New Dean Appointed for CEHHS

Cal State San Marcos announced the appointment of Dr. Jennifer Ostergren as the next dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Services.  

Ostergren currently serves as associate dean of student success and academic affairs for the College of Health and Human Services at California State University Long Beach. A faculty member at CSULB since 2003, she has served in a variety of leadership roles, including program director and chair for the Department of Speech-Language Pathology, and most recently as a leading member of CSULB’s comprehensive strategic planning team. She is a CSULB President’s and Provost’s Leadership Fellow (2015-2016) and the recipient of CSULB’s Distinguished Faculty Teaching (2017) and Early Academic Career Excellence (2014) awards.  

“I am excited to welcome Dr. Ostergren to CSUSM,” said Carl Kemnitz, the university’s provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “Her devotion to student success and leadership in strategic planning will help to galvanize the college around a cohesive vision and position it to meet student and community needs for the future.” 

In 2019-2020, Ostergren served as an American Council on Education fellow at Arizona State University, where she engaged with the president, provost and senior leadership across multiple divisions, including during coronavirus response phases in spring 2020 and summer 2020.  

Ostergren has specialized training and interest in the area of futures thinking and its application to the future of higher education, work and health. She is a licensed speech-language pathologist with more than 20 years of experience as a medical-based SLP across the continuum of care. She has written multiple textbooks and scholarly works in the area of neurologic communication disorders and professional practice issues and training of speech-language pathology assistants.  

“I was attracted to the College of Education, Health and Human Services at CSUSM for its devotion to student success, interdisciplinary nature and commitment to serving the local community,” Ostergren said. “These and the college and CSUSM’s deep commitment to equity and inclusion cemented my desire to be a part of the CEHHS family. I see this as an exciting and transformative time for the disciplines of education, health and human services. We have much work to do in supporting our students and the community as we transition out of the pandemic. CEHHS is well poised to have a sustained and critical impact on the local community and the success of its current and future students. I look forward to getting to know the students, faculty and staff of CEHHS and embarking on this important journey together.” 

Ostergren holds a doctorate in special education from Claremont Graduate University. Her other two degrees are from CSULB – a master’s in speech-language pathology and a bachelor’s in communicative disorders.  

Read more stories like this…

Public Health Program to Become a Department

The first cohort of Master of Public Health students is pictured at commencement in May 2018.
The public health program was recently approved to become a department.

The public health program at Cal State San Marcos has been approved to become a department within the College of Education, Health and Human Services, effective July 1. 

The change was approved last week by Carl Kemnitz, CSUSM’s provost.  

As part of the department designation, public health will be moving from the School of Nursing, where it has resided since 2016, to the School of Health Sciences and Human Services. It will become the fifth department in that school, joining human development, kinesiology, social work and speech-language pathology.  

The final step for public health to be designated a department was the news this spring that the program has achieved accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), an independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit schools of public health and public health programs. The accreditation term is for five years, extending to July 1, 2026.  

Christina Holub has been serving as interim director of the program and, starting this summer, she will be the chair of the new Department of Public Health. Holub thanked the School of Nursing for initiating the public health program and also saluted the founding faculty: in addition to herself, Emmanuel Iyiegbuniwe, Deborah Morton, Asherlev Santos and Lisa Bandong. 

“With our recent accreditation and with a growing interest in public health careers, largely due to the pandemic, our team of faculty and staff are excited to train the next generation of culturally intelligent public health professionals,” Holub said. “There is so much more to come, and I can’t wait to see all the future endeavors and innovation in the public health department and, most importantly, how that translates to the success of our students and alumni. 

CSUSM established the public health program in 2016 to meet the needs of graduates in health professions and to fill vacant positions identified in North San Diego County. Within the professional Master of Public Health degree, the department offers two concentrations, in health promotion/health education and global health.

Nursing Is a Family Affair for Graduate

Class of 2021 nursing graduate Sarah Menyhay (far left) is pictured on National Nurses Day on May 6 with (left to right) her father, Steve, a hospice nurse; her mother, Pamela, a pediatric nurse; and her younger sister, Alexa, a nursing student at Fresno City College.

May 19, 2021

by Brian Hiro

In the Fresno community where Sarah Menyhay grew up, there was never much doubt about where you would turn if your child was sick and you didn’t know what was wrong or what to do.

You would call the Menyhays. If the father, Steve, wasn’t home, you’d talk to the mother, Pamela. If Pamela wasn’t there, you’d talk to Steve. If either was around, well, all the better because that meant double the knowledge.

They were the neighborhood nurses. Pamela has been a pediatric nurse since she was 22. Steve has held that same job since his early 30s. And as they dispensed medical wisdom and personal empathy in equal doses to people on their street as well as hospital patients, you’d better believe that Sarah and her two younger sisters were soaking it all up.

Some children rebel against their parents’ profession. Sarah has modeled her whole life after it.

