2017 CEHHS Annual Recognition Celebration

Today was our third year to host our College of Education, Health & Human Services award ceremony and with close to 400 attendees and a room full of  academic honored  faculty and students and their VIP guests, this event was another great success.  Please join us in congratulating the class of 2017!

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Nu Upsilon Research Conference

Nu Upsilon Research Conference led by Dr. Eliza Bigham

Nu Upsilon (the CSUSM chapter of Kappa Omicron Nu, a national honor society for human sciences) presents Undergraduate Student Research. Each presentation represents an original undergraduate student research project and the topics are fascinating and wide ranging. The projects reflect the skills that students majoring in Human Development have acquired in conducting experimental, applied, and action research.

We wish to thank our Community Partners for providing these opportunities for the students to gain community-based experience, for renewing their commitments to collaborate and mentor students in the field each semester, and for working with us to provide a path for students to discover, develop, and expand their place in community stewardship.

Outstanding Service Learning Faculty Russ Neuhart

Russ Neuhart

Pictured: From Left, Ashley Einbender, student and nominator; Dr. Russ Neuhart.

This year, the Office of Service Learning hosted its first Service Learning Showcase! The Showcase provided an opportunity for us to share some of the fantastic work being done through service learning during the 2016-2017 academic year.   Each team of presenters included students, faculty and community partners, joined together to tell the story of their service learning experience.  Computer monitors provided a venue to informally share the key points of the students’ work with community partners in a supportive environment, full of questions and lots of compliments.  Projects included everything from developing an “app” for wildlife at Agua Hedonia Lagoon to the award-winning team that planned, advertised, and hosted an event for middle school parents and teens about media use for SOLE Effects.

We are honored to recognize Russ Neuhart as one of the recipients of the 2017 Outstanding Service Learning Awards:

Dr. Neuhart teaches HD361, Intro to Interpersonal, Interviewing and Interaction Skills. Ashley stated that students were encouraged to practice the skills learned in class at their Service Learning site, heping her to better understand the course material in a natural and first-hand personal setting. Dr. Neuhart consistently provided his student with training and support with their service learning, showing videos with scenarios, having students reflect on their experiences and having student interact in groups to apply the course materials. Ashley stated, “I personally feel much more prepared for my future career after having the opportunity to complete service learning in Dr. Neuhart’s class.”

Grant Provides Path to Nursing for American Indian Students

By Eric Breier

Five American Indian students wasted no time in getting acclimated to Cal State San Marcos’ School of Nursing last fall.

The students are attending CSUSM through a recently awarded grant called Graduating American Indians into Nursing (GAIN). Funding for the grant didn’t become official until shortly before the start of the fall semester, which meant working fast to get the students on campus.

Fortunately, Dr. Deborah Morton, an assistant professor of public health and the co-principal investigator on the grant, had already identified potential students for the program thanks to help from Geneva Lofton-Fitzsimmons and Dr. Joely Proudfit.

Dr. Denise Boren, co-principal investigator and the director of the School of Nursing, then worked to ensure a smooth enrollment process. The students visited campus on the Friday before classes started for a quick meeting and dived right into the program the following week.

“It was a miracle,” said Mary Sandoval, one of the students enrolled in the master’s program. “This came to me and I couldn’t believe it was true. I think everybody in the program had that same experience.”

The grant covers tuition, books, fees and a stipend of $1,500 per month for each student. Funding was for six students, but one had to withdraw, a void Boren and Morton will try to fill next fall.

Boren is stepping down from her role as School of Nursing director at the end of the academic year to focus on grants and being more directly involved with the GAIN students. The move will also allow her to take on additional responsibilities related to the grant, and she is optimistic that will free up additional funds to add a couple more students through the grant.

“Nurses spend so much time with patients,” Boren said. “It’s really important to have nurses who understand the American Indian culture.”

Morton said the grant had covered the same four universities for over 20 years. However, she said spots opened up for newcomers because two of the universities became self-sufficient and no longer needed to rely on the grant. That opened the door for CSUSM.

“We have a nursing shortage in California and we have more American Indians than any other state,” Morton said. “It was a great opportunity for us.”

Mary has been working as a nurse for Riverside-San Bernardino County Indian Health for nearly 20 years. She has long wanted to pursue her master’s, but didn’t have the means to do so while working full time and raising five children.

