FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SF State Office of Public Affairs & Publications
Release published by the Office of Public Affairs & Publications
stories of a few of SF State's 2007 graduates
May 23, 2007 -- San Francisco State University will confer degrees
on 8,041 students at its 106th Commencement at 12:15 p.m. Saturday,
May 26. Below you
will find selected stories of 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 Public Affairs and Publications at (415) 338-1665.
Tal Levy-Chen, from Israeli dancer to Oakland entrepreneur and Commencement
Tal Levy-Chen's business classes have proved to be more than of just
academic interest -- Levy-Chen already runs her own company, Food Tree.
Her healthy puffed-wheat product Whiffles is now sold in Bay Area markets such
as Mollie Stone's. The Oakland resident will be the student speaker at
Commencement and is also the hood recipient for the College of Business. A
native of Israel, Levy-Chen danced professionally, touring with a folk troupe
during her teenage years. After completing her mandatory service for the Israeli
Army, she moved to the U.S. to teach at a dance studio in Queens, New York.
She later moved to the West Coast, and enrolled at SF State.
Bryan Payne, giving peace a chance
French major Bryan Payne will put his language fluency and interest in
community development to work as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Kingdom
of Jordan. Payne continues a longstanding SF State tradition of Peace
Corps volunteerism: SF State ranks 16th nationwide for the number of
graduates who have served in the corps, for a total of 1,214 volunteers
since 1961. The Vallejo native has accepted an assignment working with
children with special needs. He departs for Jordan in July, and hopes
that, in addition to helping educate others, he will learn some Arabic.
Currently, 25 SF State grads are serving in 19 locations, in every Peace
Corps sector: agriculture, business development/IT, education, environment,
health and HIV/AIDS, and youth development.
Payne currently lives in San Francisco's Sunset
For Peace Corps information, contact Nathan Sargent, public affairs
specialist, Peace Corps San Francisco Regional Office at (510) 452-8446
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.
Heather Weigand (Behavioral and Social Sciences), helping the previously
Heather Weigand is a passionate advocate for former prisoners, especially
the wrongfully convicted. She is already working with New Jersey congressman
Donald Payne to pass legislation that would increase funding to help
the wrongfully convicted rebuild their lives, and working with California
assembly member Mark Leno on a State bill that would provide state funded
case services to exonerated men and women in California. It's a
passion born out of experience. After being incarcerated in the California
prison system, Weigand joined the Delancey Street recovery program and
two years later enrolled in the University through Project Rebound, which
supports former prisoners working on an education at SF State. "A
professor told me, 'If you want to create social change, you must
speak legalese'," she said. "I changed my major to
criminal justice that day." She currently lives in San Bruno and
plans on attending graduate school and continuing her advocacy and consulting
Kaur "Jeeti" Singh
(Creative Arts), questioning the popular depictions of women
Singh's artwork focuses on the media's depiction of women.
Born in Hong Kong with parents from Punjab her work is marked by a provocative
multi-cultural awareness that examines female sexuality. The Union City
resident wants to make a sociological statement with her work. "Women
are being sexualized at younger and younger ages," Singh said. "And
our generation deals with the highest degree of media influence ever."
Mirabai Oyao (Education), helping children communicate
Mirabai Oyao's education plans changed after her mother was diagnosed
with breast cancer, and Oyao left school to help care for her. She took
a job as a para-educator for a special-needs day class at Benicia Middle
School. Oyao is graduating with a degree in communicative disorders and
in the fall she will continue her studies at SF State, pursuing a master's
of science in speech language pathology. She can hardly wait. "I've
seen that helping children with language helps them with their emotional
and behavioral difficulties," she said. "This career combines
language and children. This is totally what I'm into."
Josue F. Revolorio
Illescas (Ethnic Studies), overcoming hardship with a passion for education
The 1976 Guatemalan earthquake that killed 30,000 left 13-year-old
Revolorio Illescas and his family homeless for a year and a half. Despite
this setback and a heart condition due to lack of medical care, he
made it to college. But after organizing student demonstrations against
his country's government he began to fear for his life when other
student leaders and friends were kidnapped or disappeared. Today the
Berkeley resident works with survivors of the Guatemalan civil war
and assists other nonprofit agencies as a Spanish tutor and translator.
He plans a teaching career.
Gustavo Macias Martinez (Health and Human Services), seeking to provide
refuge from harassment
In 1984 Oscar made the gut-wrenching decision to leave family, friends
and Mexican citizenship behind in Guadalajara to pursue a life free of
harassment over his sexual orientation. Today, Oscar works full-time
for the San Francisco Department of Public Health AIDS office. Previously
he worked a range of low-paying jobs as an undocumented immigrant before
finding the courage to seek political asylum in 1997. Macias Martinez,
who is proud to say that he organized the first ever Latino Gay Pride
Day in 2005, said he plans to take a year off from school to work, and
then pursue a master's degree in public health.
Brigitte Polianos (Humanities), finding her way back
The Nuremberg, Germany native who dreamed of living in California found
herself in San Francisco jobless, with limited in English, without
family or other personal support and no clear sense of who she was.
After a spiritual awakening she overcame personal setbacks, enrolled
in community college and handled a full-time job while attending SF
State where she will continue on to a master's degree in comparative
literature and teach. "People sometimes feel 'I can't
get an education because I have no money, I'm not smart enough'," Brigitte
said. "It's not true. If I can do it, anyone can."
Karen Chan (Science and Engineering), from the classroom to professional
After picking up her bachelor's degree, Chan will leap from the
classroom to National Semiconductor in a position often reserved for
engineers with PhDs. The South San Francisco native will begin her professional
career as a design engineer, improving the electrical power of cell phones,
laptops and other devices. "Engineering interests me because there's
always so much change," said Chan who also plans to pursue her
PhD. "It's an opportunity to innovate and constantly do something
Diana Marina (Graduate Studies), a bright future in biomedical research
Diana Marina is excited to be accepted into UC San Francisco's prestigious
Tertrad program, which combines courses and research in biochemistry, cell
biology, developmental biology and genetics. Marina hopes to become a research
professor and, like Biology Professor Leticia Marquez-Magana who served as
her role-model, to mentor minority women in science. Marina fled to the U.S.
from Indonesia with her parents at the age of 18 after a racially motivated
riot against the Chinese-Indonesian minority group in her native Jakarta. Because
she was the eldest daughter and had a few English skills, she struggled to
help her family navigate a new life in America. Marina lives in Hayward and
earned her undergraduate degree from Cal State East Bay.
Jessica Quan (Liberal Studies/Special Programs), focused on teaching
Jessica Quan entered SF State as a Presidential Scholar, the school's
highest undergraduate honor, and leaves as a hood recipient, the highest
honor for graduates. Along the way Quan never lost sight of her goal
-- to become a teacher. Quan grew up in San Carlos, raised by a Japanese
mother and Chinese father. Her early love for biology spilled over into
hobbies of gardening and landscape photography. She plans to continue
towards a teaching credential and hopes to work with fourth or fifth graders
because, as she notes, "That's when they get the foundation
for math and science." She also works as an SAT proctor, helps
moderate an online anime art community at minitokyo.net,
and is a member of the City College of San Francisco Dragon Boat rowing
TO EDITORS: Reporters who cover Commencement must contact the SF State
Office Public Affairs and Publications for media credentials. Please call
(415) 338-1665 prior to Commencement. Photos are available upon request.