A Look at the Future of Health Care

Summer 2013

A Look at the Future of Health Care

President's Message


Hornet Highlights

Spotlight On: Gerontology Club

Unifying the Campus Community

Employment Forecast for Grads: Potentially Sunny

All Hands on Deck

Searching for Solutions

Cause for Celebration: Commencement 2013

Class Notes

President's Message

One of Sacramento State’s greatest qualities is that we keep local talent local.

Most of our students come from the region, and most stay here after they graduate. They succeed in every field, and contribute to the quality of life in our neighborhoods. This level of impact is the best measurement of a regional university like ours.  Just take a look around, and you will see the Sacramento State advantage on full display.

For instance, if you’ve been to a local hospital, there’s a good chance the nurses either earned Sacramento State degrees or received training at our simulation labs in Folsom Hall. And prominent local companies from Aerojet to Sleep Train employ large numbers of our alumni.

This issue of Sac State Magazine highlights the ways our University and our alumni are making a difference in the community, particularly in the health care professions. You can also learn about the practical, real-world education we provide.

I read a story recently about an Association of American Colleges and Universities survey of business leaders nationwide and what they are looking for in employees. Above all, CEOs want college graduates who can solve problems, think clearly, and communicate with others — in other words, a strong liberal arts education.

That’s the advantage of a Sacramento State degree. It combines a foundation in liberal arts with the practical skills and comprehensive experience needed to succeed in today’s most complex careers.

The graduate I selected for the President’s Award during our Commencement ceremonies in May is emblematic of this advantage. Mary Blake plans on becoming a physician who treats children with cancer. She also wants to incorporate a ropes course into her therapies, having worked at the campus Challenge Center’s ropes course and volunteered at a camp for families affected by cancer.

A few days after she walked across the stage at Commencement, Mary took the Medical College Admission Test and left for Ireland to work at an international camp for children with cancer.

She is already well on her way to making a difference, and that is what Sacramento State is all about.

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Fighting diabetes in the Hmong community

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities awarded Sacramento State a grant to assist Hmong community members affected by diabetes. Project manager Dian Lorene Baker says the nearly $800,000 grant will enable community health workers  to conduct at-home visits and help clients understand the health care system. The community-based participatory research collaboration will be overseen by an advisory board made up of health care workers, area leaders and people of Hmong descent.

Alumnus is a Sundance sensation

Former Hornet wide receiver Ryan Coogler ’07 (Business) received top honors for his film Fruitvale at the Sundance Film Festival. Coogler’s first feature-length film was awarded the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award within the dramatic category. Coogler advises younger filmmakers not to focus on making a sale but making a film that is reflective of their creativity. Nonetheless The Weinstein Co. bought the distribution rights to his film for $2.5 million. The movie will be in theatres in July as Fruitvale Station.

Sac State strengthens global relations

Tom Knutson, emeritus professor of communication studies, used his friendship with the director of Chitralada Royal Palace School English program to develop an opportunity for his own students. This summer will be the seventh time Sac State graduates will be invited to teach as English-language tutors on the palace royal grounds in Bangkok. 

University recognized for community service

For the fifth consecutive year, the Corporation for National and Community Service recognized Sac State on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The award praised programs such as the Community Engagement Center’s Service Learning Program, Pediatric Nursing Students Serve and Expanding Their Horizons. The Sac State community logged nearly 75,000 service-learning hours with 133 nonprofit, faith-based, education and government partners.

MBA program gains notice

U.S. News & World Report ranked Sacramento State’s MBA program second among all CSU campuses, and 128th out of 300 programs nationally. The part-time MBA program provides evening and weekend classes for those who work during the day. Sac State’s College of Business Administration is also celebrating its 50th year of being accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Fewer than 5 percent of the world’s 13,000 business programs have earned AACSB accreditation. For more information on the College and its programs, visit cba.csus.edu.

Smart Grid Center awarded research grant

The University’s California Smart Grid Center landed a $1.4 million grant from the California Energy Commission. It will help the center focus on three energy-efficiency projects: integrating renewable energy to the electrical grid, identifying electrical grid cyber-security issues and designing/testing a network for residential and commercial buildings. The grant will help California meet the standard set by the Global Warming Solution Act, which requires a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

Renovated molecular biology lab opens

Sacramento State revealed its new basement laboratory known as the Center for Interdisciplinary Molecular Biology Education, Research and Advancement, or CIMERA. The center provides a space for faculty research and student laboratory training, and promotes community education in cell and molecular biology. The concept was implemented by Sac State professors Tom Savage, Tom Peavey and Tom Landerholm, who received start-up funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education.

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Hornet Highlights 
Sand Volleyball newest women’s sport

This spring, Sacramento State added sand volleyball as a women’s intercollegiate sport, giving the Hornets 21 intercollegiate programs.

It’s the University’s first new sport since bringing on women’s soccer and women’s rowing during the 1994-95 academic year and represents the campus’ continuing commitment to Title IX and gender equity by increasing opportunities for female student-athletes.

The Hornets will compete in the Northern California Sand Volleyball Consortium, which includes Cal, Stanford, Saint Mary’s, Pacific, San Francisco and Santa Clara.

Other highlights from the 2012-13 season

Baseball finished with a second straight 30-win season and second trip to the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.

Men’s Basketball had the second-most wins—14—in the program’s Div. I era and matched the most league wins—eight—since joining the Big Sky Conference in 1996-97.

Women’s Basketball posted the most wins in program history (19) and was victorious in first-round Big Sky Tournament games in back-to-back years.

Men’s and Women’s Cross Country, along with Women’s Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field, were recognized by the NCAA for multiyear Academic Progress Rate scores which placed them among the top 10 percent nationally for their respective sports.

Football bolstered its strong 2013 recruiting class with the addition of 17 players on national letter-of-intent signing day.

Men’s Golf’s Ryan Williams completed the best single season in Sacramento State history, averaging 72.58 strokes over 33 rounds.

Women’s Golf finished in fifth place at the Big Sky Championship Tournament.

Gymnastics head coach Kim Hughes earned his 300th career victory. The Hornets have been represented in the NCAA West Regional meet every year since 1994.

Rowing claimed a gold and a silver at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships, held at Lake Natoma.

Women's Soccer had two players complete for the Philippines’ national team in the Asia Women’s Cup.

Men’s Soccer saw four players earn all-Big West Conference honors, including two on the first team.

Softball played in its first Big Sky Conference Championship Tournament during the program’s Div. I era.Men’s Tennis made its 10th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 15 years after winning the Big Sky Conference Tournament. Women’s Tennis earned an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament after winning the Big Sky Conference Tournament for the 12th consecutive season. Track and Field’s Jesse Elvrom became the first Hornet to earn Div. I All-American honors in the javelin, and became one of only 12 Div. I Outdoor All-Americans in Sac State history.Volleyball placed two players on the all-Big Sky Conference team.

