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SF State and Sutter Health team up to expand clinical placement opportunities for nursing students

Collaboration will grow the University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science Nursing Program by 25%

SAN FRANCISCO (May 8, 2024) – In a strategic collaboration aimed at advancing clinical education for nursing students, San Francisco State University (SF State) and Sutter Health have joined forces to expand clinical placement opportunities. With this move, Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco will provide eight clinical placement slots for SF State’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program (BSNA), allowing the University to enroll 25% more students in the program.

“Sutter’s care for the local community starts with having enough skilled caregivers in place, and this collaboration speaks to how we’re working purposefully to grow our nurse pipeline,” said Sutter’s Greater San Francisco Market president Christina Oh. “The urgent need to expand the nursing workforce is undeniable, especially in the face of a rapidly aging population. We saw firsthand during the pandemic that nursing shortages strain hospitals and health care systems. Workforce shortages also lead to staff burnout. Immediate actions such as commitments from health care facilities and educational institutions, to recruit, train and retain more nurses is vital for patient well-being and helping ensure the long-term sustainability of health care systems.”

High Demand for Clinical Placement Slots

Securing clinical placement slots is an ongoing challenge for nursing programs due to high demand and limited availability. In addition, the need for more clinical instructors to provide oversight and training further exacerbates the issue. As a result, many nursing programs struggle to secure enough clinical placement slots to meet students’ educational needs. This leads to the rejection of thousands of qualified applicants each year. In 2022, nursing schools nationwide turned away 78,000 qualified applications due largely to the lack of nurse faculty and clinical training sites.

“Clinical placements are a crucial part of a nursing program, allowing students to use the knowledge and skills they learned in the classroom and apply it in the real world,” said Elaine Musselman, director of the SF State School of Nursing. “We are grateful to partner with Sutter’s CPMC to provide more of these sorely needed opportunities to our students.”

“Removing obstacles for aspiring nurses is vital for their quick integration into bedside roles,” said Hamila Kownacki, CEO of Sutter’s CPMC and also a registered nurse. “Nurses are a critical part of providing high-quality patient care, and hospitals could not function without them. At Sutter, we’re committed to building a strong workforce, and, for our nurses, this starts with making educational training opportunities available. Sutter’s CPMC works with more than two dozen nursing programs across California and beyond, and this recent collaboration with SF State can serve as an example for other hospitals to open up similar pathways to help get nurses to the field faster.”

First Cohort to Graduate in Spring ’25

The inaugural SF State BSNA cohort, set to graduate in spring 2025, is currently undergoing their fundamentals training at Sutter’s CPMC’s Mission Bernal Campus. These eight students will, over the next year, rotate through various hospital units including psychiatric and behavioral health, pediatrics and obstetrics, and medical-surgical at Sutter’s CPMC. Upon graduation and passing their national nurse exam, the students are eligible to apply for permanent positions at Sutter’s CPMC or another hospital or health care facility.  

“SF State has been an excellent opportunity for me to meet people who are like-minded, compassionate and excited to learn the nursing profession in an environment full of hands-on learning experiences,” said SF State nursing student Nate Challis.

Challis adds, “Nurses are in such high demand and that’s in large part because nurses at their core are fixers. We fix problems. I love what Sutter’s done by offering these [clinical placement] opportunities to SF State BSNA students to go directly to work. Not only are the clinical sites at Sutter’s CPMC incredible, but the nursing instructors are highly skilled. We’re fortunate to have access to Sutter’s cutting-edge facilities and cutting-edge technologies across different parts of San Francisco. We also get exposure working with many different populations and people who have different backgrounds and understandings, which will set us up for success in the future.”

Nursing at Sutter Health

Sutter’s more than 16,200 nurses represent the largest part of the organization’s workforce. These essential caregivers help deliver high quality, equitable and safe care to Sutter Health patients in communities big and small across Northern California.  

“Sutter’s nursing philosophy, which includes being a force for good, provides a framework to inspire nurses, reminds them why they entered the profession and highlights their unique role in their patients’ healing process,” said Sutter Health’s Chief Nurse Officer Anna Kiger. “Such a fulfilling work environment allows our organization to retain and attract the most talented nurses who are capable of reaching their unlimited potential while with us.”

Sutter Health is proud to partner with more than 80 nursing programs across its 22 hospitals. In 2023, the organization partnered with Samuel Merritt University to champion health equity through a new Health Equity Nursing Fellowship program, where new and future fellows hope to empower the next generation of nurses committed to narrowing health disparity gaps. Details on this fellowship and the application are available on the Samuel Merritt University website.

