Two outstanding students to wear CHSS hood at 2023 commencement

As part of a longstanding tradition, each of the San Francisco State University’s six academic colleges selects an undergraduate and a graduate student to represent their classmates and wear their college’s academic hood during the Commencement ceremony. A dozen outstanding graduates will receive this honor during SF State’s 122st Commencement ceremony, to be held at Oracle Park Friday, May 26. They will represent their more than 7,900 graduating peers in the Class of 2023. More details about the ceremony are available on the Commencement website

Representing the College of Health & Social Sciences are:

Undergraduate Hood

Cassandra Marie Osorio

Cassandra Marie Osorio
B.S., Kinesiology

Cassandra “Cassy” Marie Osorio began her academic journey in 2009 at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. Unable to focus on school, she left in 2011 and joined the U.S. Navy, where she spent the next eight years of her life. During that time, she was able to try out different roles, including command career counselor, where she advised enlisted personnel on retention and promotion and helped them identify next steps and areas to work on. She was also an assistant command fitness leader, training and educating sailors to meet the Navy’s minimum fitness standards.

She left the Navy in 2019 and decided to return to college to earn an undergraduate degree in Kinesiology. By then she was married with a young daughter. She transferred to SF State from City College of San Francisco in 2021 and maintained exceptional grades while also being a full-time caregiver to her now two children.

Osorio was an undergraduate teaching assistant for two courses and served as president of the Kinesiology Student Association. She is currently exploring careers in occupational therapy and fitness and wellness.

Graduate Hood

Cristina Cabiles

Cristina Cabiles
M.S., Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Cristina Cabiles brings her lived experience to her training and her work. As a woman of color, she understands the needs of BIPOC communities and approaches them with cultural humility, compassion and exceptional advocacy. 

While at SF State she pursued a number of internships, which resulted in structural changes within the organizations. In her first-year internship she served as a behavioral health intern at the Daly City Youth Health Center, providing counseling and resources to students in a school setting. In her second year, she was a wellness counseling intern in the Jefferson Union High School District and provided clinical and employment counseling to students. She is a disability rights advocate and brings a social justice lens to all aspects of her work. 

She researched the lived experiences of people with disabilities during the pandemic and presented her findings at an international conference, as well as co-authored a manuscript, soon to be submitted for publication. Her culminating experience paper continued this focus as she explored the following topic: “Application of Family Systems Theory to Transition-Age Youth with Disabilities.”

She’s actively working to diversify the field of counseling by participating in the California Association for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor Fellowship Mentorship Program, where she mentors other BIPOC students pursuing mental health counseling careers and counseling licensure.

A “boomerang Gator,” Cabiles earned her undergraduate degree in Health Education from SF State in 2014.


Read about hood recipients from all colleges in SF State News.

Announcing the winners of the 2023 CHSS Faculty Excellence Awards

SF State’s College of Health & Social Sciences will present its 2023 Faculty Excellence Awards at the College’s Fall Opening Meeting. These awards were established to underscore the College’s deep commitment to excellence in teaching, scholarship and service.

Excellence in Teaching Award (Tenured Faculty): Sherria Taylor

Sherria Taylor

Sherria D. Taylor, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Child & Adolescent Development, has been awarded the CHSS Excellence in Teaching Award for Tenured Faculty for the exemplary quality and impact of her achievements in pedagogy.

Taylor holds a doctoral degree in Family Studies from Loma Linda University with a concentration in Systems-Organizational Consultation and has been involved in research funded by HUD and the Family Process Institute related to family resilience and family support services among low-income families. As the former executive director and current director of program development and evaluation for the nonprofit agency Access for Community & Cultural Education Programs & Trainings (ACCEPT) in Reno, Nevada, she has been successful in securing over 1.5 million dollars in grant funding for community programming. Taylor and colleagues have produced peer-reviewed publications and reports that seek to change the odds stacked against BIPOC communities rather than asking BIPOC communities to beat them. Her research interests include family, community and cultural resilience and survivance through a lens of Indigenous and Womanist theories, mental health, compassionate inquiry as substance abuse prevention, family life education, social justice pedagogy and the buffering effects of spirituality.

