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May 2020

 Dear Faculty and Staff,   

Thank you to each of you for your important roles in helping our graduating seniors realize their goal of graduation. The Office of Undergraduate Studies extends special congratulations to our graduating McNair Scholars, as well as our hard-working and devoted student staff employees who are the backbone of CLASS. To our student assistant for digital communication, I extend a special congratulations. Thank you, Calla Conway, for bringing the OUGS newsletters to life. May our students’ futures shine brightly. Our McNair Scholars,  CLASS student staff, and digital communication assistant have modeled collaboration and the power of the peer in promoting student success, especially during this unprecedented time. Congratulations class of 2020! 

As we celebrate our seniors, OUGS is also excited to announce the expansion of the CougarBot, an AI (artificial intelligence) tool now available to support all CSUSM students on their academic journeys.  

With gratitude for the CSUSM community’s amazing persistence, adaptability, and sense of community, I wish you a restorative summer,  


Dawn M. Formo, Ph.D.     

Dean, Undergraduate Studies   

Division of Academic Affairs   

Pronouns: she/her/hers   

Congratulations to 2020 Graduating McNair Scholars!

The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program was awarded to CSUSM in 2017. The program’s mission has been to prepare undergraduates from low-income, first generation, or other under-represented communities for graduate school across the disciplines. This year, under the direction of Dr. Denise Garcia (PI) with support from Project Coordinator Dr. Ray Malfavon-Borja and advisor Ms. Vicky Yan, CSUSM is proud to announce the graduation of 16 scholars:

Araceli Alvarez (Major: Biochemistry; Minor: Spanish)

Yanin Cervantes (Major: Sociology; Minor: Spanish)

Francisco Coronado (Major: Applied Physics)

Craig Cowling (Major: Biotechnology; Minor: Chemistry)

Leticia Damian (Major: Mathematics; Minor: Physics)

Steven Davis (Major: Applied Physics)

Juan Duran (Major: History with Single-Subject Preparation; Minor: Spanish)

Jennifer Figueroa (Major: Psychological Science)

Christina Givens (Major: Communication; Minor: Women's Studies)

Kristine Holmes (Major: Anthropology - Medical Anthropology; Minor: Ethnic Studies & Border Studies)

Areli Javier (Major: Biological Sciences - Molecular and Cellular Biology; Minor: Chemistry)

Ariel Lopez (Major: Human Development - Health Services)

Janet Martinez* (Major: Psychological Science)

Ken Mey (Major: Biological Sciences - Molecular and Cellular Biology)

 Elisa Silvas (Major: Literature and Writing Studies)

Emmanuel Solis (Major: Biological Sciences - Molecular and Cellular Biology & Biotechnology; Minor: Chemistry)

Congratulations, McNair Scholars on your accomplishments! We are excited to see what’s in store for you.

mcnair students 

CLASS Act Graduates

The Office of Undergraduate Studies is excited to celebrate the 26  student assistants, tutors, peer educators, and Supplemental Instruction leads who are graduating! These students have contributed immensely to students’ success and growth at CSUSM. With appreciation, we celebrate you!

From the Writing Center…

Monika Sokolowska Birch
Alexander Colcol
Julianna Hernandez
Guillermo Perez
Carlos Rodriguez
Jillian Sandvig
Elisa Silvas

From the STEM Success Center…

Luis Arrioja
Amanda Bauer
Taryn Broe
Steven Davis
Sean Hernandez
John Hiedo
Arianne Leon
Fiona Lu
Yesenia Marquina
Ducle Robles Martinez
Mikaela Meitz
Paulita Ortiz
Ashwin Paramashivian
Shadi Paydar
Alejandro Picasso
Gaby Rabago
Daniel Ruiz
Rojan Safevieh
Sarah Shiotani
Kristel Sobrevilla
Dylan Steinecke
Isaias Torres
Jenny Tran
Ngan Tran
Gentry Vargas

 From the Supplemental Instruction Program in the Academic Success Center…

Luis Arrioja
Claudia Conte
Brandon Cruz
Cody Ehret
Robert Elliott Estrada
Jennifer Figueroa
Michelle Guevarra
Sean Hernandez
Forrest Joy
Kayla Osman
Bert Salazar
Kristel Sobrevilla
Isaias Torres
Kristin Wilcox

CougarBot Expansion to All Students

Summer 2019 CSUSM launched the CougarBot pilot, an artificial intelligence (AI) communication tool, as part of a seven campus CSU consortium, funded, in part, by an Irvine Foundation grant. Late April, the CougarBot expanded to support all newly admitted students. Even more, all CSUSM students now have access to the bot through the text-messaging feature on their phones.  CougarBot also includes a new live chat feature.

What does CougarBot Do? The bot supports student success by allowing students to ask campus-related questions and receive automated responses 24/7 via text messaging on their phones. When necessary, staff provide additional support to students.  Even more, CougarBot’s ability to answer the more routine questions allows professional staff and faculty more time to address students’ complex questions.

Are students using CougarBot? Yes! April 27 to May 3, students asked more than 2600 questions of the bot.

Will the bot get smarter over time? CougarBot’s knowledge base, which is synonymous with the AI’s brain, grows through use. Said another way, the more students utilize the bot, the smarter it becomes as a student support tool. 

Our hope is that CougarBot provides additional support to students and assists them in getting the information they need quickly and effectively.

Thoughts on Persistence During COVID-19: Messages from Our Students

By Calla Conway, OUGS Student Assistant for Digital Communications

Students share how they’ve coped with the changes in their everyday lives and how they have managed to keep going.

"What keeps me motivated is the support and camaraderie of my McNair community & lab mates in weekly Zoom meetings... I have even presented my research one final time as the Chemistry & Biochemistry Poster showcase via Zoom!"

-Araceli Alvarez
Biochemistry Major, Spanish Minor

"I've kept a consistent study schedule. I kept the usual routine I had before this situation which consists of attending or watching my virtual courses at the allocated time they were held."

-Luis Arrioja
Biological Science Major

"The most challenging part of the transition has to have to worry about loved ones and family members who are more at risk than those who are helathy."

-Michael Leslie
Literature and Writing Studies Major

"The thing I miss most about interpersonal courses is seeing everyone and collaborating ideas."

-Michael Leslie
Literature and Writing Studies Major