A Day in the Life: Dawn Lee Tu, Director of Cultural Centers at USF

Today marks the grand return of “A Day in the Life”!!! … … … (I’m waiting for all of the wild cheering and applause to end). … … … You remember “A Day in the Life,” those posts where I ask a student, alum, or (as in today’s case), a USF employee to keep track of their day from wake up to bedtime so that we can learn more about what people do in their lives and jobs? Well, they’re back!!! And today I am especially happy to feature Dawn Lee Tu, Director of Cultural Centers here at USF. Dawn is currently completing her PhD in Cultural Studies at UC Davis (yes, while she works full-time here!). Her dissertation focuses on diversity initiatives and Asian American engagement in college. She has her MA in American Studies from New York University where she studied Asian American youth and hip hop consciousness. She has worked in student affairs for nine years where she has focused on diversity training, community-based capacity building, crisis management, and community mediation. And get this: she is an ethnographer (especially of interest to our COMS majors)! She is also a Bay Area native and proud product of the San Francisco public education system.

As the Director of Cultural Centers, Dawn is in charge of the Intercultural Center and the Gender and Sexuality Center on campus. According to Dawn, “Through the IC and GSC, I make sure that USF students have opportunities to deeply explore their multiple identities, learn how they can become more skilled multicultural leaders, and find ways to make social change. I don’t do this alone – I work closely with a committed staff of undergraduate and graduate student interns and advocates and a very talented Assistant Director to create and implement programs and resources for all students.” Here is A Day in the Life of Dawn Lee Tu, Thursday September 29, 2011:

“615a Wake up to work on writing dissertation.

Morning writing session on her dissertation

7a Wrap up early morning writing session by scanning my schedule for the day, checking my facebook and tweeting a good morning to all the sleepy Dons who might be up working hard.

745a I all dressed and ready and I managed to prep breakfast. Time to get my sleepy kid up and ready for school.

750a Sleepy kid wants to build a “creature” out of his construction set.

816a Creature is built, but now we’re running late so that means breakfast in the car.

832a My favorite part of the commute into the City: Skyline at Great Highway where I get to see the clear morning and beautiful Ocean Beach.

845a Drop kid off to school. Chat with his teacher a bit before hitting the road again.

9a Nab one of the last parking spaces in Hayes Healy. I grab a quiet moment in my car to scan my schedule again and drink the last drops of my coffee.

910a Get into my office, greet everyone with good mornings and turn on my computer, check my voice mails, and touch base with Heather Doshay, the program assistant that manages my calendar.

915a Check in with Alejandro Covarrubias, the Cultural Centers Assistant Director. We do a quick run down of what’s on both of our schedules for the day plus any issues that might be on both of our radars.

Dawn with Alejandro, the Assistant Director of the Cultural Centers

10a Upward Bound meeting. It was wonderful meeting this group of committed staff and faculty who are working to ensure that Upward Bound continues to get the support the program needs to persist.

1201p Look who I ran into! (pic of me and the USF Don)

I'm super jealous... some day I too will get a picture with the Don! Doesn't he know I'm his biggest fan?

1215p Lunch meeting in the Faculty/Staff dining room with Barbara Thomas, Senior Director of Counseling and Psychological Services. Busy so we joined two IT staff members, already eating lunch and I learned about what they do at IT (technical support). I also saw Ed Munnich, Psychology professor.

105p Busted. About to leave the Faculty/Staff dining room with a cookie, but I’m reminded that the rules are no dining room food “to-go.”

108p I take the opportunity to scarf down the cookie, check email, twitter and facebook.

145p Taking a break from returning calls and emails, reviewing documents. I head over to the IC and hang out with the Graduate Interns Diana Victa and Clark Campagna, MA students in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program. Alejandro happens to be there talking to them so it becomes an informal staff meeting as we discuss projects.

206p It’s Thursday so that means it’s CC staff potluck time! Jackie Lara, IC intern plans all of our staff “fun stuff” including weekly staff potlucks. This week the theme is finger foods. I contribute vegan edamame and corn nuggets from Trader Joe’s. Others bring homemade salsa and chips, bruschetta, mini cupcakes plus a few other items. We’re all stuffed!

230p I head back into my office to prep for two 3p meetings.

Dawn at her desk working

3p I have to split my time so I head to a planning meeting for the Northern California Forum for Diversity in Higher Education, an event being hosted by USF that will bring over 1500 junior and senior college students from low-income and historically underrepresented groups to help them get information on grad school. I, also with Kim Harris in the Learning and Writing Center are coordinating the volunteers for that day. We’re expecting to coordinate between 50-100 volunteers.

