Three SF State alumni will be inducted in the Alumni Hall of Fame next month for their works in asthma research in minority children, increasing awareness of police brutality, and works in poetry and activism.
The celebration organized by the Office of University Advancement happens on Friday, Nov. 9 at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown San Francisco.
The 2018 Alumna of the Year is Rebecca Solnit who graduated from SF State with a bachelor’s in English in 1991, and went on to author more than 20 books such as “Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities,” and “Wanderlust: A History of Walking.”
Solnit was nominated in September for the 2018 National Book Award in nonfiction for her work, “Call Them By Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays).”
She has also worked on environmental and human rights issues since the 1980s and is a board member on the climate policy analysis and activist group Oil Change International.
Also honored are 1990 graduate Dr. Esteban G. Burchard, who earned a B.S. in cell and molecular biology; 2006 graduate Jinho “Piper” Ferreira, who earned a B.A. in Africana studies; and 1975 graduate Kitty Tsui, who earned a B.A. in English.
Burchard went on to complete clinical training at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, here he would identify a gene that is associated with asthma severity and helps to explain ethnic differences in asthma prevalence, morbidity, and mortality.
“Each of the honorees, across the years, are chosen because of their outstanding achievements in career and civic endeavors, and support of the mission of the university, ” says Caitlin Tramel, executive director of Alumni and Constituent Relations.
Burchard discovered a genetic link to asthma that would start the biggest study of minority children and asthma.
Ferreira toured internationally with his alternative hip-hop band “Flipsyde,” alongside acts such as Snoop Dogg, Akon, and The Game. Following the 2009 shooting death of Oscar Grant by a BART police officer, Ferreira enrolled in the police academy in the hopes of changing police culture from within. He eventually became an Alameda County Deputy Sheriff and joined the Youth and Family Services Bureau Crime Prevention Unit, which inspired him to write his solo performance play, Cops and Robbers.
“I say it’s my responsibility to keep the streets safe,” Ferreira told The Mercury News. “If there’s going to be anyone riding around in my community with weapons, training and the authority to use those weapons, I am most comfortable knowing it’s me.”
Tsui is an author, activist, artist, actor and athlete who was inspired into activism after seeing the 1968-69 strikes at SF State.
According to SF State Magazine, Tsui’s poetry and work has been published in over 35 different anthologies, from the Sunday Centerfold, to the South China Morning Post.
“All four of our honorees represent a wide variety of paths and accomplishments and we look forward to including them in our Hall of Fame,” Tramel said.
The SF State Alumni Hall of Fame was created in 1994 to recognize alumni who have distinguished themselves through extraordinary achievements and is held every year on Nov. 9.
For more information on this year’s celebration, go to the Alumni Relations hall of fame web page.