A Year of Achievements

Viejas ArenaIt has been an exciting year for the college! So many things have come to fruition over the last few months that should be included in this newsletter, but writing in details about each one would fill more pages than are available. So, here is a short list of this year’s accomplishments.

  • On Saturday, May 13, CHHS held its commencement ceremony. Some 1,500 students received degrees from the college.
  • After recently receiving approval, the School of Public Health will now offer an online Master’s degree through the College of Extended Studies.
  • SLHS joint doctoral program in Language and Communicative Disorders between UCSD and SDSU recently underwent a review and received stellar commentary, particularly with respect to the SDSU faculty engagement and the clinical opportunities afforded students at SDSU.
  • The college has received approval of specific courses in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences (SLHS) for students to take through the College of Extended Studies and meet prerequisites for entry into graduate study.
  • The American Nurses Credentialing Center reported that the 2016 pass rates for students graduating from the Adult/Geriatric Nurse Practitioner/Clinical Nurse Specialist program were 100% and their scores were well above the national aver- ages for each subsection. Congratulations to Dr. Lorraine Fitzsimmons and the faculty teaching in this program.
  • The VA San Diego Medical Center’s VA Learning Opportunities Residency (VALOR) program has selected three SDSU School of Nursing students for this prestigious program. Students are Dylan Shaba, Stephanie Alexander, and Kelly Gallagher. This is a highly competitive program with only seven total VALOR spaces and SDSU received three of the
  • A Binational Social Work Conference was held in March in Tijuana, B.C., Mexico and was organized by Dr. Silvia Barragan of the School of Social Work and supported through Student Success Fees and the Presidential Leadership Funds.
  • The 3rd annual Speech-Language Awareness and Information Day hosted by SDSU and SLHS was held in May. This event raises awareness about speech and language disorders, and community resources available for individuals with speech and language disorders, their families, and other allied professionals (speech-language pathologists, occupational and physical therapists, psychologists).
  • Helena Hoyt
    Helena Hoyt
  • Helina Hoyt was accepted as a 2017-18 California State University Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program Scholar. Ms. Hoyt is the coordinator of the Nursing program at the Imperial Valley campus and was a recipient of this prestigious award based upon her promise as a doctoral student and her interest in competing for future tenure track faculty openings in the California State University system.
  • Guadalupe “Suchi” Ayala, Associate Dean of Research Affairs, received the “Biomedical Research Exemplar” award as part of the Research Exemplar Project
  • John Elder (33 years at SDSU) received the Senate Excellence in Teaching Award for his research in under-served populations.
  • Ken Nakamura will be inducted into the California Social Work Hall of Distinction in October 2017. A well-deserved honor for his 30+ years as a social worker and his work as the Coordinator of the Title IV E program at SDSU.
  • Ken Nakamura
    Ken Nakamura
  • The Third Annual Executive Summit for Social Work was held at the 2-1-1 building in April. About 10 county and non-profit executives/CEOs presented on a panel and at round table discussions. All are members of the School of Social Work’s Advisory Board. About 60 students and social work practitioners attended.
  • To date, CHHS grants and contracts procured for the year total approximately $23 million. The college has established a rich tradition of research excellence and is building on its achievements with distinction. The college continues to be a leader at SDSU in grant and contract funding.
  • The college has hired six new tenure track faculty in the schools of nursing and public health. One of these tenure track faculty hires was a “Building on Inclusive Excellence” hire, focused upon hiring diverse faculty – only four of these faculty positions were available for the campus.

Development Office

Thank You for Making Us All Aztec Proud

Rebecca Williamson
Rebecca Williamson,
Development Officer

The end of the fiscal year (June 30) also marks the end of The Campaign for SDSU. The campaign, a first for SDSU, was started seven years ago with an initial goal of $500 million. As that goal was reached, the campaign was extended to reach $750 million. And, in the end, we raised over $800 million dollars to support the students, faculty, programs and campus of SDSU. CHHS raised over $21,000,000 for student scholarships, program support, research support and facilities support

THANK YOU to all of our donors! With gifts both large and small, we have sur- passed our wildest dreams of success. Along the way, all of us in development have been delighted to meet alumni and learn about their journeys after they left SDSU. We have also met wonderful community members and corporate executives who were not originally part of the Aztec family but support our vision for the future and are now “honorary Aztecs.”