3p I am unable to attend the planning and development meeting for the Allies Training program provided by the Cultural Centers. However, the committee takes real-time meetings notes on Google docs so I check in on my iPhone a couple of times during my other meeting to see how things are going. If I need to I can make a note to them on the document and they can immediately see it.

4p I head over to the final meeting of the day – the Asian American Studies faculty meeting. This meeting started at 330p so when I arrive, Professor Kevin Chun, the program chair, is already on the second agenda item – planning events for spring semester, including Asian Pacific Heritage Month. Everyone has brought snacks and food and I help myself to some flatbread and hummus and then a small piece of chocolate. I answer a question about the Culturally Focused Clubs (we work closely and advise the Cultural Focused Clubs Council). My role at faculty meetings is to be a conduit of information, letting them know about other events that are happening or being planned, who faculty can collaborate with, what student clubs are doing, and what general diversity issues are being discussed.

515p I get back into my office and it’s quiet time. No more interruptions as I close the door and catch up on all the emails I missed at meetings. I review the minutes from the Allies planning meeting I missed. I work on several other pending items and respond to an email about Community Action, sent from Ccaroline Christ, VP of Mission (I advise her). I check and update twitter and facebook and have a quick snack before I leave for the day.

635p I’m back in my car and driving to my parents’ home. My mom picks up my son and my parents eat dinner and hang out with him until about 715p.

The view on her drive home... beautiful!

7p I arrive at my parents’ home and catch up with my mom about how my son’s day went at school. My dad is playing with my son and I hear them laughing and running around.

730p I’m back in the car with my son as we head home. He asks to listen to some John Mayer. I oblige him and put in the CD. We hum and sing the songs together and talk about each others’ day as we approach home.

745p We arrive home and it’s off to bed for my son.

845p My partner and I prepare and settle down for some dinner together. We have on Chopped, a Food Network show, as we catch up on how each other’s day went.

945p Back to my desk for some more dissertation writing before I head to bed.

1045p Tired, exhausted. Clean up for bed.

1130p Check and update twitter and facebook one last time before I drift off to sleep.”

Thanks, Dawn, for sharing your day with us! You can keep up with Dawn and the activities of the Cultural Centers by following her on twitter: @directorcc (I do!). You can also follow the Assistant Director @usfadcc. You can find out more information about the Cultural Centers here:

Intercultural Center www.usfca.edu/interculturalcenter

Gender and Sexuality Center www.usfca.edu/gsc

You can also find Dawn and the Cultural Centers on facebook: “Dawn Lee Tu” “IC USF” and “GSC USF.”


Student Shout-Out: Elizabeth in the Hilltop Cup!

Last Friday night, USF hosted the 7th Annual Hilltop Cup, the largest intercollegiate boxing event in California. Evidently there were some big names and some great fights! Among them, our very own Communication Studies major Elizabeth “Counterpunch” Castro! For braving her first bout in the Hilltop Cup (and coming to class today with a black eye to prove it!), today’s “Student Shout-Out” goes to Elizabeth!

And now, Elizabeth "Counterpunch" Castro, wearing the green shorts!

I asked Elizabeth to tell us why she became interested in boxing: “I have always loved watching boxing with my family ever since I was little, so that interest has always been with me. Then I started working in the mailroom on campus freshmen year, and realized my boss, Angelo Merino, was the head boxing coach! Finally this past July, my best friend and I asked him if he would train us for Hilltop and he said yes! We brought it up as a joke thinking he would say it was too late to train for Hilltop, but we were totally excited when he agreed to let us train.”

Now, even the thought of getting into a boxing ring, knowing that someone is going to start punching me, is too much for me to handle! It would never happen. So I asked Elizabeth to let us in on how she was feeling: “Well, I went into this whole thing hoping to fight my best friend (which seems weird), since we were both starting out at the same time, had no prior experience, and thought it’d be hilarious to beat each other up.  So then when I found out I was fighting someone else with 2 years of experience, I was a little nervous, but totally determined.  In september I started training Monday through Friday, and I felt as prepared as I possibly could for only having 3 months of training.  During the fight…it was a bit of a blur, but I was just trying to punch as hard as I could.  When they stopped the fight, I was so mad!  I even asked the referee if I could keep fighting.  I felt like I could’ve kept going.  So afterwards, I was a little disappointed, but friends and family were there with signs and cupcakes, which was great. It was nice to see so many people supporting me.  And its nice to be able to eat junk food again…I’ve really missed it these past few months.” Okay, that settles it. You can’t have junk food? Now I’m really never getting into a boxing ring.

