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Three CLA Start-ups Accepted to SLO HotHouse Accelerator Program

Jun 9, 2017


Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) has accepted seven startup companies into this year’s SLO HotHouse Summer Accelerator program, three of which were developed by students and graduates from the College of Liberal Arts.

Atsá Foods LLC, an innovative food company turning Native American super foods into everyday nutritious snacks, was conceived by Sam Baber, art and design; Rafael Pintor, agricultural business; Peter Haverkamp, food science and nutrition; and Neal Gorris, industrial technology and packaging. PolyRents, developed by Cameron Wiese, psychology, and Alexander Kavanaugh, software engineering, is a technology that simplifies the housing rental process for landlords and their prospective tenants. Yellow Glass Media, conceived by Nesrine Majzoub (Sociology, '17) and Daniel Hornett, civil engineering, creates and curates socially relevant and unbiased media content to inspire viewers to listen, learn and empathize.

The intense 13-week program is designed for students and recent graduates who have developed new ventures and want help making them succeed.

"As a recent graduate in sociology with a concentration in religious studies, Yellow Glass Media is the perfect opportunity for me to take what I've learned in my undergrad and apply it to documentary filmmaking in order to hopefully make socially-relevant concepts more accessible to the general public," said Majzoub.  

The program provides $10,000 in seed money, hands-on strategic business guidance from faculty and mentors, and dedicated office space during the summer at the SLO HotHouse. Companies receive training, introductions to investors and resources to help move their ventures forward. At the culmination of the program, they will have an opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors during Demo Day.

"The Accelerator is providing us so many opportunities to chase these dreams and learn so much throughout the summer," said Majzoub. "I'm looking forward to utilizing these opportunities to create a more aware, empathetic and socially-active world."

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Communication Studies Lecturer Receives Effective Practice Award

Jun 9, 2017


Martin Mehl, senior lecturer in communications studies, along with Dr. Luanne Fose from the Cal Poly Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology, were officially recognized with the Online Learning Consortium’s (OLC) 2017 Effective Practice Award for their digital mentorship pedagogy. They received their awards and shared their research during a post keynote breakout session at the OLC Innovate/HBCU Affordable Learning Summit in New Orleans in April. 

Big Nerd Software, LLC a Seattle-based software company and creator of Screencast-O-Matic software sponsored their travel to New Orleans to be able to receive the
award in person and share their research during a post keynote breakout session.

The published articles of their award-winning research and methodology can be downloaded at the OLC Research Center for Digital Learning and Leadership.

The final article of their six-part series called "The Instruction Manual - Capturing, Coaching & Creating the Learner of the 21st Century,” was published May 2, 2017.

In March 2017, they also had the opportunity to present their research focusing on primary and secondary education at the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) Conference in Austin, Texas. Their session was titled "Fusing Mentorship with Common Core Standards through Asynchronous Screencasting Feedback.”

Their most recent research has been to integrate Digital Mentorship into the Single Subject Credential curriculum in collaboration with Dr. Roberta Herter in the School of Education.

Learn more about the award on the OLC website.
 

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Cal Poly Students Participate in Model UN Conferences

Jun 8, 2017


Nine Cal Poly students participated in Model United Nations conferences across the country and abroad in 2017. Model United Nations (MUN) is an extra-curricular activity where qualified students role play as United Nations delegates and simulate UN committees. 

Cal Poly students attended three separate MUN conferences during the 2016-17 academic year: New York City, New York; Berkeley, California; and Brasilia, Brazil.

The nine students who attended the conferences are as follows: 

  • New York: Sayaka Tsugai, Kyle Libby, Michael Dyer, Georgina Bailey and Miranda Chinichian
  • Berkeley: Amy Boggan and Michael Huber
  • Brasilia: Miranda Chinichian, Chase Dean and Luana Mello

The students got to experience the type of work that world leaders do at the United Nations. Many of the students raved about the experience, saying it has prepared them for their careers moving forward.