About Sutter Health

Sutter Health is a not-for-profit, people-centered health care system providing comprehensive care throughout California. Sutter Health is committed to health equity, community partnerships, and innovative, high-quality patient care. Today, Sutter Health is pursuing a bold new plan to reach more people and make excellent health care more connected and accessible. The health system’s 57,000+ staff and clinicians and 12,000+ affiliated physicians currently serve more than 3 million patients with a focus on expanding opportunities to serve patients, people and communities better. Sutter provides exceptional, affordable care through its hospitals, medical groups, ambulatory surgery centers, urgent care clinics, telehealth, home health and hospice services. Dedicated to transforming health care, at Sutter Health, getting better never stops.

Learn more about how Sutter Health is transforming health care at and

About San Francisco State University

San Francisco State University is a public university serving students from the San Francisco Bay Area, across California and around the world, with nationally acclaimed programs that span a broad range of disciplines. More than 23,000 students enroll at the University each year, and its nearly 293,000 graduates have contributed to the economic, cultural and civic fabric of San Francisco and beyond. Through them — and more than 1,800 world-class faculty members — SF State proudly embraces its legacy of academic excellence, community engagement and commitment to social justice. For more information, visit


A dozen outstanding graduates to be honored at 2024 Commencement

The student hood recipients will represent their academic colleges at the University’s 123rd graduation ceremony May 24

A dozen outstanding graduates will be honored during San Francisco State University’s 123rd Commencement ceremony, to be held at Oracle Park Friday, May 24. They will represent their more than 7,300 graduating peers in the Class of 2024.

As part of a longstanding tradition, each of the University’s six academic colleges selects an undergraduate and a graduate student to represent their classmates and wear their college’s academic hood during the ceremony. Additionally, two of the hood recipients, one undergraduate and one graduate student, will each deliver a Commencement address.

More details about the ceremony are available on the Commencement website

Graduate Speaker

Genesis Sorrick

Genesis Sorrick

M.A., Philosophy
College of Liberal & Creative Arts

In September 2020, amidst the chaos of COVID-19, the eerie orange sky from raging wildfires and the protests against police brutality, Genesis Sorrick gave birth to her first child. Bringing a human into the world during this time was incredibly daunting. Sorrick responded with her characteristic strength, integrity and clear-sighted optimism. Inspired to understand the world better and envision a brighter future for her daughter, she decided to return to college and complete her B.A. in Philosophy at SF State.

Later, during Sorrick’s first semester as a Philosophy grad student at SF State, she began to experience excruciating pain and debilitating neurological symptoms. Nevertheless, she refused to let desperation consume her. She channeled her energy into understanding her experience and found solace in her academic studies.

She excelled in her courses, writing brilliant research papers, contributing insightfully to discussions and the life of the department, working conscientiously as a teaching assistant and maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average (GPA). Living with chronic pain led Sorrick to her M.A. thesis: a remarkably original, meticulously researched and highly persuasive account of medical gaslighting.

“Philosophy allowed me to ground myself in something other than my pain and focus on envisioning a better world for my daughters,” she said.

Sorrick’s journey has been shaped by additional obstacles. She is a Mexican-born woman and the first in her family to complete a college degree. Also, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, she came out to friends and family in high school in a primarily right-wing, conservative town. Rather than dissuade her from pursuing her dreams, these experiences helped Sorrick develop the strength and tenacity she has needed to thrive at SF State, raise her children and live with chronic pain. She is a remarkable person, with a strong commitment to enacting positive change, both as a philosopher and a mother.

Undergraduate Speaker

Eddison Jintalan Contreras

Eddison Jintalan Contreras

B.A., Social Work
College of Health & Social Sciences

Eddison Jintalan Contreras’ social work journey was shaped by his own personal experiences of adversities and witnessing systemic inequities in different systems that he worked in. He is an Air Force veteran from a Filipino immigrant household and a member of the LGBTQ+ community. As a young airman, he worked under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He felt the tension between embracing his true self and serving the country. While working at a large health care provider, Contreras saw all forms of oppression embedded within the health care system. All these fueled Contreras’ passion for social justice and inspired his educational goals.

During his tenure at SF State, Contreras contributed to both the campus and broader community. He assumed leadership roles within Social Work Advocates for Visions of Empowerment (SWAVE), was the SF State representative to the 23Strong Council — comprising 23 accredited social work programs across California — and was a founding member of the University chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success. Notably engaged in policy advocacy, Contreras led legislative teams during the annual National Association of Social Workers’ legislative lobby days in Sacramento. He also supported policy initiatives addressing police brutality in the Antioch community.

He is doing a capstone project exploring the correlation between recidivism rates and the mental health diversion program at the Contra Costa Public Defender’s Office, where he serves as an intern.

Contreras is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work magna cum laude. After graduation, Contreras aspires to pursue a Master of Social Work. His goal is to become a licensed social worker specializing in holistic methodologies for mental health care within marginalized communities. Additionally, he’ll continue engaging in macro-level and political social work initiatives contributing to systemic change and advocacy.

