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CHABSS College Awards 2024

2024 CHABSS Dean's Outstanding Student

Megan Hosfield

Megan Hosfield

Sociology Major

  • About Megan and her accomplishments.

    Dr. Jonathan Trinidad was Megan’s statistics professor and upon successful completion of his class, she sought to voluntarily audit his class. He was eager to support her emerging interest in quantitative methods. Her deep understanding was immediately evident, and he quickly recruited her as a paid teaching assistant position across all three sections. She quickly proved indispensable, exceeding his expectations. Both he and his students found her to be a valuable resource.

    In both lower division and upper division statistics courses, Megan actively engaged with students, providing clear explanations and personalized assistance during class and office hours. Her approachable demeanor and professional conduct fostered a comfortable learning environment for students from diverse backgrounds. Megan's strong communication and collaborative skills earned her the respect and admiration of her peers. She led by example, patiently guiding others and contributing insightful questions to class discussions. Throughout her time, Megan consistently demonstrated incredible preparedness, reliability, and the ability to work independently. Her dedication to continuous learning and improvement is truly impressive.

    Megan was in a large lecture hall as a student in Soc 311 – Inequalities that was taught by Dr. Marisa Salinas. She excelled and quickly rose to the top. Whereas many others debated about social problems in theory, Megan eventually fostered the courage to speak up in class about her direct experiences with the intersections of various systems of oppression. She revealed her own multi-layered and complicated story of redemption. The students were shocked to hear that their peer had overcome so much. Megan was reserved, but when she spoke up, her 100+ classmates listened. Dr. Salinas reports that students wrote about Megan’s discussions and teachings of inequities within public health and social services as being unforgettable and leaving an indelible mark on them.

    Dr. Salinas and Dr. Trinidad have encouraged Megan to draw research ideas from her personal experiences and her professional experiences as a therapist at the crisis shelter. She presented a paper on mental health, addiction, and homelessness in conjunction with the axis of identity informed by race, sexuality, class, and gender at the California Sociological Association (CSA). She was then invited and presented at the Pacific Sociological Association (PSA), and the major national disciplinary conferences in Sociology and Criminology: American Sociological Association (ASA) and American Society of Criminology (ASC). It is truly unheard of for an undergraduate to be this productive and in demand.

    Dr. Salinas reported seeing Megan “in action” at the PSA conference and shared how confident Megan presenting her research, how well she communicated her subject area expertise, and the high quality of the feedback she gave to the other (more senior) scholars in her session.

    “Megan has both insider and outsider positionality in conducting the culturally relevant research that is essential to informing our social institutions,” Dr. Salinas said.

    With the support of her faculty advisors, Megan sought out additional research opportunities for multiple marginalized students and applied to many different programs so that she could get the research experience necessary to be a strong candidate for doctoral study. Additionally, she sought out special programming that would guide her through the graduate application process and demystify what postgraduate study entailed.

    As a first-generation college student, and young Latina, she was selected to be a part of the Latinx Unidos Leadership cohort on campus. This program connects students with prominent Latinx professionals in a wide range of fields and gives high performing Latinx students the professional role models that many lack direct access to. To us, this speaks to Megan’s approach to learning – she constantly seeks meaningful experiences that supports her professional development.

    As a McNair Scholar, she has completed significant research and doctoral study training in the hopes of increasing the higher education pipeline for historically underrepresented students like herself. Indeed, she is an outstanding success for the McNair Scholar program at CSUSM partly because she was accepted to numerous doctoral programs across the country.

    She was also chosen for another very competitive program, the UC San Diego STARS Program. This program allowed her to build community with other scholarly oriented stakeholders in the region and to attend a research academy that prepares STARS Scholars for doctoral study. Specifically, she worked with Dr. Fortunato who is conducting novel research analyzing the impact of state pre-authorization restrictions on the amount of practicing clinical practitioners. This research is currently in the process of being published with Catalyst UCSD.

    Megan was a research assistant for CSUSM’s CRAYA Lab where she was widening the range and scope of her methodology skills as she worked with a quantitative scholar in Psychology. This lab, led by Dr. Bishop, addresses several intricate research areas, one of which explores the impact of initial relationship perceptions on an individual's interpersonal skills when dealing with conflicts in relationships. Megan utilized IBM SPSS to analyze data and ascertain statistical significance. She also supported graduate students in their research efforts through tasks such as managing codebook databases, conducting statistical analyses using IBM SPSS on existing data, and procuring literature relevant to qualitative research.