Elizabeth said she is definitely going to continue training, but will probably cut back a bit for now given how busy school is. Expect to see her in the ring again at some point, though! “In the future I would love to have another fight, perhaps next semester once I’ve had a bit more training under my belt.”

Check out a short video from Elizabeth’s fight here: Elizabeth “Counterpunch” Castro in the Hilltop Cup

Congratulations, Elizabeth! You are very brave and I am very impressed! It was also great to hear that so many of her fellow Communication Studies majors were cheering her on! And special thanks to Alyssa Micciche for live tweeting from the event! The picture posted here and the video are all courtesy of Alyssa. Also, Elizabeth’s nickname comes courtesy of Cayden Berkmoyer. He also suggested her walk in song: “Mama Said Knock You Out” of course!


Student Shout-Out: Geena, Kairos Retreat Leader!

Given that it is the busy time of the semester, I thought it was time for a “Student Shout-Out.” You know, those shout-out to students to acknowledge all of the things they do both inside and outside of the classroom? Today’s goes to sophomore Communication Studies major Geena Serles and her work as a Group Leader for a Kairos Retreat at her former high school. When Geena first told me about it, I asked if I could blog about her experience because we have Kairos Retreats here at USF through University Ministry. I thought it would be fun to learn more about them.

COMS major Geena, smiling because she has a secret!

I asked Geena to tell us about what a Kairos Retreat is. According to Geena, Kairos Retreats “are offered at schools all over America (even at USF!), for all different age groups. Kairos is a three-day retreat where students really get to know their classmates, teachers, leaders, and most importantly themselves. I can’t describe too much about Kairos, because what goes on during the retreat is a secret.” Oooooh. But I love secrets! And now I want to know even more. Back to Geena… I’ll try to break her…  “It’s part of the whole experience of Kairos, since you have no idea what to expect, the whole experience really hits you in the end. Students who have been on Kairos before cannot share anything about it with those who have not.” Okay, I see it is going to be harder to crack her than I thought. “With this being said, it builds up a reputation as ‘the best’ retreat you’ll ever go on. At first students are skeptical of this idea, but they always leave with a good attitude, and most say it’s one of the best things they’ve done in their lives. The Kairos that I led was Kairos L, or the 50th Kairos at my high school, St. Joseph Notre Dame in Alameda, CA. This retreat was for about 50 students who will graduate in May. In addition to the seniors, about 8 alumni of the school who have been on Kairos lead the first group’s retreat, along with about 10 teachers from the school. Then, for the second retreat, the seniors who went on the first Kairos are the leaders for their own classmates in few weeks.”

Welcome to Kairos!

I asked Geena how she got involved: “My role on Kairos was a group leader. I was in charge of all of the students, and had to lead different activities throughout the three days. More specifically, I was a leader of a smaller group that met a few times during the retreat. Again, I can’t share too much of what I actually did,” Are you sure?  “but in general I led the group and made sure they had a good time!” Thanks for the juicy details. Just kidding! “I got involved through one of my good friends that I graduated high school with. She was a leader last year, and knew I was interested in doing it too. She emailed me and asked if I wanted to help, and that was that! We had several meetings throughout the summer to prepare, and it took up a lot of my time but it was worth it in the end!”

I don't know what they're doing, but it does look like they are having fun!

Finally, I asked Geena what her favorite moment from the retreat was. Specifically. “There are so many great memories that I took away from my own Kairos, and this Kairos. My favorite memory from this past week is probably the moment when the students first arrive in their bus. None of them knew who the student leaders were going to be, so seeing their reactions was priceless! They were all surprised (some had even been texting us that morning, and had no idea). That’s also my favorite moment because you know that they have no idea what’s going to happen, and to observe how differently they act when they start off Kairos compared to when they leave Kairos is such a cool thing to see.”

The Kairos team leaders... their identities are disguised because what they do is Top Secret!

Okay, so I couldn’t crack her and Geena kept the Top Secret Kairos details Top Secret. It just shows us that she must be really good! Congratulations to Geena for her important work with this excellent program! You can find out information about USF’s Kairos retreats here:  http://www.usfca.edu/university_ministry/kairos_retreat(2)/

Thanks, Geena, for sharing your experience!


