Alberto Ledesma discusses grad school preparation at SSU

November 14, 2017 Emily Shaheen, Staff Writer

On Nov. 9, UC Berkeley’s own Alberto Ledesma visited Sonoma State University to speak to students about the preparation process of applying to graduate school. 

Ledesma, who is the graduate diversity director for the Arts and Humanities Division of UC Berkeley’s College of Letters and Science, discussed the logistics of applying, selecting schools, and maintaining an acceptable GPA. 

Ledesma said it is crucial for students to apply to roughly 5-10 schools, which helps to increase a student’s chance of being accepted. He added that the application process takes time and students should approach it like it’s a job.

“Master’s [degrees] seem to be more preferred,” Ledesma said. “It makes you a lot more competitive.”

Some students in attendance were confused about whether they should take a gap year. 

“A gap year is very smart, but it definitely depends on what you do with your time during the gap,” Ledesma said.

One of the first steps in applying for graduate school is the general preparation of finding which university fits best, according to Ledesma. 

He said it’s always important to search for good colleges and not just a good program. 

Ledesma said students will need to make applications with a well-crafted statement of purpose and personal statement. 

According to Ledesma, it is important to begin applying as soon as possible. He added that the statement of purpose will possibly be the most important document students will write in their lives. 

To contact Ledesma for more information, send him an email at

Shared from: Sonoma State Star 

Fire-Impact Scholarship helps affected students pay for Winter Intersession classes

Shared from Sonoma State Star 

 Suzette Plumley, Staff Writer

The School of Extended and International Education is teaming up with NomaCares to provide a Fire-Impact Scholarship, which will help Sonoma State University students affected by the North Bay fires to further their education.

According to Jamie Zamjahn, the head of NomaCares, full scholarships for Winter Intersession 2018 are being offered to students who lost homes to the fires. 

During Winter Intersession, a four-unit course costs $1,180 and a three-unit course costs $885. The Fire-Impact Scholarship will cover the fee for one class, regardless of units. 

Gregory Milton, director of academic programs at Sonoma State, said the intended goal of the Fire-Impact Scholarship is “making Intercession classes more accessible for those with financial need.”

Students can apply for the scholarship now, but they must be registered with NomaCares or have documentation of how they have been affected.

Robert Eyler, dean of the School of Extended and International Education, said 50 students are currently registered with NomaCares.

Zamjahn said more than 60 students visited the NomaCares Center while it was open, and many students mentioned dropping classes for the semester. 

While the center is psychically closed, students who still need assistance can visit the Undeclared Advising Office in Salazar 1070.

All students directly impacted by the fires qualify for the scholarship. Whether a student has dropped classes or not does not affect their eligibility for the Fire-Impact Scholarship.

Eyler, Milton and Executive Director of Business and Program Operations Jason Lau first introduced the scholarship. 

The scholarship should help students to “stay on track in their academic programs and toward graduation,” Milton said.

After hearing that impacted students dropped some fall semester classes, staff at NomaCares aided Eyler in creating scholarship opportunities that would most effectively benefit these students.

Both Eyler and Milton said the scholarship aims to help students graduate the same semester they intended to prior to the fires.

Eyler acknowledged that “the fires have disrupted education plans” for many students. Some have dropped a class or the entire semester. 

According to Eyler, NomaCares and the School of Extended and International Education are hoping to provide the same scholarship to fire-affected students for Summer Session 2018. In the years following, they may continue to offer the Fire-Impact Scholarship if there are still affected students who need it.  

To apply to the Fire-Impact Scholarship, call NomaCares at (707) 664-4390 or by email at

For other Winter Intersession scholarships, visit the School for Extended and International Education’s website at 

Students voice concerns at ‘Pizza with the Presidents’

Shared from: Sonoma State Star 

September 25, 2017 Anna Burke, Staff Writer

It is not every day students can eat pizza while they ask faculty and student leaders about what is happening and what changes are ahead at Sonoma State University. 

