Campus: San Diego State University -- May 4, 2004

More than 9,600 Students Eligible For SDSU Commencement

Ceremonies May 13-16; Producer Kathleen Kennedy to Receive Honorary Degree

For 21-year-old Edward Steven Jimenez, time as an undergraduate at San Diego State University is coming to an end. But the opportunities for this Mathematics major, who was named Outstanding Student of the Year in the College of Sciences, are just beginning.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I came here out of high school, but my experience has been above and beyond anything I could have dreamed about,” said Jimenez, whose research on “diabatic distillation columns” has the potential to help save energy and money during the petroleum refining process. “The administration, the faculty, everyone else on campus felt strongly about putting student needs first.”
Jimenez, whose work has earned him awards, international conference presentations, and now admission to a five-year Ph.D. program in Biological Mathematics at the University of Arizona, is just one of approximately 9,627 students who have been approved to participate in commencement ceremonies next month at the Imperial Valley campus or at Cox Arena. The total (adjusted for double majors) includes 7,418 bachelor’s degree candidates, 2,321 master’s degree candidates, and 20 doctoral candidates. The ceremony schedule is as follows:
Thursday, May 13:
• 7 p.m., Rollie Carrillo Quad, Imperial Valley Campus, Calexico

Friday, May 14:
• 11 a.m., College of Health and Human Services (Cox Arena)
• 4 p.m., College of Business Administration (Cox Arena)

Saturday, May 15:
• 8 a.m., College of Arts and Letters (Cox Arena)
• 1 p.m., College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts (Cox Arena)

Sunday, May 16:
• 8 a.m., College of Education and Division of Undergraduate Studies (Cox Arena)
• 1 p.m., College of Sciences and College of Engineering (Cox Arena)

The commencement weekend will also include awarding an honorary degree to 1979 Television, Film and New Media alumna Kathleen Kennedy during the Professional Studies and Fine Arts ceremony. Kennedy is now one of the most influential executives in Hollywood, and her achievements include producing films such as “E.T.” and “Jurassic Park” and co-founding the Amblin Entertainment production company along with Steven Spielberg and Frank Marshall.
Commencement ceremonies beginning 4 p.m., May 14 though May 16 will be broadcast live on:
• Cox Cable, Channel 23
• Cox North, Channel 18 (excluding Oceanside)
• Time Warner Cable, Channel 19

Due to a scheduling conflict, the College of Health and Human Services ceremony (11 a.m., Friday, May 14) will not be broadcast live. It will instead be broadcast at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 15. The ceremonies may also be viewed on the Internet at (Note: This link will become active on May 14.)
More information about commencement is available at
SDSU is the oldest and largest institution of higher education in the San Diego region. Founded in 1897, SDSU offers bachelor's degrees in 79 areas, master's degrees in 67 and doctorates in 14. SDSU's more than 33,000 students participate in academic curricula distinguished by direct contact with faculty and an increasing international emphasis that prepares them for a global future. For more information log on to

Other commencement 2004 Story Ideas:

• Outstanding Students: SDSU students from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds have incredible stories of inspiration and achievement as they prepare to pursue careers in areas ranging from teaching to civil service to the sciences. (See the attached list of students available to interview.)
• Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) Graduates: This year marks the graduation of the first full class of HTM students, and just in time to meet a burst in the needs of San Diego’s tourism industry, sparked in particular by the opening of Petco Park and nearby hotels and restaurants. Of the 32 students set to participate in commencement, 27 already have secured employment in the industry.
• Educational Doctorate (Ed.D.) Graduates: This year will see the first graduates from the SDSU-USD joint doctoral program in education. The first seven graduates next month (with another seven set to graduate this summer) are professional educators seeking enhanced specialization and skills in education technology or literacy. The literacy students, for example, may go on to become consultants and designers, developing literacy programs for different segments of the community, such as alternative schools, juvenile hall programs, and charter schools, or become involved in preparing K-12 teachers to help their students achieve a higher level of literacy in the language arts. The education technology specialists can go on to design educational software for use in the classroom, or for business and industry training programs, or serve as employee development specialists who can analyze, design, develop, implement and evaluate training programs.

• SDSU Ranks Among Top Schools for Hispanic Graduates: The magazine The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education on Monday ranked SDSU No. 7 in the nation for bachelor’s degrees awarded to Hispanics, and No. 16 in the nation for master’s degrees awarded to Hispanics. SDSU Provost Nancy Marlin says this is significant because it means “SDSU is an institution that values ethnic diversity in the academic success of our students, as evidenced in their graduation, and not simply diversity in our enrollment.”

Media Parking and Cox Arena Access:

Parking is free each day. Media parking (for non-satellite trucks) will be reserved on Level 2 of Parking Structure 4, located off Aztec Circle Drive across the street from L Lot. Media will have access to the rear of the Cox Arena floor through the ground floor entrance next to L Lot, off of Aztec Circle Drive. Media must provide name in advance or show media ID for entry. For directions or to inquire about other arrangements, contact Jason Foster at (619) 594-2585 (office) or (619) 620-1184 (pager).

San Diego State University
2004 Commencement Profiles

The following students will participate as graduates in San Diego State University’s 2004 commencement ceremonies. To arrange interviews, please contact Jason Foster, SDSU Marketing & Communications, at (619) 594-2585 (office), (619) 620-1184 (pager), (619) 992-0772 (cell) or

Edward Steven Jimenez
Degree: Bachelor of Science, Mathematics
Jimenez won the College of Sciences 2004 Outstanding Student Award and Quest for the Best award for top students and community leaders. He works as a tutor, mentor and workshop leader in enrichment courses for engineering students. He was accepted into the Alliance for Minority Participation program, a National Science Foundation-funded project that helps encourages under-represented students in the math and science fields. Jimenez plans to work toward a doctoral degree in biological mathematics after graduating.