“The Campaign for SDSU has redefined this university,” said Mary Ruth Carleton, Vice President for University Relations and Development. “Our students compete at the highest levels in the academic arena. They are leaders, innovators and change agents on this campus and in their post-graduation lives.” SDSU President Elliot Hirshman said, “The Campaign for SDSU has changed the course and trajectory of our campus forever. Our success in raising more than $750 million for students, faculty and programming sends a powerful message about the commitment, resolve and potential of the SDSU community.”

Again, a huge thank you to everyone who has helped us achieve this dream!

Introducing Stacy Carota

Stacy Carota
Stacy Carota, Senior Director of Development, (619) 594-2324, scarota@sdsu.edu

Stacy Carota is the Senior Director of Development for the Colleges of Sciences and Health and Human Services at SDSU. She is responsible for providing leadership, strategic direction, management and coordination of major gift fundraising activities to support student scholarships, scientific research and facilities. Previously, Stacy was the Director of Development for Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Director of Development for the NTC Foundation Arts and Cultural District; Development and Communications Officer at Sharp HealthCare Foundation. In addition, Stacy is active in many volunteer efforts, including the Association of Fundraising Professionals, The Herb Klein Leadership Series, San Diego Foundation Center for Civic Engagement, San Diego American Heart Association, and Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Doris A. Howell Foundation.



Letter from the Dean

Dear Friends – alumni, donors, faculty

Larry Verity

As happens with many academic years, I cannot believe that this one has come to a close so quickly. As Interim Dean, I have fully enjoyed working in this role for the college and have gained a broader understanding of the schools, college, and university. I want to express my appreciation for the support that the Dean’s office staff have provided, along with the important relationships developed among our five schools and their directors.

Now that the spring 2017 term has ended, I would like to highlight a number of accomplishments that have shaped our college over the past few months of this spring term. They are too many to list here, so they can be found in the feature article on page 1 of this issue of the Pulse.

The search for the new dean for the college is ongoing. At this time it seems that a new dean will not be in place with the start of the next school year and I am delighted to remain interim dean until a new dean is selected.

Within the past several weeks, our Director of Development, Breanna Weeks, has separated from the university. While we will miss her unique development engagement with CHHS, I would like to welcome Stacy Carota as our new Senior Director of Development. I look forward to working with Stacy to build on our development successes.

I have enjoyed this past year as Interim Dean. I encourage all faculty, staff, students, donors/supporters, and alumni to stop in and say ‘hello’ if you are near my office. Certainly, I appreciate the efforts that everyone puts forth to continue to make CHHS one of the best of colleges on this campus!!

Best Regards,

Larry S. Verity, Interim Dean



Outstanding Aztecs

Students, Faculty and Staff Recognized for a Variety of Achievements

The spring is awards season at SDSU. As in past years, CHHS students, faculty and staff were well represented among those recognized. Here are just a few awardees:

President’s Leadership Fund awards

plf group
From left: Amanda Etter, Marc Pastor (representing James Frazee), Stephanie Brodine, Brittnie Bloom, Jessica Barlow, Kathy McCarty-Baker and President Elliot Hirshman

The President’s Leadership Fund (PLF) honors the achievements of faculty and staff members. SDSU President Elliot Hirshman said, “Today, we recognize faculty and staff members whose innovative work benefits our entire campus and our broader society.”

Jessica Barlow is the director of the Sage Project and a professor in the School of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. Barlow coordinates the Sage Project’s partnerships with local communities and works with faculty members from more than two dozen departments across campus to ensure the success of the program’s initiatives. In the past three years, more than 2,400 students have taken on real-life challenges through the transformational learning opportunities offered by the Sage Project. Under Barlow’s supervision, the Sage Project has partnered with National City, Santee, San Diego and Tijuana. A partnership with Lemon Grove is in the works for the 2016-17 academic year.

Stephanie Brodine, M.D., is a professor and head of the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. She has worked closely with NIH to assist with the launch of the Ebola vaccine trial in Liberia. She is also on the front lines of HIV/AIDS research and clinical trials in Uganda. Dr. Brodine oversees a public health program that enables students to apply what they learn in the classroom to real-life situations in poor, rural areas of Mexico.

Kathy McCarthy-Baker is an instructor in the Adaptive Fitness Clinic. Her work to increase the clinic’s outreach in the community has resulted in at-capacity enrollment. McCarthy-Baker also initiated an SDSU STRIVE crowd funding campaign for the clinic. She has fostered relationships with coaches across the country and is currently working to establish the Aztec Adaptive Sports Program to provide equal access to sports pro- grams to athletes with physical disabilities.

