College Diversity Council
Dr. Harsimran Baweja, School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, Doctor of Physical Therapy Program (he/him/his)
Dr. Harsimran Baweja, PT Ph.D., is a physical therapist by clinical trade, a neurophysiologist by research training, and a mad scientist by choice. The main effect of this unusual combination is pushing the boundaries of norms for academic curiosity. Dr. Baweja is an Associate Professor of Physical Therapy at San Diego State University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. Since AY 2018, in collaboration with the CSU Chancellor’s Office – Academic Technology Services, he has facilitated a California State University Systemwide endeavor (Common Interest Group) on Immersive learning that meets once a month. This initiative aims to support a community of faculty, technologists, and student enthusiasts to help provide students with experiences and activities beyond the current scope of the physical classroom. Through immersive exploration, discovery, context, focus, and access to leading-edge technologies, faculty and their students connect learning objectives to real-world problems. With an emphasis on eliminating achievement gaps, opportunities are presented to enhance and expand the academic repertoire of CSU students in all spheres – communication, mathematics, arts, technology, and science (SDSU Strategic Plan – We Rise, We Defy; CSU Graduation Initiative 2025). Fun Fact: Dr. Baweja is an avid motorcyclist. He has completed several solo motorcycle expeditions to the Arctic Ocean, Route 66, India, Europe, and Central America. The primary purpose of these expeditions is to provide freshwater supplies and medications (Motorrad Angels), meet the people, and learn about different cultures and lifestyles in the heart of each country. He recently led a group of riders to Sach Pass, one of the highest motorable passes in the Himalayas at 14500 ft.
Dr. Henrike Blumenfeld, School of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences (she/her/hers)
Dr. Blumenfeld is an associate professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. She received her BA in Linguistics from Bryn Mawr / Swarthmore Colleges in 2001 and her Ph.D. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Northwestern University in 2008. Dr. Blumenfeld coordinates the MA-level bilingual speech-language pathology certificate and bilingual specialization programs in SLHS and conducts research to examine how bilinguals across the lifespan and language disorders process language. Dr. Blumenfeld is committed to reducing equity gaps in the provision of speech and language services through her research on bilingualism and speech-language pathologists who are equipped to work with multilingual/multicultural clients. She currently serves on the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) committees for the College of Health and Human Services and the School of Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences.
Denise Lebsack, Ph.D., ATC, School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences (she/her/hers)
Dr. Lebsack came to San Diego State University in 1994. She is an associate professor in the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences and serves as the Athletic Training Program Director. As Program Director, she oversees the program’s academic and clinical aspects, ensuring student readiness to complete the degree requirements for eligibility to sit for the Board of Certification examination and work as a Certified Athletic Trainer. As a Hispanic Serving Institution, the demographics of the athletic training student population averages 48% Hispanic/Latinx; 13% Asian; 35% white; and 4% other. The bachelor’s in the athletic training program is currently transitioning to a Master of Science degree program in Athletic Training (MSAT) with an anticipated start date of Summer 2022. This is an exciting opportunity to build on the program’s 50+ year reputation and elevate the standard of education commensurate with the graduate degree. Dr. Lebsack was recently awarded the 2020 Faculty Forward Award for her innovative teaching adaptations during a pandemic; and the 2020 Outstanding Educator for the California Athletic Trainers’ Association. She is currently serving on the CHHS Diversity & Inclusion Council and enjoys learning about diversity and inclusion and how we can adopt equitable practices and community within our program and schools.
Dr. Susan Levy, School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences (she/her/hers)
Dr. Susan Levy is a professor at the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences at SDSU. She teaches the two core graduate courses taken by ENS students, Experimental Methods and Research Evaluation. Her research focuses on examining the effects of physical activity and sedentary behavior on physical function related to maintaining physical independence in older adults. She has conducted and evaluated multi-site exercise interventions to improve function in older adults with arthritis and evaluated the effects of the community-based exercise programs and interventions to reduce sedentary behavior on function related to activities of daily living. She was named a 2018 Public Health Champion by Live Well San Diego for her work with Aging and Independence Services of San Diego. A primary goal of her research is to improve outcomes related to maintaining physical independence in older adults and to address health disparities associated with aging. She currently serves as the Chair of the CHHS Diversity & Inclusion Council and the School of Exercise & Nutritional Sciences Diversity & Inclusion Committee.
