by Tom Uribes

Matching Gift Madness

More than 100 donors came together to gift about $107,000 as part of Fresno State’s March Match Up campaign to fight student hunger.

The campaign was launched by a pledge from Fresno-based accounting firm Morse Wittwer Sampson, LLP to match up to $50,000 in gifts given to Fresno State’s Student Cupboard through March 31. A buzzer-beating gift by Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin helped Fresno State exceed its goal on the final day of the campaign and sent the fund drive into overtime.

A 2012 study found that about 31 percent of Fresno State students surveyed did not know where their next meal was coming from. The Student Cupboard provides students with free food items and hygiene products five days a week to increase access to affordable nutrition.

Fresno State’s first lady Mary Castro, who spearheaded the March Match Up campaign, says the cupboard has benefitted more than 70,000 individuals since it opened in late 2014. “We have had students tell us the Student Cupboard has made the difference between them staying in college or leaving,” she says.


University Theatre Presents Migrant Farmworker Story

Blue Willow

The University Theatre season closes with the world premiere of “Blue Willow” May 6-14
in the John Wright Theatre on campus.

Written by Pamela Sterling and directed by J. Daniel Herring, the play weaves the past and present voices of the migrant farmworker community within the Central Valley. Adapted from local librarian Doris Gates’ novel of the same name, the story is described as Fresno’s “Grapes of Wrath.”

For ticket information, call 559.278.7215.


Proposed Hmong Studies Program Would Be a First in Western U.S.

Hmong Studies

With one of the largest Hmong populations in the nation located in the Central Valley, Fresno State is developing a new option to minor in Hmong studies that will be the fifth such program in the nation and first in the western United States.

The minor, which would be offered through the Linguistics Department in the College of Arts and Humanities, is in the final stages of the approval process. The target to launch is fall 2016. The proposal calls for 18 units in Hmong culture, history and language.

The announcement came this winter as the Hmongstory 40 exhibit at the Fresno Fairgrounds celebrated 40 years of Hmong migration from Laos and Thailand to the United States. To share your story and photos, visit


Fruit Fly Studies Lead to Alzheimer’s Discovery

Research by Dr. Joy Goto, a Fresno State chemistry professor, played a key role in developing a new approach to understanding the role of environmental toxins in ALS and Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, published in February by the Royal Society of London, indicates that chronic exposure to an environmental toxin called BMAA may increase risk of neurodegenerative illness.

Goto’s research, with the help of seven Fresno State students, determined that the dietary amino acid L-serine helped protect fruit flies from BMAA.

Goto, who uses her training in bioinorganic chemistry and neuroscience to contribute to the understanding of neurodegenerative diseases, is a member of a 50-scientist collaboration operating in 28 institutions across 10 countries.


Students Dress for Success

Dress for Success

Fresno State opened its new Clothing Closet in April to provide students in need with free professional clothing for interviews, career fairs and jobs.

The clothing is collected from campus and community donations, and is located in the Frank W. Thomas building (Room 103), east of the Kennel Bookstore.

The concept was created based on evaluation of student need and demonstrated community support. “We were receiving phone calls from the community asking if we had such a program for donations,” says Debbie Young, director for the Career Development Center and creator of the Clothing Closet.

To find out how to donate attire, call 559.278.2381 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.


Now That’s a Smart Car

Smart Car

Students glimpsed into the future in February during a self-driving electric shuttle demonstration on campus. The event was in recognition of National Engineers Week.

Live mascot Victor E. Bulldog III joined Fresno State’s first lady Mary Castro for the test drives of the four-passenger, autonomous shuttle that is a product of Varden Labs, a startup company in Silicon Valley.

“The innovations in engineering are leading to new products and services for better living,” said Dr. Ram Nunna, dean of the Lyles College of Engineering. “Autonomous or self-driving vehicles are going to be part of the future of transportation, and we would like our students to become aware of the progress in new technologies and also be part of this growing industry.”