    She will start data analysis in the summer before she leaves for her doctoral program. Dr. Trinidad recommended her to the project Co-PI, Dr. Marisol Clark-Ibáñez, because the project was looking for a student assistant who can assist with qualitative data analysis. Dr. Clark-Ibáñez was impressed by Megan’s overarching understanding of research and, while Megan has not conducted qualitative methods, she is eager to learn more about data science and excited to take on this newer methodological training.

    Her doctoral research will explore concepts related to medical sociology and social inequities. She would like to pursue quantitative and mixed-method research to critically analyze the impact of the individualism prevalent in issues such as poverty, healthcare accessibility, and mental healthcare institutions. Specifically, she wants to study how adults with mental health and substance use issues begin to rehabilitate socially and how they navigate economic reintegration.

    She would like to compare findings across generations and geolocations. Additionally, Megan aims to identify barriers and create economically feasible solutions to access mental health services and substance rehabilitation.

    On top of her intellectual and academic achievement, Megan engaged in

    work that supports vulnerable community members as a peer specialist counselor. She volunteers at the International Rescue Committee in San Diego.

CHABSS Champions for Inclusive Excellence

Isaiah Chantaca

Isaiah Chantaca

Social Sciences Major

  • About Isaiah and his accomplishments.

    Isaiah graduated with a degree in social science which includes a psychological science concentration. Isaiah made substantial contributions to advancing our College’s commitment to inclusive excellence, equity, and social justice during his time at CSUSM. Isaiah's dedication and leadership within the American Indian Student Alliance (AISA) at CSUSM made him an outstanding candidate for the Inclusive Excellence Champion. 
    As a Chiricahua Apache and a first-generation American Indian student, he not only inspired his own family members to pursue higher education but also leveraged his father's marine benefits responsibly to finance his academic endeavors. His gratitude toward his father's service is reflected in his commitment to maintaining a high academic standard, consistently being on the Dean's List since 2022 and contributing positively to the campus community. His role as a leader in AISA and his work with the California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center (CICSC) underscored his efforts to foster a culture of leadership, resilience, and professional development, which align with the College’s goals of empowering American Indian students.
    Isaiah’s journey from Saddle Community College to CSUSM is a testament to his
    commitment to service and giving back to the community. His involvement with projects and problem-solving within AISA demonstrated his active service to the campus and the greater community, fulfilling the criteria for the CHABSS Community Champion. His research as a student researcher and employment with the CICSC, particularly in the Indigenous Leaders Empowerment and Development Program (ILEAD), further illustrated his hands-on approach to community-centered learning experiences. By contributing to a range of fields and maintaining his academic excellence, Isaiah showcased the true spirit of community service and the pursuit of educational growth.

    His engagement in significant research, such as the Tobacco, E-Cigarette, and
    Cannabis Waste Randomized Control Trial, added to his qualifications as a community
    contributor. Isaiah’s aspiration to enter the psychological science graduate program to
    investigate the impact of traditional and contemporary medicines on mental health
    represented an interdisciplinary approach to research and advocacy, aiming to benefit the American Indian community and beyond. His ambition to further his education with a master's degree and eventually a doctorate speaks to his dedication to making meaningful advancements in the field of mental health. 

    Isaiah made significant contributions to the Tobacco, E-Cigarette, and Cannabis
    Waste Randomized Controlled Trial. This research addresses a major public health and global problem by providing education about the negative impact of tobacco, e-cigarette, and cannabis waste (TECW) on the environment. This study
    advances environmental justice by assuring representation of people from diverse backgrounds are receiving education and support for behavior to mitigate this harm. Study participants from diverse backgrounds receive a signal that a study is inclusive when they see themselves reflected in the researchers. This safety assures that education and intervention reached people that may otherwise by left out, which
    would perpetuate environmental injustice by TECW disproportionately affecting marginalized communities.