Undergraduate Hood Recipients

Headshot of Jazz Hudson

Jazz Monique Hudson

B.A., Africana Studies
College of Ethnic Studies

Jazz Monique Hudson, an Oakland native with over 15 years of expertise in youth development, educational arts, social justice and organizational change, epitomizes resilience and commitment to societal transformation. Despite the challenges she faced early in her life as a former foster youth and teenage mother, Hudson has overcome them and is now dedicating her life to being an advocate, artist and educator.

For example, Hudson was involved with organizations like the National Black Women’s Justice Institute, Black Youth Project 100 (where she was a founding member) and the Guardian Scholars Program. She was also a program director and founding member of the EMERGE Reentry Program, which focuses on supporting young women of color reintegrating into society after incarceration and academic pushout. Additionally, Hudson was a victim advocate for the San Francisco District Attorney and has had residencies, workshops and performances at universities like UC Berkeley and Princeton.

Serendipitously, her son’s 17th birthday coincides with the SF State 2024 Commencement, which Hudson says is a reminder of the strength and resilience found in the journey of motherhood. After graduation, she plans to pursue SF State’s Pre-Health Professions Post-Baccalaureate Certificate program, which will help her take the next step toward pursuing a career in health care as an osteopathic doctor specializing in allergy and immunology.

Devora Jimenez Domingo

Devora Jimenez Domingo

B.S., Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences
Graduate College of Education

Devora Jimenez Domingo, originally from Guatemala, moved to the United States at a young age. Witnessing her Latinx community’s struggles due to language barriers, Jimenez Domingo has dedicated her work to assisting those with limited English proficiency, especially after recognizing the privilege she had being trilingual in English, Spanish and Mayan.

To support her community, Jimenez Domingo enrolled at SF State to pursue a degree in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences with minors in Education and Special Education. During her time at SF State, she has actively contributed to the Gray Matter Lab, facilitating language therapy for Spanish speakers and promoting inclusivity in educational settings.

Jimenez Domingo also held leadership roles in various student clubs, advocating for cultural and linguistic diversity within the field of speech pathology.

Now preparing for graduate school to become a licensed speech pathologist, she aims to serve marginalized communities, particularly Black, Indigenous and People of Color, by ensuring their identities and linguistic backgrounds are acknowledged and respected in standardized testing and therapeutic practices.

Zen Lewis

Zen Lewis

B.A., International Relations/Political Science
College of Liberal & Creative Arts

In 2019, Zen Lewis’ journey to SF State began with her emigration from Serbia with the vision of achieving the American dream. As an 18-year-old in a new country with no financial support, she faced daunting challenges with housing and food insecurity, while attempting to find full-time employment with limited English fluency and work experience.

Today, Lewis is graduating with a double major in International Relations and Political Science with the highest honors, accompanied by Sigma Iota Rho and Pi Sigma Alpha societal honors. She represents the will and determination of young immigrant women who hail from war-torn nations to forge a new path, both for themselves and their home countries, so that those wars never occur again.

Lewis is a force of nature who speaks three languages, works full time in the wedding industry and serves as managing editor of the International Relations Journal. While earning the Migration and Refugee Studies certificate, she has demonstrated an exemplary work ethic, enthusiasm for global politics and resilience in the face of obstacles.

As president of the International Relations Student Association, Lewis has been a driving force, encouraging her fellow students and others in her community to get involved in domestic and international politics. She has represented SF State at Model United Nations and Model European Union conferences, where she received the Outstanding Head of Government Award. 

Lewis won the David Jenkins Scholarship for Political Activism for her impactful advocacy of student rights in a political uprising. She used her senior thesis to expand the discussion and analysis of new regime changes, using Serbia as a case study. Off campus, she has organized pop-up events for local artists and fundraisers for nonprofits.

After graduation, Lewis plans to seek a full-time position in San Francisco municipal government and pursue a law degree.

Meliza Matute

Meliza Matute

B.S., Business Administration (Decision Sciences/Finance)
Lam Family College of Business

Meliza Matute is a first-generation Salvadoran American student. Her parents came to the U.S. with very little money but impressed on her the importance of hard work and education. Those would be the keys to a successful life, they told her. Growing up in East Palo Alto, she became acutely aware of the differences in the level of safety, quality of education and scarcity of resources between her town and its affluent neighbors Menlo Park and Palo Alto. Thanks to a school transfer program, Matute experienced firsthand just how stark the differences were, filling her with a desire for a more equitable world.

Later, Matute moved to Tracy and was committed to attending SF State despite the distance. She traveled six hours a day on public transportation to complete her degree. She started out as a Finance major to increase her financial literacy. By her second year, she decided to also major in Decision Sciences. She graduates with a 3.94 GPA.

Outside of the SF State classroom, Matute spent her time educating young people about decision sciences. She volunteered with incoming high school freshmen, showing them the real-world application of math in business and how companies use math to make business decisions. She also worked as a student instructor/facilitator for the “Operations Management Supplemental Instruction” course, to deepen student understanding of difficult concepts.