But on Sept. 14 at noon, the Seawolf Plaza was transformed into an open forum for students to express their thoughts and concerns with campus officials. This was an attempt by the Associated Students to create a stronger bridge between students and student representatives to help recognize and solve campus issues.

“The purpose of Pizza with the Presidents is for Associated Students to work together with [Sonoma State President Judy K.] Sakaki and her cabinet to create another way for students to communicate their thoughts and concerns about our university,” said Madison Cline, vice president of finance for Associated Students.

Long tables with several stacks of pizza allowed easy access for any student to take a seat, eat lunch, and participate in a conversation about Sonoma State student issues. The tables directly faced a tent that housed the executive student leaders Jason Gorelick, Madison Cline, and Wilson Hall. President Sakaki and other members of the university cabinet were also present. A microphone in the center, as well as a handheld microphone being passed around, allowed students to easily voice and bring up issues.

Students actively participated and requested answers on several topics. Questions ranged from “How is the university responding to DACA being rescinded?” to “What measures [are being made] to address parking challenges on campus?” 

Associated Students Vice President Jason Gorelick explained the organization’s plan for DACA being rescinded. Gorelick and Senator of Diversity Edgar Sanchez will hold phone banking sessions every Friday for the next six months, along with “Know Your Rights training” in support of DACA. 

The Associated Students officials present said that after 5 p.m, reserved parking is considered general parking.


Hall encouraged those struggling to find parking to try the M lot near the Green Music Center, and said Associated Students was working with Sakaki and administrators to get better lighting for some darker parking lots. 

Many questions from the crowd focused on the struggles of graduating on time. Some of them referenced the lack of ethnic studies courses offered on campus, despite the subject being a graduation requirement, and the general education pattern setting back students from achieving four-year graduation.

Some of the Associated Students’ responses to graduation-related concerns focused on the new Graduation Initiative created by the chancellor’s office. Sonoma State was awarded $2.1 million with this new initiative in hopes to improve graduation rates. According to Hall, money will be going to full-time faculty and advisors, as well as new resource centers and transfer centers.    

Sakaki also said this year’s general education package overhaul would be reviewed, and that it is one of the things she hopes to improve.  

The rising prices of on-campus food locations, high tuition, and what some called “subpar classrooms” for the amount students are paying were also concerns vocalized at the event. 

Cline reminded students that on-campus food prices are decided by Sonoma State Enterprises and that the organization matches prices with the community to make sure they are not overcharging students. However, students were also told there are some recently changed food policies, including the ability to bring outside catering and food trucks for student organizations. 

Hall, the Associated Students president, said the organization may implement a farmers market on campus by next semester at the earliest.

For those who felt they were paying too much money for “subpar” classrooms, Gorelick explained that the new provost recently hired an associate vice president for academic resources. Gorelick gave the associate vice president a tour around campus to show him rooms that were not up to par. 

Sakaki said she has a whole new team of administrators that is working to improve these room quality-related issues.

 “We will address some of these issues,” Sakaki said. “We need to rebalance things a little bit so that every decision we make that costs money will focus on building up those labs and making sure the right faculty is here.”

Sakaki said she appreciated all the students’ feedback, since it allows student and university leadership to be more aware of student concerns. 

“We can’t be the eyes and ears. You’re the eyes and ears,” Sakaki said. “By bringing and hearing issues whether it’s parking, housing, or courses – enables us as both the student leadership and university leadership to say: who’s on that, who’s working on that, and how can we do better because, we’re always in a place to make the university better.”

Gorelick said the goal of this event was to connect with students.

“I think there’s been a history of AS and our student leadership not connecting with students beyond the elections,” Gorelick said. “Our main goal is to keep students in the loop. And one of the most important things for me is to have students be involved in their own advocacy.”

Fifth-year student Miriam Hassman said being kept in the loop was exactly what she wanted.

“I just got back from study abroad, so I missed a lot of what happened in SSU in the past year,” Hassman said. “So a lot of why I came was just to figure out what’s going on, because I’m very out of the loop.”

