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Music Senior Plays Trumpet for 'Kinky Boots'

Mar 20, 2018

Cal Poly music senior Taylor O’Hanlon seized a last-minute opportunity to play trumpet in the national-touring production of the Broadway show “Kinky Boots” on Jan. 30.

The morning of the show, O’Hanlon, who has played the trumpet for 12 years, got an email from his professor, Christopher Woodruff. The email said that the trumpet player for “Kinky Boots” was unavailable, and the director was looking for a substitute for the night.

“When I got that email, I felt kind of like a mad scientist rubbing my hands together,” O’Hanlon said. “It was like, ‘opportunity has arisen.’ I was nervous, but I knew if I didn’t take the opportunity, I would be stabbing myself in the foot for later.”

O’Hanlon plays trumpet for many on-campus music groups, including wind bands, jazz band, symphony, and brass ensembles. He has typically been given 7-9 weeks to perfect a piece. Performing for “Kinky Boots,” however, meant he had just hours to learn the songs for the show.

“That was the fastest I’ve ever had to learn a piece,” he said.

Professor Woodruff was confident that O’Hanlon could handle the quick turn-around.

“His fundamental trumpet skills on tone and technique are solid, and he has a proven record of showing up prepared and on time — that last part is crucial in our business,” Woodruff said.

O’Hanlon said he was happy with his performance in the show. He hopes to perform for shows like this in the future in his career post-graduation. At “Kinky Boots,” he had the chance to talk with the musicians and catch a glimpse of what a career in music might look like for him.

“It was really nice to hear what it’s like for them,” O’Hanlon said. “They’re just a bunch of young people having fun playing music and getting paid for it.”

His experience playing in the show allowed him to explore more aspects of the field than simply playing the instrument. He practiced his professionalism in a high-caliber performance venue.

“I’ll remember the idea of marketing myself — showing up, acting professional, meeting the music director of the show, having the confidence to ask questions if I needed to, getting the cues — in addition to playing the music,” O’Hanlon said.

According to Woodruff, it’s not everyday that music students get gigs of this caliber, or that students have the opportunity to read in on a live show. O’Hanlon’s experience in “Kinky Boots” puts him a step ahead of the crowd.

“It was really encouraging to get this real-world experience,” O’Hanlon said. “It gave me the confidence that I could graduate and have the chance to perform in the future.”

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Packaging and Design Students Stand Out Among the World’s Best

Mar 20, 2018

Teams of Cal Poly packaging, business, and design students received two of the top three awards at the 2017 World Packaging Organisation (WPO) WorldStar International Packaging Design Student Competition that featured innovative package designs from university students from more than two dozen nations.

In addition, two other Cal Poly teams received WorldStar Student Certificates of Merit given to the next 10 highest scoring entries.

The Cal Poly students were honored for designing creative, functional and eye-catching packaging systems for food, healthcare and sports products. The interdisciplinary teams combined industrial technology and packaging students with art and design students to develop a physical prototype of their product complete with branded graphics.

The Cal Poly team behind “SticKit,” a two-in-one packaging system to dispense disposable syringes and safely store the empties, was among the top three entries. A pull tab on the bottom of the package dispenses boxed syringes; a hinged-lid on the top of the container can be opened and locked for safe syringe disposal. A plastic divider separates compartments, moving down with gravity as syringes are dispensed until it finally closes the container when all the cartons have been consumed. The entry was designed by graphic communication student Dana Shell (San Ramon, Calif.), art and design students Gina Agapito (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Ashley Vong (San Jose, Calif.), and industrial technology and packaging students Paul Woodman (Atascadero, Calif.) and Michael Lowe (Pleasanton, Calif.). The university’s highest scoring entries were named as WorldStar Student Winners.

The other top award went to the team behind “Tea Stems,” an innovative way to package tea. The tea leaves are placed at the end of a cassava-starch-based compostable stick that makes it easy to stir the tea in the drink without using any utensils. The stems are packaged within a die-cut paperboard folding carton that “blooms” when the box is opened. The package was designed by art and design students Alexandra Rosado (San Francisco, Calif.) and Lucia Astiazaran (Valencia, Calif.), and industrial technology and packaging students Brendan Smyth (San Jose, Calif.), Simeon Comanescu (Pleasanton, Calif.) and Ryan Marrs (San Luis Obispo, Calif.).

