Cal State Northridge 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 Cal State Northridge.
Want to get to know your classmates? Check out their unique stories by selecting the names below.
Major: Communication Studies
Master's Program: Psychology
Master's Program: Kinesiology
Major: Cinema and Television Arts
Master's Program: Social Work
Major: Deaf Studies
Major: Child Development
Major: Health Sciences
Major: Family and Consumer Sciences
Double Major: Accountancy/Information Systems
Double Major: Chicana and Chicano Studies/History
Juan Carlos Munoz
Major: Art (Computer Graphics)
Major: Art (Painting)
Major: Deaf Studies
Master's Program: College Counseling and Student Services
Ed.D. program: Education Administration
Major: Business Administration
Ping "Penny" Li
Master's Program: Public Administration
Major: Radiologic Sciences
Major: Gender and Women's Studies
Roderick "Shawn" Williams
Major: Sociology (Work and Society)
Major: Information Systems
Major: Cell and Molecular Biology
Master's Program: Human Factors
Major: Recreation and Tourism Management
Double Major: Chicana and Chicano Studies/Spanish
Major: Kinesiology (Dance)
Liezel de Guzman
Major: Kinesiology (Dance)
Even though the 100 Citizens fitness program has been in place since June 2011, it didn’t capture the attention of the broader campus community until it won the Popular Choice Award as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s anti-child obesity campaign, Let’s Move!
One of the perks of winning popular choice is that the program’s creator, kinesiology professor Steven Loy, has the honor of visiting the White House in the fall.
The 100 Citizens program began with a cohort of eight graduate students, including Liane, and a handful of undergraduate volunteers from the CSUN kinesiology department.
While others in Liane’s cohort have finished their theses and moved on to other projects, she stays on in San Fernando, where the first 100 Citizens program originated, even securing a job as a liaison to the city’s Department of Recreation and Community Services.
As a liaison between San Fernando and CSUN, Liane recruits new graduate and undergraduate kinesiology students to maintain the fitness program.
“Professor Loy’s vision for the 100 Citizens program is to have something that CSUN kinesiology students can take control of and pass down,” she says.
The student-driven project was in the works for three years before it came into fruition. An opportunity opened up in 2011 when CSUN alumnus Ismael Aguila was elected as the new operations manager of San Fernando’s Department of Recreation and Community Services.
“Being a former kinesiology student, Ismael saw the importance of what we were trying to do, which is what got the program started. He helped us get it through the door,” Liane explains.
San Fernando was also the perfect choice for the kind of program Loy and his students wanted because it was an underserved community with a small recreation budget. The fact that San Fernando was located in the Valley also meant that it was more convenient for CSUN students to travel to and from the campus.
By teaching the adults of the community about fitness and nutrition, Loy and his students hope the health benefits will trickle down to local children and combat childhood obesity.
But in order to develop a program that was the most effective for a low-income community, it had to be free and accessible.
“Members of this community may not have the financial means to pay for a gym membership, physical therapist or personal trainer,” she explains.
Fortunately, Loy convinced the city to purchase outdoor equipment. He also received a donation of 30 spinning bicycles from 24 Hour Fitness. A majority of the exercises led by the students in the 100 Citizens program also require little to no equipment.
The students lead two one-hour sessions, one each for seniors and adults on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at the San Fernando Recreation Park. The senior classes focus on strengthening muscle and joints and increasing flexibility and agility to reduce the risk of falling.
The program since has branched out into more specialty classes, such as Zumba, body sculpting, spinning and yoga, for which participants pay a small instructional fee.
In addition to recruitment, Liane can be found on site at the park, supervising and making sure the student leaders of the exercise programs have what they need to keep things running smoothly.
Even after completing the thesis for her master’s degree, Liane doesn’t see herself going back to a corporate job such as the one she held at Plus One Health Management right after graduating from CSUN with a bachelor’s degree in 2008. She’s thankful she found a job with the city of San Fernando.
“I saw how important the 100 Citizens program was not only to professor Loy but the CSUN kinesiology department and the community. It’s like—I believe so much in what professor Loy is doing I kind of just want to stick with it. He has a lot of hope and faith in people. Over the years he’s become like a father figure to many of us. That’s what drew us to the program,” she says.
Even other graduate students who have left the 100 Citizens program come back now and then to help, she points out.
The 100 Citizens program was a tremendous stepping stone for her and many of the other students who first participated during its initial stages. She hopes to continue offering that opportunity to future students in her role as a liaison for San Fernando.
