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Bill Covino

Meet Bill Covino

Cal State L.A. Todaygets the details on the new president, his personal story and his vision for the university.

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  • Meet Debbie Covino

    President's wife has interests in literature, psychology and pop culture.

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  • Picking up the pace

    Student team takes second place in year two of EcoCAR 2 challenge.

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  • Remembering Mr. Castro

    Professor reflects on the life and career of alumnus Sal Castro, an influential educator and activist in East Los Angeles.

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  • Now read this

    The first novel by alumna Carrie Arcos gains recognition from the literary elite.

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  • University events

    The campus community says goodbye to Dr. James M. Rosser in style. Plus: A special VIP event for Alumni Association members and a list of upcoming events.

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  • Profile in Giving

    Mike Lucki ('78) is establishing a new endowed scholarship fund that supports accounting majors.

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Features

A novel leader

As the University's next president, William A. Covino is looking to craft a new narrative about the transformations that take place on Cal State L.A.'s campus.

William A. Covino, the university's seventh president, holds a Doctor of Philosophy in English from the University of Southern California.

This campus tells a story. From sheep-rearing rancho to thriving state university, every development, achievement and discovery marks a new episode in the autobiography of Cal State L.A. So consider it appropriate that the leader charged with writing the next chapter for the university is a master of prose.

William A. Covino began his tenure as the seventh president of California State University, Los Angeles in September. An author and prolific writer, Doctor of Philosophy in English, former professor, and celebrated advocate for student success, Covino, 61, most recently served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Fresno State. His scholarly accomplishments and specializations include the history and theory of rhetoric, persuasion, imagination, and literacy. He has authored and published five books and 37 refereed articles and chapters, and has presented more than 55 papers and presentations at local, statewide and national conferences.

For Covino, student and alumni success are the greatest attributes of a comprehensive and flourishing university that serves the city, the state, and points around the world that are touched by its graduates.

"That's what we do. Those with a Cal State L.A. degree leave here with a set of values and skills that lead to great lives and careers, and belief in the worth of compassion and generosity. If we can keep telling that story, we can be even more convincing about how much it means to graduate from Cal State L.A."

Covino sees the job of CSULA is to not only help these transformations take place, but also to teach students to become the leaders others want to emulate.

"Great leaders are less interested in themselves than in the welfare of others. They bring out the best in the people they touch, and have the courage to stay focused on what is good and right, rather than what is self-serving and easiest," he explains. "We will work hard to help our students see themselves as leaders, so that as alumni, they will be regarded by others as honest, kind, hardworking, and passionate about their mission in life. We will encourage their appreciation and respect for the differences that make each of us unique, the dreams and struggles we have in common, and the commitment to helping others be successful. With these traits, our students will transform all that they touch, because others will want to learn from and follow their example."


CSULA student Lena Aboulhosn takes a break from studies to meet William and Debbie Covino on a tour of the campus during the summer.

Covino's L.A. Story

Covino moved to the San Fernando Valley in 1964 at age 12, the oldest of three children in an Italian-American family originally from Connecticut. The family lived in Reseda and Encino, and Covino graduated from Reseda High School. Early on, Covino found English to be a subject that he excelled in, and he loved to read, which fit well into his family's sometimes challenging economic circumstances.

"My father and mother would say to me 'library books are free.' So every week, starting in elementary school, I would come home with a lot of books and read, read, read. It was a treasure that really moved me in the right direction."

Like many at Cal State L.A., Covino is a first-generation college student. Though his blue-collar parents did not experience college themselves, they recognized and reinforced in their children the value of higher education.

"My father insisted, 'You're going to get a bachelor's degree from college and you're going to get a master's degree too,'" Covino explains. "He didn't quite understand what a master's degree was, but he knew it was the next level up. 'So you're not stopping,' he said."

With the support of his family and a high level of achievement in high school, Covino earned a first-year scholarship to University of California, Los Angeles.

To make a little cash during college, he worked as a musician. With Covino playing accordion and supplying vocals, the band booked wedding receptions, bar mitzvahs and anniversary parties all over Los Angeles. His first professional job was at Edna Earle's Fog Cutter Restaurant on La Brea, which no longer exists.

Musicianship is a family tradition—everyone plays an instrument. Covino keeps his grandfather's mandolin and accordion on display in his office at Fresno State, and they'll also be permanent fixtures in his office at Cal State L.A.

"My parents boast that at their wedding reception in 1951, they didn't hire a band; they just waited for the relatives to show up with instruments. There were more than 20 people on the stage playing by the end of the night."

When he first arrived at UCLA, Covino did not declare a major, but enjoyed the English courses. An influential English professor, Ken Lincoln, told him, "If you major in English, you're really majoring in everything because English majors learn about psychology, sociology, and history, which is all embedded in fiction and poetry. It gives you a really broad orientation to the human condition."

Covino also found that English opened up his understanding of the complexities of human nature and the ambiguities of conflict and resolution, and taught him to think critically on a wide range of issues.

After finishing his Bachelor of Arts in English at UCLA, and then Master of Arts from both CSU Northridge and University of Southern California, he earned a Doctor of Philosophy in English from USC in 1981.

Prior to Fresno State, Covino held the position of provost and vice president for academic affairs at CSU Stanislaus from 2006-09. It was a return to the CSU system following eight years at Florida Atlantic University where he chaired the Department of English and was dean of the College of Arts and Letters. He also has held faculty positions at the University of Illinois at Chicago and San Diego State University.

Margins of Overlap

Covino envisions Cal State L.A. as the first university that comes to mind when people think about Los Angeles, and understands that everything we do will be strengthened by creating opportunities, partnerships and comprehensive careers for CSULA students, faculty and others associated with the university.

"My first question regarding anything I address will be, 'How does this help our students?' They are who we're here for. We will need to exemplify those kinds of civic, moral and ethical values that we want our students to absorb," Covino says. "That does not mean we all must behave in a certain way or follow specific rules, but we definitely want our students to look to this university as a place that values honesty, transparency, multiple pathways to success, and richness in diversity. Without this diversity, without the opportunity for people to air their differences, learning will not take place."

Covino plans to explore with the campus community the best practices to expand the currently growing success of the university's students. To prompt this collaboration and build campus unity, Covino sees the conversation starting with one question: What is it that we share? He calls this our "margin of overlap," borrowing the phrase from American philosopher Kenneth Burke.

"We're all worried about some of the same things, are challenged by some of the same things, and love some of the same things," he explains. "We need to know where we overlap, and where we identify with one another. It is in those areas that we should start the conversation."

Building on the remarkable foundation forever embedded in the campus by President James M. Rosser, Covino believes that Los Angeles' great wealth, accomplishment and opportunity are ideal for enabling Cal State L.A. to help students achieve academic careers that sharpen their critical thinking and learn how to contribute to communities in productive and diverse ways.

"All the ingredients are here. Cal State L.A. is poised to gain even greater recognition and support throughout the region and beyond."

Meet Debbie Covino

When Cal State L.A.'s seventh president William A. Covino settles in on campus in the fall, he won't be coming alone. For the first time in decades, the university will have a first lady: Debbie Covino.

They met on the campus of San Diego State University in the mid-1980s and instantly connected.

"We just ran into each other and started to talk," says Mr. Covino. "It was one of those things. It was just fortuitous."

The couple easily bonded over common interests, including literature and psychology, and married in 1987. The Covinos have four adult children: Mr. Covino's sons, Chris and Nick; Mrs. Covino's daughter, Alexandra; and their son Danny, the youngest. Mrs. Covino, who has a bachelor's degree in psychology from San Diego State University and a master's degree in English literature from the University of Illinois at Chicago, taught composition and literature at the university level for 20 years.

After completing her doctorate in English language and literature from the University of Illinois, her teaching expanded into more areas of study, including literary theory, literature and medicine, and gender studies. Last year, Mrs. Covino shifted away from education and returned to her first academic interest, psychology. She became a certified hypnotherapist and opened her own practice, Hypnotic WellBeing, in Fresno, while Mr. Covino was employed as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Fresno State.

Hypnotherapy is a therapeutic technique in which clinicians make suggestions to individuals who have undergone a procedure designed to relax them and focus their minds.

Mrs. Covino specializes in treatment for anxiety, fear, and illness triggers, but the technique can be used to address depression, past trauma, insomnia, addiction, eating disorders, relationship issues, self-confidence, and decision-making.

The new career feels like a continuation of her role as a teacher of literature.

"I love it because it brings together from my background in psychology and English the value of narrative studies and listening to people's stories. It's helping them reinterpret the meanings and problems in their lives and find healthier, more constructive ways to orient themselves toward the world."

Mrs. Covino plans to move her practice to Southern California, but can also work with clients over phone or video call services, such as Skype.

"Being in a hypnotic condition is really just being open to suggestion. So you just find a focus within and openness to suggestion. You don't need to be sitting across from the person in the same room in order to take the person there."