Matute’s education and experience at SF State inspired her to choose a career that will benefit the common good. Knowing that one’s strength reflects that of their community, she aspires to use her financial and data analysis skills to better her community.

Loan My Tran

Loan My Tran

B.A., Mathematics (Mathematics for Teaching)
College of Science & Engineering

Childhood experiences with mathematics, particularly those with her grandfather, made a lasting impact on Loan Tran. Her family emigrated from Vietnam. Growing up, she’d stay with her grandparents while her parents worked. Her grandfather taught her math and made worksheets for her. She’d happily memorize multiplication tables and enjoyed playing strategy games like Connect Four. Surrounded by so much math, she naturally gravitated towards STEM and Mathematics at SF State. In addition to majoring in Mathematics, she completed a minor in Computer Science. She is the first in her family to graduate from college.

Tran conducted original research as an undergraduate even though she initially didn’t know anything about math research. In 2022, she participated in the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute Undergraduate Program. She set out to answer neuroscience-motivated math questions related to discrete math, geometry and computational algebra. For her academic achievements, Tran won the C.Y. Chow Memorial Scholarship, the Pamela Fong Scholarship in Mathematics, the David Meredith and Friends Scholarship and the Halmos Scholarship.

Interested in education, Tran volunteered as a tutor at Mastery Learning Hour and helped students with elementary school to high school-level math. She was also proudly a student assistant in the Department of Mathematics office. In her first “real” job, she enjoyed building relationships with professors and using her problem-solving skills in a new setting. Working there for two years, she even wrote the operations guide for other student assistants.

Next, Tran will pursue a Ph.D. in Mathematics to further explore her field and conduct more research. However, she still has an interest in a possible career as a high school math teacher.

Graduate Hood Recipients

Sabreen Imtair

Sabreen Imtair

M.A., Ethnic Studies
College of Ethnic Studies

Sabreen Imtair is a seasoned organizer and a prominent figure in the activist community. Throughout her time at SF State, she has also demonstrated being a dedicated scholar in the College of Ethnic Studies.

For example, Imtair serves as a youth organizer with the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, actively participating in movements such as the K – 12 ethnic studies campaign. Over the past six months, she has also played a pivotal role in organizing, mobilizing and fostering community engagement in support of ceasefire in Palestine.

Hailing from a Palestinian family with Bay Area roots, Imtair is a proud product of the region’s public school system and holds the distinction of being the first in her family to attain a college degree.

Her graduate thesis delves into the intricacies of community mobilization and organization within the Arab and Muslim communities in the Bay Area.

Joanna Liyi Huang

Joanna (Liyi) Huang

M.A., Education (Secondary Education)
Graduate College of Education

Joanna Huang has had a full circle moment: She’s now teaching at the same school district she graduated from.

At age 13, Huang moved from China to San Francisco, graduating from Francisco Middle School and Washington High School, part of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). That’s where she participated in English Learner programs, finding solidarity and community among immigrants from around the world.

After earning a degree in Managerial Economics with a minor in Education from UC Davis, Huang received her single-subject credential in Math from SF State in 2022.

Huang is now back at SFUSD for a different reason: She’s in her second year of teaching seventh grade at James Denman Middle School. This school has served as the site for her field research study, which looked at math participation among seventh graders. The study was partly inspired by her experience getting her credential at SF State, which allowed her to see that students who do not yet feel confident in mathematics can experience greater engagement, confidence, fun and learning through groupwork.

Son Hai Nguyen

Son Hai Nguyen

Lam Family College of Business

Son Hai Nguyen earned an undergraduate degree in Economics from the National Economic University in Vietnam and gained extensive experience working in the banking industry as a financial analyst and corporate credit manager. In 2017, she relocated to the Bay Area from Vietnam with her spouse and their two young children. Wanting to continue her education, she enrolled in City College of San Francisco (CCSF) and completed an associate’s degree in Finance while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. She served as a member of CCSF’s Associated Students. Later, she decided to pursue an MBA at SF State.

She is “the top-performing student,” according to one of her professors at SF State. Another said she was “extremely prepared, positive and a cheerleader for her classmates.” Her classmates commented on her dedication to her studies, often studying without pause. Nguyen would often take on more than her share of responsibilities during group projects. She provided feedback to teammates to help ensure that their work was of the highest quality.

Throughout her MBA studies, Nguyen actively participated in various activities. In 2023, she joined the Lam Family College of Business Student Ambassador Program. Almost immediately she became a leader among the other ambassadors. She organized and co-hosted events specifically tailored to graduate students, creating an inclusive community with plenty of opportunities for networking.