Excellence in Teaching Award (Lecturer Faculty): Martin Dixon

Martin Dixon

Martin Dixon, M.Sc., lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology, has been awarded the CHSS Excellence in Teaching Award for Lecturer Faculty for the exemplary quality and impact of his achievements in pedagogy.

Dixon specializes in sport coaching, motor learning, and research methods. His teaching is underpinned by his coaching experience across a range of elite youth and college environments, including applying the principles of skill acquisition to the classroom. Dixon’s pedagogy is also informed by his current Ph.D. research into sport coaches’ reflection and cognitive appraisals of stress.

Excellence in Service Award: Sonja Lenz-Rashid

Sonja Lenz-Rashid

Sonja Lenz-Rashid, Ph.D., LCSW, has been awarded the CHSS Excellence in Service Award for her dedication to service activities that impact student success and enhance the SF State community.

Lenz-Rashid is a professor in the School of Social Work and a co-founder, faculty research evaluator and clinical supervisor for the SF State Guardian Scholars Program (GSP). Launched in 2005, the GSP serves more than 100 current and former foster care youth on campus annually and has an annual budget of over $1.3 million. The program boasts a 70 percent graduation rate, a 95 percent retention rate, and an 80 percent overall persistence rate. Lenz-Rashid works countless hours on the Guardian Scholars Program each year and has studied the outcomes of, and best practice models for, former foster care youth at the national, state and Bay Area levels. Her research and publications have provided valuable feedback to child welfare administrators, legislators, and program developers on how best to serve these disenfranchised young people using evidence-based practice. She has more than 25 years of experience serving vulnerable youth in the San Francisco Bay Area and has been at SF State since 2003.

Excellence in Scholarship Award: Julie Chronister

Julie Chronister

Julie Chronister, Ph.D., has been awarded the CHSS Excellence in Scholarship award for her support of student-initiated research that evolves beyond the requirements for a degree.

Chronister is a professor in the Department of Counseling and a faculty member in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2004. Her scholarship focuses on the meaning and measurement of social support for those living with psychiatric disabilities; the experiences of family members, caregivers and case managers living or working with persons with disabilities; the psychosocial factors that protect against internalized stigma and promote quality of life and mental health recovery among persons with psychiatric disabilities; and most recently, the lived experiences of disabled people during COVID-19 and the influence of social support, coping and empowerment on their experience.

Chronister has been the chair of two dissertation committees — one focused on Disability Identity and the other focused on the lived experiences of counselors of color. Chronister has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and books and has received various federal research and training grants from NIMH, HRSA, and RSA. She was recently awarded a $1.9 million grant to train counselors to work in integrated behavioral health in primary care. Chronister is co-editor of two books, has presented at numerous national conferences and is on the editorial board of several top-tier peer-reviewed journals.


Eliason honored with Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Teaching

Mickey Eliason

Professor Emerita Michele “Mickey” Eliason was honored with the College of Health & Social Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Teaching. She received the award virtually at the College’s annual Fall Opening Meeting on August 18.

Eliason served as the College’s first assistant dean of faculty development and scholarship from 2015 to 2022 and taught in the Department of Public Health at SF State for more than a decade.

Previously, she spent 20 years on the faculty of the University of Iowa, where she was the first director of the Sexuality Studies Program and professor of nursing. She has a background in nursing and psychology, and has clinical and research experience in hospitals, clinics, community-based treatment agencies and a women’s prison. Eliason earned her Ph.D. in pediatric and educational psychology at the University of Iowa in 1984.

Her research interests are primarily in the area of LGBTQ health. In 2013, she received a lifetime achievement award for this body of work by a national advocacy group GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality.

She has written extensively about these issues and is the primary author of “LGBTQ Cultures: What Health Care Professionals Need to Know About Sexual and Gender Diversity,” the second edition of which was published by Lippincott in 2015.