    Isaiah displayed tremendous skill and dedication which proved critical to the project's success. Isaiah’s strong intercultural competence and proficient
    balance between interpersonal and procedural skills makes him an invaluable behavioral health interventionist. The study involved working closely with participants over the course of a six-week intervention which contained five contacts: three visits over Zoom and two check-ins via text message, and a sixth contact via Zoom at six months. Study visits included delivery of brief educational videos and verbal information, survey assessments, and for those randomized to motivational enhancement, a discussion about perceived benefits of engaging in our target behavior, motivation and confidence scaling to facilitate change talk for engaging in the behavior, illumination of barriers, and action planning to address barriers. 

    Isaiah possesses outstanding communication skills, connecting well through direct and open communication. Isaiah is compassionate and driven to lighten the load of
    others and support the team. He enjoys boosting morale of those around him, making people feel at ease through humor, engagement, and thoughtfulness. His attitude and
    presence are delightful, and he is willing and capable to do anything asked of him. Isaiah is driven to serve through research and strives to further culturally informed mental health treatment, which is inclusive of Indigenous communities, by eventually pursuing a Ph.D. and studying American Indian medicine and healing practices for behavioral health.

    Isaiah consistently exceeded expectations in his dedication to both the campus and the
    broader community through mentorship, community service, and cultural exchange. Isaiah’s efforts to enhance the visibility of American Indian students in spaces where they are often overlooked are both remarkable and inspiring. Isaiah approaches his work with a clear sense of purpose and a welcoming demeanor, readily offering their support during evenings and weekends. Isaiah’s leadership in fostering an inclusive environment and his steadfast commitment to equity and social justice extended beyond just American Indian students to include advocating for the underrepresented. Through his cultural enrichment and sharing programs, Isaiah made commendable and admirable contributions that deserve recognition.

CHABSS Community Service Champion

Cheyenne Smith

Cheyenne Smith

Social Sciences Major

  • About Cheyenne and her accomplishments.

    Cheyenne graduated with a degree in social science which included a psychological science concentration with secondary fields in communication and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, and a minor in sociology. The broad lens that Cheyenne chose for her undergraduate education is indicative of her profound intellectual engagement. The scholarship and creative activity Cheyenne undertook during her time at CSUSM was just as diverse, and contributed holistically to the mental health service provider that Cheyenne is preparing to be.

    Cheyenne made substantial contributions to advancing our college’s commitment to intellectual engagement and innovation during her time at CSUSM. Cheyenne was the backbone of a significant research study, the Tobacco, E-Cigarette, and Cannabis Waste Randomized Controlled Trial since September 2022. Cheyenne’s tremendous skill and dedication proved critical to the success of the project. Cheyenne’s strong intercultural competence and proficient balance between interpersonal and procedural skills make her an invaluable behavioral health

    Interventionist. The study involved working closely with participants over the course of a six-week intervention which contains five contacts: three visits over Zoom and two check-ins via text message, and a sixth contact via Zoom at six months. Study visits included delivery of brief educational videos and verbal information, survey assessments, and for those randomized to motivational enhancement, a discussion about perceived benefits of engaging in our target behavior, motivation and confidence scaling to facilitate change talk for engaging in the behavior, illumination of barriers, and action planning to address barriers.

    Cheyenne quickly distinguished herself as one of the strongest counseling research assistants on the team. She has natural helping abilities and displays great insight, sensitivity, and intuition in encounters with participants and teammates. Cheyenne possesses a deep reservoir of wisdom and compassion and is a leader in bringing new, highly capable research assistants to the team.

    In addition to Cheyenne’s strong interpersonal skills, she possesses outstanding administrative skills. She is extremely organized, planful, and proactive. The combination of these qualities made Cheyenne a clear choice for promotion to a paid, lead research assistant position responsible for training others and overseeing activities.

    Cheyenne made three research presentations in the spring, one slide presentation at the California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center and two posters at the CSUSM Psychology Research Fair.

    Cheyenne proved herself to be a capable speaker, having presented a research study to the student organization for one of the largest majors on our campus of 17,000 students in Fall 2023. She applied her research skills to the highly data-driven work of providing assessment and treatment to children with autism spectrum disorder. As a Registered Behavioral Technician, Cheyenne applied rigorous research methods learned in the classroom and research position at CSUSM, to meet a critical behavioral health need in our community.

