Cal Poly CLA News

The latest online edition of CLA's Impact Magazine


Alumni Spotlight

Bob Berger

On Top of the World

In 2012, Bob Berger (Journalism, ‘81) summited Mt. Everest, something only a handful of people can say. He insisted that accomplishing something like this is a mindset he credits his time at Cal Poly with helping him forge. 

Read more about Berger's expedition.



Nicole Mullikin

Alumna and Local Attorney Wins Distinguished 'Rising Star Award'

Local immigration attorney and alumna Nicole Mullikin (Modern Languages and Literatures, ’15) is the 2023 recipient of the Women Lawyers Association of San Luis Obispo County’s “Rising Star” award, honoring her work as a lawyer with fewer than seven years of experience.  

Read more about how Mullikin impacts the local community.



Eyole Mbongo

Alumnus Honored for Dedication to Supporting Hispanic Success in Higher Education

On Dec. 4, Eyole M. Mbongo (Political Science, '07), senior legislative assistant to Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas's 20th congressional district, received the Outstanding Congressional Staffer Award from the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) in recognition of his exceptional dedication to advancing equity in education.

Read more about Mbongo's work to fund and support HSIs.



Yesenia Beas

Removing the Mask: Former Undocumented Student Hopes Sharing Her Background Will Help as Coordinator of the Multicultural Business Program

As an undocumented child in Guadalupe, Calif, Yesenia Beas was afraid to tell friends or school staffers about her status, unsure whom she could trust. While she kept her secret until she was in college, Beas, now a resident seeking citizenship, is happy to share her experiences with students as a new academic advisor and coordinator of Cal Poly’s Multicultural Business Program.

Read more about Beas' work with the MBP.


Headshot of Grace Curtis

Journalism Alumna Accepted into Prestigious Fellowship Program

Last fall, Grace Curtis (Journalism, ’22) joined the prestigious Capital Fellows Program offered through California State University, Sacramento, making her one of only 18 fellows accepted into the 11-month program.

Read more about Curtis' work on the Zero Emissions Vehicles team.




Jackie Duerr headshot

Character Study

As a student concentrating in graphic design at Cal Poly, Kristen Sanzari (Art and Design ’11) dreamed of working in animation for a company like Disney or Pixar, bringing characters and stories to life. Now, more than 10 years later, she’s doing just that — through her work as a toy designer at Mattel.

Read more about Sanzari's work with Mattel.



Jackie Duerr headshot

Q&A with Transfer Student Advocate, Alumna Jackie Duerr 

In celebration of National Transfer Student Week, we got to know alumna Jackie Duerr (Psychology, ’09; Master of Education, ’11), program manager for the University of San Diego’s Transfer Student Success Program. Duerr gave us advice for current students and insight into how her experience as a transfer student inspired her to become a leader for the next generation of transfers. 

Read Duerr's story.



Mike Griffith headshot

Communication Studies Alumna Presents Her Senior Project at an International Conference

In May, Matia Mathes (Communication Studies, ’21) presented her senior project at the International Communication Association Conference in Paris, France. Mathes initially came up with the idea for the project in Dr. Lauren Kolodziejski’s class, COMS 422: Rhetorics of Science, Technology, and Medicine, where she created an informational poster of original illustrations, “How to Apply a Tourniquet.”

Read about Mathes' project.



Mike Griffith headshot

CLA Honored Alumnus Mike Griffith Officially Completes His Degree After Nearly 40 years

After a whirlwind career that took him around the world, CLA honored alumnus Mike Griffith retired in 2015. Since then, he has spent his retirement doing what he calls “wrapping up loose ends,” including completing his final quarter of college and graduating from Cal Poly after nearly 40 years. 

Read about Griffith's journey.



Danielle Borrelli headshot

Q&A with the California Cybersecurity Institute’s Danielle Borrelli 

Danielle Borrelli (Political Science ’11, Master of Public Policy ’17) is helping lead the charge to address our nation’s national cybersecurity crisis as the Operations Coordinator for the California Cybersecurity Institute (CCI). She recently sat down with us to discuss the paths that led her to the CCI and her thoughts on some of her greatest career achievements.

Read Borrelli's story.



Pedro Armendariz headshot from the 1930s

San Luis Obispo International Film Festival Features Showing of "La Perla," Starring Famous Cal Poly Alumnus

As part of a collaboration years in the making, the Latino Outreach Council of San Luis Obispo County and Cal Poly’s Office of University Diversity and Inclusion are co-sponsoring the showing of “La Perla,” an iconic Mexican-American film, starring Pedro Armendáriz.

 Learn more about Armendáriz.