Dr. Yawen Li, School of Social Work (she/her/hers)
Dr. Yawen Li received her master’s in social work from The University of Hong Kong and her Ph.D. in social work from the University of Southern California. She joined San Diego State University in 2009 and now is a tenured associate professor at the School of Social Work. Dr. Li has a training and research background in social work and behavioral sciences with research interests primarily focused on sociocultural and environmental determinants of health and health behaviors, including drinking, smoking, diet, physical exercise over the life course. She has been serving on the diversity and international committee at the school of social work. Currently, she serves on the DEI committees for the College of Health and Human Services.
Claire Norberg, College of Health and Human Services (she/her/hers)
Claire has been a staff member in the College of Health and Human Services Dean’s Office since January 2007 and is currently an Analyst/Specialist. In her role, she works closely with staff, faculty, and students and enjoys the varied work she does in her administrative and student service roles. Claire is also an SDSU alumna and a current master’s student studying Environmental Health, interested in environmental justice. Fun fact: Claire has ridden motorcycles on numerous occasions with Dr. Baweja, and while not nearly as avid a rider (she prefers to sit on the back), she, too, loves the pursuit of adventure, travel and learning about new cultures around the world.
Dr. Humberto Parada, School of Public Health (he/him/his)
Dr. Parada is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Epidemiology & Biostatistics in the SDSU School of Public Health (SPH). He received his BS in Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles, his MPH in Epidemiology from San Diego State University, and his Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Parada is trained as a cancer and molecular epidemiologist, which he applies to identifying and understanding the environmental, behavioral, and genetic determinants of cancer development and survival. The goal of his research is to inform risk reduction strategies to reduce the national and international burden of cancer. As a first-generation San Diego native and Latino professor, Dr. Parada is committed to advancing the science of cancer research to reduce health disparities and to the development and training of students. Dr. Parada currently serves as a CHHS College Diversity Council member and on the SPH Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.
Esmeralda Sanchez, School of Public Health (she/her/hers/ella)
Esmeralda Sanchez is an Academic Advisor for Public Health, Social Work, and Gerontology. She graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in Sociology and an MA in Leadership and Student Affairs. Esmeralda has called SDSU my home for over 12 years. In all her years at SDSU, she witnessed so much growth and positive change and is proud to be part of this institution. As a Latinx woman, Esmeralda felt like she doesn’t always belong or that she has someone who looks like her that she can look up to. Esmeralda knows how vital it is to continue to develop more diverse and inclusive environments for students, faculty, and staff to ensure that they can also feel like SDSU is their home. She is proud to be part of such efforts.
Wendy Sandoval, School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences (she/her/hers/ella)
Wendy Sandoval serves as an Administrative Support Coordinator I for the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences (ENS) since 2016. She received her B.S. in Apparel Design and Merchandising from California State University Northridge in 2008. Wendy provides support to ENS faculty and students while providing a welcoming environment. She is the go-to person for the ENS’s social media platform and the school website providing a presence by showcasing the school’s accomplishments, opportunities, and events to the SDSU community. Wendy is the coordinator for the SDSU Athletic Training Program, manages several student awards such as the Students Success Fee and IRA works closely with student organizations within ENS and handles any tasks that come her way. She currently serves on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council for the College for Health and Human Services. Wendy sees it as a chance to develop a safer, equal, and more diverse environment for faculty, staff, and students. In Wendy’s free time, she enjoys hiking, trying out new food, watching movies, and spending time with her family and friends.
Sylvia Telafaro, School of Social Work (she/her/hers)
Sylvia has been a part of the Administrative staff in the SDSU School of Social Work for 18 years. She is a poet, storyteller, fiction writer, president of The African American Writers and Artist, an all-volunteer Cultural Arts organization in San Diego. Sylvia is a grassroots social justice activist. She has had poems published in two Social Work Journals and one Social Work Reader for the SW 350 course.