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SF State exhibition examines legacy of Japanese American incarceration

Fine Arts Gallery presents new artwork reflecting on Ruth Asawa’s Garden of Remembrance on campus 

Eighty-two years ago, Japanese American students from San Francisco State College were forced to withdraw from classes, some taken to prison camps. Twenty-two years ago, San Francisco State University dedicated a garden to honor the Japanese American experience of incarceration during World War II, especially that of the 19 students, and the resilience of this community after their release, designed by acclaimed artist Ruth Asawa. This year, the garden is the subject of further artistic exploration in new works on display in the Fine Arts Gallery on campus. 

“Reflecting on Ruth Asawa and the Garden of Remembrance” features new commissioned works by artists Mark Baugh-Sasaki, Tina Kashiwagi, Paul Kitagaki Jr., Lisa Solomon and TT Takemoto.  

The exhibition opens on Saturday, Feb. 24, with a reception from 1 to 3 p.m., and concludes on Saturday, April 6. The Fine Arts Gallery is open Tuesdays – Fridays, noon – 4 p.m. Admission is free. 

Dedicated in 2002, the Garden of Remembrance is located between Burk Hall and the Fine Arts building. A waterfall cascading from behind the Cesar Chavez Student Center signifies the return of the internees to the coastline after the war. Ten large boulders in the grassy area next to Burk Hall represent each of the camps set up during World War II. The names of the 19 former SF State students expelled and the names of the camps are listed on a bronze, scroll-shaped marker. The marker also includes reproductions of official government documents regarding the internment. 

In an essay for the exhibition’s catalog, artist and cultural producer Weston Teruya describes “Reflecting on Ruth Asawa and the Garden of Remembrance” as a “relationship of care” to family, community and shared stories. 

“This collection of artworks is an intergenerational remembrance: a deep sensory reflection on ancestral practices and cultural traditions that are studied across veils of time and oceans, and the unearthing of elided histories and traumas from beneath stone memorials or out of the recesses of overlooked archives,” Teruya writes. 

“Reflecting on Ruth Asawa and the Garden of Remembrance” is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Henri and Tomoye Takahashi Charitable Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and SF State’s Instructionally Related Student Activities Fund. 

Learn more about the “Reflecting on Ruth Asawa and the Garden of Remembrance” exhibition

SF State-produced documentaries tell stories of the first Black Marines

The Montford Point Marines were 20,000 African Americans trained in the 1940s 

To commemorate Black History Month, a San Francisco State University documentary team will debut four shorts about the first Black servicemembers in the U.S. Marine Corps. Each of the short films will be available on YouTube. 

The films are oral histories with surviving members of the Montford Point Marines, 20,000 African Americans trained between 1942 and 1949 in Jacksonville, North Carolina. The first recruits began one year after U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt outlawed racial discrimination in war industries, allowing Black men and women, although only in a segregated fashion.  

San Francisco State History Professor Trevor Getz, who produced the films along with Cinema Professor Daniel L. Bernardi, emphasizes the lasting legacy of the Montford Point Marines and the lessons that can be learned from them. 

“They fought the Second World War and the war against racism together. And then they went on to serve the country and their communities for decades after,” Getz said. “They want to pass on messages that are of great value to us today. The team of filmmakers led by Bernardi managed to capture those messages authentically. The results are powerful.” 

The Veteran Documentary Corps (VDC), an institute based in SF State’s College of Liberal & Creative Arts, created the films as part of its ongoing mission to tell authentic stories of the American veteran experience. Bernardi, VDC’s director, directed three of them, with Eliciana Nascimiento helming the other. Many other Cinema alumni and students also participated, including Andrés Gallegos, Hannah Anderson, Robert Barbarino, Joshua Cardenas, Jian Giannini and Jesse Sutterley.  

“The series in honor of African American contribution to the ideals of American freedom and civil rights was 95% SFSU: from faculty producers, faculty directors, faculty sound designer, alumni director of photograph, editor and animator to a crew of Cinema graduate and undergraduate students,” said Bernardi, who is a veteran of the Iraq war and a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves. 

