Stories From Sonoma

Introducing a new series of exciting stories from Sonoma State
October 31, 2022
Stories from Sonoma State University

Stories From Sonoma

Alex Vasquez

Physics Graduate Alex Vasquez was awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Fellowship.

Roman Gallardo

Roman Gallardo is pursuing his Ph.D. at University of Chicago.

Serina Cabrera

Serina Cabrera earned the top CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Jessica Valdez

Jessica Valdez attended a roundtable discussion with Vice President Kamala Harris.

Stories from Sonoma State University
Alex Vasquez
Roman Gallardo
Serina Cabrera
Jessica Valdez

There is a new chapter and new energy happening here at Sonoma State University. With the Fall semester well underway, our vibrant campus community is bustling once again with thousands of students continuing their journey to becoming global thinkers and future thought leaders. 

Dr. Ming Tung “Mike” Lee recently began his tenure as the new leader of SSU – bringing a wealth of higher education experience and a brave new vision for the future of our Noma Nation community. 

“Sonoma State is truly a jewel of the California State University system,” Lee wrote to the campus community. And in a recent in-depth interview with the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Lee also emphasized how he sees the liberal arts as essential to “enriching a person’s life,” as it helps students “become better critical thinkers. They are more creative, better able to learn new things.”

The Press Democrat’s feature profile details Lee’s upbringing in Taiwan where his father had three years of schooling and his mother was illiterate. But as their son loved books, Lee’s parents scrimped and sacrificed to buy books and school supplies for him. Those sacrifices reinforced Lee’s determination to pursue his education all the way to earning a Ph.D.

Lee’s 30 years in leadership roles at Sacramento State give him the chops to take the helm at Sonoma State, the Press Democrat concluded.

Student Success Stories

The academic accolades keep adding up for the SSU community. Physics Graduate Alex Vasquez was awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Fellowship. “One of the most important things for me is the ability to focus on my strengths and interests, not my challenges,” said Alex, who was diagnosed with autism when he was 6 years old. His remarkable journey was the inspiration for SSU’s NASA program for autistic students. Read his inspiring story here.

And for SSU McNair Scholar, Roman Gallardo, the sky is no longer the limit. The 2019 SSU Psychology graduate remembers a time when he didn’t know the difference between community college and university. Now a Ford Foundation and National Science Foundation Fellow, the first-generation Latino student is pursuing his Ph.D. at University of Chicago. Overcoming a fear of heights was the first step for Roman to jump  feet first into a future that he credits his time at Sonoma State as establishing a solid foundation.

While SSU alumni like Roman and Alex are off changing the world, so many current students are making an impact on campus in our community.

Serina Cabrera, a senior majoring in applied statistics, overcame incredible adversity to earn the top CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement for her commitment to public service and higher education. Hear how Serina overcame incredible obstacles – in her own words in this longform podcast interview.

And as the nation heads into another important election, SSU students are setting a new standard for civic action. College and university students across the country voted in the 2020 election in record-breaking numbers – and SSU students helped lead the way, according to a new report out of Tufts University. Bucking the stereotype that young people don’t vote, 88.3% of SSU student registered voters cast ballots in 2020 – an increase from 56.9% in the 2018 election. 

Read about Jessica Valdez, a Chicano and Latino Studies major, who represented Sonoma State at the White House for a roundtable discussion with Vice President Kamala Harris.

This is just a sample of the many stories that make the SSU campus community a truly dynamic and magical place. With inspiring SSU storylines aplenty, we’re excited to share the first in this new series of #storiesfromsonoma.

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