CSU Voices and Views

Today We Make History

By Curtis Lee Ortega, Jr.
Vice President, United Student Pride
Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology, Class of 2014
Fresno State

Curtis Lee Ortega, Jr.

Curtis Lee Ortega, Jr.

Today, 17 Fresno State students will make history with our university’s inaugural Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) Commencement Celebration.

I am the chairperson of the committee that made this event a reality. I am honored and proud to be among those first 17 participating in our celebration.

This milestone represents a major step in our personal lives and the broader community. Fresno State prides itself on discovery, diversity and distinction and the presence of an LGBTQ graduation ceremony fittingly underscores that.

This celebration is a dream I pursued based on my own personal history. With poor grades and delinquent behavior, I was almost a high school dropout. Fortunately, I was accepted to a school that offered independent studies and was able to graduate even though I was heckled throughout my high school years for being openly gay. There was even heckling when they announced my name at the graduation ceremony. More …

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The CSU Is Our University

By Deacon John Wilson, III
West Angeles Church

Outreach professionals from Cal State L.A. prepare to answer questions following CSU Super Saturday at West Angeles Church

Outreach professionals from Cal State L.A. prepare to answer questions following CSU Super Saturday at West Angeles Church

California State University’s Super Sunday is an incredible partnership program where the CSU is invited into churches to talk about reaching and graduating from college. As important as this program is, it is simply the beginning of an effort that continues far beyond February.

Here at West Angeles Church we have the West Angeles Education & Enrichment Program – with increasing affordable college access for youth in the church and surrounding community as one of the goals. We mold this program in the educational vision of our Pastor and Bishop by matching youth and families to colleges of all types across the country. Every year, 45-55% of these youth place in a CSU. This year, nearly all our 12th grade students applied to CSU campuses. More …

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An Inspiring Month of Education

Throughout February, the California State University partnered with African American churches to deliver a message of access. That message was simple: a college degree is in reach. CSU outreach staff handed out roadmaps of classes to take. Speakers addressed overcoming obstacles in English and math. Questions about financial aid were answered.

This CSU Super Sunday provides a kick-off and renewal of year-round activities that constitute the CSU African American Initiative. These services are meant to inspire California’s students – and equally inspire those who represent the CSU by reminding us of our mission.

Below is a selection of photos from the CSU Super Sunday of February 2014.

CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White gets inspired at Saints Rest Missionary Baptist Church in Fresno.
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Super Sunday: Our Collective Stories

By William A. Covino
President, Cal State L.A.

Bishop Charles Blake welcomes President Covino to the pulpit at West Angeles Cathedral on Sunday, Feb. 23

Bishop Charles Blake welcomes President Covino to the pulpit at West Angeles Cathedral on Sunday, Feb. 23

Last Sunday was my first “Super Sunday” as the President of Cal State L.A. and I looked forward to joining with our community to discuss the importance of a college education – and help our young people identify pathways to success and a degree.

Super Sunday at the historic West Angeles Church was one of over 100 events that took place throughout California. This critical day of outreach represented the “kick-off” of many partnership efforts between the CSU African American Initiative and African American churches during the year. Since 2005, CSU Super Sunday efforts have more than quadrupled in size as CSU presidents, trustees, faculty and professional staff spend a day engaging with their communities. We are now reaching well over 100,000 African American students and families.

There is still much work to do in the African American community to reach out to students and families. That is why the CSU continues to be dedicated to providing access, financial aid, and an opportunity for a quality education for students from underserved populations. Super Sunday is one way we underscore this dedication. Especially as we’re reminded that the CSU’s outreach to the African-American community is not only about numbers on a page, or how many diplomas are awarded – although these are important benchmarks.

It’s about the sum of stories. Stories of students like:

Darnell Cates – a TV, Film and Media Studies major at Cal State L.A. who made it out of the foster care system and into college. Darnell grew up in a gang-infested neighborhood of Los Angeles and missed school a lot. Over a two-year period he bounced through six or seven foster homes. Eventually, he was adopted by Mary and Arthur Cates who helped Darnell realize his potential. And, from the first day he stepped onto the Cal State L.A. campus, Darnell knew he had already beaten the odds.
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Citizens for Tomorrow

By Horace Mitchell
President, CSU Bakersfield

President Mitchell and Chancellor White at CSU Super Sunday 2013

President Mitchell and Chancellor White at CSU Super Sunday 2013

The CSU African American Initiative is a partnership with African American churches and that partnership comes to life annually through a statewide event known as Super Sunday. Throughout February we celebrate CSU Super Sunday, a day which all members of the California State University family including the trustees, presidents, the chancellor, university executives, faculty and staff visit African American churches across the state to promote the value of a college education and the importance of early academic preparation.