Student Research Symposium Winners

accepting awardNearly 500 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students across 70 majors and disciplines recently showcased their original research, scholarship projects and creative activities at San Diego State University as part of the university’s 10th annual Student Research Symposium. CHHS was well represented among the award winners:

Kinesiology graduate student Hedaya Rizeq, with mentor Harsimran Baweja, presented, Let’s talk about secs: Gender differences in distracted driving. The research won a president’s award. In addition to a $500 award, Hedaya will now represent SDSU at the 31st Annual California State University Student Research Competition.

Nursing students Samantha Iribe, Cassidy Herbst, and Lauren Wren won the Provost’s award with their poster Empowering Nursing Confidence and Competence in CHF Patient Education. Helina Hoyt and Beverly Carlson were their mentors.

Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences students also won awards. Sim Quinzon, mentored by Henrike Blumenfeld, presented, Specific Purpose English and won a Library award. A Provost’s award went to Kiara Caber, Voice Onset Time of Voiceless Plosives by English Monolingual Speakers. Her mentor was Jessica Barlow. Alyssa Campos won an Undergraduate Research Excellence Award for Translation Equivalents and Code-Switching in Bilingual Preschoolers. She worked with advisor Margaret Friend.

Emily Greenstadt, a second year Health Promotion and Behavioral Science student, presented her thesis research and received the Dean’s Award for her work. Her oral presentation was titled ’Helping people…having them leave better than when they came in, even though I am totally ripping out their pubic hair:’ Findings from The Sexual Health and Esthetician Study.’

Student Research Recognition

Erin Smolak is a third year student in the Joint Doctoral Program in Language and Cognitive Disorders (JDP-LCD). She successfully competed in the preliminary, semi- finals, and final rounds of the UC San Diego Grad Slam Competition with her talk, Out of the Mouths of Babes: Child Language and the Economy.

Brittany Lee and Gabriela Meade, both JDP-LCD students, presented their poster at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society meeting in San Francisco in March. The presentation was titled, Phonological and semantic priming in American Sign Language: An ERP Study.

Steven Zamora, a first year Masters of Public Health student in Epidemiology, has received a summer research award as part of the Cancer Epidemiology Education in Special Populations (CEESP) Program. CEESP is based at the College of Public Health University of Nebraska Medical Center, and funds MPH and PhD students conducting cancer epidemiology research in minority populations within the U.S. and abroad. For his CEESP project, Steven will work with his local mentor, Dr. Caroline Thompson, GSPH Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, and research collaborators from Stanford University School of Medicine, to study patterns of cancer burden by specific Hispanic American ethnicity.

Congratulations to ENS undergraduate student Jamie Zinn who was awarded the American Kinesiology Association Undergraduate Scholar Award for SDSU. She was mentored by Katrina Maluf. Mason Hearn was awarded the American Kinesiology Association Graduate Scholar Award. His mentor was Harsimran Baweja.

Staff and Faculty Recognition

Two ENS faculty were recently honored by the Far West Athletic Training Association. Lecturer Robbie Bowers (’86) received an Excellence in Athletic Training Award. Adjunct professor Carolyn Peters received a Hall of Fame Award. This award recognizes dedicated members who have spent countless hours as an athletic trainer, mentoring students and athletes as well as volunteering their personal time to advance the Athletic Training profession. Martin Luther King High School’s Michael West notes “Carolyn sets herself apart from other Athletic Trainers in California through her passion for the profession and commitment to being a strong leader.“

Assistant Dean Jessica Robinson was awarded the William E. Piland Outstanding Postsecondary Educational Leadership Student Award. The Bill Piland Award was created in 2002 to honor the service and accomplishments of Dr. Bill Piland. The recipient of the award, chosen by peers, must be an inspiring educator, an accomplished scholar, a respected leader, and a compassionate servant leader.

School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences

Becoming a Registered Dietitian Takes Hard Work in the Didactic Program for Dietitians

student dietitiansSome 120 undergraduate students, and 16 graduate students, are studying to become registered dietitians in the Didactic Program for Dietitians (DPD). This program, part of the Foods and Nutrition department of ENS, is required to become a registered dietitian. Registered dietitians are also required to pass a licensing exam, complete 1,200 hours of internship and take continuing education courses throughout their careers. While there is no uniform requirement to practice as a nutritionist, only those who have satisfied these requirements may call themselves registered dietitians.