“Growing up hearing everyone always being so thankful to have my parents in their lives and in our neighborhood, I was like, ‘I’m going to follow in their footsteps. I’m going to do the same thing,’ ” she said. Read more…

Rallying Together for our Students!

Today, you are invited to wave the rally flag for students as we come together for One CSUSM, a day of giving and solidarity to support our incredible students through scholarships.


A scholarship is a game changer for so many of our students. Nearly 70% rely on financial aid as they work to reach their goals. Last year, CSUSM awarded more than $1.6 million in philanthropic scholarship support – and yet the financial need of those students we served exceeded $6 million. Together, we can fill that gap and support even more students in achieving their dreams.  

Today, every gift will go directly to fund student scholarships. The College of Education, Health and Human Services has 10 unique scholarships to choose from so select one today!   Together, we are One CSUSM.

Donate to the scholarship of your choice.


2021 Annual Student & Alumni Virtual Awards Celebration

College of Education, Health & Human Services (CEHHS)

2021 Annual Student & Alumni Virtual Awards Celebration

Please join us virtually in celebration of our students and alumni!

Wednesday, May 12th, 2021

6:00 p.m. | Via livestream


In recognition of

CEHHS graduating students receiving Latin Honors

Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology
Bachelor of Arts in Human Development
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Bachelor of Science in Speech-Language Pathology

CEHHS Alumni Award & Nominees

Junko Miyoshi Sweeney (Award Recipient
Department of Human Development

Beverly Monahan (Nominee)
School of Education

CEHHS Student Champion for Inclusion,
Diversity & Equity Award & Nominees

Lisa Naudi (Award Recipient)
Department of Speech-Language Pathology

Consuela Davis (Nominee)
Department of Human Development

German (Joshua) Garcia (Nominee)
School of Education

Outstanding Graduating Students

Andre Gatewood
Department of Speech-Language Pathology

Rachel Thomas
Department of Human Development

Tyler Wiles
Department of Kinesiology

Keely Lopes
Department of Social Work

Casey Semrow
School of Education

Tamsin Gray
School of Nursing

Sofia Davis
Public Health

CEHHS Dean’s Award

Sofia Davis
Public Health

Nursing Students Step up Amid Pandemic by Vaccinating Community

Nursing student Evan Swarth gives a shot at The Sports Center on campus, one of three sites where CSUSM students are helping with vaccine efforts. Photo by Andrew Reed


By Brian Hiro

When the spring semester began in late January, it seemed as if the stars had finally aligned for Cal State San Marcos to send its nursing students back into the community for their badly needed clinical rotations.

Some were scheduled to be stationed in the Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District, providing health screenings and education to children of all ages. Others were bound for a food pantry in Fallbrook. Still others were slotted to go to Rachel’s Women’s Center, a homeless shelter in downtown San Diego. Read more…

HD student part of Duke summer program

Ruby Reyes, a human development student, has been selected to participate in a summer research program at Duke University this summer. Reyes, who was chosen from among 600 applicants from across the country, will work with Sarah Elizabeth Gaither, a psychology and neuroscience professor at Duke.

Reyes will also be presenting her research on Mexican-American college students’ career aspirations at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research on April 13.

Read more about Awards and Accolades.

CSUSM Opens Vaccine Clinic for Campus Community

Nursing student Dominique Agosta-Westley gives her dean, Deborah Kristan, her first Covid-19 vaccine.
Cal State San Marcos police officer Adam White was the first person vaccinated when the university opened a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for the campus community last week. Photo by Andrew Reed

Cal State San Marcos police officer Adam White was the first person vaccinated when the university opened a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for the campus community last week. Photo by Andrew Reed

Since he became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as part of Phase 1B in late February, Adam White has been trying in vain to book an appointment for his first shot.

So when the Cal State San Marcos police officer got an email on March 19 informing him that he could now be vaccinated through the first clinic available exclusively to members of the campus community, he jumped at the opportunity.

At 9 a.m. last Wednesday, there was White at the front of the line that formed at the transit center off Campus View Drive as CSUSM kicked off its effort to inoculate staff, faculty and students who have not been able to secure vaccine appointments through their health care provider or San Diego County-run sites around the region. Read more…

Assistant Professor was First Inspired to Become a Nurse

Assistant Professor, Elvira D. Gomez demonstrates to students in the School of Nursing simulation labs.

March 30, 2021

By Marilyn Huerta

Assistant Professor Elvira D. Gomez a first-generation Mexican-American who works in the School of Nursing at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM), was inspired to become a health professional when she witnessed her aunt Aurora, a practicing nurse, save the life of her father.

“Wow. She just came in here like a superhero, didn’t even break a sweat and knew exactly what to do,” Gomez said. “I remember thinking how I wanted to emulate what I saw – a composed, knowledgeable, calm, and professional woman, handling an extremely stressful situation with ease. I did not know it at the time but living through that experience shaped my career goals for life.”