    Her distinguished record of intellectual engagement and innovation also included performing art. Cheyenne contributed to eight film productions in roles including actor, writer, designer, and producer. The two most significant productions were undertaken during her tenure at CSUSM. Furthermore, Cheyenne made substantial contributions to the intellectual climate at CSUSM through dedicated service and leadership within the American Indian Student Alliance.

    Cheyenne’s efforts to advance diversity, equity, and social justice were evident in her active participation in the Indigenous Leaders Empowerment and Development Program (ILEAD) under the California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center (CICSC). As a Lakota and a first-generation American Indian student, Cheyenne not only overcame personal challenges but also used her experiences to empower others. Her commitment to fostering a culture of leadership and professional development for American Indian students aligned with our college's mission to support diverse fields of career readiness. Furthermore, this work directly supported the success of the TECW RCT research study, from boosting enrollment and retention of research participants to nourishing a diverse pipeline of research assistants and assuring their quality training.

    Because research assistants develop counseling skills, Cheyenne contributed to the development of our behavioral health workforce. Cheyenne's work with ILEAD and engagement with local communities embodies CHABSS values, as she contributed to cultural exchange and the enhancement of American Indian visibility both on campus and in the broader community. By establishing connections with local tribes and organizations, she helped build a robust network that provides mentorship and career opportunities for students. As mentioned earlier, Cheyenne was responsible for bringing new students to the TECW RCT research study, which is critical to the continued success of the research endeavor. Cheyenne’s involvement in creating experiential learning opportunities demonstrated her dedication to preparing students for successful careers, with a particular emphasis on disciplines such as law, health, education, and environmental advocacy.

    Cheyenne accomplished substantial research and creative activities while undertaking significant service industry employment. Cheyenne consistently exceeded expectations in her dedication to both the campus and the broader community through scholarship and creative activity, community service and mentorship, and cultural exchange. Cheyenne’s efforts to enhance the visibility of American Indian students in spaces where they are often overlooked were both remarkable and inspiring. Cheyenne approached her work with a clear sense of purpose and a welcoming demeanor, readily offering her support during evenings and weekends. Her leadership in fostering an inclusive environment for research participants and research assistants, and her steadfast commitment to equity and social justice extended beyond just American Indian students to include advocating for the underrepresented.

    Cheyenne's journey as a first-generation college student reflects resilience and a passion for social work, exemplified through her research and creative achievements, community involvement, and aspirations to aid those in need, further solidifying her as an exemplary role model and community leader.

2024 CHABSS Champion for Scholarship & Creative Activities

Hugo Peralta

Hugo Peralta

History Major (MA)

  • About Hugo and his accomplishments.

    During his time on our campus, Hugo demonstrated outstanding achievements in research. He did so, moreover, in the face of extraordinary personal difficulties. Once on campus, it didn't take long for his academic maturity and intellectual curiosity to stand out. Hugo arrived at CSUSM certain he wanted to study colonial Mexican history and already aware of historiographic debates within the field. He achieved this level of academic sophistication largely on his own, since both MiraCosta and CSUSM lack a specialist in colonial Latin American history.

    Rather than let that derail his goals, Hugo sought and obtained mentorship from the two colonial Latin Americanists in the San Diego area: Dr. Dana Velasco-Murillo at UC San Diego and Dr. Paula de Vos at San Diego State. He has since built a relationship with both and worked as a research assistant for Dr. Velasco-Murillo at UCSD. Reaching beyond our campus to do this kind of work as an undergraduate is extraordinarily unusual. In doing so, he also served as a representative of academic excellence at our university in neighboring academic institutions.

    Hugo also formed close relationships with faculty at CSUSM who have interests related to his, including Dr. Miriam Riggs (modern Latin America), Dr. Richard Ibarra (early modern Europe, transatlantic, and colonial Latin America), Dr. Citlali Sosa-Riddell (Southwest Borderlands), and Dr. Antonio Zaldivar (medieval and early modern). Hugo also conducted primary and secondary-source research as a student assistant for Dr. Sosa-Riddell on the Mexican-US borderlands during the mid-nineteenth century.

