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Celebrating 2017 Doctoral Graduates

The highlight of the year is a Graduation Celebration for doctoral candidates who will be hooded at the spring commencement ceremony.

During the celebration on May 11, after introductory remarks by the Director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig, nine of the graduating students offered insights about their transformational doctoral journey.

Sally Monical: Keep your eyes open and look at the path

Malika Hollinside: I needed a program that would allow me to maintain my integrity and my desire for change, my edge to be radical and to impact the system in dramatic ways

Roderick Hayes: Gratitude is the word I would use to reflect on my experience

Daniel DeVere: Having other cohort members to bond with, socialize with, and sometimes commiserate with certainly helped to lighten the load

Robert Johnson: Anything can be achieved with hard work

Bouchaib Benmira: I’m looking forward to making change in people’s life

Steve Roberson: Helping young men and women change their lives

Katrina Pimentel: Always room for improvement, even with a doctoral degree

Nazia Mostafa: My work in the field of education is most certainly not over


Governor appoints EdD Alumnus to Community College Board of Governors

phanGov. Jerry Brown has appointed Man Phan, Ed.D., a cohort 4 alumnus of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership program, to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors.

His two-year term ends January 15, 2019. He is a faculty member at Cosumnes River College in Elk Grove, working directly with our students as a professor of business and marketing since 2012.

“We are thrilled the governor has selected Man Phan to join the Board of Governors,” said CCC Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley in a statement. “Man is highly regarded by colleagues and students alike and is dedicated to our system’s mission of expanding access, improving graduation rates and increasing our students’ social mobility. He will be a strong leader for our system and advocate for our 2.1 million students. I am pleased to welcome him to our board.”

In addition to Phan’s work at Cosumnes River College, he was a business development manager at Steinberg Architects from 2008 to 2012 and at Carrier Johnson and Culture from 2004 to 2008. Phan also served as a legislative assistant with the San Diego County Board of Supervisors from 2001 to 2003 and the San Diego City Council in 1998. Prior to receiving his doctorate at Sacramento State, Phan earned a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of San Diego School of Business.

Sac State study of dropouts identifies contributing factors

screen-shot-2017-03-03-at-4-28-11-pmWhat causes students to drop out of college? Is it mental health concerns, finances, social pressures, health concerns, keeping up with coursework, the demands of family and work, or a combination?

Suspecting that personal and academic factors play a large role, researchers at California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State) spoke with former students to identify specific reasons many are leaving the university, either temporarily or permanently.

Searching for insight that could lead to new policies to help prevent students from dropping out and increase their odds of success, the researchers reached out to 14,000 former undergraduates who disenrolled either permanently or temporarily between 2009-2015. Personal interviews and focus groups were conducted with 549 former students from Spring 2015 through Fall 2016.

“It is our hope Sacramento State uses the captured sentiment, voices, and suggestions of student participants to improve degree completion, particularly among the most vulnerable students,” said the report, co-authored by Dr. Carlos Nevarez, Ph.D., and doctoral candidate Katrina Pimentel. “Illuminating Personal Factors Contributing to the Trajectory of Student Dropouts and Stopouts” was published in Volume 6.1 of the Journal of Transformative Leadership and Policy Studies.

The first of two reports from the study examined the students’ mental health, economic, social, and health concerns. The second report focuses on the academic factors leading to student dropout and stopout.


Nearly half of the students (47%) indicated that they almost always to frequently felt overwhelmed, which may be attributed to not having the correct information or guidance to help them prepare for college. Such students rarely took advantage of support services available on campus, perhaps because they didn’t know about them.

Twenty percent of the students said that they frequently or almost always worried about their mental health, with 21 percent occasionally worried. Estimates on the prevalence of mental health issues on college campuses are as high as 30 percent. The authors recommended taking steps to reduce the stigma of seeking care for mental health issues and scaling up mental health related services.

Depression, and to a lesser degree suicide, also need to be addressed with efforts to make students aware of counseling and wellness services, and by training faculty and staff to recognize the warning signs.

While the majority of study participants were neutral to very satisfied with their financial aid, 14 percent did have enough trouble receiving sufficient aid that they were unable to cover their living expenses and tuition. Notably, 42 percent of the students reported that their jobs interfered with their studies, making it difficult for them to stay on track academically. Offering more courses in the evenings and on weekends, or online, as well as child care, were recommended, as was encouraging faculty to offer working students more flexibility in meeting class requirements.

Loneliness and other concerns about their social life were less of a problem for the students, but more than half (58%) admitted worrying about family issues that made it difficult to concentrate on their studies. The majority of study participants said they never or rarely used alcohol or drugs, which could be attributed to their age or the university’s strict policies.

The authors said they recognize Sacramento State has made deliberate efforts to provide effective mental health services to students. This report confirms the need to continue extending campus-wide efforts to support students in distress. This study makes it clear the primary reason students are dropping out and stopping out. It is not for academic reasons—it has to do with students’ mental/emotional health, said Dr. Nevarez.

The full report is available at, under the JTLPS Journal tab.







JTLPS Journal launch party March 8

screen-shot-2017-03-02-at-12-31-15-pmThe Sacramento State Doctorate in Educational Leadership is pleased to invite you to the Journal of Transformative Leadership & Policy Studies Issue 6.1 Launch Party at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 8 in the University Union Walnut Room.

