Inclusion Impact on the SF State Community

Faculty and Leadership

Professor Gus Vouchilas

“As a professor in the Family, Interiors, Nutrition & Apparel Department for over 16 years, I have taught my interior design students the importance of designing and creating spaces that address the needs of a diverse body of individuals. At the heart of human experience is found the need for connections with our environments and a connection with each other as experienced through the built environment. These types of connections can build relationships that emerge through the sharing of different life experiences. The Inclusion Pilot Project at SF State offers the opportunity for students to share their individual life experiences which builds confidence and brings about new ideas they can share in all study disciplines. This result is a tangible asset that inspires growth and understanding.”

Professor Hafez Modirzadeh

“I have been an SF State professor at the School of Music since 1998, and thanks to the Inclusion Pilot Project, Ishaan has been able to join my course, Music of the World's People. By supporting the needs of such students, a diversity of abilities is recognized that enriches our learning community beyond words, ultimately honing a greater humanity in the process, thus making such programs indispensable.”

Shih-Hsung (Alex) Hwu

“The College of Professional & Global Education (CPaGE) helps expand access to SF State. In stewarding this new Inclusion Pilot Project, CPaGE provides a specifically designed pathway for developmentally disabled students that did not previously exist, to study at SF State. It also reflects SF State’s long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion on its campus. At the same time, it is extremely important for me personally, since I have a son who is on the autism spectrum. I have witnessed first-hand how important support and opportunities are for him to remain on a successful learning path. This program will support learners and families who would otherwise have to navigate a very complex system to access the benefits of higher education. We look forward to serving these new students at SF State.”

Peer Mentors

Judy Deng

“While trying to obtain a BA in Child Adolescent Development, I was given the opportunity to participate in the Inclusion Pilot Project. This project is important to me as I saw students be included and fully participate in the college experience. As a child, I noticed students who were different didn’t get the support they needed. This made me want to help people succeed in and out of school. All people should be able to believe they can do anything they want to. With this project, I was able to work with students and professors to create, adapt and modify the curriculum to allow the students to succeed in class. I spend time working with them one on one with their personal goal and facilitate communications with the campus and peers.”

Ash Verwiel

“The first semester after graduating with a BA in Cinema, I was lucky to find the Inclusion Pilot Project. It’s very important to diversify the college classroom; I think it benefits students as well as professors to be surrounded by all kinds of perspectives. Working closely with my inclusion student a few times a week, I’ve also learned a tremendous lot from him. I never knew I could have so much fun helping someone understand the filmmaking process and encouraging him to further their skills on a career-focused path. I’ve come to love this program and everyone involved in creating IPP, and I hope we will continue to grow a more inclusive college environment for years to come.”

Rianna Diaz

“Growing up, I knew my brother has a disability, but I didn’t necessarily have the knowledge or educational background regarding special education and disability. It was important for me to educate myself and in honor of my brother, so I took SPED courses at SF State. This led me to become a peer mentor for the Inclusion Pilot Project. It is such an amazing and learning experience for both myself and the students. I loved participating in creating enjoyable experiences as a college student with them! Helping and supporting the students I work with in their courses so they can be accomplished college students like everyone else around them was incredible. I deeply appreciate what IPP has done to create an inclusive college for its students.”

Beatriz Lema Durant

"A majority of my professional experiences have been about empowering young people. Thus, I wanted to continue this trajectory by supporting my peers with disabilities in higher education which the Inclusion Pilot Project (IPP) has given me the opportunity to do. Working with inclusion students to advocate for their needs and support them in their journeys has truly been an honor. In all honesty, the title 'peer mentor' feels like such a misnomer since it is really the inclusion students that have taught me so much. IPP does phenomenal work for the SF State community as it genuinely serves to uphold inclusion and equity by centering its inclusion students through a collaborative and individualized approach. My hope is that this project continues to thrive and expand in order to continue meeting the needs of diverse student populations at SF State and beyond."

Josh Peig

"A career goal of mine is to become a Clinical Psychologist who works with marginalized or underserved groups, emphasizing working with young children and low-income neighborhoods. But have some knowledge or expertise in different areas of Psychology. After meeting with the program coordinators, I discovered that IPP’s mission aligns with mine. So, I decided to give it a try and see how I can apply skills from my major, Psychology, to help IPP make SF State a more inclusive campus. Ever since then, I have never once regretted joining the team.

Moreover, the program expanded my career goals by helping me realize a specific area where I want to apply my skill sets: providing programs like IPP with some form of therapy assistance. This decision came about after finding out that specific resources, like free therapy offered by the university, are limited to only students not part of pathway programs like IPP. After finding this out, It was disheartening that I had to advise a student I was working with to find this form of assistance from outside the university. But it helped me realize that there is a calling for work to be done in this particular field and that this reform can start with me."

Molly Butler

“I’m a master's/credential candidate in SF State’s Extensive Support Needs program in the Special Education Department. I have a passion for inclusive practices and love this field. My role as a TA in the Inclusion Pilot Project is to adapt college-level curriculum in order to make it accessible for the student I help support. My goal is to make their college experience meaningful and enjoyable.”

Charles Beavis

“I have a master’s degree in Special Education and the Extensive Support Needs teaching credential from SF State. I know that all people have a capacity to learn, grow, and socialize. The Inclusion Pilot Project is meaningful in so many ways. It is important for students of all abilities to learn from each other. I work closely with one student. She is excited to take college courses, and to meet some new people. I adapt the curriculum in order for her to access the content. She is an aspiring writer and has completed multiple writing assignments throughout the semester. She meets with a peer partner once a week to discuss.”

Nina Morente

“While earning my teaching credential and master’s degree at SF State, I have had the amazing opportunity to be a part of a new inclusion program where I was to work with adults who are experiencing their first year of college. I felt supported within a group of creative experts who helped me shape a unique and authentic experience for these students in their college courses. I worked side by side with the student as a partner, as we were fully included in a range of classes from art, to English, to dance. After participating in the inclusion program, I know now that I can work to help any student achieve their dreams of going to and graduating from college.”

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