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Spotlight On: Gerontology Club

As a graduate student at Sac State, Katrina Currie is learning plenty of theory about caring for senior citizens. But the president of the Gerontology Club says she’s gained a passion for the elderly that only comes from genuine interaction.

Club members volunteer at the local Alzheimer’s Café each month, visiting with older adults, many of whom are experiencing the effects of Alzheimer’s, dementia and other ailments.

“You can read about it, but seeing older adults have that feeling of being accepted, it grabs at your heart,” says Currie. “There are some sad stories and we just want to bring a smile to their faces and let them know we care. It’s renewed my love for gerontology.”

Promoting healthy aging and longevity, the Gerontology Club re-started two years ago after a three-year hiatus. Currie became president last fall and 13 students participated in various events throughout the year. The activities included putting together winter care packs for homeless and disadvantaged seniors, raising more than $250 for the Ethel MacLeod Hart Senior Center and hosting a Gero-Fiesta for seniors in a disadvantaged living community.

The Gerontology Club includes students from the gerontology program, but also nursing students and others who simply want to help the elderly community.

Currie, who was honored with the William Randolph Hearst/CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement in 2012, is pursuing her master’s degree in education, curriculum and instruction after earning her bachelor’s degree in nursing.

“I’m doing my thesis around aging and dementia education,” says Currie. “There’s an influx of older adults in the U.S. and Alzheimer’s/dementia is the sixth-leading cause of death. I like gerontology because it can apply to anyone. These issues affect grandparents, but also you can apply it to your own life. It’s an interdisciplinary study.”

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Unifying the Campus Community

Mentoring advice from a chief justice. Themed discussions in a coffee house. T-shirts and ice cream.

Over the last four semesters, a multipronged approach to build campus unity is bringing students, faculty and staff together to work to make the University a more welcoming and supportive learning environment.

President Gonzalez convened the President’s Committee to Build Campus Unity two years ago to spur dialogue across campus on how to strengthen the sense of community at Sacramento State. During that time, the committee has developed a series of platforms—formal and informal—to start those conversations.

Large-scale learning opportunities such as this spring’s talk on the value of mentoring by California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and last year’s appearance by NPR host and author of The Grace of Silence Michele Norris, are paired with small-group discussions. Panels such as the one that accompanied a screening of The Curse of Quan Gwon, a historic film featuring the family members of a faculty member, promote shared experiences on cultural connections.

Essay and short film contests allow students to voice their thoughts. T-shirts and travel mugs featuring unifying themes offer continual reminders of the importance of community. And monthly “coffee chats,” centered around broad subjects, as well as an end-of-the-year ice cream social offer more casual opportunities to interact.

The committee’s focus for the coming academic year will be on the changing demographics of the region and the state. For more, visit csus.edu/pcbcu.

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Employment Forecast for Grads- Potentially Sunny

A rosier job outlook may be on the horizon for this year’s newest Sac State alumni.

There’s been an uptick in both on-campus recruitment and employer participation in campus career fairs, says Cein Mathisen, employee relations liaison for the Career Center.

“The Fall 2012 Career Fair sold out for the first time in seven years,” Mathisen says. “We saw 120 employers and about 1,200 students, which are record-breaking numbers.”

Though she admits they can’t necessarily link a successful career fair to a recovered employment market, she notes, “The volume of employers is a positive sign.”

Fall on-campus recruitment numbers were also encouraging with employers looking to fill full-time positions requiring college degrees. While some recruiters sought students in specialized areas, such as accounting, many were looking for “all majors,” which is another good sign, Mathisen says, because it reflects an appreciation for the qualities a college graduate possesses that are valuable to employers beyond discipline-specific training.

“We hear that certain skills are important: communication, working as part of a team, follow-through, experience in a group setting,” she says. “These are qualities our graduates possess that make them successful candidates.”

The Spring Career Fair drew more than 90 employers, including state government agencies, accounting firms, the FBI and several large corporations such as Frito Lay and Kohl’s, despite on-campus competition from genre-specific fairs for educators and engineers. In fact, the Educators Expo sold out its slots for potential employers for the first time which, Mathisen says, is another cause for optimism.

 “There may not be jobs immediately but employers are in the market for future jobs that will become available,” she says. “Hiring is on the horizon and they are preparing for that.”

Additional reasons for job-seekers to hope comes from the January 2013 Sacramento Business Review, published by the College of Business Administration, CFA Society Sacramento and the University’s Institute for Business Research and Consulting.

In its economic overview, the authors said, “We are still far from pre-recession levels by most metrics; but, for 2013, we expect at least some positive growth across every sector—including construction, financials and government—three of the hardest hit parts of the economy.”

The review’s mid-year update will be released in July at sacramentobusinessreview.com.

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All Hands on Deck

“Why is it that, in spite of the fact that teaching by pouring in, learning by passive absorption, are universally condemned, that they are still so entrenched in practice? That education is not an affair of “telling” and being told, but an active constructive process, is a principle almost as generally violated in practice as conceded in theory.”

—John Dewey, in his book, Democracy and Education

It’s been nearly 100 years since American philosopher and psychologist John Dewey railed against the old school, literally, arguing for more hands-on learning in education. His reasoning helped shape major reforms, making the concept of learning-by-doing a vital aspect of curriculum at all levels.

Sac State students—from those in the social sciences to engineering—gain exposure to hands-on learning in a variety of ways. Whether it’s through a partnership with a community non-profit, a group project or an internship outside the classroom, students are gaining the skills and experience they’ll need in their respective careers before they get their diplomas.

Past experience shapes future careers

Maritza Madrigal can’t wait to dive into leading therapy sessions at UC Davis Medical Center in the fall. The second-year master’s of social work student feels privileged to give back to those walking in the shoes she wore for years.

Madrigal’s car was rear-ended by a street sweeper in 2007 and the resulting spinal injury left her with debilitating pain on a daily basis. She finally underwent spinal fusion surgery in 2010 that relieved much of her pain. Group therapy sessions helped her cope with the discomfort following her procedure and three years later she will use the skills she’s learning in her social work program to lead her own group and help others through their challenging times.

“Three years ago I was recuperating from surgery and I had a chronic pain support group through Kaiser,” Madrigal says. “This year I’m going to have my own support group. That’s the first thing I wanted to create with the internship. They have groups with psychiatrists and medical doctors, but they didn’t have a social worker there, so I get to spend the next year showing them what we do and how we complement that trans-disciplinary medical team. That’s really exciting to me.”

Madrigal worked in health care administration prior to the injury that dramatically altered her career path. The mother of three enrolled at Sac State as part of her recovery.

“I came to school without a goal, just to use my brain,” Madrigal says. “I was recovering and still had to work on my short-term memory issues. As I went back to school I realized I couldn’t find a therapist that really understood chronic pain during the years I was struggling.”

Madrigal found her calling and hasn’t looked back. She was awarded both the Renaissance Society Scholarship and the Sutter Health Care Scholarship last spring. She credits Division of Social Work director Robin Kennedy for emphasizing hands-on learning throughout the curriculum. Kennedy helped tailor courses for Madrigal, knowing she had a passion for the pain management field.

