2023 Historically Black College and University Tour Experience

This year, over spring break, ten Skyline College students were selected to attend a tour of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) on the east coast of the United States. Skyline College was joined on the tour by a collective of students from Cerritos College in Southern California and all three schools in the Contra Costa Community College District: Contra Costa Community College, Diablo Valley Community College and Los Medanos Community College. The tour spanned four states and municipalities over the course of five days, visiting Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and the nation’s capital, Washington D.C.

The purpose of this experience is to highlight the partnership between the California Community College system and HBCUs. Currently, there are 39 partner HBCUs with transfer articulation agreements that allow Black students, and others, to successfully finish their undergraduate degrees in a setting that is antithetical to the experience at a traditional four-year university. Touring the campuses of Morgan State University, Bowie State University, Delaware State University, Lincoln University and Howard University, students were exposed to available resources and spoke with campus representatives about the history and culture of these institutions.

Other stops on the tour included cultural immersion experiences including the Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore, in addition to visits to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Lincoln Memorial Monument and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Monument in Washington D.C. From the student reflections, one student wrote “I learned about the history of slavery in America, their hardship and how they have to remain strong in order to survive in this society. It was so heartbreaking when I read those stories at the museum exhibits. Also, we saw how hard African Americans have had to fight back to gain equal rights…I don’t regret applying for this experience and if I had another chance to apply, I would definitely do it again.” Another student wrote, “This tour has taught me and educated me to understand how important it is to appreciate all races of human beings, and not be judgmental. Everyone has their own life and they should be allowed to live freely.”

We would like to thank EST College Access Programs, Dr. Newin Orante, Jacquie Espino and Brianna Clay for organizing the tour and making this experience possible. We would also like to thank all of the wonderful professionals from across the four participating colleges that provided support to make this an even more memorable experience.

Article by Michael Stokes and Christopher Wardell | Photos by Michael Stokes, Christopher Wardell, and Experience Bowie State (@experiencebowiestate)

De-stress for the Month of May

For students, May is the month to pull all-nighters and write papers or cram for exams.  For faculty and staff, the tension to meet deadlines and students’ needs become more challenging as the student interactions increase.   It is that final push to the end of the Spring semester’s finish line before one can finally take a breath.  With increasing tension to meet deadlines and prepare for exams, this type of prolonged stress can increase anxiety and other negative affects to the mind and body.  Participating in activities that allow one to ease those anxieties and rest the mind helps improve one’s mental well-being.  Lowering stress helps students to retain information and perform better during exams.  While for faculty and staff, the work morale increases.  In collaboration with Active Minds Club, the Skyline College Library provided activities and hosted events to encourage our Skyline College community to take a break. 

Active Minds Club hosted the “Slime Decorating & Spin Art!” event on May 2nd and “Making Sensory Bottles!” event on May 3rd.  These activities in the library helped students take a break and enjoy creating different types of slime art and sensory bottles. 

In celebrating De-stress Week during the week of May 15, games, puzzles, and Legos were provided for students to take a break from their studies.  On May 16, the Library partnered again with the Peninsula Humane Society (PHS) Volunteer Program.  Therapy dogs Jethro the black lab mix, Buddy the Great Pyrenees mix, and Gracie the Australian Shepherd visited from 1:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m. and gave students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to pat and cuddle their stress away.  On May 18, PAT cat Pumpkin the Ragamuffin also helped the Skyline College community take a break and de-stress around 1:00 p.m. until 2:15 p.m.  Since de-stressing with furry friends has been clinically proven to make one feel better, these two events helped over 100 participants to smile and relax.  Right after the Therapy Dogs visit, students and faculty joined Adjunct Librarian Jessica Silver-Sharp in the classroom to “Take a Tea Break” and practiced mindful meditation while taking in their Jasmine tea and learning the history behind such practices.  Visitors were also encouraged to participate in the interactive activity, which included writing the word “tea” in one’s own language and learning about the history of tea and Boba.