Later this year, Oxford University Press will publish a related nonfiction comic book, “The First Black Marines,” by Getz and SF State History student Robert Willis. 

Watch the documentaries on YouTube

Student’s documentary helps her family heal from intergenerational trauma

Cecilia Mellieon and her daughter sit outdoors at Fortaleza Indian Ruins, homeland of their ancestors, near the Tohono O’odham Nation’s San Lucy Village outside of Gila Bend, Arizona. Photo from 2001.

Grad student Cecilia Mellieon utilizes visual anthropology, a field of study founded at SF State, to tell stories of urban Native American life 

With a video camera in her hands and empathy in her heart, one San Francisco State University student is focusing her capstone project on a subject many families prefer to avoid: their intergenerational trauma.  

Cecilia Mellieon, a graduate student in Anthropology at San Francisco State, is the director of a documentary titled “He told us the sky is blue.” It traces her family’s trauma to Native American oppression, focusing on the Indian boarding school her father attended in Fort Apache, Arizona.  

“If it hadn’t been for his experience there, he would have never left his family or his village,” said Mellieon, a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation. “He would have never moved to the Bay Area, and so I would not even be here if it wasn’t for him making those decisions to get away from them.” 

The U.S. government established the boarding schools to teach English and trade skills to Native American children. Violent corporal punishment occurred often.  

“The ultimate goal was to have fully assimilated second-generation children — children who were removed from their lands, children who didn’t grow up with their culture or their language or their family members,” Mellieon said. 

In her 55-minute film, Mellieon’s family recalls surviving an abusive household. They share feelings of sadness and regret as they also work to resolve their anger. 

“These are stories that I know too well, because I was there,” Mellieon said. “There are scenes where my brother and my mom are breaking down crying. I was crying with them.” 

Cecilia Mellieon headshot

Born and raised in San Francisco, Mellieon is passionate about telling stories of urban Native American life with nuance and sensitivity. She uses a supportive, collaborative approach that aims to not only create an ethnography, but also a work that will benefit the subjects. 

Her approach is an application of visual anthropology, a field of study that was founded by late SF State faculty members John Adair and John Collier. SF State Anthropology Professor Peter Biella (B.A., ’72; M.A., ’75) was one of Collier’s students, and today he is Mellieon’s adviser. 

Mellieon entered SF State as an undergraduate in 2018 at age 42. She had just completed her associate’s degree from Los Medanos College while her third child had yet to start kindergarten.  

A new Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) extension to near her home in Antioch made the 50-mile commute to SF State feasible, with family help on child care. Now, one of her children, Tatihn Mellieon, also attends SF State, as a Creative Writing major and a student assistant in The Poetry Center. 

“It was the perfect grouping of coincidences that led to me to be able to go to State,” Cecilia Mellieon said. “If I had tried this at any other point in my life, I don’t think I would have had the life experiences. I don’t think I would have had the growth that I needed to be a confident student and be able to feel like I could tackle this.” 

Mellieon premiered “He told us the sky is blue” in November at Los Medanos College. She plans to take it to film festivals and make more anthropological films about big-city Indigenous life. 

Learn more about the Anthropology Department

SF State students write Wikipedia bios for unsung heroes of STEM

Humanities class helps fill in equity gaps among STEM professionals from underrepresented groups 

Wikipedia is among the most visited websites in the world, with information on over 6 million topics. But much is missing, particularly in diversity. Through a partnership with the user-moderated online encyclopedia, students at San Francisco State University recently wrote original biographies for notable professionals in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) from underrepresented groups. 

Scientists from traditionally underrepresented groups comprise a small minority on Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia, only about 8% of the site’s 275,000 biographies of scientists are women, with similar gaps across race and ethnicity. 

