Social Work students making bold impact statewide

Social Work students attend Legislative Lobby Days

A total of 27 undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Social Work Education (DWSE) received the opportunity to attend the annual Legislative Lobby Days in Sacramento on April 19th and 20th, with some activities taking place at the State Capitol building.

The main goal of Lobby Days, sponsored by the California Chapter of the  National Association of Social Workers (NASW), is for students to understand the legislative process with a focus on social welfare policy.

“Students are able to learn lobbying and advocacy skills and apply those same skills during legislative appointments with California legislative members and their staff,” said Dr. Salvador Montana, associate professor in the DWSE and coordinator of the Fresno State Lobby Days effort.

P1010148The two-day program began on Sunday, April 19th with a conference, in which students were able to learn about the legislative process and the proposed legislative bills. On Monday, April 20th, students were divided into groups of 4-6 members. Each group was comprised of students from social work programs from all over California, including UCLA, San Jose State University, and USC just to name a few.

According to Montana, Lobby Days had over 1,100 participants with well over 90% of them being social work students from around the state.

Some Fresno State participants of Lobby Days gave the following reviews:

  • “Thank you to you and Fresno State for the opportunity! I never thought I would end up really enjoying policy as much as I have! I had a great weekend, learned a ton and stepped out of my comfort zone which is good.”
  • “Thank you for the opportunity and for giving students such a unique experience! I will definitely treasure this part of my MSW education and appreciate your investment in macro and policy practice.”  

The DSWE has been participating in Lobby Days since 1999.


Consejo Cohort participates in Latino Health Equity Conference

Master of Social Work students, involved in the first cohort of Consejo: A Latino Behavioral Health Practice, got the opportunity to participate in the Latino Health Equity Conference in Long Beach on April 17th. At the conference, students learned about the latest findings on data and interventions from various researchers throughout the country, whom specifically specialize in serving the Latino population, said Dr. Irán Barrera, coordinator of Consejo and associate professor in the DWSE.

11046571_884951428213064_6844094871358931220_nStudent Yvette Mendez was able to present her research on “Latinos’ experiences with Mental Illness” (at left). The conference aims to raise awareness and engage the academic and larger community in health equity research focused on Latinos – which is the nation’s largest and fastest-growing minority population.

Through Consejo, MSW students are trained to provide effective cultural and linguistic prevention, intervention and treatment in mental health and substance abuse for Latino children, adolescent and transitional youth and their families in areas where Latinos are a majority of the population.

Learn more about Consejo HERE.


In the News: Lecture in the Silent Garden to address hearing loss and communication

Click to view Central Valley Today segment. Credit: KSEE24 News
Click to view Central Valley Today segment. Credit: KSEE24 News

In the United States, about one in five people are affected by hearing loss. On average, it takes people seven years from the time they suspect hearing loss to the time they seek treatment.

Fresno State will address hearing loss and ways to communicate effectively at the third annual Lecture in the Silent Garden from 8-12:30 p.m. Saturday, April 25, in the North Gym (Room 118).

5The free, public workshop, “You Never Listen To Me and Other Hearing-Loss Related stories: Real World Communication Solutions,” will address problems and concerns along with strategies in reducing communication hassles. The workshop, designed for individuals who have or suspect they have hearing loss and their communication partners, is also open to professionals who are interested on better developing their skills.

Leading the workshop will be Drs. Samuel and Janet Trychin, a married couple from Pennsylvania who will share their expertise and provide a first-hand account on dealing with hearing loss as a couple.

The workshop is part of an endowment by the Silent Garden, a program within the Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Studies at Fresno State that fosters opportunity, understanding and awareness for the deaf and hard of hearing community.

Drs. Janet and Samuel Trychin. Photo Credit: Village Photography

Dr. Samuel Trychin, mental health adviser to the Hearing Loss Association of America, is a psychologist who specializes in developing programs and treatment for people who have hearing loss and their communication partners. He has been wearing hearing aids since 1953.

As an audiologist, Dr. Janet Trychin provides services to individuals of all ages with hearing loss. She has led “Living with Hearing Loss” workshops throughout the country with her husband.

Click to download.
Click to download.