DPD students participate in the program during the last 3 semesters of their degree and take specialized classes covering medical nutritional therapy, professional responsibilities and ethics, counseling, education, and communication skills. As with many other programs within CHHS, the emphasis is on evidence-based practice and a high degree of professionalism and there is a substantial emphasis in “learning by doing.” In addition to coursework, DPD students also engage in clinical experience, community volunteer work, research or leadership in the Student Nutritional Organization. Many also have food service work experience. The program’s goal, according to director Joan Rupp, is to “produce well-rounded experienced graduates who will be competitive in the internship process.” The program is working on expanding their collaboration opportunities with other programs within CHHS to increase student’s experience in working in teams and to provide a broader understanding of the “big picture” to consider for each patient.

There are approximately 250 internship sites nationwide, and about as many DPD pro- grams, so competition to land an internship spot is fierce. On average, about 40% of a program’s graduates get internships, but for SDSU students the figure is significantly higher – about 75% each year.

The SDSU program is one of the top-ranked programs in the country and its graduates go on to jobs in a wide variety of placements. Approximately 40% of the graduates work in a hospital or other traditional health care setting. Some use the strong science back- ground as a springboard to becoming nurse practitioners or physician’s assistants. Some go on to more creative careers as dieticians to celebrities, musicians, or professional athletes. One alumna works with the US Olympic rowing team. They write books and blogs, help identify healthy dining options, or work with school nutrition programs. Private practice areas include working with patients with disordered eating or helping couples overcoming infertility by having a strong nutritional program. Rupp notes, “It is a career area where you can combine what you do with what you love.”

Adaptive Fitness Clinic Founder Honored

Dr. Aufsesser with his award plaque.

Dr. Peter Aufsesser is an emeritus professor in the School of Exercise & Nutritional Sciences. He retired in 2015 after 40 years at SDSU.

On April 24, 2017, Dr. Aufsesser was honored as the Founder and Director of the Adaptive Fitness Clinic. Dr. Aufsesser founded the Clinic in 1983 and served as its director for 28 years. The Clinic was originally called the Fitness Clinic for Individuals with Disabilities.

At the clinic’s annual end of year party, Dr. Aufsesser received a gift and was presented with a plaque with his likeness that will hang in the Adaptive Fitness Clinic. Many former and current faculty and staff members from the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, as well as clinic clients, attended the event.

While at SDSU, Dr. Aufsesser received many university and professional awards, including:

  • Monty Award (2004) as the outstanding faculty in the College
  • President’s Leadership Award (2009) for his work in the community
  • Channel 10 Leadership Award twice
  • Adapted Physical Educator of the Year (1991)
  • Pioneer Award (2003) and Exemplary Program Award (2005) from the National Conference on Physical Education for Exceptional Individuals.
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Association Program Provider of the Year award (2009)
  • Inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame (2012) for his national leader- ship work with aquatic programs for individuals with disabilities
ens group
Current and retired faculty congratulated Dr. Ausfesser.

In retirement, Dr. Aufsesser raises funds for homeless children through the It’s All About the Kids Foundation and volunteers to teach third grade math.

Since its founding, the clinic has grown to assist more than 300 individuals each year, providing customized fitness pro- grams. ENS students provide one-on-one assistance to the clients, providing practical experience for students while helping clients achieve their fitness goals.



School of Public Health

Professor John Elder Receives Teaching Award

John ElderPublic health professor Dr. John Elder was honored with the University Senate’s annual Teaching Excellence Award in April. The award recognizes the exemplary contributions SDSU teacher-scholars have made to the education of students.

Dr. Elder arrived at SDSU in 1984 to join the faculty at the newly opened Graduate School of Public Health, after a stint as a non-tenure-track research professor at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.  As the director of the Institute for Behavioral and Community Health (IBACH), he recognized that San Diego’s Latino community was being overlooked in national conversations on public health, so he endeavored to learn more about the people in his new city. He learned Spanish from auditing SDSU classes and reading newspapers from Tijuana. And, critically, he won a grant from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“Instead of saying, ‘These are the things the community needs,’ the grant allowed him to ‘Go and find out the needs of the community,’” Elder said. With the help of one of his first graduate students, Gregory Talavera, Elder spent a year meeting with community members, assessing their nutritional needs, school lunch programs and cooking habits. The two also identified the cultural barriers to implementing health programs and opportunities to integrate culture into interventions. Armed with this knowledge, Elder applied for and was awarded funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which helped him grow the university’s public health program. NIH has consistently supported his work ever since, making him one of the university’s most highly funded researchers.