"MUN has given me real-world negotiating practice and the ability to stimulate international policy writing," said Kyle Libby, fourth-year political science major with a concentration in global politics.

In addition to career preparedness, some students say the experience has opened their eyes to the world of global politics and the hard work that goes into it.

"[The experience] has shown me the reality; how you can't just dream of things, and you really have to deal with people and politics and racism or sexism," said Sayaka Tsugai, a fourth-year political science major with a concentration in global politics. "But you need to be strong, and it is possible."

Despite the daunting world of global politics, the students are inspired from the experience, and hope they can take what they have learned from MUN and apply to their future career pursuits.

"Studying global crises has inspired me to seek a career in conflict resolution or disaster management," said Libby.

"It's an inspiration, and something that reinsures me to come back," said Tsugai. "As my career goal is to work for the UN, this was a very important step for me."

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Art and Design Adjunct Professor Receives Davyd Whaley Art Grant

Jun 8, 2017


Adjunct art and design professor Laura Krifka received the 2017 Artist-Teacher grant from the Davyd Whaley Foundation. The Davyd Whaley Foundation is dedicated to supporting artists of the LA area, and grants are given to artists to "fulfill their vision."

Krifka, who lectures on studio art for the Art and Design Department, has been at Cal Poly for one year and is scheduled to teach again next year.

"I am continually impressed by how fearless the students are," Krifka said. "Cal Poly students seem to walk into class with a lot of bravery. They just dive into their paintings. It's very refreshing."

Students of Krifka have raved about her openness to artistic expression, as well as her uniqueness with the vision of her own artwork. The Davyd Whaley Foundation discovered Krifka's vision too, and made sure she would have the means to accomplish it with the Artist-Teacher Grant.

"I make paintings that dissect the way power and identity are constructed in visual culture," said Krifka. "I am interested in how the language of art history has blended with film and photography, dissolving distinctions between high and low and making visual factuality tenuous. My hope is that by using beauty and distortion, my paintings start to disassemble in weird and unexpected ways."

Examples of Krifka's artistic vision and accomplishments are available on her website, Laurakrifka.com.

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Mustang Media Group Earns Numerous Awards at National Contests

May 31, 2017


Mustang Media Group (MMG), the Journalism Department's student-run news organization, has had a very successful last few months. MMG won numerous awards at both the College Media Business and Advertising Managers Annual Content and the Midwinter National College Media Convention.

The Midwinter National College Media Convention took place March 2-5 in San Francisco. At the convention, MMG took home 22 awards in total from the Associated Collegiate Press and the California College Media Association.

MMG was awarded first-place honors in the following categories: Best Advertising Special Section; Best Overall Newspaper Design; and Best Use of Social Media.

First-place awards for individual achievements are as follows: Ayrton Ostly for Best Sports Story; Brendan Matsuyama for Best Infographic; Ellen Fabini for Best Online Advertisement and Best Color Advertisement; Erica Patstone for Best Advertising Campaign; Jordan Triplett for Best Black and White Advertisement; Matt Lalanne for Best Sports Photo; and Maggie Hitchings and Nikki Petkopolous for Best Online Campaign.

Other awards from the Convention for individual achievement were: Patstone, third place in Best Sales Promotion; Cara Benson, Second Place in Best News Video; Peter Gonzales, third place in Best Podcast; Brendan Abrams, third place in Best Headline Portfolio; and Will Peischel, third place in Best Feature Story.

The awards from the College Media Business and Advertising Managers Annual Contest were presented April 1 at the organization's banquet in Fort Worth, Texas.

MMG was awarded Best Advertising Campaign, Best Special Event (SLO Fest), Best Training Program, College Media Design Program of the Year, and Best Back to School Orientation Edition for the Week of Welcome in 2016.