Cal Poly’s Student Certificates of Merit honorees included:

“Vera Cruz,” a packaging system for surf wax that integrates a wax comb, a shell that minimizes sun exposure of the wax and a magnetic feature to store a surfer’s car keys. The design is made of injection-molded compostable PaperFoam. Its unique triangular shape offers an ergonomic grip. The dispensing mechanism was inspired by ChapStick packaging, which can contain and reshape a melted product. The package was designed by art and design students Daniel Blenkinship (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) and Zach Baker (Rocklin, Calif.) with industrial technology and packaging students Brooke Billmeyer (Solana Beach, Calif.), Grant Badstubner (Danville, Calif.), and Sai Domanico (Hillsborough, Calif).

“La Habra” houses avocado oil in a recyclable plastic pouch encased by two molded-fiber shells. The package’s shape was inspired by the shape of an avocado. A pour spout with a drip return prevents the oil from spilling on the package. The product was designed by art and design students Jessica Ferguson (San Jose, Calif.) and Deric Shindledecker (Temecula, Calif.), and industrial technology and packaging students Katie Exum (Torrance, Calif.), Michael Moorehead (Walnut Creek, Calif.) and Patrick McCaffrey (Irvine, Calif.).

The student projects were developed in Professor Mary LaPorte’s ART 437: Graphic Design III class and Professor Javier de la Fuente’s IT 435: Packaging Development class. Professors LaPorte and de la Fuente served as student advisors.The competition considered hundreds of packaging design submissions, including structural design and/or graphic design projects, from award-winning undergraduate and graduate student teams from countries around the world including Brazil, China, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Korea, Oman, Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, South Africa, Germany, Poland, and the United Kingdom. Cal Poly’s teams were entered into the global competition after sweeping the top four awards at the 2017 Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) Ameristar Student Packaging Competition for the second consecutive year.

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Brady Teufel Recognized as Journalism Educator of the Year

Mar 12, 2018

Cal Poly Journalism Educators Brady Teufel and Paul Bittick
Paul Bittick (right), a previous Educator of the Year
honoree, presented the California
Journalism & Media Affiliates’ 2018
Journalism Educator of the Year – 4-Year Division
award to his Cal Poly colleague Brady Teufel (left)
during the California College Media Association
Awards Banquet on Saturday, March 3 in Long Beach.
(Photo by Joe Wirt/CNPA Services Inc.) 

The California Journalism & Media Affiliates recently named Brady Teufel, Cal Poly Journalism Department assistant chair and associate professor, as the 2018 Journalism Educator of the Year — 4-Year Division. The award recognizes leadership and support that goes beyond the journalism program and has impact across campus, community and local or regional associations.

This is the second consecutive year the award was presented to an educator in the Cal Poly Journalism Department. Paul Bittick, Cal Poly’s Mustang Media Group general manager, was the 2017 honoree.

“Brady has been integral to Cal Poly’s student media evolution into an integrated Mustang News operation,” said Cal Poly Journalism Department Chair Mary Glick. “This includes the development of a new capstone course that requires students to produce stories across all platforms — print, digital and video — so students from print, broadcast and public relations all leave Cal Poly’s program with valuable knowledge needed in today’s media market.”

A San Luis Obispo native, Teufel joined the Cal Poly Journalism Department in 2006. Teufel's work experience includes stints as a reporter, photojournalist, graphic designer, web designer and social media consultant. His teaching interests span from writing and photography, to coding and drones.

“Brady has been a tireless and enthusiastic mentor and guide to students working in multimedia on Mustang News. He can frequently be found in the newsroom, sitting side by side with students, reviewing work on the screen, coaching, probing and generally nudging students to do their best work,” added Glick.

Bittick presented the plaque to his Cal Poly colleague at the California College Media Association awards banquet on March 3 in Long Beach. Previous educators of the year nominate current contenders for awards at the university, community college and high school level. The awards are funded by the California Press Foundation.