When Elder arrived at SDSU, nearly every public health graduate student was Caucasian—a poor reflection of the city’s ethnic diversity. Hoping to diversify the students in the program, he placed a special emphasis on recruiting students who were bilingual, had multicultural experiences and deep knowledge of the local community. It paid off. Within a few years, Latino students were well-represented in the GSPH. “When you have people who look like you, who speak your language, who have names that sound like yours, it’s much less intimidating to enter and succeed in a graduate program,” Elder says.

Currently he teaches a graduate-level health communication course. After 33 years at SDSU, he’s still looking for ways to keep the curriculum fresh and relevant. If you visit his class today, you’ll likely find students developing and analyzing their own social media–based campaigns. The majority of the course materials are found on a Tumblr page.

Dr. Elder’s intense commitment to the San Diego community and SDSU students has earned him the respect of many students over the years. He has inspired many of his students to pursue careers in public health. His first graduate student, Gregory Talavera, went on to become a medical doctor and is a respected public health researcher at SDSU in his own right.  The president and CEO of North County Health Services, Irma Cota, earned her master of public health from SDSU. So did City of San Diego Commissioner April Riel. Hundreds of public health professionals working in clinics and health organizations throughout the county cut their teeth at SDSU—all under the tutelage of psychologist and behavioral scientist John Elder. If history is any guide, a few of these students might return to teach a new generation of the university’s students. Four SDSU professors—Talavera, Guadalupe X. “Suchi” Ayala, Susan Woodruff and Noe Crespo—all took classes taught by Elder. A fifth, Elva Arredondo, worked with Elder as a postdoctoral scholar.

“Dr. Elder has provided invaluable support in my development as a scientist,” says Arredondo, who studies health disparities in the GSPH. “He not only facilitated my involvement in large scale research projects, but also helped me explore my research interests.” His legacy as a teacher, researcher and mentor resounds throughout SDSU’s and San Diego’s communities, adds Ayala, associate dean for research in the College of Health and Human Services and the current director of IBACH.

“One of the most important attributes that Dr. Elder brings as a teacher and mentor is his ability to see every student’s individual potential and to raise their sights for what might be possible for themselves, their families and their communities,” Ayala says. “He is among the most important reasons why many of us are here and remain at SDSU.”

President Hirshman to Leave SDSU

SDSU President Elliot Hirshman announced in March that he has accepted the presidency of Stevenson University in Maryland. His last day at SDSU will be June 30. Hirshman has served as the president of SDSU since 2011.

During Hirshman’s time as president, SDSU has raised its profile as a major public research university. SDSU ranks in the top 10 for students studying abroad and for ethnic and economic diversity and the university is recognized nationally for increasing retention and graduation rates.

Under Hirshman’s leadership, SDSU has implemented an integrated budget and financial strategy, created a new strategic plan, established and endowed the Susan and Stephen Weber Honors College, and built and remodeled facilities across campus.

California State University Chancellor Timothy White has appointed Sally Roush as interim president of SDSU. Roush has served in various capacities at SDSU for 31 years. She initially joined SDSU in 1982 as Director of Personnel Services and was promoted to Senior Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs in 1994. She served in this role until she retired in 2014. Roush led the steering committee for SDSU’s strategic plan “Building on Excellence” which will be in its final year when Roush assumes the interim role.



School of Nursing

Increasing Understanding of Mental Health Among Korean-American Adolescents

Minjeong KimProfessor Minjeong Kim joined the School of Nursing faculty in 2016, after completing her doctorate in nursing at the University of California San Francisco. She was born in South Korea and earned her bachelors and masters in nursing from Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea, where she also served on the faculty. In the US she was a RN at the Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Clinic, an LGBTQ health center. She teaches psychiatric nursing to SDSU undergraduate nursing students. She enjoys her specialty as it involves the whole patient perspective and includes working with the patient’s family and community. Her research interest is in understanding mental health issues of Korean-American adolescents.