University to honor outstanding graduates at in-person Commencement

As part of a longstanding tradition, each of the University’s six academic colleges selects an undergraduate and a graduate student to represent their classmates and wear their college’s academic hood during the ceremony. Read below about the students selected for the honor of wearing the College of Health & Social Sciences academic hood. More details about the ceremony are available on the Commencement website.

Undergraduate Hood: Davina A. Wizzard

Davina Wizzard

Late in her senior year of high school in Valencia, California, Davina A. Wizzard (pictured above, left) had a nerve-wracking experience: She learned that her brother had been pulled over by police for a “routine stop.” The fear of what those stops could result in set her back to the summer of 2016. The horrifying stories she’d read online — about Black motorists and pedestrians killed by police during “routine stops” — had stayed with her.

For Wizzard, the experience was an awakening that shaped her college career at SF State. She sought out a job with the University’s Division of Equity and Community Inclusion, ultimately creating and coordinating programs on inclusion, diversity and the upliftment of marginalized communities. Those activities didn’t detract from Wizzard’s academics, however, and she graduated in three years with majors in Criminal Justice Studies and Creative Writing and a minor in Africana Studies, Summa Cum Laude.

Wizzard has begun applying to law schools so that she can continue her work for justice and inclusion in the nation’s courts.

Graduate Hood: Azisa Todd

Azisa Todd

Born and raised in Oakland, Azisa “Zi” Todd (pictured above, right) says she has the Oakland public education system to thank for grounding her in the principles of academic and community organizing. Upon graduating from high school, Azisa went to University of California, Los Angeles, where she served as a member (later director) of BlaQue, UCLA’s Black LGBTQ+ organization. Azisa developed and facilitated mandated anti-racism/Blackness workshops at UCLA, organized cross-campus conferences and spoke across the state. After graduating with a B.A. in Gender Studies, she decided to jump back into academia — and back to the Bay Area — to pursue a Master of Public Health at SF State.

As a graduate student, Azisa was instrumental in supporting the redesign of a cross-college minor in Feminist Health Studies. She also serves as an education and training coordinator within San Mateo County, leading LGBTQ+ awareness trainings for health systems and local organizations.

Azisa’s public health interests are in LGBTQ+ health and wellness, the intersectionality of Black and LGBTQ+ experiences, and community health education and training. She hopes to earn a Doctor of Public Health and share what she’s learned with college-level students.

CHSS announces 2022 Faculty Excellence Award winners

The College of Health & Social Sciences at San Francisco State University has selected the 2022 recipients of the CHSS Faculty Excellence Awards. These awards were established to underscore the College’s deep commitment to excellence in teaching, scholarship and service. The College will present the Excellence Awards at the CHSS Fall Opening Meeting in late August 2022. 

Read about this year’s awardees below.

Excellence in Teaching Award (Tenure-Track)

Gretchen L. George

Gretchen George

Gretchen L. George receives this year’s Excellence in Teaching Award for tenure track faculty in recognition of the exemplary quality and impact of her achievements in pedagogy.

In her position as associate professor of Nutrition & Dietetics and program lead in the Family, Interiors, Nutrition & Apparel Department, she facilitates learning through nutrition education, metabolism, community nutrition and research courses. George is passionate about prevention and empowerment and provides an unparalleled level of commitment as a mentor, role model and advisor for Dietetics students and future dietitians. In the classroom, she includes students in her food literacy and basic needs research on the community and college students. More recently, she has begun exploring weight stigma in health-related majors from a social justice perspective, with the overall goal of eliminating weight bias in health professionals through incorporation of intuitive eating models in the classroom. Beyond the focus on eliminating weight bias, an imperative goal of hers is to strengthen the understanding of what health means, connecting individual, trauma, access, environment and biological mechanisms to dispel stigmatizing false information.

Excellence in Teaching Award (Lecturer)

Sarah Pawlowsky

Sarah Pawlowsky

Sarah Pawlowsky, associate clinical professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, receives this year’s Excellence in Teaching Award for lecturers in recognition of the exemplary quality and impact of her achievements in pedagogy.

Pawlowsky has been a full-time lecturer in Physical Therapy at SF State for the past six years. She is a valued member of the team with her excellent teaching skills, musculoskeletal content knowledge and clinical expertise.