These activities and events would not be possible without the collective efforts of Library Director Gabriela Nocito and Librarian – Outreach and Equity Coordinator Pia Walawalkar, Skyline College Personal Counselor and Active Minds Club advisor Perry Chen and Active Minds club members, PHS Volunteer Program, Adjunct Librarian Jessica Silver-Sharp, ASLT Instructional Aide II Sherri Wyatt, TLC Retention Specialist Raymon Gutierrez, Learning Commons Instructional Aide II Monique Ubungen, and student assistants Harry Tun and Jonathan Zhang.  Also, thank you to all of the Skyline College community for supporting holistic approaches for developing a healthier campus environment.

Article by Sherri Wyatt | Photos by Sherri Wyatt

Skyline Students Attend 28th Annual MESA Leadership Retreat

Skyline students Leonardo Calle, Emanuel Gonzalez and Aaron Torres Mendoza were part of the 160 and staff representing California Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) Community College programs throughout the state, at the 28th annual MESA Leadership Retreat that took place March 31 through April 2.  The retreat took place near Santa Cruz at the Happy Valley Conference Center, surrounded by redwood trees just after all the stormy weather. 

It was a meaningful networking event for students that got to meet peers and potential future colleagues who came from community colleges across California.  They spent three days with other students who shared experiences in their personal and educational journeys. They were inspired by keynote speaker Sonia Bustos Barocio’s journey from Los Medanos College to Stanford graduate school. They got to attend workshops on Arduino-based programming, engineering design and renewable energy. Students also had fun meeting new friends around the campfire or stargazing, checking out the Mystery Spot or participating in the STEM-athlon. 

The students were excited to share their experience with the Skyline College community, during a Science in Action presentation on April 11. They interviewed all the participants from Skyline College and College of San Mateo and shared their reflections in a video they shared during the presentation. 

If you have any questions about the MESA program at Skyline College, please reach out to Emilie Hein (heine@smccd.edu) and Denise Hum (humd@smccd.edu). 

Article by Leonardo Calle, Emanuel Gonzalez, Aaron Torres Mendoza, Emilie Hein and Denise Hum

nEXO Group Wraps Up Its Second Year

After a Fall 2022 semester marked by travel to the 2022 APS DNP Conference in New Orleans, the Skyline College nEXO group continued its outreach more locally by presenting at Expanding Your Horizons (EYH), as well as uSOAR. The group was also honored to welcome Dr. Paul Gueye during his tour of the INSIGHT sites.   

EYH is a conference for 6th through 12th grade young women that has been held at Skyline College annually since 1980. Conference participants get to learn about career opportunities in math and science, as they conduct lab experiments, wire high-tech phone systems, examine microscopic creatures, and design their own computer software. Each girl attends three hands-on workshops during the all-day conference.

The Skyline nEXO group was very well represented at this year’s EYH, held on Saturday, March 18.  Sara Ellingsworth, Carol Sanders, Paul-Frederik Schubert and Valeria Zarco, the four student trainees in the Skyline group, helped physics professor and nEXO senior collaborator Dr Emilie Hein develop and lead a workshop that they called “Particle Detectives”. This was the first time EYH was held since the COVID pandemic, and its return had been eagerly anticipated. The student trainees enjoyed sharing their knowledge of the nEXO experiment, and used their technical skills to build and demonstrate the use of cloud chambers and a Cosmic Watch. They also made a cloud in a bottle, demonstrated the circular trajectory of electrons traveling in a magnetic field, discussed the consequences of the double-slit experiment and built their own particle “detectors” using shoe box lids, magnetic and ordinary marbles, and iron filings, giving about 50 attendees an opportunity to step into the shoes of a physicist for one hour.

Caption: Cosmic Watch is a maker project for counting cosmic-ray muons. The simple, low-cost detector is based on a plastic scintillator with SiPM readout, solid state preamplification and pulse shaping, and a TDC implemented in an arduino microprocessor.  A nice feature of these devices is the built-in mini OLED display that updates the muon count in real time.

