Alumni and Student Spotlights


SJSU alumnus Dan Fenstermacher holds up a camera
Dan Fenstermacher,'16 MFA Photography, documented the struggles of the people affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, inspiring hurricane relief.

MFA Alumnus Inspires Hurricane Relief

A 2016 graduate of the MFA in photography program at SJSU, Dan Fenstermacher regards his camera as a tool of activism. In Puerto Rico, Fenstermacher used photography to uplift survivors and raise awareness of Hurricane Maria's aftermath in 2018.

Maritza Fuerte

Immersed in Industry: Maritza Fuerte Dives into Medical Device Engineering in Silicon Valley Classroom

For alumna Maritza Fuerte, the opportunity to work hands-on in the biomedical engineering industry has defined her SJSU experience. Having earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SJSU, Fuerte realized early on that her studies were closely aligned with what employers are looking for in Silicon Valley.

Rod Diridon

San Jose Legends: Rod Diridon launched the city’s light rail but got into transit by accident

Rod Diridon, alumnus of SJSU's statistics graduate program, had a train station named after him and was widely renowned as the “father” of Silicon Valley’s modern transit system. In Latin, "Diri" means direction and "doni" means giver, so Diridon's career has been quite fitting.

▸ Photo by Vicente Vera, San Jose Spotlight

Teri Faught

Alumna Accepts New Leadership Role as Distance Education Administrator

Teri Faught, an alumna of the MA in educational administration program at SJSU, has been offered the position of distance education administrator for the Mountain View Los Altos High School district. In her role, Faught will support schools with online education and distance learning. Faught previously served as assistant principal for Mountain View High School.

Darius Brown

MPA Alumnus Combats Homelessness Amidst Pandemic

Darius Brown, a Masters in Public Administration alumnus, has been working to support homeless community members as part of the City of San Jose’s Housing Department. We asked him how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted his work, as well as how his MPA degree has contributed to his career in public service.

▸ Brown sports his face mask on the front lines of COVID-19

Ashley Hall

Alumna Ashley Hall Forges Path into Medicine through Biomedical Engineering

Ashley Hall found her way into biomedical engineering after completing her degree in materials science and engineering at the University of California, Merced. Though nervous about starting an M.S. program in a new discipline upon arrival at SJSU, Hall became more enthralled with the multifaceted nature of the field from each course she took. 

Ali Guarneros Luna

NASA engineer developing technology for missions to moon, Mars

Ali Guarneros Luna, mother of four, went back to school to make her childhood dream a reality. Today she's an engineer at NASA working on small satellite technology.

Current Students

Samuel Semahegn stands with his UCLA team while holding a robot prototype.
Semahegn (second from the left) and his UCLA team display a prototype of a robot that can facilitate household organizational tasks.

Samuel Semahegn Uses Graduate Degree, Industry Experience to Engineer a Better Life

"I developed a microfluidic system for sensitivity and continuous bacteria detection from aqueous solutions. In some parts of the world, they don’t have clean water, so we are doing research on how we [can] filter contaminated water by using this system. I’m from Ethiopia—that motivates me to do this research.”

Eileen Hsu

Eileen Hsu: At the Intersections of Art and Transit

"As a Graphic Designer at LA Metro and as a huge proponent of shared mobility and mass transit, I decided to pursue the MTI transportation management master’s degree out of sheer fascination and the urge to be a more integral contributor at work. At first, I wondered if I may be out-of-place coming from the arts, but in time, tremendous applicability between the two disciplines of art and transportation emerged."

▸ Eileen Hsu is a current graduate student in the MS Transportation Management program through the Mineta Transportation Institute. She previously earned an MFA in graphic arts from California Institute of the Arts.

Francesca Fanucchi

Francesca Fanucchi: Creating a Bright Future in Justice Studies

"As a child, I struggled in school, often being labelled as lazy and unmotivated. I felt inferior, inadequate, undisciplined, and hopelessly disorganized. I never envisioned attending university. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and sensory processing disorder that I was able to understand and address these struggles. I am [now in] the final year of my Master’s degree in Justice Studies...I hope my experience encourages other students with learning disabilities to achieve their goals in higher education and reach their full potential."

▸ Francesca Fanucchi is a current graduate student in the justice studies program. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology at the University of Sussex in England.

Erin Mundy

Graduate Equity Fellowship An ‘Absolute Godsend’ Says iSchool Recipient

The School of Information proudly announces that Erin Mundy, a student enrolled in the Master of Library and Information Science degree program, was awarded a $4,000 Graduate Equity Fellowship sponsored by the College of Graduate Studies at San José State University.

▸ Image courtesy of Erin Mundy/SJSU iSchool

Annie Ronning

Kinesiology student takes first place in Lightning Talk Competition

Annie Ronning took first place in the Lightning Talk Competition at the inaugural Institute for the Study of Sport, Society, and Social Change virtual conference: “Dream with Your Eyes Open: (Re)Imagining Sport in the Age of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter.” The event was designed “to continue the legacy of equity and social justice by addressing the issues and challenges in sport,” according to the program’s webpage. In her Lightning Talk, Ronning presented research on increasing cultural competency in athletic training education.

▸ Image courtesy of Annie Ronning

Saritha Podali

SJSU Students Use Data to Help Serve City’s Most Vulnerable Communities

Saritha Podali, ’22 MS Data Analytics, and Fengling Zhou, ’22 MS Data Analytics, collaborated on a data project to assist the City of San José in allocating resources to local communities. The result? An interactive map that highlights exactly which communities could use greater support. 

Greg Tomlinson

Greg Tomlinson Inspiring the Next Generation of History Graduates

From a young age, Greg Tomlinson thought of nothing else than to become a history educator. We recently had the opportunity to chat with him about his passion for history, his time at San José State University (SJSU) as both an undergraduate and graduate student, and his Ph.D research.