Students praised her thorough, well-organized lectures; her integration of material throughout the course; her great feedback on assignments; the clinical relevance of her teaching; her accessibility and approachability; her solid foundation of knowledge; her open-mindedness and her commitment to making sure all students’ voices are heard. They also noted her ability to adjust to the learning pace of each student and her willingness to go above and beyond as a teacher and faculty member.

Excellence in Service Award

Larry Vitale

Larry Vitale

Larry Vitale, lecturer in the School of Nursing, has been awarded the CHSS Excellence in Service Award for his dedication to service activities that impact student success and enhance the SF State community.

Vitale inspires students to seek community service, working tirelessly to create opportunities and broaden the students’ experiences beyond traditional health care settings. He is an exceptional educator and mentor to nursing students. Over years of collaboration with Vitale, the SF State School of Nursing has provided free preventative services to community members without access to care and health education from student nurses under his supervision. Vitale has established, maintained and expanded volunteer opportunities for our students in with a variety of organizations and communities in San Francisco. He created opportunities for our nursing students that enabled them to contribute to San Francisco’s response to the pandemic, while learning valuable skills and progressing through the nursing program. Vitale has since coordinated volunteer assignments for hundreds of student nurses, forming the backbone of support to meet COVID testing demands. He continues to lead and inspire a new generation of nurses.

Excellence in Scholarship Award

Elif Balin

Elif Balin

The College has awarded Assistant Professor of Counseling Elif Balin the Excellence in Scholarship Award for her support of student-initiated research that evolves above and beyond the requirements for a degree.

Dr. Balin’s career priority is to train professional counselors who understand and apply career counseling and college counseling through systemic and culturally competent practices in various service and advocacy areas in the higher education, community mental health settings and beyond.

Her research projects and the related literature show that there is limited understanding and application of the multicultural and social justice counseling competencies, advocacy competencies, and international/global perspectives in career counseling and related educational settings. Counselors in these settings struggle to integrate such skills and advocacy into their work due to multiple organizational structure limitations. Her students’ feedback about their graduate training and internship experiences aligns with this finding.

Dr. Balin shared these student voices with the editor and author of several counseling skills textbooks, who offered her the opportunity to create a team with counselor educators and students to produce a series of training videos that are more culturally responsive, concise and relevant educational materials. In addition to her colleagues, Dr. Balin invited her graduate students (Atheena Haniff-Martinez, Alona Harris, Emily Jackson, Philip Payumo Jucaban, Zdravko Rozic and Paul Smith) to create a new series for the project, Moments of Excellence in Counseling and Therapy: Learning What Works for Relationship Building and Increased Effectiveness at Mindscape Commons.

CHSS announces winners of 2021 Faculty Excellence Awards

SF State’s College of Health & Social Sciences announces the 2021 recipients of the CHSS Faculty Excellence Awards, established to underscore the College’s deep commitment to excellence in teaching, scholarship and service.

Excellence in Teaching (Tenure-Track)

Molly McManus

Assistant Professor, Department of Child & Adolescent Development

Molly McManus

Molly E. McManus began her career in education as a bilingual early elementary school teacher in Oakland and San Francisco. In the classroom, she developed a deep respect for and curiosity around the sophisticated knowledge and capabilities that young Latinx children from immigrant families demonstrate when offered culturally sustaining, agentic learning opportunities. This respect and curiosity carry over into her teaching and learning with undergraduates in the Department of Child & Adolescent Development, where Molly designs learning opportunities that center students own developmental experiences as an entry point into exploring the cultural nature of development and its connections to practice and advocacy.

McManus earned her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Human Development and Learning Sciences and completed a post-doctoral research fellowship with the Agency and Young Children Research Collective at the University of Texas at Austin. Her scholarship centers the perspectives of young children of color and focuses on the cultural nature of learning and development. McManus investigates the impact of different school-learning experiences on young children of color, particularly considering how young Latinx children of immigrants identify as learners and understand the process of learning. She explores the social, academic, cultural and linguistic implications of these learning experiences from the perspectives of young children themselves and examine how teachers and systems shape the type and quality of children’s learning experiences. Her scholarship has been published in a range of journals including Harvard Educational Review, Teachers College Record, Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood Education, Anthropology and Education Quarterly and Perspectives on Early Childhood Psychology and Education.