Happy At Any Cost

Journalism Alumna Kirsten Grind Publishes New Investigative Book

A new book released in March 2022 uncovers aspects of the personal life of noted entrepreneur Tony Hsieh and the truth behind his mysterious death in November 2020. The book is written by Kirsten Grind (Journalism ’02) and her Wall Street Journal coworker Katherine Sayre and published by Simon and Schuster.

 Read more about Grind's book and her career at the WSJ.



Face, A Memoir

Journalism Alumna Publishes Book, Is Shortlisted for International Award

Since graduating from Cal Poly in 1978 with a degree in journalism, Marcia Meier has led a successful life as a journalist, author and writing coach. Her latest book, Face, A Memoir, was published in January this year by Saddle Road Press, and quickly gained positive recognition. 

 Read more about Meier's book.



Cindy Estes

Graphic Communication Alumna Starts Reusable Fabric Gift Wrap Business

Since graduating from Cal Poly in 1989 with a degree in graphic communication, Cindy Estes has worked as a freelance graphic designer, a children’s clothing designer and an entrepreneur. Now, she owns a resuable gift wrapping business.

 Read more about Estes's business.




Journalism Senior Project Turns into Philanthropic Organization Helping Provide Bicycles to Kenyan Orphans

For his senior project in 2018, Cal Poly journalism alumnus and avid cyclist Sean Bird created Everjourney. 

 Read more about Bird's organization.




William Thompson

Psychology Alumnus William Thompson Co-Founds Business to Help People with Parkinson's Disease

During his graduate education, Thompson found his calling when he was introduced to De Oro Devices, a biomedical startup founded by Cal Poly biomedical engineering alumna Sidney Collin.

 Read more about Thompson's business.



Kelsey's boo, "Warbirds"

Cal Poly Journalism Alumnus Publishes a Photobook on World War II

Cal Poly journalism alumnus Thomas Kelsey recently published his latest book 75 Years Later-Warbirds, Airman and Veterans of World War II.

 Read more about Kelsey's book.





Herencia Indigena Team

Cal Poly Political Science Alumna Co-Founded a Medical Interpreting Organization

Since graduating in 2018, Cal Poly political science alumna Irebid Gilbert has created and co-founded her business Herencia Indigena, an initiative partly inspired by the work she did at Cal Poly. 

 Read more about Gilbert's business.



Read More Alumni Stories


DeBruhl and Riggs' book "The Insider's Guide to Media Training"

Two Cal Poly Journalism Alumni Wrote a Book Together

Cal Poly journalism alumni and Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalists Rick DeBruhl and Kevin Riggs provide insight to interviewing with various media in their new book The Insider’s Guide to Media Training: 99 Tips to Survive Your Interview in the Digital Age

 Read more about DeBruhl's and Riggs' new book.



Gabriel Medina-Kim


Cal Poly Alumnus Selected for CSU Program to Support Doctoral Studies and Prepare for Faculty Opportunities 

Gabriel Medina-Kim (Computer Science, '20), was selected to the Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program (CDIP) through the California State University (CSU) earlier this year. 

 Read more about Medina-Kim


Sydney Nguyen

How Cal Poly Prepared Recent Alumna Sydney Nguyen For Her Career in Design (Q+A) 

Meet recent alumna Sydney Nguyen (Comparative Ethnic Studies, '20) and learn about her experience at Cal Poly and how it prepared her for life beyond the university. 

 Read more about Nguyen



Cal Poly Alumni

Two Cal Poly Alumni serve AmeriCorps to Support Volunteer Work In the SLO Community (Q+A)

Meet two alumni who graduated Cal Poly in 2019 and joined Americorps, a civil society program engages adults in public service work. They serve Americorps to support volunteer work in the San Luis Obispo community.

 Read more about their work 



Professor Terry JonesAnthropology and Geography Professor and Alumnus Travel to Easter Island to Record Famous Historical Sites 

In 2010, professor Terry Jones took a group of students to northeastern Nevada, where they worked as archeologists for the first time. Ten years later, one of those students took him to Easter Island to help record some of the island’s famous statues.

Read more about their trip to Easter Island


Career ConnectionsJoin Cal Poly Career Connections! 

Career Connections is Cal Poly’s exclusive online networking and mentoring platform. Now you can expand your professional network and provide support to our amazing students.   

Read about Career Connections


Honored alumnus Kevin Falls with President Armstrong and Dean WilliamsCLA Honors Alumnus and "This is Us" Co-Executive Producer Kevin Falls

This year's Honored Alumni Award from the College of Liberal Arts recognizes Kevin Falls (Journalism, '78).   