The contest was structured on a point basis, where each school was awarded a certain number of points if placed in the top four of a category. MMG was second overall in the Sales and Public Relations/Marketing Categories. MMG was also second overall in the annual contest.

Other notable awards from the contest are as follows: Patstone, named Designer of the Year; Darcia Castelanelli, second place for Sales Representative of the Year; and Ross Pfeiffer, fourth place for Public Relations/Marketing Manager of the Year.

"Our organization has been recognized as one of the top advertising and design programs in the nation over the past decade, and these awards confirm that and demonstrate the outstanding work product and individuals in our program," said Paul Bittick, general manager of MMG.

Students from MMG rave about the organization's dedication to its members and the platform it has given them to better prepare them for lives as professional members of the media.

"[MMG] brought me to this point by giving me a platform and channel to create this content," said Ostly, fourth-year journalism major and award-winning sports writer for MMG. "I have the support around me to better my abilities as a storyteller."

"MMG is more than just a job, it's a family," said Benson, third-year journalism major and award-winning social media editor for MMG. "If it wasn't for this family environment, we wouldn't be able to work together as well and succeed to the levels that we do."

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English Grad Student Wins Cal Poly’s Academy of American Poets Prize

May 17, 2017


Cal Poly Master in English student Marissa Ahmadkhani won the university’s Academy of American Poets (AAP) contest for her poem “Only Half,” which investigates her Iranian heritage expressed metaphorically through the complexity of pomegranates.

"This poem was a meditation on heritage," Ahmadkhani said. "Specifically on being an individual, and particularly a woman of mixed heritage in the United States."

“Through precise description and gentle repetition, Marissa Ahmadkhani has made a deeply moving poem of origins,” said Maggie Anderson, nationally recognized poet and judge of this year’s contest. “The delicate fruit of the pomegranate (apple of many seeds) is a brilliantly realized metaphor for the poet’s half-heritage.”

Cal Poly English Professor Mira Rosenthal added, “In Marissa’s finely tuned short poems, I hear the sorrow of strained relationship, but always tempered by the individual’s belief in connection, as much with others as with the self.”

First honorable mention went to English major Morgan Condict, of Paso Robles, for “The Shimmer of the Turning Rabbit,” a poem that renders our own mortality through the metaphor of a rabbit turning on a spit over an open flame. Second honorable mention went to English major Jacob Lopez, of Huntington Beach, for his poem “Light on Breathing,” depicting the experience of exploring underwater reefs.

The Cal Poly English Department and AAP sponsored the contest. AAP was founded in 1934 to support American poets at all stages of their careers and to foster the appreciation of contemporary poetry. The University and College Poetry Prize program began with 10 schools in 1955 and now sponsors more than 200 annual poetry prizes at U.S. colleges and universities.

Ahmadkhani is one of the nearly 10,000 prize-winning student poets since the program’s inception. She will receive a $100 award from AAP.

"Winning this award was an honor," said Ahmadkhani. "This poem is particularly dear to me, so it was wonderful to get positive feedback on it."

Contest entries were judged by Anderson, a nationally renowned poet and author of four books of poetry, including “Windfall: New and Selected Poems,” “A Space Filled with Moving,” and “Cold Comfort.” Her awards include two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, fellowships from the Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania Councils on the Arts, and the Ohioana Library Award for contributions to the literary arts in Ohio. The founding director of the Wick Poetry Center and of the Wick Poetry Series of the Kent State University Press, Anderson is professor emeritas of English at Kent State University.

The winning poem appears on the Cal Poly English Department's website

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Political Science Major is Cal Poly’s 2017 Panetta Representative

May 17, 2017


Political Science junior, Maryam Quasto, was accepted into the 2017 Panetta Institute's Congressional Internship Program. She will join representatives from other CSU campuses for two weeks of training on the Monterey Bay campus in August, followed by 11 weeks in Washington, D.C. The representatives will work full time in the office of a congressional representative.