Excellence in Teaching (Lecturer)

Hamida Nusrat 

Lecturer, Clinical Laboratory Science Program

Hamida Nusrat

Hamida Nusrat teaches, trains and mentors Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS) and Public Health Microbiology (PHM) interns and works as a public health microbiologist at Solano County Public Health Lab. She earned her M.S./Ph.D. in Clinical Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Karachi, Pakistan, and holds dual faculty positions in the CLS Program at SF State and in the Post-Baccalaureate Program at UC Berkeley. Nusrat has always been inspired by biomedical sciences and their relevance in day-to-day life and is passionate about training students in various disciplines of clinical and public health microbiology on new methodologies of innovative diagnostic assays. She received 14 enthusiastic nominations for this award from students based on her performance in course design and pedagogy, teaching effectiveness and student development.

Nusrat has been a member of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) since 2003 and of Northern California-ASM (NCASM) since 2008. She has served at NCASM in various leadership roles over the years and has been actively involved in the Board and Planning Committee meetings for making revisions for uplifting the organization. In her strategic position as the LabAspire Public Health Laboratory Director (PHLD) Training Program coordinator, affiliated with California Department of Public Health (CDPH), she networks with public health microbiology experts from Ukiah to San Diego, schedules meetings with state and county public health agencies, tracks and maintains training documents for the PHLD fellows, and prepares and submits the annual grant budget for the LabAspire PHLD Training Program. She is also actively involved in the training and certification of PHM interns through CDPH.

Excellence in Scholarship

Kate Hamel

Professor, Department of Kinesiology

Kate Hamel

Kate Hamel earned her P.hD. in Biomechanics and Locomotion Studies with a minor in Gerontology from Pennsylvania State University in 2002. Her broad interdisciplinary background in engineering, kinesiology, biomechanics and gerontology led to her current research program, the MAREY Lab, which is primarily focused on age-related changes in sensory systems and cognitive processes and how these changes impact the biomechanics of gait and balance in older adults.

The MAREY Lab conducts state-of-the-art research in the areas of biomechanics, motor learning and development, motor control, visual perception, gerontology and rehabilitation and provides research training opportunities for SF State students that are comparable in rigor to what they might receive at a R1 institution. These opportunities are grounded in developing self-efficacy and mastery in the research process and provide exposure and opportunity for a student population that is often marginalized in more traditional research settings. For many of the students, these experiences are critical to their development — they often have no exposure to research prior to participating in the lab and may never have considered the doors that it can open and the opportunities it can provide in terms of their future careers.

Hamel has mentored more than 75 undergraduate and graduate students through her research group, and over 80 percent have been women, students of color and/or students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Nearly all the undergraduate students from her lab have gone on to graduate or professional degree programs and many of her graduate students have continued on to Ph.D., DPT, DO, MD and PA programs, with a handful going on to manage research labs themselves. She has also provided research experience and laboratory training for hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students in the MAREY Lab through the courses that she teaches, including KIN 437/747, KIN 680, KIN 730 and KIN 736.

Excellence in Service

Anthony Mayo

Lecturer, Department of Kinesiology

Anthony Mayo

Anthony Mayo has been a part of the Department of Kinesiology at SF State since earning his master's degree in 2003. He was a lecturer from 2006-2009, went to earn his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, and then returned as a lecturer in 2013 as a lecturer. In addition to teaching many of the department’s core, emphasis and senior classes over the years,Mayo has gone above and beyond in offering his service to the department, most prominently in his role as an advisor for the Kinesiology Student Association (KSA).

The KSA offers several career-focused events through the year (e.g., career nights, graduate school extravaganza), puts on the department’s research expo and plans and executes the department's recognition ceremony. Mayo has worked significantly to help KSA and its officers succeed. He attends all the meetings for the organization, offers feedback on events, connects students with speakers and networking opportunities, provides ideas for their year-long agenda and keeps them on track as they work toward their goals. 