It was a fun-filled day and the conference was rewarding to both attendees and presenters. If you are interested in getting involved, you can look for EYH events in your area. To learn more about this particular workshop, feel free to contact Emilie Hein (heine@smccd.edu).

At uSOAR, nEXO was represented by Sara Ellingsworth. Sara’s presentation, Broadening Nuclear Physics: A Feminist in a Feynmanist World, examined the historical deficit of women in physics as well as progress women have made in physics and ideas to make physics more inclusive.

nEXO was also represented at Cañada’s version of uSOAR, which they call the Honors Showcase.  There, Cañada/Skyline student Chase Marangu presented his work to help nEXO scientists better understand the physics of electron transport in the SLAC Xenon Purity Monitor (XPM). This was done under the supervision of Skyline physics prof and nEXO collaboration board member Dr Kolo Wamba. Chase’s efforts represent the latest installment in a project that began last semester with Aidan Cervantes, a Skyline Honors Transfer student, who had collaborated with Prof Wamba to lay much of the theoretical groundwork.

Another of this year’s Honors Transfer students was Skyline engineering student Phone Thant Myo, who collaborated with Prof Wamba on a special circuit that will be used at SLAC to monitor the state of one of the refrigerant valves that is part of the SLAC XPM system. The experience of constructing a multi-function circuit was an immense opportunity for Phone to learn how to solder, how to draw circuit schematics, how each circuit component functions, and how to use these components to build a working circuit. The project gave Phone valuable hands-on experience and helped acquaint him with how engineering is actually done. Phone also took the opportunity to participate in EYH and found it very rewarding.

Last month, Prof Wamba had the pleasure of giving a presentation on nEXO at the departmental colloquium at the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP) at UC Santa Cruz.  Though only sparsely attended, the talk was extremely well received, and it resulted in Prof Wamba making some helpful professional contacts at UC Santa Cruz.  Two of the SCIPP faculty who attended Prof Wamba’s talk expressed a desire to collaborate further with the Skyline nEXO group, and discussed establishing a stronger pipeline to bring SMCCCD physics students to UC Santa Cruz for summer internships, transfer, or even graduate school.

Later that month, Prof Wamba went on to give a nEXO Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) seminar titled “The TMT Controversy: What it is and What it Means for nEXO”.  This presentation dealt with the embattled Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), which like nEXO is a large-scale, high dollar science project currently under development.  However, unlike nEXO, the TMT has been the subject of bitter controversy over whether it can be situated atop Mt Maunakea in Hawaii, at a site that also contains a large number of Indigenous Hawaiian religious shrines.  Although at first there were several peaceful protests against the TMT (some of the protests were even met with police crackdowns that resulted in dozens of arrests), now there is a designated body consisting of community members, religious leaders, government officials, and scientists currently in talks to reach a compromise.  Of course, nEXO is a very different sort of project than is the TMT and is very unlikely to face any of the same challenges. However, the TMT story should serve as a cautionary tale about how important it is for any sort of large scale science project to engage with the community that hosts it and take a strong stand for diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice.

Early this week, Prof Hein also gave a much-anticipated nEXO DEI seminar on a different but closely related topic: how to navigate parenthood as a physicist.  Prof Hein’s talk was an informative and entertaining look at a subject that has only recently begun to get serious attention in the physics community.  An important highlight of the presentation was the attention given to solutions, as opposed to just focusing on problems such as the “motherhood penalty.” The motherhood penalty is the phenomenon whereby a female scientist who becomes a parent experiences marked disadvantages with regards to publications, citations, and overall scientific career advancement, and this happens at a rate more than double what is experienced by scientists who become fathers.  Some of the possible solutions to issues like this that Prof Hein described include institutional policy changes, such as eliminating age-restricting language from job eligibility criteria (e.g. “must be within 5 years of completing a PhD”), and cultural shifts that enable scientists who aren’t parents to become better allies to their collaborators who are.

