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The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

Alumnus continues legacy of Asian American Studies

James Chan
Mar 14, 2019 (James Chan)

(James Chan/Golden Gate Xpress)

Growing up in the hipster movement of San Francisco, SF State graduate student John Jimenez always dreamt of being a pro skater, with no con-
sideration of pursuing college. Now a graduate student in the Asian American Studies graduate program, Jimenez is thankful for his change in

According to Jimenez, in his adolescence, he was surrounded by a eurocentric curriculum that he never felt connected to because of his traditional Filipino upbringing. In his adolescence, he dedicated his time to skateboarding and dreamed of going pro.

Those around him, however, reminded him that pursuing college would be an investment in his future.

Because of this, Jimenez went on to attend San Francisco City College, where he studied film to make skate videos. San Francisco City College
also introduced Jimenez to the world of ethnic studies. After taking a number of Filipino Studies classes, Jimenez never looked back.  Jimenez describes feeling a personal connection to what he began studying then and still studies to this day:

“It was just kind of interesting seeing my experiences or […] the experiences of my family in forms of academia,” said Jimenez.

One of Jimenez’ mentors as a graduate at SF State is former 1968 striker and Asian American Studies professor Dan Gonzales. Gonzales encouraged Jimenez to enroll in SF State and the College of Ethnic Studies in when Jimenez was living city college, and Gonzales continues to be a mentor to Jimenez to this day.

“I told him that other programs […] they are not based in the center of broad and diverse community, including lots of people from different cultures, lots of immigrants, people of color and so, rather thaen have to travel some distance to go observe people of color, SF State is in the midst of it,” Gonzales said.

Jimenez did not regret his decision to attend SF State, and values the connections he has gained with others and his field of study.

“When I got there, it was very refreshing […] It was interesting taking some classes and seeing people like me, people of color or Asian American[fall] into this place of U.S. history,” Jimenez said.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Asian American Studies in spring 2017, Jimenez began the master’s program in fall 2017.

Jimenez is one among six students in the Asian American Studies masters program and is in his second year of the program here at SF State.

Philip Nguyen, friend of Jimenez,UC Berkeley alumnus, is also in the Asian American Studies masters program and feels inspired by being
around historical figures like Gonzales.

“To be able to walk through the [ethnic studies building] and run into people like professors like Dan Gonzales, who is one of the original strikers […] we stand on the shoulders of giants at SF State,” Gonzales said.

Graduating in May from the masters program, Jimenez hopes to one day work for a nonprofit-specific to Asian American political participation and become a lecturer at a junior college.  He feels passionately about teaching at a junior college because he feels junior college gets a bad reputation but is something that really benefited him.

“For me I want to teach at the junior college level because it was at the junior college level that really helped me find ethnic studies,” Jimenez said. “[Junior college] really helped me find the path to become a lecturer or a professor in academia in a field that was very close to me.”

Gonzales, is impressed with students like Jimenez and Nguyen, who carry on the legacy of original strikers.

“When we see students of the quality like [Nguyen] and [Jimenez] and several others, it inspires me,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales saw potential in Jimenez, so much so that he offered Jimenez a teaching assistant position while Jimenez was still an undergraduate.

“He was just outstanding,” Gonzales said. “He could anticipate what the needs of the students were and he could relay what he thought would
be a good way to approach further explanation of a difficult subject to me.”

Gonzales expresses that Jimenez influenced him to change his way of teaching.

“He helped actually redevelop the program courses in many ways,” Gonzales said. “20 to 30 percent of the course would change.”

Gonzales is on his second year of the early retirement program as a professor and feels at peace knowing that the program will stand strong with the next generation of students coming out of the program.

“When we have students like [Jimenez] and [Nguyen] and many others that come out of our program it heartens me because I know they are going to take a stand based on principle,” Gonzales said.

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Alumnus continues legacy of Asian American Studies