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Cal Poly College of Liberal Arts Dean to Retire

Mar 8, 2018

Cal Poly today announced that Doug Epperson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, will retire in August 2018.

“Under Dean Epperson's leadership, the College of Liberal Arts has achieved a new level of excellence,” said Kathleen Enz Finken, Cal Poly’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “He has been instrumental in understanding and promoting the critical role of the arts, humanities and social sciences in our polytechnic environment.”

Epperson has been the dean of Cal Poly's College of Liberal Arts since 2012. Prior to that appointment, he served as dean at Washington State University and associate dean at Iowa State University, where he was an administrator and professor in the Psychology Department for more than 25 years.

“This was an enormously difficult decision to make, because I have greatly enjoyed my time at Cal Poly,” said Epperson. “I have never worked with a better or more collaborative and effective group. My only regret is that I was not able to spend more of my career with such a fine college at such an excellent university.”

Epperson has been a strong proponent for interdisciplinary collaboration at Cal Poly. He helped to introduce four new minors that combine the studies of science, technology and society. He is also committed to diversity and inclusion. He formed a standing inclusivity and diversity committee for both students and faculty, and he hired an associate dean for diversity and curriculum.

Outside of higher education, Epperson was chair of the Council of Counseling Psychology Training Programs and was a fellow for the American Psychological Association, Society of Counseling Psychology.

Enz Finken said the university will begin the recruitment process for the college’s next dean this fall, with the aim of appointing the next dean before summer.

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CLA Alumni Social Media Ambassadors

Feb 27, 2018

Share your love for your alma mater by becoming a CLA Social Media Alumni Ambassador! 

Social Media Alumni Ambassadors for the Cal Poly College of Liberal Arts (CLA) help promote the college by liking posts and sharing content from and to the following CLA accounts.


On occasion, alumni ambassadors may be asked to promote specific messages or initiatives, including Cal Poly events, fundraising campaigns or newsworthy CLA stories.

No significant time commitment required!

We just request ambassadors engage with CLA at least once per month (but more often is highly encouraged!). 

This engagement can take several forms:

  • Like, comment on or share posts from various CLA social media accounts.
  • Initiate and join discussions on the CLA Alumni LinkedIn group. 
  • Post CLA-related photos on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using #CalPolyCLA.
  • Encourage your network of fellow alumni to follow CLA social media accounts.

Get the Inside Scoop

By becoming an alumni ambassador, you will get the inside scoop on the biggest news and events from the College of Liberal Arts through occasional emails. 

So, what are you waiting for?


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

Feb 23, 2018

Brownieland Pictures was started more than 10 years ago by Robyn Kranz (Journalism, ’90) and her partner Randy Frostig with the goal of giving back to their community through video production.

Based in Atlanta, Brownieland Pictures works with nonprofit clients specializing in healthcare, education and community. Clients include Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Georgia Tech School of Industrial Design, and Atlanta Women's Foundation, to name a few. The company strives to share its clients’ stories and encourage people to give back and become philanthropically involved.

Videos from Brownieland Pictures have recently garnered nation-wide notoriety – “The Promise” for Rollins Center for Language and Literacy was shared at the White House Conference on Education and “Every Opportunity” for Atlanta Speech School went viral last year. “Every Opportunity” was created to show teachers and parents how systematically ignoring children and not hearing their voices can have disastrous effects. “It was a universal message that we really felt reached so many people and that was part of its success,” said Kranz. The video has over 1.5 million views and counting.

Following graduation from Cal Poly, Kranz worked as a promotions producer and community affairs director for local NBC affiliate KSBY, which she says planted the seed for giving back through her career.

“Cal Poly's Learn by Doing philosophy has really influenced my work,” said Kranz. “It resonates so much when you are hands-on in any environment, and in the nonprofit world, really learning about what an organization stands for and the work it does can only truly be done by volunteering with that organization.”