“People who have hearing loss often experience challenges resulting from difficulty understanding what is being said and/or inability to hear important environmental signals,” Janet said. “Communication difficulties affect communication partners as well and can result in damaged relationships at home or at work. Personally, hearing loss can damage one’s sense of acceptability, self-confidence and control or influence over the environment. This workshop provides tactics and strategies found useful for preventing or reducing hearing loss-related communication breakdowns.”

The event will be equipped with a loop system, provided by Copper Loop Assistive Listening Devices, to accommodate individuals with hearing loss. This will allow the sound to be transmitted electromagnetically and be picked up by a telecoil in a hearing aid or cochlear implant.

3“We are trying to make this workshop 100 percent accessible,” said Dr. Paul Ogden, deaf studies professor emeritus and founder of the Silent Garden. “In addition to the Copper Loop Device, we will have a real-time captioner on hand who will type everything onto two screens near the front of the auditorium, plus a team of oral interpreters for those who lip-read exclusively, as well as a team of sign language interpreters.”

The workshop is sponsored by the Silent Garden Education Fund, which provides continued support for workshops and other outreach opportunities for alumni, friends, practitioners, educators and family members.

For more information, contact Dana Zupanovich Lucka at 559.278.5590.

Dr. Paul Ogden (founder of The Silent Garden) with Lynn Toschi (Silent Garden Endowed Chair, L) and Alex Delgado, host of Central Valley Today (center). April 23, 2015.
Click to view video. Credit: KSEE24 News
Click to view video. Credit: KSEE24 News

View photos from the 2015 Silent Garden Lecture below:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

College of Health and Human Services Spring Research Showcase April 22

The College of Health and Human Services will host the annual Spring Research Showcase 2-4 p.m. Wednesday, April 22 in Fresno State’s North Gym, Room 118 (5305 N. Campus Dr.). Faculty from seven academic departments and various centers and institutes will be on hand to present their exciting and innovative research/projects from the past year. For the first time, students from the Colleges’ Honors scholars Program will be given the opportunity to present their culminating experience projects. The event will feature 22 poster presentations. For more information, contact the College of Health and Human Services office at 559.278.4004.

View photos from the 2015 Spring Research Showcase below:

International Committee presents Fulbright information lecture April 21

Interested in becoming a Fulbright Scholar, but don’t quite know where to start? This informational lecture will take you through the process step-by-step, hosted by our very own four-time Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Miguel Perez, of the Department of Public Health. An opportunity to engage in a question and answer session will also be available. Please see flyer below for additional information!

Fullbright announcement-1-page-001

The Fresno Bee talks to the Central Valley Health Policy Institute about chronic illness in Valley

The Fresno Bee has come out with a four-part series on wellness that “outlines significant central San Joaquin Valley health problems and the programs that are successfully combating it”. One of those programs is our Central Valley Health Policy Institute. Executive Director Dr. John Capitman gives his insight regarding this growing epidemic in the Valley. Story written by Barbara Anderson for the The Fresno Bee, April 11, 2015.


The central San Joaquin Valley is unhealthy.

Valley residents are more likely to either suffer or die from chronic diseases than people elsewhere in California.

Health experts say the reasons for the Valley’s ills are many: poverty, bad air, foul water, urban sprawl, unsafe places to play, food deserts. And when combined with harmful health habits, they create a landscape for poor health.

Numbers paint the picture:

•  One in six children in the San Joaquin Valley has asthma — an epidemic level.

• Six of 10 Valley counties have the highest percentage of hospital patients with diabetes in California, and four Valley counties rank among the 10 worst in the state for diabetes deaths.

•  140.7 people out of 100,000 die of heart disease in Madera County compared to 103.8 deaths per 100,000 statewide. Madera County is ranked 56th out of 58 counties for deaths due to heart disease. Tulare County ranks 53rd and Merced, Fresno and Kings counties are ranked 45th, 44th and 42nd.

•  68% of nonelderly adults in the Valley are overweight or obese versus 59% statewide, and 43% of children in five counties are overweight or obese compared to 38% statewide.

“On almost any measure you can come up with, we look quite a bit worse than California on average,” says John Capitman, executive director of the Central Valley Health Policy Institute at Fresno State.

California is relatively healthy, Capitman says. “But the Valley has not created a climate, an environment, that emphasizes how people can live healthier lives.”

