We are sad not to be celebrating with you in person, but are tremendously proud of your accomplishments and honored to number you among our alumni/ae. History graduates bring to our society a nuanced understanding of the roots of who we are and the ability to gather information and make meaning – important skills for all careers and for a life of active engagement.
“In the face of all that is not new, the one thing that is new – is you. We have never yet seen how you and your generation are going to lead.”
— Laura Lisy-Wagner, Chair of the Department of History
Andrew Gabriel Rose
B.A. History, ‘20
Distinguished Undergraduate Honoree
Each year, our department chooses one undergraduate to represent the department at the University Honors Convocation. This year we are honoring Andrew Gabriel Rose.
The excellence of Andrew Rose demonstrates what the CSU system is all about! A community college transfer, Andrew soared above any adversity that came his way to achieve a 3.97 GPA here at SF State. His professors describe him as “original, thoughtful, thorough,” “creative and narrative-challenging,” and as someone whose “focus on ethics pushes a new pathway to thinking about how history is usable and meaningful.”
Andrew is an excellent researcher and writer, who asks important, social relevant questions and combines a curiosity about the world with a sharp, critical perspective. He volunteered at the Sutro Library, digitizing contracts for indentured servants, so that the documents of their lives could be available to the public for research. His honors thesis thinks through how a humanities education can shape our sense of civics and humanity, and asks what responsibilities we owe as historians and history educators to previous generations, while also serving the needs of the present.
Andrew combines scholarly acumen with deep social insight and a caring commitment to his peers, to the community, and to changing how we do history education. We feel lucky to have shared this stage of his journey with him, and look forward to what he will accomplish in the years to come!
Mario X. Burrus
M.A. History, ‘20
Distinguished Graduate Honoree
Each year, our department chooses one graduate student to represent the department at the University Honors Convocation. This year we are honoring Mario X. Burrus.
Mario graduated from the M.A. program in Fall 2019 with a perfect 4.0 GPA. In addition to excelling in all of his coursework, Mario earned distinction on his comprehensive exams. In his coursework, Mario focused on 20th-century U.S. History with an emphasis on race, racism, racial violence, and African-American social and political movements. He produced stellar research papers, including an innovative project on intersections between the Black freedom struggles in the United States and the global process of decolonization during the Cold War period.
Mario earned the admiration of History faculty through his diligent and thoughtful approach to his studies as well as his top-notch performance in his classes. His professors use adjectives such as “original,” “intellectually courageous,” and “self-motivated” to describe Mario. One professor described Mario as an “unusually generous classmate, always conducting himself with respect for others’ perspectives and genuine intellectual curiosity.”
Mario also contributed actively to the department, college, and university. During his time in the History M.A. program, Mario served as a research assistant to Prof. Marc Stein and helped with the annual Constitution Day conference at SFSU. He also worked tirelessly to highlight the importance of an Ethnic Studies/Africana approach within the field of History. He made our department a better place, and we can’t wait to witness all the ways that he will make the world a better place!
Our 2020 Graduates
We asked our graduates – Bachelors, Masters, and Minors – to say a few words about their time here at SFState. It is with great joy, and no small amount of pride, that we present the Graduating Class of 2020. We are proud to have been a part of your journey.
View their statements (pdf)
History Award Recipients
Lily B. Ponce de Leon Endowed Scholarship in History
This is the first year that we are awarding the Lily B. Ponce de Leon Endowed Scholarship in History, in memory of Lily Beatriz Venables Ponce de Leon (1926 – 2019). The scholarship has been generously established by her son, Prof. Charles Ponce de Leon (History, Cal State Long Beach), and her daughter-in-law, Lynn Mahoney, SF State’s 14th president.
Lily was raised in Oruro, Bolivia, and in Santiago, Chile. The daughter of a British mining engineer and a Bolivian, she was educated at schools that taught in English and Spanish. In 1953, she married Dr. Carlos Ponce de Leon, a Bolivian dentist. After years of effort, they emigrated to the U.S., where their only child, Charles, was born. As is true for many immigrants, moving to the U.S. required Lily and Carlos to adapt and reinvent themselves. With her husband unable to practice dentistry, Lily was compelled to enter the workforce in the mid-1960’s. She worked for more than thirty years as a dental assistant and office manager for a periodontal practice, gradually assuming the role of primary breadwinner. Lily was a wonderful mother who welcomed her daughter-in-law as a daughter and enriched her grandchildren’s lives in many ways. Her home became a regular spring break and summer outpost for her family. Lily lived in the Bay Area for more than 50 years. A memorial scholarship in her name at San Francisco State, a university with a proud tradition of educating immigrants and their children, also pays homage to the region she called home.