Kranz has brought that Learn by Doing approach to her work at Brownieland Pictures. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Brownieland Pictures launched the #10in10 Volunteer Campaign. The team volunteered with a different nonprofit each month for ten months. On Dec. 8, 2017, one of the nonprofits was randomly selected to receive a free one-minute video. The lucky winner was Literacy Action, the Southeast’s oldest and largest nonprofit of adult literacy.

Inspired by their time volunteering through the #10in10 campaign, the team at Brownieland Pictures is continuing to volunteer at different non-profits each month and sharing the experiences on social media with #StoriesfortheGreaterGood.

Brownieland Pictures is interested in expanding its reach into the southeast and hopefully beyond, including in San Luis Obispo County. “San Luis Obispo is the place I consider home, and I still have ties there with family and friends,” said Kranz. “Coming back would truly be coming home.”


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Cal Poly Students Honored by Lawmakers at State Capitol

Feb 15, 2018

Nineteen Cal Poly students, including five from the College of Liberal Arts, were recognized for their awards and other accomplishments by state lawmakers on the floors of the state Assembly and Senate in Sacramento on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018.

The five students from the College of Liberal Arts were:

Cara Benson
Cara Benson is a senior journalism major from Folsom, California. As part of Mustang News, her team won nine first place wards from the Associated College Press and the California Media Association at the Midwinter National College Media Convention. 




Jeremiah Hernandez
Ethnic Studies & Sociology
Jeremiah Hernandez is a senior transfer student from Santa Maria, California. He is majoring in ethnic studies and sociology. Hernandez was individually awarded as the Michael A. and Debe Lucki Scholar at the 2017 CSU Trustee's Awards for Outstanding Achievement.  




Colton Marino
Political Science
Colton Marino is a senior political science major from Lincoln, California and a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. Marino and his team won the Best in the West Jellison Award-Interfraternity Council at the Association of Fraternal Leadership and Values Conference. 




Mayra Mejia
Graphic Communication
Mayra Mejia is a recent Cal Poly graduate (Graphic Communication, '17). She and her team won the Helmut Kipphan Cup Grand Prize at the Technical Association of Graphic Arts Annual Technical Conference.  




Bianka Pantoja
Bianka Pantoja is a junior journalism major from Arvin, California. As a part of Mustang News, Pantoja and her team won five first-place awards and the College Media Design Program of the Year at the College Media Business and Advertising Managers Annual Contest.  



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Professor's Photos Capture 365 Days of Bishop Peak

Feb 7, 2018

Graphic communication professor Brian Lawler captured 365 days of Bishop Peak in a photo series inspired by his daily bicycle commute. 

The display, permanently housed in the Warren J. Baker Center for Science and Mathematics (No. 180), was revealed Jan. 23 during an evening reception.

Photos were taken every five minutes, every day for a year by Canon digital camera secured atop Kennedy Library. The camera was protected by a weatherproof box and powered by three solar panels and two motorcycle batteries.

Lawler then selected the best image from each day to feature in the series. The images were printed on aluminum panes, creating a display that measures 22 feet wide and 6 feet tall.


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CLA Associate Dean for Diversity and Curriculum Featured in Cal Poly Magazine's "My 2017"

Jan 25, 2018

Jennifer Teramoto Pedrotti, associate dean for diversity and curriculum in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) talked with psychology senior and CLA Student Diversity Committee member Marcos Ramirez-Santos about diversity initiatives that are shaping campus. The video originally appeared in the winter 2018 issue of Cal Poly Magazine

Teramoto Pedrotti also wrote a letter for the magazine's "My 2017" feature, which included Cal Poly students, faculty and alumni sharing how the year challenged them — and changed their lives for good.

Dear 2017,

As you began in January, I was also at a new beginning in my position as Associate Dean for Diversity and Curriculum in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA). It was not a quiet beginning for either of us. In the end of that first month, the college was getting ready to help plan a university-wide gathering with a goal to Unite Cal Poly. This was a daunting task for a new year and pressures were high. Coal starts out as only fuel, but with pressure can be transformed into diamonds, and as we moved through that first month, the pressures at hand began to create beauty in our university as well.