Nguyen participated in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program at SF State, where she served as an IRS-certified volunteer tax preparer and quality reviewer, assisting individuals with low incomes on their tax returns. Additionally, she was a research/teaching assistant for Management Professor Smita Trivedi and volunteered at the college’s Women’s Emerging Leadership Forum. She has actively supported and engaged in activities of the San Francisco chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG), fostering connections, collaboration and investment between Vietnamese and American businesses.

Su Ilayada Ozcan

Su Ilayada Ozcan

M.S., Chemistry (Biochemistry)
College of Science & Engineering

Su Ozcan wants to develop new treatments without side effects. It’s a passion that stems from her early exposure to her grandfather’s battle with cancer. As an undergraduate in Turkey, she explored innovative therapies and gained two years of professional experience working with pharmaceutical companies. With women being relegated to the background and the value placed on science decreasing in her country, Ozcan decided to leave Turkey and pursue her academic goals in the United States.

As an international student at SF State, Ozcan focused on groundbreaking research in enzymology and medicinal chemistry to develop a novel side effect-free treatment for tuberculosis. She published these discoveries in scientific journals. She demonstrated her commitment to making a positive impact beyond the lab by serving as a teaching associate for two years. Accolades for her academic performance and commitment to science include the Henry Bertin Jr. Scholarship, the Agents of Change Build Merck Scholarship, the Bill Plachy TA (teaching assistant) Award and the CSU Trustees Award.

After SF State, Ozcan’s next step is to begin a Chemistry Ph.D. program at the University of Southern California, where she’s already been offered a graduate fellowship. Looking ahead, Ozcan is excited to continue her quest to develop new therapeutics and treatment strategies that will make an impact. She is eager to translate her academic research into practical applications and hopes to eventually establish a pharmaceutical company. Beyond medicine, she aspires to continue being a teacher and create educational opportunities for underprivileged children. She also hopes to provide financial and moral support for others, especially women in science.

Monique Scott

Monique Scott

College of Health & Social Sciences

Monique Scott decided to pursue a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree at SF State after seeing structural and systemic health disparities affect her community. She began her career as a social worker, caregiver and care coordinator, assisting people navigating governmental and nonprofit assistance programs and managing medical conditions.

During the pandemic, she became a resource navigator and case manager for individuals exposed to COVID-19. Seeing how disparities impacted marginalized residents, she wanted to make a larger impact. She became interested in the social determinants of health and how prevention programs could more effectively help communities. 

At SF State, she explored her passion for research with the Health Equity Institute. Her assessment of participation of food establishments in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP) in urban university settings significantly influenced a statewide campaign to enhance access to SNAP benefits at CSU campuses.

She also published research on navigating nutrition inequities among pregnant and postpartum mothers and children in BIPOC communities. The Oakland native’s projects also included studies on how urban agriculture can use mutual aid practices and how built environment contributes to the adverse health outcomes of environmental injustices.

While at SF State, she was a Climate Action Fellow, a Graduate Equity Fellow and a President’s Leadership Fellow. She authored, published and presented her research at multiple local and national conferences. She also participated in the University’s Earth Week 2024.

After graduation, she will continue learning and applying her skills in research, writing and coordination to address health equity in the Bay Area. She plans to continue participating in strategies for community and policy-level interventions for marginalized communities of color. She is grateful for the SF State connections that contributed to her accomplishments.

SF State creates new online degree completion options

It’s never been easier to complete bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration, Criminal Justice Studies and Psychology

According to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the six-year graduation rate for U.S. college students is 64%. That means more than a third of students don’t finish their degrees within six years of starting college.

That’s a lot of dreams put on hold. And it’s why San Francisco State University’s College of Professional & Global Education (CPaGE) has launched three new online degree completion programs that make it easier than ever for former students to get back on the path to graduation.

Created in collaboration with San Francisco State’s Lam Family College of Business, College of Science & Engineering and College of Health & Social Sciences, the online programs — for bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration, Criminal Justice Studies and Psychology — will begin in the fall. Anyone with 60 college credits can enroll, no matter what their previous major was or what school they attended. Applications for the Business Administration and Criminal Justice Studies programs are currently being accepted, with a deadline of April 15. The Psychology program began accepting applications earlier this spring and quickly filled to capacity — an indication of the demand for online degree completion, which accommodates the busy schedules of former students looking to further their careers with the power of a bachelor’s degree.

“Research shows lifetime earnings for college degree-holders are up to 41% higher than for those with just an associate’s degree, and up to 52% higher than those with only some college credits under their belt,” said Eugene Sivadas, dean of SF State’s Lam Family College of Business, citing a study by the Center on Education and the Workforce. “So completing their degrees fully online is a fast, easy and effective way for former students to significantly boost their earning potential.”

The online courses — such as “Starting a Small Business” in the Business Administration program, “Crime, Data and Analysis” in the Criminal Justice Studies program and “Future Directions for Psychology Majors” in the Psychology program — will be taught by SF State professors. Students will have access to a CPaGE online success coach as well as advising from faculty program directors. Financial aid is also available to those who qualify.