Please RSVP here.

The journal, sponsored by the California State University’s Chancellor’s Office and the system’s 16 Education Doctorate programs, publishes peer-reviewed studies for the educational leadership and policy community in California and beyond.

We invite you to join the doctoral community and editors of the Journal as they launch the latest issue. The event also honors the contributions of Dr. Juliana Raskauskas, co-author of one of the issue’s reviewed books on the topic of bullying.

For any questions, please contact the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at or call (916) 278-2282.

Equity expert Darrick Hamilton to speak March 3

Darrick Hamilton is director of the doctoral program in public and urban policy at The Milano School of International Affairs, The New School, New York.

Why do highly educated, high-achieving black Americans still exhibit large economic disparities? Equity expert Darrick Hamilton, director of the doctoral program in public and urban policy at The Milano School of International Affairs, The New School in New York, comes to Sacramento State March 3 to discuss how the politics of personal responsibility and “neoliberal paternalism” tropes discourage public responsibility for the conditions of the poor and black Americans, instead encouraging punitive measures toward poor and black Americans.  His talk is 5-6 p.m. in Mariposa Hall 1001.

During his talk, “The Political Economy of Race and Education:  Why Economic Disparity Persists Even for High Achieving Black Americans,”  Dr. Hamilton will introduce an alternative frame — stratification economics — to better understand this paradox, and ultimately explore how the potential physical and psychological costs of stigma and individual agency in the context of racist or stigmatized environment may explain the limited role of education and income as a protective factor for blacks relative to whites.

RSVP for the free event at

Dr. Hamilton is a faculty research fellow at the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at The New School, co-associate director of the Cook Center on Social Equity, and the immediate past-president of the National Economic Association (NEA). He is a stratification economist, whose work fuses scientific methods to examine the causes, consequences and remedies of racial and ethnic inequality in economic and health outcomes, which includes an examination of the intersection of identity, racism, colorism, and socioeconomic outcomes. His scholarly contributions are evidenced by numerous peer reviewed publications, book chapters in edited volumes; opinion-editorial and popular press articles, funded research, public lectures, presentations and symposiums, service to professional organizations, and regular appearance in print and broadcast media.

Dr. Hamilton’s selected publications related to the topic:

Bilingual educators introduced to ‘Stories of Success’ to help immigrant students

(l-r): Dr. Rose Borunda, Olivia Gallardo, and Veronica O’Campo, at the California Regional Conference for Parents and Para-Educators

Veronica O’Campo, College Coordinator for the Migrant Education Advisor Program (MEAP), co-presented with Dr. Rose Borunda at the California Regional Conference for Parents and Para-Educators at the Sacramento Arden West Hilton on January 25. They presented to 20 Spanish-speaking paraeducators and parents about the recently completed bilingual publication, “Cuentos de Exito/Stories of Success.” The publication presents, side-by-side in Spanish and English, the story of an immigrant family’s challenges in getting to know and understand the educational system in the United States.

A lively discussion at the conference fostered knowledge about this free publication, which is available on the EDD Faculty Webpage. Participants were encouraged to share the publication with their friends, family and coworkers so that the story — which is a weaving of qualitative data from two CSUS doctoral dissertations by Dr. Fermin Irigoyen and Dr. Viridiana Diaz — can be credited for their foundational work.

While attending the one-day conference, Ms. O’Campo and Dr. Borunda connected with Dr. Borunda’s University of San Francisco doctoral mentor, Dr. Olivia Gallardo, retired faculty from CSU East Bay who is now working for P2Inspire. Dr. Gallardo and members of one of the Spanish speaking groups from Project Inspire in Los Angeles, along with MEAP Advisors from the Sacramento region, vetted “Cuentos de Exito” prior to publication.

Co-Authors of “Cuentos de Exito” will next present at the National Association of Chicana/o Scholars in Irvine, California. Dr. Borunda is a Professor and M.S. in Counseling and a member of the core faculty of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at Sacramento State.


Foster youth a focus of alum’s new charter school


Another alumnus of the Sacramento State Doctorate in Educational Leadership is creating change to benefit students. Cesar Castaneda, Ed.D., who graduated with Cohort 6 in 2015, is the co-founder and director of business operations for Atkinson Academy Charter School in the Sacramento area.

Building on his dissertation research, Dr. Castaneda helped design the school’s educational program and charter petition, which was granted by the San Juan Unified School District in January 2016. Atkinson Academy Charter School opened in August.

The school’s mission is to empower students to achieve their highest potential. The online format provides many students with the flexibility they need.

Foster youth, in particular, benefit from the school’s format. California identifies foster youth as one of three populations named “targeted disadvantaged pupils” due to their low achievement. Atkinson Academy’s goal is to help all of our students gain the core belief and the value that education adds quality to their life, Dr. Castaneda said.

“With socio-emotional techniques to engage typical vulnerable students, we hope to gain the trust and build strong relationships that would create transformation in our students through high expectations and leadership invested in change.

“The greatest achievement that I feel we can accomplish,” he said, “is to make a difference in a person’s life in a way that impacts and transforms them from who they are to what they want to be.”