“Sometimes university students don’t get to apply what a kinesiologist does in real life. It takes more than being able to write the perfect exercise program to be a good kinesiologist. You need to learn to connect and establish relationships of trust in order for the programs to be effective,” she explains.
Opportunities such as the 100 Citizens program allow students like her to get out of the classroom and pick up invaluable skills.
Since summer 2012, the 100 Citizens program has branched out into four other parks in Altadena, La Crescenta, Pasadena and Sylmar.
Merit-based scholarships allow one student to tackle his debt.
As his graduation date edges closer, Alejandro Echevarria, a senior cinema and television arts major, is starting to worry about his future.
As reported by USA Today, Alejandro’s generation is increasingly realistic about money and debt due to the tough economy and job market.
“The way I think about money is more pragmatic now. I know I have to develop a financial plan and build good credit. I don’t like doing it. But I have to, because the alternative is I don’t grow up,” he says.
Like many students these days, Alejandro works part-time while attending CSUN as a full-time student.
“When I was a kid, my grandparents saved a college fund for me—about $2,000. The rest of tuition is covered by various part-time jobs I've held, scholarships and loans. Although my family is not paying directly for school, they cover the majority of my essential living expenses. All of these factors have contributed to helping me develop a more mature perspective on personal finance,” he says.
Having a high GPA greatly helps his odds when applying for merit-based scholarships, such as the University Scholars program. But the biggest factors in landing a scholarship are good writing skills and a genuine enthusiasm for your field of study, Alejandro points out.
Tenacity, confidence and originality also are key.
“Think about the competition—who is applying? What would an average applicant write for his or her scholarship essay? Approach the prompts differently. Think about what your default response would be to a prompt and do something different,” he says.
Out of the 11 scholarships for which he’s applied throughout his college career, Alejandro has received four—three University Scholarships and the Scott M. Weiss Memorial Scholarship. In fall 2012 alone, he applied for seven scholarships and received two.
“Applying to seven scholarships was an exhausting experience. I don’t think I want to do that again,” he says. “Unless you’re very organized, I don’t recommend applying for that many. You get careless and lose track of things. I accidentally sent the wrong draft of an essay to one committee.”
While the free money is great, the process has another positive outcome – it encourages him to be active in his major. For example, in order to remain eligible for the University Scholarship, Alejandro must demonstrate scholarly activity every semester.
As a result, Alejandro often volunteers on productions for the Department of Cinema and Television Arts. Currently, he is preparing a media theory paper on the 1969 American film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” for publication with guidance from professor Frances Gateward.
Thus, although he is concerned about what will happen when he graduates, he doesn’t think students should spend more time working at an internship than sitting in a classroom.
“A lot of people in my major value work experience over academics. I say, ‘Don’t worry about being swept into the system so quickly.’ Get good grades and develop your writing. Believe it or not, writing is not only an important, edifying skill, it can be a monetarily gratifying skill,” he says.
Over the course of his college years, he has acquired more than $10,000 in scholarships—almost a third of his college costs.
To look for available scholarships, Alejandro recommends checking out your department website and the CSUN scholarship Web page.
Cal State Northridge puts this Nigerian native on the road to a future medical career.
Etinosa Nosa-Ehigie doesn’t like to let stereotypes define him.
But coming from a nation often portrayed in the media as war-stricken and impoverished, sometimes it’s hard to avoid certain perceptions.
However, Etinosa wants people to realize that his country is more than that.
Despite growing up in the tumultuous background of Nigerian politics and infrastructure problems, Etinosa had a happy childhood. He, the second child in a middle-class family, spent most of those days playing and watching ping pong and soccer.
“Every place, culture or people have their stereotypes,” he says. “The point I always try to make is that we shouldn't be too quick to make judgments based on stereotypes because everyone is different in their own way.”
So instead of allowing these external factors define him, Etinosa is using hard work and determination to shape his world.
Three years ago Etinosa came to Cal State Northridge to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor.
“I chose the microbiology major/premed program at Cal State Northridge because I’m very curious about the composition of living things and how living things function,” he explains. Etinosa also chose Northridge’s academic program over other universities because of its reputation for excellence.
Etinosa is just one of many international students who chose Northridge over universities in their native countries because of its affordability, location and internationally recognized academic programs.
But Etinosa’s reason for attending is much more altruistic.
According to the Nigerian Health Journal, Nigeria only has about 40,000 doctors and more than 3,500 Nigerian doctors leave the country to practice abroad in either the United States or Europe.
Thus, Nigeria is trying to combat the amount of doctors leaving the country to practice elsewhere.