“She teaches a doctoring course and I was able to do my elective with third-year medical students,” Madrigal explains. “It was such a rich environment. How wonderful to be able to have an education with that special component and that was due to Dr. Kennedy’s insight and her advocating for students.”

Hands-on learning takes many forms

What’s the best way to prepare for a career as a bridge-builder? Build a bridge. Want to paint murals for a living? Prepare by wetting your paintbrush and going to work on the canvas.

In many courses of study, hands-on learning is straightforward. Other subjects are a bit more challenging.

“Different programs handle it differently. Some programs traditionally have been hands-on,” says Sac State Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Charles Gossett. “In many of the sciences and engineering, they are learning practical skills they will be doing on the job in the future. In other programs, there are group projects and extensive role-plays. I think instructors are always looking for opportunities to give students that hands-on experience.

“Another element for getting practical experience is participation in teams and contests, like our construction management team or our Model United Nations.”

Sac State faculty and administrators have worked to develop curriculum that is practical, but also programs that complement lectures and classwork.

“The term extracurricular has been replaced by co-curricular and those activities have a very important role to play along with academics,” Gossett says. “Students gain experience and it’s a great way to develop leadership skills.”

While there are classes that require experimentation, or implementation of specific skills, in more abstract offerings students must sometimes find ways to employ their knowledge in a practical way. The Sac State Career Center helps students find matches for their fields of study.

“Some majors are more applied, but we do have opportunities for students in all majors,” says Brigitte Clark, Career Center associate director. “Some of our biggest challenges are making connections between the major and the job market, but there are organizations out there that need communicators and problem-solvers. The major is sometimes not the focus if the student has skills that are transferrable to the career.”

Molding student-innovators

Hind Reggad left her hometown of Casablanca, Morocco after high school, seeking an American education and opportunities to make a difference in the medical field. Warren Smith, professor of electrical and electronic engineering, helped Reggad refine her skills and focus her talents through a unique hands-on collaboration.

“I took two classes from Professor Smith and he inspired me to go into the biomedical field,” Reggad says.

In his 40th year of instruction at Sac State, Smith realizes lectures and demonstrations have their limitations. He coordinates senior projects, often finding needs in the medical community and giving students the chance to design and create devices to meet them.

“The undergraduates are required to have a capstone experience, which is a two-semester design project,” says Smith, who has been recognized numerous times for his work in the biomedical engineering field. “Students are looking for projects that are useful and through my ties to the medical community, I know a lot of doctors that have ideas.”

Many of those ideas are coming to fruition. Reggad’s group of four students designed a device for doctors at Shriner’s Hospital that, when placed in a patient’s wheelchair, monitors their activity based on the pressure being applied to the seat. The device can help prevent ailments related to sitting for long periods of time. The project proved to be a major challenge, but also was very rewarding.

“Starting from the theory on paper to actually building the prototype, testing it and then building the product—it was a steep learning curve,” says Reggad who plans to graduate with her master’s degree in engineering in December. “All the theory you’re learning in classes, you get to apply when you’re doing this work.”

The device has since been patented and is in the arduous testing phase with Shriner’s. Eventually, it could be available to medical professionals around the world.

Smith is eager to see more student-designed devices move toward the marketplace. Sac State’s Biomedical Device Development Center is set to open in Riverside Hall soon, giving students and faculty a place to work on their creations.

“There has been a lot of development going on that people really don’t know about, but this will make it more formalized,” Smith says. “It’s exciting. Students are eager to get exposure and students always come back and tell me how beneficial their projects are when it comes to employment.”

Choosing the right career path

College is a time of discovery. For many students, that means probing to find a career to suit their personalities and strengths.

According to Education.com, approximately half of high school students applying to college are undecided on their majors. The majority of all college students switch majors at some point.

Learning by doing through opportunities to explore different careers can help steer students in the right direction.

“Career path is always a part of our advising,” says the Career Center’s Clark. “When we’re talking with students, we try to connect how their programs relate to the world of work.”

Through volunteering, interning or participating in class projects, students can often get a taste of their potential careers. They can develop a feel for their strengths and their specialties within a field.

“We have experiential learning coordinators in the career center and we create or develop programs to put them in the work environment,” Clark says. “Some students are self-directed and others go through the programs we offer. Employers definitely like to see students gain more practical experience and know a little bit about the industry they’re going into.”

Any experience in a professional environment, even if it’s not directly related to a future career, can benefit students. Especially as campus resources are stretched, community partnerships play a key role in the educational model as it has evolved to include more hands-on learning. Students are learning outside the classroom in schools, hospitals, government offices, non-profit organizations and other businesses.

“When we’re out talking to people in the community we’re always looking for opportunities to give students that kind of experience,” Gossett says. “Those situations give them the chance to apply their theoretical knowledge in a practical, work-oriented environment.”

Learning on the move

To those passing by, it looks like there’s a daily medical emergency at Sac State’s College of Continuing Education. In reality, the ambulance in the parking lot serves as a rolling classroom for students in the paramedic programs.

The College hosts four classes each year, equipping up to 120 aspiring paramedics with the knowledge and skills they need to fill a job market that was projected to grow 33 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“In this field, the students do really well with hands-on learning and we’ve always recognized that,” says Katelyn Sandoval, program manager for the College of Continuing Education. “As a program, they’ve moved to a combined lecture-lab type of learning environment. They do four hours of lecture in the morning and then four hours of skills instruction in the afternoon.”

The ambulance was purchased by the College to serve as a mobile lab for the students. Working in small groups, instructors set up accident scenarios and the students are able to react as if they are responding to a real emergency.

“Being a paramedic can be a very stressful career,” Sandoval says. “Having the hands-on experience and putting the theoretical knowledge to use, they are more comfortable when they have real patients in front of them. They have that muscle memory that comes with the repetition and it really prepares them as professionals.”

The popular paramedics course is open to applicants who are already trained as emergency medical technicians. After completing the curriculum, the students are equipped to take the licensure exam, which includes a review of 12 different skills.

“The hands-on training prepares them very nicely for that,” Sandoval says. “We’ve gotten lot of fantastic feedback from students and a lot of them get jobs in our community.”

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Searching for Solutions: Sac State Alumni are Looking Out for Your Health

The world of health care can seem like a scary place. The mere mention of it can elicit boiling political rants, sorrowful tales of the system’s faults or dire predictions of looming meltdowns.

But it is also a place of hope.

Amongst the tumult, there are thousands of Sac State graduates making a difference on health care’s front lines. They advocate for patients, work long days to heal those who are hurting, create programs to bolster communities and volunteer to assist those less fortunate around the world.

Meet six Sac State alumni who are making an impact in their respective corners of the health care world.

Quoc Vo ’95 (Biological Sciences)

Quoc Vo travels light. Whether he’s in a third-world village, lacking sophisticated medical equipment, or at New York’s ground zero after 9/11, between his head and his hands Vo ’95 (Biological Sciences) feels he has all the tools he needs to treat a multitude of medical ailments.