Read about Falls


Lance Iunker and familyRecent Sociology Graduate Learned Lessons Traveling to Vietnam

Jennifer Mizuki (Sociology, ’19) is pursuing a master’s degree in social welfare at UCLA. After she graduated from Cal Poly in June, she went on an Alternative Breaks Global Service trip to Vietnam.   

Read Mizuki's reflection


Lance Iunker and familyHow Cal Poly Alumnus Lance Lunker Merged His Background as a Veteran with his Political Science Major (Q+A)

Get to know Lance Iunker, a veteran and political science alumnus as he talks about his service, senior project and life after Cal Poly.   

Read more about Iunker




ToyBox on Shark Tank

Shark Tank Features Art and Design Alumna's Toy-Making Company

Cal Poly alumna Jenn Chin was featured on Shark Tank as the co-founder of Toybox Labs, a 3-D printer that allows children to design and print toys from home.  

Read more about Toybox


teaching robotsLAES Alumna Brings Robots to Local Elementary School to Introduce STEM Education

Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies alumna Emily Anderson created a senior project that introduces young students to STEM education and will continue to make an impact on the local community. 

Read more about the robots Anderson used to teach computer science skills


 Jim BentleyProject-Based Learning Drives Action in the Classroom

The Learn by Doing philosophy has extended far beyond Jim Bentley’s Cal Poly classes. Now a teacher at Elk Grove Elementary, he implements project-based learning in his fifth-and-sixth grade classrooms and advocates for project-based learning through a National Geographic fellowship. 

Read more about Bentley's work


Alumni winners of Top 20 Under 40 Award Cal Poly Alumni Recognized for the Tribune's Top 20 Under 40 Award

Twenty San Luis Obispo County residents were selected from a field of nearly 100 nominees as winners of The Tribune’s 14th annual Top 20 Under 40 Award and many of them are Cal Poly graduates.  

Read more about the alumni award winners

History Alumna Sophie Rosales History Alumna Teaching English in Vietnam

Sophie Rosales went from student to teacher just one year after graduating from Cal Poly. As an English Teaching Assistant in Vietnam, Rosales has taken her education and career worldwide and hopes to continue with a career path in diplomacy.  

Read more about Rosales and her work


KCPR general managers at 50th anniversary event Cal Poly Radio Station KCPR Celebrates 50 Years

A weekend of events to mark the 50th anniversary of campus radio station KCPR-FM kicked off on Friday, Oct. 12, with a concert at SLO Brew Rock. The 400-plus attendees included Cal Poly alumni, students, and local music lovers. 

Read more about KCPR's 50th anniversary


Psychology Alumna Nikki Petkopoulos

Recent Journalism Grad is Finalist for CSU Media Arts Festival Award

Recent Cal Poly grad Nikki Petkopoulos (Journalism, ’18) is a finalist for the prestigious CSU Media Arts Award for her film Young American which tells the story of a biracial college student. 

Read about Petkopoulos and the Media Arts Festival


Psychology Alumna Leah Thomas

Psychology Alumna Earns Top Presentation at CSU Research Competition

Leah Thomas (Psychology, ’17) earned the top presentation in the Behavioral and Social Sciences category at the CSU Research Competition.  

Read about Thomas and the CSU Research Competition


Gretchen Bataille

Alumna Awarded Albert Nelsen Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award

Gretchen M. Bataille (M.A., Education, ’67; English, ’66) was awarded the Albert Nelsen Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award by Marquis Who’s Who for her leadership in higher education. 

Read about Bataille and her award


Brownieland Pictures Viral Video "Every Opportunity"

Alumna's Video Production Company Produces Viral Video with Important Message

“Every Opportunity” was created to show teachers and parents how systematically ignoring children and not hearing their voices can have disastrous effects. 

Read about Brownieland Pictures and watch the viral video


Alumni Invited to Become CLA Social Media Ambassadors

Become a CLA Social Media Alumni Ambassador

Share your love for your alma mater! CLA Social Media Alumni Ambassadors help promote the College of Liberal Arts by liking posts and sharing content from and to CLA accounts. 

Become an Alumni Social Media Ambassador


Wyatt Oroke, History Alumnus Recognized on the Ellen Show

History Alumnus Recognized on The Ellen Show for Work as Teacher

Wyatt Oroke (History, ’13) was recognized on The Ellen Show for his dedication as an eighth grade humanities teacher at City Springs Elementary and Middle School in Baltimore, Maryland. 

Read about Wyatt Oroke


Chris Trapani, CLA Honored Alumni 2017

CLA Honored Alumnus 2017 

The College of Liberal Arts recognizes Chris Trapani (Political Science, '90) as its 2017 Honored Alumnus. 

