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Student and Alumni Highlights

History Department Awards Policies

Recent Highlights

2022 CHABSS Champion for Community Service

History minor Samuel Witt received the 2022 CHABSS Champion for Community Service Award. The Dean’s Outstanding Student Award is an annual recognition of a graduating student who is earning a bachelor’s degree and has demonstrated outstanding academic and service accomplishments, and/or contributions to campus life during their tenure at California State University San Marcos. This honor is bestowed upon one undergraduate student each academic year who is graduating with a degree from the College. Congratulations on this accomplishment, Samuel!

Samuel Witt

Giving Day 2021

2021 Giving Day Success

During Giving Day, the History Department raised $4,700 to support and enhance training and resources in Digital History. Some of the funds came from two Giving Day challenges, including the Alumni Benchmark challenge. The History Department is proud to have the support of CSUSM's alumni and donors.


2021 Outstanding M.A. Thesis Award

The Department of History has recognized Michael W. Yee with the 2021 award for Outstanding MA Thesis for “From Underground Chinatown to Hall of China: Chinese Representation at San Diego’s 1915 and 1935 Expositions in Balboa Park.” As part of completing the MA, Michael also created a digital history project—a walking tour of the Asian Pacific Historical District in San Diego. The digital project uncovers a long neglected and overlooked portion of San Diego history and documents not only the thriving Pan-Asian community that emerged in the downtown area in the early twentieth century but also the contributions made by Asian and Asian Americans to the city writ large.

Michael Yee

Mirium Martinez

2021 Outstanding B.A. Award

Congratulations to Mirium Martinez! Mirium was chosen to receive the 2021 Outstanding B.A. Award. The purpose of this award is to acknowledge outstanding accomplishments made by graduating students with a degree in History. The award is given to students who excel in scholarly achievement and evidence extraordinary contributions to the campus and surrounding communities. Students selected are role models in representing the values of scholarship, commitment, and integrity that exemplify the History department’s expectations.

2021 American Historical Association’s Littleton-Griswold Research Grant

Doris Morgan Rueda (M.A. 2016) received the 2021 American Historical Association’s Littleton-Griswold Research Grant for research in U.S. legal history for "Saving the Bad Kids, Caging Los Chicos Malos: Juvenile Justice and Racialized Surveillance in the US–Mexico Borderlands, 1900–70." Doris is a doctoral candidate at UNLV.

Doris Morgan

Meg Eppel Gudgeirsson

New Publication

Congratulations to Meg Eppel Gudgeirsson, a CSUSM 2003 alumni, who has been published in the Fall 2020 Ohio Valley History Journal. Gudgeirsson is a historian of nineteenth century United States, with a focus on race, religion, gender, and children. Her published essay is titled “’We do not have any Prejudice…but’: Racism in the Interracial Berea Literary Institute, 1866-1904.” Within this piece, Gudgerisson explores the community of Berea, Kentucky, in the post-Civil War period and how white supremacy invaded this abolitionist town in the heart of this former slave state.

2019 Oustanding Thesis Award

Emilee Ramirez graduated with her M.A. in History in 2019. Emily's thesis, “Subjugated Lands: Internment, Colonization, and Development on The Colorado River Indian Reservation, 1942-1960,” was recognized by the department with its Outstanding Thesis Award. We decided to catch up with Emilee and get her take on the M.A. program, her experience as a lecturer, and her plans for the future. Read more about Emilee.

Emilee Ramirez

2020 Outstanding B.A. Award

The Department of History has recognized Lynda Vernia and Joseph Esparza with the 2020 Outstanding B.A. Award. This is not an annual award but is awarded in order to recognize the exceptional accomplishments and contributions of a History B.A. student. Students selected must be role models in representing the History department’s values of scholarship, commitment, and integrity. It is all the more outstanding that both Lynda and Joseph have both earned this History department honor.

 Lynda Vernia Image

Congratulations to Lynda Vernia!

2020 Outstanding B.A. Award

As Lynda nears the end of her B.A. journey she reflects, “I have so thoroughly enjoyed my experience in the History department at CSUSM, and I'm sad to leave.” Last year, Lynda was recognized with the CSUSM Library Award for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity for Interpretive Analysis for her paper "Race, Riot, and Recovery: Identifying Motive and Methods of Response to the Violence of the 1863 New York City Draft Riots."

Lynda notes that her most memorable experience at CSUSM was the 2018 Poster Showcase, “I had to translate my research into graphic representations and compress a 20-page research paper into an easily explained statement--the "elevator speech" everyone talks about.  This really forces you to hyper-focus on your research question and results to be able to quickly explain what your research is about and why it is important, which is an invaluable skill for a historian and one of the most important skills I attained from my time at CSUSM. Once I did that it was fairly easy for me to convert the poster format to a presentation with which I've presented my research at several research competitions and professional conferences.” 

