Students selected to represent CHSS at 2018 Commencement

Monday, May 21, 2018

As part of a longstanding tradition, each of San Francisco State University’s six academic colleges selects one undergraduate and one graduate student for the honor of representing their fellow students during the University’s Commencement ceremony by wearing their college’s academic hood.

Two outstanding students will wear the College of Health & Social Sciences’ hood at SF State’s 117th Commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 24. In addition, a student with a double major in the College of Ethnic Studies and the College of Health & Social Sciences will be the undergraduate student speaker.

Graduate Hood

Steven Machek (M.S., Kinesiology, ’18)

Steven MachekSteven Machek applied the same persistence he learned in becoming a powerlifter to his undergrad and graduate work at SF State. Machek was inspired to earn his B.S. in Dietetics because he wanted to learn about how to maintain healthy weight through better nutrition. That knowledge in turn led him to Kinesiology where he found that weightlifting, powerlifting and other sports improved his physical and mental health. His experience as a powerlifter in particular permeated every aspect of his life, including academics. “You don’t make improvements unless you do something consistently over time,” he said. Machek’s master’s thesis involves analyzing muscle tissues from an elite powerlifter and will be the first such comprehensive microscopy imaging study.

While working toward his master’s degree, Machek was a researcher in the Muscle Physiology Laboratory, a teaching assistant and a founding member of the Kinesiology Department’s Strength and Conditioning Club. Machek leaves for Texas in August to accept a fully-funded Ph.D. position at Baylor University. Ultimately, he hopes to become a college professor and share his knowledge, experience and passion with others.

Undergraduate Hood

Lucia Alvarez (B.A., Child & Adolescent Development, ’18)

Lucia AlvarezA computer engineer in her native Nicaragua, Lucia Alvarez immigrated to the United States in 2006 with her 11-year old son and became a substitute teacher in a bilingual classroom. There, she found a passion for teaching. “I fell in love with the children immediately,” she said. “That’s why I started with this new career.”

Alvarez is graduating from SF State with a bachelor’s degree in Child and Adolescent Development with an emphasis on Early Childhood education. At the same time, she’s worked full-time as a lead teacher with the Institute for Human and Social Development’s East Palo Alto Head Start program.

At SF State, she served as a leader and a mentor in the CAD PATH program. Her action research proposal focused on housing insecurity in young children, and she sees early-childhood education as something that has effects that reach far outside of the classroom. “My passion is giving back to the community,” Alvarez said. “As a teacher, I can support other people who struggle and help them improve their lives.”

With her degree she hopes to eventually move on to leadership roles in education, but always with a focus on advocacy for low-income families.

Undergraduate Student Speaker

Arianna Vargas (B.A., Latino/Latina Studies/B.S., Health Education, ’18)

Arianna Vargas is recognized for her outstanding leadership and academic achievement during her years as a double major in Latina/Latino Studies (College of Ethnic Studies) and Health Education (College of Health & Social Sciences), with a minor in Education. Vargas, who will be wearing the College of Ethnic Studies’ hood, entered SF State as a freshman and carried her activist and advocacy work from high school into the larger context of the University. She has established herself as a vocal advocate for youth, focusing on the rights and needs of underrepresented youth of color and issues of public health in underserved communities. Her many achievements add up to a pattern of leadership and advocacy for progressive change and community empowerment. 

Read about all the SF State students who will be wearing hoods and/or speaking in SF State News.