“This is a great opportunity for anyone who had to interrupt their educational journey,” said CPaGE Dean Alex Hwu. “Thanks to the flexible online options this program makes possible, former students can continue their journey — all the way to a degree.”

Learn more about CPaGE’s online degree completion options.

First-generation alumna builds national brand on sexual openness

Sexologist Rebecca Alvarez Story is the founder and CEO of Bloomi, which specializes in intimate health products for a bilingual audience

San Francisco State University alumna Rebecca Alvarez Story (M.A., ’17) didn’t get much sex education growing up. She went to an all-girl high school with an abstinence-only approach to sex ed, and her parents weren’t comfortable stepping in to explain the birds and the bees.

“In my home, we didn’t talk about sex education,” Story said. “My parents did try to have one awkward sex talk.”

Today, however, sex talk is far from awkward for Story. In fact, it’s both her business and her mission.

Story is the founder and CEO of Bloomi, a company offering intimate health products — oils, personal lubricants, sex aids and more — with an emphasis on bilingual marketing. The Bloomi line can be found in local spas and boutiques as well as national retailers like Target and Saks Fifth Avenue. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Story says she hopes to use Bloomi to bring quality sex education to a billion people around the globe, with an emphasis on expansion in Latin America.

Unfortunately, Story’s own sex education journey included a traumatic detour. A Bay Area native, Story originally went to Southern California to attend college. While there, she was sexually assaulted.

“That experience made me return home to reground myself,” Story said. “After that, I was very apprehensive about intimacy. I actually feared intimacy.”

Back in the Bay Area, Story became inspired to use her experiences as a way to heal, and she enrolled in the Women’s Health and Sexuality program at UC Berkeley.

“That was the beginning of me starting to understand the power of education in the category,” said Story.

Following graduation, Story worked with startups in sexual wellness focused on intimacy products, sex coaching and sex education. Eventually she decided to continue her education in the field at San Francisco State, where she enrolled in pursuit of a master’s degree in Sexuality Studies.

“I was a single mom when I started the program. My daughter was 3,” said Story. “She actually came to a few courses and was on the side with her headphones.”

On top of being a single mom and a graduate student, Story was working full-time as a sexologist.

“It made me feel good that I was doing things I love,” said Story. “My daughter learned a lot about me at such a young age. It was an important time in my development, and it was all things that I loved.”

Being a single mother and working full-time while pursuing a graduate degree is no small feat, and Story was fortunate to have support from her family and professors.

“All of the professors in the Human Sexuality program were incredible,” said Story. “They are very passionate about the work, which comes through in what they’re teaching.”

It wasn’t just the teaching that Story found inspiring. Thanks to her time working with startups, she also knew there were untapped audiences for sexual wellness products. 

“I had a lot of experience seeing what worked well and not so well with products in the category,” said Story. “The way that products were being marketed was very binary and stereotypical. I felt there was a world where we could be more inclusive about that.”

Story had also seen brands undervalue the Latinx market. She created Bloomi to be a bilingual brand, carving out an inclusive space within the sexual wellness industry and making the brand both unique and, for her, personal.

Despite her parents’ reluctance to discuss sex when she was younger, Story says her family has been supportive of Bloomi from the beginning. Now it gives her a deep feeling of satisfaction when, for instance, she and her father pass her company’s products for sale at Target.

“The feeling is incredible, but it’s hard to explain to people who aren’t children of immigrants,” said Story. “It’s very emotional because it’s not just another product on the shelf. It’s the realization of several generations of people striving to get ahead and get a better education and the American dream of starting this business.”

Learn more about SF State’s Sexuality Studies Program.

University celebrates student research with college-wide showcases

Students across campus have been sharing their research at various student project showcases

As the academic year comes to a close, SF State’s colleges are celebrating the scholarship, research and creative activities of the University community with multiple student project showcases. In April and early May, undergraduate and graduate students from across campus shared their work through research posters, presentations and performances. Students, staff, faculty and community members saw everything from student-built prototypes of engineering projects to the exploration of evolution through dance to presentations on the history of global fashion.

This year, the Colleges of Liberal & Creative Arts (LCA), Science & Engineering (CoSE), Ethnic Studies (CoES) and Health & Social Sciences (CHSS) all had research events. While the LCA and CoSE showcases have become annual campus traditions, CHSS’ Research & Creative Works Showcase (held at the Seven Hills Conference Center Thursday, May 4) was the college’s first. The College of Ethnic Studies Student Showcase, also on the newer side, was held Thursday, May 11, on the fifth floor of the Administration Building.

