CLA Congratulates 2019 University Achievement Award Recipients

CLA is proud of our faculty, staff and students who were this year’s award winners. Please join me in congratulating:

Outstanding Graduate Research Student Award

Olivia Silke, Psychology, College of Liberal Arts

""Olivia Silke is a second-year graduate student in the Masters of Arts in Psychology Research Program. Since beginning the program, she has completed her thesis proposal and presented nine, first authored paper and poster presentations at professional and university-based conferences. 

She continues to thrive in her program as a CSULB Graduate Research Fellow and as the American Psychological Association’s Junior Scientist Fellow. Her master’s project (built on a larger NIH-funded study) examines the role of maternal mindful disposition, or one’s ability to maintain present moment awareness, on multifaceted-stress responses. Silke’s research aims to conceptualize stress in low-income perinatal mothers and their infants by investigating multiple pathways of action, including: the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, the sympathetic adrenal medullary axis, and perceived stress. 

Silke plans to obtain her PhD in health psychology where she can expand upon this research. She aims to: address gaps in research by including diverse samples; outline biological outcomes linked with mindfulness; and increase mind-body prenatal programs in community settings. 

Having dedicated over 20 hours per week to research methodology, design, and analysis, her future as a scientific researcher is bright. 

Outstanding Undergraduate Research Student Award

Lizbeth Castillo Monterrosa, International Studies, College of Liberal Arts

""Lizbeth Castillo Monterrosa is a 4.0 GPA, International Studies major who has been welcomed into competitive programs such as the University Honors Program, the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Research Program, and the McNair Scholars Program.

She began her research journey at the end of her freshmen year when she was able to conduct ethnographic fieldwork in Costa Rica, alongside her research mentor Dr. Fouratt. They initiated a research project focused on migrants and refugees and collaborated with a local non-profit organization, RET International, to host a digital storytelling workshop. The purpose of the workshop was to show migrant youth how voicing their migration experiences can serve as foundation to addressing wider anti-immigrant sentiments.

After her time abroad, Castillo continued working on this project with Dr. Fouratt through UROP and now BUILD at CSULB. They currently find them- selves in the final stages of this work as they prepare to publish a manuscript. Through research, Castillo ultimately seeks to improve immigrant rights and refine the U.S. discourse on immigration by showing that immigration is not just a domestic issue but a global one as well. Her wider research aims also coincide with her aspiration of a future career in government.

Castillo is a first-generation student who excels in applying her skills and time outside of the classroom and eventually she hopes to pursue a JD and PhD in Public Health. Coming up next for Castillo is the GRE test, graduate school program applications and a summer internship in New Mexico. Here, she hopes to work directly with migrants and refugees at the US-Mexican border.

Outstanding Staff Award

Susan Tsuji, ASC History Department

""Susan Tsuji’s influence and dedication to CSULB has been reflected to not only her department, but to the entire campus as well. She is the department coordinator and graduate coordinator for the Department
of History, and an active member of the campus community since 2011.

“Susan is without a doubt the first ASC in my thirty years who not only inspires trust in how she carries out her responsibilities, but who combines her performance skills with humor, thoughtfulness, and kindness,” said Dr. David Shafer, chair of CSULB’s Department of History.

Currently, she is a CSULB Staff Council representative, member of the council’s Special Events Committee and is the chair of the Staff Council’s Staff Development Committee. Since she plays a key role in Staff Council, her duties range from coordinating education for staff engagement to planning staff campus events.

Tsuji also serves in the Campus Climate Committee of the Academic Senate, a General Financial Need Scholarship Application Reviewer, and formerly as the Staff Council Treasurer.

As an active volunteer in the community, Tsuji also volunteered for the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium from 2002 to 2011. During her tenure she received the Distinguished Volunteer Achievement Award by the aquarium.

Nicholas Perkins Hardeman Academic Leadership Award

Dr. Norbert Schürer, English Department

""Dr. Norbert Schürer joined the English Department at CSULB in 2003. He teaches courses and does research on literary theory, 18th-century British literature, and on major authors such as Jane Austen and
J.R.R. Tolkien. His recent publications include the anthology British Encounters with India with Tim Keirn (2011), the collection of primary materials Charlotte Lennox: Correspondence and Miscellaneous
Documents (2012), the cultural guide Berlin (2014) and the Long Beach local history study Boom and Bust: Miner Smith and his 1920s California Bungalow Mansions (2015).

He engages with students not just beyond the classroom, but beyond the country: Every other winter session he and Tim Keirn take students to India for a study-abroad experience.

Schürer was elected a member of the Academic Senate in 2008, became a member of the Executive Committee in 2014, and has been Chair of the Academic Senate since 2016. He models the importance of shared governance across all levels and divisions on campus. He worked on projects such as the General Education policy and the new CSULB definition of student success. His main interest has been improving communication on campus and ensuring that all constituents are consulted in all decision. Schürer’s success in his role as Chair has been based on his ability to maintain key collaborations in all academic environments.

