Lobsang Marcia, Alfonso Solis and Blanca Arteaga are three of the outstanding graduates who will be honored at San Francisco State University commencement on May 25.
Raised by his grandmother in Nicaragua until he was 17, Marcia spoke limited English when he reunited with his mother in the U.S. in 2006. Despite this limitation, he obtained his high school equivalency and completed a medical assistant training program, leading to a job working with uninsured HIV patients at San Francisco General Hospital.
Working at the hospital inspired him to pursue a college degree so he could gain the skills necessary to improve healthcare for marginalized groups. He will realize this goal be when he earns his degree in health education from SF State.
As a student, his research has involved evaluating the risk for HIV and alcoholism among migrant day laborers. He volunteers in Berkeley to teach English to day laborers and helps this same population navigate San Francisco’s health care program through a program at Stanford.
This year, as an officer with SF State’s Health Education Student Association, he helped organize the university’s first public health summit. Marcia has applied for a public policy fellowship with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in Washington, D.C, and plans to get his medical degree so he can continue to work on behalf of vulnerable groups. Marcia lives in San Francisco.
Solis credits his father, a Mexican immigrant and truck driver who had a passion for learning, with instilling in him the importance of education. A native of Fontana in Southern California, he was originally attracted to SF State for its strong cinema program and planned on a career making crowd-pleasing blockbusters.
But he soon saw the power of documentary film to reveal stories and issues that may not otherwise have been told. One of his films, through following a single teenage mother’s struggle for reproductive justice, examines the ideological conflicts in the Latino community over sexuality among young people.
Another, filmed in China, explores the community and health benefits of Tai Chi. Solis also helped organize SF State’s annual Human Rights Summit and delivered a paper on the underground health network in Syria. Currently working as an editor for LinkTV, Solis is preparing for a career in cinema.
Solis lives in San Francisco.
Personal experience galvanized Blanca Arteaga’s commitment to helping disadvantaged students succeed in school. Raised by a single mom, she came to the U.S. from Mexico with her mother when she was seven.
Going to college was unheard of in her family – her parents did not complete high school – but Arteaga enrolled at Gilroy’s Gavilan College. The support she received from a counselor at the college inspired her to make a career out of helping other first-generation college students.
She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from San Jose State University and worked as a high school and community college counselor before joining the staff team at Gavilan College, where she is now a counselor working with students with social, economic, and educational challenges.
Arteaga was drawn to SF State’s educational doctorate because of its focus on social justice and equity. In her workplace, she saw that more research was needed on what helps first-generation community college students succeed.
For her doctoral dissertation, she used a California Community College as her research site. She studied first-generation, low-income, Latino students and their perspectives and experiences of college counseling. She has already shared her findings with colleagues, will present them at professional conferences and hopes to publish in the future.
Arteaga lives in Gilroy with her husband and four-year-old daughter.