The Newsletter for SDSU Student Affairs
Programs Coordinator, International Student Center
Sarah Clinton has traveled to England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Morocco and Spain. In her vast travels, there is one Spanish city that holds a special place for her.
After completing a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Sociology, Sarah packed her bags and set her sights on Madrid.
“Showing up in Spainby myselfwith the little money I earned right after college, and not knowing anyone, not having a job or a place to live … that was my defining moment.”
Sarah may not have arrived with a plan in hand, but she carried an evident genuine desire to embrace the Spanish culture. “The people’s willingness to help me, just the helpfulness of complete strangersit wowed me,” Sarah said. With the city’s help she found a place to stay and a job.
On a balmy March morning in 2004, Sarah was in the city the day of the Madrid train bombings.
Sarah joined hands, sang and prayed alongside the 2 million people in Madrid, and the almost 11.5 million people countrywide, who united immediately following the bombings. “For something so beautiful to come out of something so negative … I’ll never forget that day,” Sarah said. “Since that day, I feel a little Spanish.”
During the two years she lived in Madrid, Sarah taught English at a language academy and found working with students to be a pivotal, “transformative” experience for her.
Today she works with SDSU international students, implementing activities, events and programs that benefit them, along with their U.S. peers.
In October, Sarah shuttled a group of international students to Los Angeles where they were audience members at The Price is Right game show. “We didn't win anything, but it was a really fun experience,” she said.
Among other activities, Sarah coordinates the International Student Coffee Hours held each Friday, and the most anticipated international student event of the year, the International Peace Village.
“This year marks the 50th anniversary,” Sarah said of the International Peace Village.
Through her own experience as a student abroad, she says she learned “there are good people and bad people everywhere. When you’re abroad you’re learning from everyone. The people really want to teach you about their culture, and for the most part they’re eager to offer a helping hand.” Sarah says she’s also learned a great deal about herself.
She hopes to continue learning the lessons that can only come from being a stranger in a foreign land by extending her travels. “My dream is to travel Africa,” she said. “I’d love to visit Kenya and Uganda.”
Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator, EOP
As the Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator in the Office of Educational Opportunity Programs and Ethnic Affairs (EOP), Bryan Spencer’s mission is to inspire and encourage middle school and junior high students to prepare for college.
“I talk to the students, educating them about the importance of high school performance and how those years are crucial in helping them get into college,” Bryan said. He also educates the students about programs within EOP that can help economically disadvantaged students gain access to resources that will help them succeed at SDSU.
Bryan began working at SDSU in September, but his ties to the university go back to his days as an undergrad. “SDSU was like my home away from homea second family,” he said.
Bryan’s student involvement was extensive. He credits his campus involvement with various groups, including the Cross-Cultural Center, in helping him develop the qualities of a leader and introducing him to the career opportunities within Student Affairs.
“My dad thinks I’m a different person since I’ve gone to college. He said I did a complete one-eighty,” said Bryan, who thought of himself as being somewhat introverted before attending SDSU.
His five-year involvement with the SDSU Andres Bonifacio Samahan (Filipino-based) student organization solidified his desire to work with students. It also put a mic in his hand and introduced him to a newfound passion.
“I had a friend in A.B. Samahan who kept pushing me to do it. I was so shy. So one day I did it, and I got hooked.” Bryan is talking about the impromptu rapping known as freestyle. “There could be someone throwing words or topics at you, and then you just take off from there.”
What sets freestyle apart from other forms of song is the melodic rapid flow of unrehearsed words, thoughts or ideas that instantaneously form rhyme.
“It’s a free forum to express yourself any way you want. It’s a way to release what’s on your mind,” Bryan said. “True hip-hop is about self-expression and reflection.” Under a spotlight, without musical accompaniment, he has shared his rhymes with audiences of more than 100 people.
With his student audiences, Bryan shares the message of education.
“No one came to my high school in Lemoore, Calif. (population less than 23,000) and talked to me about college. So it’s important to me to get the message out about educationespecially to those students who may not hear it elsewhere,” he said.
“With EOP, I’ve been given the opportunity to inspire people, to make a difference.”
While his speaking engagements take him to schools across Southern California, there is one future Aztec that he didn’t have to travel too far to inspire.
“My 12-year-old nephew, Berto, attended my college graduation and thought it was just the greatest thing. Now he wants to go to SDSU.” Bryan is a first-generation college graduate.