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Donation Funds HD Upgrade to Student-Run TV Studio at Cal Poly

Jun 27, 2017

Thanks to a $100,000 donation to the Journalism Department from Bill and Cheryl Swanson, the university’s student-run television studio has been outfitted with the latest cameras, switchers and other equipment, allowing students to broadcast in high definition.

“We chose to make this donation because we believe in Learn by Doing, and Cal Poly students deserve the best,” said Bill Swanson, chairman of Cal Poly’s Foundation Board and retired chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Raytheon Company. The total cost of the renovations will be about $125,000. The remodeled, state-of-the-art facility was ready for students to use in spring quarter, in early April.

A formal dedication of the new facility, named the Bill and Cheryl Swanson Broadcast Studio, took place Friday, May 5. Maintained by the Journalism Department and the College of Liberal Arts, the studio is a broadcast laboratory where students produce a live 30-minute weekly newscast, a weekly sports show, and numerous talk and interview shows.

Cal Poly alumnus Bill Swanson learned of the need for an upgraded studio at last year’s Evening of Green and Gold, the university’s annual donor recognition event. When he stopped by the booth for the student-run media group, Mustang News, graduating journalism senior Leah Horner explained the potential benefits for students. Bill Swanson invited Horner to make a presentation at the upcoming Foundation Board meeting. After the presentation, the Swansons offered to fund the studio upgrade.

Article Originally Appeared in the 2017 Journalism Department Newsletter:

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Psychology Student is Cal Poly Great Grad from CLA

Jun 20, 2017

Each June, Cal Poly says goodbye to thousands of graduates who are ready to dive into careers or continue on to graduate studies and address the world’s problems with innovation, technical savvy and confidence earned through their Learn by Doing education.

Each of this year’s roughly 4,500 graduates (one of the largest classes in Cal Poly history) have a unique story of success and perseverance along with thoughts on how their university experience has shaped them as they ready to make their way in the world. Meet the outstanding student from the College of Liberal Arts, Cameron Andrews (Psychology, '17):

A 2013 Paso Robles High School graduate, Cameron Andrews found Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy to be a “tremendous catalyst” as he pursued a psychology degree. “It gave me hands-on experience into what it would be like in the workforce,” said the 21-year-old, “and a better understanding of the things I would like to do in the future.

“Cal Poly impacted me in a way that all colleges should. It helped me grow, mature and expand my perspective. The past four years really has shown me who I am, what I love and where I want to grow.”

Andrews plans to pursue a doctorate in psychology at the University of Michigan. But first he will head to Alaska through the AmeriCorps program.

“I will be working with veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and the homeless population to help to integrate them into society,” he said.

Andrews, who competed on the track team, recalls his pride at representing Cal Poly and “what it means to be a Mustang — our tenacity, spirit and pride.” He was hampered by injuries that affected his development in the long jump and triple jump. A hamstring injury closed the door on his track career, but it did not end his days as an athlete, as Andrews began training to be a weightlifter. 

“Whatever technical skills I lacked as a track and field athlete, I made up with raw strength,” said the 5-foot-9 Andrews. “Pound for pound, I was the strongest person on the [weightlifting] team. I'd give some of the guys who weighed 100 pounds more than me a solid run for their money and in certain lifts beating them. I remember when everyone’s jaws dropped; me — a 155-pound dude — was squatting 405 pounds five times, for sets of five.”

His coach is training him to become an Olympic weightlifter. “He believes I can become an Olympian and that I have what it takes to compete in the next Olympics in Tokyo in 2020,” he said. “I believe that I can do it.”

Story above originally appeared as part of a Cal Poly News article:

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Three Top Collegiate Learning Assessment Plus Scorers are from CLA

Jun 20, 2017

200 Cal Poly seniors took part in the Collegiate Learning Assessment Plus, which assesses a sample of outgoing seniors on their critical thinking and written communication skills. Three of the top four on-campus scorers were students from the College of Liberal Arts.

Tristan Noack, philosophy, came in second; Malamatenia Wilson, English, in third; and Christian Harris, psychology, in fourth. An architectural engineering student came in first place.

Each student had mastery levels of Advanced and placed within the top 99th percentile of all seniors across 157 institutions nationwide! 

The three students from CLA were recognized with certificates of achievement at the 2017 College of Liberal Arts student award ceremony Friday, June 16.

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CLA Students and Faculty Among President's Diversity Award Winners

Jun 19, 2017

Cal Poly President's Diversity Awards 2017
2017 Cal Poly President's Diversity Award winners at May award reception


President Jeffrey Armstrong awarded individuals and organizations with the faculty, staff and student President’s Diversity Awards on Thursday, May 18  in Kennedy Library’s atrium.

The event opened with remarks by President Jeffrey D. Armstrong, who said that Cal Poly is working to make campus more inclusive. President Armstrong’s speech was followed by disability resource center representative John Lee, who discussed the role of inclusive design on campus.