Recipient: Yanira Elena Villafan
Lily B. Ponce de Leon Endowed Scholarship in History
The inaugural recipient of the Lily B. Ponce de Leon Endowed Scholarship in History is Yanira Elena Villafan.
Yanira is from the Central Valley and a first-generation college student. In her scholarship statement, she described her time at San Francisco State as a journey from insecurity and lack of direction to success. One measure of her success is that she has made Dean’s List for the past three semesters. She is interested in History and Law, and credits a former teacher with kindling her interest in Civil War and Reconstruction History.
Yanira is a dedicated student, who wrote a fascinating HIST 300 paper on the March 1968 high school student walkouts in East Los Angeles (also known as the Chicano Blowouts), in which Chicano/a students protested racial discrimination and lack of resources in the public schools. A tireless researcher, Yanira uncovered oral history interviews, memoirs, mainstream press accounts, and community newspaper articles that shed light on this important episode in social justice organizing, one that has not yet been well-studied by historians. She focused her argument on the conditions that led to the walkout: schools in disrepair and without educational materials, a dearth of educational opportunities to prepare students for college admissions, and cultural biases on the part of many teachers that contributed to stereotypical, lack of encouragement, and corporal punishment.
We are delighted to announce Yanira Elena Villafan as the inaugural winner of the Lily B. Ponce de Leon Scholarship – she is a very worthy recipient!
Kyle Campbell Whitham McLeod Scholarship in Latin American History
Each year, we award the Kyle Campbell Whitham McLeod Scholarship in Latin American History to a continuing student with an interest in Latin American History, in memory of Kyle McLeod, a former History major at SF State.
Cynthia Whitham and Gearey McLeod: "Our family launched the Kyle Whitham McLeod Scholarship Fund just a few months after his untimely death. We wanted to transform the very worst moment in our lives into something that Kyle would be proud of. His undergraduate years as a Latin American History major at San Francisco State instilled in Kyle a profound concern for fellow students forced to leave school not because of academic challenges, but because of financial hardships. Even a modest scholarship can forestall having to postpone—or end—their pursuit of a degree. To date, the scholarship has awarded scholarships to over a dozen SFSU students. Their stories are invariably inspiring.
We feel that there is no better way to honor Kyle than to help other young men and women who love history, Latin America, and are sensitive to the struggles of people of color, earn their degree at San Francisco State University."
Recipient: Diego Romo
Kyle Campbell Whitham McLeod Scholarship in Latin American History
The History Department is pleased to announce Diego Romo as the 2020-2021 recipient of the Kyle Whitham McLeod Scholarship.
Diego is entering his senior year, after transferring to State last year from Reedley College, outside of Fresno. At Reedley, Diego expressed an interest in History and Political Science. Here at State, Diego has engaged more fully in Latin American and Californian histories, taking course on colonial Latin America and Mexico. He also interned at the Sutro Library Archives as a translator of colonial Spanish documents and completed his GWAR research project on the food ways of Californian Indians in their 19th-century contact with Spaniards and U.S. Americans.
We hope the Kyle Whitham McLeod Scholarship encourages Diego’s continued enthusiasm for Latin American history.
Shirley Barnett Memorial Scholarship
Each year, we award the Shirley Barnett Memorial Scholarship to one or more students returning to school over forty years of age.
The scholarship is awarded in memory of Shirley Barnett, who left college in the middle of her sophomore year to start and raise a family. She returned to finish her B.A. when she was in her sixties, so in her honor, the scholarship’s donor wishes to support the academic goals for those who have taken a less than traditional route to graduation.
Recipient: Amber Naeem
Shirley Barnett Memorial Scholarship
This year’s recipient of the Shirley Barnett Memorial Scholarship is Amber Naeem.
