Sacramento State Logo
The Buzz Around Student Affairs
Newsletter of Today

News for the Month of June 2020
A Letter to Staff and Faculty From Students Malachi Powell and Nahom Semere
It has been a long time coming. Today we are starting to stand up to the many injustices in this nation that have been swept under the rug for generations.
We are tired. We are exhausted. We feel empty. The stress and expectations placed on young people of color at birth are taking a toll on all of us. But we will not stop now, we must continue this movement and this fight for equality until we reach a point that is satisfying to us and that we feel will do justice to those we lost along the way.
The current state of the world we’re living in is beyond terrible. We are angry, heartbroken, and confused. Things have always been bad in terms of police brutality, but now they’ve just gotten worse. During these troubled times, all we can really ask of staff is to be a listening ear. 
As our staff and professors, we ask you for support in a time like this. We appreciate that you may not be able to understand. But all that we ask of you is to be respectful of our differences and be aware of our struggles. If you can and are willing to, offer us an ear to listen. Pay attention to signs, and if a student begins to struggle in class, be the change we want to see in this world.
We know that for some, it will be impossible to grasp and understand what it is like to be African American in the world. Right now things are difficult for African Americans, especially African American males. To brush off these issues as if they are not real and are not of utter importance is ignorant. All we ask for is that staff, professors, and members of the Sac State community hear us.
Malachi Powell '22 and Nahom Semere '22
Ed Talks will continue in July. With the environment ever-changing and news invoking so many emotions, we want to know what is on your mind. Please share your feelings, thoughts,
and questions with us.
Vice President, Dr. Ed Mills will reply to your comments during the July edition of
The Buzz Around Student Affairs.
Click to submit a question for next month's Ed Talk.
Ask Ed!

Mic'd Up Students!

The Mic'd Up Students podcast is the latest episodic series that was introduced by the students of Sacramento State and designed to appeal to the student body interest. This new platform is hosted by Nahom Semere '22 (Business), Malachi Powell '22 (Economics), and Ayra Nunez '21 (Communications).

Their content embodies exciting and engaging topics that students can relate to by addressing sensitive events that go on throughout the world. Semere states, "In doing so, we are building a platform where students can express their questions or concerns to any of my team members or myself. This allows the Mic'd Up team to organize an episode that goes in-depth as to why the selected topic may be an issue that needs to be discussed. We also do research before recording, and discover new possible ways that the university community can go about fixing the issue."

The Mic'd Up Students team trusts that their presence on campus has tremendous potential in positively informing, entertaining, and uniting their Sacramento State audience. Their goal is to create a relationship between faculty and students. Episodes such as Media Influences, Music, Code-switching, and the Black Lives Matter movement are a few of the recordings that have been released to the public. "We are a very dynamic trio; we find ways to make all our topics interesting and engaging with comedic relief. There is not one episode that is a bore to listen to," stated Semere.

Their podcast is now streaming on many podcasting services currently available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Podbean. To date, season one of the show is complete, and they are currently working on recording season two. "Share it with your friends and let us work together to bring positive changes to our campus and our campus community," added the Mic'd Up team.
Listen Now: Mic'd Up Students
Student Health and Counseling: 
Continuing to Support Our Students, On and Off-Campus
With the ever-changing social environment and the fluctuating range of emotions that have dominated the year, the health and wellness of our students never get a day off. Central to the Student Health and Counseling support system is our Counseling staff, a team of 17 licensed mental health providers committed to serving our students and supporting their needs as they navigate life on and off-campus. In the final three months of the semester, as the campus moved virtual, the counselors held nearly 900 student counseling sessions, not including attendance at weekly group sessions.

Reflecting on the experience of transitioning to a remote work environment, Dr. Rebecca Thompson says, “It all came upon us quickly and we had to ramp up and make a lot of changes in a short amount of time.” More than just addressing how to continue to serve students and navigate University policy, the team was faced with the added challenge of dealing with licensing boards and various legal issues related to offering telehealth services. “We had to come together as a team to make it work. It was all a bit overwhelming, but all of the counseling staff is really open-minded and committed to serving the students. So whatever we determined would be logistically possible while also maintaining ethical codes and legal responsibilities for our professions, all staff were on board with and there was no lapse in service,” says Thompson. This included finding new ways of screening for and providing urgent care and select in-person services. Throughout the spring semester, one staff remained in the office ready and available to address in-person student needs.

Student’s concerns and reactions came in waves throughout the semester. As the campus closed students dealt with emotions related to housing, finances, and online classes, as well as COVID-19 health concerns. For graduating seniors, the loss of commencement was a very emotional experience. Emotions settled briefly as the semester continued, but counselors report seeing in recent weeks a rise in the level of anxiety and concerns stemming from conversations relating to the death of George Floyd and in response to recent protests. “Students are struggling with feeling hopeless and helpless with everything going on in the world. Wanting to help but not sure how they can,” says Dr. Kristal Valdovinos.

