The Newsletter for SDSU Student Affairs
Career Counselor and Liaison to the Colleges of Engineering and Arts and Letters, Career Services; and Steward for Academic Professionals of California
For Preston Chipps, “SDSU feels like home in a way,” and rightfully so. Preston, his wife Laura, and daughter Sarah, are all alums of the university.
After Preston obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, he attended SDSU, earning a master’s degree in counseling. Years later, he would return to campus as a staff member, helping students determine their professional goals.
Prior to his current role with the university, Preston helped out-of-work computer repair professionals (resulting from Y2K) train for new skill sets so they could re-enter the workforce. He also worked with Sycuan Intertribal Vocational Rehabilitation, helping people develop career plans.
“Over the last 29 years, I’ve been helping people find appropriate employment. I really like to see people thrive and prosper. That’s where I get my fulfillment,” he said.
Outside of Career Services, Preston teaches a management course in the College of Business Administration, where students develop a ‘mini business plan’ that helps them navigate through the course of their studies and on the way to their professional goals. He also teaches a graduate course at National University, preparing students to work in the job fields of career development and school counseling.
This is Preston’s first year serving as adviser to SDSU’s Mu Sigma chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi the oldest professional co-ed business fraternity. Additionally, he continues to serve as adviser to the university’s Native American Student Alliance (NASA), a student organization and community that holds a special place for him, as his wife and daughter are part Nez Perce and Choctaw.
“I really think Native Americans have a lot to teach us about this land, how to be good citizens. I appreciate what they know, their traditions,” he said.
NASA is in the planning stages of its 37th annual powwow, the organization’s most anticipated event held each spring, which celebrates the university’s Native American graduates and their heritage. Currently, Preston is aligning NASA, which has less than 20 current members, with student organizations such as MEChA in hopes of further educating students about the indigenous bond among people of Native American, Chicano and Central American descent.
The many students Preston works with are as diverse from one another as the professions they will pursue, but they all share commonalities. “The students: so smart, so motivated, so talented. So much potential,” he said. “I like working with students, seeing them later and learning of their successes, and knowing what happens to people over time.”
At SDSU, Preston is focused on helping students plan their next big step after college. Off campus, and a little way up the coastline, his concentration rests in the next big wave.
“If I don’t get out there (to the ocean) and get wet, I get tense,” said the self-taught surfer. “I get out to the water a minimum of two to three times a week.” Preston has been surfing the local waters off of Pacific Beach’s Crystal Pier for more than 40 years, since the ‘surf culture’ emergence.
Not many people can say that a one-time mayoral candidate sold them a surfboard. “Donna (Frye) sold me one of my last boards about 10 years ago, down at Skip’s (Frye) surf shop.” Preston recently ordered two new eco-friendly boards from Equador (they're hollow and made from balsa) to add to his collection.
In addition to good surf, Preston enjoys bad jokes. Yes, that’s correct bad, as in typically ‘non-funny’ jokes. “Good jokes are too easy. I like to be different. It’s a unique contribution.”
Administrative Support Assistant, Office of the Ombudsman
Karla Ramirez was so inspired during high school by her teachers and guidance counselors who helped her ascend to college that she decided then to work with students.
Karla moved with her family to San Diego from Tijuana when she was in the tenth grade. As considerable as that transition was, she would make yet another transition going to college that would shift and influence the educational goals of all those around her.
“I didn’t even think I would go to college. It was so far beyond my dreams to go to a university,” she said.
One of SDSU’s biggest draws was its diverse student population. Karla cites the support of her family, the many SDSU faculty and staff, her participation in the EOP Summer Bridge Program and University Seminar, in easing her transition to university life.
In 2001, the first-generation college student graduated from SDSU with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She continued working on campus in the Office of the Ombudsman as the administrative support assistant, where she began as a student assistant during her sophomore year.
In the Ombuds office, Karla is often the first point of contact for students seeking help when they are experiencing conflict with the university. She says it’s important to her to be there for students, “letting them know that they’re not alone when they’re experiencing difficulties and that there are people and resources on campus here to help them.”
After all is resolved, Karla says she still sees students from time to time, who drop in just to say “hi” and to let her know they’re doing all right. “It’s very rewarding to receive grad announcements, or to see past students doing so well.”
