Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Professional Studies and Fine Arts

— PSFA Heroes —
Week of May 4, 2020

photo of Candy Flynn

Candy Flynn

Student Experience Manager, HTM Master’s Program

Nominated by Jeff Campbell

I would like to nominate Candy Flynn, our Student Experience Manager for the HTM Master’s program.

For the last eight years – in addition to always being a positive force in the department – Candy has done a brilliant job of supporting our students from pre-application through graduation and everything in between. If you polled our alumni, they would be unanimous in their praise and affection. But she’s also been a dynamo when it comes to recruiting and – this year – her efforts will culminate in achieving our very ambitious target…and with high quality applicants.

photo of Maya Ginsberg

Maya Ginsberg

Lecturer, Musicology

Nominated by Scott Lipscomb

The School of Music and Dance has been significantly challenged by the recent, unexpected move of all classes from face-to-face teaching to virtual platforms. Thankfully, we have well-placed, resident experts in online instruction, and both Maya and Justin have gone well ‘above and beyond the call’ to provide tech support and to recommend specific technological solutions for some of the unique issues facing instructors of dance and of music; we owe them both a significant debt of gratitude.

photo of Justin Morrison

Justin Morrison


Nominated by Scott Lipscomb

The School of Music and Dance has been significantly challenged by the recent, unexpected move of all classes from face-to-face teaching to virtual platforms. Thankfully, we have well-placed, resident experts in online instruction, and both Maya and Justin have gone well ‘above and beyond the call’ to provide tech support and to recommend specific technological solutions for some of the unique issues facing instructors of dance and of music; we owe them both a significant debt of gratitude.

photo of Maggie Shoya

Maggie Shoya

Office Manager

Nominated by Amy Schmitz Weiss

I would like to nominate Maggie Shoya as a PSFA Hero. She is the invisible/hidden element that keeps our JMS school engine running! I don’t know where we would be without her. She has always spent tireless hours to help keep our School running in her role and continues to do now and even more so virtually. We appreciate her so much and all she does for our School! “I wanted to chime in with my support. Maggie Shoya deserves recognition. She has not missed a beat in dealing with paperwork, contracts, reimbursements, etc. - and all the other bits of bureaucracy that are critical to keeping our school functioning. I don’t see how JMS would function without her.” - Noah Arceneaux, Interim Director, School of Journalism and Media Studies.

photo of Noah Arceneaux, Ph.D.

Noah Arceneaux

Associate Professor

Nominated by David Coddon

I’m writing on behalf of Dr. Noah Arceneaux, interim director of the JMS school.

Dr. Arceneaux has shown extraordinary leadership, patience and guidance through not only the 2019 displacement of faculty and students due to the PSFA Building issues but in 2020 throughout the pandemic crisis and its impact on the SDSU community. He has not only communicated with JMS faculty on a consistent basis, but has supported us with encouragement and compassion.

From Laura Castaneda - Dr. Arceneaux’s leadership is stellar.

First a building disaster, then a giant move, and COVID-19 pandemic all as interim director!? He never flinched or stopped. He never missed a beat, and his dedication to students continues. Much Gratitude to him!

photo of Sherry Ryan

Sherry Ryan


Nominated by Konrad Moore

Regarding Dr. Ryan, when SDSU announced its sudden transition to “Virtual Learning,” I hit the panic button with full force, including authoring and sending a poorly considered and blistering email complaint. Dr. Ryan responded with a measure of grace and wholly non-recriminatory reassurance that immediately disarmed my personal sense of frustration/ anxiety and effectively re-set my perspective. Second, she thereafter volunteered and took the time from her busy schedule to meet with me for approximately 2 hours to personally walk me through (i.e., teach me) Zoom. At a time of tremendous tumult, Dr. Ryan demonstrated exemplary and amazing wisdom, maturity, steadiness, leadership and personal care.

photo of Mei Zhong

Mei Zhong

Head of International Studies Minor

Nominated by Giancarlo Taylor

I would like to thank Dr. Mei Zhong for spending endless hours behind the scenes to help International students and returning study abroad students figure out ways to study when borders are shut down. She is gentle yet unrelenting in her outreach and help to International students and students who want to understand our world - from Beijing to Baja. Thank you, Xie-Xie, Gracias Mei Zhong!!

photo of Niyi Coker

Niyi Coker

Director of the School of Theatre, Television, and Film

Nominated by Melanie Dumont

I would like to mention my School Director, ‘Niyi Coker, as a great leader. ‘Niyi is truly the most supportive, kind, and dedicated leader I have ever had the pleasure to work with. His unwavering optimism during times of crisis is inspirational to say the least. This fiercely positive nature, along with accessible support at all levels, provides TTF faculty, staff, and students with confidence as we navigate our unknown future. So, a big thank you to ‘Niyi!

photo of Kellie Quinn

Kellie Quinn

Nominated by Darell Pugh

I’d like to nominate Kellie Quinn. She is a graduate of our MPA program, a former Fulbright Scholar, and currently works for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) helping immigrant, refugee families establish small businesses. Her work over the past several years has directly resulted in the establishment of nearly one hundred small businesses that employ members of the immigrant refugee community, making them able to directly support themselves and their families, while supplying the broader community with needed services.

photo of Kathleen Czech

Kathleen Czech


Nominated by Heather Canary

Dr. Kathleen Czech, lecturer and Director of Internships in the School of Communication, has created “Kat’s Kitchen” that provides free meals to order for her students.