Mayo has been a mentor and advocate for more than 25 students over the past five years, many of them first-generation college students who need guidance with navigating the University system, figuring out prerequisites for graduate school and determining the experiences needed to get into a program. Mayo helps them with this process, including meeting to talk about their career plans, editing drafts of their personal statements and resumes and discussing specific ways that they can strengthen their applications to allied health graduate programs. These students have gone on to physical therapy school, occupational therapy school, chiropractic school and medical school, among others, and at top schools across the country.

Four faculty members receive 2020 CHSS Faculty Excellence Awards

SF State’s College of Health & Social Sciences presented its Faculty Excellence Awards at the College’s Virtual Fall Opening Meeting on August 20. These awards were established to underscore the College’s deep commitment to excellence in teaching, scholarship and service.

Excellence in Teaching Award (Tenured/Tenure-Track)

Linda Platas, Child & Adolescent Development

Linda Platas

Associate Professor of Child & Adolescent Development Linda Platas received the Excellence in Teaching Award for tenured faculty in recognition of her broad range of accomplishments. Her primary areas of research are child development, early childhood education, early math and literacy development, professional development and teacher education, and the formation and implementation of early childhood public policy.

Platas has taught nine courses in child development, curriculum, early childhood education, professional development, research and public policy in the Department of Child. & Adolescent Development. Her experience includes 14 years of working directly with children and families as a teacher and director of an early childhood program.

Internationally, she has worked on preschool and early primary grades population-level child assessment and classroom observation instruments. She has also worked with ministries of education in low-resource countries on school readiness, curriculum development, early math and literacy assessments, and classroom quality measurement.

She serves as an expert in international meetings on early mathematics and literacy development for UNESCO, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, and other non-governmental organizations. She is also a member of the Expert Panel that developed the Early Grades Math Assessment (EGMA) for USAID, the Technical Advisory Group for Child Development and Learning for UNESCO, and the Development and Research in Early Mathematics Education (DREME) Network.

Excellence in Teaching Award (Lecturers)

Deborah Craig, Public Health

Deborah Craig

Deborah Craig of the Department of Public Health received the Excellence in Teaching Award for lecturers. She received the strongest nomination from students for lecturer faculty regarding the exemplary quality and impact of her achievements in pedagogy. Her background is in public health, teaching, writing, technology, music and the visual arts, and she currently teaches writing and LGBTQI health in the Department of Public Health at SF State. She also produces documentary films about health issues, such as HIV/AIDS and LGBT aging.

Craig has designed “LGBTQI Health: Health Disparities and Sexual/Gender Minority Communities,” an undergraduate health education course that focuses on how stigmatization of queer communities contributes to health disparities, and “Introduction to Public Health,” an overview of public health advances and public health concepts — with a focus on health disparities — geared specifically toward the post-baccalaureate pre-medical students in SF States’ Health Professions program.

She also teaches “The Health Education Profession,” an undergraduate Health Education course that provides an overview of the health education profession and emphasizes writing and analytical skills.

Excellence in Service Award

Sheldon Gen, Public Affairs & Civic Engagement

Sheldon Gen

Associate Professor Sheldon Gen of the School of Public Affairs and Civic Engagement was awarded the College’s Excellence in Service Award for his dedication to service activities that impact student success and enhance the SF State community. His courses cover public policy processes, civic engagement in public policy, policy analysis, program evaluation, environmental policy and education policy. He also advises MPA students in the public policy and environmental administration emphases.

Gen has been instrumental in serving in ways that impact student success, most significantly through his work on the Teagle Initiative at SF State, which supports enhancing student success through curricular revisions. He served as a faculty lead for this initiative in his own department and was then selected to lead this initiative throughout the CSU system. 

He has also been instrumental in promoting sustainability education. He led the development of a Student Sustainability Investment Fund and the development of an associated course. Through this course, and a $250,000 allocation to the fund, students will be able to direct the investment of real funds for sustainability initiatives.

