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School of Teacher Education

School of Teacher Education

Liberal Studies
SDSU Liberal Studies

Liberal Studies Leadership Team 

On this page: Meet the faculty and staff who comprise the Liberal Studies leadership team. 


Dr. Virginia Loh-Hagan, Program Director

619-594-3295 | Office: EBA 255 |

Educate yourself, Educate others. 

Dr. Virginia Loh-Hagan proudly leads the Liberal Studies program at San Diego State University. She’s also the Clinical Practice Experiences Coordinator for SDSU's School of Teacher Education (STE) and the Founder/Faculty Advisor of Aztecs for Education.

Dr. Virginia Loh-Hagan

She is the 2016 recipient of California Reading Association’s Marcus Foster Memorial Award for outstanding achievement in reading. She has also served as the Three Semester Block (3SB) credential program leader and a faculty member.

Prior to working at SDSU, she was a K-8 teacher, community college reading instructor, and program chair for an online university. She has a wide range of experiences in the public school, online learning, and higher education/ teacher preparation settings.

She has a B.A. in English and a Masters in Elementary Education (K-8) and Special Education, specializing in Learning Disabilities (K-12), from the University of Virginia. Upon graduation, she received the "Outstanding Woman Scholar in Education" award. She earned her Doctorate in Education with an emphasis in Literacy from SDSU-USD in May 2008; her dissertation—for which she received a ChLA Beiter Graduate Student Research Grant award from the Children’s Literature Association and for which she has published peer-reviewed articles and conducted presentations—was a qualitative study on the cultural authenticity of Asian-American children's literature. She is also a multi-published author; she has over 200 books with Sleeping Bear Press, Cherry Lake Publishing/45th Parallel Press, and StarWalk Media.

She has several academic publications about children and young adult literature with Guilford Press and various professional journals. She presents/keynotes at professional conferences and conducts author visits at schools across the country. She has served on the Literature List Update Committee for the California Department of Education and is serving on various book award committees (NAPPA and Eureka). She is the Cover Editor and Book Nook columnist for The California Reader, the premier professional journal for the California Reading Association.

She is an alumna of the San Diego Area Writing Project. She currently lives in North County San Diego with one low-maintenance husband and 2 high-maintenance dogs. Hobbies include reading, playing piano, swimming with her snorkel mask, watching TV, and crocheting. Learn more at:

 Dr. Virginia Loh-Hagan


Dr. Karen Lafferty, Assistant Coordinator

Karen Lafferty

619-594-6124 | Office: EBA 205A |  

Dr. Karen Elizabeth Lafferty is a lecturer in the School of Teacher Education and Assistant Coordinator for the Liberal Studies program. She teaches courses in Liberal Studies, educational psychology, secondary reading, and research methods.

A graduate of the SDSU/Claremont Graduate University joint doctoral program, she also holds an MA in French Literature from New York University, living abroad in Paris, France to complete coursework for the degree. Dr. Lafferty has taught English and French at the high school level, coached novice teachers, and earned National Board Certification for English/Language Arts in 2001.

Her interests include equitable practices in literacy instruction and the role of cooperating teachers in the field experience. She also serves as an elected board member for the California Council on Teacher Education.

Ms. Michelle Xiong, Academic Advisor (SDSU Campus)

Photo: Michelle Xiong

619-594-6320 | Office: EBA 259 |

Ms. Michelle C. Xiong is the Liberal Studies Academic Advisor. She came from CSU East Bay, where she developed her passion in student services by advocating for students through student government and by serving as the Academic Advisor for Liberal Studies, Human Development, and Criminal Justice. She has a plethora of knowledge and experience to share with our SDSU students. As a Hmong first-generation college graduate, she is committed to helping students from similar backgrounds succeed in their academic careers. 

Michelle graduated from CSU East Bay and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Masters of Public Administration with a specialization in Public Management and Policy Analysis. In her free time, Michelle enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, and making handmade cards. She believes in an open-door policy and welcomes the opportunity to serve students in the Liberal Studies program.


Mr. Americo Yacopi, Academic Advisor (Imperial Valley Campus)

760-768-5503 |  Office: IVC 2-SA-109 |

Mr. Americo Yacopi is the Academic Advisor at the SDSU-Imperial Valley campus, located about 2 hours east of the main campus in (very!) sunny Calexico, CA. He presently advises for the Liberal Studies major and History/ Social Science major. He has also advised in Criminal Justice, Psychology and Latin American Studies, and has collaborated in organizing the logistics for various campus events like Commencement. In addition, he serves as the IVC's EOP Coordinator.

Photo: Americo Yacopi

A core component of EOP’s presence on the campus is that it sponsors the EOP Learning Center, its main tutorial facility for students. Americo is a Valley native who, like many of the campus’s transfer students, attended Imperial Valley College and continued his education at SDSU-Imperial Valley. He majored in Psychology but, after needing some elective classes which he decided would mainly be English, he double majored in English (Single Subject Teaching).

Americo graduated in 1999 Magna Cum Laude with distinction in both Psychology and English, and was selected as Graduate of the Year. During his undergraduate years, he worked as a mentor, tutor, and ambassador. These service-oriented experiences were very valuable to him as he began his career at Imperial Valley shortly after graduation. He is moving into his 19th year as an Advisor. He currently resides with his wife and their grandson (with frequent enthusiastic visits from their children and accompanying grandchildren), and is proudly owned by 3 dogs and 1 cat!

School of Teacher Education

Front Desk (EBA 255) | 619-594-6131