Quasto successfully advanced through the campus interview process and was selected for nomination by President Armstrong. After meeting with Mrs. Panetta and other institute representatives, Quasto was accepted as the Cal Poly representative. 

The junior, who works part time in the university’s donor relations department, is among 26 students from around the Golden State taking part in the program.

“I look forward to gaining a new perspective on what it is like to actually work in an international hub like Washington D.C., as well as to further my understanding of the American political system,” said Quasto. She hopes to pursue a career in international law and work as a diplomat or U.S. ambassador.

“I think that being in the heart of our nation will provide an amazing Learn by Doing experience, and I am excited to further my education and grow from this opportunity.”

The Panetta Institute awards scholarships to students from each of the 23 California State University campuses, along with one each from Dominican University of California, Saint Mary’s College of California and Santa Clara University.

The program, now in its 19th year, is open to all academic majors. It is recognized as one of the best of its kind because of the rigorous training it provides and because the Panetta Institute scholarship covers all student costs — offering an equal opportunity for all qualified candidates. Quasto is the 17th Cal Poly student to participate in the program since 2001. She emigrated with her family from Baghdad, Iraq, to Silicon Valley when she was five.

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English Grad Student Wins Cal Poly’s Academy of American Poets Prize

May 15, 2017


English Master's student Marissa Ahmadkhani (Gilroy, Calif.) won Cal Poly’s Academy of American Poets Contest for her poem “Only Half,” which investigates her Iranian heritage. Ahmadkhani will receive a $100 award from the Academy.

“Through precise description and gentle repetition, Marissa Ahmadkhani has made a deeply moving poem of origins,” said Maggie Anderson, nationally recognized poet and judge for this year’s contest. “The delicate fruit of the pomegranate (apple of many seeds) is a brilliantly realized metaphor for the poet’s half-heritage.”

Cal Poly English professor Mira Rosenthal said, “In Marissa’s finely tuned short poems, I hear the sorrow of strained relationship, but always tempered by the individual’s belief in connection, as much with others as with the self.”

First honorable mention goes to English major Morgan Condict from Paso Robles, Calif. for “The Shimmer of the Turning Rabbit,” a poem that renders our own mortality through the metaphor of a rabbit turning on a spit over an open flame. Anderson said that Condict’s poem “creates a strange and somewhat unsettling atmosphere. The image is of a rabbit cooking over a campfire; yet, when the poet enters the poem, we are led skillfully from that image to a surprising metaphor for our own ‘mortal’ (and ‘axial’) coil.”

Second honorable mention goes to Jacob Lopez from Huntington Beach, Calif. for his poem “Light on Breathing,” depicting the experience of exploring underwater reefs. “What I admire in this poem,” said the judge, “is the music created by its internal rhyme, alliteration, and phrasing that vividly recreates the act of breathing underwater.”

The Cal Poly English Department and the Academy of American Poets (AAP) sponsored the contest. AAP was founded in 1934 to support American poets at all stages of their careers and to foster the appreciation of contemporary poetry. The University and College Poetry Prize program began with ten schools in 1955 and now sponsors more than 200 annual poetry prizes at U.S. colleges and universities. Ahmadkhani is one of the nearly ten thousand prize-winning student poets since the program’s inception.

Contest entries were judged by nationally renowned poet Maggie Anderson, author of four books of poetry, including Windfall: New and Selected Poems, A Space Filled with Moving, and Cold Comfort. Her awards include two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, fellowships from the Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania Councils on the Arts, and the Ohioana Library Award for contributions to the literary arts in Ohio. The founding director of the Wick Poetry Center and of the Wick Poetry Series of the Kent State University Press, Anderson is Professor Emerita of English at Kent State University.

 

Marissa Ahmadkhani
Academy of American Poets Prize Winner—Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

Only Half

Pomegranates are native to Iran.

Much like my father—

who peeled them on our kitchen counter,

liquid pooling, thinner than

the blood-

red you’d expect.