While her children are now adults, she is still paying off her undergraduate loans and working full time. But the GAIN grant has enabled her to pursue her master’s while continuing to work.

Mary’s niece, Nesune Madrigal, is another of the students who is attending CSUSM through the GAIN grant.

Nesune attended Mt. San Jacinto College and had been considering transferring to CSUSM to pursue her bachelor’s in nursing. Once the grant became a reality, it made for an easy decision.

“I got a call on a Friday about a week before fall semester,” Nesune said. “I was shocked and overwhelmed. It’s such an honor to be chosen to go into the program knowing how competitive it is to get in. I’m really grateful for the opportunity.”

Nesune said that Boren was instrumental in not only making the accelerated enrollment process go smoothly, but also ensuring that the students have access to all of the resources necessary to succeed.

“It’s not just their academics,” Boren said. “We want to make sure everything is OK in their personal life and that they have everything they need to be successful in the program.”

One of the requirements of the grant is that students, upon graduation, are required to spend an equal amount of time working in an Indian Health Service-approved clinic in their new jobs for scholarship payback. For the CSUSM students, that means committing three years after graduation to working for an Indian Health Service-approved clinic. That commitment aligns perfectly with the goals of Mary and Nesune, who both want to help improve healthcare for American Indians.

“I want other children and young people who come in to see me there doing that job so that they might be encouraged to do the same thing and hopefully increase the number of American Indian healthcare providers that we’ll have at our clinics,” Mary said.

Said Nesune: “I want to take what I learn back to my reservation and my tribal community where it’s greatly needed. We really need more of our people in the medical field. There definitely can be improvements. I want to be part of that improvement and bringing our people forward in healthcare.”

Inspiring Journey from Refugee to Marine to Graduate

By David Ogul

Nearly a decade as a refugee after fleeing a brutal civil war? Check. U.S. Marine combat engineer in Iraq and Afghanistan? Check. Promising biochemist who has been accepted into among the most prestigious research institutions in the world? Check.

Meet Sharon Patray, who will walk across a stage at Cal State San Marcos on May 20 to receive her Bachelor of Science Degree in Biochemistry before setting off for a Ph.D. program at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore this fall.

“A day doesn’t go by where I don’t look back at my experiences and think about how fortunate I am,” Patray said. “Even when I’m pumping gas into my car at the gas station, I think, if you would have told me when I was a kid that I would even have my own car, I wouldn’t believe it. Where I came from, only rich people had cars.”

How did she do it?

“Determination, hard work and luck,” Patray said.

Patray’s mentor, Associate Professor of Biochemistry Dr. Sajith Jayasinghe, is among her biggest fans.

“She is a role model for my other students in the lab,” Jayasinghe said. “They see what she has done, where she has come from, and where she is going to.”

Born in the Liberian capital of Monrovia, Patray fled with her mom and most of her family to Ghana during the first Liberian Civil War, a conflict that left more than 600,000 people dead from 1989 to 1997. She was 6 years old when she left her homeland, and she would spend much of the next nine years in a refugee camp.

At the age of 15, Patray landed in Rochester, N.Y., to live with her father. Although she earned a fully paid scholarship to study engineering at Clarkson University, a private research institution near the Canadian border, Patray could not capitalize on the offer because she had not yet become eligible for a green card from what was then known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Instead, she enrolled at Monroe Community College in her adopted hometown of Rochester. After one year at Monroe, she enlisted in the Marines.

“A friend of mine was joining the military and I thought it would be fun, so I saw a recruiter,” Patray said. “He told me the military would pay for my education and help me secure my green card.”

Patray’s eight years as a Marine combat engineer included everything from building bridges in Japan to clearing routes in Iraq and Afghanistan. When she left the service, she moved to Oceanside, enrolled in MiraCosta College, and continued along her path of academic excellence. Patray began looking at her options, but after her experiences as a combat engineer, she quickly crossed engineering off her list as possible career choices.

“I was thinking about becoming a physical therapist, and had to take a Biology 101 course, and I loved it. I absolutely fell in love with biology. So, I started taking more biology classes, and naturally that led me to chemistry classes, so I changed my major to biochemistry.”