"I'd love to go back home to Nigeria and help people out there,” Etinosa says. “I see myself working in a hospital as a general surgeon and finding innovative ways of improving human health.”
And while he misses his homeland, he understands a Northridge education will enable him to help his countrymen.
Fortunately, the unique experiences and services offered at Northridge make him love the school.
“My life in Nigeria was fun and I enjoyed it a lot, but the reason why I came here, which is to study, keeps me striving for success,” he says.
- Gretchelle Quiambao, journalism major, fall 2012
In honor of Valentine's Day, we asked Cal State Northridge students and alumni to share their dating stories. There were quite a few sweet ones, but here are two that stand out — the couples' proposals took place right on campus.
♥ ♥ ♥
On April 28, 2006, Eliza took her camera to Best Buy after it broke at a cousin's birthday party.
Osheen was working there as a Geek Squad technician. Unbeknownst to them, they were both students at Cal State Northridge.
Normally shy around strangers, Eliza felt an immediate attraction to Osheen. Their backgrounds were similar. Both were transplants; she from Armenia, and he from Iran. They lived fewer than 10 miles apart for most of their lives.
"It was a happy accident — and I got a new camera replacement," she jokes.
On May 22, 2008, Osheen surprised Eliza by proposing to her at his graduation ceremony in front of the Oviatt Library. His uncle even recorded the proposal on video.
Jubilant postgrads, their families and noisemakers can be heard in the background as Osheen gets down on one knee before a flustered, teary-eyed Eliza.
"He told me this after the proposal, but he always wanted to get married after he was done with college. So he thought it would be perfect to propose on his graduation day," she explains.
After three years of marriage, Osheen currently works in customer support at the film production company Deluxe. Eliza is a buyer for the Purchasing & Contract Administration department at Cal State Northridge and is slated to finish her bachelor's degree in child development next year.
The couple recently welcomed the addition of a daughter, Emma, who was featured in a Sundial article about multilingual children.
♥ ♥ ♥
While she was a student at Northridge, alumna Liliana Curioca frequently took her little sister, Jessica, to the Oviatt Library. Jessica remembers loving the campus even back then.
"I always pictured myself becoming a student at Cal State Northridge," Jessica says.
Upon graduating from high school, she was admitted to Northridge for the interior design option in the family and consumer sciences major.
Coincidentally, she met her future husband, Luis Ramirez, at her old stomping ground, the Oviatt Library, on her birthday — April 24, 2000. He was tutoring Andrew Torres, a fellow Beta Gamma Nu fraternity brother and Jessica's mutual friend.
"The highlight of our relationship was meeting at Northridge," she says.
But less than a year later, tragedy struck. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then one of her cousins, whom Jessica was quite close to, suddenly passed away.
"Having Luis around during my most difficult moments was such a blessing because he not only gave me emotional support but was there for my family as well," she says.
Two days before Christmas 2005, Jessica and Luis had plans to eat dinner at Olive Garden and exchange gifts. But Luis had a surprise for Jessica; he was going to propose that night.
However, things didn't go quite as expected.
"Luis likes to follow tradition," Jessica says. "While I was still at work, he had planned to speak to my parents and ask for my hand in marriage."
But her parents were not home that day. Instead, Luis picked up an unsuspecting Jessica. On the way to the restaurant, he convinced her to call her mother.
"My mom started telling me how she and my dad had gone to Olvera Street that day and seen the cutest little piñatas ... she kept talking and talking," Jessica recalls.
The conversation distracted her so much that she didn't realize Luis had driven them to campus instead of the restaurant.
"Cal State Northridge is a very special place to him because he met me, the love of his life, there," she says. "When he decided to propose, he knew that the only place to do it was there."
The evening was cold, so Jessica wrapped herself up in the new coat Luis had given her. Luis quickly pulled out the engagement ring and caught her off guard.
"After all the excitement, we didn't end up going to dinner," Jessica jokes. "Instead, we went home to tell my family the great news."
Now Luis is a certified public accountant and manager at J. Arthur Greenfield & Co., LLP, an accounting firm based in Westwood. Jessica works as a dental assistant at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in North Hills.
Left to right: Elvia Aguirre, Danny Santana and Carolina Alcala. Not pictured: Juan Carlos Munoz
MEChA's mural commemorates the past while immortalizing the present.
On October 7, 2011, Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlán (MEChA) unveiled a new student mural in Jerome Richfield Hall 130.
The mural, titled "Knowledge-Struggle, Life and Death Duality," was an effort orchestrated by MEChA with support from the College of Humanities and the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies.