An experienced osteopath with an extensive knowledge of anatomy, Vo works in the Spine Center at St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco, specializing in non-invasive treatment for pain. As a doctor of osteopathy, Vo stresses a whole-body approach in addressing his patients.

“More and more research is showing there is a psycho-social connection to pain,” Vo explains. “I look at not just the source of the pain, but how a person reacts to it. We do that through a long interview to get to know the patient and then suggest activities, medications or even surgery, but the crux of the treatment ishands-on.”

He has compiled a collection of remarkable experiences that make a strong case for his field of expertise. Vo lived in New York in 2001. Days after the attacks on the World Trade Center, he organized a group of medical practitioners to help treat workers and volunteers around ground zero.

“We went to a staging area two or three days after the attacks and set up to treat people,” Vo says. “We were able to do osteopathic treatments and help people who were just worked to exhaustion. We moved to a high school next to the World Trade Center and we were there for two weeks.”

Most recently, Vo visited Burma and ventured into the Himalayas to a small Chinese village. He stopped at an indigenous hospital to volunteer and was fascinated by their use of Ayurvedic treatments, plant-based medicines (including highly effective pepper leaves as an anti-inflammatory treatment), and acupuncture to treat pain and soreness.

Vo says the holistic approach has always fallen in line with his way of thinking.

“I remember on my medical school committee interview in Sacramento, they asked me why I didn’t apply for (allopathic) medical school and I said (osteopathy) meets up with my personality,” he says.

At Sac State emeritus biology professor Rose Leigh Vines impressed Vo with her extensive knowledge and personal stories from the field. Vines has a cervical rib that Vo says can be a painful birth defect, but she overcame the discomfort and inspired her students with her lively teaching.

“She presented anatomy in such a way that it was challenging, but also endearing and professional,” Vo says. “She inspired me to look further into anatomy. She very much touched my life. I was always interested in the field, but she honed it in.”

Vo began his college career as a pre-med student at UC Davis, but he transferred to Sac State, seeking more accessible faculty and a welcoming campus environment. He was friends with several people in the Science Educational Equity Program and the Multicultural Organization of Science Students, which he says eased the transition to Sac State.

“I made friends in that club and they were open-armed, so welcoming,” Vo says. “The undergrad experience can be a really daunting, discombobulating experience, but it really felt comfortable, like I really fit in at Sac State.”

Vo says his first year at the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in Pomona was smooth, thanks to the strong anatomy foundation he gained at Sac State. He graduated with his doctorate in osteopathic medicine in 1999 and completed his residency at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, N.Y.

Vo seemingly can’t get enough of osteopathy. He teaches anatomy classes at UC San Francisco and is an active member of the Osteopathic Cranial Academy, a non-profit devoted to the profession.

“I love what I do, not only as an osteopath, but I love anatomy, which is why I’m still teaching,” he says. “It’s basic science but it affects you throughout your career. I hold where I came from—Sac State—close to my heart. I’m very proud.”

Keri Thomas, MPPA ’06

As a leader at one of the largest health care providers in Sacramento, Keri Thomas, MPPA ’06, is concerned about more than just physical health. The community’s well-being is at the forefront for Thomas, regional director of community and government relations for Sutter Health.

“We’re a not-for-profit organization, so the community members are considered our shareholders,” Thomas says. “A big part of what I do is looking to build collaborations with government entities and other non-profits in order to provide access to primary health care for the under-insured and also just promoting who we are as a community-based not-for-profit within the government.”

The Sacramento native intended to play a hands-on role in the health care field. She graduated from Oregon State with an exercise and sports science undergraduate degree with plans to go into physical therapy, but she aspired to make a broader impact on the community through public policy and leadership.

“Health care is very personal and it’s a time when people are very vulnerable,” Thomas says. “I knew I wanted to be in health care. We have a great opportunity, especially in California, to make the system better and to be a part of finding solutions to expand access and make it more user-friendly is just exciting and fun.”

Thomas started as Sutter’s community benefits coordinator and decided to pursue a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Sac State, graduating in 2006. Her father, former Sacramento city manager Bob Thomas ’71, MS ’78 (Recreation Administration), earned his master’s at Sac State before working in local government for many years.

“I fell in love with public policy and administration,” Keri Thomas says. “It wasn’t that I wanted to work in government, but I just thought it was so interesting because health care is so regulated, it is almost quasi-government. Most importantly, the social equity piece of the public policy degree fit my love and passion.”

Thomas says she appreciated the real-world experience Sac State professors brought to their classes.

“The theory was important, but the practicality was even more important and Sac State had such a nice blend of the two,” she says.

Thomas has helped Sutter develop partnerships with numerous organizations throughout the region, including Sac State. The Sutter Volunteer Program places 100 students in positions throughout various medical fields, offering them the chance to gain experience and develop practical, hands-on skills. Sutter also sponsors Sac State scholarships in nursing, physical therapy, speech pathology and audiology and more.

One of Sutter’s most successful efforts in the community, the Serial Inebriate Program, was recognized nationally at the 2012 Hospital Charitable Service Awards.

“The program takes people that repeatedly get picked up by the police and, instead of putting them in jail, they are placed in a program to work on sobriety,” Thomas explains. “It decreases the number of emergency room visits, it decreases the costs for public entities and most importantly, the clients are better off.”

Launched in 2006, it has saved Sacramento County thousands of dollars, reduced the number of homeless people chronically abusing substances and saved the Sacramento Police Department hundreds of hours. The Downtown Sacramento Partnership reports police referrals from businesses went from more than 1,100 in 2004 to less than 150 in 2010.

Thomas says partnerships are crucial to the community’s health. As the health care field undergoes major changes in the coming years with the Affordable Care Act taking effect, she hopes patient care will remain at the forefront.

“If you cannot adapt easily to change, health care’s not the field for you,” she says. “Nobody knows what we’re facing, but it’s going to be very different over the next couple of years. You have to be nimble, but we make a difference in people’s lives and that’s pretty powerful.”

Garry Maisel ’80 (Finance)

When there’s a health care scoop, Garry Maisel ’80 (Finance) is quick to consume it. As the president and CEO of Western Health Advantage, he’s compelled to stay on top of evolving industry trends, but he’s got a voracious appetite for newsprint, which he satiates most weekends.

“I’m a news addict,” Maisel admits. “My routine is, on Saturday and Sunday I drink a lot of coffee and read the New York Times and the (Sacramento) Bee and online news for hours.”

Maisel has plenty to keep up on these days. The Affordable Care Act is changing the way his company does business. The new health care laws will take full effect in 2014, but Maisel says the company he’s guided for 17 years has already evolved.

“As of Jan. 1, 2014, if any individual is seeking to buy a health insurance policy, insurers must sell them a policy at non-discriminatory rates,” Maisel says. “To get ready for that watershed event, we launched an individual plan. Since our inception we were a group insurance plan.”