“When I found out about the CHSS Undergraduate Research & Creative Works Showcase I knew I had to participate. Research has been such a key component of my SF State experience,” said Nathan Burns, who is graduating this semester with a degree in Sociology and a minor in LGBTQ Studies. “For my senior seminar last semester I created ‘SURV(IO)LANCE,’ a textual and visual zine where I incorporated academic research and my personal experience as a queer, trans, disabled person to discuss surveillance. For the CHSS Showcase I was able to print a few copies of the zine to share with people in attendance. It was so exciting to be able to not only share my research with other campus members, but get to see just how much incredible work is being done across campus that I otherwise might not have heard about.”

Eduardo Hernandez, a senior Criminal Justice Studies major, also participated in the CHSS showcase. His work explores how the overlapping interests of the prison industrial complex, the U.S. military establishment and law enforcement lead to mass incarceration. He says that his project represents his solidarity with individuals who have been exploited in prisons.

“My research experience at SF State enabled my academic potential to be significantly developed by showcasing my research project for fellow peers, scholars and visitors. I am honored to have been recognized and have granted the privilege to participate in the CHHS Undergraduate Showcase with scholars at SF State. Presenting at the event, I experienced a great sense of joy and relief knowing nearly six months of research and preparation allowed me to represent SF State in its highest light possible: an incredible research facility in the SF Bay Area,” he said.

In total, hundreds of students participated in these college showcases. The College of Science & Engineering — which has been holding showcases since 1999 — had approximately 230 posters presented by more than 400 students, with more than 80 judges from academia, industry, government and other fields participating.

Two male students showing a robotic arm to a male judge

Students Ryan Scott and Fazliddin Hotamov demonstrate their gesture-controlled robot arm to a judge and alumnus Robert Gray (B.S., '98) at the CoSE showcase. Photo by Paul Asper

While the Lam College of Business doesn’t have a project showcase, its students were able to showcase research in a different way: at the college’s annual Innovative Pitch Competition in April. Students developed and pitched business projects to seasoned entrepreneurs, investors and faculty, and three teams shared $10,000 in cash prizes. Earlier this year, students from all colleges also participated in the campus-level San Francisco State University student research competition for a chance to participate in the CSU-wide student research competition.

“San Francisco State provides amazing opportunities for students and faculty to work together on research and creative projects. Participating in these collaborations — whether it is a course-based research project or an independent study builds career skills — creates community and contributes to improving life on campus, in the Bay Area and beyond.” said Biology Professor Gretchen LeBuhn, who is Chair of the University Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Council. She is also co-director of SF State Creates, an undergraduate research office launching this fall to facilitate these types of hands-on student opportunities.

Learn more about Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities at SF State.

University professor calls for reform of U.S. child neglect laws

A new report highlights the detrimental discrepancies between child neglect laws and child development research

For children, being allowed to walk to a playground or to school by themselves is an exciting achievement — a sign they’re becoming “big kids.” Developmental scientists agree: They say such moments are critical milestones in a child’s development. Yet there are many child neglect laws in the United States that conflict with research about childhood and may actually interfere with development.

A new Social Policy Report paper by San Francisco State University Assistant Professor Rachel Flynn and collaborators explores this conflict and asks at what age can a child perform tasks without adult supervision. The answer is tricky, the authors explain, but reducing the answer to an age range (usually in preteens to early teens) can have serious consequences. It can lead to parents and guardians being unfairly prosecuted and be harmful for families and children. To complicate matters more, broad child neglect laws dramatically vary across the nation.

“I like to think [the laws are] well-intentioned and meant to keep kids safe. But the fact that there are places in the country where it is illegal for a child to be alone at 10 or 12 or babysit for their younger siblings … most developmental [scientists] would never guess that,” said Flynn, an assistant professor in the Department of Child & Adolescent Development at San Francisco State.

These child neglect laws often do not align with developmental science research, the authors explain. Previous research in the United States and internationally suggest children undergo a shift to taking on more responsibilities around 5 to 7 years. To participate in independent activities, children need to reach developmental milestones in physical, cognitive and social abilities, and most children achieve these skills by 6 or 7 through experiences. A child’s ability to achieve these milestones are also dependent on many factors, so guidelines based on age alone without context are not effective.

“I think the other really big thing is remembering to keep this in the social justice lens … ,” Flynn said. “We’re really trying to drive home the idea that these child neglect laws can impact anyone anywhere, but children of color are particularly impacted …  They’re more likely to have touch points with child protective services than white children as a result.”

Well-meaning but misplaced reports of child neglect due to lack of supervision can strain child protective systems that are intended to protect children. Flynn hopes everyone — policymakers, developmental science researchers, grade-school educators, pediatricians, parents and social work hotline moderators — look at the research paper’s recommendations to begin mitigating the negative impacts of some laws.

“Hotlines were meant to help children,” Flynn said. “They’re not helpful when every person calls because of every situation that they personally disagree with, for example a child walking their dog around the block alone. That clogs up resources and keeps the true neglect and abuse cases from getting the attention.”