In addition, he is an Advisory Board member of the Funding the Next Generation project, which has brought community expertise onto campus. This project has been linked to six different MPA course sections and provided students with opportunities to analyze municipal budgets, assess political settings for children's funds and explore alternative funding streams for children. 

Excellence in Scholarship Award

Emma Sanchez-Vaznaugh, Public Health

Emma Sanchez-Vaznaugh

The College presented Professor Emma Sanchez-Vaznaugh with the Excellence in Scholarship award for her support of student-initiated research that evolves above and beyond the requirements for a degree. A social epidemiologist and professor in SF State’s Department of Public Health, Sanchez-Vaznaugh is also affiliated faculty at SF State’s Health Equity Institute and the Center for Health Equity at UCSF.

Her extensive research has focused on critical social justice issues in public health based on factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and local community factors. She has been a generous mentor to many students in her department, and several of them have been authors on publications and presentations. Her recent research has been funded by the NIH and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and involves studies on temporal changes in the fast food environment near schools, the influence of policies that regulate food and drinks in schools on racial or ethnic obesity disparities, and decision-making focused on physical activity strategies in schools.

CHSS honors outstanding faculty with 2019 Excellence Awards

San Francisco State University’s College of Health & Social Sciences presented its Faculty Excellence Awards at the College’s Fall Opening Meeting on August 26. These awards were established to underscore the College’s deep commitment to excellence in teaching, scholarship and service.

Each awardee received $750 and a certificate signed by Dean Alvin Alvarez and Associate Dean John Elia. Student research assistants also received award certificates and a gift from the College. (Faculty award winners are pictured below with Associate Dean John Elia.)

Excellence in Teaching Award

John Elia presents awards to Pavlina Latkova an Ana Maria Barrera

Associate Professor of Recreation, Parks & Tourism Pavlína Látková received the Excellence in Teaching Award for tenured faculty in recognition of her broad range of accomplishments. Her teaching and research interests are in community-based tourism, international development, sustainable travel and resident attitudes towards tourism development. Látková shares her enthusiasm and dedication to the subject by incorporating different teaching methods including group projects, guest lectures and field trip activities.

When she is not discussing sustainable tourism efforts with her class in Costa Rica during spring break, coordinating the 400-hour culminating internship experience for graduating seniors, organizing student retreats each semester and planning the semi-annual career fair, you can find her preparing to implement new curriculum and pedagogical ideas. Her creative instructional contributions include RPT 605: Ecotourism Principles and Practices and RPT 470: Travel with Purpose — a faculty-led, study abroad program.

More than 20 students collaborated on Látková’s nomination. They described her as an inspiring professor and mentor who genuinely cares for and supports her students, always showing great commitment in helping them successfully accomplish what they set out to achieve.

Ana Maria Barrera of the Department of Kinesiology received the Excellence in Teaching Award for lecturers. Her interest and passion revolves around social justice and supporting underrepresented populations, and her instruction focuses on reflective and dynamic learning processes that maximize student learning and foster cooperative and collaborative learning environments. Barrera recently developed a new course that instantly became an essential foundation for the successful educational and developmental experience for kinesiology students to ultimately become self-sufficient lifelong learners.

Through appreciative advising, Barrera helps students realize their potential and use their strengths as resources. She strongly believes that students become empowered when someone listens to them and cares about their well-being and needs as they navigate higher education. Barrera started her department’s peer advising program, and has also developed several long-term and systematic advising strategies to enhance the quality of advising. Her talents have been recognized at the University level and she was appointed as a member of the Dream Resource Center Advisory Board for undocumented students. Her passion for diverse and underserved populations is also evident in her doctoral dissertation topic, which focused on documenting undocumented students’ experiences in higher education and how such experiences impact their academic success and fulfillment.

Excellence in Service Award

John Elia presents award to Jackson Wilson

Associate Professor Jackson Wilson of the Department of Recreation, Parks & Tourism was awarded the College’s inaugural Excellence in Service Award for his dedication to service activities that impact student success and enhance the SF State community. Wilson has a strong commitment to directly cultivating practical knowledge and skills to enable students to achieve their professional goals and help them become better citizens. He teaches graduate and undergraduate classes in research methods, leadership, organization management and information technology.