    Hugo's academic achievements and skills are a testament to his dedication and enthusiasm. He graduated at the end of the Fall 2023 semester with a cumulative 3.9 GPA (4.0 at CSUSM) and the Latin honor of Summa Cum Laude. More importantly, he demonstrated the ability to contextualize historical interpretations within historiographical analyses of the past, something far beyond most undergraduates’ abilities. He richly contributed in class discussions, individual meetings, and in his own scholarly work, including two research papers that earned him A's in HIST 301 (introductory methods and writing course) and HIST 430 (senior research seminar). In the paper for HIST 301, “Al César lo que es del César: Franciscans and the Bureaucratic Consolidation of New Spain, 1523-1573,” he utilized various sixteenth-century chronicles and letters to examine the complex relationship between Franciscan friars' millenarianism and the establishment of a colonial bureaucracy. For his senior research paper in HIST 430, “Imagined Altepemeh,” he chose to explore how petition letters from the Indigenous Nahuatl-speakers of central Mexico to their Spanish colonial overlords reflected socio-political values among the Mexica of central Mexico. Both papers demonstrated his ability to read primary sources critically in English and in Spanish.

    Not only does Hugo possess native Spanish fluency, but he did something no other undergraduate in the country was able to do; he was accepted into an introductory graduate seminar on Nahuatl (the lingua franca of MesoAmerica during the height of the Aztec Civilization) at the Newberry Library in summer 2023. All the other participants in the seminar were graduate students from leading institutions. His participation here is a testament to his excellence, and how he prepared himself to be among the leading scholars of his generation in his field.

    Hugo's research was also recognized by being accepted for presentation at several prestigious venues. Hugo was one of the few undergraduates in the country placed on the program for the American Historical Association's annual meeting in San Francisco in January 2024. The AHA is the major scholarly association for historians in the United States, and its conference is the most prestigious. His work got an excellent reception there; one R1 professor told Alyssa Sepinwall that she was thoroughly impressed by this undergraduate, and startled to realize he was from a CSU.

    He also represented CSUSM at undergraduate research competitions. In 2022, he presented one paper entitled “Fact or Fiction? Guatemala and the United Fruit Company,” at the Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research at Pepperdine University and another entitled “Engendering Binaries: The Transhistorical Experiences of Catalina de Erauso,” at the Western Regional Honors Council Conference at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

    In addition to his research work, Hugo was also active on campus. He served as an officer in Phi Alpha Theta (the national history honor society) and the History Club. During his undergraduate career, he also earned various awards, scholarships, and invitations to advanced summer institutes. At CSUSM, he earned the University Library Award for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity for his paper “Engendering Binaries” (2023) and multiple Student Success grants to travel and present his work. He also applied and was accepted to two summer institutes, one at the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy Summer Research Institute and another at Center for Renaissance Studies at the Newberry Library.

    At the Newberry, Hugo took an intensive introductory course in Nahuatl, which he hopes to pursue further in graduate school. His achievements, moreover, have spread beyond the history department. He earned a scholarship from the House of Mexico in San Diego for Fall 2023. CHABSS Dean Liora Gubkin chose Hugo as one of three students to showcase student research in a large fundraising event for the college.

    Hugo achieved this impressive research agenda despite numerous socio-economic disadvantages. He is a child of Mexican immigrants as well as a first-generation college student, who grew up poor with a single mother. Eventually his mother remarried and had additional children. Not long after, however, his stepfather was deported, leaving him and his siblings reliant on just his mother's salary. This was a major setback for Hugo's family with repercussions still felt today. In short, Hugo's life has been one of hardships and financial struggle. He self-financed his collegiate career, which guided his decision to attend MiraCosta Community College. He also had the opportunity of transferring from MiraCosta to various University of California campuses, including UCLA, UCI, and UCSD. But he chose CSUSM because it is significantly cheaper and allowed him to remain at home to help his family financially.

    Despite these socio-economic challenges, Hugo thrived as an undergraduate student. He plans to pursue his doctoral degree in colonial Latin American history. He was accepted and given full fellowships to Ph.D. programs at UCLA and UCSC and to the MA program at the University of Chicago (which is notoriously reluctant to fund first-year

    graduate students). He intends to attend UCLA, one of the top programs in the country for colonial Latin American history. There, he plans to study social, cultural, and political transformations in post-conquest Mesoamerica, particularly in the Valley of Mexico between the 16th and 18th centuries. He will work under the supervision of Dr. Kevin Terraciano, one of the preeminent colonial Latin Americanists in the U.S., whose expertise in ethnohistory and indigenous languages will be crucial in guiding Hugo through his journey to a doctorate.