The need to prevent chronic disease is beginning to gain attention among health professionals and people Valley wide. And for good reason: The consequences are costly, both in lives and health care expenses.

For example, diabetes consumes about $598 million in health-care costs in the Valley. Asthma adds $150 million in hospitalization costs. Adults who are overweight, obese and physically inactive cost at least $1.6 billion a year. And the annual cost to treat cardiovascular disease exceeds $1.6 billion.

It makes sense to focus on social, behavioral and environmental factors that contribute to people’s health, says Mary Pittman, president and chief executive officer of the Oakland-based Public Health Institute.

Instead of an emphasis on treating disease, the objective should be, “What can we do in a community to keep people healthier so they don’t end up in the health-care system in the first place,” Pittman says.

Illness link to poverty, environment

Research has shown a connection between poverty, the environment and the risk of chronic illnesses.

A 2011 University of California at Davis report, “Land of Risk/Land of Opportunity,” found a toxic stew — dirty air, bad water, pesticides — placed about 1 million people in the Valley at high risk for illnesses and shortened lives.

Other research has shown that lifespan fluctuates by neighborhood in Fresno County. People in more-affluent north Fresno and Clovis live longer lives than those in poorer southwest and southeast Fresno.

In 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said people in west Fresno live with higher health risks than anyone in California. Life expectancy there is more than 20 years lower than in northeast Fresno, according to a 2012 study by researchers that included the Central Valley Health Policy Institute at Fresno State.

Health experts say neighborhoods themselves can affect what people eat and how much they exercise, which in turn affects health and prevention of chronic diseases.

The San Joaquin Valley ranks among the worst in the country in terms of air quality, and poorer neighborhoods tend to be closer to freeways and congested streets, which exposes residents to more air pollution that can trigger asthma attacks.

And it’s not a coincidence that health is poorer for people in low-income neighborhoods where there are fewer grocery stores, less park space and more corner convenience stores than in more affluent areas of a city, experts say.

People in poorer communities have more access to alcohol and sodas than low-fat milk and water at nearby corner stores, says Sara Bosse, program manager for policy, planning and communication at the Fresno County Department of Public Health.

Bosse conducted a survey of a typical corner store in Fresno County and found at least nine different displays of chips, pretzels, high-fat dips and three rows of candy. Other options were ice cream, burritos and sandwiches. And another aisle had sugar, artificial sugar, marshmallows, artificial creamer, olives, canned refried beans, noodles in a cup, salt, baking soda, mustard, peanut butter, canned sausages, canned ham and tuna.

“If that’s your only grocery store in 20 miles of your house, what is your diet going to look like?”

Walking ‘deserts’

An area without nearby access to fresh fruits and vegetables is called a food desert, but parks are also missing in many low-income neighborhoods.

Fresno Building Healthy Communities, a health initiative of the California Endowment, surveyed teens last year about how far they had to travel to reach a park.

A majority said the nearest was 10 blocks.

Teens are less likely to go to a park that far away, says Sandra Celedon-Castro, manager of the Fresno health initiative. Walking a long way or riding a bike could be unsafe, she says, and parents don’t want their children to go far by themselves.

A lack of sidewalks also can limit walking for exercise in poorer and rural neighborhoods, she says, citing a study of rural communities with high numbers of pedestrian deaths that found the roads were not safe. “They weren’t built for both vehicle traffic and pedestrian traffic.”

Communities should evaluate neighborhoods on how well they support health, Celedon-Castro says. “It’s not just about providing services, it’s also about making sure how cities and surrounding communities are built in a way that ensures health.”

Programs to help people improve their health or manage chronic diseases can work, says Pittman of the Public Health Institute. For example, communities can create safe routes to school, provide nutrition education, increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables in corner stores or open farmers markets.

“But you need to break it down at a sub-county level to identify pockets of need,” she says. And people in the communities need to be given a broader voice.”

Helping ourselves

The Valley has a number of innovative programs aimed at preventing chronic disease and the management of disease, says Capitman of Fresno State. But the programs don’t help enough people who are in need, he says.

Pang Thao Vang, 50, of Fresno, has changed her eating habits and walks more since having a procedure four years ago to open clogged arteries in her heart. But those changes didn’t happen until her doctor explained the importance of diet and exercise and she joined a nutrition and exercise program offered at that time for women at the Fresno Center for New Americans.