The end of this semester marks the conclusion of the Year 2 nEXO student traineeships, and a fresh cohort will be taking over for the 8-week summer session.  The new cohort will have the chance to participate in the twice-annual nEXO collaboration meeting which will run from June 12-15.  Following this, the 4 new trainees will attend a series of skills workshops to help develop their capabilities in hand soldering, 3D printing, designing electronic circuits, coding in python and Arduino, and advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in nuclear physics.  They will then apply the skills they learn to individual projects that will support the nEXO detector R&D taking place at Stanford and at SLAC.

It has been a terrific year for the Skyline nEXO group and the entire team is very proud of its progress.  Sara will be transferring to continue to take physics classes in preparation for an M.S. in physics. Carol will be transferring to UCSC to begin a M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Chase has been accepted for transfer to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY and will be starting there in the fall.

We look forward to even more amazing work in the coming summer and possibly beyond.  This work is supported by the US Department of Energy Office of Science, Office of Nuclear Physics, via grant award # DE-SC0021954.

Cosmic Watch: Cosmic Watch is a maker project for counting cosmic-ray muons. The simple, low-cost detector is based on a plastic scintillator with SiPM readout, solid state preamplification and pulse shaping, and a TDC implemented in an arduino microprocessor.  A nice feature of these devices is the built-in mini OLED display that updates the muon count in real time.

Article by Sara Ellingsworth, Carol Sanders, Paul-Frederik Schubert, Chase Marangu, Phone Thant Myo, Kolo Wamba and Emilie Hein | Photos by: Emilie Hein

Puente Equity Workshop Series: Empowering Faculty for Inclusive Teaching

The CTTL and the Puente Learning Community were honored to host a Spring 2023 hyflex (in-person and via Zoom) workshop series offered by the statewide Puente Project housed at UC Berkeley. During these three sessions, a variety of over 30 faculty members explored identity and intersectionality, reclaiming the STEM legacy, and promoting community care and wellness through referrals and weaving care into the curriculum.

Recognizing the importance of acknowledging and embracing students’ multifaceted identities, faculty members explored practical strategies to create a learning environment that values and celebrates diversity. STEM and other faculty joined the second session to address equity in STEM fields, exploring ways to dismantle barriers to success for marginalized students. Through interactive and collaborative discussions, faculty gained insights into nurturing a sense of belonging, passion for STEM, and empowering students to overcome challenges.

In the final training session, the focus shifted towards community care and addressing the basic needs of students through intentionally weaving nurturing and caring elements into content delivery while exploring specific strategies for creating a warm classroom environment that promotes mental health, access to essential resources, and cultivates a sense of belonging.

The Puente series encouraged faculty to reflect on their teaching practices, challenge biases, and embrace the diverse perspectives and experiences of their students. Thank you to the Puente Project, Lucia Lachmayr, Marisa Thigpen, and Andrea Fuentes for coordinating this effort.

Article by Marisa Thigpen & Andrea Fuentes with support of ChatGPT | Photos by Marisa Thigpen

Violin Class Performs at the Child Development Laboratory Center

On May 4, 2023 students from the Music Department’s Violin/Viola class performed at the Child Development Laboratory Center. The class, made up of multi-level violin students, prepared ensemble music that displayed different playing techniques and sounds involved in violin performance. To introduce the violin to the children, two of the students, Natania and Marc, explained and demonstrated the two main ways of creating sound on the instrument: playing with the bow (arco) and plucking the string (pizzicato). The violin ensemble then performed a work that demonstrated these techniques. In addition to understanding how to make sound on the violin, the children also learned to listen for the dynamics (identifying the soft and loud sounds of the violin) and clapped along to different rhythm patterns that the violinists played. During the call-and-response rhythm activity, the children in the audience were also invited to create their own rhythm patterns, which the ensemble endeavored to play back to them.

The performance ended with a set of three Scottish reels and the children were invited to dance along. Natania, a violinist who has prior Scottish fiddle experience, played two of the reels, and then the full ensemble joined in for the last, playing Largo’s Fairy Dance. The performance was a great opportunity for the students in the class to gain experience performing, especially for those newer to the instrument, and a wonderful way to share their love of music with a younger generation.