With societal tensions flaring and the spring semester at a close, the Counseling staff reports a strong student retention rate, with many students continuing to seek support. Counselor Jasmine
De Alba, LCSW, expressed gratitude that in this emotional time, students still feel safe enough talking to the counselors about how they are feeling.

As Sacramento State moves toward a second semester in a virtual setting, it is important to recognize that the student experience is going to be different for everyone. Anxieties are as much about taking classes online, as they are about how they are going to balance rising financial, health, and family concerns. “For many it's a question of how has the pandemic affected their lives and how has that in turn affected school rather than, if everything else was normal and classes were online, things would be much different,” says Thompson.

How do we support our students and ourselves at this time?
Operating in the background is a growing sense of isolation as many students are suffering from a loss of social contacts. In response to this growing isolation and grief, the Counseling staff has launched a Surviving Isolation Group into their group counseling options and is seeing a strong response.

“One of the kindest gifts we can give is to just take some opportunity to let people talk and to listen to them. Sharing more of yourself personally now, than in the past. Not everything requires counseling necessarily, and there is a lot that can happen just through people being open and making time for each other,” says Director of Counseling Services, Dr. Ron Lutz.

In sessions, counselors find themselves doing a lot of validating about what students are feeling and going through, reminding them to reach out to people in their life and to stay connected. Don’t forget to go through the motions of taking care of themselves every day, having a routine, eating regular meals, and making time to exercise and recreate. They also advise that it is okay to take a break from the news and social media every day.

For staff and managers helping their students and staff cope with their emotions, Dr. Lutz reiterates, “Make time in meetings for people to just share what is going on. It is ok to spend a little less time on administrative things. By letting people share openly and talk, we can learn from each other and find shared ways of coping.” It is also recommended to actively practice self-compassion. This is a stressful time for everyone and it is important to embrace our emotions and understand that we may not always feel like our best selves.
Thank you to Director of Counseling, Dr. Ron Lutz, Dr. Rebecca Thompson, Dr. Kristal Valdovinos, and Ms. Jasmine De Alba, LCSW for contributing to this story, as well as the entire Counseling staff for their efforts.

How to learn more and get involved.
The Student Health and Counseling team is actively partnering with campus departments and in recent weeks has found welcome partners in many cultural departments on campus. If a department or team wants training for how to manage mental health within their programs, the Counseling staff is available to make it happen.

Departments and individuals looking to partner or seeking resources can reach out directly to the Director, Dr. Ron Lutz (8-7358) or or any one of the Counseling staff.

Student Health and Counseling’s customer service reps are also available and able to direct calls to the appropriate resources across Primary Health, Counseling, or Health and Wellness side of SHCS as needed. Customer Service Reps can be reached at (8-6461).

The HirEd Podcast, Recording Soon!

In Fall 2019, the Career Center approached Student Affairs Marketing and Communications with an idea for a new and innovative way of connecting with students: start a podcast, to bring the conversation of career readiness to the students and allow them to engage with it in their own time and ways. The HirEd podcast will record season one this summer and be available for streaming in Fall 2020. 

Hosted by Career Development Specialist Emma Wadiak and PRIDE Center Coordinator, Melissa Muganzo Murphy, The HirEd podcast will explore job search topics such as networking and resume building, as well as subjects related to personal and professional growth such as personal authenticity, workplace culture, and overcoming barriers to success. Each episode of the podcast will feature a conversation with a notable member of the Sac State family or Sacramento Business Community, collecting stories of professional successes and failures and allowing students to learn through the experiences of others. 

“I think the podcast will allow the Career Center to engage so much more authentically with campus departments, as well as a variety of external employers. Career development is a very human experience, and I think it's important we talk about it that way. I hope students can hear these stories, see pieces of themselves woven within them, reflect on what these insights may mean for them as individuals, and know they have what it takes to succeed in the workplace and beyond,” says Wadiak. 

The HirEd podcast will also allow the Career Center a unique opportunity to embrace the upcoming virtual semester. With the campus closed, students cannot engage with career services in traditional ways. As the Career Center continues to provide virtual counseling and events, “The HirEd podcast provides an additional opportunity to embed career more fluidly into courses and curricula and increase the visibility of the importance of career development in the college experience,” says Dr. Melissa Repa, Director of the Career Center. This podcast will allow the Career Center the opportunity to continue to advance their vision of "Helping Dreams Become Reality Through Career and Community" as well as investing in the current and future success of students.