With support from the Broadcom Foundation, the Wikipedia Education group selected the San Francisco State Humanities class “History of Science from the Scientific Revolution,” taught by Associate Professor David M. Peña-Guzmán from the Department of Humanities and Comparative World Literature, as one of its partners this past summer. Wikipedia Education is a nonprofit organization that serves as the bridge between academia and Wikipedia throughout the U.S. and Canada. 

Nine of the biographies compiled by SF State students are live on Wikipedia. The students’ writing brings visibility to living professionals whose legacies have yet to be completed. They include chemical engineer Miguel Modestino, sustainable industrial engineer Enrique Lomnitz and Procter & Gamble executive and microbiologist Adrian Land. 

Maxwell Stephen Williams, a History graduate student who took the class, helped contribute the bio on Aaron Streets, a UC Berkeley bioengineering professor. Williams says the class taught him different ways to utilize Wikipedia in academic research. 

“It’s somewhat frowned upon to use Wikipedia as a source. But what’s not frowned upon, I found, was the sources that the people used for the Wikipedia article,” Williams said. “I don’t know if you should cite Wikipedia for a research paper, but it offers a general baseline. It gives you scholarly sources to further your own research.” 

Peña-Guzmán applied for the class to participate in the Wikipedia Student Program because it aligned with the themes he wanted to impart to students about the complex relationship between science and the histories of patriarchy, colonialism, classism and social bias. Writing the biographies of scientists of color who have made an impact in a scientific or technological domain was the class’ culminating project.  

“From the very beginning of the class, I built in questions about the politics of science,” he said. “Filling Wikipedia’s race gap through these biographies gave my students a very real, if minor, way of making a difference.” 

Peña-Guzmán will discuss his students’ projects on Wednesday, Dec. 13, at “Closing the gap for Black and Hispanic STEM professionals on Wikipedia,” a free virtual seminar presented by Wikipedia Education. 

The Wikipedia Student Program aims to make the broadly referenced site more inclusive and diverse. Since 2010, students from over 800 universities in the U.S. and Canada have worked on over 135,000 articles.  

“Evidence suggests that Wikipedia can influence trials in courts of law and significantly shape the world of science,” says Wikipedia Education Equity Outreach Coordinator Andrés Vera, citing two research papers led by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty member. “Teaching with Wikipedia can help spread awareness about any topic to a wide audience.” 

Learn more about the Department of Humanities and Comparative World Literature

 

‘Hip Hop America’: SF State History professor assembles major exhibition at Grammy Museum

As co-curator, Felicia Angeja Viator emphasizes women’s contributions to hip-hop 

When a San Francisco State University professor was invited to co-curate an exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, she knew women must be at the center. Their presence is unmistakable when entering “Hip Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit” at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. Saweetie’s famously blinged-out fingernails are among the first things that visitors encounter. 

San Francisco State Associate Professor of History Felicia Angeja Viator, the co-curator, placed an emphasis on women’s contributions throughout the exhibit, rather than compartmentalizing women as hip-hop history often does.

“We wanted to weave women throughout every single story,” she said. “As a visitor, you come in and you see women everywhere, and that is a true representation of the history. But it’s also a way to normalize the idea that women were there — and contributed and innovated and were significant. It gives people a sense of where we are now, with women dominating hip-hop.” 

“Hip Hop America” opened Oct. 7 and is on display through Sept. 4, 2024. In addition to Viator, the SF State faculty is also represented by Africana Studies Lecturer Dave “Davey D” Cook, as a member of the exhibition advisory committee. 

Among the artifacts procured by Viator include the personal mixtape collection of late SF State alumna Stephanie “DJ Stef” Ornales, a champion of female DJs regarded as a legend in the Bay Area hip-hop community and beyond. In large part, the content on the 60 cassettes in the exhibition is not available on streaming services, showcasing a way that audiences discovered rap music in the pre-internet era. 

“For me, it’s the crown jewel of the exhibit because it represents what’s so important about hip-hop in terms of the DIY [Do-It-Yourself] culture of it,” said Viator, who also was one of the first female DJs in the Bay Area and wrote a book exploring the societal impact of the gangsta rap subgenre. “DJs and underground MCs would share tapes. I wanted to show how important that is for moving the music around.”  