The Violin/Viola class is currently open for Fall 2023 enrollment. There are four levels of class which allows both students with no musical experience to join and learn an instrument for the first time, as well as students with past experience to continue their musical studies. Details on this class and others taught by assistant professor Elizabeth Ingber can be found in the WebSchedule.

Article by Elizabeth Ingber | Photo by Isabel Muirragui

Recap of MESA’s Boba Social Events of Spring 2023

This past year MESA hosted a series of engaging and lively STEM Club Boba Socials held in the STEM Center (Building 7, Room 7303-7307). These monthly gatherings provided an excellent opportunity for students, club members, and faculty to connect and share their achievements, and foster a sense of community within the STEM community at Skyline College.

In February, the kickoff event set the stage by showcasing the impressive fall accomplishments of STEM clubs and unveiling their exciting plans for the future, allowing students the opportunity to explore a variety of clubs. March’s gathering prioritized networking opportunities, offering exciting updates about upcoming field trips and featuring a dedicated introduction to LinkedIn, along with the chance to capture professional profile photos. As April arrived, the focus shifted to guidance on transferring and updates to Student Education Plans (SEPs), empowering attendees with essential knowledge to navigate their academic journeys effectively.

In contrast to the previous MESA Boba Socials, which primarily centered around support for STEM students, May’s event embraced the spirit of celebrating the vibrant community. The event took place on May 12th, and was started off with an engaging Ask Me Anything session featuring esteemed professors Marco Wehrfritz, Denise Hum, Emilie Hein, and Susanne Schubert. Students enthusiastically posed a range of questions, delving into topics such as their experiences as students to debating the merits of Physics, Math, and Chemistry. The Q&A session was lively and demonstrated the attendees’ curiosity and enthusiasm. The friendly atmosphere within the room created a great environment for the next portion of the event: the Talent Show!

The event commenced with an energetic performance by Rick Hough, who sang a creatively adapted version of Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” to raise awareness about the Climate Crisis. Following that, Matthew Dacanay, Leonardo Calle, Eric Linares, and Kaycee Aspacio mesmerized the audience with their rendition of Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” The entertainment continued as Qimmah Tamu showcased a captivating jazz dance performance, emphasizing the importance of taking breaks from school work. Next up was Chenran Kang, who showcased his impressive cubing skills by solving a 3×3 cube in under a minute, accomplishing the remarkable feat blindfolded and underwater. Lastly, Matthew Dacanay and Sean Ruiz concluded the event on a high note with a karaoke performance of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.” To conclude the event, MESA Directors Emilie Hein and Denise Hum brought attention to the Transfer Tree where students can put their name and the university they’re transferring to as a way to celebrate Skyline’s outgoing students.

From captivating performances to impressive feats, the last boba social of the Spring 2023 semester truly ended with a bang. As the academic year draws to a close, the MESA Boba Socials leave a lasting impact, serving as a testament to the thriving STEM community at Skyline College. Although this is the last boba social of the semester, there will be more to come in Fall 2023! Make sure to stay tuned by following MESA on Instagram @skyline_mesa!

Article by Sean Ruiz, Aaron Torres Mendoza, Denise Hum, Emilie Hein

Skyline College Spring Musical HEATHERS, Grows Audiences and Awareness

On April 20, 21, 22 and 23, 2023, the Dance, Drama, and Music Departments presented HEATHERS, THE MUSICAL at Skyline College in six sold-out performances. Adeptly adjusting to supply chain delays with the main Theater rigging retrofit project, the musical team moved the production into the Art Gallery, which was transformed into an intimate 95-seat black box space by Josh Harris, Theater Events Manager and production Technical Director. The staging and musical accompaniment were modified to fit in the temporary theater space by Director and Choreographer Gary D. Ferguson and Music Director Jude Navari. The exceptional cast of 28 students (lead roles were double-cast) roused audiences with a pop-rock score featuring energetic production numbers and heart-wrenching ballads. The production was enthusiastically received by appreciative audiences.

