Live Well Lecture recounts Karl Johnson’s story of hope & survival

By mid-day Tuesday afternoon, Fresno State’s North Gym 118 was packed as students, faculty and staff from the Colleges of Health and Human Services and Social Sciences  filled their seats to hear from Karl Johnson and Samantha Bauer, the co-authors of “Rebound” – a book that chronicles Johnson’s life of  incarceration and redemption. The book discussion and signing was part of the College of Health and Human Services first Live Well Lecture.

Samantha Bauer and Karl Johnson.

Bauer began the discussion by describing how she first met Johnson in 2012 when she was tasked with writing a story about him, as part of a project documenting success stories of Fresno First Steps Home. Little did either of them realize that this meeting would lead to weekly Wednesday meetings, or “Coffee with Karl” as she dubbed it, where personal stories and triumphs would be shared.

And so it began, an unlikely friendship, that led to a series of meetings, which soon brought to life “Rebound” – a story of that truly explores the mystery of the human spirit.

“Every story has a beginning, and our story began when he handed me two ratty notebooks to prove that he had been writing,” Johnson writes in her blog, Coffee with Karl. “Eleven years of writing in state prison, yielding pages filled with accounts of his brother’s ascent into NBA greatness against the backdrop of his own life of drugs, violence, and crime. I held the notebooks and a photo of him and Dennis Johnson in my hands, moved by an emotion that I couldn’t quite grasp in that moment, as I sat on the couch in his small apartment.”

Johnson with cHHS students holding their copy of “Rebound”.

It was hard for Johnson to fight back tears as he listened to Bauer describe their relationship and the special journey they took to write “Rebound” and eventually get it published. Johnson took to the stage next and with a nervous laugh, mentioned that he always gets emotional when it’s time to tell his story.

Johnson looked back on his life, growing up in Southern California, near Compton, where life on the streets was all about survival. As one of 16 children, Johnson turned to basketball, but a life of drugs lured him away from the courts and onto the streets. He spent a majority of his teenage years selling and distributing drugs, and would eventually become one of the top cocaine runners in the area.

Meanwhile his older brother, Dennis Johnson, was finding fame and success in the NBA as an All-Star and Hall of Famer with the Boston Celtics. Johnson considered Dennis his greatest hero. Johnson eventually found himself in state prison, where he served 11 years, a consequence of choosing drugs and making many bad choices. While in prison, his beloved mother, who wrote to him continuously while imprisoned, died and less than a year later, his brother Dennis died as well. Johnson was forced to miss both funerals. The $18,000 required to leave prison to attend the funerals was not possible. As he recounted that time in his life, he became noticeably choked up.

However, once he began talking about his time in Fresno, his mood picked up. After all, Fresno was his beacon of light he so desperately needed.

After leaving prison in 2011, he stayed in L.A., but eventually headed north for Seattle, and one day ended up at the Greyhound station in downtown Fresno.

Bauer recounts her journey to write “Rebound” with Johnson.

“I had a layover in Fresno and that’s when the story turns good,” Johnson said. With a few shoe shining materials in hand, Johnson began shining shoes that day and earned $30 – a modest amount, but to him, it symbolized a brand new start.

“I pulled up roots in Fresno right there,” Johnson said. A few years later, Johnson is now the owner of Anytime Shoe Shine, located at the northeast corner of the T.W. Patterson Building. However his path to get there did not come without struggles. He was homeless for some time, seeking refuge at the Poverello House. Advocacy for those that are homeless is now one of his greatest passions.

Johnson started shining shoes outside of the Fresno County Elections office, where he met then Fresno County Clerk, Victor Salazar, whom he proudly deems his mentor to this day. It was Salazar who referred Johnson to Fresno First Steps Home, which placed him in his own apartment later that same year. As fate would have it, that is also how he first met Bauer.

At the time “Rebound” was published, Johnson was serving on the Fresno County Local Board for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program facilitated by the United Way.

The service he provides is his way of giving back to a community that he says has done so much for him.

L to R: Terry Miller, moderator; CHHs Associate Dean Mitzi Lowe; Johnson; Bauer; CHHS Dean Jody Hironaka-Juteau


The Live Well Lecture was moderated by Terry Miller, a playwright and professor emeritus of Theatre Arts at Fresno State.

This event was proudly co-sponsored by the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) and the College of Social Sciences. A book signing was held following the discussion, with a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book benefitting student success initiatives within the CHHS.

Let’s Get Physical 5k to support doctoral students

Click to view Central Valley Today segment

The Doctor of Physical Therapy class of 2017 is hosting their first annual Let’s Get Physical 5K Run/Walk on February 27! All proceeds from the 5K will go towards funding for educational materials and professional development, as well as the graduation ceremony in May 2017, which students are required to pay a portion of. Some proceeds will also be used to send students to physical therapy conferences throughout the state, which are costly.

