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Mayors Award winners hope to bridge the gap between university, downtown
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Two Stanislaus State students have been named the recipients of the second annual Mayor’s Public Policy Award for their research project titled, “Bridge the College Campus and Downtown Turlock Gap,” which aims to promote local businesses and encourage college students to venture out into the City by improving communication between downtown and the local university.

Nathan Straubinger and Logan Martinez, who will be recognized during Tuesday’s Turlock City Council meeting, will receive a $3,000 grant for their research efforts.

“It’s an honor to give Nathan and Logan the spring 2017 Mayor’s Public Policy Research Award,” said Mayor Gary Soiseth. “Their proposal to bridge the gap between the campus and downtown complements our city’s other efforts to make Turlock a welcoming place for Stanislaus State students.”

Straubinger and Martinez submitted a research proposal that focuses on identifying the gaps in communication channels between the Stanislaus State campus and downtown Turlock, as well as identifies methods to effectively communicate opportunities to students through various digital media platforms. They are slated to perform the scope of their research over the next year and provide a report and presentation to Turlock City Council in early 2018.

“The motivation behind our project comes from the desire to make our city and university a fun place to experience college meanwhile helping students save money and promoting local businesses,” said Martinez.

“After the completion of our research, we believe we will have accumulated valuable information and insightful analytics about where CSU Stanislaus students are spending the majority of their time within the City of Turlock as well as having built a bridge of communication between our fellow students and the City of Turlock,” added Straubinger.

Straubinger and Martinez also chose to use their $3,000 award solely for the implementation of their research rather than personal use, a voluntary move that Soiseth regarded as “selfless.”

“I’m especially proud that the two have chosen to use the funds for the implementation of the award, not merely taking the money for themselves,” said Soiseth. “It’s this selfless dedication and innovative thinking that will lead to a positive impact on our community.”

The Turlock City Council voted in 2015 to approve the Mayor’s Public Policy Award, which funds student research using Soiseth’s mayoral stipend. During Soiseth’s time as an adjunct professor at the University in the political science department, he often conferred with students about local issues that faced them: failing infrastructure, diminishing aquifers, unemployment and underemployment. It was during this time that the mayor realized the need for a public policy research award.

Last year, Josephine Hazelton was named the first recipient of the Mayor’s Public Policy Award for her project entitled, “Catching the Bus: Public Transportation in Turlock,” which aimed to improve access to municipal bus services throughout the community.

To determine the recipient of the 2017 Mayor Public Policy Award, Stanislaus State issued a call for research proposals in the fall from both undergraduate and graduate students. Proposals were asked to focus on compelling public policy questions that confront local communities in the San Joaquin Valley. Submitted proposals were reviewed through a competitive process that included a review panel made up of Soiseth and mayors of Riverbank, Waterford, Oakdale, Patterson and Modesto.