Hall emphasized the importance of face-to-face interaction with fellow students.

“This event allows students to know that representation is there for them and that their leaders are tangible and accessible,” Hall said. “Just to hear student concerns directly from their mouths, lets students know that their representation is paying attention, and that they have a voice and we are listening.”

Sakaki emphasized the event’s theme of admitting the need for growth and encouraged students who feel their voices are not being heard to not give into that notion.

 “Every single voice matters. Every voice and every single experience. And if you hold it in, it doesn’t help us get better,” Sakaki said. “I say that every student, every person at the university, should think about leaving the university better than it was when you got here. And the only way we’re going to get better is if we hear your voice.”

8 Tips for the First Week of Classes

Looking back at last semester like....


New school year, new you. Here are 8 helpful tips to make sure you start this semester off right: 

1. Introduce yourself to your teachers.

It may sound lame but take this seriously! Teachers actually really appreciate you taking the time after class to introduce yourselves personally to them. It shows initiative and that you’re a great student right from the start. This can later develop into a stronger relationship where you may be able to ask them later on for a letter of recommendation.

2. Develop good habits.

Establishing great study habits, like keeping yourself organized and making time to study, will often help you tremendously throughout the school year if you start this habit right away. It only take 7 days to develop a habit, so for this week do things like filling out a planner, creating folders on your laptop for each of your classes, have an organized desk space for yourself at home, and anything that makes you feel more organized and like you have your life together this semester. 

3. Get involved right away. 

It’s so easy during the first week to get involved because everyone is tabling on campus for their club or organization. Each year there are obviously a ton of new students and most people will be out looking for new people to recruit into their club/organization. Getting involved on campus is so important to your social and academic life because you meet so many people that have similar interests and, if applicable, you can put it on your resume!

4. Leave your door open.

This may sound weird, but if you're in a new living situation it's always a good idea to leave your door open at least for the first week. Having an open door is a lot more inviting for your new roommates to come by and introduce themselves or just to talk. This can build a more open and comfortable living environment, and if your roommates are leaving their doors open then it would also be a good idea for you to drop in and say hello!

5. Explore campus, or explore more of campus.

Whether its your first year or your last year, chances are you haven’t explored all of campus or there are going to be new places you’ve never seen before. Take this opportunity of not having too much on your plate yet to explore campus with your friends! After all, this is your home for the next few years, so make it feel like one! 

6. Call your parents back.

No, you’re not too cool for your parents! Accept the fact that your parents are going to be anxiously awaiting your calls back to them to hear all about your first week of classes. Make some time to let them know how school is going and that you’re doing fine! They’ll appreciate it, I promise. 

7. Get enough sleep. 

This is important! Make sure to not go crazy staying up all night with your new roommates because no one is there to tell you to be quiet and go to sleep. Sleep is essential to your success in college, and you’re going to regret it the next day in your early morning class if you don’t give your body the rest it needs. Plus, the things you learn during the day are more likely to work their way into long-term memory if you have a good night’s rest. 

8. Have FUN.

There are only so many first week’s of school that you have left, so enjoy every single one of them. You have to admit that no matter how old you are the first day of school is always somewhat exciting! 



So You're Graduating... Now What?

So You're Graduating... Now What?

2 more weeks... For some this is the best countdown of their life, and for others the time needs to slow down. Graduating from college is a huge milestone, but it's also a time of transition from everything you have ever known. I'm sure you have been asked a million times what you are doing after college. If your answer is a set career or graduate school plan after graduation, then great! If not, it's okay don't stress. Everything happens for a reason! Part of this adventure is figuring out yourself!

Cultural Graduation 2017

Cultural Graduation 2017

The Cultural Graduations are annual celebrations to honor Queer, Hispanic/Latino/Indigenous, Asian/Pacific Islander, or Black/African American communities.

There are four individual Cultural Graduation ceremonies where you will be announced and honored one by one.

The Cultural Graduation reception is where all four graduating groups will come together for a big celebration with food, a photo booth, and much more.