When we began this initiative in February 2006, church leaders challenged us to make certain it would be both effective and sustained. We started with 11 churches in LA and 13 in northern California and this month we will be attending services and making presentations at more than 100 African American churches throughout California. More …

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Finding the Links through Linked Learning

By Felicia Anderson
Assistant Principal at David Starr Jordan High School
Doctoral Candidate at CSU Long Beach

Felicia Anderson with student in cap and gownEducation is about creating links – between facts, concepts, real world situations and people. I am so privileged for the links that I’ve been able to forge in my time as a doctoral candidate at Cal State Long Beach. The Doctor of Education program immediately combines the efforts of seasoned educators and researchers with new teachers who are earning a first-time credential. The result is a powerful blend of experience and energy. Foremost, results-based best practices and techniques are seamlessly introduced into teacher and administrator preparation. More …


Hear My Song

By Madeline Dow
Alumna of San Francisco State
Mother of Humboldt State and CSU East Bay Alumni

Update: Travis McKinley Dow Memorial Scholarship information and application available through the Humboldt Area Foundation. The scholarship supports students bound for Humboldt State University pursuing Theatre, Film, Art or Dance.

Travis Dow playing the guitar.

Travis Dow

On some level, as parents we hope our child’s life will reflect the values and interests we share with them. Losing a child reverses this desire. The parent now carries the legacy, building on the passions of the child. In my case, after losing my son, Travis, to cancer on his 41st birthday, I‘ve been left with the golden legacy of his music. 

In the midst of my grief, I have come to believe that he would want me to keep his great life passions alive: his love of music, performance, nature and adventure. Humboldt State embodied these passions. More …


We’ll miss you, Dr. Mehas

By Dr. Joseph I. Castro
President, Fresno State

President Castro looks on as Trustee Mehas addresses a Fresno State gathering

President Castro looks on as Trustee Mehas addresses a Fresno State gathering

We here at Fresno State are mourning the loss of one of our most distinguished alums, Dr. Peter G. Mehas, who dedicated his life to education at all levels. Pete was just days from his 74th birthday when he passed away unexpectedly on Sept. 27.

Pete was a loyal Bulldogs supporter throughout his life. After transferring from Fresno City College, he was a member of the undefeated 1961 Fresno State football team. Pete started his career as a teacher in Fresno and worked in various educational positions on the local, state and national levels. Since 2007, he served as a member of the California State University Board of Trustees.
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A New Perspective

By Erin Enguero
CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement
Trustee William Hauck Scholar
Kinesiology Student at San José State

Erin Enguero at the Salzburg Global Seminar

Erin Enguero at the Salzburg Global Seminar

Every time one embarks upon a new adventure, the world changes: one’s perspective, knowledge, and most poignantly, identity. Whether a particular experience is a celebrated success, or the latest challenge overcome, every moment in our lives teaches a valuable lesson that will affect our future choices and decisions, especially in the quest for a higher education. After becoming the CSU trustees’ first hard of hearing awardee in 2012, I met many peers that helped me realize that human beings have an incredible capacity for resilience. Despite the drawbacks we must overcome, we still have the courage to move forward and go beyond expected boundaries to find meaning in our lives by making a difference.  More …

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From Baseball Camp to College

By Carol Kiliany
IT Project Manager, CSU Chancellor’s Office
CSU Fullerton Alumna

Carol Kiliany’s son, David Garcia, with Dirtbag Camp coach Juan Favela (Cal State Long Beach graduate and former baseball player) whom David and the other kids call Big Bird

Carol Kiliany’s son, David Garcia, with Dirtbag Camp coach Juan Favela (Cal State Long Beach graduate and former baseball player) whom David and the other kids call Big Bird

My son, David, is getting a major boost toward college from current and former Cal State Long Beach student athletes who serve as coaches for youth learning the fundamentals of baseball. His love of the sport provides a gateway to developing connections and skills that will help him succeed in life.

Out on the field with David and others participating in the university’s Dirtbag Camp, the student athletes (coaches) often engage as peers. Yet, they are more than peers in critical ways. They are an example of what a young adult should be – someone who sets goals and seeks accomplishments on and off the field. They teach patience, discipline and teamwork in ways that few classroom exercises ever could. More …

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