Alumni Profiles

Greg Stock: Rock Star

Greg Stock climbs Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park.

SINCE 2006, Greg Stock (‘98, Geology) has kept Yosemite National Park’s 4 million annual visitors safe with his work. He is the park’s first geologist, a role that’s part laboratory scientist, part rock climber, and part first responder. The HSU grad keeps watch on the park’s 750,000-acre landscape, monitoring all rockfalls to keep the park safe and accessible.

In a place famous for its unique and towering rock formations, Stock doesn’t have to wait long for rocks to start tumbling. “I can get a call at any time. I have to drop everything and respond to an emergency rockfall,” says Stock.

Part of his job is assessing the potential for a rockfall and finding ways to mitigate risky situations, usually by moving infrastructure out of rockfall-prone areas. Stock stresses that most rockfalls occur in unpopulated areas and that fear of falling rocks shouldn’t stop anyone from visiting.

Stock, who began his career with the National Park Service, originally came to Humboldt State to study English. He spent his youth exploring the Sierra Nevada, where he grew up, and he arrived at HSU with a natural curiosity about the Earth and geology. Soon after arriving, he enrolled in a general education Geology course, where his interest in Geology grew into a passion and a career, thanks to the encouragement of engaging Geology faculty members. It was during the department’s annual summer field camp in the Inyo Mountains that Stock says he applied what he had learned in the classroom.

“Summer field camp brought together all of the critical thinking skills and knowledge of Geology I learned in the classroom, and things really clicked for me,” says Stock. “I still use many of those skills in my job at Yosemite.”

Alumni Presidents Excel as Leaders in Higher Education

Left to right: Cathy Sandeen (’76, Speech Pathology and Audiology), Lynnette Zelezny ('79, Psychology and ‘81, M.A. Psychology), Dean Bresciani (‘84, Sociology) Devorah Lieberman (‘75, Speech Communication), Bethami Dobkin (’85, Speech Communication), Hiroshi Kawahara (’79, Physics).

FIVE UNIVERSITIES. One college. Six presidents. All have long and distinguished careers in higher education that began with degrees at Humboldt State University.

Recently joining the California State University is Cathy Sandeen (’76, Speech Pathology and Audiology). The former chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Wisconsin Colleges, and University of Wisconsin-Extension, Sandeen returned to her hometown in the East Bay to take the helm of California State University, East Bay this January.

She says her years at Humboldt were a defining period in her life.

“My time at Humboldt State University was truly transformative. I arrived as a 17-year-old, first-generation college student living on campus with roommates from different backgrounds. My professors were proactive, approachable, and encouraging. Because of them, I found my place at HSU.”

Lynnette Zelezny (Psychology and ‘81, M.A. Psychology) made history in 2018 as the first woman appointed to lead CSU Bakersfield as president. But news of her selection also echoed throughout the CSU: For the first time, a majority of the presidents in the 23-campus system were women, a milestone in the name of equity.

HSU has been a tradition in the Zelezny family. Zelezny’s husband, John (’78), and daughter, Serena (’04), are both Journalism alumni.

“I have been fortunate throughout my life to benefit from the wisdom and guidance of great mentors like HSU Psychology Professor Mary Gruber,” says Zelezny. “What Mary and other mentors taught me was that to lead is to listen—truly listen—and engage.”

Devorah Lieberman (‘75, Speech Communication) is the 18th president of the University of La Verne, a nationally ranked institution located in Southern California. She demonstrates unwavering commitment to the mission and vision of the university and to the students and communities it serves. Lieberman has published books and articles in higher education on intercultural communication, faculty development, diversity, and institutional transformation.

“I credit my time at Humboldt State for my scholarly approach to problem solving and love for the field of intercultural communication. I cherish my undergraduate experience at HSU!” she says.

Bethami Dobkin (’85, Speech Communication) is the president of Westminster College in Utah, where her approach to education weaves together equity, wellness, and leadership and integrates liberal arts with applied and professional studies. Dobkin is an award-winning educator and researcher; she served as associate provost at the University of San Diego and provost at Saint Mary’s College. Dobkin grew up in Arcata and still maintains ties to the community.