Every semester in Viator’s “History of Popular Culture” class at SF State, her unit on hip-hop always ignites a lively discussion with a coalescence of varying musical tastes and historical perspectives. 

“When I teach this history, I try to honor the fact that this music is so dynamic and changes so much,” Viator says, “and, as I do in general when I teach history, to give students a sense that history matters.” 

Learn more about SF State’s History Department

Felicia Viator holds a microphone while speaking and wearing a black leather jacket and a 4080 Magazine T-shirt

Associate Professor of History Felicia Angela Viator speaks at the opening gala for “Hip Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit.”

Saweetie poses for a picture next to an encased display of her fingernails at Hip Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit

Saweetie shows off her nails — the 10 on her fingers and the 10 on display.

Alum’s design, illustration work represents Filipinos and the Bay

Since drawing art in yearbooks in his youth, LeRoid David has wanted to make a positive impact through art 

Long before his illustrations would be seen at restaurants and on television, LeRoid David drew art in school yearbooks. Not just the covers. Every year he would sign dozens of yearbooks with a personalized comic for his peers. Each piece used the same caricature-based style and humor that is discernable in his work today. 

The San Francisco State University alumnus has a diverse client list. Fans have waved the cheer cards he created for NBC Sports from Oracle Park to Chase Center to Levi’s Stadium. Last year he designed the official San Francisco Giants T-shirt for Filipino Heritage Night. David’s digital caricatures are on signs for The Lumpia Co. restaurant, and his work appears in the 2003 superhero spoof film “Lumpia” plus the sequel “Lumpia with a Vengeance.”  

The erstwhile Tower Records at the Stonestown Galleria is where David (B.A., ’03) first applied the skills he was learning at nearby San Francisco State. He created in-store displays and doodled on the whiteboard above the cash register.  

David and the interviewer for this Q&A attended Burton High School in San Francisco together. 

In high school, you were sketching comic art by hand for the yearbook, newspaper and even the senior class T-shirt.  

I’ve always been an illustrator, going as far back when I was 3 years old growing up in San Francisco. I was always fascinated by product labels and logos, in addition to reading comics and watching cartoons. 

LeRoid David’s digital illustrations of The Lumpia Co. of proprietors Alex Retodo and Earl “E-40” Stevens smiling and holding pieces of lumpia in each hand while wearing T-shirts with the text Eat Lumpia

LeRoid David’s digital illustrations of The Lumpia Co. of proprietors Alex Retodo and Earl “E-40” Stevens. Photo credit: courtesy of The Lumpia Co. 

I’ll always remember you would take the time, upon anybody’s request, to sign their yearbook with a personalized cartoon. 

That goes way back to elementary school. Around that age I realized that art can make a big impact. I saw the impact of creating something for someone and how it affects them emotionally. I got hooked to using art to make an impact. It gave me a feeling of wanting to do more. 

To this day, I will get a message from old classmates, even people I haven’t seen since elementary school. They would go through their closet and find something that I did for them, and I don’t even remember it! 

Tell us about your job at Tower Records and how it intersected with your SF State life.  

I started out just like a regular cashier. Slowly over time, I got involved with the visual arts team. I would assist the store artists with a lot of the signage, and that’s when I would start to apply the design techniques I learned from class.  

I stayed with Tower Records ’til the very end, which was 2006. I was able to move up and work for the regional office to do marketing and events locally for the Bay Area stores. My job was to propose music events, whether it’s album signings or even in-store performances.  

Describe a class or a moment at SF State that had a major impact on your life. 

Man, there were a lot of moments. The first thing that stands out is becoming part of DAI [the Design and Industry Department] at SFSU. It not only helped develop my skills as a designer, but it also helped me learn how to connect with my peers, learning how to network and how to be a better communicator. 

The second thing at State was being part of FilGrad, the student-run Filipino graduation. At State I solely focused on my major and what I needed to do to graduate. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to take other classes such as Ethnic Studies. I knew that SF State had a very strong Ethnic Studies program, especially when it came to Filipino American history, so I joined FilGrad as a way to connect with the Filipino American community. 