“They helped me help myself,” Thao Vang says through a Hmong interpreter.

The role of personal responsibility in health is crucial, Capitman says. “I can’t overestimate the importance of individual choice.”

Dr. Michael MacLean, health officer for Kings County, says he’d like to see an “honest discussion with the whole society that says, ‘we’re not very healthy. We’re doing some stuff that hurts us.’ ”

One of the ways we’re hurting ourselves: According to county profiles by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, in the central San Joaquin Valley, about one in five adults drink one or more sodas per day. Statewide, only 11% report drinking a soda or more daily.

MacLean encourages people to substitute water for soda, improve their diet, increase their exercise. “You aren’t doomed,” he says. “What you do makes a difference, but you must start early.”

Changing health habits isn’t easy, however. “Even as a middle class, older guy, it is challenging to figure out how to best take care of yourself,” Capitman says of how even he struggles. “I think what we’re learning about personal responsibility is that to make these kind of big changes in your life, it almost means swimming upstream and pushing back against the norms.”

[Story published by The Fresno Bee, April 11, 2015]


The CVHPI will be celebrating “A Decade Advancing Health Equity in the San Joaquin Valley” on Friday, April 17 from 5-7 p.m. at the Vintage Room at Fresno State. The event will take a look at the past 10 years of work the Central Valley Health Policy Institute has done in advancing health equity in the Valley. The event will also commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Institute’s Health Policy Leadership Program. For more information, contact Amanda Conley at or 559.228.2159.

Recreation Administration certification courses provide career ready skills

Aubrey Lechuga.
Aubrey Lechuga.

For senior Political Science major, Aubrey Lechuga, a certificate in Special Event Planning is just what she needs to get a jump start in her quest to have a career in that same field.

Lechuga is just one of many students across Fresno State that take advantage of certification courses offered on campus. In addition to offering degrees at the undergraduate level, the Department of Recreation Administration also has four certificate programs that allow students from other majors the opportunity to learn useful career skills to complement their own chosen field.

Lechuga is currently working towards her certificate in Special Event Planning.

“I love event planning and heard of the program to get my certification, so in my last semester here at Fresno State, I decided to get it,” said Lechuga.

Patrons enjoying their meal benefiting Make-A-Wish Central California.
Patrons enjoying their meal benefiting Make-A-Wish Central California.

Through the RA 117 course, students are able to learn special techniques and requirements for planning large community events, such as street fairs, festivals, corporate events, and fundraisers. Special emphasis is placed on community laws and regulations, advertising and funding. This course offering is just one of the 12 required units students must receive to obtain their certificate.

Some of the auction items on display.

Lechuga got her first taste for planning a large event with the Make-A-Wish Central California Restaurant Takeover, held on March 24th. Through her internship with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Lechuga was able to plan the annual fundraising event for the organization from start to finish. Months of planning culminated with the successful event that took place at the trendy Elbow Room in Fig Garden Village. For $50, patrons were treated to a four-course meal, live music, photo booth fun and a silent auction.

Lechuga (l) and her colleague working the Make-A-Wish booth.
Lechuga (l) and her colleague working the Make-A-Wish booth.

Lechuga used the skills she learned in RA 117 and applied it to her event planning efforts, which included a heavy dose of fundraising and public relations. To raise funds, she reached out to local businesses for silent auction items and came up with 21 great items. Lechuga found the road to getting the event in the public eye took a bit more effort.

“We created a simple flyer to post on social media,” said Lechuga. “That flyer and the information on the event was also featured in the Make-A-Wish e-newsletter for two months. When we didn’t really get the feedback we wanted, I started reaching out to the local television and radio stations for a last minute press release. ABC30 featured our event, along with two others in their show on the day of the event.”

Lechuga also did an interview with radio station, Q97, on the Greg and Dre morning show. All of her public relations work, fundraising and event planning paid off. Over $1,000 was raised from that event will all proceeds benefiting Make-A-Wish Central California!

Lechuga (l) and her colleagues.
Lechuga (l) and her colleagues.

“This event taught me a lot,” said Lechuga. “I like the fundraising aspects of events, but it taught me there is a lot to it. There’s getting the items donated for auctions, marketing the event, keeping track of finances, keeping up with emails, and feeling comfortable talking to people I had never met before.”