The faculty winner of the President’s Diversity Awards was Jenell Navarro of the Ethnic Studies department. “I am honored to accept this award, but even more delighted to see students of color receiving acknowledgement for the difficult work they do on our campus. My hope is that these awards continue to highlight and lead us toward structural shifts away from all forms of discrimination on our campus,” she wrote in an email to Kennedy Library. Navarro is the first professor to teach Cal Poly’s Beyonce class, Ethnic Studies 470: Racism, Sexism and Feminism. The class highlights police brutality and societal issues relating to the political climate in relationship to African Americans.

The staff award winner was Justin Gomez of the Orfalea College of Business. Gomez is the coordinator for the Multicultural Business Program and Orfalea Travel grants. He provides guidance and programming for Orfalea CP Scholars and advises the Hispanic Business Students Association.“I am humbled to accept this award and to join the legacy of past recipients whom I respect as colleagues and role models in this work,” Gomez said in a statement to Kennedy Library.

The student award went to Zulema Aleman, a psychology major and student program assistant in the Women's and Gender Studies Department. “As a queer woman of color at Cal Poly, it has always been my goal to help make all spaces on campus more inclusive, but I am clearly not the only one doing this work and that is awesome!” she said in an emailed statement to Kennedy Library. Aleman is also a program assistant for the science, technology and society minors program, Triota (a feminist club) president, an undocumented students student liaison, and the lead coordinator for Let’s Talk Sex Series.

The Undocumented Student Working Group also received a President's Diversity award. The Undocumented Student Working Group provides resources for nearly 200 of Cal Poly’s students. The group educates campus and brings faculty, staff, administration and students together to exchange ideas on how to address undocumented students’ needs. “The Undocumented Student Working Group is honored to be recognized by the university as a campus organization that has  and will continue to advocate for undocumented students through diversity and inclusivity initiatives!” CSU STEM VISTA AmeriCorps volunteer Casey McCullough said in a statement to Kennedy Library.

The award for Student Organization went to the American Indian Student Association (AISA). “We are extremely grateful for receiving the award and we hope this recognition will help us in growing our community of Native American and Indigenous students on the Cal Poly campus,” AISA member Tatiana Becerra said.

The afternoon was filled with good company and recognition of the outstanding achievements of students, faculty and staff working to create a more diverse and inclusive environment at Cal Poly. The awards ceremony concluded with handshakes, hugs and friendly conversation outdoors in the library atrium.

This article originally appeared on the Kennedy Library website:

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Students Hone Research Skills with Help from College Librarians

Jun 16, 2017

Kennedy Library offers a variety of resources for students to use, including the one-on-one guidance from expert librarians.

Pictured above, Ryan Manning (Psychology, '15) worked with Brett Bodemer, College of Liberal Arts Librarian, on several research projects while completing his degree. With personalized guidance, Manning learned how to effectively search key databases. Manning is now pursuing a doctorate degree at the University of California Davis, studying evolutionary neurobiology. He continues to apply the research skills he learned from Bodemer.

“Everyone will need to search through a database, and sitting down with a librarian is a great way to make sure you’re on track,” Manning said.

Collaborating with librarians to research effectively

Manning first learned about the library’s research assistance during his junior year from his professor, Taylor Smith, Psychology and Child Development. The two worked together on a meta-analysis study, with Smith providing guidance as the principal investigator. Smith helped Manning plan research deadlines and manage his time, in addition to referring Manning to Bodemer.

When they started working together, Bodemer helped Manning find relevant studies. Bodemer connected him with key psychology databases and effective search terms. Beyond these basic skills, Manning also learned the differences between each database, and how to save time searching.

“When you search on the internet, there are tons of articles you could be looking at. Being able to specifically target the information you want and filter out information you don’t want is key,” he said.

With Bodemer’s help, Manning found quality studies for his meta-analysis of the relationship between birthweight and ADHD.

Building on foundational research skills

Guidance from a college librarian saved Manning time and helped him arrive at his desired results. After building a relationship with Bodemer in his junior year, Manning came back for help with his final senior project, another ambitious meta-analysis. In that project, Manning needed to navigate each database’s features to optimize search results. Some of the databases Bodemer showed Manning included: PubMed, EBSCO, Science Direct and Web of Science.

“Brett showed us to use tools in each database and that’s something that would have taken us a long time,” Manning said. “PubMed has a lot of different terms and I would have never been able to use them in our project if it weren’t for Brett.”

Taking valuable lessons to graduate school

By working with a college librarian, Manning came to graduate school more prepared than he would have been otherwise.

“The most valuable thing is what it’s given me now as a grad student,” he said.

In graduate school, weekly homework assignments typically include a reading of five to six articles, each 30 pages. Manning said that without the search optimization skills Bodemer taught him as an undergraduate student, he would be a less efficient researcher.

Overall, Manning recommends the librarians as a useful resource that undergraduates should take advantage of, especially when planning research projects.

“The resources are great. If you want to write a well-written paper for senior projects or internships, there are certain points where you want to sit down with a librarian,” he said.

Kennedy Library has a college librarian for all six of Cal Poly’s colleges, in addition to others who support specific programs. They are available during normal business hours for collaboration with students. 

Article originally appeared on Kennedy Library's website. 

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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,

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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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