CAL Insight A digital news magazine

CAL Insight News Magazine

Get a new perspective on the College of Arts & Letters at SDSU. Discover news about CAL students, faculty, donors, and alumni. This new magazine highlights the stories of the people within our academic community. It gives you insight into the breadth of activities and achievements that have impact locally, nationally, and internationally.

Dean’s Welcome

With pride and gratitude, I offer you this compendium of information about the College of Arts & Letters. As interim dean, I've had the pleasure of working with exceptional faculty and staff, inspirational students and alumni, and compassionate donors who have contributed to the success of the college this year.

As this news magazine reveals, students and alumni are making a significant difference locally, nationally, and internationally.  For instance, during the summer, eight students engaged in internships in Cambodia through the Mundt Peace Fellowship, and have many stories to tell about their experiences. One CAL student was invited to join the CSU Board of Trustees, utilizing her political science knowledge, while other students harnessed their entrepreneurial spirit for good deeds.

We continue to celebrate milestones within four departments: Chicana/o Studies (50th). Women's Studies (50th), International Business (30th), and the M.F.A. in Creative Writing (30th). We invite the community to participate in the many events (through 2020) highlighting these rich resources and academic legacies. We celebrate the people who had the foresight to create these incredible programs and watch as our current students gain new insights yielding career readiness in the ever-changing world.

When CAL students achieve their educational objectives through local and international study, internships, and research, we have reason to celebrate the energy and enthusiasm of supporters like you.

Read on to learn more about the people who make CAL an exceptional liberal arts college.

Glen McClish signature
Glen McClish, Interim Dean
College of Arts & Letters

Study Abroad in Seville, Spain

Blog Post by Kevin Cotant
English & comparative literature major, international studies minor

It’s been just over a month since I arrived in my newly-beloved Spain! From the earliest of my travel days leaving San Diego and flying 5,000 miles across the globe, to the unknown extent of my allusions with what this experience would bring me has definitely come around full-circle. The period of angst revolving around the uncertainty of any solo abroad experience is a usual and normal one. For me, this was soon met with a sincere feeling of comfort and ease as I’ve grown to love this beautiful city.


Mundt Peace Fellowship Recipients Share Their Insight

San Diego State University students from a variety of disciplines engaged in eight-week internships this past summer in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, through the Mundt Peace Fellowship Program.

The internships, developed by the College of Arts and Letters with a gift from the William R. Mundt Peacemakers Fund, gave SDSU students opportunities to participate in the work of non-governmental agencies (NGO), governmental aid agencies, combined public/private aid/peace efforts, humanitarian organizations and social entrepreneurships seeking to alleviate social and economic inequalities.


Linguistics Major Armando Flores

Armando Flores was 15 years old when the Make-A-Wish Foundation was set to take his younger sister, who was suffering from leukemia, to Disney World.

But when her health turned for the worst, the trip was cancelled. Flores asked himself a question: What if there was a way to bring Disney World to his sister’s hospital room?

Fifteen years have passed, and Flores, a fourth-year linguistics major, is part of a trio Aztecs - two students and one alumnus - on the verge of making it possible.

Flores, Karina Ornelas and Nicholas Ray comprise “Lift Your Eyes,” a virtual-reality company whose headset can transform any room into anything the user desires – an exotic location, a scene in their favorite movie, a fun activity – and puts the user right in the center of the action.

"We are Make A Wish but without the risk,” Flores said.


ISCOR Student Maryana Khames

International security and conflict resolution major Maryana Khames was appointed to the California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees by Gov. Gavin Newsom in August.

In her role as a student trustee, Khames will represent more than 480,000 students from all campuses within the CSU system. The appointment is for a two-year term.

A first-generation college student who immigrated from Baghdad, Iraq, Khames has served as a student assistant at the Center for Student Success in Engineering, as well as the vice chair of the Commuter Board and as a justice on the Judicial Affairs Council for Associated Students (A.S.).

In addition, Khames has served as a marketing intern at Partners in College Success and previously served as a district representative for California State Sen. Joel Anderson from 2016 to 2017.

Khames is also a member of the Weber Honors College and Rotaract.


Perseverance and Resiliency Are Keys to Homeless Student’s Creative Journey

“Being homeless was the best thing that could have happened to me,” Renée Westbrook said, “because it altered my perspective.”

Westbrook, currently an M.F.A. student in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at SDSU, is a positive, cheerful, self-motivated woman. Prior to committing to a writer’s life, though, there were dark and challenging days. She lived in LA and Santa Monica for many months. During one 30-day period on the streets, she learned how to sleep on a bus.