Of course at the very end, we held a very special fundraiser: We hosted the premiere of the “Lumpia” movie at SF State. It was crazy, man, it was. It was a sold-out, standing-room crowd.

I’m a second-generation Filipino American. My parents immigrated to the U.S. when they were really young, so I didn’t grow up speaking Tagalog. I only knew what being Filipino was to food, pretty much. It wasn’t until my later years, and again, especially at SF State, where I learned about Filipino American history. 

I saw that, as artists, that we, too, can also create — and be part of that history, too. 

Learn more about SF State’s School of Design

Student-curated art exhibition on campus celebrates farmworkers, exposes their struggles

Brianna Montserrat Miranda helms ‘Essential,’ on display in the Fine Arts Gallery through Sept. 2 

While essential workers were acknowledged in the COVID-19 pandemic, a new student-curated exhibition at San Francisco State University celebrates farmworkers and builds awareness of their continuing inhumane working conditions. 

“Essential” opens on Saturday, Aug. 12, with a reception from noon to 4 p.m., in the Fine Arts Gallery. It is open Tuesdays – Fridays from noon to 4 p.m. through Saturday, Sept. 2. Admission is free. 

As guest curator, San Francisco State student Brianna Montserrat Miranda has crafted a mix of contemporary art and poetry exploring relationships between labor, injustice, family and community. The nine artists include SF State alumnus Juan R. Fuentes, contributing a woodblock print titled “Mayan Warrior.” Historic works from the SF State Labor Archives and Resource Center will also be on display. 

Miranda hopes that “Essential” makes people more mindful of the labor involved before produce makes it to the grocery store. 

“I want our voices, our struggle and our experiences to be heard and respected,” she said. 

Miranda, an Art History major and Museum Studies minor, has deep family roots in agricultural work.  

“I’m a first-generation Mexican American woman, born to parents who immigrated to the U.S. at a young age,” she said. “Both sets of my grandparents have at one point or another worked in farm labor, as well as my parents. In fact, my grandparents are still actively working — my grandpa in the fields and my grandma at a sorting factory.

Juan R. Fuentes’ “Mayan Warrior” is a diptych woodcut depicting a Mayan image with the United Farm Workers of America logo and a farmworker crouching down to pick crips

“Mayan Warrior” by Juan R. Fuentes (2011)

“I also worked for a short while at a sorting factory, as have some of my relatives who are around my age,” Miranda added. “I’m from the Central Valley, where about 25% of the country’s food is produced — but most importantly, I’m from a small farming, low-income community that is often under-represented and overlooked.” 

Each semester, students in Lecturer Faculty Kevin B. Chen’s “Exhibition Design” class create a proposal for an original exhibition, but this is the first time that the Fine Arts Gallery has selected one for its shows of professional, non-student artists.  

“We have been so impressed with Brianna’s artistic sagacity and commitment to sharing lived experiences with our community at SF State, shedding light on the hard labor necessary to provide food on all of our tables,” Chen said. “Collaborating with her has been a highlight of the year!”

Sharon E. Bliss, the Fine Arts Gallery director, says she is excited for visitors to experience what came from Miranda’s vision: “Watching her bring ‘Essential’ to fruition — from planning meetings through studio visits with artists and working with essayist Marcial González and graphic designer Madeline Ko — has been an amazing journey, and now we’re just getting started with sharing it with a public audience.” 

Major support for “Essential” is provided by the Zellerbach Family Foundation and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. 

“Receiving the opportunity to curate ‘Essential’ has definitely been the most pivotal moment I’ve had at SF State,” Miranda said. “I’m still a little shocked but most really grateful for the opportunity. I know how important this exhibition is for me, my family and the Latino/a/x community who have experienced the effects of the agriculture business in the U.S.” 

Learn more about SF State’s School of Art. 