Gomez’ father, a field laborer suffering with health issues, spent his days off from work filing immigration documents so he could legally relocate his family from Mexico to California in the early 1970s. Although Gomez was born in the Mayfield, California, she spent a great deal of her childhood with family members in Mexico and remembers questioning her aunt about the nursing profession. 

“I remember her telling me about having a feeling of purpose and that every time she was able to help a patient in need, whether it was administering medications or something as simple as holding a patient’s hand, my aunt Aurora was teaching me about advocacy. As nurses, we have a unique and special relationship with our patients,” Gomez said.

Gomez found it hard to understand that advocacy did not come naturally for everyone. “It wasn’t automatic,” she said. “It comes from our own self-reflection.” She describes that advocacy in the nursing field asprotecting the patient and empowering them by being their voice.

Overcoming one obstacle after, Gomez continues to represent Mexican-American women in the nursing field. She has held several medical roles, obtained nursing degrees, a Ph.D. and is currently an Assistant Professor dedicated to educating others so that too can become health care professionals.

Prior to completing her doctoral studies at University San Diego in 2014, Gomez held several clinical roles including hospice nurse, research consultant, and emergency room nurse. She also worked in acute care surgical areas, such as telemetry, intensive care, pediatrics, and oncology. During her role as a hospice admissions nurse, she had the opportunity to work with nursing students and discover that she was interested in working in higher education.

Gomez poses with her parents Jose Dominguez Gastelum and Socorro Beltran Dominguez
after she defended her dissertation in 2014

“They always had the greatest questions and seemed so willing to learn more. I believe that as a nurse you never stop learning and that drive for learning is a commonplace for nursing students and it was something that I truly enjoyed being a part of,” she said.

Gomez poses for a photo after she received her first nursing license in the early 1990s.

Gomez completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at Cal State Fullerton from 2008-2013 and says that during this time she dreamt of being a health educator but it wasn’t until two CSUSM nursing students she was working with nudged her to become “their” professor. Gomez took their encouraging words to heart, applied for a clinical faculty position and was hired in 2009 by her mentor and the founder of the School of Nursing, Dr. Judy Papenhausen.

Today, Dr. Wendy Hansbrough is the Interim Director of the School of Nursing at Cal State San Marcos and when asked about Gomez, she said that “in her academic nursing role, Dr. Gomez has always kept students and their learning as her highest priority. In her experience at CSUSM, she has taught nearly all the clinical and lecture medical/surgical course. She brings innovative teaching strategies to her classroom, has high expectations of her students, and makes sure they feel supported in their nursing school journey. Prior to accepting a tenure-track position this year, she served the School of Nursing as the Assistant Director at the Temecula Campus, where she advocated for students and faculty to ensure a supportive space conducive to learning.”

Gomez Wants to Do More Research

At one point, Gomez and her aunt Aurora were the only medical professionals in the family, however she inspired four more cousins tobecome nurses alongside Aurora in Mexico. When asked what her next steps will be, Gomez said she’d like to return to researching topics such as “stress in nursing care” that she focused on during her graduate studies.

“As a practicing nurse, I noted that exposure to suffering by nurses is a common occurrence in the emergency department.  The aftermath of caring and assuming the task of consoling the affected family members may be very challenging for a nurse. Secondary Traumatic Stress has been described as a natural condition that links to the presence of stressful events or the end result of helping; in conjunction with the empathy that the caretaker (nurse) has for their patients,” she said.

Gomez is also interested in exploring a nurses’ communication pattern after they have treated patients who suffer trauma and/or associated post-traumas. This study would reflect how experiencing traumatic events in an emergency care department impairs or alters a nurses’ communication. Her plan for study is to incorporate a mixed-method design including the themes she discovered in her past qualitative studies.  She noted that some specific situations were traumatic for nurses especially when they treated pediatric traumas. Other themes that were discovered included “discomfort, maintaining emotional control, obstructed communication and deflection.”  She said that “past research suggests that there is an inherent occupational risk for providers when exposed to patients and/or families who experienced or have been victims of some form of trauma.”

Another population she would also like to explore is the impact of stress on student nurses. “There is very little research in these areas, but it can have detrimental effects on how a novice nurse moves forward into practice, the susceptibility for decreased professional quality of life and potentially attrition from the profession,” she says.

Gomez questions how many frontline providers will experience secondary trauma and compromised communication patterns during this COVID-19 pandemic. She is currently preparing grant proposals to study pandemic effects on undergraduate nursing students and it will focus on variables such as professional nursing values and ethics, the potential for moral distress and moral resiliency.

“Our nurses and students are now at the frontlines fighting for us so we must fight for them too,” she said.

MPH Program Accredited by National Body

The first cohort of Master of Public Health students is pictured at commencement in May 2018.
The MPH program was accredited in early March.

March 30, 2021

The Master of Public Health program at Cal State San Marcos has achieved accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), an independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit schools of public health and public health programs. Read more…

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