Department Spotlights

Faculty Spotlight: Professor Jeanine DiTomasso

Professor Jeanine DiTomasso photo

Meet Professor DiTomasso, a director of development at a neighborhood music school in Boyle Heights and a Lecturer at Cal State LA. Professor Ditomasso currently teaches youth agency administration (YAA) and will lead the same course in the Fall. She looks forward to connecting with students just beginning their careers to set a foundation for their next step in the field. She mentioned her favorite part of teaching at Cal State LA was the students and opening up discussions about real challenges they are experiencing in non-profits and learning from each other. Professor DiTomasso encourages students interested in YAA to advocate for themselves and have patience. Professor DiTomasso suggests those interested in non-profit organizations be confident in their skills and believe in the organization's mission. In Professor DiTomasso’s free time, she loves camping, cooking, hiking, and exploring California with her family. We encourage you to contact Professor DiTomasso to learn more about her journey.

Alumni Spotlight: Mariana Gomez

Dr. Mariana Gomez Spotlight Graphic

Mariana graduated from Cal State LA with her BA in 2017 and her MA in 2019 in Child and Family Studies. Mariana was inspired to pursue a master’s degree because her family worked hard and told her to go for her dreams and be her best. In addition, Dr. Kouyoumdjian was very supportive and had high expectations of her, which motivated her to be her best self while in the program. Mariana chose to pursue child development because she was passionate about providing quality education for all children. Once Mariana graduated, she became a preschool teacher and a preschool director. Mariana loves her position because it has challenged her differently and shows her more behind the scenes when running the center. Mariana was surprised by how many different roles a director has, such as the business side of the center. Mariana is currently working on a research paper with Dr. Kouyoumdjian and Dr. Morales-Chicas, researching mentoring for Latinos in STEM and what they experienced from early childhood up to higher education.

Mariana suggests that while in this program, try your best to be in the moment and enjoy it because you are only pursuing your education for a short period. She also encourages students to ask many questions and get to know their professors because they are very supportive and involved in many different research interests that can bring opportunities. For example, because she got to know Dr. Kouyoumdjian, she could join a research lab, be a graduate assistant, and be a student ambassador for CHDV Connect. Mariana suggests that once someone graduates, it is essential to keep in touch with peers and professors because you may need a letter of recommendation or help knowing when there is a hiring position. During her free time, Mariana likes to listen to podcasts and audiobooks. She also enjoys hiking and social dancing to Latin music. At one time, Mariana loved dancing so much that she wanted to be a dance major and learned seven different dance forms. Mariana would describe herself as friendly, helpful, and dedicated. We encourage you to contact Mariana to learn more about her journey.

Student Spotlight: Anthony Aguayo

Student Anthony Aguayo Spotlight Graphic

Meet Anthony Aguayo, a current undergraduate student in the Child and Family Studies Department at Cal State LA. After graduating high school, Anthony went to East Los Angeles College (ELAC) to major in Child Development which further propelled his desire to try harder. Before pursuing a career in child development, Anthony received compliments about his interaction with children. Anthony is very good with children and maintained patience when he volunteered at parks and recreation programs with elementary children. While at ELAC, he completed 200 fieldwork hours at a daycare where he would observe, read to toddlers, and help with snack time. While attending school, Anthony started as a substitute teacher; through his work ethic and dedication to students, he is now working as a Special Education Assistant at that same high school within Los Angeles Unified School District. In this role, he helps teachers with lesson plans and works with students in person or via Zoom. This current job has made him realize his desire to continue to pursue a career in special education, specifically in high school, because he likes working with this population.  

While at Cal State LA, Anthony explained that his favorite assignment he completed was an assignment in the course 3210 Urban Families and Resilience with Dr. Benavides. In this class, he did a community-based project and took pictures of positive and negative factors within the city and searched for resources. Anthony has maintained a high GPA where he hopes to get at least a 3.5 after this semester. The advice he gives to students is to communicate with professors, which he explains is crucial to understand the material and pass your classes. Even if you’re too shy to participate in class, there are always office hours that he highly recommends students to attend because it helped him be successful. Anthony is expected to graduate in Spring 2021 and is applying to the MA program in the Child and Family Studies Department at Cal State LA. He chose to apply to Cal State LA because he likes the program, and he enjoys how the professors are always there to push him, provide feedback, and motivate him to keep trying. He gets his motivation to pursue higher education from his stepson. He hopes to be a positive role model for him and to be able to help provide for his family financially. Anthony would describe himself as having a lot of patience, being attentive, and honest. Anthony enjoys going on bike rides with his stepson, working out, and going on hikes. A fun fact about Anthony would be that he enjoys cooking and he most recently learned how to make Vietnamese fried rice. If you see Anthony in one of your courses, don’t hesitate to say hi!