photo of Chaz Cabrera

Chaz Cabrera

Nominated by Bill Yeager

I nominate music education major Chaz Cabrera for his use of virtual technology in the field of music performance. Not only has he created a new way of making a music video with virtual technology, he has created a first-rate product that will rival any video created in a conventional way. The full article and video can be read on KUSI.

photo of Katie Turner

Katie Turner


Nominated by Dani Bedau

Katie Turner, in the TTF, has shown leadership and vision to both faculty and students during this unprecedented time. In addition to her consistent positive attitude and “can-do” spirit, she provides ongoing Zoom technical support to faculty and she initiated Theatre Folk Fridays to meet the social and emotional needs of Theatre students. As Shakespeare says, “Thanks, thanks, and ever thanks” to our Katie!

photo of Shirley Valencia Gutierrez

Shirley Valencia Gutierrez

Student Services Coordinator

Nominated by Bryan Ransom

Shirley Valencia Gutierrez goes above and beyond in her support of faculty, staff, and most importantly students.

From Kevin Delgado - Over the past few years—which have seen staffing and leadership change, budget shortfalls, and other challenges—Shirley has been a invaluable source of professionalism and kindness, treating all faculty and students with respect and patience. Shirley is a font of kindness and calm in our School, a professional presence so constant that it often goes overlooked because it has become so typical of our experience. Shirley is the best.

photo of Alane “Lanie” Lockwood

Alane Lockwood

Assistant Dean for Student Affairs

Nominated by Mei Zhong

Assistant Dean Lanie Lockwood has been very supportive of the advisors in the College of PSFA in general, and our work in the International Studies Minor in particular. She provides updated information and offers very specific assistance as needed, especially with explaining policy changes such as the CR/NC issue.

From D.J. Hopkins - In the last month, I’ve also interacted a few times with Lanie—another treasure. She has been a campus-wide voice for sensible, compassionate accommodations for our students during this crisis, and she has the know-how to explain the implementation of these crisis response procedures. Plus: Lanie, too, has put in very long hours over the last two months.

photo of Annie Buckley

Annie Buckley


Nominated by Michele Burgess

Annie Buckley has been incredibly PRESENT, giving extra time and consistent and generous support, as well as marshaling resources to help us through this time.

Group Nominations

The PSFA Dean’s Office Team

Nominated by Dean Peggy Shannon

A huge shout out to my entire team: Donna Conaty, Kurt Lindemann, Lanie Lockwood, Belinda Vasquez, Clarence Singh, Craig Winton, Lina Alonzo, Theresa Luu, Jennelyn Sustal, Giancarlo Taylor, Mei Zhong, Lizbeth Price, Annie Foral, John Petreikis, Eric Logan, Kevin Perez, Elise Moersch, Jordan Maharaj, and Andrea Cornell because it really does take a VILLAGE! These are extraordinary people and I am so grateful to work alongside each and every one of them!

Stuart Voytilla

Lecturer, Head of Undergraduate Advising

Katie Turner

Lecturer, Undergraduate Advisor

Nominated by D.J. Hopkins

On March 23rd, I wrote an email to the Dean with the subject line “Stuart and Katie are treasures.” Indeed, they are. The two of them worked together so well to navigate the TTF’s part of the COVID crisis management. They’ve been working so hard, replying to email quickly at all hours of the day, making themselves available for tutorials and one-on-one instruction on short notice, and doing all this and more with great kindness and competence. They’ve been compassionate, patient instructors to our faculty basically non-stop over the last couple weeks. I know this, because I myself have had reason to reach out to both several times. And they have continued to do so over the last month. Katie has distinguished herself as a leader among students and faculty in both online teaching effectiveness and her efforts to bring the people of the TTF together via Zoom.

Instructional Technology Services

Nominated by Sue Greenberg

ITS folks: the heroes of this pandemic. Fielding phone calls. Answering questions. Responding to emails. Teaching Technology with tireless patience. They saved us all.

On a Friday two weeks after my computer crashed, post shutdown, these three, masked & gloved, corralled us through, delivering the goods with grace.

My gratitude goes to

  • Dr. James P. Frazee, Chief Academic Technology Officer, Associate Vice President
  • Sean Hauze, Ph.D, Associate Director
  • Rudy Arias, Associate Director

Greene Music

Nominated by Karen Follingstad

On behalf of the School of Music and Dance and the Keyboard Area, I would like to acknowledge and thank Greene Music from the bottom of my heart for their help securing and delivering several keyboards for class piano students and 3 acoustical and one electronic piano for our piano majors. This has enabled them to practice, participate in keyboard classes and online concerts and finish their requirements for the semester. Students and faculty thank Greene Music!

Lanie Lockwood

Assistant Dean of Student Affairs

Theresa Luu

Student Success Specialist

Jennelyn Sustal

Student Success Administrative Coordinator

Nominated by Lizbeth Price

I’d like to call out Asst. Dean Lanie Lockwood and her team: Jennelyn Sustal and Theresa Luu.

They have created a wonderful series of video explanations and a handy visual flowchart that has helped PSFA students make sense of the new grading systems and changes during the COVID19 crisis.

Their work is so clear and useful that it was called out this week as an example and referenced in a story by the Daily Aztec, and has now been picked up by the University’s StratComm division for use to support all SDSU Students.

Brava team!