ROHNERT PARK — The 24th Sonoma State University Economic Outlook Conference was held before more than 200 students, educators, business leaders and public officials at the Student Center on Feb. 15.
The half-day agenda featured five upbeat and provocative presentations focusing on futuristic views from experts in economics and financial market analytics, education, health care, business IT and technology as well as the wine industry.
‘Aim high, reach wide, educate all’
“The vision I bring to my role as president of Sonoma State University is shaped by my life, my experiences and my values,” said Judy Sakaki, Ph.D. “One of my highest priorities is to enhance relationships and engagements between our university and our surrounding communities. We want to become more integrated into the North Bay with partnerships that help local businesses and the regional economy grow.”
She heads a university with nearly 10,000 students and more than $200 million in annual spending, producing an estimated regional economic impact of over $400 million a year as well as serving as a primary jobs generator for local business and industry. SSU generates $25 million in state and local tax revenues and graduates some 2,000 students annually.
Sakaki was born in east Oakland.
“My grandparents emigrated to the U.S. from Japan. My parents, though born here and U.S. citizens, were sent to internment camps during WWII and did not have an opportunity to go to college. In high school, my guidance counselor tracked me into vocational ed, not college prep, saying I would be really good at retail sales.”
Next week at school Sakaki bumped into an outreach counselor who opened her eyes to college possibilities.
“I decided I should go. Each of us has the potential to make a difference in another’s life. I want all students willing to work hard to discover possibilities they might never have become aware of if not for a quality education.”
She announced that SSU has been recognized by the federal Department of Education as a Hispanic-serving institution, a designation for a university with an undergraduate population that is 25 percent or more Hispanic.
“We are currently just under 28 percent, but we need to reach more Latino students.”
“My goal is to help a broader range of prospective students consider coming to our campus. I want SSU to be a collaborative, team-oriented institution, with inclusion and diversity that always puts students first and helps them find their true passion in life.
“I believe in SSU’s founding motto: Aim high, reach wide, educate all.”
Is success when you build a birdhouse, or when the birds come?
Applying innovative technology to health care involves making it inspiring, interesting and engaging, according to Chris Waugh, chief innovation officer and director of North Bay strategy and business development for Sutter Health.
“Let’s face it, for most people, taking care of one’s health is serious, not that fun. However, while people hate exercising, they love Zumba classes,” Waugh said. “Tapping into a person’s self talk, and feedback, can link better health with enjoyable experiences.”
It started when Alberto Perez forgot the regular music for his aerobic class. So he used tapes of lively salsa and merengue tracks he listened to in his car, and his business took off. People enjoyed stimulating Latin rhythms during fast-moving Zumba workouts.