She hasn’t looked back. Patray, now 32, earned two associate degrees from the Oceanside college and took part in the Bridges to the Future Program, a partnership between MiraCosta, CSUSM and Palomar College that is designed to prepare students from underrepresented communities for careers in biomedical research.

“I had some great teachers, some great mentors at both MiraCosta College and Cal State San Marcos who told me I could be a great biochemist and provided me with the support and resources to succeed,” Patray said. “They have been my family since I decided to go the science route.”

It was also while she was at MiraCosta that Patray was introduced to the OTRES program, an acronym for the Office for Training, Research and Education in the Sciences. All of which meant that when Patray enrolled at CSUSM, she was ready to take flight. She was accepted into the competitive Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) Program in 2014. Through OTRES, Patray took part in a 2015 Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at Johns Hopkins University, where her work focused on isolating mycobacteriophages, which can be manipulated and are useful in understanding mycobacterial infections in people.

In 2016, she took part in the California State University-Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program, a statewide effort dedicated to broadening participation in STEM disciplines. She also has presented her work at national and regional conferences such as the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) and the CSU Program for Education & Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB). And she is an active participant in the American Chemistry Society Club and the American Association of University Women.

Perhaps most impressive, Patray co-authored a peer-reviewed article in the journal Intrinsically Disordered Proteins while still an undergraduate student at CSUSM.

“She is highly motivated, and her desire to learn will take her far,” Jayasinghe said.

This coming fall, Patray will be entering the first year of her Ph.D. program at Johns Hopkins. She is aiming for a possible career with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducting the kind of virus-related research that will save lives.

But first, she’ll be speaking at the April 22 March for Science in San Diego, part of a series of nationwide events supporting science and research.

“We have come so far,” Patray said. “We can’t let people turn us back.”

Human Development Student Ready to Make a Difference

By Eric Breier

Carlos Olivares had a difficult time adjusting to life in the United States after moving from Mexico when he was 9.

“I struggled a lot growing up,” Carlos said. “I struggled adapting to a new culture and I rebelled quite a bit.”

The struggles continued into his freshman year at Escondido High School where his grade-point average was just 1.25 that first year.

Needless to say, college wasn’t on his radar back then. He wasn’t even thinking about graduating from high school.

“My goal was just to break necks in football,” he said. “I was angry.”

Carlos overcame that anger and those struggles, becoming the first in his family to attend college. He will cross the commencement stage at Cal State San Marcos next month after earning his bachelor’s in human development.

Carlos credits his turnaround to a high school counselor. First, she put him on a program to recover lost credits from his freshman year. By the end of his sophomore year, his grade-point average was 4.0. As a junior, Carlos started taking Advanced Placement classes and began to think about attending Palomar College. It wasn’t long before he set his sights on a four-year university. He was accepted to all five universities to which he applied, but there was little doubt that he would choose CSUSM.

“This is my community,” he said. “This is where I grew up. Before I make a difference anywhere else, I need to make a difference here.”

Though Carlos said he struggled again during his first year at CSUSM, he was better equipped to handle those struggles. He credits CSUSM’s Personalized Academic Success Services (PASS) for helping him hone the skills he needed to be successful in college.

Carlos’ efforts culminated in a trip to Chicago in March for the annual Scientific Meeting of the Association for Applied Psychophysiological and Biofeedback.

CSUSM professor Eliza Bigham, Carlos’ HD 497 instructor, recommended that he attend the conference to present a project titled “iCare Health Monitor Phone App vs. Traditional Portable Pulse Oximetry.” The project compared the accuracy of the iCare application to a pulse oximeter by examining heart rate and oxygen levels in blood cells, or SpO2.

The results found the iCare’s heart rate measurement to be accurate when compared to the pulse oximeter, but inaccurate when measuring SpO2.

“The most amazing things happen when students go to conference,” Bigham said. “Carlos, for example, was not sure if he should go and I could tell he was a little uncomfortable knowing that he was going to have a presentation of his research project.”

Carlos serves as a teaching assistant for Bigham on a similar project. He received experience presenting at last year’s Nu Upsilon Research Conference (NURC) and he helped the groups that will be presenting at this year’s NURC event on May 4. The event is from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at Markstein Patio and is open to the public.