 

Alum designs FDA-authorized app to treat fibromyalgia symptoms

Nelson Mitchell developed his design mind as a graduate student at SF State 

Learning to design furniture at San Francisco State University can lead to more careers than one may expect. For Nelson Mitchell, his master’s degree was the pathway to creating an innovative mobile app to treat fibromyalgia. 

Mitchell, a user-experience designer, is head of design and co-founder of Swing Therapeutics. Earlier this year the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) authorized its app, Stanza, to be marketed to treat symptoms of fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition that affects 10 million Americans. It is the first fibromyalgia digital therapeutic approved by the FDA. Available only by prescription, Stanza employs a form of cognitive behavioral therapy called acceptance and commitment therapy. It has proven effective in extensive randomized controlled trials and real-world studies, with 73% of patients demonstrating improvement in symptoms. 

Stanza provides patients with a customized schedule of treatment, incorporating practices such as mindfulness and self-reflection throughout their daily routine. “It’s the therapist in your pocket,” Mitchell said.  

Nelson Mitchell smiles while standing in front of a brick wall on a foggy day

Mitchell (M.A., ’10) entered San Francisco State as smartphones started to become a near necessity for daily life. Faculty and students already knew that enduring product design concepts would be key to success in the mobile software space. 

“I was designing chairs and lamps and stuff like that, but SF State’s program was really great at teaching me the design process and how to think like a designer — how to come up with a hypothesis, test, iterate and refine the idea,” Mitchell said. “I took that and applied it to software and interface design.” 

School of Design faculty such as Ricardo Gomes, Shirl Buss, Hsiao-Yun Chu and Nancy Noble gave Mitchell the tools and the freedom to explore his interests in depth. 

“I felt like I had a new kernel, a new framework,” he said. “SF State gave me the chance to build it — and really build it in a way that I understood it. It’s like the difference between owning a bike and having someone else fix it versus being able to take it apart and put it back together.” 

At his company, Mitchell is spreading the word about the Gator work ethic: “Nobody is going to work as hard for you as graduates from SF State,” he told his team. “These are people that we need to create opportunities for.” 

One of Swing Therapeutics’ first in-house software engineers, Mantasha Khan, joined the company after completing her Computer Science degree from SF State. Khan (B.S., ’21) has a passion for creating technology solutions for health. She notes that Lecturer Jose Ortiz-Costa’s “Introduction to Database Systems” course provided her with an invaluable foundation of skills. 

“I’ve been meaning to reach out to [Ortiz-Costa], just throw it out there, [to say that] you have helped me so much,’” said Khan, who attended SF State as an international student from India. “Everything you have taught has been helping me every single day in my work, so I’m very grateful.”  

Learn more about the SF State School of Design and Computer Science Department

‘Finding Filipino’: Renowned comics artist discovered herself attending SF State

Rina Ayuyang’s new graphic novel and comic posters explore Filipino American culture and history — including on campus 

One evening in the 1990s, Rina Ayuyang was passing through the Creative Arts building at San Francisco State University. In a small recital hall, she discovered a Filipino ensemble performing a ballad, “Dahil Sayo (Because of You).” She recognized the song because her parents would dance to it in the living room of her childhood home. 

“I lived near campus and would walk down the halls a lot, and I’d just stumble upon things that were happening,” Ayayung recalled. “It was a very film-noir scene actually, this woman singing this Filipino romantic ballad that I just came and found myself in. And it was a very magical experience.”  

It was one of the many life-changing experiences for Ayuyang at San Francisco State to influence her as a comics artist and shape her as a human being. 

New graphic novel 

“The Man in the McIntosh Suit” (Drawn and Quarterly, 2023) is Ayuyang’s new graphic novel, presenting a Filipino American take on the Great Depression. Mistaken identities, speakeasies and lost love intersect from strawberry farms on the Central Coast to Manilatown in San Francisco. 

Kirkus Reviews writes: “Ayuyang spins a captivating tale that is both an homage to starry-eyed Hollywood movies of the period and a corrective that highlights the anti-Asian racism faced by immigrants as well as the thriving communities they formed.” 

