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MASP Announcements and Congratulations

MASP Student and Alumni Good News Mid-Spring 2021

Travis Blunt (M.A. 2017). “I am excited that I am starting to get some really fun classes to teach! [MiraCosta Soc, CSUSM Soc and Human Development]. I am also very excited/nervous as my partner and I have just purchased our first home. Most importantly my family and myself are in good health! I hope everyone else is doing well!”

Sterling Briggs (M.A. 2020) recently presented a talk at Palomar College on his thesis research. 

Luis Canseco (M.A. 2019) “I was elected co-chair for the Teen Dating Violence Committee of the San Diego Domestic Violence Council. It is our mission to prevent and reduce intimate partner violence throughout our county. We need all the support possible, please feel free to reach out.”

Daniela Carreon (current student) was accepted to the Sociology Ph.D. program at the University of California Davis.

Matthew Chase (M.A. 2015) has been accepted to present with fellow MASP alum (Spring 2015), Rosa Rodríguez, at the 2021 California Library Association virtual annual conference. The title of their presentation is, "Library, Disrupted: Virtual Engagement with the Academic Library in the Time of Quarantine."

At the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, Matthew Chase is also developing course modules for students and faculty on the topics of intersectionality in medicine and health disparities, culturally responsive tools for evidence-based practice, and systemic bias in scholarly databases and internet search algorithms.

Yazmin Doroteo (M.A. 2020) was accepted to University of California Santa Barbara’s (UCSB’s) Chicano/Chicana Studies program for Fall 2021.

Yolanda Cataño (M.A. 2015) is serving as Imperial Valley College’s Interim Associate Dean of Institutional Effectiveness Equity and Student Success. She was recently honored with the American College Personnel Educator’s Voices of Inclusion Award and received the California College Personnel Association’s Award for Outstanding Dedication to Equity and Social Justice.

Cynthia De La Rosa (current student) has received the Summer Research Experience Scholarship through Sally Casanova Scholars for Summer 2021-2022.

Jordan Grasso (M.A. 2017, current doctoral student at UC Irvine) is serving on the Student Editorial Board for the PSA Journal, Sociological Perspectives, and the Program Committee for the Justice Studies Association. She has also developed a law enforcement course, drawing heavily on her ongoing research, that she hopes to teach in the next academic year. On the personal front, Jordan and her partner Caitlin, were recently married. Congrats to the happy couple!

Martin Levya (M.A. 2018) is Coordinator of CSUSM’s Project Rebound.  He is also currently in his second semester in the joint doctoral program in Education at the University of California San Diego and CSUSM.

Shawntae Mitchum (M.A. 2020) “Expecting a baby boy in July! Accepted into USC’s Sociology program with a fully funded fellowship.”

Christina Monroy (M.A. 2020) is teaching UNIV 180 for CSUSM First Year & University Programs.

Denise Nealon (M.A. 2018) “ I will be starting my Joint PhD program in Education with SDSU/CGU in the Fall!”

Jose M. Ruiz Escutia (M.A. Fall 2019) “Summer 2021 - I will be co-teaching a first-generation college preparation class online with Dr. Laura Emiko Soltis at Freedom University in Georgia.

Bettina Serna (M.A. 2015) has been accepted to the Ethnic Studies Ph.D. program at the University of California San Diego.

Oscar Soto (M.A. 2016, current Soc doctoral student at UCSB) recently published "We will Leave the Lights on for You": Political Education and the Push for a Revival of Radical Criminology from a Formerly Incarcerated Chicano Activist-Scholar" in the Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice.

Damon Stevens (M.A. 2020) “I began working in the CSUSM Educational Opportunity Program as the Student Support Specialist in June 2020. In December 2020, I was hired by First Year & University Programs to Teach the Transfer Success for Veterans and Military (TS 250). Next semester I am hoping to teach UNIV 180 or GEL 101.”

Past Announcements & Congratulations

  • Fall 2020

    December 2020 Milestones for Current Students

    Marilyn Huerta completed her M.A. in Sociological Practice. She completed our first M.A. project in the department ever, The Power of Veteran Storytelling and Art.

    Maria Jimenez completed her M.A. in Sociological Practice. She successfully defended her thesis, “No Dough, You Gotta Go”: Gentrification and a Latinx Community on the Precipice earlier this month.