“It really gave me a reality check of how an event could be in real life. But I loved it! It’s exactly what I want to do after I graduate.”

Lechuga, set to graduate in May, has no doubt that her certificate in Special Event Planning will certainly prepare her in achieving her future career goals.

For more information on the certifications offered through the Department of Recreation Administration, click here.

Click to view the ABC30 segment. March 24, 2015.
Click to view the ABC30 segment. March 24, 2015.

College of Health and Human Services to honor Community Heroes April 10

The College of Health and Human Services will honor 11 individuals for their contributions to the community during the annual Community Heroes Awards at 6 p.m. this evening, at Fresno State’s North Gym, Room 118.

The award recognizes work within the health and human services sector that creates positive and meaningful change for Central California children and families. Each honoree was nominated by an academic department, school, center or institute that represents the range of disciplines within the College of Health and Human Services.

The 2015 Community Heroes are as follows. Please read more about each Community Hero at the link provided in their respective name:

_R2G9087Dr. Jennifer Crocker — As medical director of the Valley Children’s Hospital rehabilitation center, Crocker created the Adaptive Sports Program, which offers recreational and athletic experiences for children with physical and health impairments.

BenCuellarBenjamin Cuellar — Cuellar, dean emeritus for the College of Health and Human Services, was instrumental in the development of the Central California Children’s Institute, which addresses youth issues through research and collaboration.

_R2G4736Brenna Hughes — Hughes, the team lead for speech-language pathology at Community Regional Medical Center, organized the first Central Valley Concussion Consortium to increase brain injury education for youth athletes, teachers, coaches and medical professionals.

Victor Hugo Manriquez_2Victor Hugo Manriquez — Manriquez, an elementary school physical education teacher, formed the Trucha Camp Physical Education Program that has been implemented in Sanger Unified School District.

IMG_2293 - Copy (2)William Mitchell — Mitchell has dedicated 40 years to public health, most recently as the director of public health for San Joaquin County.

Gail NewelDr. Gail Newel — As director of obstetrics for UCSF Fresno, Newel provides services for women and children on a local and national scale.

Marcia Sablan_1Dr. Marcia Sablan — Having formed the Sablan Medical Clinic in 1981 and serving on the city council for 33 years, Sablan has been an advocate of health care and public policy in Firebaugh.

Smith.Paul001Paul Smith — In 20 years as a physical therapist, Smith has advocated for the profession on a local and state level, and provided continuous mentoring support for Fresno State students.

Debbie TuttleDr. Debbie Tuttle — Tuttle, a nurse at California Oncology of the Central Valley, has devoted her nearly 25-year career to helping breast cancer patients deal with treatments and experiences from early stages, to survivorship, to end of life.

AYamamotoAnthony Yamamoto — Yamamoto has 40 years experience as a social worker, most recently as director of social services and interpreter services at Valley Children’s Hospital.

_D1C9422Kathy Yoshida — Yoshida, director of interpreting at the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Service Center, has assisted the community as a sign language interpreter for nearly 35 years.

“Our heroes continue to serve as a valuable driving force to our schools, agencies, organizations and communities,” said Jody Hironaka-Juteau, interim dean of the College of Health and Human Services. “We rely on their expertise, passion and vision to move us forward in our commitment, as evidenced by our motto, ‘Live Well Central California.’ We are honored to recognize this remarkable group of individuals.”

The College of Health and Human Services trains students to address the health and human services issues facing Central California. Attracting more than 4,800 students each year, the college offers specialized disciplines at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree levels. Vital regional health challenges such as child welfare, health policy, access to social services and services for individuals with special needs are addressed daily by more than 250 faculty, working with the college’s centers and institutes

For more information on the Community Heroes Awards, contact Dana Lucka, development director for the College of Health and Human Services, at 559.278.5590 or

Our College empowers students to take a whole body approach to improving the quality of life. Our faculty and students are dedicated to helping Central California live well. Click through the slideshow to the right to learn about each of our seven departments within our college: Communicative Disorders and Deaf Studies, Kinesiology, Physical Therapy, Public Health, Recreation Administration, School of Nursing and Social Work Education and Gerontology.


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