CSUN is a microcosm of Los Angeles and its melting pot of different ethnicities and social backgrounds. Here on campus, we have more than 200 clubs and organizations representing every type of culture, religion, hobby, academic study and special interest. Our students come from different walks of life — from first-time freshmen right out of high school to parents, career professionals, international scholars and more. But all these individuals share a common thread — a place here at CSUN.
Meet a Matador
Drew Lucas served in some of the world’s most dangerous places with the U.S. Marine Corps before coming to CSUN. Now he’s helping other veterans and sharing his experience through spoken word, poetry and music.
California State University, Northridge student Drew Lucas is not one to hold back. He’s proud of the six and a half years that he served as an infantryman in the Marine Corps, but he doesn’t sugarcoat the fact that facing combat left him emotionally scarred and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. It was going back to school and finding a creative outlet for his emotions that saved him from becoming a statistic. Read more
When Hala and Hadel Somo immigrated to the United States from Iraq seven years ago they couldn’t speak — or even hear — English. Both were born deaf and had no formal training in any form of sign language. Now, as California State University, Northridge students, they’re on the way to becoming advocates for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
Growing up in Northern Iraq, Hala and Hadel Somo weren’t expected to amount to much. Born deaf, the sisters had no formal education, and their only sign language was a system of rudimentary hand gestures they developed to communicate with family members. Few in their small farming village could have imagined they would ever become the strong, confident CSUN students they are today.
Outdoor Adventures guide David Montero brings the beauty of nature to even the most urban of CSUN students.
How many California State University, Northridge students can say they’ve spent two days in the wilderness alone? Outdoor enthusiast David Montero has. David is a seasoned explorer, and as a trip leader for CSUN’s Outdoor Adventures program he’s sharing his passion and forging a unique career path. Read more
A prestigious scholarship is allowing Tia Brisco to fulfill her goal of helping others.
While most California State University, Northridge students are sleeping, Tia Brisco is often working overnight hours as an intake coordinator for a Southern California eating disorders and addiction treatment center. A graduate student pursuing a Master of Science degree in counseling (marriage and family therapy), Tia’s using her education to help heal and empower others, and it was receiving one of Southern California’s most prestigious awards for young women that made it possible for her to achieve her dreams.
Work-study has made college — and a whole lot more — possible for Diane Young.
When Diane stepped onto the California State University, Northridge campus as a first-year student, she was fresh from small-town rural Louisiana and a high school graduating class of 27. As the first in her family to attend college, she wasn’t sure what to expect and felt even more confused about where she would fit in.
Now a senior psychology major with a minor in Africana studies, Young’s work-study positions have been the compass guiding her through CSUN. Read more
Caring for one sick family member is hard enough. Joanna Joy Paulo discovered inner strength — and a new career path — while caring for two sick parents.
Meet Joanna Paulo in person, and on seeing her bright smile it will seem immediately fitting that she is better known as Joy.
Joy completed coursework in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science Nursing program in August 2015, but her road to graduation was not always cheerful. Read more
Athan Gousios always thought he’d be hitting high notes in college on the athletic fields — until he found a passion for the drums, that is.
Growing up, Athan Gousios had big dreams to play college lacrosse. He was a high school freshman — just beginning what he hoped would be a successful athletics career — when he suffered a serious case of mono.
While he recovered, Athan kept himself occupied by listening to a lot of music. That inspired him to dust off his old drum set, tucked away in a corner of his bedroom since childhood.
“Pretty soon it just turned into this crazy obsession,” he says. Read more
Chris Van Nest is a lifesaver for the Student Recreation Center, literally.
If you’ve taken a swim at California State University, Northridge in the past few years, there is a good chance senior management major Chris was helping to keep you safe. Recently named CSUN’s aquatics supervisor, he is diving into a profession with something that started out as an extracurricular.
Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) at California State University, Northridge offers students with disabilities, like Maria Alcala, the accommodations they need to earn a degree.
As a victim of a recent hit-and-run accident, Maria utilizes this resource to overcome her new challenges.As Maria stands on the corner of Reseda Boulevard and Dearborn Street — the same intersection where a pickup truck ran her over three years ago, she wonders if she will make it across the street. Read more
Thanks to CSUN services, Langston Jackson overcomes physical and learning challenges caused by the anoxic brain damage he sustained from a heroin overdose almost three years ago.
During his 37-day coma, the best scenario for 22-year-old Langston seemed to be a nursing home, a feeding tube and a diaper — a jarring contrast to his former glamorous life as a University of California, Berkeley, football player.