In their downtime, the Covinos continue their longtime academic interests in film and popular media by watching movies and television series with intriguing plots and characters. They occasionally host movie nights for friends.

"We enjoy talking about the complexities of the characters and what their actions tell us about ourselves. You can learn so much about your culture by staying in touch with mass media," says Mrs. Covino.

Picking up the pace

After a bumpy start, Cal State L.A.'s EcoCAR 2 gains speed in second year of the competition.

The CSULA EcoCAR is subjected to rigorous testing on braking and acceleration, gradeability, emissions and energy consumption, drive and dynamic consumer acceptability at the GM Desert Proving Grounds in Yuma, Ariz. Photo courtesy EcoCAR 2.

Ren Fang was bracing for disappointment. As organizers for the EcoCAR 2 challenge counted down the top six finishers for the second year of competition in the posh ballroom of San Diego's historic Hotel Del Coronado in May, the electrical engineering major worried the CSULA team wouldn't make the list. They had endured penalties, after all, and University of Washington and Penn State had some impressive performances.

But when the emcee began to describe the second-place team, Fang and his teammates erupted in excitement.

"I was looking at Michel Choi and Chris Reid and we were in absolute shock," Fang says. "I remember looking at Chris and putting two fingers up and whispering 'second?' He had this look of disbelief and nodded back to me with eyes popping out of his head like a goldfish."

Cal State L.A. receives second place for the year two competition at the awards ceremony in San Diego. From left: Lupe Bañales, Michel Choi, Justin Bower, Chris Reid, Ren Fang, Abdul Shabana, Yessenia Toscano, Lester Dolmos, Jovanny Gomez, Kortnee Smith, Professor David Blekhman, Acting Associate Dean of College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology Benjamin Lee. Photo courtesy EcoCAR 2.

The Cal State L.A. EcoCAR 2 team had reason to be excited. After placing 13 out of 15 in year one, second place signaled a comeback.

EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future is a three-year competition that challenges 15 North American universities to reduce the environmental impact of a Chevrolet Malibu without compromising performance, safety and consumer acceptability.

Established by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors (GM), EcoCAR 2 builds upon a 23-year history of Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions in which public/private partnerships provide experience and training to promising minds entering the workforce.

CSULA's EcoCAR 2 is a multidisciplinary effort, with students forming teams specializing in engineering, business and communication. The competition supplies a vehicle along with some of the software, components and tools, but students must fundraise and take on sponsors to pay for equipment and travel.

Each year follows a stage in the development of a new automobile. The year one contest is all about design. Teams perform a well-to-wheel analysis and use digital modeling and simulation software to formulate and virtually test a strategy for hybrid conversion.

The competition requires teams to convert the Malibu into a plug-in electric hybrid, so CSULA settled on a design that connects an E85 (ethanol fuel blend of 85 percent) gas engine in the front to an electric motor in the rear. But after being judged on mechanical, electrical and control designs, as well as outreach, business plans and trade show displays, the team came away from year one in 13th place.

Fang explained it was a matter of inexperience for the rookies.

"For most of year one, we did not know what we were doing. So at the year one competition, we were months behind other teams … Many of us knew nothing about vehicles in the beginning."

The team was crushed, but the blow served as a powerful motivator.

"I knew 13th wasn't good enough," says Abraham Vargas, marketing major and the team's business manager. "Every week of year two, I wanted to make sure that we were improving."

Over summer 2012, the team restructured and Reid, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, was appointed leader. Some original members left after graduation and the team recruited heavily from numerous departments across campus.

Team members attended workshops sponsored by EcoCAR 2 organizers, and upper classmen held training sessions on simulation software and vehicle basics. They consulted their GM mentors and faculty adviser, Professor David Blekhman, more often.

By the time regional inspections took place in March, CSULA was the only team to have a running vehicle.

"That's where we got a lot of drive to continue," says Reid. "Seeing where the other teams were. Knowing that none of them were running a car at that point affirmed that as long as we show up to competition with a reliable vehicle, we would do well."

The CSULA EcoCAR in the garage at the GM Desert Proving Grounds in Yuma, Ariz., in May. Photo courtesy EcoCAR 2.

In May, the team rolled into the GM Desert Proving Ground in Yuma, Ariz., for six days of rigorous vehicle testing and evaluation. CSULA was the second team to pass safety inspection and the only to finish all events—with air conditioning—which helped boost consumer acceptability. That was a point of pride for the team's members.

"Our school is well-known for engineering competitions," says Lester Dolmos, an electrical engineering major. "A lot of the other vehicles were breaking down. Some didn't even run. Our vehicle always finished."

Indeed, Cal State L.A. has a proud history of top performances in vehicle engineering competitions, including first-place finishes in the 1997 Sunrayce solar vehicle competition, the 1996, 1998 and 1999 Mini Baja West challenges, and the 2004 Supermileage competition.

With Reid behind the wheel, CSULA achieved the fastest time on autocross, but because they weren't operating on a hybrid system yet, the team was penalized 15 points per category and prohibited from placing first in any event. Penn State won the year two competition by 12 points.

With an electric motor ready and awaiting GM approval, the team will spend year three refining the system, increasing performance and keeping standards high for competition finals in Washington, D.C., in May 2014.

Team leaders are looking to recruit more students to help with everything from engineering and computer programming to marketing, accounting and even help for writing reports. Alumni may also get involved through mentoring or in-kind donations of equipment, service or financial support.

Follow the CSULA EcoCAR 2 online at www.csulaecocar2.com.

Remembering Mr. Castro

Sal Castro: A Catalyst for Change

Alumnus built a career out of empowering and inspiring students as a dedicated teacher in Los Angeles.

Castro, on the megaphone, was a social studies teacher at Lincoln High School when the student walkouts occurred in 1968. Photo courtesy Charlotte Lerchenmuller.

There was a time when the prevailing attitude in Los Angeles schools was that Mexican-American students weren't college material.

Decades of institutionalized racism culled an environment that perpetuated negative stereotypes, high dropout rates, sparse resources, overcrowding and reinforced low expectations. Opportunities in the racialized Eastside schools were limited, with Mexican-American students being guided into vocational courses instead of academic instruction tracks for the college-bound students.

As one of a few Mexican-American educators in the East Los Angeles schools in the 1960s, Sal Castro ('61) inspired thousands of students to fight against their inferior education-an effort that grew into the East Los Angeles student walkouts of 1968. Over several days that spring, thousands of students vacated classrooms in mass protest against unequal conditions and unfair policies while urging for action from the school board.

The enthusiasm of the students who participated in the walkouts as well as programs such as the Chicano Youth Leadership Conference, which Castro helped run, soon extended to their friends, families and eventually the whole community-serving as a catalyst for the Chicano Movement.

Though the walkouts may have helped the causes of the Chicano community, it was sometimes at great cost to Castro, who was arrested (though later cleared) for his role in the walkouts and endured occasional threats, harassment and professional repercussions for decades. Yet, every transfer and new assignment on a playground or campus meant a new community for him to engage with and hundreds, if not thousands, more young Chicanos to inspire.

In June 2010, the Los Angeles Unified School District honored Castro through the naming of the Sal Castro Middle School, located on the Belmont High School campus. Photo courtesy Charlotte Lerchenmuller.

"Sal had a strong belief in what was right and wrong, and he fought for those beliefs," says Castro's wife Charlotte Lerchenmuller ('67, '78 M.S.). "He was an outstanding teacher, father, grandfather, citizen of the world and believer in this country living up to its promises of equality and justice for all. After the walkouts, he continued to teach, mentor, motivate, serve and change lives for 45 more years."

Castro passed away on April 15 after a bout with cancer. More than 3,000 people attended his funeral at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels-a testament to Castro's legacy in the Los Angeles community.

The story of Castro and the Chicano Movement has been well-documented, most notably in the book, Blowout! Sal Castro & the Chicano Struggle for Educational Justice, which he co-wrote with University of California, Santa Barbara professor Mario T. Garcia.

In this issue of Cal State L.A. Today, Dr. Rita Ledesma, chair of the Department of Child and Family Studies and professor in the School of Social Work, reflects on her personal experience with Castro and his influence on Chicano youths in Los Angeles.

CSULA Social Work Professor Rita Ledesma met Castro through the UCLA Upward Bound program in 1968. Photo courtesy Rita Ledesma.

In his life achievements, Sal Castro epitomized the goals, vision and potential of Cal State L.A. He was proud to be a "Diablo" and a graduate of Cal State L.A. and he recognized that CSULA was an important member of the region. Mr. Castro has been widely recognized for his role during and after the East Los Angeles student walkouts of 1968, but his commitment to student success, achievement and community engagement preceded and followed the event. He possessed depth of knowledge about U.S. and Mexican history and the Chicano/a Latino/a experience in the United States and many of his life experiences mirrored that history. His commitment to a wide range of activities to promote the educational advancement of Chicano/a Latino/a students was legendary. In his roles as a teacher, mentor, scholar, engaged community activist and leader, jazz aficionado, veteran, father, husband, brother, son and uncle, he demonstrated vision and the values of respect, responsibility, a strong work ethic, dedication, good humor, obligation, commitment and love. Mr. Castro lived an authentic, rich, multidimensional, complex life, because he was an authentic, rich, multidimensional, and complex man. My life has been enriched and my career path and interests have been fueled by the lessons of his life and his example.