“I'm a big fan of the idea of meeting students where they are at. They are incredibly busy balancing the competing demands of school, work, family, and social obligations. Podcasts are something you can listen to at leisure, while you're in the car, at your desk, on a run, or preparing a meal. Bringing The HirEd podcast to campus will make career development insights more accessible for our students and allow them to learn at their own pace, on their own time, at their preferred location,” says Wadiak.

If you are interested in learning more about the podcast, please connect with Student Affairs Marketing and Communications at Stay tuned for more information on episodes and release dates.

Student Feature: Nina Nguyen

Before the spring semester came to an end, writing tutor Nina Nguyen, worked as a part-time student employee at the Peer and Academic Resource Center (PARC). She explained how life at work has transformed after the spread of COVID-19 forced her to cancel her habitual routine.

In one of Nguyen’s monthly meetings, it was reported that the statistics for students utilizing the program has remained the same. However, she has received fewer tutees than the math and physics tutors. The subjects related to STEM were usually booked, mentioned Nguyen. “As for writing, I do not get as many tutees anymore, but this is because it is easier for students to see and understand the errors that I point out to them in person instead of online,” she stated. She has also experienced students who would rather meet with her in person rather than Zoom. Thus, those students have not scheduled appointments.

Before the outbreak transpired, tutoring and advising her peers in person seemed easier. When her students would schedule to meet in person, they were able to build trust and felt comfortable seeking her out for tutoring help. Another barrier that she faced while working from home was dealing with technical problems during a Zoom session. Occasionally, there would be audio, webcam, and screen sharing issues.

Fortunately, she has experience with online classes and the pandemic has not affected her from performing academically well. Although, she noted that the stay-at-home orders have taken a toll on her mental health. She can no longer meet with her friends or enjoy that long relaxing drive to school. On the bright side, she said, “I’m learning to adapt to these conditions and trying to remain positive.”

The PARC team remains supportive and helpful while being away from the office by communicating through the Slack app, creating chats, emailing, and updating one another. Tutors from the program are reaching out to professors so that they can inform their students about the tutoring opportunities that are being offered in many academic subjects. As for Nina, she keeps a positive mindset and shines a bright light for her future ahead.

Staff Highlight: Mary Ann Wong

The staff in the Division of Student Affairs strive for the success of the Hornet community. Their efforts in reaching out to students have increased more than ever before, owing to the new changes the
COVID-19 pandemic has brought forth. Student Affairs Project and Program Evaluation Manager, Mary Ann Wong, shares her experience while raising her children and working from home.
“Managing work and raising kids can be challenging. When the kids were still in school, they would come to my workspace because they have questions for me regarding schoolwork. I have to stop what I’m doing to address their needs,” she states. In light of the circumstances, she has found new ways to relax while being in quarantine. At least once a week she participates in calming meditation sessions.
With the stay-at-home orders set in place, Wong feels that her health is not being put at risk. She also appreciates that the decision was made to control the virus from spreading. She admits that she misses visiting her friends and family, and her plans for making a trip to Hawaii for this summer have also been canceled. However, she intends to “escape the Sacramento heat” by making a trip to San Francisco for a few days.
Working at home is not so bad for Wong since she does not have to drive almost an hour to get to campus and explains that she gets to spend more quality time with her children. 
Staff Highlight: Charles Cole 
Admissions and Outreach (A&O) is on the frontline of addressing how to keep prospective students motivated and excited about attending Sac State. Interacting with audiences on campus and in the community, Admissions and Outreach plays an active role in building and maintaining relationships with the public, as well as engaging with prospective students and selling the future of being a Sacramento State Hornet.

One of the largest departments on campus in terms of staffing, production, and marketing, Admissions and Outreach has 31 full-time staff, consisting of admission counselors, evaluators, communications, and administrative support staff. In addition to the full-time staff, 19 student ambassadors are working from home, responding to emails, data entry, phone calls, and conducting virtual tours.

Senior Associate Director of Admissions and Outreach, Charles Cole, is an important part of the team responsible for problem-solving the question of how to drive engagement and enrollment in a virtual Sac State experience. “To be honest I don’t know if things will go back to the way they were. This is uncharted territory,” says Cole. Before COVID-19, the majority of our work done by A&O was in-person, consisting of traveling regionally and throughout California. However, the landscape is changing quickly, and virtual events are becoming the new normal. Recruitment events such as college fairs, and high school and community college visits are all exploring life in the virtual space. “This will be our goal over the summer to come with a recruitment strategy in a virtual format. This will be our biggest test. Luckily, we’ve had 3 months of practice,” says Cole.

Like many departments, A&O is discovering new ways to do the work. Cole says that A&O has always embraced virtual related platforms, such as chats, tele-counseling, video conferences, and emails only on a much smaller scale. With the campus operating remotely in the Fall, A&O recruitment efforts will rely exclusively on virtual platforms.