Maisel was the first employee of Western Health Advantage, which began as a joint venture between UC Davis Health System, Dignity Health and North Bay Healthcare in 1996. He now oversees more than 100 employees at the not-for-profit organization that serves more than 100,000 members.

Maisel earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from Sac State, but his education in the field began at home. As a child, he helped his mother with the accounting for the family’s home appliance service business in Stockton. Maisel was the valedictorian at Stagg High School in Stockton and after transferring from Delta Valley Junior College, he was named Sac State’s outstanding undergraduate in finance at graduation.

Maisel says his education was about more than just numbers.

“One of the first lessons I learned at Sac State was, no matter which career field you’re in, it’s your interpersonal communication skills that can set you apart,” he says. “Occasionally I talk to students and I always stress that you need to be a good communicator in how you interact and deal with people.”

After graduation, Maisel distinguished himself during a decade in the banking and finance field, then led a health plan based in Stockton before starting Western Health Advantage.

In recent years Maisel has garnered several honors for his business leadership and heavy involvement in the community. He was the Sacramento Metro Chamber’s 2010 Businessman of the Year. In 2011, he was recognized with the Individual Arts Leadership Award from the Sacramento Arts and Business Council. Last year, Maisel was named the Sacramento Business Journal’s Leader of the Year and earlier this year he received Sac State’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Maisel is currently the board chair of WEAVE, the board chair of the Non-Profit Resource Center, on the board of Valley Vision and is involved with numerous other community non-profit organizations. His company has donated to organizations throughout the region and last year named a room in Folsom Hall—Sac State’s nursing building.

“Western Health Advantage is a very philanthropic organization and that’s very important to a healthy community,” he says.

Under Maisel’s guidance, Western Health Advantage saw more than $600 million in revenues last year and is positioned well for the changes ahead. WHA will be one of 13 health plans in the state to participate in Covered California—a network of providers through which individuals and families will be able to quality for subsidized insurance coverage. Open enrollment in the programs will begin Oct. 1.

For Maisel, it’s an interesting time in the industry as the new frontier presents challenges, but also opportunities.

“The biggest deal is, a whole bunch of people are going to qualify for assistance in coverage,” Maisel says. “According to Covered California, 126,000 residents in the greater Sacramento area will qualify for subsidies and I think that’s exciting.”

Toni Moore, MSW, MPPA ’82

Toni Moore is making a difference for children in the Sacramento region when it matters most—their early years. As executive director of First 5 Sacramento, Moore, MSW and MPPA ’82, leads a team dedicated to health and school preparedness for kids ages 0 to 5.

“We’re concerned with the health and well-being of kids, making sure they enter school healthy and ready to learn,” Moore says. “A child’s early years are very formative and impactful. There is a great deal of research about brain development in the first five years.”

Moore has served youth in a number of capacities since starting working at Sacramento County in 1985, three years after earning her dual master’s degrees at Sac State. She started in the Department of Health and Human Services in Child Protective Services and fulfilled several roles in the department throughout her tenure. Before starting at First 5, Moore was deputy director of the Department of Human Assistance.

“I always had an interest in working with kids and families,” Moore says. “I had a calling to do work that would make things better for those in need. I wanted to make a positive contribution.”

First 5 was created after California voters passed Proposition 10 in 1998. It is supported by a 50-cent tax on tobacco products, which funds several prevention and early intervention programs.

After assessing community needs and developing plans, First 5 selects programs aligned with its ideals and distributes funding. Points of emphasis for the organization include health, dental care, breastfeeding, nutrition, childcare, school readiness and effective parenting.

“Our biggest investment is in effective parenting,” Moore says. “We’re helping parents in crisis and in times of need, to get concrete support. We work with six community partners to operate eight family resource centers in Sacramento County.”

Part of the push for dental health includes tackling dental disease. Moore says First 5 has funded several fluoridation projects, with a goal of having all the water in the county fluoridated. First 5 also supports the Smile Keepers program, which serves more than 7,000 children each year by sending dental professionals into preschools around the region.

“They find a lot of kids that have intense, urgent care needs,” Moore says. “And if children are in pain, they can’t learn at school.”

In recent months, Moore has devoted a lot of time to the Blue Ribbon campaign, a partnership with Sacramento County aimed at reducing the disproportionate death rate among African-American children. The committee made its recommendations to the Board of Supervisors in May and is hoping to move forward with implementation of the plan in the near future.

“It’s a community collaborative effort,” Moore says. “We’re very proud of how it’s come together.”

Moore completed her undergraduate degree at UC Santa Cruz and was looking for a strong graduate program when she found Sac State’s joint social work and public policy and administration degree.

“Sacramento State offered a dual degree program in social work and public administration,” she says. “To have that dual degree was a great advantage.”

Moore still keeps in touch with her alma mater. She serves as a field instructor for MSW students and First 5 hosts a few interns at its Sacramento office each year.

“It’s been really nice to keep in touch with the University and give back to the career path,” she says.

Moore’s principles of community service and championing for youth and underprivileged have endured since her transformative days at Sac State.

“I started my career in child welfare in Sacramento County,” she says. “Now that I’m kind of at the tail end of my career it’s a neat thing to get to lead an organization that’s focused on

Jennifer Lombardi  ’94 (Government/Journalism), MS ’01  (Marriage, Family and Child Counseling)

Personal experience shapes lives like few other influences, which is why Jennifer Lombardi believes she is right where she belongs as executive director of Summit Eating Disorders.

The Sacramento program offers a wide array of services to clients, who are struggling with eating disorders, their families and friends. Lombardi ’94 (Government/Journalism), MS ’01 (Marriage, Family and Child Counseling) has been in recovery from anorexia for 19 years, giving her an intimate connection to clients who are battling the same issues.

“It definitely shaped me in a lot of ways and I think things happen for a reason,” Lombardi says.. “I’m very motivated to remove limitations in terms of our patients’ recovery process.

“The staff here knows that I’m pretty even-keeled, but when I see there’s an obstacle for a patient to get treatment, I tend to get pretty fired up and I do whatever I can for them to get them the care that they deserve.”

Lombardi’s career began in the communications field. But her struggle with anorexia sparked a desire to shift gears, leading her to enroll in graduate school to study counseling.

“I knew I wanted to do something with counseling and eating disorders and throughout my education I was always clear about my passion for the field I wanted to work in,” she says.

Knowing Lombardi’s career aspirations, professor Barbara Glazer put her in touch with Dr. Steven Polansky, a local obstetrician and gynecologist whose daughter suffered with an eating disorder. He was in the process of developing an outreach and prevention program for the Sacramento area. Polansky quickly identified Lombardi’s skills and tabbed her to help launch what began as Sacramento Eating Disorders Program.

Lombardi spoke at schools and organizations, emphasizing the influence of media on body image, trying to show kids how to have healthy relationships with food and exercise.

In 2003, Summit Eating Disorders was created, merging the outreach program with a full treatment center. The organization has quadrupled in size since then and now has 47 employees, including psychiatrists, nurses, a general practitioner, dieticians and various physical therapists.