“Our [Physical Therapy] program is one of the most expensive at Fresno State, so we’re using this 5K money to offset some of the costs,” Courtney Williams recently told Central Valley Today. Williams along with fellow classmates, Joey Fonseca and Mason Tregoning, appeared on the show to talk about the upcoming 5K and the Physical Therapy program. You can view the segment, in its entirety, at the link.

PT7.JPGThe three-year Physical Therapy program at Fresno State, one of three doctoral programs at the University, is actually the most expensive academic program on campus, costing students up to $64,000 in tuition throughout their academic career. Students currently pay $8,000 per semester.

Everyone is invited to register for this fun, family-oriented 5K, which will be held on the Fresno State Campus, beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27. Registration is available at the LINK. You can also follow the event on facebook for up-to-date information.

Meet some of the students at tonight’s Physical Therapy Alumni Open House!

Doctor of Physical Therapy c/o 2017.

Learn how YOU can join our Honors Progam!


We proudly invite CHHS students to become a part of the next cohort of 2016-17 Honors Scholars!

The College of Health and Human Services’ Honors Scholars Program provides an elite group of students an enhanced educational experience through advanced study and interdisciplinary engagement with their peers, each of whom represent the various academic units within CHHS.

The students chosen for this program are given the opportunity to work alongside their peers to collaboratively address local, real-world health issues, through community-based projects that combine the value of assessments and evaluation. This integral capstone experience takes place over the course of two-semesters.

 All students within the college are invited to attend one of three informational sessions for this unique program, which is designed to build inter-professional collaboration skills and leadership.

The sessions will be held in McLane Hall 193 and dates are as follows:

  1. Monday, Feb. 8 at 4-5 p.m.
  2. Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 12-1 p.m.
  3. Friday, Feb. 12 at 12-1 p.m.

You are welcome to come learn about this exciting opportunity to be a part of the Honors program! Application information will be available at the meetings.

Honors Scholars work in groups and collaborate with local organizations to address health issues facing our community.

We are seeking motivated students with the following requirements:

  • Cumulative GPA of 3.5 (in last 60 units)
  • Majoring within CHHS
  • Will be a junior by fall 2016
  • Junior or senior standing with anticipated graduation date of May 2017

Learn more about the Honors Scholars program and meet our current 2015-16 cohort at the LINK.

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2015-16 Honors Scholars Cohort


“The program has really changed my outlook on teamwork. Everyone brings so many unique things to the table, which just made the whole experience so much better. My classmates have become like family to me and I am honored to have been one of the first students in that program.” – Marine Vardanyan, 2014-15 Honors Student & 2015 CHHS Undergraduate Dean’s Medalist

Live Well Lecture brings authors of “Rebound” To Fresno State


The College of Health and Human Services is proud to present its first Live Well Lecture, featuring the authors of “Rebound”, Karl Johnson and Samantha Bauer.

“Rebound” tells the inspiring comeback story of Johnson, who found himself living on the streets after serving 11 years in state prison for selling cocaine. As one of 16 children in his family, he recounts how the success of his older brother, Dennis Johnson, who was a five-time NBA All-Star and Hall of Famer with the Boston Celtics, greatly impacted his own life decisions. Although Johnson grew up with the same passion for basketball, he turned away from the courts and into the streets, where he became involved in a life of drugs at an early age.

“Rebound” explores the mystery of the human spirit and details how Johnson was able to eventually find his right path, regardless of how many wrong turns he took along the way. After living in Southern California for most of his life, Johnson eventually made his way to Fresno, where he discovered his love for business as the operator of Anytime Shoe Shine and as a valet in downtown Fresno. He credits the Central Valley for giving him a newfound hope.

“Rebound” authors, Samantha Bauer and Karl Johnson, met while Bauer was doing a project for Fresno First Steps Home.

Bauer, an alumna of the College of Social Sciences at Fresno State, is making her return to the University where at one time, she served as the director of communications for the Office of Community and Economic Development. She is now a communications consultant and freelance writer, working with public and private sector clients in the Valley.

Johnson and Bauer will hold a discussion of the book, followed by a book signing. Copies of “Rebound” will be available to purchase for $20 (cash or check) with a portion of the proceeds benefitting student success initatives within the College of Health and Human Services.

Fresno State encourages persons of all abilities to participate in its programs and activities. For questions regarding accessibility, please call 559.278.5276 in advance of your visit.

This event is proudly co-sponsored by the College of Health and Human Services and the College of Social Sciences at Fresno State.

Department of Physical Therapy hosts Alumni Open House Feb. 5

View large version of flyer HERE.