Read about the 2017 Honored Alumnus

Bill and Cheryl Swanson

Donation Funds HD Upgrade to Student-Run TV Studio

Thanks to a $100,000 donation from Bill and Cheryl Swanson, the university’s student-run television studio was outfitted with the latest cameras, switchers and other equipment.

Read about the Swanson's HD upgrade donation

Spring 2017 Alumni Update

Alumni Update Spring 2017 

From new jobs to writing awards, read about what several CLA alumni have been up to recently.

Read the latest news from CLA alumni

Nwaba, Cal Poly CLA alumn signs with Lakers

Sociology Alumnus is First Mustang to Sign With NBA

David Nwaba, 24, is the newest member of the Los Angeles Lakers and the first Cal Poly alumnus to sign with the NBA.

Read more about Nwaba


Alumna works for rights of homeless

Alumna Working for Rights of Homeless

Alexa Arndt is putting her political science education to work on behalf of the homeless and those living in poverty. Arndt has already worked with a number of reputable organizations including the New York Legal Assistance Group and Homeless Advocacy Project, among others. 

Read about Arndt



Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies Alumna Transforms the Way Runners Train

Runners are always attempting to break their personal records. Alexandra Kline (Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies, ’15) came up with TrackPacer – an idea that could transform the way runners train.

Read about TrackPacer


Mustang News 100 Years Celebration

Journalism Department Celebrates 100 Years of Mustang News

The Cal Poly Journalism Department celebrated the 100th anniversary of its student press Oct. 14-15 with "100 Years of Delivering the News," two days of events that included a Spotlight Gala and a department open house.

Read about the centennial celebration


Matt Berger with daughter building a skateboard

The (SK8)Maker Movement: Cal Poly Alumnus Launches Book and Class on How to Build a Skateboard

Berger turned his passion for making things into a part-time gig with his DIY brand, SK8Makers, launching woodworking classes that lead students through the process of building a handmade skateboard. 

Read about Nwaba


Alumna transforms preschool lab

Learn by Playing

When children in the Cal Poly Preschool Learning Lab climb to the top of their new playground equipment, they can see all the way across the campus. Through the eyes of a 4-year-old, it’s a little bit like climbing a mountain

Read about the preschool lab transformation


Alumna makes huge difference for refugees

Opportunity of a Lifetime

Last December, Mehra Gharibian spent his winter break in Nicosia, Cyprus, at the Hope for Children refugee shelter. He was motivated to do so by the recent Iraqi and Syrian refugee crises, which had touched him on a personal level. 

Read about the difference Gharibian made


Cal Poly Alumnus, Cousineau, Received Prestigious TAGA Michael H. Bruno Award

Cal Poly Alumnus Paul Cousineau Received Prestigious TAGA Michael H. Bruno Award

Paul Cousineau won the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts (TAGA)'s highest honor, the Michael H. Bruno Award, one of the most prestigious in the graphic communication industry.

Read about Paul Cousineau's TAGA Award

Alumna cookbook

Alumna Rediscovers San Luis Obispo Through a Culinary Palette 

Cal Poly graduate Kendra Aronson believes that the food you eat connects you to a long line of individuals who grow, produce and cook that food. Her new cookbook, celebrates the farms, farmers and chefs who grow and prepare food on the Central Coast.

Read more about the SLO Farmers' Market Cookbook

lasting legacy

Lasting Legacy

With a glance at the past and a look forward, you can begin to wonder what mark you’ll leave on this world. Three families chose to leave their legacies at Cal Poly — and invest in the future of our students — by making planned gifts to areas they are passionate about.

Read more about the legacy of our alumni


making headlines

Making Headlines

David Kerley III (Journalism, ’79) was named the 2015 College of Liberal Arts’ Honored Alumnus. Kerley is a correspondent for ABC News based in Washington, D.C., and contributes regularly to all ABC News broadcasts, including “World News Tonight,” “Good Morning America” and “Nightline.”

Read more about the honored alumni award

alumna bridges cultural differences

Cal Poly Alumna Bridges Cultural Differences With Middle East Photo Series 

For nearly 15 years, the United States has been embroiled in conflict in the Middle East. Media portrayals and stereotypes have accentuated cultural differences and heightened prejudices.

Read more about Heather Finnecy's photography of the Middle East

Mikaela Vournas's research gets awards

Cal Poly Alumna's Undergraduate Research Awarded Top Honor at Social Sciences Conference 

Cal Poly 2014 social sciences graduate Mikaela Vournas recently received the Charles McCall Best Undergraduate Paper Award at the 40th annual California State University (CSU) Social Science Student Symposium.

Read more about Mikaela Vournas's research


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