Lombardi has worn just about every hat at Summit.

“My role has changed many times,” Lombardi says. “One year ago, I shifted into executive director. Along with the administrative tasks, I do some public speaking and media relations and I continue to work with our staff on curriculum development. I also work with our family education groups—that’s one of my passions, helping them understand why people struggle and how they can support loved ones.”

Summit recently partnered with the Eating Recovery Center in Colorado, which gives patients the option for residential treatment and recovery.

“It’s very nice for us to have access to their research and experts, and to partner with a program that we feel really good about,” Lombardi says.

As a mother of two, Lombardi says having a job in which she can make a difference keeps her motivated when days get long and stress mounts.

“I always said that if I’m going to be away from my family, I’m going to be doing something that I love,” she says. “I have never lost my passion or my excitement for being able to be a part of helping provide services for patients.”

Troy Jones ’02 (Kinesiology), MPT ’04

When you see Atlanta Braves all-star Brian McCann launch a home run or Jason Heyward throw out a runner at the plate, you’re watching some of Troy Jones’ handiwork.

Jones ’02 (Kinesiology), MPT ’04, is the minor league rehabilitation coordinator for the Braves. Whenever a player in the organization is on a rehab assignment for an extended time, it’s Jones’ job to prepare them to return to the diamond at full strength.

Working at the Braves’ spring training facility in Orlando, Fla., Jones works with players from the organization’s six minor-league teams and with major league players when they require therapy for an extended time.

It’s a dream job for a life-long baseball fan, who also happens to be a top-notch physical therapist. He takes his baseball mitt to work every day and gets to know a lot of pro athletes on a personal level.

“One of the beauty things about this job is I get to play catch with the guys and catch bullpen for the pitchers,” Jones says. “Like any job it’s got its plusses and minuses, but it’s definitely an enjoyable occupation.”

Jones aspired to work in professional sports while he was in high school and initially attended North Idaho College, but his financial aid fell through and he took a job in construction, where he remained for more than a decade. He was seeking a more stable career and met with professor Doris Flores, who introduced him to the physical therapy program at Sac State. He was 32 when he started as an undergraduate.

Jones never wavered in his desire to work with athletes. While completing his master’s degree at Sac State, he completed a clinical rotation with one of the biggest names in sports—Dr. James Andrews, an orthopedic surgeon who has worked with thousands of high-profile professional athletes. The clinical rotation helped pave the way for Jones’ sports-centered career.

“The internship with Dr. Andrews opened up a lot of doors,” Jones says. “I got a chance to work with [longtime baseball physical therapists] Kevin Wilk and Mike Reinold who are some of the biggest names in the field and I learned a lot.”

After graduation, Jones considered pursuing his doctorate until the ideal position presented itself. Sac State professor Rafael Escamilla helped him connect with Results Physical Therapy in Sacramento, where Jones got a chance to work with the Sacramento River Cats (the Oakland A’s triple-A affiliate), Sac State athletes and other high-level performers.

“I decided if I got that job, I would stick around,” Jones says. “I lucked out and got to work there. It was an unbelievable experience. I was very fortunate.”

While his background is in traditional physical therapy, Jones says he is using alternative methods more and more, with great results. Techniques like dry needling, cupping and vacuum therapy are helping athletes recover and remain healthy.

“I’ve just gotten into some of the alternative stuff and we’ve had great results with it,” he says.

Jones attends numerous professional conferences and has developed a network of friends and contacts in the industry, which helped him land the position with the Braves. Aside from working with baseball players, his facility also occasionally hosts other athletes, including NFL players and track and field pros. Working with hundreds of baseball players, Jones sees more arm injuries in a year than most physical therapists see in a lifetime.

“We see all kinds of things, but shoulders and elbows are our bread and butter,” Jones says.

As for landing his dream job, Jones insists he was lucky. But he worked hard in school, sought out the top professionals in his field and showed a passion for helping athletes get back on the field.

“I think if you want to work for a specific team, you’ve got to network in the sports world and create as many contacts as you can,” Jones says. “Professor Escamilla helped me get my foot in the door and I just lucked out. That’s how I ended up with this gig.”

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Cause for Celebration Commencement 2013:

Commencement ceremonies at Sac State are a potent mix of reflection, appreciation and elation.

This spring’s ceremonies also came with an extra dose of pomp to go along with the circumstances. The CSU system and the University awarded alumnus, Sleep Train Mattress Center founder and foster care advocate Dale Carlsen ’84 (Business Administration) an honorary doctorate in humane letters during the College of Business Administration ceremony.

President Alexander Gonzalez presented biology major Mary Blake with the President’s Medal as the 2012-13 outstanding graduate at the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics ceremony.

He also awarded the President’s Medal for Distinguished Service at the College of Engineering and Computer Science ceremony to supporters of the Department of Construction Management: Ronald T. Brown ’86 (Construction Management), President/CEO, Brown Construction, Inc.; Linda J. Clifford, Chief Financial Officer, C.C. Myers Inc.; John Cooper, District Manager, Associated General Contractors Delta-Sierra District; Robert M. Earl, Founder, Earl Construction Company; James Lambert, Retired Executive Vice President, Sacramento Regional Builders Exchange; Henry Meier, Jr. ’88 (Construction Management), Project Executive, Swinerton Builders; Scott W. Maxwell ’85 (Construction Management), Vice President, Unger Construction Co.; Michael F. McKernan ’81 (Construction Management), Director of Operations, Granite Land Company; Tony Moayed, President, TMCS, Inc. and Robert F. Olsen, CEO, J.R. Roberts Enterprises.

It was also one of the larger Commencements in recent history with nearly 4,700 graduates eligible to participate in seven ceremonies May 24-25.

President’s Medal Recipient Mary Blake: Biology Major College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Mary Blake has made caring for those affected by cancer her mission, both in and out of the classroom. A cancer survivor herself, she conducted summer research projects into treating leukemia and used her understanding of chemistry to help other students as a peer-assisted leader.

She also works with children who have or are recovering from cancer as a volunteer with Camp Okizu and at cancer wards of local hospitals. This summer, she is in Ireland helping establish a similar camp.

In addition, Blake was president of the Future Black Doctors and Dentists and is the lead student mentor for the Health Professions Pipeline Project, encouraging underrepresented middle and high school students to attend college. She is also founder of the student service organization BioCorps.

Her next step: applying to medical school.

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Class Notes


Richard Tessen ’57 (Chemistry) was the first four-year graduate of Sacramento State to complete a bachelor’s of science degree in chemistry. Tessen was active in Hornet sports, winning two all-school awards in archery and badminton and worked as an assistant tennis coach under Jack Jossi. He began his professional career as a rocket scientist for Aerojet, working on research and development for the Minuteman and Polaris missiles during the Cold War. He ended his career with United Technologies in San Jose, Calif., where he worked on the Titan, Tomahawk and other solid rocket propulsion systems.