Getting everyone on the A&O team the necessary resources required to work remotely was challenging, but with help from Student Affairs IT and IRT they were able to get the appropriate technology to staff and students to keep things running. In addition, the transition to working from home has been challenging for many. Charles recalls transitioning to a home office shared with his wife and children who are now also working from home and the challenge of finding balance and carving out space with minimal interruption. “It took a lot of practice, but we found a way to work together,” says Cole.

When asked what he misses most about being on campus, Cole answered “Personally, I miss the old normal. From going to the Round House to playing noon hour basketball. I miss most of all the students, my colleagues, and the squirrels.”
Staff Highlight: Karyl Burwell
& the STAR Awards

Student Affairs Business Operations (SABO) is hard at work keeping the business running and ensuring the congruency in the day to day operations of the Division. Six full-time staff, as well as two students, are spending their hours compiling information related to work from home, documenting new processes, managing and reporting all of the Telework Agreements, CPAL forms, requests for student assistants and CARES funding requests. For March and April, they were responsible for entering, approving, and submitting more than 350 student timesheets per month to Payroll, allowing students to focus on their own challenges. 

Director of Business Operations, Karyl Burwell, considers herself fortunate to work with a team of genuinely talented, dedicated, and engaged individuals. Reflecting on the transition to a virtual office, Burwell says, “The first week or so we were a bit disconnected as a team, but daily Zoom meetings and weekly one-on-ones with the staff have helped a lot and allowed us to come together as a team and manage individual projects and responsibilities.” With the support of SA-IT, the Business Operations team recently began to use Microsoft Teams. “Microsoft Teams has been a game-changer. We’re able to work together in real-time on reports, spreadsheets, and presentations. And with Teams we can video call each other any time; it’s almost like walking to one another’s office when we have a quick question,” says Burwell. 

Although work is running smoothly now, Karyl Burwell misses being on campus. “One of the best things about working at Sac State is the beautiful campus and the community of students and fellow employees we are able to connect with throughout the day. As a team, we miss the connections with people and running into people on campus who you would not otherwise see in a meeting.” 

The Staff Talent Appreciation & Retention or STAR awards are a way for staff and managers to recognize the meaningful work happening throughout the Division. “We all get busy, and it’s hard to find the time to recognize and celebrate the contributions staff make to help our students, each other, and the campus as a whole to succeed. We’ve all faced new challenges as a result of
COVID-19 and remote work. The fact that the Division was able to transition to remote work, juggle the various new responsibilities that came along with COVID-19 while also maintaining our focus on student success, and staying connected with each other is amazing. It’s a true reflection of the talents and contributions of staff throughout the Division,” says Burwell. 

In light of COVID-19, the Business Operations team is getting creative and exploring some new and fun ways for announcing the upcoming winners. Nominations were due on June 6 and winners will be acknowledged this summer. Stay tuned for more details to come.
Click Below for information and videos of past winners. 
Past STAR Award Winners

Health and Wellness: Meditation

In times such as these, it is natural to feel uneasy, anxious, or unsettled during your day-to-day life. 
Trying to find peace and harmony within yourself and your space is essential to creating a healthy environment and mindset. So along with your daily morning coffee, why don't you squeeze in a meditation session?
Meditation is a calming practice you can use every day to energize, clear your mind, and even get that restful sleep you might have been lacking.
According to Integrative and Functional Medicine Physician and writer for, Alejandra Carrasco, meditation is an impactful and efficient way to alleviate stress, anxiety and may even prevent certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease. 
Not only can meditation sessions last for how short or long you desire, but certain apps such as Mindful, Headspace, Calm, and Simple Habit can help you form a healthy habit of daily mindfulness. 
Click the links below to learn more about how to meditate and to learn about its benefits.
How to Meditate
5 Benefits of Meditation
The SA-IT web resource page is a great place to obtain updates, tutorials, and helpful resources. Keep a lookout for a “Frequently Asked Questions” section that will highlight the most common issues that have been encountered while working from home. 
We are in the cyberspace assisting with any tech need from quick IT questions, IT equipment request, web changes, document image separation, etc.
Remember that you can also find us using the following available resources:
Phone: (916) 278-2745
Chat/Meeting via Microsoft Teams, Skype4Business or Zoom: sa-it or stdaf-01
Text/Meeting via FaceTime, Google DUO or WhatsApp: (916)-984-5354     
Please use our web resource page to get updates, tutorials, and helpful resources at the link below.
You can count on us to virtually assist you in all your IT needs!
SA-IT Resources

To Submit a Story to The Buzz, Click Below! 

Fill out qualtrics form.
Twitter Facebook Instagram YouTube
    This official Sacramento State email was sent to .
    View this email online.
Subscribe to our email list.