    Daniela Carreon, Cynthia De La Rosa, Kayli Evans, Nayeli Gonzalez, Claudia Lacher, Laura Martinez, Nora Pozos all successfully defended their thesis proposals and advanced to candidacy.

    Tatiana Apelu, Nonya Browncorwise, Ana Cardenas Benitez, Liana Covarrubias, Kayleen Diaz, Liz Garcia, Jasmine Glenn, Summer Lipe, Karla May Pizano, Roberto Ortega, Isaac Salcido, Talisha St. John, and Elizabeth Wright finished their first semester of graduate school.

    Other Good News for Current Students and Alumni (alphabetized with the exception of baby news)

    Rachael McGlaston Espinoza (M.A. 2016): I welcomed baby #2 one month ago and finished the first year of my doctoral program last week (Joint Doctoral Program in Education Leadership at CSUSM and UCSD). Once I graduate, I will officially be a 3x alumni of CSUSM!

    Tatiana Apelu (current student) is a recipient of the ACE Scholar Working Scholarship.

    Ana Cardenas Benitez (current student) was awarded an Immigrants Rising 2020-2021 Catalyst Fund Fellowship.

    Daniela Carreon (current student) was awarded the Alumni Association Scholarship, the Hein Family Fellowship, and the J. Douglas and Marian R. Pardee Scholarship for 2020-2021.

    Liana Covarrubias (current student) presented her work, “Latinxs and the Struggle to Achieve a Higher Education” in the 2020 CSUSM Student Poster Showcase. She is also serving as a member of the CSUSM Graduate Representatives Council.

    Yazmin Doroteo (M.A. 2020): September 9, 2020, started a new journey learning to unpack the unknown and how to support others dealing with grief, anxiety, depression, and other circumstances. Since then, I have been looking into graduate programs focusing on Chican@ Studies, Cultural Studies, and other programs where I can write my dissertation on Grief and the impact it has on Chican@s. I currently applied to UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Los Angeles. I have been able to network with professionals in those universities. On a personal note, I will be an auntie in May 2021. I am so excited my younger sister (bestie) will be having her first child.(: So many beautiful changes! I will also be presenting my thesis work at the Pacific Sociological Association on March 18-21st, 2021 in San Diego, California (or virtual, COVID-pending). Title & Authorship: Testimonios of Xicanas in Continuation Schools, Yazmin Doroteo, California State University San Marcos

    Kayli Evans, Daniela Carreon, Laura Martinez, and Claudia Lacher (current students) have organized and successfully led multiple peer mentoring events this semester (and will continue to do so next semester)

    Marsha Gable has been named Interim Vice President of Student Services at Grossmont College.  See this Nov. 20, 2020 SD Union Tribune article for more details.

    Maricruz Gomez: I became a Residential Service Coordinator for PATH San Diego. PATH is a non-profit organization. Their mission is to end homelessness for individuals, families and communities.

    Claudia Lacher (current student) is serving as a member of the CSUSM Graduate Representatives Council.

    Lillian Nahar (M.A. 2016): I had the honor of being identified and selected as an expert in international cultural mediation by the San Diego BAR Association. I was selected to sit on a panel where I spoke and educated the legal community on the impact of culture and mediation. All attendees received mandatory continuing law education for attending my talk. The BAR also published my writing on the topic and is now available for all members to read. It was an incredible honor to be identified and chosen .

    Barbara Reyes (M.A. 2010) (a native of the Imperial Valley), earned tenure in the Sociology Department at Imperial Valley College. She is working on developing a Chicanx major at IVC and is developing new classes there, such as her recently approved La Chicana course.  

    Oscar Soto (M.A. 2016) coauthored an article with William Robinson, “Passive Revolution and the Movement against Mass Incarceration: From Prison Abolition to Redemption Script” that was published in the journal Social Justice.

    Elizabeth Wright (current student) completed her paralegal certificate from San Diego Miramar College during her first semester of the MASP program.

  • Summer 2020

    Katie Monderine Roethel Desai (M.A. 2016) gave birth to baby Bodhi, on July 9th. Katie is doing well, and she and her husband are loving their time with their son.

    Dr. Lori Walkington (M.A. 2011) celebrated the birth of her granddaughter, Ivy, who was born on June 25th. Dr. Walkington’s daughter Azhe is doing great and they are both enjoying the addition to their family.

    Brittney Anda (current student) completed the ACLU Summer Policy Institute.

    Sterling Briggs (M.A. 2020) accepted a part-time Sociology faculty position at Palomar College.