William Schneider Ertmoed ’64 (Drama), also known as Creed Bratton, bid farewell to his character on the NBC comedy “The Office” after the series finale aired in May. Bratton is now focusing on his music career. The former member of the ’60s rock group The Grass Roots recently released act one of a three-part audio biography called Tell Me About It. The actor/musician lives in Southern California.

Joseph Sheley ’69, MA ’71 (Sociology)    was appointed president of CSU Stanislaus after previously serving in an interim capacity. Before going to Stanislaus, Sheley served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Sacramento State. He also held various other posts on campus, including dean of the College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies from 1996-2005, executive director of alumni relations from 2004-05, and executive vice president from 2005-06. Sheley also spent 21 years as a faculty member at Tulane University. In 2012, he was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Sacramento State Alumni Association for his contributions to the University and community.

Steve Turré (Music), trombonist and seashell player, returned to Sacramento State in April for a special performance with the University’s Jazz Ensembles. Turré has been a trombonist for the Saturday Night Live band since 1985 and has taught at both Julliard and the Manhattan School of Music. Turré is world-renowned for pioneering the use of conch shells in jazz music.


Peter Stegall ’70, MA ’72 (Fine Art) had his artwork featured at the Bows & Arrows Gallery in Midtown Sacramento. The Color & Shape exhibit featured enamel-painted Masonite tiles.

Rodney G. Stone ’72 (Business Administration) is currently serving as the assistant presiding judge for the Napa County Superior Court. In his role, Judge Stone supervises the family and juvenile divisions.

Carole Limata ’77 (Nursing) published a historical novel called Ellis Angels: The Nurses of Ellis Island Hospital. The fictional book tells the story of nurses working at Ellis Island during the 1920s. The novel is available on Kindle and Amazon.


Mitchell Dion ’80 (Liberal Studies) was appointed general manager for the Calaveras County Water District. Dion lives in El Dorado Hills, Calif. with his wife and two children.

Michael McKernan ’81 (Construction Management) was honored during Sacramento State’s College of Engineering and Computer Science commencement ceremony in May for his contributions to the construction management industry. He and nine other industry leaders received a medal for distinguished service from President Alexander Gonzalez. McKernan is the director of operations for Granite Land Company.

Susan Raines ’81 (English) showed her photo-digital exhibit Where the Birds Sing at the Wild Wings Golf Club in Woodland, Calif. Inspired by nature, Raines’ exhibit featured birds, trees and colorful landscapes.

Rafael Serrano ’82 (Criminal Justice) and his grandson Rafael Serrano III are set to graduate together from the Monterey College of Law in 2016. After passing the state bar exam, the grandfather-grandson duo plans to open a family law firm in Salinas, Calif.

Dale Carlsen ‘84 (Business Administration), founder of Sleep Train Mattress Centers Inc., was honored with an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters at Sacramento State’s commencement ceremonies in May for his work and contributions on behalf of foster children. For more than 20 years, his Sleep Train Foster Kids program has supported foster children by providing essential items including clothing, shoes, school supplies and mattresses. Sleep Train’s Ticket to Dream Foundation has raised more than $150,000 for Sacramento State’s Guardian Scholars Program, which provides support services to former foster youth when their state support ends at age 18. Carlsen has been honored for his efforts in business and philanthropy, most notably being named Sacramentan of the Year by the Sacramento Metro Chamber in 2013. At Sacramento State, he received a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2002 and the College of Business Administration Alumnus of the Year Award in 2001.

Scott Maxwell ’85 (Construction Management) was honored during Sacramento State’s College of Engineering and Computer Science commencement ceremony in May, for his contributions to the construction management industry. Maxwell and nine other industry leaders received a medal for distinguished service from President Alexander Gonzalez. Maxwell is vice president of Unger Construction Co.

Ronald Brown ’86 (Construction Management) was honored during Sacramento State’s College of Engineering and Computer Science commencement ceremony in May, for his contributions to the construction management industry. Brown and nine other industry leaders received a medal for distinguished service from President Alexander Gonzalez. Brown is president and CEO of Brown Construction.

James Ficenec ’86 (Communication Studies) was hired as special counsel for the Archer Norris law firm based in Walnut Creek, Calif. In addition to his work as a business attorney, Ficenec is an adjunct professor at the John F. Kennedy University College of Law.

Henry Meier ’88 (Construction Management) was honored during Sacramento State’s College of Engineering and Computer Science commencement ceremony in May, for his contributions to the construction management industry. Meier and nine other industry leaders received a medal for distinguished service from President Alexander Gonzalez. Meier is a project executive with Swinerton Builders.

Sam Somers Jr. ’88 (Communication Studies) was appointed chief of police for the Sacramento Police Department. Somers is a 29-year veteran of the department and a Sacramento native. He graduated from Encina High School and Sacramento State, before receiving a graduate degree at CSU Long Beach.

Eric Rockwell ’89 (Music), a composer, and Margaret Rose-Rubenstein ’81 (Communication Studies), a lyricist, celebrated the world premiere of their musical A Little Princess at the Sacramento Theatre Company this spring. The production was an adaptation of the 1905 children’s book by Frances Hodgson Burnett.


Debra Bradford ’90 (Accountancy) was promoted to executive vice president and chief governance officer of Bridge Capital Holdings. In addition, Bradford will continue in her role as corporate secretary.

Brian Fonseca ’90 (Journalism) is in his 14th year of coaching basketball at Reedley College. “Coach Fonz” is married with two children and uses one of his signature sayings in both his home and coaching life: “Laugh or cry.” While at Sac State he worked for The State Hornet newspaper.

Michael Ault ’92 (Communication Studies) is the executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership. Founded in 1995, the partnership advocates for more activity and development downtown by hosting concerts and restaurant events as well as providing marketing support, recruiting retail tenants and providing security. Ault previously worked at the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency. He is married and has two children.

Tam Doduc, MS ’92 (Civil Engineering) was appointed to the State Water Resources Control Board by Gov. Jerry Brown. Doduc has held multiple positions at the California Environmental Protection Agency since 2000, including deputy secretary for environmental quality and assistant secretary for the air and chemical program.

Carol Stevenson ’92 (Communication Studies) was named vice president of Kevin/Ross Public Relations, based in Westlake Village, Calif. Stevenson previously served as a state public affairs specialist for the American Red Cross. She is a frequent guest lecturer at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication.

Glen Galindo ’93 (Criminal Justice) is the executive director of the Migrant Students Foundation, Inc., based in Lewiston, Idaho. Galindo was a member of the first cohort of Sacramento State’s College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP).

Brian Popkes ’93 (Government) was hired by the state attorney general’s office to prosecute Medi-Cal fraud and institutional elder abuse cases. Previously, Popkes served as the chief deputy district attorney for Shasta County.

Elizabeth Tangel, MS ’93 (Speech Pathology and Audiology) helped launch a new blog for the Oregon-based audiology company, Imaginears, Inc. The weekly blog offers hearing-care tips to area residents and explores new audiology research.