This is the second year that Karla has volunteered to be a University Seminar instructor, which has afforded her the opportunity to better identify with the SDSU student body. “You actually meet and know students their likes, dislikes, their dreams,” she said. “You become more of a mentor.”
From her students, Karla says she’s further learned the importance of persistence and maintaining an ever-youthful, hopeful outlook. “Their spirit is so young, so outgoing, so energetic and full of life … they continue to teach me to never lose that happiness or level of energy.”
Since the age of 7, Karla’s source of energy has stemmed from dance. For 16 years she competitively danced jazz, tap, modern and ballet. During college, Karla balanced her time among her newborn son, studying, work and dance recitals. It’s been a few years since she put on a pair of dancing shoes, but Karla is most eager to get back in the studio. “I want to get back into dancing. I’m really looking forward to going back.”
Her professional goal is to continue to work at SDSU, and, more specifically, in the effort to attract and retain underrepresented students. As the oldest of five siblings, Karla is an immediate inspiration to her brothers and sisters who are currently attending or plan to attend college.
And at home, her personal goal is to continue to set a determined example for her two star pupils 9-year-old son, Alan, and 6-year-old son, Aldo. They’ve watched their mom graduate from college, work fulltime, teach dance classes and now pursue a master’s degree in postsecondary educational leadership with a specialization in Student Affairs; all the while making time for frequent trips to the boys’ favorite retreats: Sea World and Grandma’s house in Mexico.
“What I hope my sons learn from me is the importance of education and being a productive citizen to have that balance.”
Health Educator, Student Health Services
As a Health Educator in Student Health Services, Angela Guzman divides her time between counseling patients in her office, and coordinating the Peer Health Education program. She is also an adjunct associate professor in the Graduate School of Public Health, where she teaches and prepares future Peer Health Educators to educate audiences about sexual health issues.
“Students relate to other students much differently than they do with their instructors. When you hear information from a peer, it’s easier to connect and to have an open conversation,” said Angela.
The PHE program, run out of the Health Promotion Office in SHS, consists of five educational tracks: Alcohol and Other Drugs, Body Image/Disordered Eating, Nutrition, Sexual Health and Frat MANers. At a given time, there are nearly 100 students in the PHE program, who are selected from a competitive application and interview process. Students must commit to an involvement of two consecutive semesters, and receive upper division credit for participation. “Even after students max out on the credit they can earn from the program, they stay with it,” said Angela. “They stick around to gain more experience, not just credit.”
Prior to joining SDSU in 2005, Angela worked at Georgia Southern University, her alma mater, and Alabama’s Troy State University. It was during her time as a graduate student at GSU that she decided to pursue a career in public health. While Angela’s role is to educate students, she, too, has learned some valuable lessons in the process. “My students have humbled me,” she said. “No matter what kind of day I’m having, they remind me of my purpose.” And the best part about working with students is their energy, she says. “Just being on a college campus, there’s so much excitement here.”
Last year, as the faculty adviser to the student organization P.A.T.C.H. (Peer Advocates for Total College Health), Angela volunteered with her students at Take Back the Night and fundraised for the cure and awareness of breast cancer and multiple sclerosis. P.A.T.C.H.’s fundraising efforts for multiple sclerosis resulted in $12,000, and a prestigious award for being one of the year’s top fundraising teams.
Earlier this year, Angela participated in the university’s Alternative Spring Break in South Africa. “It was a life changing experience and I really enjoyed traveling with all of the students,” she said. “Outside of the donations and supplies that we provided, we (volunteers) probably got more out of the experience than the people we were there to help. It was amazing and very rewarding.”
The most significant change for Angela came when she traveled to Southern California, and ultimately to SDSU. A few years ago, she drove cross-country with her twin sister to San Diego. Without a job, a lace to live or friends in town, Angela calls her initial move both terrifying and exciting. Her sister decided to return to Georgia, where their family resides, but Angela remained in San Diego and has been living here for more than three years now.
Born in Germany, Angela is from a military family and is no stranger to frequent moving. But surfing and playing beach volleyball every weekend with her boyfriend will probably keep Angela in San Diego for a long time to come.