Flynn was surprised to see the lack of developmental research on this topic but attributes this to a lack of awareness. There are psychologists, educational researchers and health researchers doing relevant research, but they don’t all talk together.

While her own research usually focuses on the media’s impact on children and how it affects play, Flynn plans to take the lessons of her recent paper into her advocacy work. She has already talked to some policy makers and hopes to help educate hotline workers and others.

“The question always is what age can kids be unsupervised? There’s no straightforward answer. It’s rooted in individual differences in context and cultures and variations,” Flynn said. “But we can provide some guidelines to really say that children are very capable at a very young age, and with experience children can be even more capable.”

Learn more about SF State’s Department of Child & Adolescent Development.

Family ties: how an SF State education changed everything for two sisters

Despite a childhood rocked by trauma, Theresa Gamboa (B.A., ’21) and her twin sister Alexandria Singh (B.A., ’22) are facing the future with optimism, determination and forgiveness

When she was 15 years old, Theresa Gamboa made a phone call that changed her life. It was a change for the better ... eventually. But it also led to consequences and chaos she had to deal with for years.

Gamboa’s call was to the police. She was reporting her father — a meth addict and gang member — for abuse.

Gamboa ended up in the foster care system. Her father ended up in prison.

It’s a story most people might be anxious to put behind them. But Gamboa — who graduated from SF State in 2021 with a degree in Business Administration — isn’t most people. She’s committed to telling her story again and again, even hiring a speech coach to help her develop it into a TEDx talk.

“I’m not going to let any of my pain go to waste,” she says. “I’m going to use my business skills and what I’ve been through to make an impact. That’s my calling now.”

That doesn’t mean telling her story is easy. Recalling the details can be difficult.

“It goes blank due to all the trauma,” she says.

But she does remember the optimism she felt walking onto the campus of San Jose City College at the age of 16. Despite the disarray of her life — bouncing from one foster home to another after turning in her father — she’d managed to graduate early from high school. She recalls thinking of education as her “golden ticket out,” and she was anxious to use it.

“There were so many issues in high school. I just wanted to be somewhere where people were there because they wanted to be, not because they were forced to with a chip on their shoulder, ready to fight,” she says. “I didn’t want any of that. I was already experiencing that at home.”

SF State and Some Pivotal Help

Unfortunately, though the desire to get an education was there, the skills weren’t. Neither was the support she needed.

“There was nothing good going for me,” she says. “I just had negative news after negative news — moving from foster home to foster home, and I couldn’t see my parents legally.”

Things turned around for Gamboa when she began getting academic and life skills support from Pivotal, a San Jose-based nonprofit that serves youth in the foster care system. Though Gamboa aged out of the system at 18, Pivotal continued to provide support — including help applying to SF State when Gamboa realized she wasn’t connecting to the nursing classes she’d been taking at San Jose City College.

“What drew me to San Francisco State was the business program,” says Gamboa, who also received scholarship support from Pivotal for her switch to SF State. “I fell in love with business. It ignited a real passion. … My motivation went from a five to a 10.”

Gamboa particularly responded to the teaching of Smita Trivedi, an associate professor in the Lam Family College of Business whose specialties include sustainable business practices and female entrepreneurs from impoverished backgrounds.

“I’m passionate about helping other people. So it’s really important to me [for business] to make a benefit to me and the person on the other side,” Gamboa says. “She showed me the importance of doing business the right way.”

After graduating, Gamboa landed a job as a marketing coordinator at Afero, a Silicon Valley tech company that develops internet connection software for clients like Home Depot. Gamboa says she loves it.

“I am pumped,” she says. “I literally couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

She shares that happy ending with others through the talks she regularly gives on behalf of Pivotal. Reliving her childhood isn’t exactly fun, but she’s determined to show other foster youth they can change their lives. She can already point to one who followed in her footsteps: her twin sister, Alexandria Singh.

Double Trouble

Singh (who got married and took her husband’s last name last year) graduated from SF State with a B.A. in Criminal Justice in December. Singh says she and her sister were inseparable as children.

“We were just double trouble. Always together,” she says.

That changed dramatically when Gamboa called the police on their father. For a time, Singh remained in their parents’ household after Gamboa was removed.

“I was stuck at the house alone with a lot of abuse and neglect,” Singh remembers. “I was like, ‘Hey! Call the cops on me! I don’t want to be here!’ So I eventually made that happen.”

Years later, Singh followed in her sister’s footsteps once again — on the path to SF State. Though Singh finished her degree from Miami, where her doctor husband began his residency last year, she and Gamboa have begun another important journey together — the one to forgiveness. Both sisters have been in contact with their parents and say they bear them no ill will.

“When we tell people our story, people tend to hate our parents,” Singh says. “We don’t want that at all. Me and my sister, we don’t want to harvest bitterness. That’s like a stone that drags you down. We genuinely love our parents, and we forgive them.”