    Matthew Chase (M.A. 2015) works as the San Marcos Campus Librarian at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. Recently, he developed a digital exhibit series, which draws on critical theory and a Foucauldian perspective of knowledge production, to engage a discourse regarding the sociocultural impact of medicine. Two exhibits are currently available as in-depth works of open-access scholarship and education. Also, in response to the protests and calls for social justice, he has been teaching health sciences students and faculty on how to approach antiracist research, identify systematic bias in medical research, and utilize culturally responsive resources to assess health disparities.

    Rosa Conrad (M.A. 2015) is currently a graduate student in the Master of Library and Information Science program at San Jose State University. She has just been elected as the first president of SJSU's newly established REFORMA Student and Alumni Group. REFORMA is affiliated with the American Library Association and has chapters throughout the United States. REFORMA focuses on library services to Spanish speaking communities. The student chapter at SJSU will focus on building an inclusive organization of library science students and emerging professionals working toward equity for Spanish-speaking communities. This group and the executive committee was recently featured in the SJSU iSchool News and mentioned in the iSchool Alumni newsletter

    As the Outreach Coordinator at the CSUSM University Library, she has been working during this year's Summer Orientation, providing bilingual information about the Library's virtual services to Spanish-speaking students and their families. The transition to going virtual was unexpected but the knowledge she has gained through the program provided her with the necessary skills and tools needed to support our students through this challenging time.

    Lexus Criswell (M.A. 2019) was accepted into the SDICCA Regional Fellowship Program for the 2020-2021 academic year and will be mentored by Kathy Grove at Palomar College.

    Cynthia De La Rosa (current student) has been selected to be a 2020-2021 Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholar (Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Xuan Santos)

    Kayli Evans (current student) participated in a 2-day webinar called "Professional Grant Development Online Workshop" hosted by the Grant Training Center.

    James Garcia (M.A. 2020) is employed at MiraCosta College as an associate faculty member teaching an intro to sociology course. He is now the co-coordinator for SDICCCA at MiraCosta College and is co-authoring a genders studies textbook with MASP alum Sean Davis (M.A2013). He is also part of an educational podcast called S.A.F.E. Topics Podcast at MiraCosta where they talk about issues relating to community college students and faculty.

    Jordan Grasso (M.A. 2017) has been selected to be a CSU Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program Fellow while pursuing her Ph.D. at UC Irvine. (CSU faculty sponsor: Dr. Richelle Swan)

    Roxanna Llamas (M.A. 2017) was admitted to Alliant International University and will be pursuing her doctorate in Clinical Psychology with a multicultural emphasis.

    Laura Martinez (current student) took part in the 2020 Simon Initiative’s LearnLab Summer School at Carnegie Mellon University and their Educational Data Mining (EDM) program. She and Dr. Clark-Ibáñez presented their work, “Evaluating Qualitative Student Data Codes using LightSide.”

    Shawntae Mitchum (M.A. 2020) taught SOC 101 in the Umoja Summer Bridge program at MiraCosta College.  In addition, she is teaching Soc 101 at Alliant International University and helping build courses and requirements for a Black Studies degree/certificate at MCC.  She is a consultant for Oceanside Unified School District helping with the implementation of the Ethnic Studies requirement. 

    Kelsey Sportsman (M.A. 2019) has been accepted into the SDICCCA Regional Fellowship Program for the 2020-2021 year with Cuyamaca College. 

    Damon Stevens (M.A. 2020) was hired earlier this summer as a Student Support Specialist for the CSUSM Educational Opportunity Program (EOP).

    Dr. Lori Walkington (M.A. 2011) wrote a journal article, “Speak About It: Be About It: Spoken Word Poetry Communities and Transformative Social Justice”, that was published in Critical Criminology in June 2020. (Note: if you have CSUSM library access, you can order the article through CSUSM Interlibrary Loan).

    Edwina Williams (M.A. 2015) is continuing the work of the program she founded, Project LIKE (Literacy is Knowledge Empowerment) and she is currently seeking to hire several work study eligible students and/or interns for remote literacy projects. For more information, students can check out or email her directly at

  • Previous Years

    Angélica Ruíz  (M.A. 2019) was nominated for the CSUSM Graduate Dean’s Award for 2018-2019.

    Sterling Briggs (sponsored by Dr. Santos) has been awarded the 2019- 2020 Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholarship.

