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.”

Dean’s Award, College of Education, Health and Human Services

Edith Méndez, B.A. Human Development

Edith Mendez_Dean.

A first-generation college student whose parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico, Edith wants to pursue a career that will allow her to provide guidance to underprivileged college students.

Edith said CSUSM’s Human Development program allowed her to have a well-rounded understanding of how individuals develop throughout their life and how that knowledge can be applied in a human-service setting.

Among Edith’s notable accomplishments was a trip to Australia in January for a study-abroad program in which she helped create hand-made toys for Syrian refugee children. Her work on behalf of Syrian refugees also included participation in a mural painting project.

Edith also worked as a student assistant in CSUSM’s Office of Internships and Community Engagement where she quickly moved up and received more responsibility.

Edith will begin a Higher Education Leadership master’s program at the University of San Diego this fall and aims to eventually become an academic adviser and organize student programs.

ASI Highlights Human Development Student – Yvette Ibañez

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Yvette Ibañez
Gender Equity Center Peer Educator

“Always be optimistic but never stop working for what you want”
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Congratulations to Yvette Ibañez for being our newest ASI Student Spotlight feature. We would also like to congratulate Yvette for graduating at the end of this semester! Yvette, Human Development major who transferred to Cal State San Marcos from Mira Costa, serves as one of our peer educators in the Gender Equity Center. She also is the Culture and Identity Lead; programming events specialized towards culture and feminism. Some examples of her past events include Dia de Los Muertos, Women in Activism, and LatinX Taboos. Yvette is a very kind and caring person. She giggles at everything and is very easy to talk with. She is soft-spoken but that gives her the opportunity to listen and get to know you!

Yvette is involved elsewhere on and off campus as well. She is an intern for The Alliance. They oversee guaranteed admissions for the campus. She is also a part of the Latino/Latina Round Table. This group meets monthly to talk about events and to discuss what Latino and Latina leaders on campus are working on. Off campus, Yvette works as a Gear Up tutor for Oceanside High School. From Peer Educator to Tutor, Yvette is a busy person.

Yvette says ASI has been a positive experience for her because she has been able to meet many incredible people and that has allowed her to break out of her shell. Yvette is an individual that is always willing to help. If there is work to be done, not just at a GEC event, but for ASI in general, she will always give a helping hand. This is mainly because of her family! Yvette grew up in a very family-orientated household and, being the oldest of her siblings, grew up always looking out for others and helping where she can. Yvette’s parents are truly the hardest working people Yvette knows and she draws her inspiration from their example. They immigrated here to the United States to make a new start and now they have two daughters in college!

​Looking into the future, Yvette hopes to travel the world, to places like London! Her favorite quote is “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” by Eleanor Roosevelt. This quote is especially important to her now because she is graduating. Yvette is unsure of what the future holds but her secret is to remain optimistic. Her definition of success is doing what you love and not wasting your time. In 10 years, she sees herself in education as a counselor. Her advice to incoming students is to go out and talk to people. You never know what opportunities they may present to you! Congratulations Yvette for graduating and thank you for all that you do for ASI! We wish you the best in your endeavors!

Students win undergraduate poster presentation!

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Led by Dr. Noriko Toyokawa, Erika Martinez (Human Development), Raul Diaz (Kinesiology/Business), and Rebecca Cruz (Human Development) won the best undergraduate poster presentation award from the Northwest Council on Family Studies held on April 20 and 21 in Portland, Oregon!

Their poster title is “Intergenerational Ambivalence: Adult Children’s Strategies to Challenge the Structure of Parent-Child Relations. The National Council on Family Studies is the largest professional association of the field of Human Development & Family Studies. The poster by Martinez, Diaz, and Cruz was selected as the best presentation after the evaluation of the poster and presenters’ skills to answer to the selection committee’s questions regarding their work. The award selection committee chair and the audience stated that they were particularly impressed with the presenters’ (1) Presentation of clear theoretical frameworks of the study (2) Student presenters’ clear responses to the audience’ questions and comments, (3) Clear tables and figures to present findings.

From CEHHS, 6 students participated in the regional conference West Coast and presented two posters. Noami Morelia, Arlene Santos, and Jessica Saldana (All from Human Development, in order of the authorship) also presented their poster, entitled, ‘Aging parents’ perspectives of intergenerational ambivalence.’ Although there was no official second prize, the award selection committee chair recognized both student groups’ presentation of the strong theoretical framework that these two CSUSM posters and students’ clear responses to her questions and comments, too. In general, because of both posters, many participants of the conference recognized high quality of CSUSM undergraduate students’ research. I am really proud of the students who have been involved in this study from the data collection and completed their studies to present. All six students presented the posters really professionally. They have well managed their time and multiple tasks and mutually support to one another in this entire process.

Student presenters:
(photo of 6) From the left, Erika Martinez (HD), Rebecca Cruz (HD), Raul Diaz (Kinesiology/Business), Arlene Santos (HD), Noami Morelia (HD), and Jessica Saldana (HD).

Congratulations students!

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.”