Photo by Yesika Wong-Sanchez

Due to the timely and difficult issues the show depicts, such as teen violence, bullying, suicide, and sexual assault, the show directors collaborated with Perry Chen, Skyline College Personal Counselor and advisor of the Active Minds Club, to host an event on April 12, 2023 titled “Weaving and Watching Difficult Stories: A Conversation about Bullying, Suicide, Sexual Assault, and School Violence as depicted in HEATHERS, the Musical.”

Photo by Chris Woo

This event featured a ’sneak peek’ of a challengingly-themed number from the show, followed by a panel discussion with student performers, the production director Gary D. Ferguson, Active Minds student president, Jewel Ocampo and Perry Chen, campus mental health professional. Psychology Professor Jennifer Merrill, advisor for Psi Beta the Psychology Honor Society, led the discussion with students, staff, and guests. Special thanks to Perry, Active Minds, Jennifer, and the Psi Beta Psychology Club for assisting with refreshments at the weekend shows.

Photo by Chris Woo

Extra special thanks to the amazing Chris Woo, SS/CA Program Services Coordinator, for setting up and running our front of house/box office and for organizing and directing the 2 opening night gala receptions in our newly-renovated Music Hall (Rm. 1-111)! Spring musical information and updates can be found at https://skylinecollege.edu/music/springmusical.php

Article by Chris Woo | Photos by Yesika Wong-Sanchez and Chris Woo

SUHSD College and Career Day

Strategic Partnerships & Workforce Development (SPWD) and partners from Skyline College hosted a successful College and Career Day on May 10, 2023. This event was designed to engage Culinary and Health Science students from Woodside HS, Menlo Atherton HS, and Sequoia HS.

The event began with a welcoming message from Dr. Lauren Ford, Interim Dean of SPWD, and a keynote presentation by Jenem Martin, Director of Bon Appetit Management. Martin shared valuable insights into the food industry, captivating the audience. Other engagement included culinary students experiencing plant-based cooking from The Vegan Hood Chefs, Ronnishia Johnson and Rheema Calloway, and getting to explore their food truck. Health Science students gained practical training in surgical and respiratory care from Professor Franciosa Deal and Heather Esparza, Director of Allied Health.

The high school students also participated in mock interviews and received constructive feedback from professionals. A panel discussion featuring six accomplished Skyline College students – William Hernandez, Sara Morrison, Daniel Giraldo Aristizabal, Armand Benedicto, Serena Ng and Nina Kelley – provided insights on college life and career preparation. Rouding out the event, approximately 80 students left with renewed excitement for their career paths. Skyline College remains committed to bridging the academic and the professional worlds together to enhance student success.

Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Lauren Ford, Jenem Martin, Ronnishia Johnson, Rheema Calloway, Faith Velschow, Heather Esparza, Franciosa Deal, Robert J. Lopez Jr., Alexa Moore, Brittney Sneed, Jasmine Jaciw, Angelique Fuentes, Derek Allenby, Jeremy Evangelista, and our six student panelists—William Hernandez, Sara Morrison, Daniel Giraldo Aristizabal, Armand Benedicto, Serena Ng and Nina Kelley. This event empowered the visiting high school students with valuable knowledge.

Article by Walter Manuofetoa and edited by Christopher Wardell | Photos by Angelique Fuentes, Jasmine Jaciw and Walter Manuofetoa

Job Opportunities

How may we assist you in landing your dream job? The Career Readiness & Job Placement team is excited to share the following job opportunities with you. Check them out!

Whether you’re interested in short- or long-term career planning, the Career Readiness & Job Placement team offers a variety of services and career readiness experiences to assist you with your specific career needs. If you want to work with a Job Placement Coordinator, please fill out this brief welcome form and someone will contact you soon to schedule an appointment!

Article by Alexa Moore