    Jamie Jackson has been awarded two 2019-2020 National Institute of Justice American Indian and Alaska Native Student Travel Scholarships.

    James Garcia, chair of the CSUSM Graduate Representatives Council (2018-2020), co-organized the university’s first Grad Slam and graduate student graduation celebration.

    Marilyn Huerta  co-organized an event for the 2019-2020 Arts & Lectures Series, “The Power of a Story: Building Resiliency for Veterans through Community and Conversations” 

    Noemi Jara (M.A. 2019) is continuing her community involvement with Native Like Water’s Intertribal Youth Program. 

    Norma Larios (M.A. 2011) will be joining the CSUSM Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs as the Director of Divisional Operations in August 2019.

    Jordan Grasso (M.A. 2017) will be joining UC Irvine’s doctoral program in Criminology, Law & Society in Fall 2019.

    Marilyn Huerta taught a 6 week-online course, Healing Through the Arts—Train the Trainer, for the CSU Palliative Care Institute:

    Vanessa Martinez and Filiberto Lopez-Barron (M.A. 2019) attended the  2019 California Forum for Diversity in Education at UC Davis.

    Kelsey Sportsman (M.A. 2019) presented a paper, Suburban Values: Meeting the Status Quo and Upholding White Supremacy Through Hyper-Local Social Networks, at the 4th Annual Sociology and Criminology & Justice Studies Research Symposium.

    Damon Stevens participated in the Graduate Fair at the 2019 Pacific Sociological Association Meeting in Oakland, California

    Katie Roethel  (M.A 2016 ) was reclassified and promoted to CSUSM’s Office of Graduate Studies and Research’s Budget and Research Analyst.

    Karen Villa (M.A 2015)  published in an edited collection, The Pilipinx Radical Imaginary Reader that was acknowledged by CNN Philippines.

    Daisy Avila has been awarded the 2018-2019 Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Fellowship. Dr.  Xuan Santos is her sponsor. 

    Kristen Schmidt (M.A. 2018) has been accepted to the Sociology Ph.D. Program at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

    Felipe Rendon (M.A. Spring 2018) has been awarded the Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Fellowship (sponsor: Dr. Santos).  He will work with Dr. Emir Estrada at Arizona State University as part of his fellowship.

    Dawn Lee (M.A. Fall 2017) was nominated for the CSUSM Graduate Dean’s Award for 2017-2018 .  

    Roxanna Llamas (M.A. 2017) will be presenting her thesis research at the 11th Global Studies Conference in Granada, Spain this July. 

    Olivia Victory  (M.A. 2016) is working as a program coordinator for a non-profit called Promises2Kids. 

    Karen Villa (M.A 2015) has been accepted to the Sociology doctoral program at University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) for Fall 2018.

    Yolanda Catano  (M.A. 2015) is currently working as the Administrative Technician of the Title III, HSI STEM Grant at San Diego Mesa College. In addition, she works part-time as the HSI Educational Researcher at Cuyamaca College and she was accepted into the EdD Program in Educational Leadership at San Diego State for Fall 2018. 

    Martin Leyva was awarded the 2017 the Student Champion for Inclusive Excellence Award by President Haynes.

    Luis Canseco, Noemi Jara, Filiberto Lopez-Barron, Martin Leyva, Vanessa Martinez were awarded 2017-2018 Hein Family Fellowships. 

    Barbara Imle was accepted to the Sociology Ph.D. program at Portland State University and will be joining them in Fall 2017.

    Luis Higinio was accepted to the Ph.D. program in Sociology at the University of California Riverside and granted the prestigious Eugene Cota Robles Award. He will be joining them in Fall 2017.

    Jose (Stalin) Plascencia-Castillo, Ph.D. student at University of California Riverside has been accepted to the 2017/2018 CSU Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program. His CSU sponsor is Dr. Chris Bickel.

    Lori Walkington, Ph.D. student at University of California Riverside was accepted into 2016/2017 CSU Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program. Her sponsor is Dr. Sharon Elise.

    Tanya Camacho, Denise Nealon, and Flor Saldana were awarded the 2016-17 Hein Family Scholarship.

    Oscar Soto was awarded the 2015-2016 Chancellor’s Office Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Fellowship. He now attends the Sociology doctoral program at University of California Santa Barbara.

    Congratulations to Dr. Marisol Clark-Ibáñez and various MASP student collaborators on publishing their book, Undocumented Latino Youth: Navigating Their Worlds, in July 2015. Learn more about the book.