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For 117 years, San Francisco State University has distinguished itself as a vibrant center of scholarship, innovation and community engagement.

Founded in 1899, the San Francisco State Normal School was created to fill the city’s acute need for well-trained, experienced teachers. The school’s first location was a rented two-story building atop Nob Hill. The first graduating class — the class of 1901 — consisted of three dozen students, all women.

The University’s influence can be felt in every neighborhood in San Francisco. SF State faculty monitor plants and wildlife inside the Presidio, while marketing and design students create ads that promote volunteerism and health education students work to combat childhood asthma in Bayview-Hunters Point. Oceanographers monitor water currents in the Bay to help local agencies plan cleanup efforts in the event of an oil spill. Engineering students offer free energy assessments to manufacturing plants, and SF State students are working with the national literacy program, Jumpstart, to build the reading and learning skills of 3- to 5-year-olds.

Many graduates carry the spirit of service into their professional careers. They can be found in executive leadership positions at such San Francisco–based nonprofits as the SF-Marin Food Bank and Alive & Free (formerly the Omega Boys Club). The SF State alumni roster includes winners of the prestigious Jefferson Award for Public Service.

SF State alumni are well represented in leadership in the city and in state and national capitols. The University’s alumni with public service careers — including Willie Brown Jr., John Burton, Heather Fong, Willie Kennedy, Bill Thomas and George Miller — have represented some of the best and brightest public leadership in the region and nation.

Students graduating today join the legions of accomplished alumni making things happen around the world … and making the world a better place in the process.

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