I learned about Mr. Castro during the walkouts. My first substantive interactions with him took place when I was a 17-year-old high school dropout from Roosevelt High School. Despite this status, I was enrolled in the UCLA Upward Bound Program during the summer of 1968. Mr. Castro was in a leadership role and I was assigned to one of his classes. During the course of that summer, he helped to transform my identity from high school dropout to college student. With his help and support, I was admitted into UCLA in the High Potential Program, and I began my college career.

I am only one of thousands of students that Mr. Castro mentored, supported and promoted. In many ways, Mr. Castro is the father of my education. I'm here because he believed in me, encouraged me and promoted me. My professional career as a social worker and at Cal State Los Angeles and my commitment to advancing student success, achievement and educational equity is directly influenced by the lessons I learned from him. He was proud of my educational achievements, and he expected that I would share these achievements with the Chicano/a Latino/a community as a mentor, model and advocate. I have been humbled and grateful to be involved with the Chicano Youth Leadership Camp. I will miss being introduced by Sal as one of his kids or as "Dr. Ledesma," but I will most miss the random phone call from him and the greeting and call to engagement, and the opportunity to share the lessons that he taught: "Dr. Ledesma! Sal Castro, here. Mija, I have someone I want to send to you" or "Dr. Ledesma! Sal Castro, here. Mija, I need you to speak at this event." I think that Sal enjoyed introducing me as "Dr. Ledesma", because the doctorate represented his commitments and his life's work. I certainly felt great honor and love when Sal introduced me. I will miss Sal, his phone calls, introductions and calls to action, but I am renewed in the commitment to continue his work.

Sal Castro's life and achievements remind the Cal State L.A. community of our obligation to serve the local community, to provide the highest quality educational experience, to provide academic and social support and to strengthen the educational pipeline. He understood that community advancement was associated with educational advancement and he understood that the lessons of our history can inform our future. His life is a lesson that can inform and advance the mission, goals and potential of California State University, Los Angeles and guide us into the future.

Castro, bottom row second from left, was a member of the Young Democrats Club while at L.A. State. Photo courtesy Charlotte Lerchenmuller.

Now read this

She's got stories to tell

Carrie Arcos gained confidence through CSULA's creative writing program.

Carrie Arcos' debut novel was recognized with a National Book Award nomination.

Earning a National Book Award nomination is a major accomplishment in publishing. That Carrie Arcos ('07 M.A.) achieved one last year with her debut young adult novel,Out of Reach, makes it all the more special.

The National Book Award is America's top literary prize given in the categories of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and youth literature. Past winners are an impressive collection of well-known authors-from William Faulkner to Maurice Sendak.

Just being selected as a finalist is a big deal for a new author like Arcos.

As a youth, Arcos loved reading, and was especially drawn to the young adult genre, in which characters teetering at the edge of childhood are often challenged by adult topics.

"I remember reading Judy Blume's Forever (which addresses teenage sexuality) under the bed covers and thinking please don't walk in mom!" recalls Arcos.

As an undergraduate at Westmont College, Arcos studied English and philosophy. She kept a journal and wrote on its cover "To be a writer, you have to have something to say." But that phrase became an obstacle. "For the longest time, I was intimidated by that. I don't know if that was good for me or too much pressure," she says.

After college, she downplayed writing in favor of something more certain-sharing her love of literature by teaching high schoolers.

Arcos is comely, warm, deeply caring and a great listener. She's the kind of teacher who takes great effort to match a student with the right book. Novels such as Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, and Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, all dark, realistic works, were in heavy rotation among her pupils.

"Young adults are drawn to darkness. I don't know many people whose teen years were idyllic. Most of us were going through this intense suffering of first loves and broken hearts and pain, just surviving high school," she says. "But what is different in young adult versus adult literature is that it always ends in hope. There's always a way out."

The birth of her first child in 2002 triggered a personal re-evaluation for Arcos. After talking with her husband, David, she decided to take a shot at writing and enrolled in the Master of Arts program's creative writing track at Cal State L.A.

"Cal State L.A. was there when I really needed it," she says. "I thought about teaching at the college level, but was looking at options. Having children, not necessarily wanting to go back to work full-time-all this stuff was in my head."

Going through admissions, submitting a body of work, attending classes in literature and writing all helped to build Arcos' confidence, especially surrendering manuscripts for peer and professor review.

"That was instrumental for me to meet deadlines and get constructive feedback from writers and professors. Almost like having my own writers group. It made me believe that I can write and have something to say."

After graduating in 2007, Arcos taught at Biola University, but committed to write almost daily. Many mornings, she'd be at the opening of Swork Coffee in Eagle Rock, tapping away on the computer while baristas pulled espresso shots. As many aspiring writers do, she sent short stories to literary magazines in hopes of getting published. But after a couple years of rejections, she had an epiphany.

"Why am I writing short stories? I read them to teach them, but I read novels and I love young adult. I know the voice, I get it. So I just bypassed all that and did a novel."

Out of Reach, follows a teenage girl, Rachel, as she attempts to locate her missing addict brother. It's about how an average American suburban family handles a major problem, such as drugs, and concepts of guilt, love, frustration, responsibility and personal growth are explored. It is inspired by some of the experiences Arcos had as an adult dealing with a family member's methampetamine addiction.

Though writing it was cathartic for Arcos, it's not biographical. To prepare for the book, she researched meth addiction and spoke to addicts.

"The emotional realities of the book are true in the sense of that struggle of how much do you keep searching and trying to help this person, and when do you pull back," Arcos explains. "There's this unhealthy co-dependency that can happen in families dealing with this. A lot of Rachel's story is learning how to still love her brother and decide to move forward."

Arcos met an agent online who requested the manuscript. That agent ended up being Kerry (Evans) Sparks ('07), a fellow CSULA alumna, at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency.

Shortly before the book's release in October, news came that it had been recognized by the National Book Foundation as a finalist in the Young People's Literature category. Well-respected young adult author Susan Cooper (The Dark is Rising) was among the experts serving on the judges panel. The Foundation awarded William Alexander's Goblin Secrets the category's top prize in November.

More recognition—International Reading Association Young Adult Fiction Honor Book for 2013 and a nomination for the California Book Award—came in the months following the National Book Awards ceremony.

The attention opens new possibilities for Arcos. She'll become a permanent member of the National Book Foundation family and will receive continual support and help in promoting new books. It also means that editors are more willing to give new works a look, though Arcos admits it doesn't guarantee anything.

Now, Arcos is on a break from Biola University so she can focus on her writing career and raise her three children, Aiden, 10, Matisse, 7, and Judah, 5. Former students and even strangers have contacted Arcos through her blog, Facebook and Twitter to give feedback and talk about the book.

She also teaches writing workshops at local high schools and attends book festivals, where she makes appearances alongside the same young adult authors whose books were in heavy circulation in her high school classroom.

"I was at the Ontario Teen Book Festival with other young adult authors. I got to meet Stephen Chbosky, who was a speaker. Being a peer to these writers that I've studied and taught is like coming full circle. It's beyond what I could have imagined."

Look for Arcos' next young adult novel, There Will Come a Time, to be published in 2014.

University Events

Paying tribute to President Rosser

How do you recognize more than three decades in service to the University?

On April 11, California State University, Los Angeles hosted a gala to celebrate the legacy of President James M. Rosser and his 34 years of leadership on campus.

The theme of the event, "Hold Fast to Dreams: A Legacy Thirty-Four Years in the Making," is taken from a Langston Hughes poem:

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Former U.S. Representative Diane Watson ('67 M.S.) and Olympic tennis champion Pam Shriver served as emcees for the gala, which drew more than 350 of the University's most committed supporters.

"Throughout his career, Dr. Rosser has broken barriers and has served as an example of equality, freedom and justice," said Watson, who was a staunch advocate for Rosser's appointment. "He is a visionary who has kept Cal State L.A. relevant, current and among the best comprehensive universities in the nation. We thank you, Jim."

In 1979, Rosser became the sixth president of CSULA. During his presidency, he oversaw increased enrollment, advocated for arts education, and elevated the profiles of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and research. He has remained fully dedicated to improving access to higher education for the underserved, whether it's highly gifted students through founding the Early Entrance Program and Honors College, or establishing Cal State L.A. as one of the top universities in the nation to award bachelor's degrees to minority students.

In those 34 years, the landscape of the campus has transformed as well, with Rosser spearheading the additions of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) and the Alliance Marc and Eva Stern Math and Science School. He also oversaw the construction of the Harriet and Charles Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Golden Eagle Apartments, the Golden Eagle, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, a new University-Student Union, the Wallis Annenberg Integrated Sciences Complex, the Public Safety/University Police facility, Corporation Yard, and the Television, Film, and Media Center.