Community Service Award - Staff

Mitra Baghdadi, Department Coordinator, Anthropology

""Mitra Baghdadi is involved in issues related to diversity, social justice, equity, and equality at a local and national level. She is a member and has served as Board of Directors for the Iranian-Persian American
Association of Greater Long Beach (IPAA), which aims to promote the Persian/American community’s involvement in local social events. She also runs fundraisers and donations for the Rescue Mission of
Long Beach and Homelessness Services. 

In addition Baghdadi links the CSULB Anthropology department with City Council Member Suzie Price, and the Long Beach Homeless Services. United, they research the challenges of outreach and service provision to the wide-ranging homeless population.

Baghdadi’s concerns for the community extend to national and international issues such as the travel ban. For example, in 2017 she reached out to Representative Alan Lowenthal’s office to speak about the legal and social consequences of President Trump’s so called “travel ban.” She organized a group of students to attend a town hall meeting to speak with Representative Lowenthal. Baghdadi worked to help students impacted by this Executive Order to find free legal advice and to access necessary counseling services.

As the Chair of Diversity for the American Association of University Women in state of California, Baghdadi promotes women empowerment. She developed research tools and educational programming to study and expand diversity and inclusion in membership throughout AAUW California.

One of Baghdadi’s most recent achievements is her new position as one of the staff representatives for the President’s Commission on the Status of Women. She now partakes in the Publicity & Public Relations Committee and the Colloquium Committee within the organization.

For the complete list of award recipients, please read the article:

Outreach workers are crucial to connecting homeless to services, Cal State Long Beach study finds

By EMILY RASMUSSEN | | Long Beach Press- Telegram PUBLISHED: May 14, 2019 at 8:48 pm | UPDATED: May 14, 2019 at 8:48 pm


In this Jan. 26, 2016, file photo, Shari Weaver, regional coordinator for Harbor Interfaith shakes hands with a man as she and a group of volunteers in Long Beach counted the homeless population. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press Telegram/SCNG)

People experiencing homelessness are much more likely to accept services if they feel they can trust outreach workers, a Cal State Long Beach study on homelessness found. That was one of the findings in “Meet Them Where They’re At,” a study by 26 students and two professors from Cal State Long Beach’s anthropology department, as part of a partnership with Councilwoman Suzie Price’s office (link to PDF file), to understand why some homeless people do not accept services or help. The professors who led the project, along with their students, shared the findings with the Long Beach City Council at its meeting on Tuesday, May 14.

“Research like this that can provide useful data to orient our future policy decisions,” Price said in a Friday, May 10, statement before the meeting, “and approaches to outreach could play a big role to increase the likelihood of getting people into service.” On average, it takes 17 contacts with an individual experiencing homelessness on the street to engage in services, according to the city. That number is partly what inspired Price’s office and the anthropology department to partner on the project in 2017, said Jack Cunningham, Price’s chief of staff. “I think viewing things from multiple viewpoints and disciplines is valuable,” he said last week. “There’s a lens from a social services perspective, but there are other ways of looking at it.” Anthropology department chairwoman Karen Quintiliani and department coordinator Mitra Baghdadi met with Price and spent three months working with the Homeless Services Outreach Team as pre-work before the study began. “There is a tremendous amount of work (in homeless outreach),” Quintiliani said Tuesday morning. “Changing human lives takes time and it takes people with certain qualities.”

Those qualities, she added, include compassion and respect for the homeless individuals they are trying to help. The students who participated enrolled in two classes. The first class trains students in methods for researching different people and cultures. In the second class, students studied articles and policy reports to contextualize homelessness. Quintiliani and Baghdadi, meanwhile, used their experiences with the city’s outreach teams to guide students for their own field work. Graduate and undergraduate students conducted research on the approaches that the Homeless Services Outreach Team, and other homeless outreach teams in the city, used during interactions with people experiencing homelessness. Students also interviewed people who were homeless — but now live in permanent housing – about services they did accept.

During Homeless Services’ outreach efforts in the field, students interviewed homeless people, asking questions to try to understand why some turn down services. “I think this helped our students very much,” Baghdadi said Tuesday morning. “To see in the real world how to use their education in a productive way, to be a responsible citizen. That’s our mission here, to help students realize that their education doesn’t end here in the classroom.” The experience left an impression on graduate student Thanh Nguyen, who conducted more than 40 interviews with people experiencing homelessness. “It was very enlightening for me,” he said Tuesday morning. “I had a lot of preconceived notions of homelessness and people experiencing homelessness, but after talking to them and learning about them, it really opened my eyes to how homelessness impacts people.” In total, students experienced nearly 500 homeless outreach interactions, that added up to about 450 hours total. “Just that density of data was really impressive to me,” Cunningham said. Another key finding in the study was that outreach workers were crucial in identifying, and helping, homeless individuals with hurdles to become eligible for services — such as getting an ID card, Quintiliani said. Sometimes, those hurdles included ending a relationship, or giving up a pet, she said. “This is very difficult work,” Quintiliani added. Quintiliani said she hopes the study will give the public a better understanding of how the process of connecting homeless people to services works, and the time it takes to see long-term impacts.