Spanning two walls and measuring approximately 5 feet by 40 feet, it pays homage to professors Chirlene Soto, Tappy Flores, Karin Duran, Annette Cardona and Roberto Sifuentes, who recently passed away.
Along with portraits of the late professors, the mural features traditional images from Chicano culture, mythical objects and characters, and political scenes of the student protests that took place on March 4, 2010.
"In this particular mural we felt we wanted to highlight the issues of today as opposed to just being nostalgic for the struggles of the past," says Danny Santana, a fifth-year double major in Chicana and Chicano studies and history.
Danny is coordinator of the MEChA committee that spearheaded the beautification project. He and three other student artists painted the various sections of the mural.
Major: Chicana and Chicano studies and history
Inspiration: Since both his grandmothers recently died, this was an art project he felt would help him heal. The loss of his grandmothers helped him realize the beautiful and inevitable cycle of life and death.
Subject: Danny's section includes portraits of the late professors. Below the portraits is a quote, "In loving memory of our 'temachtiqueh'" (the ones who enable others to teach themselves). Beside them are a temple and the Mesoamerican gods Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc, who symbolize knowledge and life.
The center of the mural, where the walls meet, features dual images of life and death, from a pre-Columbian ritual and divinatory manuscript known as the Codex Borgia. Flanked by the Mesoamerican deities Ehecatl and Miquiztli, a decorated skull is held up by the tree of Mother Earth.
Major: Art, concentration in computer graphics
Inspiration: Day of the Dead celebrations
Subject: Juan's section depicts a woman burning sage on the Day of the Dead (Nov. 1-2) as the deceased professors emerge from the smoke. A book inscribed with the poem "Cero," composed by alumnus Jose Juan Gomez hovers above. Lightning from the book strikes an Aztec pyramid illustrating the power of knowledge. On the right wall, Juan depicts the evolution of students, from the moment they pick up a book at the beginning of freshman year to the day they graduate.
Status: Graduating Senior
Major: Art, concentration in painting
Inspiration: The March 4, 2010, protests
Subject: Elvia's section is of last year's protests in Northridge: the faces of the student leaders who organized the marches and the crowd gathered in front of the Oviatt library to listen to speakers. Elvia also invited some other students to paint political messages on the poster boards that are held up by the protestors in the mural.
Status: Alumnus, spring 2011
Inspiration: Student activism
Subject: Carolina's section depicts Bayramian Hall, one of the oldest buildings on campus. Historically, many protests, including the one on March 4, 2010, took place there. Fueled by the passion demonstrated by the people on that day, Carolina used bold colors to express their energy and commitment.
Thanks to NCOD and the robust ASL-speaking community on campus, deaf student Leah Bornstein thrives at Cal State Northridge.
When she was a child, Leah fell 10 feet from her front-yard tree, breaking both arms and sustaining major trauma to her head.
Shortly after the accident, complications from surgery spiked a critically high fever that resulted in permanent hearing loss. "I've been deaf since I was five years old," Leah says.
The struggle to communicate defined her early years. At school, she wore an FM system, which connected to her hearing aid and amplified the teacher's voice. The clunky device worked poorly and often garbled the teacher's words.
Because it was difficult to follow conversations, Leah made few friends growing up.
"I seriously thought I was the only deaf person in the world because I never met anyone else like me," she says. "Because of that mindset, I had quite the attitude. I rarely let others speak – partly because I couldn't hear them."
Upon entering high school, her life changed. One day, she saw two students signing on the bus. It was the first time she had ever seen American Sign Language (ASL). At 14, she began taking ASL classes and learning how to sign. She learned about Cal State Northridge from her teachers and interpreters in her senior year of high school.
"I decided to come to Northridge because it has a wonderful deaf studies program and Deaf community," Leah says.
Upon arriving at college, she was introduced to the National Center on Deafness, which provided her with academic advisors, interpreters, note takers and captionists. Discovering that Leah had a talent for filmmaking, NCOD recruited her to direct two promotional videos for its largest annual event, Sign 'N' Run, among other film projects.
At Northridge, Leah's signing skills flourished.
"Professors here at CSUN are really patient and helped a lot with my signing. Evelina Gaina, a deaf studies professor here, and Katie Kessler, a fellow deaf studies major and one of my closest friends, really helped me improve. They constantly challenge me to think outside the box," Leah says.
Due to the large community of ASL users at Northridge, for the first time in her life, Leah could comfortably hang out at large gatherings and hold multiple conversations.
"The first time I've ever had a group of friends is at Northridge," Leah says. "It didn't matter if we were in a loud room or if everyone was talking at the same time; I could actually understand. It was freaking amazing."