Faculty Feats: Professors Burgess and Ho Presenting at Conferences

I’ve been showcasing student achievements for quite awhile now, and thought it was time to showcase our faculty! Our faculty have been busy inside and outside of the classroom, just as our students are.

Those of you in Professor Burgess or Professor Ho’s classes already know that they were away at academic conferences last week (no, they weren’t just taking a sick day!). Here are the details:

Professor Burgess attended the University of South Carolina Conference on Rhetorical Theory in Columbia, South Carolina. Her presentation was entitled “Emergencies on the Scene: The Time of a Rhetorical Ethics.” This conference, unlike some others, is a full time job! Only 30 professors attend and they have all day discussion sessions focused on their work. Congratulations to Professor Burgess!

Professor Ho attended the International Conference on Communication in Healthcare in Chicago and presented a poster called “Framing Diabetes as Control vs. Balance: Analyzing Diabetes Health Information for Chinese Americans.” Congratulations to Professor Ho on her presentation! Check out the picture of her posing with her poster below (which is now the newest piece of wall art in her office!):

Professor Ho and her poster

Our faculty present their research at conferences throughout the year. Congrats to both Professor Burgess and Ho on their recent conferencing!


Club Ed: Chrissy in "Delta Zeta"

Today’s “Club Ed” features Communication Studies major Chrissy Romero and her involvement with the Delta Zeta Sorority. I asked Chrissy to tell us about Delta Zeta and why she became involved.

COMS major and Delta Zeta member Chrissy

“Hello! My name is Chrissy and I am a junior Communication Major with a minor in Public Relations. I am also a member of Delta Zeta at USF. Our sorority is one of two social, Pan-Hellenic sororities on campus and has been here for around 20 years. As a sorority we have 4 pillars: scholarship, social, service, and sisterhood.

Scholarship is important because we want to be intelligent women. Our chapter has a cumulative gpa of 3.2-3.4 which is one of the highest in our region. We require our new members to complete study hours so they are able to do their homework with their pledge class and get work done while bonding. Socials are ways we reward ourselves for our hard work! They let us let loose and have fun and give us a chance to show people a more fun side of Delta Zeta. Because we do not have a house like other sororities at other schools, we throw our socials at clubs that we rent out. In spring, we have two informal socials that are themed and anyone can come to them. We also have two socials in the fall but one is informal and the other is a formal social where the girls can bring a date if they wish. Service is very important to this specific chapter of Delta Zeta because we are very passionate about giving back. Our national philanthropy supports the hearing and speech impaired. In the fall we have an event called ‘Ali’s Way’ which is a banquet for a sister we had who passed away a couple of years ago from leukemia. The money we raise from this event goes to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In the spring we have what we call the teter-toter-a-thon where we teter-toter in the middle of school for 48 hours straight in order to fundraise for the Hearing and Speech center of Northern California. Lastly, Sisterhood is the most important in my opinion so we do 2 activities a semester together. In the past we have gone to Giants games, Jelly Belly factory, Alcatraz tour, and more! These are paid for with our dues and it’s a fun time for us sisters to bond. I am the social chair in our sorority because I love planning events and thinking of the themes.”

Delta Zeta sisters... can you spot the COMS majors?

Chrissy planned their most recent social, which was on September 22nd at Rouge Nightclub. The theme was “With a D and a Z” which means people had to come dressed as anything that starts with a D or a Z! Hmmm… costumes that start with a D or a Z… Doctor, Dentist, Dynamite stick, Dandelion, Zebra, Zipper, Zookeeper…

I also asked Chrissy why she likes being in Delta Zeta: “Delta Zeta has given me the strength to lead because no one will let you fall. I rushed Spring of my freshman year because I had made friends but not friends that I felt were like me or made me feel like I could be myself. The second I got to Delta Zeta, it clicked that I had girls who actually cared about me and my well-being. It’s surely not for everyone, but for girls who are looking to make stronger connections and becoming well rounded women, its good to check it out.

You can like us on Facebook at Delta Zeta USF to hear about all our exciting events and be sure to look around school for flyers of our upcoming events and especially our socials!”

Thanks, Chrissy! By the way, our Communication Studies major is well-represented in Delta Zeta! You’ll see several women in your classes sporting DZ shirts and bags!