My new position gave me a different vantage point from which to look at our campus as a whole, and I saw many challenges ahead for us. But challenge brings with it an opportunity for growth, and this could be seen from this new view as well. As the month went on, students came together to work on Unite Cal Poly, new relationships between organizations were created. Professors came out of their classrooms for the Teach-In and brought with them a wealth of information about race, gender, immigration and hope for our future with regard to diversity and inclusion. The beauty spread, as the campus came together and united in your first month.

Throughout the rest of your year, we saw other changes, other areas of growth. New learning communities formed. We made plans for new hires in many departments. In the CLA we were hard at work, interviewing applicants for our cluster hire focused on diversifying our curriculum. Multiple presentations were made by these candidates, ranging in topics from Ethnic Literature to Queer Theory to Racial Identity Development in Children. Participants at the UndocuAlly trainings swelled in numbers, and real plans for our Dream Center began to form. Record numbers of students signed up for Intergroup Dialogues and other multicultural opportunities in our Cross-Cultural Centers, large numbers of faculty and staff participated in the Teach-In’s follow up, Teach On, and almost everywhere on campus you could hear the echoes of conversations about love, empathy and respect.

When we came back in fall, it felt as if a shift had occurred on this campus. Welcoming our first Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion seemed like turning a corner for our campus climate. Not the last corner, for there is still much work to be done. But a new life was breathed into our hopes for a truly inclusive campus, and things felt different for many of us.

2017, you will go down in our Mustang history as a difficult year in many ways. One filled with rain at times, and even mudslides, but you will also be remembered as a year that we had in important choice to make: Would we choose to break apart because of these pressures or pull together and unite into something stronger? As a campus, we made the right choice in 2017. But that choice will face us again and we can only hope that the lessons you taught us this year will help us to move in positive directions as we move forward on our journey.


Jennifer Teramoto Pedrotti
Associate Dean for Diversity and Curriculum, College of Liberal Arts





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Communication Studies Senior Conducts Research with Carnegie Mellon University

Jan 11, 2018

Communication studies senior Allie Blaising was one of 20 students in the U.S. selected as research intern in the Human Computer Interaction lab at Carnegie Mellon University last summer. She worked alongside a doctoral student and a faculty advisor to conduct qualitative research on the intersection between psychology and human computer interaction.

Blaising had been looking for an opportunity to conduct research to prepare her for graduate school, and communication studies professor David Askay suggested she apply for the program.

“I’m interested in where technology intersects with the social sciences,” said Blaising. “It felt like a perfect fit.”

As the only liberal arts major in the program, surrounded by STEM researchers, Blaising felt out of place. At first, the difference between her communications background and her colleagues’ STEM background seemed daunting. She soon learned, however, that this difference made her an asset to the lab.

“The internship taught me the importance of embracing the ambiguity of my liberal arts classes. I used to be constantly searching for a right or wrong answer in my work. But over the summer, I found that one of my greatest assets according to my research advisor was that I was able to navigate the ambiguity of a complex problem on my own,” said Blaising.

As the only communications major in the internship program, graduate students often called on Blaising for advice on ways to move forward with a project from a liberal arts perspective. Her understanding of how groups function and how organizations work was valuable to the research team.

Askay wasn’t surprised to hear this. “Elite institutions in computer science and engineering value liberal arts. Carnegie Mellon selected her because of that,” said Askay. “Carnegie Mellon is in the forefront of engineering and computer science, and they understand that there’s a meshing of liberal arts and communication psychology that is a part of technological systems.”

According to Askay, the interdisciplinary collaboration allowed for research that was useful across many fields in human computer interaction. “They found some great insights that benefitted both disciplines. I see that model as something that should be emulated and praised. Some of the greatest research and innovations come through these diverse collaborations,” he said.

For Blaising, the experience gave her a better idea of how her education will apply to her future research and career endeavors.

“It’s interesting now to see how what I’m learning in my courses applies to my future. It’s easier now to study and solidify what I’m learning, because I understand how it’s going to be applied in the real world,” said Blaising. “Understanding the purpose has given me a big picture perspective and purpose in my work. It’s taught me that the skills we learn here really are going to apply to the future.”

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