Other presenters included CSU Chancellors Barry Munitz, Charles B. Reed, Timothy P. White and W. Ann Reynolds (in a pre-taped speech from the Tennessee Williams Theatre near her home in Key West, Fla.).

World-renowned mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzman performed "The Flower Duet" by Leo Delibes with LACHSA alumna Bianca Galacia, and later, the crowd was treated to jazz standards by four-time Grammy Award-winning vocalist Dianne Reeves.

Notable alumni, such as Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca ('71), tennis legend Billie Jean King, and Children's Hospital Los Angeles CEO Richard Cordova ('72) were in attendance as well as representatives from title sponsor Edison International and close personal friends from Rosser's alma mater, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

The CSULA Foundation underwrote the event so that every dollar contributed to the gala will go to benefit CSULA Honors College—a project that's very special to Rosser. The event garnered $2.58 million, making it the most successful fundraiser in campus history.

"As I stand before you, I am reminded of a phrase you may have heard spoken by Maya Angelou: "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away," started Rosser in his speech at the gala. "Tonight has been one such moment for me. I am almost speechless. Tonight is also one in a long history of breathless moments that I have treasured during my tenure as president of California State University, Los Angeles. My time here has brought my life enormous personal gratification and pride in the accomplishments of our remarkably talented faculty, students and staff."

Donors treated to Faces and Names at Warhol reception

Yvonne Levy ('89 M.S.) views the Polaroids on display at the Luckman Gallery.

President's Associates donors and lifetime members of the CSULA Alumni Association enjoyed a private viewing of the exhibit, Andy Warhol: Polaroids 1974-1987, at the Luckman Gallery on March 6. The reception was an opportunity for the University to thank some of its most dedicated supporters. Guests viewed the artwork, heard a short talk by gallery curator Marco Rios and had the chance to be immortalized and added to the exhibit by a gallery worker armed with a Polaroid Big Shot camera, just like Warhol used to carry.

The pieces in the exhibit were given to the Luckman Fine Arts Complex Permanent Collection by The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, which has donated over 28,500 photographs by Andy Warhol to educational institutions across the United States to serve as inspiration to new generations of artists.

Mark Your Calendar

GROUND TRUTHS — Sept. 14
9 p.m. at Luckman Gallery
Ground Truths is an exhibition of work that uses reenactment, magic, substitution, and projection to explore the corporeal aspects of remote viewing. Accessing faraway places that range from physical locations to the psychological states, the works in the exhibition insist on making visible the physicality of shifting consciousness. Consisting of painting, sculpture, and video, the work in this exhibition employs remoteness and distance as powerful tools with which to gain perspective on our desires. Participating artists include Mary Hill, Anna Mayer, Nancy Popp, Rosha Yaghmai, among others. Admission to the Luckman Gallery is free of charge.
On view: Sept. 14 through Oct. 26.

 

KINKY — Oct. 5

8 p.m. at Luckman Theatre
http://www.luckmanarts.org
Rock en español took a thrilling direction when Kinky debuted in Mexico more than a decade ago. An intelligent manifestation of rock, electronic and Latin rhythms, Kinky is in a realm of its own, producing riveting sounds and mixes. Distinctly unique and clearly authentic, the five-member group is certain to deliver an unforgettable performance that is as modern as it is retro.

16TH ANNUAL BILLIE JEAN KING AND FRIENDS EVENT — Oct. 12
5:30 p.m. at Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa in Pasadena
The Billie Jean King and Friends Event is the major fundraiser for Cal State L.A.'s Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, with proceeds benefiting the student-athlete scholarship fund. Honorees: Billie Jean King's former CSULA coaches, Dr. Joan Johnson and Scotty Deeds. (Tennis clinics available in the morning on the CSULA campus.)
http://www.csulaathletics.com/sports/2009/5/12/GEN_BJK09.aspx?tab=billiejeankingfriends
Call the CSULA Intercollegiate Athletics at (323) 343-3080 for more information.

LES NUBIANS — Oct. 19
8 p.m. at Luckman Theatre
http://www.luckmanarts.org
Grammy-nominated Les Nubians, recognized for their colorful auras, have intrigued audiences for over a decade with their inventive and glamorous "Afropean" style. Accompanied by their full band, Les Nubians will perform their latest album Nü Revolution.

24TH ANNUAL DISTINGUISHED EDUCATORS AWARD DINNER — Nov. 1
5 p.m. at Golden Eagle Ballroom
This annual event recognizes educational leaders who have made major contributions to local education. Funds raised during the event by Friends of the Charter College of Education support student scholarships and faculty development.
http://www.calstatela.edu/academic/ccoe/
Call the Friends of the Charter College of Education at (323) 343-4300 for more information.

 

ISABELLA ROSSELLINI — Nov. 2


8 p.m. at Luckman Theatre
http://www.luckmanarts.org
The legendary Italian actress and model marks the world-premiere of a new one-woman show based on a series of original short films produced by the Sundance Channel. Rossellini and co-writer Jean-Claude Carrière move the exploration of natural mating rituals of various species of the animal kingdom to the stage.

 

AMERICAN SABOR: LATINOS IN U.S. POPULAR MUSIC EXHIBITION OPENING RECEPTION — Nov. 16
Fine Arts Gallery in the Fine Arts Building
The very names of Latin music genres suggest an irresistible, unmistakable rhythm. Salsa. Mambo. Rumba. Cha-cha-chá. And through the decades, these distinctive musical styles have continually—and profoundly—influenced American popular music. American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music tells the fascinating story of that impact; Latino musicians helped shape many traditional genres of music in the United States, including jazz, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and hip hop. With beautifully designed bilingual text panels, striking graphics and films, listening stations, and musical instruments, the show celebrates the true flavor, or sabor, of Latin music in five major centers of Latino popular music production in the years after World War II — Los Angeles, New York City, San Antonio, and San Francisco. Sponsored by Ford Motor Company Fund and traveled by SITES, American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music was developed by EMP Museum and the University of Washington.
http://americansabor.org/
Call the CSULA Fine Arts Gallery at (323) 343-4040 for more information.
Exhibit on view: Nov. 16 through Feb. 9, 2014. Gallery hours: noon-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Saturdays.

 

ROKIA TRAORÉ — Nov. 23


8 p.m. at Luckman Theatre
http://www.luckmanarts.org
Critically-praised Malian artist Rokia Traoré will perform her new work Beautiful Africa. Having recently received stellar reviews at several major international festivals, including Glastonbury, Rokia Traoré is at the forefront of the roots scene and has become the torch-bearer for the renaissance of African musical styles and fusions.

SINÉAD O'CONNOR — Nov. 24
7 p.m. at Luckman Theatre
http://www.luckmanarts.org
After triumphant, back-to-back, sold-out performances at New York City's Lincoln Center this summer, Sinéad O'Connor makes her Luckman debut in what will be her only Los Angeles performance of the year. Known for her eclectic musical style and raw emotion, Sinéad O'Connor reinvented what it means to be a female recording artist. Following the release of her ninth and latest album, How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?, Sinéad O'Connor has received the most resounding praise to date in her 25-year, celebrated career.

ANOTONIO ZAMBUJO — Jan. 25
8 p.m. at Luckman Theatre
http://www.luckmanarts.org
The preeminent force in the resurrection of male fado singers in a genre traditionally dominated by females, Antonio Zambujo makes his debut performance at the Luckman with his earthy and atmospheric interpretations of Portugal's national musical gems.

KIBBUTZ — Feb. 22
8 p.m. at Luckman Theatre
http://www.luckmanarts.org
Israel's most innovative and prominent dance company, Kibbutz has soared into the international spotlight as much for their exquisite technique, as for their figurative and abstract approach. Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company makes their highly-anticipated return to the Luckman with their critically-acclaimed theatrical event, If At All.

KARSH KALE — April 12
8 p.m. at Luckman Theatre
http://www.luckmanarts.org
Considered a pioneer and genre-bending artist, The New York Times proclaims Kale as "suave, modern and unmistakably India." Visionary composer and producer Karsh Kale will present Classical Science Fiction, a new groundbreaking work of classical Indian fusion and electronica.

CARLA BRUNI — April 26
8 p.m. at Luckman Theatre
http://www.luckmanarts.org
Singer, songwriter, model, activist, photographer—and former first lady of France—Carla Bruni will make a very rare Los Angeles appearance to perform songs from her fourth studio album, Little French Songs.

Profile in Giving

Mike Lucki '78

Investment adds up to more opportunities for students.

 

When it comes to Cal State L.A.'s distinguished alumni, Mike Lucki ('78) is, indeed, one for the books.

Lucki grew up locally in Monterey Park, and attended Cal State L.A., receiving a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in accounting. He became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), with licenses in California and then Louisiana.

Lucki joined the ranks of Ernst & Young—one of the largest professional service firms in the world, and now one of the "Big Four" accounting firms. He worked with Ernst & Young for many years, where he achieved the level of senior partner and led Ernst & Young's global engineering and construction industry and infrastructure practices.

