In the Community

San José State University faculty, staff, and students demonstrate Spartan Spirit every day, supporting students here in our own SJSU community, and exploring solutions to contemporary challenges across the county, the state, and the nation.

Jinny Rhee, Blanca Sanchez-Cruz

MESA for SJSU Engineering

Rhee, Sanchez-CruzOn the third floor of the College of Engineering building are brightly lit study rooms and meeting facilities full of students. The area is home to the MESA (Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement) program, which supports educationally or economically disadvantaged undergrads pursuing degrees in engineering and computer science.

“For me, it is about leveling the playing field,” explains Assistant Director for Student Support Programs Blanca Sanchez-Cruz, describing her passion for the program. “We engage our MESA students with peer support, academic
support, industry mentors, and career coaching.”

Having worked with underserved, low-income, first generation students throughout her career, and having herself been a MESA student in middle school, Sanchez-Cruz is particularly committed to facilitating success for this student population.

“Through MESA we hope to increase the number of high caliber engineering and computer science graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds,” says Associate Dean Jinny Rhee. “We are providing a platform of support that will help them complete degrees and enter industry.”

Peggy Stevenson

SJSU's Record Clearance Project

Peggy StevensonWhat started as a project in a Courts and Society class evolved into an engaging internship program known as the SJSU Record Clearance Project (RCP). Undergraduates inform the community about their legal rights and apply practical legal skills to help expunge the criminal records of eligible clients.

“By setting up a two-course sequence we can fi rst teach legal skills in Justice Studies 140 and then develop those skills in an internship in Justice Studies 141,” explains RCP founder, attorney, and SJSU Professor Peggy Stevenson.

Under attorney supervision, RCP students give presentations on expungement law at community sites, provide individualized reviews of “rap sheets” at drop-in advice sessions to determine clients’ legal options, and prepare clients’ petitions for court.

Prior to joining SJSU in 2007, Stevenson taught students at Stanford and Santa Clara law schools to provide legal assistance to low-income communities, developing innovative approaches to teaching students to meet clients’ legal needs. Now she brings her guidance and vision to SJSU.

“The RCP students’ enthusiasm for their work and openness to new ideas is deeply gratifying,” says Stevenson. “Teaching them to use their talents to assist others is a joy.”

Ashwini Wagle, Linda Sweeney, and Lucy McProud

Nutrition for Children:
SJSU's Cal-Pro-NET Center

Ashwini Wagle, Linda Sweeney,  Lucy McProud

Lucy McProud has devoted her career to child nutrition and school food service education. Early on she became committed to sharing the discipline with her students as a career option as well as with professionals seeking to expand their
knowledge in the field.

“It is important that school food service directors receive high quality training—they have the crucial responsibility of feeding school children nutritious
meals at an affordable price,” she explains.

Through McProud’s efforts, SJSU became one of the few colleges in the state selected to partner with the California Professional Nutrition Education and Training Center (Cal-Pro-NET), resulting in the creation of the San José State University Cal-Pro-NET Center. The SJSU center provides professional development and training to California’s child nutrition professionals, primarily at management levels. Since the program’s inception in 1997 it has been awarded nearly $3 million by the California State Department of Education.

Along with Ashwini Wagle, director of SJSU’s Didactic Program in Dietetics, and Program Coordinator Linda Sweeney, McProud has been awarded extensive grant funding for the Cal-Pro-NET Center to develop and deliver relevant training
modules and lead live professional development courses for over 1,300 California school districts and agencies on National School Meal Programs.

McProud serves as chair of SJSU’s Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging, and both Wagle and Sweeney continue to teach while managing the program. It is worth noting that SJSU is home to the first nutrition program in the CSU system, established as part of the Home Economics Department in 1911.

Laurie Drabble

Exploring Health Risk & Resiliency among
Sexual Minority Women

Laurie DrabbleScientific studies indicate that rates of alcohol consumption and use of tobacco and illicit drugs are higher among sexual minority women compared to heterosexual populations.

“Research has documented the concept of ‘minority stress,’” explains Laurie Drabble. “Experiences of discrimination and marginalization create chronic stress among lesbians, bisexual women, and same-sex attracted women.”

Drabble is conducting research to determine moderators or mediators of substance abuse for this population, and to identify resilience factors that are particularly relevant to sexual minorities. Her findings will extend scientific knowledge about practices that may protect against their alcohol- and drug-related problems.

Using respondent-driven sampling, where survey participants refer other interviewees in their social network to participate, Drabble and her colleagues will be able to acquire a large oversample of sexual minority women as an extension of the National Alcohol Survey of 2015. Drabble will also examine how changes in marriage laws and public policy are affecting sexual minority women.

“We want to learn how shifts in cultural values and a greater sense of societal acceptance are impacting this population.”

SJSU Research Foundation Annual Report 2016-17