Dr. Kim was interested in the impact of acculturation (adjustment to a new culture), friendships and personality traits on the mental health of these teens. Korean-Americans are the fifth largest Asian American subgroup and have a recent immigration history. More than 80% of Korean American teens are first or second generation Americans, making the group an ideal one to study. Because there are significant cultural differences between Korea and America, these teens may have a higher risk for mental health issues. However, there have been few studies concentrated on this group of adolescents.

Korean-American teens were recruited from a variety of places around the San Francisco Bay area. They took a self-administered questionnaire to determine mental health status, friendships, acculturation levels and various personality traits. She found that acculturation had a minimal impact on predicting mental health problems. Having close friend- ships also did not impact mental health, although Dr. Kim notes that they only looked at mental health as a whole, while the presence or absence of friendships might only impact one aspect of mental health, for example depression. Among personality traits, openness to new experiences and agreeableness both impacted mental health and youth who were more agreeable or more open to new experiences experienced fewer mental health issues.

Dr. Kim is looking forward to continuing her research now that she has settled into her role at SDSU. She hopes to study a larger number of youth so that she can study different aspects of mental health separately, as well as studying each aspect in more depth.

Director Greiner Joins Nat’l Board of Directors

Dr. Greiner has been elected to the board of directors for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, based in Washington, D.C. In this role, he will help shape the future of nursing education nationally. “Having SDSU featured so prominently on this national stage benefits our university, nursing, faculty, and students by increasing our name recognition and our involvement in decisions that guide academic nursing for the immediate future,” Greiner said.




School of Social Work

Social Work Crosses Borders

In March, a committee of students from SDSU School of Social Work, Escuela de Trabajo Social in Tijuana, and social work professionals from both sides of the border held a bi- national conference under the title of The Socio-Political Context of the US-Mexico Border. The organizing committee proclaimed, “This conference is our first step in creating a binational human bridge of social work students and social service professionals.” The event was held at Centro Cultural Tijuana (CECUT) and was sold out. To accommodate those who couldn’t attend in person, it was also live-streamed. Professor Silvia Barragan lead the SDSU committee.

social work crosses bordersThe day featured a variety of speakers, including

  • Heriberto Garcia Garcia, Professor of Human Rights Studies at Universidad Autonoma de Baja California. He graduated from the Autonomous University of Baja California School of Law in Tijuana, where he has remained as faculty & taught classes in Criminal Law, Criminology, Constitutional Law and Human Rights for more than 24 years.
  • Sonia Nazario, author of Enrique’s Journey. Nazario is an award-winning journalist whose stories have tackled some of this country’s most intractable problems — hunger, drug addiction, immigration — and have won some of the most prestigious journalism and book awards.
  • Amarela Varela, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Sociology and Communication at Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México. She wrote the book, The Right to Remain and to Pertain: A Sociology of the Migrant Struggle. Dr. Varela has focused most of her research on the mobility and organization of migrants in a capitalist context.
  • group in TijuanaDelia Avila Suarez, Director of DIF Municipal Tijuana. Suarez is a licensed social worker, with a specialization in organizations development. Her work focuses on the protection of children who are working and/or living in the streets of Tijuana.
  • Victor Clark Alfaro, Anthropologist and Director of the Binational Center for Human Rights in Tijuana. He has been studying human smuggling patterns across the U.S.-Mexico Border for more than 20 years. He has also worked extensively to defend the rights of the indigenous Mixteca and LGBTQ community in Tijuana.
  • Alex Stepick, Ph.D, Professor in the Department of Sociology at Portland State University. His most recent book, Crossing the Water and Keeping the Faith, is a historical and ethnographic study of Haitian religion in immigrant communities, based on fieldwork in both Miami and Haiti.Dolores Paris Pombo, Ph.D, Professor Cultural Studies at El Colegio de la Frontera. Her primary research focuses on migration, human rights, violence, power relations, racism, and inter-ethnic relations. She has published three books and over 60 articles and chapters in Spanish, French and English.
  • Hugo Castro, Board Member of Borders Angels. Border Angels is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that advocates for human rights, humane immigration reform, and social justice with a special focus on issues related to issues related to the US-Mexico border.
  • Nora Phillips, JD, Phillips & Urias, LLP. Phillips is an immigration attorney in Los Angeles, California, and is the founding partner of her law firm, Phillips & Urias, LLP. Nora also serves as Legal Director of Al Otro Lado.