"The thing that makes the public accounting profession exciting," Lucki says, "is that you learn something new every day."

In November 2010, Lucki joined CH2M HILL—a leader in major project management, consulting, engineering, construction and operations. CH2M Hill is an employee-owned, global company with 18,000 shareholders, over 28,000 employees in 80 plus countries, and annual revenues of $6.3 billion. The company manages some of the world's most complex and significant programs, including the Panama Canal Expansion Program; facilities and infrastructure for London's 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games; and the relocation of U.S. Military forces in South Korea.

Lucki's responsibilities as chief financial officer and senior vice president include all financial aspects of CH2M HILL operations, spanning corporate development, treasury, mergers and acquisitions, tax, finance and accounting, Securities and Exchange Commission reporting, strategy, financial planning and forecasting, information technology and internal audit. He is also a member of CH2M Hill Board of Directors, which oversees strategic planning and company governance.

Over the breadth of his career, Lucki has experience in more than 100 mergers and acquisitions—including deal structuring, due diligence, tax structuring, complex financing issues, and merger integration. He is also experienced in financial reporting (including the Securities and Exchange Commission), initial public offerings, risk management practices, taxation and corporate finance issues, strategic planning, and capital market transactions.

Lucki's commitment to excellence is also evident in his continued support of Cal State L.A. He served as president of the CSULA Alumni Board, is former chair of the College of Business and Economics Accounting Advisory Board, and is currently a trustee of the California State University System Foundation Board. In 1989, Lucki was named the College of Business and Economics' Distinguished Alumnus of the Year—the highest award offered to a graduate based on exemplary career and service. And in 1991, the Accounting Department named Lucki Outstanding Alumnus of the Year.

Over the years, Lucki recruited interns and employees through the accounting program, volunteering his time to personally work with students on campus. He continues to donate hotel points and airline miles to faculty for professional trips.

While a partner with Ernst & Young, Lucki also established an endowed scholarship that will continue to serve a significant number of students on an accounting career path in perpetuity. Taking the lead, he helped cultivate a culture of giving to Cal State L.A. within the firm, where dozens of Ernst & Young employees—many of whom are not from Cal State L.A.—still pool their money annually to support substantial accounting scholarships and endowed funds for faculty.

Now that the Ernst & Young commitment is fully funded at $225,000, Lucki has made plans to establish a new endowed scholarship fund focused on supporting underserved communities that do not traditionally consider the field of accounting as a profession.

"When you invest in Cal State L.A., you are going to see a return," Lucki says. "I received a great education at a reasonable price and I want to make that same opportunity available to other people. I feel indebted to the university for that."

University News

Edison International launches Edison Scholars Program

Cal State L.A. students Yulan Lin and Francisco Sepulveda are the first recipients of the Edison Scholars program scholarships. Photo courtesy Edison International.

Recognized for their academic excellence and passion for the sciences, Cal State L.A. senior Yulan Lin and freshman Francisco Sepulveda were selected as the first scholarship recipients of the Edison Scholars program in April.

Funded by a $1 million endowment from Edison International, the Edison Scholars program provides financial support for students in the Honors College, a competitive interdisciplinary program for students pursuing advanced degrees.

"Through Edison's support, gifted CSULA Honors College students will have the opportunity to become better leaders within their chosen (science, technology, engineering and math) fields," says President James M. Rosser. "These segments of the workforce are not only on the front line of the strengthening economy, but also enable other industries to function at the high technological level today's workforce demands."

Lin and Sepulveda will receive scholarship support annually until they graduate.

Lin, a chemistry major, began college at 13 through the Early Entrance Program. Currently, she is conducting research with Cal State L.A. Professor Yong Ba and Caltech Professor Julie Kornfield. In her free time, she enjoys music, singing with the Los Angeles Children's Chorus, and volunteering with the Saturday Conservatory of Music.

"I've always loved learning, and wanted to know more about life at the molecular level," says Lin. "Although I'm not sure what I want to study in the future, I love the freedom I have to ask questions in the sciences, and the tools I am given to pursue the answers."

Sepulveda, a biology major, plans to pursue a master's degree in forensic science.

"I chose to attend CSULA because it was close to home and has one of the best criminalistics programs," he says.

He is the first in his family to attend college. At the press conference announcing the scholarships, his father got emotional while speaking to Spanish media about the impact this will have on Sepulveda's future and their family.

"My mom had to find a job to help pay for my education," Sepulveda says. "Now, with this award, it will be easier for me to pay for school and not have to worry about being tight on money."

In addition to the $1 million endowment for the CSULA Edison Scholars program, Edison International has helped raise another $1 million in gifts and pledges for the Honors College.

Sneak peek at TV, Film, and Media Center

The TV, Film, and Media Center is located in University Hills, across from the University-Student Union.

Soundproofing material is up, recording consoles are being installed and the studio light is almost in use at the campus' latest addition, the Television, Film, and Media Center.

Under the direction of College of Arts and Letters Dean Peter McAllister, the facility was specifically developed to provide creative students everything required to take their ideas from process to finished product. It will house a state-of-the-art post-production suite with recording studio, a two-story sound stage, theatre seating screening room and computer video laboratory classrooms.

The plan to renovate this University Hills building (formerly owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) for use by the Television, Film and Media Department is 20 years in the making, President James M. Rosser explained at the State of the University Address in May. Rosser admitted it took years of gentle persuasion to convince church leaders to sell the building to the University, but he refused to let up.

The long wait will be worth it as the new facility will give faculty new teaching opportunities and connect students in the undergraduate and graduate degree programs to best practices in the entertainment industry.

"We will hang projectors in the sound stage to allow for Hollywood screenings, and bring in experts from the entertainment industry to talk about their projects. We've never had a facility that could accommodate that. To bring people in to talk to students about making TV shows and films … there are so many new possibilities," says department chair Suzanne Regan.

The center will open to students in fall quarter and a grand opening gala later in the year will officially establish it on campus.

Nongshim America pledges $300,000 to entrepreneurship at Cal State L.A.

Dakuto Shitamura won first place in the Nongshim Fastpitch with his presentation for Fish Gobble, a sustainable fish food business.

Nongshim America, Inc., a global food company, has committed $300,000 to entrepreneurship at Cal State L.A. The contribution will be made available for student-centered marketing and business projects, campus events, student scholarships, faculty research, community involvement, and the development of the Nongshim Innovation Lab. The laboratory is being created to educate, train, launch and mobilize young student entrepreneurs pursuing outreach activities under the leadership of the campus' Global Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The first event sponsored by Nongshim America, the Nongshim FastPitch on May 28, attracted students from across the University-in business, engineering, arts and letters, and other disciplines-who pitched their most innovative business ideas in 90 seconds to a panel of seasoned investors.

First place winner Dakuto Shitamura (pictured above) took home a $5,000 prize for his pitch to provide sustainable feed for aquaculture farmers and ornamental fish breeders. His startup business, www.fishgobble.com, sells alternative food that fish consume in their native environments, such as phytoplankton, nematode worms, and annelid worms, rather than the dried pellets found in traditional pet stores.

Shitamura has been breeding fish since age 13, when his pet guppies had babies for the first time.

"It was a natural thing. Guppies don't lay eggs. Every month or so, they have a brood of 20 to 30 baby fry. I was kind of forced into raising them at 13," he says. "I noticed a need for sustainable aquaculture feed, so I decided to build a store to supply all the other fish keepers and farmers."

Shitamura, a computer information systems major, launched the website himself and runs production out of his garage, which reduces startup costs but limits his capacity for sales. He plans to invest the contest money in equipment upgrades to expand production.

The full scope of the Nongshim program will be expanded at a celebratory event in the fall that will include students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of L.A.'s entrepreneurial business community.

Student veterans adopt military section of Evergreen Cemetery

A student volunteer cleans a headstone during a visit to the Evergreen Cemetery in December.

Appearances are important in the military. A neat uniform, well-trimmed hair and ready equipment signify professionalism, discipline, unity and pride.

So tending to the gravesites of soldiers at Evergreen Cemetery seems like a suitable way for Cal State L.A.'s student-veteran club to uphold that tradition while paying tribute to those who served the nation.

The concept for the community service project came from a former student veteran who learned of the cemetery while attending a screening of ABC-7 news anchor David Ono's documentary on the Congressional Medal of Honor. The section near a memorial to the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team had been neglected and overgrown with weeds. So he pitched the CSULA Student Veterans Organization (SVO) on adopting the cemetery.

"The idea of beautifying this cemetery, which is right in our campus' backyard, was presented to the SVO club as a way to respect these brave soldiers who sacrificed for our country," says Laura Shigemitsu, director of the University's Veterans Affairs Office.

The club's members, who are mostly military veterans themselves, voted in favor of informally adopting the cemetery and launching the project.