Joseph Esparza Image

Congratulations to Joseph Esparza!


2020 Outstanding B.A. Award

Thinking about his experience at CSUSM, Joseph notes that his most memorable accomplishment as a history student was having his article, "A Universal Message: Pope John XXIII on International Order in the Postwar World" published in the April 2020 edition of the Armstrong Undergraduate Journal of History.

Joseph Esparza describes his experience in the department, "Working and learning with the community of CSUSM's History department has been nothing short of an incredible and fulfilling experience. I feel genuinely blessed in getting to know the faculty members and fellow history students along the way. Each one of my history professors not only took robust and personalized care in addressing my questions and research interests, but were also dynamic and effective teachers. The undergraduate history experience here has not only helped me grow as a scholar, and encouraged me to pursue graduate school, but has changed the way I contextualize, analyze, and emphasize with the past and present."  

CHABSS Dean's Award - 2020 Inclusive Excellence Champion

Juan 2020 Image

Juan Duran is a History major, with a minor in Spanish. Throughout his life, and into his time spent at CSUSM, Juan has been a model of pursuing mentoring and sharing what he has learned to others. He said, “Growing up in an under-resourced neighborhood and attending an underperforming public school district has shaped my understanding of underrepresented groups in education and motivated me to bring forth a positive change through service, research and teaching.” Among the long list of wonderful contributions Juan has made over the years, such includes being a mentor for elementary school-aged boys of color from his neighborhood, volunteering with a tutoring program that served foster kids, and also serving with Mini-Corps Tutor in San Marcos, as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Migrant Education Program, providing academic and individual support to students from families like his own. After being selected for the prestigious Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship, Juan traveled to South Africa where he studied racial justice and reconciliation there. More recently Juan has been accepted into Stanford University’s joint M.A. in Education/Teaching Credential Program, to prepare for a career teaching and mentoring children from underrepresented backgrounds. Juan has proven time again that determination, compassion, and sharing knowledge with others is key for inclusive excellence. Congratulations to Juan Duran for receiving the CHABSS Dean's Award!

Dr. Antonio Acevedo Earns National Faculty Distinction Award

Tony Acevedo Image

Hudson County Community College has announced that Antonio Acevedo, Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor of History, has received the 2020 Dale P. Parnell Faculty Distinction Recognition from the American Association of Community Colleges. This award acknowledges individuals for teaching excellence and making a significant difference in the classroom. Recipients must demonstrate a passion for their students and the classroom; show a willingness to support students in and out of the classroom; participate on college committees; and go above-and-beyond what is required to ensure their students achieve academic success. Antonio has been recognized by his mission to encourage and support students to work towards their own academic ambitions. Tony earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from California State University, San Marcos (BA, CSUSM, 2004; MA, SDSU, 2007) Congratulations, Tony! 

M.A. Alumni 

Ph.D. Journey

Doris Morgan (M.A. 2016) is now a doctoral candidate at UNLV. Her dissertation is entitled “Saving the Bad Kids, Caging Los Chicos Malos: Racialized Surveillance and Juvenile Justice in the U.S. - Mexico Borderlands 1900-1975.”  Working with David S. Tanenhaus, Doris will examine the role of the border in the development of juvenile justice and the policing and surveillance of youth in the 20th century. The dissertation will analyze juvenile justice and juvenile prevention policy as way to understand the legal development of state power in the borderlands and how race, youth, and immigration shaped the experience of Latinx youth and other youth of color.

Doris Morgan Image

Ph.D. Journey

Zane Cooper (M.A. in History 2016), has begun his Ph.D program at the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication. Congratulations, Zane! Read more about Zane's work.


History Faculty and Alumni Throwback

Candid photographs have long played an important role in everyone's life. Back in the days before everyone had smartphones, we would use cameras to capture moments to remember and then pay to have them developed and printed. These snapshots create a connection to our past, reminding us of people and places, feelings and stories. Life’s milestone moments can be preserved in these photos. Consider these snapshots, taken in 1992. They capture the excitement and joy of CSUSM’s first graduating class, surrounded by the department’s faculty.

While CSUSM is a relatively new campus in the CSU system, it’s great to see the first generation of professors and students in these photos. These are the people who established the foundation for the History department that we know today. And while the recent virtual academic transition has been challenging, we can appreciate that we are a part of the continuing story of History at CSUSM. It’s important, too, to think of the future, when we will reach our own milestones, and our smiles and successes will represent the same togetherness and achievements that these photos emanate. 

