Shannon Long, the Outstanding Graduate Student, and Bryan Cruz, the Outstanding Undergraduate Student, were honored during Cal State San Bernardino's College of Social and Behavioral Sciences commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 20 at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario.
Long, of Pinon Hills, received a master of arts degree in social sciences, which allowed her to focus on her interests in public history and the history of mental health."
The combined subject fields helped lead to the building and opening of a museum on mental health at Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino this past spring. Along with her advising professors, she contacted hospital officials about the facility's archives and subsequently was asked to help organize its contents into a museum that tells the facility's history.
Long, who has a bachelor of arts in history and a teaching credential from CSUSB, led a group of students that catalogued and organized photographs, artifacts and records. They also designed and constructed museum exhibits in a building set aside on the hospital grounds to tell the story of Patton State Hospital. The work also was an extension of her master's thesis.
"Establishing and opening the museum at Patton State Hospital is by far my most significant accomplishment," she said.
In addition, she is working with her advising professor, Tiffany F. Jones, on an article about the legacy of eugenic sterilization of the mentally ill in California. That Long, who also listed history faculty Cherstin Lyon and Thomas Long as her inspiration and mentors with Jones, has a passion for raising awareness about mental health and advocate for the mentally ill comes from her own battle with bipolar disorder, she said.
Looking forward, Long said she hopes to begin a career in museum or public history work and "continue working in some capacity to raise awareness and educate the public about mental health."
Cruz, a Riverside resident, received a bachelor's degree in biological psychology, graduating cum laude. "Before, I never would have imagined making it this far in my life, being a first-generation Mexican-American with my primary language being Spanish, and also my parents having no educational background whatsoever," he said. "To me, this degree is highly important because it represents my growth in education, and the first time my father is attending a ceremony where I am moving on to pursue a higher degree."
As an undergraduate, Cruz said he decided on biological psychology because of an appreciation for scientific research and love of the scientific process. That passion helped him as he did research, under the guidance of psychology assistant professor Sergio Iñiguez, on the neuro- and behavioral pharmacology of antidepressants, using animal models of depression.
Cruz, who juggled a full-time course load while also working nearly full-time hours his first three years at CSUSB, listed his father and Iñiguez as his inspirations. His father "taught me the value of hard work and never giving up on what you want to achieve in life," Cruz said. And Iñiguez "showed me that there are no barriers than can hold a person from achieving any academic or professional accomplishment."
Cruz will attend Graduate school at the University of Texas at El Paso, where he will study social, cognitive and neuroscience. He plans to continue through earning his Ph.D., then continuing his research interests.