Much like my blood—

half-steeped in that same soil

and somehow not thick enough.

And I run my fingers through

my coarse hair, half-curly,

and I think about those pomegranate trees.

How they

dig those deep roots,

how I half-cling to those

thin branches.

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English Master's Student Wins Prestigious Fellowship

May 15, 2017


English Master's student Ian Fetters (English, '15) has been awarded the S.T. Joshi Endowed Research Fellowship to study the literature of horror-fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft.

The fellowship provides a monthly stipend of $1,500 for up to two months of research at the John Hay Library at Brown University — home to the largest collection of H.P. Lovecraft materials in the world. Fetters competed with advanced graduate students, faculty, and independent scholars to be the sole fellowship recipient for 2017. 

“I have been a fan of Lovecraft's work since I was a first-year high school student," Fetters said. "I decided I want to read all his works and write about them. He is really one of the reasons I ended up studying literature." 

Fetters began his two-month fellowship on July 1. The research and findings he compiles during that time will be summarized in a presentation at the conclusion of the fellowship. "The intention is to use archival material to develop a project for presentation at a public lecture alongside a panel with other Lovecraft scholars," Fetters said.

"The project I pitched to the committee this year is titled 'Lovecraft's Dark Continent: At the Mountains of Madness and Antarctic Literature.' I'm interested in looking at why Lovecraft chose Antarctica as the setting for his only novel, 'At the Mountains of Madness.'"

Fetters will spend the majority of his time at Brown trying to answer that question before returning back to Cal Poly in the fall to complete his Master's degree.

Although Fetters' fellowship only lasts the summer, he believes he owes it to himself to keep on studying Lovecraft well after his time at Brown. 

"I think my next step is to actually go to Antarctica," Fetters said. "Lovecraft never made it there, so I feel almost duty-bound to do it for myself."

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Public Relations Students Create Campaign for California Cadet Corps

May 4, 2017


Throughout the past four academic quarters, students from Cal Poly’s Central Coast PRspectives team have been working closely with the California Cadet Corps (CACC) to recreate CACC’s image and how the organization connects to the public.

Central Coast PRspectives (CCPR) is an on-campus, student-run public relations firm founded by Cal Poly students in 2005. CCPR executives and staff members provide services to clients that need assistance in marketing communications, social media and web-based communications and public and media relations.

CACC is a paramilitary organization that aims to create leadership opportunities for students ranging from elementary school to college.

“The goal of Cadet Corps is leadership development — to turn students into tomorrow’s leaders,” said Major Kirk Sturm of CACC.

Two CCPR students headed the campaign with CACC: Audra Wright and Mariam Alamshahi, both fourth-year journalism majors with a public relations concentration.

Wright says CACC was looking to change the public perception of their organization to attract a wider array of youth and their parents.

“When parents hear about California Cadet Corps, they think of it as a stepping-stone into the military or a program that is intended for children with behavioral issues,” said Wright. “We wanted these parents to understand that the choice is not military training or education, the CACC combines the two.”

Sturm says that each quarter the CCPR students have given recommendations to CACC on how to better demonstrate their organization’s goals.

“The CCPR students helped CACC refresh our mission statement and learn how to improve our relationship with students, parents and schools,” said Sturm.

Sturm says executives at CACC were so impressed with the work and recommendations from the CCPR students, that the organization decided to start their website over from scratch, implementing the theories and research the CCPR students urged CACC to utilize.

“Working with the Cadet Corps was very fulfilling,” said Alamshahi.

Cal Poly’s Journalism Department is known for its hand-on, Learn by Doing approach to education. Alamshahi worked with CCPR for a journalism course requirement, and says it was an important experience for her education and professional career.

“This is probably the most hands-on class that I have had for journalism, because this wasn’t a hypothetical campaign,” Alamshahi said. “I actually got to work with the Cadet Corps and implement a strategic plan for recruiting more cadets.”

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