CSU Voices and Views

Posts tagged with Alumni

A Music and Technology Pioneer

James Williamson
Cal Poly Pomona Alumnus
Sony Executive
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee

James Williamson joined the legendary protopunk band Iggy & the Stooges in 1970. A few years later, he gave up playing music professionally to pursue a career in electronics. Williamson went on to attend Cal Poly Pomona, where he graduated in 1982 with a degree in electrical engineering. He got a job at a computer company in Silicon Valley, and later worked his way up the corporate ladder at Sony to become Vice President of Technical Standards.

In 2010, Williamson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2014, he was inducted into Cal Poly Pomona’s Engineering Hall of Fame—he says the honor is just as big.

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Serving Student Veterans

(Left to right) Director of Veterans Services Marshall Thomas, Student Veteran Mike Wang, President Jane Close Conoley, and Student Veterans Wendy Lewis and Andrew Meats at Cal State Long Beach’s Veterans Day Ceremony on November 7, 2014. {photo credit: David Nelson}

By Marshall Thomas
Director of Veterans Services
Cal State Long Beach

I’m often asked how many veterans we have on campus. An accurate number is hard to come up with because some veterans prefer to “fly under the radar” and not disclose their veteran status. With just over 500 self-identified student veterans, we have a community of students small enough to be overlooked. One of my missions is to make sure that doesn’t happen.

These days we hear a lot about veterans. News stories and academic articles focus so much on the mental health and overall wellness of veterans, it’s easy to get the impression that most are struggling with PTSD and traumatic injuries of the brain, body or spirit. Most of the research suggests that between 20 and 30 percent of veterans who deployed to a combat area experience one or more of these, and the results can have profound impacts on academic performance and social integration. Having services in place to provide support for affected student veterans should be a central part of every campus’s mission.
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Music Opening the Doors to Education

James Van Buren (front row, middle) with members of the Grant High Drum Line after performing at the Medi-Cal event at the State Capitol in June 2013.

James Van Buren (front row, middle) with members of the Grant High Drum Line after performing at the Medi-Cal event at the State Capitol in June 2013.

By James Van Buren
Sac State, Cal Poly Pomona Alumnus

You don’t really understand the power of music until you see it firsthand save someone’s life.  When I received my degree from Cal Poly Pomona and later my credential from Sac State, I went on to teach in some of the most challenging environments. I worked at economically disadvantaged schools that were located in communities ridden with poverty and crime. Some of my students have been emotionally disturbed<Many have been academically challenged and unable to grasp the concept of learning.

I knew I had to create a unique and innovative teaching strategy to reach these kids. I took the concepts I learned at the CSU and made them my own to fit my environment. By integrating the idea of multiple intelligences—which states that students possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn in different ways— into my strategy, I was able to use their gift for music to help them become motivated in school and perform better academically.
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A Call to Public Service

By Steven Avila
CSU Monterey Bay Alumnus
Special Assistant, Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, US Department of the Interior

When I transferred from community college to CSU Monterey Bay in 2009, I thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life: I would study business, graduate and move up to Silicon Valley or New York to pursue a life of big deals and enterprise.

But later that year, the most incredible opportunity flashed into my student inbox and it changed my life forever.

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CSU Stanislaus Reconnects With ‘Golden Grads’

By Lisa McMullen
Director of Alumni Relations
CSU Stanislaus

Lisa McMullen

Lisa McMullen

The memory of graduation day, walking across the stage to the sound of Pomp and Circumstance with family members in attendance, is one graduates hold close for years after commencement. The feeling that accompanies the great accomplishment of obtaining a college degree ranks high with other significant lifetime achievements.

At CSU Stanislaus, we are welcoming our esteemed alumni and their families back to our beautiful campus — for some, a campus that was not yet fully developed at the time of their graduation. This year, alumni from the Class of 1964 will remember their graduation day as our Golden Grads, with an invitation to be recognized by President Joseph F. Sheley at our commencement ceremonies.
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Inspiring Future Generations

Dr. Joely Proudfit (Luiseño)
Director, California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center
CSU San Marcos Director of Native American Academic Strategic Planning and Native Studies

Graduating students and tribal leaders with Proudfit (fourth from left) and CSUSM President Karen Haynes

Graduating students and tribal leaders with Proudfit (fourth from left) and CSUSM President Karen Haynes

This is my sixth year at Cal State San Marcos, both as a professor and as the coordinator of the American Indian Honoring Ceremony. This year’s ceremony was gratifying for me because I am proud to have seen the recruitment and retention levels of American Indian students increase over the last six years; but particularly special because I have come to advise and know well many of the graduates. More …

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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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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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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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