Throughout her work, Ayuyang (B.A., ’98) aims not only to increase representation of Filipino Americans in the arts, but awareness of their key roles in U.S. history. 

“We always feel like we’ve come a long way, but there are still things that need to be addressed. We like to bury things in our history that aren’t as pretty,” Ayuyang said. “I feel like as an artist, we need to continue to use our platform to share ideas, motivate and inspire.” 

‘Finding Filipino’ and the ‘CIA’ 

Ayuyang was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and chose to attend SF State because she had deep family roots in the Bay Area. She majored in Art with an emphasis in Conceptual and Information Arts, an experimental program where she says everybody made their own rules and embraced a do-it-yourself ethos that prepared her well for a career in comic arts. 

“They called it the ‘CIA’,” Ayuyang said. “It was a little fun rag-tag artist operation going on. It had this grassroots feeling that felt very San Francisco, bohemian-like. It was very much my jam.” 

The courses that Ayuyang took in the College of Ethnic Studies from professors such as Dan Begonia taught her about the hidden histories of Filipino farmworkers and activists in California. She met lifelong friends in the Asian American Studies Department and participated in the Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor, a student organization.  

SF State has had such an impact on Ayuyang that she dedicated a comic to the University in her new poster series, “Finding Filipino.” Presented by the San Francisco Arts Commission for the Art on Market Street Poster Series, the nine posters are on display at 30 bus shelters in downtown San Francisco through June.  

On the “Finding Filipino at SF State” poster, she shares her Gator story: “Here, I learned that I was more than a ‘model minority,’ that I could be an artist, a writer, an athlete — anything I wanted to be.” 

Learn more about the SF State School of Art and College of Ethnic Studies

Student enjoys Beltway life in internship with Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute

Lluvia Castillo is passionate about a career in public service, beginning in her hometown near the California/Oregon border 

A San Francisco State University student received real-life civics lessons on the Beltway every day this semester, thanks to her participation in a leadership program. Selected for The Fund for American Studies’ Capital Semester internship, Lluvia Castillo worked at the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C. 

As an administrative intern, Castillo served as the assistant to Mary Ann Gomez Orta, CEO of the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, a nonprofit organization founded by members of Congress to advance the Hispanic community’s economic progress with a focus on social responsibility and global competitiveness. Castillo shadowed the CEO at meetings and events with elected officials, took notes and updated financial documents. When not at work, Castillo took classes at George Mason University and lived several blocks from the U.S. Capitol. She also enjoyed visiting the historic monuments and having the opportunity to meet Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Latina to be elected to Congress, and others. 

“Not only do they work with a lot of people in diverse backgrounds, but with Congress,” Castillo said. “I felt like I can learn new skills and take them back home and implement them in my community. That way I can help my community out.” 

Castillo, a Political Science major, plans to pursue a career in public service, beginning in her hometown of Dorris. The agricultural town in rural Siskiyou County sits along Highway 5 near the Oregon border. It is in California, but geographically and culturally a world away from San Francisco. Its population is 860 according to the U.S. Census, down 8% from 2010. Castillo describes the area as lacking overall support for its immigrant farmworker population in addition to convenient access to healthful food and other resources. 

“People have to drive if they want to even get fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, fresh anything. We would have to drive up to Oregon,” said Castillo, a first-generation college student. 

This summer, she’ll go home to Dorris and volunteer with Ore-Cal Resources and Conservation Development, where she has helped develop a community garden, before returning to SF State for her final year. 

She says a San Francisco State class, “The Politics of Immigration in the United States” taught by Professor of Political Science Ron Hayduk, motivated her to pursue a career in public service.  

“He’s the reason why I’m here in D.C. He would email us about internships, and he was that professor,” Castillo said. “His way of listening and encouraging us was one thing that changed me. He was out there pushing us, but also teaching us why immigration is important and why we should go out there and do things for the people who don’t have any voices.” 

Learn more about the SF State Political Science Department.