Amber is a hardworking and dedicated student whose work is consistently excellent. In HIST 300, her nuaned and insightful research paper focused on Harriet Jacobs’ slave narrative, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, and several collections of her extant letters. Amber argued that while the book depicted many horrors of slavery, especially for women, it also presented Jacobs as an individual who empowered herself even while enslaved. Jacobs ingeniously repelled her master’s sexual advances, chose her sexual partner and the father of her two children, plotted an elaborate escape, and eventually freed herself and her children. In the paper, Amber argues that a key factor in Jacobs’ self-assertion was the extraordinary assistance provided by her freed grandmother and abolitionist friends. Amber utilized the collected letters to complement the narrative in documenting the many ways Jacobs’ network provided support in slavery and in freedom. Once free, Jacobs became active in the abolitionist movement, in part through writing one of the few slave narratives to openly discuss the sexual harassment and abuse experienced by enslaved women.
Earning her B.A. this spring, we are thrilled that Amber will be joining our M.A. program in the fall. We are looking forward to all she will accomplish in the graduate program and beyond!
The Joseph R. Mullin Prize in History
The Joseph R. Mullin Prize in History is awarded in recognition of the best essay published each year in Ex Post Facto, The History Students Journal. Undergraduate and Graduate awardees are chosen by the History Department faculty.
Recipient: Julie van den Hout
Graduate winner of The Joseph R. Mullin Prize in History
“‘The Seas But Join the Nations They Divide’: Connecting Science and Humanity on the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Through Messages in Bottles.”
Julie’s paper is a beautifully written account of a particular nineteenth-century scientific project that used messages in bottles to try to track ocean currents but that also revealed the ways that far-flung individuals connected with one another across vast stretches of sea.
Recipient: Andrew Gabriel Rose
Undergraduate winner of The Joseph R. Mullin Prize in History
“Black Mothers' Pain: Removing the Past from Its Pedestals”
Andrew’s paper works on two levels: examining the medical advances and exploitive, racist methods of gynecologist J. Marion Sims while also making an original contribution to the complex contemporary problem of how to view Sims and his work.
Continuing M.A. Fellowships
Continuing M.A. Fellowships: Generous endowments and contributions support the education of our promising M.A. students.
These continuing M.A. students have been awarded fellowships for 2020 – 2021.
- Kathleen Callahan
- Carlos Tapia
- Michael Pascoe
- Alex Robery
Incoming M.A. Fellowships
These incoming M.A. students have been awarded fellowships for 2020 – 2021.
- Rebecca Coman
- Gabe Reyna
- Aidan Pearson
Ex Post Facto
Ex Post Facto – A History journal, written and produced by SF State History students
Editors: Allison Bermann, Kelsey Sims, and Cole Souder
Joseph Mullins Prize:
Julie van den Hout, ““‘The Seas But Join the Nations They Divide’: Connecting Science and Humanity on the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Through Messages in Bottles” (graduate)
Andrew Gabriel Rose, “Black Mothers' Pain:
Removing the Past from Its Pedestals (undergraduate)
This year’s Ex Post Facto editors, Allison Berman, Kelsey Sims, and Cole Souder, have continued EPF’s tradition of excellence and produced a compelling, wide-ranging, and balanced volume of student essays. These three graduate students, all of whom leave us this semester as Masters of History, managed every aspect of creating the journal. They put out the call for submissions, managed student editors, selected the essays to be included, copy edited the entire volume, prepared the document for printing, and negotiated with the printer—yes, there will be hard copies available and waiting for you! Allison, Cole, and Kelsey did all of that hard work gracefully and well, even after we all had to move off campus and online, and the product of their labor is a testament to their talents and team work.
Two of the many wonderful essays in the twenty-fourth volume of Ex Post Facto won the Joseph Mullins prize for best graduate and best undergraduate essay.
The graduate prize winner was Julie van den Hout’s marvelously sensitive and enlightening piece, “‘The Seas But Join the Nations They Divide’: Connecting Science and Humanity on the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Through Messages in Bottles. ” Julie’s paper is a beautifully written account of a particular nineteenth-century scientific project that used messages in bottles to try to track ocean currents but that also revealed the ways that far-flung individuals connected with one another across vast stretches of sea.
Andrew Gabriel Rose’s insightful essay, “Black Mothers' Pain: Removing the Past from Its Pedestals,” won the undergraduate prize. It works on two levels: examining the medical advances and exploitive, racist methods of gynecologist J. Marion Sims while also making an original contribution to the complex contemporary problem of how to view Sims and his work.
But this year’s prize committee was impressed by all of the entries and invites you to peruse this marvelous volume of Ex Post Facto.
Once more we would like to laud our Class of 2020.
We can't wait to see what you do out there in the world.