Established in 1877, Evergreen is one of the oldest cemeteries in the Greater Los Angeles area and is the final resting site for several World War II veterans. The monument dedicated to the 442nd Regimental Combat Unit that served in WWII, as well as those who died while on duty during the Korean War, was installed at the cemetery on Memorial Day in 1949.

Four Congressional Medal of Honor recipients from the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team-Joe Hayashi, Sadao Munemori, Kiyoshi K. Muranaga and Ted T. Tanouye-are interred there.

Since December, the SVO members visit monthly to trim back brush, clear debris and clean headstones.

"I find it truly rewarding to be able to contribute to cleaning up the gravestones of WWII veterans and Medal of Honor recipients," says business finance major Mark Kleinsmith, a retired sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. "It is part of the military tradition to give back, as well as to honor those who passed before you."

For more on the cleanup effort, go to http://www.calstatela.edu/univ/ppa/spotlight/archive/2012/evergreen-gevets.php.

Alumni News

A letter from your Alumni Association Past-President

Dear Fellow Cal State L.A. Alumni,

For the past two years, I have had the privilege of leading a group of dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly to promote and strengthen the Cal State L.A. community. As president of the Association, I have worked side by side with volunteers and the staff to provide innovative programs and services for alumni and students. From mentoring and scholarship programs, to alumni networks and career workshops, the association provides valuable resources that help alumni and students with personal and professional growth.

Through membership dues, the association is able to continue to provide these services and programs. If you are not already a member of the Alumni Association, please join online at alumni.calstatela.edu. For membership questions, please contact the Alumni Association office by email at [email protected] or via phone at (323) 343-ALUM (2586).

I urge you to reconnect with the Alumni Association! If you are already a member, thank you for your support!

Sincerely,
Carlos Illingworth, Jr. '04
Past-President, CSULA Alumni Association

Alumni making an impact on California's economy

Five more CSULA alumni have been recognized for their contributions to the state as part of California State University's Working for California program. They represent just a few of the remarkable 2.8 million CSU alumni who make a difference as leaders in the workforce and help to build and sustain California's economy. CSU alumni have distinguished themselves in every field, including arts and entertainment, business, education, media, public administration, the sciences, sports, agriculture, engineering, technology, and more. Featured in this year's class of successful Golden Eagles are:

  1. Maria Casillas ('78 M.A.), chief of School Family and Parent/Community Services for Los Angeles Unified School District.
  2. Matthew R. Landano ('63, '68 M.S.), director of Office of Safety and Mission Success for Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
  3. Thomas A. Nassif ('65), former ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco, current president and chief executive officer of Western Growers, one of the most powerful trade associations in the nation.
  4. Terrence J. Roberts ('67), CEO of Terrence J. Roberts and Associates, a management consulting firm; was one of the Little Rock Nine.
  5. Bob Teague ('81), president, founder and owner of Teague Custom Marine, Inc.

To view these alumni biographies and more, visit http://www.calstate.edu/alumni/workingforca/ .

Scholar Share

Saving enough to pay for college can seem overwhelming, but an early start, good planning and regular contributions can help you put a child's higher education within reach. The CSULA Alumni Association is pleased to add to its list of sponsors, ScholarShare, California's 529 college savings plan, to assist you in preparing for a child's future today.

Any earnings on investments can grow tax-deferred, and withdrawals, when used for tuition and other qualified expenses, are federal and state tax free. The money saved in a ScholarShare account may be used at most accredited two-year and four-year colleges and universities, eligible foreign institutions and many vocational-technical schools. And the funds may be used for qualified higher education expenses including tuition, books and certain room and board costs at many colleges.

The minimum contribution to start an account for your child, grandchild, relative or friend is $25. To learn more, visit www.scholarshare.com or call 1-800-544-5248.

The ScholarShare College Savings Plan is administered by the ScholarShare Investment Board, an agency of the State of California. Neither the principal deposited nor the investment return is guaranteed by the State of California, ScholarShare Investment Board or any affiliate thereof, or the federal government or any agency thereof. Units of the portfolios are municipal securities and may be subject to market volatility and fluctuation.

Looking for Volunteers

The Alumni Association is looking for volunteers to participate in the association's many programs and events, networks, and leadership committees. If you would like to participate in the scholarship, finance, advocacy or membership and communications committees or an alumni network, please contact Maria Ubago '98, '06 at (323) 343-4945 or email [email protected].

Advocacy Corner

The Cal State L.A. Advocacy program works with CSULA alumni, faculty, staff, students and volunteers on a variety of key legislative issues facing the CSU and the University. Major issues include, state budget and capital planning, advocacy on key legislation, and support for CSU and campus priorities. If you want to learn more or get involved, please contact Maria Ubago '98, '06 at (323) 343-4945 or email[email protected].

Alumni Spotlight

She's got stories to tell

Carrie Arcos gained confidence through CSULA's creative writing program.


Carrie Arcos' debut novel was recognized with a National Book Award nomination.

Earning a National Book Award nomination is a major accomplishment in publishing. That Carrie Arcos ('07 M.A.) achieved one last year with her debut young adult novel, Out of Reach, makes it all the more special.

The National Book Award is America's top literary prize given in the categories of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and youth literature. Past winners are an impressive collection of well-known authors-from William Faulkner to Maurice Sendak.

Just being selected as a finalist is a big deal for a new author like Arcos.

As a youth, Arcos loved reading, and was especially drawn to the young adult genre, in which characters teetering at the edge of childhood are often challenged by adult topics.

"I remember reading Judy Blume's Forever (which addresses teenage sexuality) under the bed covers and thinking please don't walk in mom!" recalls Arcos.

As an undergraduate at Westmont College, Arcos studied English and philosophy. She kept a journal and wrote on its cover "To be a writer, you have to have something to say." But that phrase became an obstacle. "For the longest time, I was intimidated by that. I don't know if that was good for me or too much pressure," she says.

After college, she downplayed writing in favor of something more certain-sharing her love of literature by teaching high schoolers.

Arcos is comely, warm, deeply caring and a great listener. She's the kind of teacher who takes great effort to match a student with the right book. Novels such as Perks of Being a Wallflower , by Stephen Chbosky, and Speak , by Laurie Halse Anderson, all dark, realistic works, were in heavy rotation among her pupils.

"Young adults are drawn to darkness. I don't know many people whose teen years were idyllic. Most of us were going through this intense suffering of first loves and broken hearts and pain, just surviving high school," she says. "But what is different in young adult versus adult literature is that it always ends in hope. There's always a way out."

The birth of her first child in 2002 triggered a personal re-evaluation for Arcos. After talking with her husband, David, she decided to take a shot at writing and enrolled in the Master of Arts program's creative writing track at Cal State L.A.

"Cal State L.A. was there when I really needed it," she says. "I thought about teaching at the college level, but was looking at options. Having children, not necessarily wanting to go back to work full-time-all this stuff was in my head."

Going through admissions, submitting a body of work, attending classes in literature and writing all helped to build Arcos' confidence, especially surrendering manuscripts for peer and professor review.

"That was instrumental for me to meet deadlines and get constructive feedback from writers and professors. Almost like having my own writers group. It made me believe that I can write and have something to say."

After graduating in 2007, Arcos taught at Biola University, but committed to write almost daily. Many mornings, she'd be at the opening of Swork Coffee in Eagle Rock, tapping away on the computer while baristas pulled espresso shots. As many aspiring writers do, she sent short stories to literary magazines in hopes of getting published. But after a couple years of rejections, she had an epiphany.

"Why am I writing short stories? I read them to teach them, but I read novels and I love young adult. I know the voice, I get it. So I just bypassed all that and did a novel."

Out of Reach , follows a teenage girl, Rachel, as she attempts to locate her missing addict brother. It's about how an average American suburban family handles a major problem, such as drugs, and concepts of guilt, love, frustration, responsibility and personal growth are explored. It is inspired by some of the experiences Arcos had as an adult dealing with a family member's methampetamine addiction.

Young Democrats Club

Though writing it was cathartic for Arcos, it's not biographical. To prepare for the book, she researched meth addiction and spoke to addicts.

"The emotional realities of the book are true in the sense of that struggle of how much do you keep searching and trying to help this person, and when do you pull back," Arcos explains. "There's this unhealthy co-dependency that can happen in families dealing with this. A lot of Rachel's story is learning how to still love her brother and decide to move forward."

Arcos met an agent online who requested the manuscript. That agent ended up being Kerry (Evans) Sparks ('07), a fellow CSULA alumna, at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency.

 

More recognition—International Reading Association Young Adult Fiction Honor Book for 2013 and a nomination for the California Book Award—came in the months following the National Book Awards ceremony.

The attention opens new possibilities for Arcos. She'll become a permanent member of the National Book Foundation family and will receive continual support and help in promoting new books. It also means that editors are more willing to give new works a look, though Arcos admits it doesn't guarantee anything.

Now, Arcos is on a break from Biola University so she can focus on her writing career and raise her three children, Aiden, 10, Matisse, 7, and Judah, 5. Former students and even strangers have contacted Arcos through her blog, Facebook and Twitter to give feedback and talk about the book.