“Carlos put all of what he learned as a teaching assistant and also on his research team last semester into this iCare poster, and it turned out wonderful,” Bigham said. “I had so many comments from attendees that they were impressed with his understanding of the project and with his excitement about research in general. It was as if he had found something new and exciting and realized that he could have a significant place in that. I know that Carlos will continue to reach new heights with each step that he takes. And I look forward to continuing to support and applaud him as he goes on this journey.”

Carlos plans to pursue his master’s and would like to eventually work as a school psychologist so that he can positively impact lives like his high school counselor did for him.

But before continuing his education, he wants to make a difference close to home.

“I need to make an impact here first,” said Carlos, who works as a sports coordinator for Rincon Middle School in Escondido and also interns for Escondido Union High School District. “I can’t just leave my community behind after it’s done so much for me.

“Graduating from college is a great accomplishment and I’m proud of it. But I’m not done yet.”

Project ACCEPT Preparing Bilingual Teachers

By Eric Breier

Ana Hernandez knows the value of being bilingual in the teaching profession.

At the end of March, she took 16 Cal State San Marcos School of Education students to the California Association for Bilingual Education conference in Anaheim.

She has already heard from school districts wanting to interview them.

“They’re worth their weight in gold because they get a regular credential and then on top of that they’re bilingual and they’re credentialed to teach in a bilingual class,” said Hernandez, an associate professor of multilingual and multicultural education and coordinator of CSUSM’s Bilingual Authorization Program, Dual Language Certificate and Multicultural Specialist Certificate in the School of Education.

“They can communicate with parents, they can do conferences in two languages, they can provide curriculum in two languages. You’re hiring someone who’s basically going to do double work.”

Hernandez is completing the first year of a $2.56 million, five-year grant awarded last fall through the U.S. Department of Education. The grant is titled Project ACCEPT, or Aligning the Common Core for English learners, Parents and Teachers.

The project is supporting the professional development of teachers preparing to teach English language learners. Hernandez said that out of nearly 400 grant applications, only 48 were funded.

“That says a lot about Cal State San Marcos’ program,” she said. “I think the fact that we already had a Dual-Language Certificate and we already had a Bilingual Authorization Program gave us a leg up because we already had it institutionalized here.”

Through the grant, Hernandez is working with Fallbrook Union Elementary School District, Oceanside Unified School District and Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District.

The K-12 teachers will be trained in strategies for dual-language education with English-language learners.

“One of the nice things about these programs is the other half of the students are English-only students who want to learn Spanish as a second language,” Hernandez said. “It’s like a conduit and they’re learning languages from each other. So not only is the teacher teaching language through content, such as science in Spanish or social studies in English depending on what the school district decides to do with the content instruction, but then those students are also learning the other language.”

The grant provides stipends for the K-12 teachers as well as funds for attending conferences and instructional materials.

Working with local school districts is just one part of the grant. It is also helping to recruit new bilingual teachers through CSUSM’s teaching credentialing program. CSUSM students receive a $3,000 scholarship for completing the program, which includes two classes and a field experience in a bilingual setting. They also take a state exam to establish oral and written proficiency in Spanish.

CSUSM student Christopher Norby is adding an English credential and the bilingual authorization to increase his hiring prospects.

While many of the students in the program are native or heritage Spanish speakers, Christopher started learning Spanish in eighth grade. He continued taking Spanish classes through high school and earned a minor in it as a CSUSM undergrad.

“I knew that this skill would be an advantage for me as an educator and was excited to hear about a Bilingual Authorization at the beginning of my credential program,” Christopher said.

Hernandez is hoping more CSUSM students learn about the scholarship opportunity. They are awarding 16 this year and will have funding for 50 next year – 25 through the Dual Language Certificate Program and 25 through the Bilingual Authorization Program.

Christopher said the program has been instrumental in helping him develop his teaching skills for English-learning students.

“These students are often the most lost and in need of help at the high school level, especially in content area classrooms where there is little additional support,” he said. “Being able to use skills acquired in this class has made me more adaptable for the students that need my help. Having learned a second language myself and having been a language minority in my Spanish classes has made me more appreciative and relatable to the struggles of my language-learning students.”

The grant also has a research component that includes following program participants to track their progress as bilingual teachers.

“It’s exciting to see our students involved in something like this and also that we’re working so closely with our community partners,” Hernandez said. “Our University is all about service and partnerships in our community and strengthening that. This benefits both the public education system and our students at Cal State San Marcos.”