Grads Aliyah Shaheed, Karly Stark to be Honored at Commencement

Thursday, May 12, 2016
Photos of Aliyah Shaheed and Karly Stark

SF STATE NEWS -- When San Francisco State University celebrates its 115th Commencement on May 27, 12 graduating students will be on the stage at AT&T Park to represent all of their fellow students in the Class of 2016.

Each year, each of the University’s six academic colleges selects two students — one undergraduate and one graduate — for the honor of representing their fellow students during the ceremony by wearing their College’s academic hood.

Aliyah Shaheed, undergraduate hood recipient, College of Liberal & Creative Arts

The youngest of seven children, Aliyah Shaheed works tirelessly to promote social justice through her words and deeds. Both her parents grew up in large families, with her grandparents working hard to provide the basic necessities. During the Jim Crow era, her great-grandfather relocated his family to California from Birmingham, Alabama.

At SF State, she has majored in Communication Studies and made history as a member of the University’s debate team. This year, she and her debate partner went head-to-head with the nation’s top-ranked, undefeated debate team from Harvard — and won. Their strategy? Challenge the normative framework that controls debate rules in order to highlight how it reproduces structures of power. The duo went on to win first place at the District 1 regional competition, and at the end of the season, Aliyah was recognized by the Cross Examination Debate Association as the top first-year competitor across the country.

In addition to her coursework, Shaheed has worked for the past three years as a tutor with high school students to prepare them to become first-generation college students and has served as resident adviser in her SF State dorm. She also volunteers with Peer Educators Advocating Campus Health, conducting workshops on sexual health and safe sex practices. She will begin a Master’s program in Communication Studies at SF State this fall, will remain connected to the debate team as a coach, and eventually plans to become a criminal defense attorney.

Karly Stark, graduate hood recipient, College of Liberal & Creative Arts

As an undergraduate, Karly Stark took a silent film class on a whim, which sparked her passion for cinema and motivated her to change her major from sociology. In May, she will receive her Master of Fine Arts in Cinema. Today, her beautiful films have inspired, provoked and transported audiences at screenings from the Pacific Film Archive to the British Film Institute. Exploring human experience and memory through a queer lens, her films use a superbly crafted sense of the poetic to question the relationship between photography, memory and sexuality.

Stark has also made a powerful impact in her curatorial work, connecting with broad and frequently underserved audiences. She was head curator of “Quoting Ourselves: A Queer Archive,” co-organized “Quiet Revolutions: Politically Subversive Cinema” at the SF State Graduate Cinema conference and curated the Queer Student Short Film program at the SF International LGBTQ Festival this year. She is also the curator of the Great Wall of Oakland, which reclaims public space as exhibition space for Oakland’s diverse audiences.

In addition to her academic program, Stark has served as a graduate teaching associate, has tutored and taught writing to high school students part-time and has taught filmmaking to middle-school students during the summer. She plans to teach at the undergraduate level, and she hopes to use her knowledge and experience to create a filmmaking curriculum for middle-school students.

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