The Department of Physical Therapy will be hosting their first Alumni Open House this Friday, February 5. Tours of the new Physical Therapy and Intercollegiate Athletics building, which opened its doors this past September, will be available. Current physical therapy students and physical therapy alumni will have the chance to learn about the Alumni Leadership Circle, ensuring support for the next generation of physical therapy leaders. Please RSVP, using code: PTALUMNI

For more information, contact the Department of Physical Therapy at 559.278.2625.

Eastern Athletic Trainers’ Association honors Ullucci & Pryor

Ullucci delivers the honorable “Pinky” Newell keynote address at the 2016 EATA Symposium.

Faculty in the Departments of Kinesiology and Physical Therapy made a stop in Boston earlier this month to attend the 2016 Eastern Athletic Trainers’ Association (EATA) Meeting and Clinical Symposium, held January 8-11.

Dr. Paul Ullucci, assistant professor of physical therapy, received the distinction of delivering the William E. “Pinky” Newell Memorial Address. The EATA awards this honor each year to an individual that has made an impact on the athletic training profession, both nationally and regionally, and has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to the athletic training profession, continued learning and professional growth, involvement in education, and a balanced lifestyle – all characteristics attributed to Newell.

Known as the father of modern athletic training, Newell served as the head athletic trainer at Purdue University and was the former executive secretary of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (in which EATA falls under), where he is considered one of the association’s founders. He is credited with changing the profession of athletic training into an allied health field that is well-respected by the medical community.

PaulUlluciPinky2“It is incredibly humbling to be able to present the “Pinky” Newell address,” said Ullucci. “Pinky’s impact on the profession of athletic training and athletic training education specifically is unparalleled. I hope that by emphasizing the importance of expanding the quantity, while ensuring the quality, of experiential learning within athletic training education in my speech that I managed to channel his spirit and enthusiasm for the profession and its students.”

Ullucci has been an active member of the EATA since 1991, and was elected president in 2001, where he served three two-year terms as president elect, president and past president. He continued to serve on their executive board as District I treasurer and then District I director from 2008 to 2014.

Among his various roles in the EATA, Ullucci has also been instrumental in increasing the number of scholarships and research grants provided by the association. This led to his creation of the Francis J. George Scholarship Fund for doctoral students studying and working within the EATA.

The EATA, which is the largest and oldest regional association for athletic trainers in the world, provided tremendous opportunities to grow professionally and as a leader within the profession, said Ullucci.

Pryor presenting his research in front of a crowd of 800 at the EATA Symposium.

Dr. Luke Pryor, assistant professor of kinesiology, was also honored at the EATA Symposium with the 2015 EATA Research Grant for his study, “Effectiveness of an Intermittent Heat Exposure Protocol to Maintain Heat Acclimation.”

“Our data are the first to provide empirical evidence to support the effectiveness of an intermittent heat exposure protocol to sustain the protective effects of adapting to the heat, reducing exertional heat illness risk in recreational and occupational athletes,” said Pryor, who specializes in the area of heat and hydration on thermoregulation and endurance performance.

In addition to the grant, Pryor was given the opportunity to present his findings to the near 800 athletic trainers in attendance.

Dr. Scott Sailor, chair and professor of the Department of Kinesiology, also attended the Symposium, where he serves as president of the NATA.

The EATA strives to advance the profession of athlete training by  providing its members with quality educational programs, as well as scholarships and research opportunities for students and certified members. Learn more about the organization at the link.

Student Spotlight: Jeremy Lacson’s family inspires his academic path

Click to view. Video courtesy of Fresno State Alumni Association.

Doctoral student, Jeremy Lacson, is making moves as a third-year physical therapy student, where he has maintained a 4.0 G.P.A. and is a recent recipient of the Fresno State Alumni Association scholarship fund.

As the first-generation child of immigrant parents from the Phillipines, he has seen firsthand the brave struggles his parents faced in adapting to a new country. With the passing of his father when Jeremy was 13, he looked to his mother as an inspiration, who took on the task of raising three children by herself.

In fact, his mother, who also worked in the healthcare field as a nurse, was the trailblazer that led Jeremy’s path into the physical therapy profession. He credits his mother for instilling in him a compassionate heart with the desire to help others.

He uses his upbringing, one of both perseverance and tragedy, to connect with his patients, who undergo difficult times due to their injuries. He says being able to support them through troubling times makes his job all the more satisfying.

Way to ‪#‎BeBold‬ Jeremy! Learn more about the Department of Physical Therapy by visiting their website or facebook page.

[Video courtesy of the Fresno State Alumni Association.]

Our College empowers students to take a whole body approach to improving the quality of life. Our faculty and students are dedicated to helping Central California live well. Click through the slideshow to the right to learn about each of our seven departments within our college: Communicative Disorders and Deaf Studies, Kinesiology, Physical Therapy, Public Health, Recreation Administration, School of Nursing and Social Work Education and Gerontology.


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