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Faculty, Staff Going Extra Mile for Students, Campus

As Cal State San Marcos faculty and staff continue to go above and beyond on behalf of students and the campus community during the COVID-19 crisis, we’re pleased to highlight some of the campus heroes as nominated by students and colleagues.

Know someone who deserves special recognition for their efforts? Email details to and we’ll include them in an upcoming edition of this ongoing series.


Denise Garcia, professor, biology

Garcia quickly implemented changes in the transition to virtual learning to ensure that students would still be successful from home.

“Dr. Garcia has gone above and beyond for all of her students to make sure that we are safe and successful during the pandemic,” the nominator wrote. “She is spending her own time constantly checking in on us, making sure we're aware of campus resources and even giving us her own advice on how to remain calm. She has shared with us resources that include meditation, mindfulness, and is spending valuable time out of her day to cheer us up.”


Ashley Gragido, student success facilitator, Office of Undergraduate Studies

The nominator noted that in addition to Gragido’s tireless work as the student success facilitator, she has served as the faculty lead for First Year Programs’ academic recovery courses.

“Ashley led the team of instructors and taught two sections, including our first for transfer students on probation,” the nominator wrote. “Her passion and dedication for our students came through every day this semester as we reflected on how to best serve students in this crisis, and she used every opportunity to advocate for her students and ensure they were getting the support they needed to succeed, both on an individual level and collectively.”


Michelle Manriquez, student support services lead, IITS

Manriquez was lauded for exemplifying extreme efficiency and effective communication within her team. She made adjustments to employee schedules as needed and continues to support her team while working remotely.

“Michelle personally helps us on issues that we may not be able to handle and ensures that we possess the knowledge required to excel at the Student Technology Help Desk,” the nominator wrote. “On multiple occasions throughout the transition, she went out of her way to ensure all of her employees were able to work from home and that everyone was doing well in this unprecedented time.”


Valissa Middleton, lead, Distribution Services

Debbie Russo, mail clerk, Distribution Services

Middleton and Russo (pictured in a file photo taken before social distancing and face coverings were required) have gone above and beyond to assist IITS in mailing hotspots and webcams to faculty, staff and students.

“Without being asked, Valissa took it upon herself to create a spreadsheet to track and record the serial and IMEI numbers of the equipment being mailed and sends periodic inventory updates,” the nominator wrote. “This information has been extremely helpful to IITS for tracking purposes. She truly is a hero with her positive and helpful attitude.”

The nominator noted that, “even while wearing a mask, you can tell Russo is still smiling.” “When I go to Distribution Services to pick up mail and packages,” the nominator wrote, “her positive attitude and energy are something I look forward to.”

Media Contact

Eric Breier, Public Affairs Specialist | Office: 760-750-7314