She also teaches writing workshops at local high schools and attends book festivals, where she makes appearances alongside the same young adult authors whose books were in heavy circulation in her high school classroom.

"I was at the Ontario Teen Book Festival with other young adult authors. I got to meet Stephen Chbosky, who was a speaker. Being a peer to these writers that I've studied and taught is like coming full circle. It's beyond what I could have imagined."

Look for Arcos' next young adult novel, There Will Come a Time , to be published in 2014.

Class Notes

1950s

  • Genevieve Andrews Shepherd ('58), principal of Tom Bradley Environmental Science and Humanities Magnet School of Los Angeles, was recognized by Continental Who's Who as a Pinnacle Professional Among Educators.

1960s

  • Michael D. Antonovich (’63, ’67 M.A.), Los Angeles County Supervisor for the Fifth District, now serves as chairman of the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA).
  • Nannette Brodie (’67, ’68 M.A.) celebrated the 25-year anniversary of The Nannette Brodie Dance Theatre in January with a performance at the Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theater at Cal State Long Beach.
  • Rikk Morris (’69), an artist and musician, served as a judge for the art exhibition at Crash Music in Aztec, N.M.
  • Foraker Smith ('62, '69 M.A.) co-authored An Abundance of Miracles—The Autobiography of Charles A. Cofield with Cofield, the American Institute of Architects-California's first certified quadriplegic architect.
  • Robert A. Underwood (’69, ’71 M.A.) was appointed by President Barack Obama to the Board of Directors of the National Board for Education Sciences. He is the president and professor emeritus at the University of Guam.
  • Herman Ray Velarde (’62) has self-published a book, Handbook for America: A 21st Century Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness.

1970s

  • Roberto Casas (’72, ’79 M.A.) co-authored a book, Reflective Practice of Multi-Unicultural School Leaders: Strategies and Considerations for Improving Achievement of Cross-Culturally Diverse Students, published by Xlibris Publishing. He retired after 38 years in public education, including serving as deputy superintendent for Lynwood Unified School District and as superintendent of Brawley Union High School District.
  • Janice Cipriani-Willis (’75) opened an exhibit of her watercolor art in November at the Gallery at The Merc in Temecula.
  • Jo Anne Disney ('76) joined the Mid Valley News as an assistant editor and feature writer.
  • Phillip I. Elkins (’71) published Running From the Fire, the story of a kid growing up in East L.A., drafted into the army, sent to Vietnam as a medic, surviving that and coming back to Cal State L.A.
  • James B. Griffin (’77) is account manager at JBGmg Marketing & More.
  • John Kelleher (’71) received the 2012 Outstanding Leadership Award from the Southern California Association for Healthcare Development.
  • Renee D. Martinez ('72) is the president of Los Angeles City College.
  • Donna Seecof (’76 M.S.) and her husband, Robert, have published BOOKENDS: Objects of Art and Fashion, with Schiffer Publishing, Inc. She is retired from General Electric Healthcare Performance Solutions.
  • James Shannon (’72, ’74 M.A.), professor of sociology and psychology at Citrus College in Glendora, is retiring after 39 years of teaching.
  • Mike Stosser ('74) has joined Sutherland Asbill and Brennan's Energy Group in New York, specializing in traditional energy, renewable and alternative energy and clean tech.

1980s

  • Alice (Armendariz) Bag (’84), member of the 1970s L.A. punk band The Bags and currently a bilingual educator, was featured as an Iconic Hispanic Angeleno for Departures, an oral history project for KCET.org.
  • Garrett "Gary" Rutherford ('83 M.A.) is superintendent of Desert Sands Unified School District.

1990s

  • Pankit J. Doshi (’99) joined the San Francisco Office of the international law firm, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, LLP, specializing in labor and employment defense.
  • Nicole J. Dunn (’96) is owner and president of Dunn Pellier Media, a marketing firm specializing in health and fitness brands.
  • Chris Greco (’95 M.Music), an associate professor of music at Benedictine College, had his new CD, "Trane Of Thought," reach No. 3 on the CMJ Top 40 National Jazz Charts in April 2013.
  • Hyongsoon Kim (’98) is an attorney with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and president of the Korean American Bar Association.
  • Paul Lee (’95) is a poet and works as plans examining engineer at the Department of Planning and Permitting of City and County of Honolulu in Hawaii.
  • Jeff McCarty (’92) taught a songwriting workshop in Diamond Bar.
  • Felipe Payan (’90, ’95 M.A., ’02 M.A.) is distance education coordinator/instructional design specialist for Galveston Community College, where he assists faculty with designing online courses and guides faculty on effective online teaching.
  • Tri Ta (’97), editor of Viet Salon magazine, has been elected the first Vietnamese American mayor of Westminster.

2000s

  • Carrie Lynn Arcos (’07 M.A.) was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award in the young people’s literature category for her debut novel, Out of Reach.
  • Clifford Lyons ('00) is a broker associate at EXIT Realty Blaine Associates in Apple Valley and is the cantor for Spanish Mass at Our Lady of the Desert in Apple Valley.
  • Kerry (Evans) Sparks ('07) is co-author of Hello, My Name Is Pabst: Baby Names for Nonconformist, Indie, Geeky, DIY, Hipster, and Alterna-Parents of Every Kind, and is a literary agent at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency.
  • Sam C. Vong ('05 M.A.) joins the Gustavus Adolphus College faculty in fall 2013 as the college's first Bruce Gray Postdoctoral Fellow.
  • Kent Weishaus (’09 M.S.W.) is school counselor of Idyllwild Arts Academy.
  • Leana Wen (’01) has published a book, When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests, about how patient empowerment can transform healthcare.

2010s

  • Christopher Eagar-Finney (’11) is in his second year of the Master of Social Work program at Columbia University School of Social Work.
  • Rosa Johnson (’10) launched Pearls Academy Inc., a community organization that provides mentorship, skills development and self-esteem training for young, at-risk African-American and Latina women in South Los Angeles.
  • Ken Mazur ('11 M.Music) composes the score for Joseph Rosendo's Travelscope on Public Television and wrote his first novel, The Zxap Jacket.

In Memoriam

  • Sidney P. Albert, emeritus professor of philosophy and scholar of George Bernard Shaw, was instrumental in the development of the Emeriti Faculty Association at Cal State L.A.
  • Jay A. Brown ('63) worked as a reporter and editor for The Sacramento Bee, and The Hartford Times; public affairs management for Shell Oil; and president and publisher of Cineman Syndicate, serving newspapers worldwide with movie reviews.
  • Michael Allan Cohen ('61) worked as a mechanical engineer and general contractor. He served as a reserve officer for the Los Angeles Police Department.
  • Mary Dawn Cuff (’67 M.A.) served in World War II as a control tower operator for the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve. Later, she served the Latter Day Saints Church as ward and stake primary leader, organist and teacher.
  • Otto William (Bill) Fick was a professor of English specializing in American and European fiction and poetry.
  • Kris Gungon ('05) was an agent with United States Customs and Border Protection.
  • C.R.D. Halisi, a renowned international scholar, activist and educator, was professor and former chair of the Pan-African Studies department.
  • Natalie Hyatt (’62 M.A.) taught in Los Angeles elementary schools for 37 years.
  • Terry R. Kandal, emeritus professor of sociology, was an expert in classical sociological theory, social change and revolution, gender and sex roles, and sociology of knowledge. He received the Outstanding Professor Award in 1996-97.
  • Beverly Lynn Krilowicz, retired professor of biological sciences, had an active research program in neurophysiology of sleep and hibernation.
  • Vernon F. Leidig, emeritus professor of music, initiated the Instrumental Music Education program and directed the Brass Choir. He received the campus Outstanding Professor Award in 1964.
  • Leon Leyson (’58) was one of the youngest of 1,100 Jews saved from the Nazis by German industrialist Oskar Schindler. He taught high school in Huntington Park for 39 years.
  • Dorothy McLaughlin ('76) co-founded Senior Helping Hands, Inc., an organization that assists senior citizens that remain in their homes, and was director of the Senior Community Service Employment Program in Montana.
  • Irene M. Molloy ('72 M.S.), emeritus professor of nursing, taught lower-division medical-surgical nursing courses.
  • Barbara Salinas-Norman ('69), a Chicana activist, teacher and author, ran a publishing company, Pinata Publications.
  • Tim K. Siu had a private practice in anesthesia for over 30 years, working primarily out of San Gabriel Valley Hospital. Siu served on CSULA's President's, and, along with his wife Annie, sponsored multiple scholarships at CSULA and received the 2011 University Service Award.
  • James Tolbert ('55), one of the first African-American entertainment attorneys in Hollywood, represented clients including Redd Foxx, Lou Rawls, Harry "Sweets" Edison and Tuskegee Airmen. He was co-founder and president of the Beverly Hills-Hollywood chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
  • Essie Mae Washington-Williams (’69) was a teacher and administrator in the Los Angeles Unified School District for 30 years. In 2003, she revealed herself as the daughter of Sen. Strom Thurmond, the legendary South Carolina politician who had built a career as a champion of segregation.
  • Takenori "Tak" Yamamoto (’69) was a pioneer Japanese American gay activist and a longtime leader of the Manzanar Committee.

