2017: A Year of Alliant Impact

At Alliant, our mission is to prepare students for professional careers of service and leadership and promote the discovery and application of knowledge to improve the lives of people in diverse cultures and communities around the world. Our vision is simple: An inclusive world empowered by Alliant alumni. 2017 has certainly been a year of change, but as we look back on our milestones and achievements throughout the year, we can see that our commitment to Alliant’s mission, vision, and institutional pillars remains steadfast.

It is through our pillars of Education for Professional Practice, Scholarship, Multicultural and International Competence, and Community Engagement that we can truly see our impact shine. So, as we look to the new year, let us also look back on 2017 and celebrate some highlights, achievements, and prime examples of the impact we can achieve together. There are hundreds of great examples of Alliant students, alumni, faculty, and staff making an impact and supporting our pillars -- and although we can’t list them all -- here are a few examples.

Education For Professional Practice

Our CSPP Los Angeles faculty established a training program with the Ronald McDonald House charities of southern California in which students provide psychological support and community building for families who are struggling through their most trying times. The program, called Family Support Services, held a holiday party for the Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House on December 3rd— a day in which the children and families could put their worries aside and come together to celebrate the joy of the season.

CSML has launched an executive-in-residence mentorship program. The six-month program matches our MBA students with an executive who not only serves a mentor, but also offers invaluable professional development along with an array of networking opportunities.


CSPP Student Sarah Shallit presented a momentous study at this year’s APA conference which showed that Bikram Yoga can significantly reduce symptoms of depression. News of this study was widely covered in the media.

Clinical Psychopharmacology Professor Alan Lincoln co-authored a study on a pharmaceutical treatment for Autism. The study found that a drug once used to treat African sleeping sickness produced measurable improvements in five boys with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Multicultural & International Competence

Alliant ranked number 15 in the nation for universities with highest percentages of international students.

Each of our six California campuses hosted a “Human Library” in which stories were told, instead of being read. People from every walk of life gathered to explore other cultures, seek to better understand each other, and challenge societal prejudice against marginalized communities.

Community Engagement

Our San Diego and San Francisco campuses participated their respective city’s LGBT Pride parades. San Francisco created a dazzling spectacle with a contingent 8-foot tall puppets and the San Diego campus rode in with a float on which University president and CEO Andy Vaughn, Alliant Board of Trustee Member Lawrence Moore, and SGA President Bri Acosta waved to the crowd and served as the Alliant pride Ambassadors.

Hundreds of Alliant employees dedicated their days to community service as part of the Alliant Makes a Difference Days. The Spring events benefitted the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, Pasadena Humane Society, Sacramento Food Bank, San Diego County Parks, San Francisco Botanical Gardens, and The Fresno Rescue Mission. For the Fall event, our campuses across California partnered with their local "Out of the Darkness" chapter to raise awareness and resources for suicide prevention.

See more photos: Spring / Fall

Meet some of our 2017 Graduates

S. Vannavuth

Sochanvimean Vannavuth came from a land of genocide.

His family experienced the political executions, disease, starvation, and forced labor of the Khmer Rouge rule—also referred to as the Cambodian holocaust-which cost the lives of approximately 2 million people.

Sochanvimean decided to study psychology at Alliant with a hope of helping his native land and his people heal. Of course, the transition was difficult. Not only did he have to overcome many cultural barriers, but he also needed to manage the day-to-day stresses unique to an international student, like transportation. In his second and third year, he rode a bus for four hours every three days to get to his practicum. Despite the difficulties, he learned how to persevere early on.

Today, he is receiving his doctorate in Clinical Psychology and plans to return home to open a counseling center, where his community can receive mental health support.

Sochanvimean stands as the perfect example of our students transforming their life experience into expertise, and their expertise into leadership.

Tara Arnold

Tara Arnold was born in India and the first 3 months of her life in an orphanage.

She was adopted and raised by a single mother who was Jewish and had a nanny who was Mexican. So Tara is a Jewish, Spanish speaking Indian—par for the the course at Alliant, but pretty diverse for your average American town.

With this complex identity development, Tara was bullied in school and Tara’s mother worked two jobs to support her, but her greatest hurdle was yet to come.

Shortly after starting her internship, Tara received the news that her mother had been diagnosed with cancer. The woman who had rescued Tara, worked as a psychiatric nurse and MFT to support her, and raised her in a loving home, had a very special message for her beloved daughter before passing: “You Have to Keep Going.” And through it all, Tara did. She is graduating with a dual Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology and Industrial-Organizational Psychology. And while her mother is not here today, her impact lives through Tara, and Tara’s impact is just beginning. Her journey from the streets of India to this commencement stage is just a prologue to what will, undoubtedly be a story of lasting impact.

Jesse Ramirez

Jesse Ramirez is the first in her family to pursue higher education. She is a veteran of the United States Navy, and her commencement today is something everyone in her family can be proud of, but there is someone in that family who is especially proud, her adopted daughter.

During Jessie’s junior year-while balancing a job. Internship, and her studies —Jessie began the process to adopt her 3-month old sister who had been in the foster system. Jessie didn’t have the easiest childhood, and she is determined to be a thoughtful and present mother.

One evening during finals, Jessie felt the distinct pressure of a single, working mother furthering her education. Feeling guilty about relying on the microwave and a movie to buy her the time to study, Jessie sat at her kitchen table preparing for her upcoming tests when her daughter came up to her, put her head on Jessie’s lap, looked up to her and said “I’m so proud of you.”

And we, too, are proud. Jessie is a testament to what single, working mothers can achieve when they believe in the power of higher education.

Craig Steckowski

Craig Steckowski served his nation as a Marine for 17 years.

He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom one and two, and will now be serving his patients and community as a Marriage and Family Therapist.

Craig experienced great trauma as a child and understands the impact that a compassionate counselor can make in the lives of children and their families.

He finished his undergraduate work while in the Marine Corp and shoes Alliant’s MFT program not only because of its COAMFTE accreditation but for opportunity to serve diverse populations.

“I want to ensure that anyone who experiences the trauma that I have, has the help they need to heal—and I plan to take advantage of every opportunity to help every child, no matter their background, culture or situation…I want my impact to be through the people I help,” Craig said.

2017 Alumni KUDOS

Alumnus Jeff T. H. Pon was appointed as the nation’s top HR professional, heading up of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Alumna Reiko True was recognized as a Trailblazer for women of color in the Field of Psychology during the American Psychological Association's Annual Conference.

Alumnus Joe-Joe McManus was appointed as the Chief Diversity Officer at CSUSM.

Alumna Danielle Schlosser has developed a smartphone App to help users suffering with mental illness. PRIME (Personalized Real-time Intervention for Motivation Enhancement) was inspired partly by research showing that social connection and peer support can reduce the severity of depression and schizophrenia.