Melissa Woods ’93 (Liberal Studies), CRED ‘93 (English) was named Vacaville Unified School District’s Educator of the Year. Woods teaches fourth grade at Alamo Elementary School.

Ward Greene ’94 (Physical Education-Pre-Therapy) was sworn-in as the postmaster of the El Dorado Post Office. Before his current position, Greene was a supervisor at the Placerville Post Office and a letter carrier for the Citrus Heights Post Office. In addition to his postmaster duties, Greene is a part-time rancher and member of the Fire Safety Council for Logtown, Calif.

Kelly Choi ’95 (Mathematics), CRED ’96, CRED ’99 (Education) was named Santa Barbara County’s Teacher of the Year. A teacher at Dos Pueblos High School for 17 years, Choi was recognized for her efforts to integrate technology into the classroom. As Santa Barbara County’s official representative, Choi is now being considered for California Teacher of the Year.

John McKinsey ’96 (Economics) was hired as a Sacramento partner by the international law firm Locke Lord, LLP. In his new position,  McKinsey will specialize in energy and corporate practices. Prior to beginning his legal career, McKinsey served in the U.S. Navy where he gained experience in the energy field by working in the Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Program.

Amir Tehrani, MS ’97 (Biomedical Engineering) was hired as the CEO of commercial expansion for Precision Biopsy, LLC. Before joining Precision Biopsy, Tehrani served as president and CEO of Amaranth Medical, a bioabsorbable stent company.

Jill Benson ’98 (Liberal Studies) was hired as the head varsity volleyball coach for Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane, Wash. Benson is returning to Spokane after being in Florida since 2010, where she was the varsity volleyball coach at Niceville High School.

Jeffrey Bussell ’98 (Physical Education), William Jessup University’s men’s basketball coach, was named California Pacific Conference 2013 Coach of the Year. Bussell has more than 18 years of career experience as a collegiate and high school athletic administrator, director, coach and recruiter. Bussell is also an active member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

Donald McMullen, MBA ’99 delivered the commencement address at Mendocino College. McMullen graduated from Ukiah High School in 1993 and Mendocino College in 1996. He received his master’s degree in business administration from Sacramento State and a juris doctorate from McGeorge School of Law. He is currently an associate at the law office of Duncan James.


Amanda Reeve ’00 (Communication Studies) joined the public policy team of the Phoenix, Ariz. law firm Polsinelli Shughart. Before joining Polsinelli Shughart, Reeve represented District 6 in the Arizona House of Representatives. In 2012, she was named Representative of the Year by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce.

Karen Levy ’01 (Family and Consumer Sciences) published her memoir, My Father’s Gardens. Released by Homebound Publications, the book follows Levy’s journey as an Israeli-American. Levy is currently an English professor at Sacramento State. The book is available on Amazon.

Jillian La Serna ’01 (Liberal Studies), CRED ’02 (Education) was named principal of Carrboro Elementary School. La Serna was previously the school’s assistant principal.

Aaron Shonk, MA ’02 (English) was named director of services for Oregon State University’s OSU Foundation. Shonk previously worked as a private consultant, specializing in proposal development. He holds bachelor’s degrees in English and history from UCLA, a master’s degree in English literature from Sacramento State and an MBA from Arizona State University.

Lori Wilson ’02 (Accountancy), Suisun city councilwoman, spoke at Armijo High School as part of a Black History Month presentation. During her speech, Wilson described how she overcame the adversity of an abusive childhood and the hardship of being a single mother on welfare.

Ryan Rose ’04 (Spanish), executive chef for Zocalo restaurant in Sacramento, is hosting a paella party at Bogle Winery in Clarksburg, Calif. on Saturday, Aug. 17. Rose will cook and serve his famous paella on the estate lawn. Guests will also enjoy homemade sangria and live entertainment. Tickets will be available through Bogle Winery.

Rosanna Carvacho ’05 (Government) was hired by the national law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP. Before joining their Sacramento office, Carvacho served as the legislative director for California Sen. Mark DeSaulnier  (D-Concord), Sen. Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) and Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles).

Shafak Pervez ’05 (Electrical and Electronic Engineering) is an electrical engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. She is currently working at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan. Born in Pakistan, Pervez immigrated to California when she was 12. Despite achieving great success, Pervez continues to strive for higher goals. Last year, she passed her professional engineer exam and became a LEED-accredited professional. She is now pursuing an online master’s degree in business administration.

Jeffrey Rasmussen ’05 (Government-International Relations) was named Instructor of the Year by the Center for Information Dominance. Lt. Rasmussen is an intelligence systems instructor and division officer at the Navy Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center in Dam Neck, Va.

Eleanor Thomas ’06 (Liberal Studies) is working as a substitute teacher. On weekends, she pours wine at a Livermore winery. Both of her children are attending college and she is training for a 200-mile bike ride.

Chad Smith ’08 (Business Administration-General Management) and Jaime Mendoza got engaged at the Rae House in Galt, Calif. The couple met while attending elementary school. The couple plans to wed in late August at St. Christopher’s Catholic Church in Galt, Calif.

Kristina Schuett ’09 (Government/Journalism) and Stephen Ricci were married in March at the Croatian American Cultural Center. The couple enjoyed a honeymoon in Lake Tahoe, Calif.


Annette Kassis, MA ’10 (History) received the Sacramento County Historical Society’s award for excellence in publication for her book Weinstock’s: Sacramento’s Finest Department Store. It chronicles the landmark Sacramento department store from its 1874 beginnings through its closure in the mid-90s.

Matthew Ceccato ’11 (Communication Studies) was named a 2013 Presidential Management Fellow. The U.S. Army veteran served as a paratrooper during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon returning home and recovering from a gunshot wound that left him unable to walk for several years, Ceccato earned his bachelor of arts degree from Sacramento State and his now pursuing a master’s degree from the Penn State School of International Affairs. As part of the two-year fellowship program, Ceccato will work on national security policy for the federal government. More than 12,000 students applied for the fellowships and only 663 were awarded.

Helen Childs ’11 (Government-International Relations) graduated from Sacramento State in May 2011 at the age of 76. Childs began her quest for a degree in 1952, taking courses at several universities throughout her adult life including Boston University, Northeastern University, Southern Connecticut State, San Diego State and McGeorge School of Law. After retiring from Caltrans in 2000, Childs decided to fulfill her dream of receiving a college degree and attended Sacramento State part time. Despite being diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer one month before graduation, she went on to complete her degree.

John Davidson ’11 (Business Administration-Marketing) is working as a business manager for the design studio Already Been Chewed. Some of the firm’s recent projects include a Facebook interview with pop star Rhianna and an international leadership conference hosted by Chick-Fil-A.

Valerie Barone, MBA ’12 (Business Administration) was officially appointed as Concord’s city manager. Barone had been serving as interim city manager since February 2012. Previously, she served as Concord’s assistant city manager, beginning in 2009.

Sarah Blake ’12 (Family and Consumer Sciences) was commissioned as an ensign in the Navy Nurse Corps in March. She completed five weeks of officer development training in Newport, R.I. before reporting to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

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