Wilson has been a faculty fellow for Quality Learning and Teaching (QLT) since 2015 and currently serves as the lead faculty fellow. He continues to serve as a faculty researcher in a CSU-wide online education research project (SQuAIR), serves as a faculty fellow with the Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning, co-chairs one of the AMP working groups and serves on SF State’s Enrollment Management Committee. At the college level, Dr. Wilson has served on the Leave with Pay Committee and the Elections Committee and on the FINA RTP committee. He is also the department graduate coordinator and leads the multi-campus Master of Science in Recreation, Parks & Tourism collaboration with two other CSU campuses.

Excellence in Scholarship Award

John Elia presents award to Valerie Francisco-Mechavez

The College awarded Assistant Professor of Sociology and Sexuality Studies Valerie Francisco-Menchavez the Excellence in Scholarship award for her support of student-initiated research that evolves above and beyond the requirements for a degree. She provided opportunities for students Stephanie AnchetaJessa Delos ReyesKatrina LiwanagTiffany Mendoza and Jeannel Poyaoan to assist in data collection and analysis by training them in qualitative and quantitative research methods, such as interviewing respondents, conducting focus groups and administering surveys. Together as a group, they wrote a co-authored peer-reviewed publication, “Claiming Kapwa: Filipino Immigrants, Community Based Organizations and Community Citizenship in San Francisco,” which was presented at UC Davis’ inaugural Filipino American political symposium in 2018, the CHSS Annual Showcase in 2018 and the SOMA Pilipinas Community Network gathering in 2019.

As an educator, Francisco-Menchavez continues to develop her pedagogy to engage students’ ideas and spirit in learning how to analyze the world of sociology. She does this by preparing her courses with a global perspective and preparing a range of learning activities in and outside of her classroom that cultivate students’ ability to think critically about the complex times we live in and in their potential to change the world.

PACE students awarded Merritt Community Capital Scholarships to support studies in affordable housing

Since 2009, the Merritt Community Capital Corporation has been a generous funder of student scholarships in the School of Public Affairs & Civic Engagement totaling $23,434 annually — two to three students majoring in Urban Studies & Planning and one to two pursing a master’s degree in Public Administration. The objective of the Merritt Community Capital Scholarship Fund is to promote and encourage the development of student career interest in the fields of affordable housing development and management. These scholarships help students cover their educational expenses while pursuing their degrees at SF State and enable them to explore affordable housing career opportunities.

2021-2022 Awardees

Kathy Angeles

Kathy Angeles (Urban Studies & Planning) aspires to support and work closely with communities and impacted populations that have faced challenges with affordable housing and the injustices that come with environmental impacts within these communities. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career as a planner to improve the quality of life and reduce inequality in urban areas. She believes that it is essential for the community to have representatives who not only hear what they are saying, but also understand what is going on, and she feels that her close ties to her community have helped her gain knowledge about how to address these concerns. 

Taylor Davidson

Taylor Davidson (Public Administration) has been working in the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) industry since completing her undergraduate degree. With an emphasis on affordable housing and criminal justice public policy, she hopes to use her master's degree to lessen our nation’s economic and racial disparity gaps. In her professional experience, Davidson recognizes the role that public policy and affordable housing play in undoing these disparities. By obtaining an MPA, she strives to play a crucial role in shaping these policies and increasing access to quality affordable housing. Davidson spends her free time enjoying friends and family, collecting vinyl records, traveling and spoiling her dog, Blue.

Temur Umarov

Temur Umarov (Public Administration) currently works for the Applied Housing Research Initiative at SF State. His previous housing policy related work experience includes internships and volunteering for Tenants Together, the Sustainable Economies Law Center and Public Advocates. Professionally, he hopes to work for the government (state or local) or a nonprofit on affordable housing policy. Ultimately, he wants to work to implement policy that promotes equity in the housing system because he believes affordable housing should be a human right.