“HSU provided important foundations in critical reasoning, deliberation, and communication; powerful experiences in the arts; and lessons in science that continue to inform my personal and professional life,” she says.

North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani (‘84, Sociology) has more than three decades of experience in higher education. He has served in administrative and faculty roles at prominent public universities including Texas A&M University and the University of North Carolina.

“HSU exposed me to perspectives that were, at the time, very different from those I was raised with in rural California,” he says. “But competing perspectives gave me the opportunity to broaden my horizons in ways that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Doing so unlocked the door on what would be my life passion and career in public higher education.”

At a recent virtual event, HSU discovered that alumnus Hiroshi Kawahara (‘79, Physics) has been president of Cyber University, Japan's first fully online university, since 2012. He received his Sc.D. at the Department of Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Department of Oceanographic Engineering at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1984. We are hoping to interview him for a longer profile soon!

Sabina Gallier: Radio for the Win

A RADIO PERSONALITY for Humboldt County radio station KSLG, Sabina Gallier (’14, Journalism) is called a “boisterous force of nature with a twist of lime.”

She channeled that energy into raising awareness about the experience of Black people in the community through public service announcements.

Gallier won a prestigious national Radio Mercury Award for her public service announcements called “Black Voices of Humboldt County.”

“I broke down in tears when I found out I had won. It was the proudest moment of my broadcasting career,” says Gallier.

The idea for the PSAs came in the days after the death of George Floyd last year. “My general manager wanted to know what our parent media company, Lost Coast Communications, could do for the Black community in Humboldt County. He said it just didn’t feel right to stay quiet,” she explains.

Gallier decided the community needed a voice. “What I envisioned was turning the radio over to the Black members of the community to voice their experiences.“

In the end, she produced recordings in which intertwined voices recount personal experiences of racially motivated verbal and physical assault and discrimination.

Sabina sitting next to an orange tree in front of a brick wall sitting on a frog sculpture.

As a radio personality for Humboldt County’s KSLG, Sabina Gallier is raising awareness about the experience of Black people in the community.

Gallier started her radio career at HSU in 2011, hosting her own show on KRFH, HSU’s student-run radio station. During her last semester at HSU, Gallier got an internship with KSLG, where she’s now the program and music director.

Gallier says her experience at HSU was the biggest factor in who she is today. “I feel like I really found myself at Humboldt. HSU changed my life and helped me grow into myself.”

Nora Wynne: 2021 California Teacher of the Year

RECOGNIZED FOR HER INNOVATION during a challenging educational climate, Humboldt State University School of Education instructor and alumna Nora Wynne (‘94, Biology, ‘10, M.A. Education) was named one of five California Teachers of the Year in 2021.

Wynne’s path to her education career started when she moved from Paso Robles north for college, studying Biology and Botany at HSU. “In my first class, the instructor took us on ‘the old growth shuffle,’ hiking in and around stands of old growth forests near campus,” says Wynne. “It made me love the forests and the mountains and the rugged coast. My undergraduate science classes are definitely what made me fall in love with Humboldt County and settle here for good.“

After graduating in 1994, Wynne headed to Guatemala with the Peace Corps, an experience that opened her eyes to the power of education and inspired her career in bilingual education.

“I saw how education could liberate people from dire poverty,” says Wynne, who was also the Humboldt County Teacher of the Year in 2020. She has taught Spanish at Arcata-area schools since 1999 and currently teaches Spanish at McKinleyville Middle School and serves as the Spanish immersion coordinator in the McKinleyville Union School District.

Wynne has been an instructor in HSU’s Secondary Education Credential Program since 2000. A perpetual learner, she earned a Master of Arts in Education from HSU in 2010. She also brings a global lens to her curriculum with a focus on educating students about racism and homophobia.

Nora sitting in front of some trees with a light brown sweater on

Beloved Spanish teacher and School of Education instructor Nora Wynne was named a 2021 California Teacher of the Year.

HSU’s Secondary Credential Program is foundational to Wynne’s identity as a teacher. With multicultural issues at the hub of the program, she and her HSU colleagues put the barriers facing California students—race, class, sexuality, and language—at the heart of their curriculum.

“We have a strong foundation in equity in the classroom,” says Wynne. “It helps me to put theory into practice with every student.”