SF State News {University Communications}

Image: Photos of SF State students and scenes from around campus

Exceptional graduating students profiled

May 17 , 2010 -- One outstanding student from each academic college, Liberal Studies/Special Majors and Graduate Studies will be honored at SF State's 109th Commencement on Saturday, May 22. They will receive the symbolic investiture of the hood on behalf of their fellow students. In addition, Marilyn Thomas, hood recipient for the College of Science and Engineering, will be this year's student speaker. SF State News is pleased to introduce these students to the campus community and friends of SF State:

Behavioral and Social Sciences | Business | Creative Arts | Education | Ethnic Studies | Health and Human Services | Humanities | Science and Engineering | Liberal Studies/Special Majors | Graduate Studies


College of Behavioral and Social Sciences: Haruki Eda

Photo of Haruki EdaWhen sociology major Haruki Eda arrived in San Francisco from Japan, he struggled to find a community he truly belonged to as a mixed Queer Zainichi Korean man whose first language isn't English. In Japan, Eda was part of a population of ethnic Koreans known as Zainichi Koreans. He has turned his multiple marginalized statuses into a commitment to work with oppressed communities. He founded an organization for Queer Asian and Pacific Islander students on campus, volunteered at a Queer Asian and Pacific Islander youth program in the city and served as a Resident Assistant in University Housing. He is also involved with a Zainichi Korean community organization that raises awareness about racism in Japan. As a sociologist, Eda plans to continue pursuing his interest in issues of sexuality and globalization in a doctoral program. "In the future, I would like to conduct community-based participatory
action research," Eda said.


College of Business: Sergey Bubnou

Photo of Sergey BubnouAfter arriving in the U.S. from Belarus, Sergey Bubnou worked a demanding job loading Chryslers onto train cars and taught himself English at night. But he wanted more, and came to SF State. Bubnou declared a major in finance, and became involved in the student finance group FAME, planning a Bay Area student investment conference in fall 2009. While planning the conference and supporting himself as a taxi driver and waiter, he also passed the Level 1 Chartered Financial Advisor exam -- a feat completed by only 30 percent of people worldwide who take the test. "Last semester was absolutely insane," he said, "but it paid off."


College of Creative Arts: Sarah Gould

Photo of Sarah Gould When Sarah Gould was on stage as a 5-year-old, forgetting a series of steps during a performance discouraged her from dancing for more than five years. But Gould returned to dance as a 12-year old, starting with ballet and jazz, and advancing to modern dance and creating her own choreography. As a dance major at SF State, she was a two-year member of the University Dance Theatre, serving as student director for one year. A prolific performer and choreographer, her pieces have been performed at festivals around the Bay Area. "About halfway through high school I decided dance was in my future," Gould said. "I don't think anything specific happened, but that's what I wanted to give back to the world."


College of Education: Vania Silva

Photo of Vania Silva Vania Silva spent almost a decade working in San Francisco restaurants before deciding to train for a profession that would tap into her care-giving nature. The daughter of a nurse, Silva was drawn to the medical field, but having a Brazilian father also fueled her interest in accents and language. She pursued both interests in a degree in communicative disorders, which prepares her for a career as a speech-language pathologist. Silva has successfully balanced life as a single parent alongside her studies and volunteering at a local hospital. "I like the breadth of my field, learning about biology, grammar and psychology, and I have been able to see my studies unfold in the life of my son as he has been learning to talk," Silva said. A resident of San Francisco, Silva will begin a master's degree in communicative disorders at SF State in the fall.


College of Ethnic Studies: Kyle Johnson

Photo of Kyle Johnson Kyle Johnson, graduating with a bachelor's in Africana studies, is the first in his family to earn a college degree. He credits family and other adult mentors for instilling academic discipline in him at an early age. Originally a mechanical engineering major, Johnson changed his career plans after hearing an ethnic studies professor speak about serving the African-American community. "I learned that I should ask more of myself," Johnson said. "I could help people in need change their lives." Johnson plans to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology so he can counsel children and families.


College of Health and Human Services: Cheryl Fulton

Photo of Cheryl Fulton A native Canadian, Fulton has spent many years in the catering and restaurant industry. Five years ago, she decided to explore a new career and pursue a college diploma. A job at a senior home leading singing and other activities inspired her to seek a degree in recreation with a minor in holistic health. "I was delighted to find that I could change frustration to joy just by leading a song or encouraging the clients to reminisce." The single mother of two juggled motherhood, work and volunteering her catering skills for school events and other fundraisers while earning her degree. Fulton plans to start a business that provides outdoor recreation trips for elders.


College of Humanities: Peiying Ma

Photo of Peiying Ma A native of Shanghai, Peiying Ma earned an associate's degree in international business in China and worked for an Italian firm, where she fell in love with the Italian language. After immigrating to the U.S. 10 years ago and mastering English, she pursued a degree in Italian, her favorite language. "It wasn't easy learning Italian through my second language, but I was determined," Ma said. "One of the best things about being trilingual is being multi-cultural." Currently working for an international compensation services firm, Ma is determined to build a business or public service career that involves bridging the cultures of China, Italy and English-speaking countries.


College of Science and Engineering: Marilyn D. Thomas

Photo of Marilyn D. Thomas San Francisco native Marilyn D. Thomas, graduating with the bachelor's in biology, was raised in the Hunters Point neighborhood before moving to the peninsula as a teenager.  Homeless at 15, Marilyn was forced to quit high school at 17 to earn a living. A single mother at 20, she changed the direction of her life through hard work and perseverance. After earning a GED, she worked as a model in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, and as a massage therapist, which prompted her to pursue an academic career that would enable her to work in the health care field.  As this year's student Commencement speaker, she plans to share the life lessons she has learned, including the importance of self accountability for personal success and failure. She says her favorite and guiding quote is from Milton Berle: "If opportunity doesn't knock, you build a door." Marilyn is preparing to attend medical school.


Liberal Studies/Special Programs: Kailani Moran

Photo of Kailani Moran Kailani Moran came to SF State after graduating from the nation's first youth-initiated charter school in Alameda. Moran has excelled in her liberal studies degree and has enjoyed studying a diverse range of subjects, including sociology, literature and creative arts. "The diversity of the people and the courses at SF State helped me understand the world better, and I'll take that knowledge wherever I go," Moran said. Moran has been studying the Hawaiian tradition of hula dancing for 10 years and found that classes in music and voice at SF State helped her grow as a performer. Moran graduated Magna Cum Laude in fall 2009 and is considering a career as a teacher.


Graduate Studies, Health and Human Services: Michael Buckle

Photo of Michael Buckle A San Mateo Police sergeant, Mike Buckle recruited youth off the streets to join the Police Activities League. "I was very happy to find that physical activity can be used to teach youth personal and social responsibility." Buckle plans to use his degree in kinesiology and his master's thesis to turn more young lives around. For his thesis, Buckle designed and implemented a 28-week soccer program to diffuse the tensions between two rival street gangs. The results showed how participants gained more self-control and direction, leadership and respect for others. Buckle plans to pursue a doctoral degree in counseling to segue his law enforcement career into counseling troubled youth.


-- University Communications


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