History Club Party Celebrating First Graduating Class of History Majors  (May 1992)

History Club Party Celebrating First Graduating Class of History Majors (May 1992) 

(Right to Left) Diana Rizzuto, Aurora Woolsey, Manfred Lietz, Kasey Wilson, Jose Chapman (First ASI President of CSUSM), Professor Leslie Zomalt, Tom Weir, Professor Joan Gundersen (Founding Faculty member of the History department)


First Graduating Class of History Majors 1991-1992 

Front Row:  Charles Cullen, Diana Rizzuto Back Row: Unknown, Kasey Wilson, Manfred Leitz, Kassandra Nix, Julie Boze, Ricardo Scheller 

First Graduating Class of History Majors 1991-1992


History faculty with first graduating class of History Majors (May 1992)

History faculty with first graduating class of History Majors (May 1992)

First Row:  Charles Cullen, Diana Rizzuto. Second Row: Professor Al Schwarz, Professor Joan Gundersen (founding faculty member of the History department), unknown, Kasey Wilson, Professor Jill Watts, Manfred Lietz, Kassandra Nix, Professor Patty Seleski, Julie Boze, Ricardo Scheller, Professor Farid Mandavi.


Heritage Training

Iliana Morton (B.A. in History, 2009) has recently completed a month-long heritage training program called the Open Palace Programme, where she worked with heritage professionals in England, including The Royal Collection Trust, Historic Royal Palaces, English Heritage Trust, and Bath Preservation Trust. 

Iliana is currently pursuing an M.L.A in Museum Studies at Harvard University, with graduation expected in May 2020.

Iliana Morton

CSUSM Grand Slam & Library Award

For History major and senior Lynda Vernia, the 2018-2019 academic year was exceptional. In fall 2018, Vernia won the undergraduate prize in the 2018 CSUSM Grand Slam with her paper, "Race, Riot, and Recovery:  Identifying Motive and Methods of Response to the Violence of the 1863 New York City Draft Riots." In spring 2019, Vernia was awarded the CSUSM Library Award for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity. She is pictured here (center) with two other student awardees. Congratulations to Lynda on these outstanding achievements!

Lynda Vernia

Alumna Completes Academy Internship in Hollywood

Mayela Caro (M.A. in History 2015), a Ph.D candidate in History at UC Riverside, has completed the Academy Gold summer internship program with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. During this summer program, Mayela worked as an Oral History Archiving Fellow with the academy’s Preservation and Foundation Programs.

Mayela Caro

B.A. Alumni

Kimberly Jenney (formerly McKenzie; History BA, 2012; Credential, 2015) was among four coastal North County high school teachers honored in March 2019 at the 23rd Annual Crystal Apple Awards ceremony. Ms. Jenney has taught social sciences for four years at Oceanside High School.

2018 CSUSM Library Award for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity

Chase and Chad Spear
Congratulations to twin brothers Chase Spear (left) and Chad Spear (right).

Chase Spear’s paper, “Oriental Masquerade: The Cultural Impact of Japanese Kimonos in America,” won the 2018 CSUSM Library Award for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity. Chase was nominated by Dr. Zhiwei Xiao, who relates that the paper, a case study of kimonos' growing popularity in America, is well documented and supported by data collected from extensive research. The central argument is that just as Western culture has been influencing non-Western countries, Asian culture is penetrating into American society as well. Taking issue with “cultural imperialism,” Chase points to the two-way nature of transnational cultural flow. The paper demonstrates his ability to grasp abstract conceptual issues, superior skills in research and judiciousness in using his sources.

Chad Spear presented his paper "Global Otaku: The Global Phenomenon of Anime and its Attack on Cultural Imperialism" at the CSUSM Humanities and Arts Graduate Student Conference, "Civil Discourse: The Journey So Far" on April 21, 2018. The acceptance of a paper by an undergraduate at a graduate student conference demonstrates a high level of achievement in historical research and writing.

Photo by: Emilee Ramirez

Andrianna Martinez (B.A. 2011) accepted a position at the UC San Diego Institute of Arts and Humanities department as an academic advisor/program coordinator. She will oversee some seven programs (Jewish Studies, Middle East Studies, European Studies, Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, German Studies, Italian Studies, and Classical Studies) and work with the faculty program directors on co-curricular programs.

Adam Purvis (B.A. 2015) has been accepted to the American University and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

David Howes (B.A. 2017) was accepted into the M.A. program at Fordham University.

Gabriel Becerra (B.A. 2014) works full-time as the site manager of a behavioral health clinic in Escondido and is currently enrolled in the CSUSM MSW program. He is enjoying his path towards becoming a licensed clinical social worker, and expects to graduate in the summer of 2019.

Tony Acevedo

Article: The Importance of Looking at Rocks

Tony Acevedo (B.A. CSUSM, 2004; M.A., SDSU, 2007) has published an article in the Community Colleges Humanities Review titled "The Importance of Looking at Rocks." Tony was recognized by the CSUSM History department as the 2016 Distinguished Alumnus.

