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SSU appoints new MESA director to prepare students in math and science

Published: Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 03:09

The Science and Technology Department hired a new director this semester for the MESA (Math, Engineering, Science Achievement) program, Dr. Izabela Kanaana and a new Interim Dean, Dr. Lynn Stauffer.

According to Stauffer, the MESA program is a jewel on this campus.

As one of the founding directors, she has been passionate about its growth since the beginning. She is proud and excited for Kanaana to take her place as the new director of MESA.

"Dr. Kanaana is a well respected teacher in the mathematics department, she has great relationships with the students and is aware of the department's needs and goals," said Stauffer.

MESA is a statewide program that was founded 40 years ago to support students who have been otherwise disadvantaged previously. This could include family history, financial status, educational background and other obstacles.

MESA is at 270 K-12 schools, 30 junior colleges and 12 university-level campuses throughout California. MESA students usually follow the path of becoming a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) major.

The program encourages students to get involved with these four science-based courses at an early age.

MESA is at all grade levels to catch interest in the subject early and then continue it all the way until receiving a degree and then a job in a science based field.

MESA is nationally recognized for its innovation and academic development program.

"MESA has played a crucial role in my college experience," said MESA student Daniel Sanchez. "It has supported me throughout my personal development as well as in my academic career."

In 2006- 2007, 54 percent of MESA high school students went on to a community college as a STEM major.

Eighty-two percent went to a four-year university compared to the total state level of 47 percent of other majors and fields.

Ninety-eight percent of MESA students at community colleges transferred to four-year universities to pursue a STEM major.

"All STEM majors go through my math classes at some point, so they have all become familiar faces that will hopefully gain interest in the MESA program and its benefits during their time here," said Kanaana.

Kanaana is excited and passionate about the MESA program and hopes this year will be one of great advancement. Right now the SSU MESA program has 30 members, which Kanaana hopes to increase this year.

MESA has led countless students at SSU over the past two years to great opportunities in the science fields.

MESA students have received scholarships, awards for academic excellence and the chance to attend banquets and informational events.

According to one award winner, being involved in MESA has encouraged him to take on leadership roles as well as utilize all of his resources around campus and more.

The variety of community involvement and potential internship opportunities really draw students into a successful organization, according to Stauffer.

"MESA is a great opportunity for students to get extra exposure to the Science and Technology fields outside of the classroom as well as getting a chance to converse with various students with similar interests," said Kanaana.

According to Stauffer and Kanaana, SSU is lucky to have the MESA on its campus, as it is the only one at a CSU in the North Bay.

"The MESA program is a critical component of the CSU's outreach efforts to get underserved students to take and master math and science classes in middle and high school," said the CSU Chancellor, Charles Reed, in a previous statement.

With a new dean and new director of MESA, the Science and Technology department has high hopes for the increased numbers of active students for this school year.

Stauffer stresses the importance of a program as crucial as MESA being introduced at a young age and carrying throughout the rest of the student's education. It is detrimental to the California education system that science, technology and beginning engineer studies are not a major focus in the classroom at a young age, according to Stauffer.

According to Kanaana, MESA is an extracurricular program that challenges students outside the classroom whether it is experiments, presentations, or achieving internships in the science field. With the combined efforts of the two new positions in the department, Kanaana and Stauffer want to provide the community involvement and comfortable atmosphere for STEM majors at Sonoma State.

Stauffer's achievements include being the first female faculty member of the computer science department in 1994, receiving the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2008 and being a founding director of MESA on this campus in 2008.

"I am truly honored to be the new dean of this outstanding department alongside a great new director like Dr. Kanaana at as great a campus as Sonoma State," Stauffer said. 

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