There were panels from the US and México, comprised of academics, activists and providers that discussed the intricate world of migration. There were also short films, poetry and art about life on either side of the border.

The committee said, “Our hope is you will leave the Binational Social Work Conference with a better understanding of the Socio-political impact of the US-Mexico border. “

The successful event was made possible in part by grants from the Student Success Fee and the Presidential Leadership Fund.



School of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Somali adults achieveSDSU Helps Somali Adults Achieve Self-Sufficiency

A unique English as a Second Language curriculum has been developed by SDSU faculty and students in the SLHS to improve the communication skills of seniors with limited English proficiency. The curriculum was recently adapted for seniors from Somalia, among the most recent immigrant groups to settle in San Diego.

Professor Henrike Blumenfeld is leading the effort through her Bilingualism and Cognition Lab. The ESL curriculum consists of thematically organized binders with visual cues and an iPad app that has been translated into Somali. The project is a partnership between SDSU and Somali Family Service of San Diego (SFS), a community organization that helps Somali and other East African families become self-sufficient, independent and contributing members of the San Diego community.

The first cohort of Somali seniors started the weekly program in September 2016 with assistance from a team of bilingual SFS staff as well as undergraduate and graduate students supported by a mini-grant for undergraduate research from SDSU’s Division of Undergraduate Studies. All the Somali participants have attended the classes, and their English-speaking skills have improved markedly, according to SFS staff. Student researchers from the Bilingualism and Cognition Lab presented a poster on the project at the Student Research Symposium.

“The seniors said they learned a lot more from this ESL curriculum than they ever had in previous adult ESL classes due to the one-to-one assistance and the focus on functional communication skills,” said SFS President and CEO Ahmed Sahid.

School Hosts 3rd Annual Speech-Language Awareness and Information Day

Members of the SDSU and greater San Diego community were invited to the 3rd annual Speech-Language Awareness and Information Day (SAID) hosted by the SLHS on May 1.

Lizbeth H. Finestack, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, delivered the keynote address, Exploring Grammatical Interventions for Children and Adolescents with Language Impairment. She is an associate professor at the University of Minnesota. Her long-term research aim is to identify efficient and effective language interventions for children and adolescents with neurodevelopmental disorders, including children with primary language impairment, Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, or autism spectrum disorder.

The event opened with Ph.D. candidate Stephanie DeAnda presenting her research, How Two Languages Interact in Early Bilingual Language Acquisition. Participants then explored resources available for those with speech and language challenges during a Community Resource Fair featuring SDSU and community organizations.

Sign Language Project Wins Award

As many as two million people use American Sign Language (ASL) in the United States and Canada, and sign language researcher hope to learn more about the underpinnings of language in the brain.

Collaboration between researchers at SDSU, Boston University and Tufts University has created ASL-LEX, the first comprehensive lexical database for ASL. The project recently received the People’s Choice award in the Interactive category of the 15th annual National Science Foundation Visualization Challenge.

The ASL-LEX website combines written words and a short video that shows the corresponding ASL sign. A sidebar gives technical information about the sign’s frequency of use by signers; a score for its iconicity, or how much the sign resembles the action or object it represents; and a host of phonological and syntactic details about the signs. The site also offers a visual map of sign clusters organized by signs that share similar phonological properties, such as hand shape and movement. These details are valuable to linguists hoping to learn how signs relate to one another, as well as for neuroscientists hoping to understand how the brain processes visual-manual language differently from auditory-vocal languages, said Karen Emmorey, one of the project’s leaders and a cognitive neuroscientist at SDSU. “Almost everything we know about human language comes from the study of spoken languages,” said Emmorey, director of the SDSU Laboratory for Language and Cognitive Neuroscience. “However, only by studying sign languages is it possible to discover which linguistic rules and constraints are universal to all human languages and which depend on the modality of a language.”

Audiology Students Help With Young Scholars With Disability Awareness

slhs student with model earIn collaboration with Del Mar Heights Elementary School, the Student Academy of Audiology –

San Diego coordinated the participation of AuD students in an award-winning disability aware- ness program, Understanding Differences. The program was established in 2005 to foster empathy and teach understanding through science lessons, interactive simulations, and guest speakers.

audiology student teachingAlongside Deaf Community Service, the SDSU/UCSD AuD students created and led hearing loss simulator, tuning fork hearing screening, and hearing aid technology stations during the culminating event to conclude the month long exploration of hearing impairment and Deaf culture.