Lance Larson
Degree: Bachelor of Science, Information and Decision Systems
Larson’s entrepreneurial interests began at age 14 when he started working with South Coast Computing, a computer repair service. Today, he runs OC Hosting, Inc., a corporation offering high-speed Internet access and other services to 2,000 customers worldwide. Larson was featured in “Student Entrepreneurs: 14 Undergraduate All-Stars Tell Their Stories,” and named “Entrepreneur of the Year” for the Southwestern Region of the Global Student Entrepreneur Competition. His goal is to earn an MBA while expanding OC Hosting, Inc. into the world’s largest Web-hosting provider.

Genaro Hernandez
Degree: Bachelor of Science, Chemistry
In the spring of 2003, the National Institutes of Health awarded Hernandez a scholarship for his achievements. He worked with Professor Douglas Grotjahn on the synthesis and characterization of organic compounds, and has led several presentations before professional audiences. Hernandez is a mentor and tutor in math and science to inner-city high school students, as well as a clinic volunteer for the Flying Samaritans, where he helps Spanish-speaking students communicate with their English-speaking doctors. After graduation, he intends to pursue a doctoral degree in biomedical research.

Jennifer Spritz-Seitel
Degree: Bachelor of Arts, Communications, emphasis in public relations
At the age of 16, Spritz-Seitel was in a horrific car accident that took the life of her younger sister. She was left paralyzed and doctors told her she probably wouldn’t walk again. Today she has a 3-year-old daughter, is about to publish “Mommy Why Are You Different,” a children’s book explaining disabilities, and works as a “poster child” and spokesperson for Sharp Health Care’s Rehabilitation Center. Spritz-Seitel plans to continue her work of inspiring others with disabilities to achieve success.

Jose Cruz
Degree: Bachelor of Science, Psychology
Cruz is a Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) scholar. MARC encourages minority students to pursue doctoral degrees in biomedical and behavioral science. Working with Professor Thierry Devos, he has conducted research focusing on the stereotypical beliefs about the academic abilities of Latinos. Cruz presented this paper at the annual conference for the Society for Advancement for Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. After graduating, Cruz is looking forward to post-graduate study in the field of psychology.

Sergio Zabala
Degree: Bachelor of Arts, International Security and Conflict Resolution (ISCOR), Spanish minor
Zabala spent last spring and summer as a foreign service intern in Rome. Following an intensive background investigation by the State Department, he was recently accepted to work as an operations specialist for the organization starting this summer. “ISCOR is the best preparation I could have ever had for a field in foreign affairs,” he said.

Rostana Wardak
Degree: Bachelor of Arts, Hospitality and Tourism Management, emphasis in hotel operations management
Wardak is one of four SDSU students admitted to the Marriott Hotels’ management development program. Wardak came to the U.S. from Afghanistan at the age of 3. She founded the SDSU student chapter of the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality. In February, NSMH awarded the chapter “National Chapter of the Year” honors. This summer, Wardak will work as an assistant front desk manager at the Coronado Island Marriott Hotel. More than a dozen family members will join her at commencement, including cousins visiting from Australia, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Alex Panos
Degree: Bachelor of Arts, Music
Alex plays bass trombone, won a San Diego Symphony competition in fall 1999 and performed solo with the Symphony. He works part-time for the San Diego Symphony, San Diego Chamber Orchestra and the San Diego Opera. After graduation Panos will teach high school trombone students privately and continue educational outreach on behalf of SDSU’s Brador Brass Quintet.

Marc Stevens
Degree: Bachelor of Arts, English; Minor: Television & Film
Stevens won SDSU’s prestigious Quest for the Best award and was accepted into SDSU’s MFA program. He’s a member of the Television Academy of the Arts and Sciences (in charge of the Emmy Awards). Stevens is in the Mortar Board, Phi Beta Cappa, Phi Cappa Phi, and Golden Key honor societies, and leads a Family Literacy Foundation group high school students reading to preschoolers once a week. Upon completion of his master’s degree, Stevens plans to become a teacher.

Polly Petersen
Degree: Master of Arts, Philosophy (SDSU ‘74; B.A. in Economics)
Petersen was born and raised in India – her parents were missionaries. She plans to travel to India this summer where she will work as a computer systems analyst at a Christian boarding school in the Himalayan Mountains. After four years in India, she hopes to study and teach Eastern philosophy in the United States.

June Nguyen
Degree: Master of Arts, Education, specializing in K-8 Mathematics Education
June is the Outstanding Student for the School of Teacher Education’s Class of 2004. She has taught first grade at San Luis Rey Elementary School in Oceanside since 2000 and earned her master’s degree because to become better skilled and more confident in teaching math – and she also noticed a need for more women math teachers. “When I was in school, I wasn’t that comfortable with math. But now, as a teacher, I love it,” she says. She mentors high school students, and has conducted research aimed at improving our understanding of how students grasp mathematical concepts such as fractions.

Rielly Embrey
Degree: Bachelor of Science, Kinesiology
Playing first base for the SDSU Baseball team, Rielly was named to the District 8 Academic All-American team after last season. With a 3.98 GPA, he is a four-time recipient of the Jim Malick Award, presented to the SDSU student athlete with the highest GPA. Considered one of SDSU’s top defensive players, he overcame an injured thumb in 2001 to become a member of the Mountain West Conference All-Academic team for the next three years. He hopes to become a high school teacher and coach. Special note: Embrey hit the first home run in Petco Park history during the Aztec Invitational baseball tournament.

Contacts: Jason Foster, (619) 594-2585, (619) 620-1184 pager,

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