Sports Feature

Taking her Success in Stride

Lisa Ohberg took a risk when she traded soccer balls for track cleats; the results were remarkable.

Lisa Ohberg was named the California Collegiate Athletic Association's Track Athlete of the Year after capturing conference titles in the 1,500 and 5,000 at the 2013 CCAA Track and Field Championship in June.

When Lisa Ohberg joined Cal State L.A.'s Intercollegiate Athletics program in the fall of 2010, she was a premier midfielder intent on helping the Golden Eagles maintain their status as one of the top women's soccer programs in the NCAA Division II. By the time she graduated this spring, Ohberg was a three-time All-American, an Academic All-American and the California Collegiate Athletic Association's Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year, thanks in large part to her accomplishments on the track, not the soccer field.

For student-athletes, making the jump to a new sport at the collegiate level is fairly unusual, and a change that few successfully achieve. In order to participate at the NCAA Division II level, after all, an athlete needs to be highly-skilled and prepared to compete against tough opponents.

"I was happy to transition into track," Ohberg says. "I wasn't real confident at first, but it was fun and I could see myself doing better. After that first season, I was all in. I was very motivated and wanted to be a really good runner."

Ohberg came to Cal State L.A. as a highly-touted soccer player after two outstanding seasons at Northwood University in Florida. Her competitiveness and drive to improve as a player led her to transfer to California, where she yearned to test her skills against tougher teams in the NCAA Division II.

In her first season with the Golden Eagles, she was fifth in scoring with three goals and six assists, and helped the team to a 15-4-1 record and a second straight CCAA South Division title. Ohberg, though, was determined to be even better in her second season.

"I didn't play as much as I wanted to in my first year, so I worked really hard for my senior season because I expected more," Ohberg says. "I gave everything I could. The coaches showed a lot of confidence in me and gave me a big role on the field."

In the second season, Ohberg led the team in scoring, including the game-winner in a 2-1 win over Seattle Pacific in the second round of the NCAA playoffs. The Golden Eagles reached the West Region championship match and were ranked 12th in the country.

But by the end of 2011, the business administration major had exhausted her soccer eligibility. Not content to stop competing, she decided to transform into a middle- and long-distance runner.

Ohberg's previous competitive running experience consisted of one race in her native Sweden when she was 12 years old.

"There were about 20 girls in the race, it was two miles and I finished dead last. I remember that quite clearly."

Cal State L.A. soccer coach Chris Chamides, though, was fully supportive of Ohberg's budding second-sport career.

"Lisa is one of the classiest student-athletes I have ever coached," Chamides says. "She grew as a competitor and I had no doubt, given her talent, work ethic and commitment, that she would be successful in track."

Ohberg benefitted from some training last summer with the Swedish national team and distance coach Ulf Friberg. That experience gave her confidence for her brilliant 2012-13 running campaign that started with All-CCAA (fifth-place finish) and All-West Region (10th-place finish) honors in cross country.

Indoor track post-season almost hit a snag when she barely qualified for the 1,500-meter championships in April. But she set a new personal record while posting the fastest qualifying time in the preliminaries and beat her personal best again in the finals while finishing second.

Lisa Ohberg had a magnificent finish to her indoor season, shattering her previous best in the indoor mile and placing second in the event to earn her second All-America honor. Photo courtesy Division of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Her success fueled her outstanding outdoor track season in the spring, in which Ohberg captured conference titles in the 1,500 and 5,000, and was named CCAA Track Athlete of the Year. She then went on to finish second in the nation in the 1,500 at Pueblo, Colo., which was the program's best-ever finish in that event. Her best times of 4:25.21 in the 1,500 and 16:26.49 in the 5,000 are both No. 2 on Cal State L.A.'s all-time Top 10 list.

Thanks to her athletic and academic prowess, she was named the CCAA Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Ohberg was also the winner of the Billie Jean King Award as Cal State L.A.'s top female athlete and most recently earned Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America honors, becoming just the second CSULA female track athlete to earn those honors.

The awards seemingly came in one right after another for Ohberg.

"It was a little overwhelming. I wanted to be able to stop time and tell everyone I never could have done all of this alone. I felt like it was other people who got me here, my coaches and the other girls on the team," Ohberg says. "They were the ones who were always there for me, to push me, to motivate me and support me. This is so much because of them."

Ohberg now hopes to secure a sponsorship or club affiliation so she can continue running competitively and pursue her master's degree in business administration.

"I want to continue running; that's my goal right now," she says. "I don't know where or how it will work out right now, but I want to stay here (in the United States) and make it work."

Their Say

The road to graduation is a dynamic personal experience, consisting of triumphant peaks and challenging valleys. So it's not surprising that many graduates use decorations on their caps and gowns to express what the journey means to them. Cal State L.A. Today asks some of the latest crop of alumni: What's the story behind your commencement decorations?

 

Walter Chiu
Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering

“Good afternoon. My name is Walter Chiu. I'm an electrical engineering graduate and the decorations I have on me: this one is for Eta Kappa Nu it's for electrical engineering honors society. And this one's for Tau Beta Pi and that is for all of engineering. The red and white set of cords goes with Tau Beta Pi, the yellow is for Eta Kappa Nu and the red, white and blue is for veteran's honors society, SALUTE, and this one is the veteran graduate cord.”

 

Cecilia Martinez
Bachelor's Degree in Child Development

“My name is Cecilia Martinez. My major is child development. My mom actually passed away three months ago from cancer. I had promised her that I would graduate. So this one's for her.”

 

Jeremy Weber
Bachelor's Degree in Communications

“I'm Jeremy Weber. I'm graduating from the communications department. The story behind my hat is that it was my favorite band growing up, Wu-Tang Clan, and there's baseball stitching in it because I'm a baseball player at Cal State L.A. We're the conference champions this year.”

 

Mariana Astorga
Master of Arts in Education, Curriculum and Instruction

“Hi my name is Mariana Astorga. I'm getting a master's in education in curriculum and instruction. And what I'm wearing today: these yellow cords represent Pi Lambda Theta, which is an honors society for educators. And underneath I'm wearing my Phi Kappa Phi regalia and that represents that I was in the top 10 percent of graduate students in GPA.”

 

Victor Sibrian
Bachelor's Degree in Social Work

“The hat says 'started from the bottom now I'm here'. (I was) born and raised in Huntington Park. Anybody who knows anything about Huntington Park, knows we've got a high poverty rate. Most of our kids don't even make it to senior graduation. And this is to show that I started from the bottom now I'm here, getting my bachelor's in social work. I'm proud of myself and that's what this hat represents for me.”

 

Lorena Bernal
Bachelor's Degree in Sociology

“My name is Lorena Bernal and I am graduating with a B.A. in sociology and a minor in social gerontology. I am actually graduating with honors, so I have an Honors cord and I joined Phi Alpha Phi and I have the stole and the cord to go along with it. My parents actually bought that for me when we went to the initiation ceremony. My stole I got custom made. It has my name on it and it also has my degree because I'm very proud of my department. As far as my hat, I am a little bit unique when it comes to the things that I like and one of those things is mustaches. I absolutely love mustaches. I don't know what it is about them, so I really wanted to represent that today, so I went to the fabric store, cut out a mustache and I pasted it on there. I also have five different patches and they represent each of my family members. I have two hearts for my parents, I have a robot for my brother who loves science, I have a daisy for my sister Daisy, and I have a butterfly for my sister who loves butterflies and a bee for my brother who is an avid Wu-Tang Clan fan because of the Killer Bees. So I just wanted to represent that and of course the big saying on my cap that says 'The tassel is worth the hassle,' because of course, everything that we go through comes down to this day.”

 

Kwai Lai
Bachelor's Degree in Finance

“Hi, my name is Kwai Lai. I graduate as a business major in the option of finance. The story of my hat is I noticed a lot of people who were decorating their hats and when we're walking it's hard to see what you've decorated. So my friends came up with the idea of making a big old arrow or big old sign and stick it on your hat so when you're walking they can spot you. So my friends did it and this is the result. I did it for my parents to see, so I told them I'm going to be the one with the red arrow. I'm hoping no one has it sticking out too. So far I haven't seen any; so far it's a good job.”

 

J. Patrick Vincent
Master's in Electrical Engineering

“Hi my name is Patrick Vincent. I'm graduating today with a master's in electrical engineering. This is a hood with the colors of my college, which is the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Technology. I have a couple different honor awards that I'm wearing today. This one is Beta Kappa Nu, which is the electrical engineering honors society. This one (orange and white cords) is for Tau Beta Pi, which is a general engineering honors society. And this one (medal on blue ribbon) is from Phi Kappa Phi, which is a general honors society.”