Graduating Student Chronicles, Ch. 1: Melissa Jenkins

Beginning last semester, I asked a graduating student to blog during their last semester here at USF. I am so happy that this semester, senior Communication Studies major Melissa Jenkins, who will be graduating in December, agreed to document her thoughts on her last semester of college for us here on the blog! Here we go…

Soon-to-be COMS graduate Melissa

“Hi everyone, my name is Melissa Jenkins.  It’s my last semester at USF!  I’m so excited to finally be a graduate, but at the same time it’s a bit bittersweet feeling.  I remember the day I received my acceptance letter to USF in the mail.  I had just finished up at a local JC, and had absolutely no idea what my next step was going to be, but applying to USF was a ‘what if’ kind of pipe dream, or at least that’s what I thought.  I had the GPA, but for some reason I just didn’t think it would happen! I remember opening the acceptance letter and being so excited I cried!

This semester has been going by so fast; I think it has something to do with it being my last! The goal for me this semester has been to do just as well as I have in previous semesters while working 20 hours a week at the same time.  It’s definitely tough, but doable as I’m sure a lot of you know!

There are so many things I am going to miss about USF.  I love the campus. I don’t think we always realize how amazing it is, and how lucky we are to get up every morning and be able to go to school on such a beautiful campus.  I’m also going to miss my friends and the Professors I’ve come to know so well over the years that I’ve been here.  Something you notice right out of the gate is how amazingly attentive most of the Professors are at USF, they’re really there for you on an academic level, and it’s the first time I really felt like my success actually was their success.

It’s strange for me to look back on my first semester at USF, I was so nervous to be at a new school where I didn’t know anyone or where any of my classes were!  I think everyone goes through that, but once the nerves settle, most people start to realize just how fortunate we all are to be able to call USF ours.  This semester has become a semester of ‘appreciation’ for me.  Appreciating the opportunity to be a part of USF, to have had such amazing professors, and also great anticipation for the graduation ceremonies we are all looking forward to!  There’s a definite sense of pride for me when I think about being able to say I graduated from USF, and my family is definitely proud!  Knowing that I will be the first one in my family to graduate form a University is a great feeling, and I can’t help but hope that I am setting the bar for my family’s youngest members! The opportunities I’ve had at USF have been huge, and I think for the first time in my life I was able to start to grow into the person I always wanted to be.

COMS student Melissa

There are just a few more months until graduation, so it’s time to order announcements and plan the graduation party. I can’t wait!”

Congratulations, Melissa! We are so proud of you and your accomplishments!


Student Shout-Out: COMS majors An and Jamey are published authors!

Today’s “Student Shout-Out” goes to Communication Studies majors An Mai and Jamey Padojino. Why? Because they can now add “published authors” to their long list of accomplishments! Congratulations to An and Jamey on the publication of their ethnography in Writing for a Real World!

Professor Ho and the authors, An Mai and Jamey Padojino

An and Jamey’s ethnography, entitled ” Yarn and Yarning: Communication Patterns of a ‘Stitch and Bitch’ Club”  from “Communication and Culture” with Professor Ho was one of only 12 papers published in Writing for a Real World. There were 97 entries (that’s an acceptance rate of 12%!!) and each was reviewed by a panel of four referees.

The Publication!

Writing for a Real World is published annually by the Rhetoric and Language Department here at USF and features student authored papers from a range of disciplines.

Congratulations to An and Jamey on this honor! We are so proud of you! Since ethnography involves participant observation, I wonder if this means that An and Jamey can teach me how to pick up my dropped stitches?


Dons' Doings: Pizza with the Profs, Thursday 10/6!

Those of you who know me, know that I am a fan of alliteration and rhyme. So of course I am especially excited about our event this coming Thursday: Pizza with the Profs!

This event is open to all Communication Studies majors and will take place this coming Thursday, October 6th, during dead hour, 11:30-12:30. Please join us in the Kalmanovitz Hall third floor hallway, between offices 340 and 342, to socialize with other COMS majors, faculty, and staff. We started this event three years ago as a way for students to interact with professors and other majors outside of the classroom. All COMS majors are welcome, and we especially encourage those of you who are new to our department to attend.

Thanks to An Mai for the flyer, posted below. If you want to see my “doctored” flyer with Department Chair Professor Jacquemet’s head on it, come by Pizza with the Profs! (I hope he thinks it is as funny as I do!).

This event is cosponsored by the Department of Communication Studies, Lambda Pi Eta, and the USF chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. We hope to see you there!