2018 Frederick Douglas Global Fellowship

History major Juan Duran has been selected as one of ten students nationwide to receive the 2018 Frederick Douglas Global Fellowship. The Frederick Douglass Global Fellows were nominated by their college presidents and selected from a large pool of applicants in a national competition. These fellows are meritorious individuals who demonstrate high academic achievement, possess exemplary communication skills, display the hallmarks of self-determination, exhibit characteristics of bold leadership, and have a history of service to others. This prestigious award is a full scholarship for a unique study abroad experience, to attend the 2018 CIEE Summer Open Campus program in Cape Town, South Africa.

Juan Duran
Juan Duran recieves the 2018 Frederick Douglas Global Fellowship

Julia Friedman

Alumna Exhibit: Rockin' the Political Boat: Women of the Second Wave

CSUSM History grad Julia Friedman is the current Collections Manager at the Women's Museum of California. She has curated the current WMC exhibit titled "Rockin' the Political Boat: Women of the Second Wave." It will be on display from September 2 to October 30.

Check out Making Waves

Student Update

Fawad Alizada is set graduate with a B.A. in History. He was accepted to the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies for an M.A in Middle Eastern history. He was also accepted into London School of Economics M.A. Program in the history of international relations.

He will attending LSE and will focus his thesis on a transitional history of terrorism of Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Fawad Alizada

Laura Padilla

Alumna Update: Chicano Studies Graduate Program

Laura Padilla (B.A. History; Minor in Ethnic Studies, 2014) is completing her first year of the Chicana and Chicano Studies Graduate Program at SDSU.

Her thesis will consider immigration reform discourse from the 2006 marches with regards to the family as a mode of reproducing heteronormativity which isolates and excludes non-normative individuals/families that identify as LGBT or Queer.

Jason Halub (History B.A., 2004, magna cum laude), Major, U.S. Army, has completed two years at West Point as Instructor of International History and International Division Executive Officer. He will be attending Peking University as a senior visiting student in their History department. The Department of History recognized Jason as a Distinguished Alumni in 2009.

History M.A. student Blanca Drapeau has been hired to coordinate events and programming at the Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park.

In Memoriam: A Tribute to Wally Taibleson

Journal of San Diego History

The Journal of San Diego History: Alumni & Faculty Features

Charla Wilson (M.A. 2016) has published in the Journal of San Diego History.

Read Charla's article 

Doris Morgan (M.A. 2016) has published a book review in the Journal of San Diego History

Read Doris' review 

Mayela Caro

Alumna Awarded Smithsonian Minority Awards Program

Mayela Caro (M.A. History 2015) was awarded the prestigious Smithsonian Minority Awards Program-Visiting Student Internship. As part of the 10-week internship at the National Museum of American History, Mayela is helping to plan the national museum and research center’s Hispanic Heritage Month Festival that will be held September 17. Mayela is in the Ph.D program in History at UC Riverside, and her dissertation research focuses on the representations of gender and ethnicities in film, media, popular culture, print culture, and material culture.

Alumna Book Review

Doris Morgan (M.A. In History, 2016) had a book review published in The Acentos Review, a quarterly literary and arts journal that promotes and publishes Latinx work. She reviewed Rosario Tijeras by Jorge Franco. She recently completed her M.A. Project, “Crime, Kids, and a Panic on the Border."

Sarah Wolk FitzGerald

Alumna Update: Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Curator

Sarah Wolk FitzGerald, a Ph.D. candidate and CSUSM History department alumna (2012), will be joining the team at the Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site as their new Curator.

The Rancho, located in Long Beach, is a public museum housed in a Monterey-style adobe built in 1844. The museum's collections and programs reflect the Native, Spanish, Mexican, and American history of the site and region. The site also includes historic gardens, archives, and a research library. The Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site offers tours, public programs, and other events on a regular basis 

Visit: for more information.

Alumna Book Review

CSUSM History M.A. Student Chelsea Snover had a book review published: Snover, Chelsea. Review of Religious Liberty and the American Supreme Court: The Essential Cases and Documents, by Vincent Phillip Muñoz. Western Legal History: The Journal of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society 27, no. 2 (Summer/Fall 2014): 232-234. The working title of Chelsea’s thesis project is "All Are Welcome: The New Thought Movement in San Diego, 1900-1930."

Alumnus Update

Jason Halub (B.A. 2004, magna cum laude), Major, U.S. Army, has completed two years at West Point as Instructor of International History and International Division Executive Officer. He will be attending Peking University as a senior visiting student in their History department. The Department of History recognized Jason as a Distinguished Alumni in 2009.