The doctors at the Cedars Sinai Medical Center where he was a patient explained to Langston’s family that it was unlikely he would ever wake up. Despite the bleak forecast, Langston’s mother chose to keep him on life support. Read more
Thanks to the Los Angeles CleanTech Incubator (LACI), CSUN students like computer information technology major Aidan Anderson are given invaluable opportunities to work for technology start-ups.
A team of CSUN students, including Aidan, gather in the LACI facilities near CSUN every Friday to create an app from scratch for the start-up Project Pals.
LACI is a nonprofit organization that invests in and supports new businesses in clean technology. In fall 2014, LACI partnered with CSUN to generate economic growth in the San Fernando Valley and provide hands-on experience and networking opportunities for students like Aidan. Read more
The CSUN Dreamers Scholarship gives undocumented students — who are not eligible for federal financial aid — the funds they need to achieve a college education.
Although undocumented students are ineligible for federal financial aid, the California Dream Act made it possible for some of them to apply for grants and scholarships from the state.
But for many like journalism major Angel Silva, sometimes this still is not enough.
In light of this fact, CSUN created the Dreamers Scholarship for undocumented undergraduate students with a 2.5 GPA or higher. Winning students receive one of the four scholarship awards: $2,500 for full-time students, $1,250 for part-time students, $12,500 for full-time students living in Student Housing or $8,800 for undocumented students who don’t qualify for California Assembly Bill 540. Read more
The Disability Resource and Educational Services (DRES) at California State University, Northridge offers students, like Jose Flores, the accommodations they need to earn a college degree. Jose describes how he overcame learning challenges after battling brain cancer.
Jose, a social welfare major, looks forward to spending time in the DRES office talking to his academic coach and making her laugh.
Cole Christie, business management major, organizes Camp Matador — an event that prepares incoming freshmen for their first semesters at California State University, Northridge.
The loud chants of more than 80 first-time freshmen echo through the sunlit cabins, recreation area, trees and mountains of Ponderosa Pines Camp in Lake Arrowhead, California.
“Who are we? Matadors!” the lively crowd shouts at the top of their lungs.
The freshmen are excited to start their first semesters at CSUN in the upcoming week and the chant marks the last group activity for Camp Matador — a three-day, two-night summer camp for freshmen who are enrolled in the fall semester. Read more
Brian Gross nurtures the intellectually curious minds of homeless children through Big Buddies — an award-winning organization founded at California State University, Northridge.
When Brian, an accounting major, isn’t filling out financial applications, inputting data or crunching numbers for Big Buddies, he is tutoring children living at the local homeless shelter, Genesis House.
Sponsored by the Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, Genesis House is temporary housing for single mothers and their families transitioning out of homelessness. Big Buddies, a student-run organization, mentors the children of these families. Read more
By leading campus tours, University Ambassador Serineh Terzyan engages with CSUN and steers prospective students toward CSUN’s many attractive offerings.
Although many CSUN students have active college lives without ever living on campus, psychology major Serineh was not one of them from the get-go.
Even though she lived no farther than four miles from campus, she would come straight home after every class. After feeling comfortable with the transition from high school to college, she began looking into the abundant amount of CSUN services and activities to find her niche on campus. Read more
The California Dream Act gives undocumented students like Christopher Farias the financial aid they need to earn a college degree. Despite this fact, many struggle. Christopher describes the challenges he had to overcome during his first two years at CSUN.
In 2001, the passing of the Assembly Bill 540 (AB 540) gave thousands of undocumented students across California access to higher education.
The bill allows undocumented students, regardless of their immigration status, to pay in-state tuition at American public colleges and universities. The 2013 addition of the California Dream Act permits AB 540 students to apply for state funds at eligible institutions.
Despite these measures, many AB 540 students still struggle to make ends meet. This is because most cannot depend on financial support from their parents. Read more
For one CSUN student, the Presidential Scholars award is the perfect stepping stone for a future medical career.
On the third floor of Magnolia Hall, cell and molecular biology major Tania Benjamin meticulously constructs what is invisible to the naked eye — a molecule.
Ever since she was a freshman, Tania has spent most of her time in this building at one of its chemistry labs. Read more
Besides helping CSUN alumni find jobs, the Career Center gives its student volunteers a professional edge.
Job searching after graduation isn’t easy; the Career Center, located in University Hall 105, is available to help. Counselors are available on a walk-in basis to answer student questions. Hours are Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-4 p.m.; and Friday, 10 a.m.-noon. In addition to the professional staff, peer educators are on hand for consultations. Senior business management major Katryna Howard is one of the peer educators. Read more
Developing good money habits inspired Cat Placencia to offer financial help to her peers.
Cat credits her financial education to her mother.
“My mother taught me ways to save and smart tips I could carry with me when I went off to college,” she says. Read more