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Cal State LA names two new Faculty Fellows for the Public Good

August 20, 2019
Aerial view of Cal State LA campus
Photo: Aerial view of Cal State LA. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)

Cal State LA names two new Faculty Fellows for the Public Good

August 20, 2019
Aerial view of Cal State LA campus
Photo: Aerial view of Cal State LA. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)

Cal State LA has selected Assistant Professors Melanie Sabado-Liwag and Shikha Upadhyaya as the 2018-20 Faculty Fellows for the Public Good. They were chosen by a team of former faculty fellows in a competitive review process.

Sabado-Liwag and Upadhyaya are collaborating with community partners and the university’s Center for Engagement, Service, and the Public Good to address social, economic and health disparities.

The Faculty Fellows for the Public Good program aims to encourage and promote engaged scholarship and interdisciplinary interaction around the central theme of the university and the public good. Cal State LA is designated an anchor institution by the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities. As an anchor institution, Cal State LA plays a central role in uplifting and transforming the economy and social well-being of the communities it serves.

The faculty fellows have received funding to complete their research projects during the summers of 2019 and 2020.

Melanie Sabado-Liwag

An assistant professor of public health, Sabado-Liwag is working with the Filipino American Services Group, Inc. (FASGI) and other community organizations to understand their roles in the community. FASGI is one of the few non-governmental organizations serving low- income, marginalized, and underserved Filipinos in Los Angeles County.

“The role of a culturally-specific organization, such as FASGI, has a pivotal place in addressing social inequalities and social services gap created by health disparities,” she said.

Through the faculty fellowship, Sabado-Liwag is focused on addressing gaps in services to marginalized groups, and creating strategic plans to guide the enhancement and development of projects that reengage the community.

According to Sabado-Liwag, despite being one of the third-largest and rapidly expanding ethnic groups, the health needs of Filipinos are poorly understood and underestimated.

“The social and economic diversity of Asian American and Pacific Islander ethnic groups are often masked, overlooked and deemed as unproblematic,” she said.

Her objective is to inform and build services and resources for the community and existing research on health promotion.

A West Covina resident, Sabado-Liwag holds a Ph.D. in health promotion sciences from the School of Community and Global Health at Claremont Graduate University. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities in Bethesda, Maryland.

Shikha Upadhyaya

Shika UpadhyanaAn assistant professor of marketing, Upadhyaya is working closely with Ascend to analyze national-level data on experiences related to the implementation of two-generation programs that empower, educate, and engage low-income families. Ascend is a policy program at the Aspen Institute that focuses on advancing effective policies and solutions that lead to better outcomes for children and their parents.

According to Upadhyaya, about 28.3% of the children in Los Angeles live in extreme poverty where household income is less than $15,000 per year for a family of four.

“Research has shown that childhood experiences of extreme poverty can be sustained throughout life and affect the transfer of poverty to the next generation,” she said.

Upadhyaya explained that several overlapping factors, such as lack of education, wealth inequality, racial injustice, domestic violence, and lack of financial literacy, underpin the condition of poverty and limit a family’s access to solutions that can help them break free from the vicious cycle of poverty.

Through the faculty fellowship, she is focused on establishing long-term relationships with local community partners in Greater Los Angeles and their clients to understand and help integrate two-generation poverty-assistance programs.

“Programs that focus on the needs of children and their parents together can harness the family’s full potential and put the entire family on a path to permanent economic security,” she said.

An Ontario resident, Upadhyaya received her Ph.D. in marketing with a minor in gender and women’s studies from the University of Wyoming.

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California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 28,000 students and has more than 250,000 distinguished alumni

Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex and the TV, Film and Media Center. For more information, visit