Career Profiles

Below are examples of recent graduates and how the RPT faculty and degrees helped them advance in their careers.

Sharon Farrell – Class of 2002, Associate Director of Park Projects

Sharon Farrell, Associate Director of Park Projects, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, Class of 2002

Sharon completed a minor in recreation and leisure studies at San Francisco State in 1992. Inspired by her community based stewardship work on the Presidio National Park, Sharon returned to SFSU in 1996 to complete her Recreation Master’s Degree. Her thesis – The Recreational Value of Volunteers Participating in Community-based Ecological Stewardship analyzes the motivations, perceptions and recreational values of more than 450 volunteers interviewed within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. She utilized her work experience, master degree classes and thesis to help acquire a full time professional position with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

Sharon now has more than 15 years of experience working in the GGNRA as plant ecologist and natural resources planner/project manager. Currently as an Associate Director of Park Projects at the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, Sharon develops and implements landscape-level restoration projects, provides oversight for several bird conservation management strategies and contributes technical guidance for the Park’s mission blue butterfly restoration program. More recently, Sharon has worked with colleagues to initiate a social science program, which includes working with SFSU students to perform visitor surveys parkwide. Sharon also helps develop community engagement strategies for Park projects and is currently evaluating how to organize and sustain community-based stewardship programs into the future. Sharon is a Switzer fellow and was recently honored by CalIPC with the Catalyst in Leadership award.


Ben Lara – Class of 2008, Recreation Planner

Ben Lara, Recreation Planner, Inyo National Forest, Bishop, CA, Class of 2008

I am a strong advocate for maintaining healthy ecosystems and facilitating connections between people of different cultures to public lands through outdoor recreational experiences. It was this interest that prompted me to attend Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, where I pursued a B.S. degree in Natural Resource Management with an emphasis in Recreation and Tourism. After looking at several of the top Recreation programs in the U.S., I chose to pursue a Master of Science in Recreation at San Francisco State University. My academic interests included: Designated wilderness management and the differing cultural values placed on these lands, ethnic diversity trends of CA and associated influences on outdoor recreation programs and services, the short and long term effects of ropes course programs on urban youth, and geographic information system (GIS) modeling. While completing my degree I was selected to become a participant in the Student Career Employment Program (SCEP), a cooperative program between the US Forest Service (USFS) and SFSU. This program allowed me to immediately apply many of the concepts discussed in my curriculum by working as a Recreation Permit Administrator for the Mammoth Ranger District on the Inyo National Forest in Eastern California. After this initial summer on the Inyo I returned to the Bay Area to compete my degree. The small number of students to teachers in the SFSU Recreation Graduate Program enabled me to delve into detailed discussions of theories and concepts that could immediately be applied to the field. Faculty at SFSU bring a strong balance of theory and application. It was through their connections with field managers that helped place me in a unique position working in the Pacific Southwest Regional Office of the USFS during my final year of school. Along with two nationally recognized social scientists I started work on a Government Technical Report (GTR) titled, “Serving Culturally Diverse Visitors to Forests in California: A Resource Guide” which is anticipated to be published sometime this year. Since graduating with a Recreation Masters Degree in December of 2007 I was quickly promoted to working in the Supervisor’s Office on the Inyo National Forest. My experience in the Recreation, Parks and Tourism Department at SFSU has been invaluable and has launched me into the career of my dreams—helping people of diverse cultures enjoy the diverse landscapes of public lands!


Evonne Laskey – Class of 2008, Promotions Assistant

Evonne Laskey, Promotions Assistant, San Jose Earthquakes, Class of 2008

"I have been passionate about working in the events industry for many years. Entering college I did not know what I wanted to pursue, however I did know I wanted to work with the public and I wanted to be able to be creative while at work. In the RPT department I was able to focus my interests on event planning and management while also learning a broad set of transferrable skills. My Senior Internship led me to combine my many passions to work in the Promotions and Marketing department for the San Jose Earthquakes. The tools I was taught during my time in the RPT department at SF State have greatly prepared me to succeed after I earned my degree. Now I am the Promotions Assistant for the San Jose Earthquakes, and I manage all special events for the organization. The aspects of my job that I enjoy most are being a part of professional sports team that gives back to the community, the ability to be creative, and being able to work with hundreds of youth on game days! Having been taught the tools to succeed have led me to excel overall in my job and specifically the events I’ve organized and managed since receiving my degree in Recreation from San Francisco State University."


Joachim Perlas – Class of 2005, Assistant Program Coordinator

Joachim Perlas, Assistant Program Coordinator, Daly City Parks and Recreation Department, Class of 2005

You have to do something you love. I firmly believe that it is not about making the extra buck it’s about doing something for the greater good. That is why I became a recreation major at SFSU and I am proud to have graduated with my degree. During the internship for my recreation degree I worked with Children’s Empowerment Inc., a small nonprofit in the Mission District of San Francisco. This helped me secure my current job working at Daly City Parks and Recreation as an Assistant Program Coordinator. During the school year I am in charge of the After School Education and Safety program for 7 school sites where I help run the flag football and basketball leagues. I oversee programs with more than 600 youth and supervise 35 staff. When it is summer I help coordinate our camp and baseball programs. This allows me to interact one-on-one with kids but also to develop and manage the staff and budget aspects of programs.

Having a recreation degree from SFSU helps me tremendously. It gave me a foundation for the challenges I would face when I became a full time professional in recreation. It also provided me with an understanding of budgeting, program evaluation, networking and most of all it prepared me to deal with kids as well as adults. Many people underestimate a degree. Having my recreation degree has allowed me to maintain and grow at my job because of the knowledge and experience I gained.


Shahad Wright – Class of 2008, Community Service Liaison

Shahad Wright, Community Service Liaison, West Contra Costa YMCA, Class of 2008

"I do what I do because there has consistently been a lack of positive male role models in my community. It is because someone invested time in me that I am a success and I feel like it is my duty to give back, as a reward I get to see change happening everyday."

Shahad Wright became an employee of the YMCA in May 2003 while he was a Recreation major at SFSU and he did his senior internship at the YMCA of the East Bay in Richmond, which helped propel his career. He is now the Community Service Liaison for the West Contra Costa YMCA. Over time he has shown an immense amount of commitment to providing quality services to the families in the communities the YMCA serves. Shahad successfully manages after school programs at several schools within the West Contra Costa Unified School District as well at his home site, the Coronado YMCA.

Annually Shahad participates in the YMCA’s Giving Campaign as well as helps to direct other community events such as; Christmas toy/food giveaway, Healthy Families Day, and many others. His knowledge of sports enabled him to organize, start and now manage the Youth Super Sports citywide basketball, flag football and in-door soccer leagues. In addition to his daily tasks Shahad is in charge of facility rentals, volunteer recruitment, fiscal management, staff and self trainings and community collaboration.