, courtesy of the white house, courtesy of lisa cholodenko, © copyright Bettman Corbis, Becket Ghioto, Gino de Grandis, and Wilfried Hösl


  1. I learned more about my sport from my high school coach, George Powles (B.A., ’36), than I did from anybody in the big leagues.
  2. Professor Tom Tyrell encouraged me to follow my passion — the same advice I’ve given students at my alma mater.
  3. I was plagued with self-doubt about my talents until Professor Stan Dorius encouraged me to sink my teeth into the subject matter that would launch my career.
  4. Attending segregated schools left me way behind my white peers, but Professor Duncan Gillies guided me through a 10-week trial period that led to my acceptance at SF State.
  5. I credit the success I’ve had to Laszlo Varga, my former professor who was relentless in demanding perfection from me.
  6. Mabel Hefty (B.A., ’35), my favorite teacher, drew me out of my shell in fifth grade and I still carry her lessons of empathy and thoughtfulness in my daily work.
  7. When I told my Gator basketball coach, Dan Farmer, ‘I tried,’ he let me know that Skid Row was full of people who tried; getting it done was what counted.
  8. Lecturer Angela Davis was as fierce as they get, but I learned more about writing from one office hour session with her than I did in four years of high school English.
  9. Professor Stan Anderson encouraged me to write my first short story, which was published in SF State's Transfer magazine and helped me land my longtime literary agent before graduation.


Click here for the answers.

1F. Frank Robinson

2B. Annette Bening

3G. Anne Rice 

4H. Willie Brown

5I. Kent Nagano

6D. President Barack Obama 

7C. John Burton

8E. Lisa Cholodenko

9A. Ernest Gaines


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