Retiree Jim Dierker Connects With the “Spell and Magic” of Rhetoric to Energize his Chapter-two Career

At 69, Jim Dierker keeps moving. He recently returned from a trip to Tokyo, Japan to watch the Rugby World Cup. While in Japan, Dierker played an international rugby match with an elite Japanese all-star over-60s team, rode bullet trains, toured holy temples, and sipped Sapporo at the factory. His daughter invited him to Japan as a reward for three years of rigorous work toward his master of arts degree in rhetoric and writing studies (RWS).



50th Anniversary Community Celebration Dinner and Program
SAVE THE DATE: March 21, 2020 | Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center

For more information, visit


50th Anniversary Gender and Social Justice Festival
SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, April 25, 2020 | 10 am-6 pm
Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union

For more information, visit


A celebration took place Oct. 17-19 and coincided with the annual International Business Case Competition which brought together 12 student teams from across the nation to present their solutions to a real-world business issue facing a local company. The SDSU Fowler College of Business team came in fourth place.

Learn more about the department, by visiting International Business



A yearlong celebration of elegance and moxie featured M.F.A. faculty, students, affiliates, and alumni at The Hugh C. Hyde Living Writers' Series events, supported by the Department of English and Comparative Literature and the M.F.A. in Creative Writing Program.

To learn more about the department, visit M.F.A. in Creative Writing

Hana Creger


Hana Creger is a public policy advocate who helps develop and implement local and state-level policies to address climate change, poverty, and social injustice most directly affecting economic, social, and health outcomes for low-income communities of color. An Aztec Mentor Program (AMP) participant, she is also a philanthropic supporter of the College of Arts and Letters.

Katie Howland


Katie Howland is executive director of Millie’s Bookshelf, a San Diego-based humanitarian literacy nonprofit that installs micro libraries promoting reading programs for refugee children worldwide. As leader of San Diego’s only nonprofit operating in overseas refugee settings, she works closely with the university’s International Security and Conflict Resolution department to ensure students are exposed to career options in humanitarian-related fields.

Stuart Aitken

Distinguished Professor and June Burnett Endowed Chair of Geography

Aitken was named an AAG Fellow 2020 by the American Association of Geographers. The AAG Fellows is a program, started in 2018, to recognize geographers who have made significant contributions to advancing geography. Aitken is one of 18 geographers chosen from throughout the U.S.

For details, visit

Ramona Peréz

Professor of Anthropology, Presidential Chair of Aztec Culture and Education, Director of the Center for Latin American Studies, and Chair of the Institutional Review Board

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) membership elected Pérez to serve as president-elect/vice president (2019-2021). She began her term as president-elect/vice president at AAA’s Annual Meeting in November and will assume the office of president at the 2021 Meeting.

For details, visit SDSU NewsCenter

Roberto Hernández

Associate Professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies

Hernández was elected to a leadership position in the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS).

He will become chair for the 2020-21 term and serves as chair-elect for the prior year. Formed in 1972, NACCS is "part of an important step in demarcating Chicana and Chicano Studies as an independent discipline with its own schools of thought, professional associations advanced degree programs, and an international research scope," Hernåndez said.

For more information, visit NACCS

Sarah B. Marsh-Rebelo Excellence Fund

During an elegant morning tea service Oct. 30, five M.F.A. students in creative writing celebrated scholarships to assist them in their creative endeavors. Sarah B. Marsh-Rebelo, alumna and founder of the Excellence Fund for Poetry, read poetry from her book titled Over My Shoulder and listened to students read from their current works.

Victor Bianchini | Political Science Alumnus

Bianchini is a retired Superior Court judge and U.S. Magistrate judge, and is also a private mediator, arbitrator and discovery referee. He was the recipient of a Distinguished Alumni award in 2018. Most recently, he traveled to Cairo to compete with the United States World Fencing Team. He is currently ranked No. 3 in the U.S. within the Veteran +70 Saber category.

Bianchini funded a one-unit elective course in political science titled Negotiation and Mediation.


We appreciate your support. To learn about ways you can give back and make a difference for the College of Arts & Letters, contact Keely Bamberg, Sr. Development Officer at [email protected] or (619) 594-1562.

Visit CAL Giving to learn more.

Announcing the debut edition of CAL Insight — a magazine from the College of Arts & Letters
In this first issue, meet the Student Research Symposium winners from CAL; learn how CAL lecturers enhance SDSU-Georgia curriculum; read about the nine winners of the Mundt Peace Fellowship; find out what geographers are discovering in Brazil; and, read more stories about student and faculty achievements.

For more details about new programs, research, and events, please visit and our social media channels.