Photo by James Tensuan, '15 Photojournalism
Major: Environmental Studies with a minor Urban Studies
College of Social Science
Why did you choose your major?
I chose to be an Environmental Studies major because I care about my surrounding environment. My life goals are to help improve my community in East San Jose through the knowledge of producing and obtaining fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables. I believe that everybody should have access to affordable and healthy food in this community. I interned and worked at different farms around San Jose from Veggielution to Garden to Table. My time at Veggielution and as a director for Environmental Resource Center (ERC) here at SJSU have allowed me to understand different environmental issues, including environmental justice, which drives me to want to make a change in my community.
What does receiving this particular award mean to you?
While at De Anza College, I considered myself an average student who earned average grades in my general education classes. But once I came to SJSU I was exposed to different issues in my immediate environment, which made me want to make a positive impact. I wanted to share everything I had learned in my time here with my community. Therefore, I chose to minor in Urban Studies because living in the East Side of San Jose, a diverse community filled with many different ethnicities, cultures, and backgrounds, set us apart from the other corners of San Jose; we could be our own little country. Receiving this award would be an example to our younger East Side San Jose generation that if you set your mind to something you can do it and impact your community for the better.
Who has the greatest influence or impact on your life?
There is a couple of people who influence me in my life. The first is all my female farm friends who I met during my time at Veggielution. These women have taught me to be strong, independent, and to listen to my intuition.
Colleen Hotchkiss was the farm manager at Veggielution, and she taught me as a woman to never give up on fighting for other people’s access to healthy food. As a woman farmer, Colleen has faced significant backlash for her gender in the farming community, and has had to continually prove to others she can do it all.
Next is Mika Shibuya, a former Veggielution farm crew member who taught me how to care for “baby” vegetable starts in the greenhouse. Mika gave me the enormous responsibility of taking care of two one-acre greenhouses when I became a farm crew member at Veggielution. She taught me the greenhouse was the nursery and these babies are the most important steps into making a farm successful. Mika taught me to nourish and tend to these babies and once they were out in the fields I felt like a proud mama.
Lastly, my last female farm friend would be Sally Mosief. I met her four years ago at Veggielution as a farm crew member and I am proud to call her a friend. She is my go-to person whenever I have any garden or plant problems. I hope one day to sustainably live off my land the way she does.
While at SJSU, Dr. Lynne Trulio and Maya Briones have inspired me to be a better leader. Dr. Lynne Trulio, the department chair of Environmental Studies and advisor for ERC has helped me navigate my way through school politics and funding as an ERC director. As a department chair, Lynne has helped me discover my path in becoming an Environmental Studies major. She was the first person I met at here at San Jose State University and she made me feel welcomed into this department. Lynne truly cares about her students and this Earth Day 2018 at SJSU she will be commemorated with a tree for all her hard work and dedications to our department.
Maya Briones is the director at ERC and these past few semesters as her co-director she has taught me how to organize, prepare, and lead this organization. While she is graduating soon I will always look up to her because she can do it all from holding down three jobs, to being a straight A’s student, and being a fierce woman who fights for environment justice and social problems around our community.
Most importantly my sister, who will be reading this later to check for grammar mistake. Thank you so much for being there for me. I love you and words cannot describe how much you have encouraged me to become who I am today.
Describe an experience that has shaped your life today?
In 2016, I became a director at Environmental Resource Center (ERC) at San Jose State University. The ERC is a student-run center associated with the Environmental Studies Department here at San Jose State University. ERC allows students from across campus to undertake sustainability projects on and off campus and help their communities become more sustainable.
I wanted to become a director because I believed in the mission statement of the ERC, which states “to promote sustainability in the local community through education, student action, and student leadership”. ERC allowed me to connect with more students who do not know a lot about their surrounding environment and make them knowledgeable about where their food and campus resources are coming from.
What would you stay to other students to encourage or inspire them to attain academic excellence?
Once you find your “niche” you will succeed. Finding the right major will drive you to challenge yourself to be your best. As I grow older I understand how important an education is and how much my fellow peers and instructors can teach me. When I work with my community, I know that I can make an impact in people’s life and health.
What makes you a Spartan?
As an ERC director, I understand that partnerships are why the ERC events and I are successful. Working with Associated Student, Student Involvement, Transportation Solution, Bicycle Express, local food vendors, and surrounding community has made me more involved with the community. Being a Spartan means improving and involving the community outside of SJSU because we are all apart of the same ecosystem and we should be uplifting each other. I am proud to be a Spartan and will keep on cheering for our school environment even after I graduate.
Nominated by Lynne Trulio
Chair, Environmental Studies
"I would like to nominate Liana Hua from Environmental Studies. Not only is she a President's scholar, but she is a leader in our department. She is a director for the student-run Environmental Resource Center and actively works to support both sustainable agriculture gardens on campus. I'll bet she does more that I don't know about!"