Jayzona Alberto graduates in five months from the University of San Diego, an accomplishment sure to be met with happiness and excitement. To Alberto, though, her last semester as an undergrad won’t so much be spent counting down the days as it will making each day count.
It’ll be business as usual for Alberto whether she’s making a difference in the classroom, working as vice chair for the Associated Students’ Torero Program Board, in the United Front Multicultural Center, as a student coordinator for the Link Mentoring Program or as a tutor at Linda Vista’s Bayside Community Center. She plans to be busy working with next year’s mentoring coordinators to ensure a smooth transition and plans to present a student scholarship at a diversity banquet in May.
On Dec. 10, though, Alberto was the one receiving attention. She was recognized for her work ethic and many contributions as the student recipient of the USD Women’s Center’s Woman of Impact Award.
The Women of Impact luncheon, which annually celebrates women who make a difference at the university in the role of administrator, faculty, staff and student, gave the energetic Alberto a great sense of pride.
“I feel really honored,” she said. “It’s very empowering for me to be among this group of amazing women. It’s mind blowing to me.”
Alberto (pictured, with Women’s Center director Erin Lovette-Colyer) received a plaque and she was joined by three other category winners: Pamela Gray Payton (administrator), Rosibel Mancillas Lopez (staff) and Sandra Sgoutas-Emch (faculty). Sr. Barbara Quinn, RSCJ, director of the Center for Christian Spirituality, was given special recognition. Bahar Davary, associate professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, gave a keynote address.
Talking a few days later, the magnitude of the honor was still sinking in for Alberto. “I’m still in shock. I got a lot of congratulatory text messages and e-mails. As I’ve walked around campus people have congratulated me. I’m very honored to be chosen as a woman of impact. I feel very blessed.”
Alberto’s selection comes as little surprise to those who know the work she’s put in beyond being a psychology major, leadership minor and doing pre-pharmacy coursework as she plans to seek Pharmacy Technician certification.
“Jayzona has dedicated much of her time, effort, passion and ideas to making USD a great institution,” was a comment made by the unidentified person who nominated Alberto.
“The luncheon is such a great opportunity to recognize the amazing women within our USD community,” said Spenser Leverett ‘11, director of programming for USD’s Women’s Center. “I love seeing the community come together to show their support for the women that make a significant difference in their lives and in the lives of others.”
Payton is the assistant vice president for Public Affairs and the university’s official spokesperson, but one of her most impactful activities on campus is her work to improve USD’s diversity and inclusion, specifically the African American student population. She’s worked closely within a Black Student Recruitment and Retention Committee and has served as an advisor for USD’s Brothers and Sisters United (BSU) student organization. The BSRRC committee, made up of administrators, faculty and staff, has created lasting events such as a black student orientation at the start of each school year and a black student graduation event in May. Payton’s actions, according to the nomination letter put in on her behalf, extends beyond the students she inspires as a mentor. “She has helped the parents and families of black students feel so much more connected and welcomed on campus.”
Mancillas Lopez is a second-year USD law student with aspirations of becoming an immigration lawyer. Mancillas Lopez, who earned a BA in political science in 2009, was a valuable student staff employee in USD President Mary E. Lyons’ office. Upon graduation, she moved into the night law school program and was hired as the executive assistant for USD’s University Ministry office. When she’s not in class, studying or working in the office, she volunteers as a Big Sister, mentoring a high school-aged girl in the community. Says the person who nominated her, “We’re the witnesses to a highly intelligent, compassionate, strong woman of faith, committed to her family, community and culture. She has inspired everyone in our department and helped us to think more critically about how we can emulate her inspiring example.”
Sgoutas-Emch’s ability to juggle three key roles at USD has a common thread: “Every role Sandra undertakes in the USD community is with an eye toward developing her fellow community members in positive ways,” said her nominator. As a professor of Psychological Sciences and the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Sgoutas-Emch “enlightens USD students’ minds.” But she’s also the director of the Center for Education Excellence and co-chair for the WASC Inclusion and Diversity Committee. The CEE helps USD faculty and staff “develop knowledge, skills and practices that support USD’s core values” through a multitude of programs. As part of the WASC committee, she’s helped the campus community explore the climate of USD for underrepresented students.
— Ryan T. Blystone
USD’s Women of Impact nominees — Administration: Barbara Ferguson, Sr. Barbara Quinn, RSCJ, Brenna Hughes, Branda Cook, Chia-Yen Lin, Cynthia Avery, Erin Bishop, Indra Bishop, Jennifer Lee, Karla Alvarez, Kim Cupini, Mandy Womack, Margaret Leary, Mary Kruer, Mayte Perez-Franco, Pamela Gray Payton, Tara Jankowski and Tina Thompson Carter. Faculty: Athena Perrakis, Christine Kane, Jane Friedman, Lori Watson, Mary McKenzie, May Fu, Michele Magnin and Sandra Sgoutas-Emch. Staff: Kara Kimball, Lindsey Mercer, Rosibel Mancillas Lopez and Teresa Dionisio. Students: Anayensi Jacobo, Brianne McGann, Britni Soto, Brooke Tuttle, Carmyn Chapman, Christina Wellhouser, Colette Custin, Deanna Wolf, Delia Tepozan, Diana Velazquez, Georgina Santos, Haley Pittman, Ilana Sabban, Jacqueline Che, JaRae Birkeland, Jayzona Alberto, Kaitlin Perry, Kelly Fromm, Kendra Osburne, Kim Heinle, Krishelle Hardson-Hurley, Mackenzie Mauer, Mackenzie Ott, Mariana Luis, Melissa Lucas, Mercedes Kastner and Tiffany Mendoza.