Now a senior, Leah's dream is to become an ASL teacher for high school students.
"I want to teach ASL because I am proud of being deaf. People see deafness as a disability or a disease. I want to show them that it's not such a bad thing and that it is the basis for building a unique culture and a tight-knit community," she explains.
To find out more about resources for deaf students on campus, check out NCOD.
Earlier this year, Leah published her first novel, "Once Upon a Sunrise." A book signing was held on campus in February 2011.
Working at the MIC helps master's student Audrey Mercado get a head start on a career.
The start of the school year is usually the busiest time for the Matador Involvement Center (MIC) and as one of its graduate assistants, Audrey is right in the thick of it.
On move-in day at campus housing she can be found in her red-and-black shirt amid a crowd of pajama-clad students. The MIC-hosted Pajama Jam, a welcome event for first-time freshmen as they check in, features club representatives, an outdoor film screening and free food.
During Matafest and Meet the Clubs days, Audrey staffs the MIC table, fielding questions about any of the 230+ organizations on campus. Despite the bustle, she loves it.
"I'm in charge of the fun stuff. Clubs help students feel connected to the campus and create a sense of belonging," she points out. "I tell people, 'Did you know we are the most diverse campus in terms of sororities and fraternities?' We also have the first chapter of the men's Armenian Society."
Working at the MIC is not just a job for Audrey, but a potential career. Since her assistantship is part of her master's program in college counseling and student services, it helps build valuable skills in her field.
"This experience is tied to my program – the emphasis of which is working with students," she explains.
Consequently, upon completing her master's degree, Audrey will be prepared to work in any university setting, but she hopes her place at the MIC will be more long term.
"One professor asked me if I am thinking of staying on campus," she says. "If given an opportunity, I would want to."
A seasoned Matador, Audrey graduated from Northridge with a bachelor's in psychology and an English minor in spring 2011. During her senior year, she came to a crossroads in her life.
"I was pretty much at the point of – what's next?" she recalls. "I thought, 'What if I don't find a job?' It was really stressful."
Audrey decided to apply to a master's program because she figured a graduate degree would improve her prospects. She applied to the University of Southern California, but halfway through the admissions process she stopped.
"People might say, 'If you get into USC – you have to go there.' But my heart was really set on Northridge. I really love CSUN."
Thus, at a time when many people have a bleak outlook, Audrey's future appears bright.
"Many Northridge alumni have the same story as me. They were once undergraduates here, then got their master's and now work as faculty or staff," she explains. "As President Jolene Koester said at the President's Convocation on Aug. 25, there is abundance on this campus," she says.
For more information about working at the MIC, check out the website.
Junior film major Matthew Lengyel was among the first generation of ushers hired at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC).
Transfer student Matthew heard about job openings at the then-brand-new facility from a fellow member of CSUN Intervarsity Matador Christian Fellowship.
The hiring of ushers at the VPAC came at a perfect time.
"I was desperate to work. If I couldn't find a way to support myself, I would have had to drop out of Cal State Northridge and abandon my dream of becoming a filmmaker," Matthew explains.
Fortunately, Matthew nailed the job interview and was extended an offer.
After working at the VPAC for nine months, most nights he's a lead usher, carrying a walkie-talkie and taking charge of an assigned floor at the performing arts center.
"We serve our guests and treat them like kings and queens. It's all about courtesy and customer service. You never know what kind of patrons you're going to get – average folks from the house across the street or mayors, politicians, actors or producers."
Naturally gregarious, Matthew relishes the opportunity to interact with these various types of people.
"I really like customer-related jobs – anything that serves and makes people happy," he says.
One major perk of the job is that he gets to watch all the performances at the venue, from ballets and concerts to spoken-word events. As a classical music fan, one of his favorite shows was the China Philharmonic Orchestra in April 2011.
Being one of the first-generation VPAC ushers meant that he and his team had to work through some glitches. For example, some customers initially took issue with the late-seating policy.
"Basically, it's a performing arts center, not a movie theater," Matthew explains. "I'd tell customers: I'm sorry, there is a strict no-late-seating policy; you can wait outside the doors until the intermission. In the meantime, we have TV screens for you to watch the show."
Because the flexibility of the late-seating policy is determined by the individual artists, this created problems in the beginning.
"One artist wanted the doors closed right when the performance started. When that happened, a lot of patrons who were late became angry and started yelling. A guy was getting violent. And one of our ushers got pushed," he says.
As a result of such episodes, Matthew and two other ushers, Zach Payne and Alysan Achen, decided to revamp the usher training program to address intense situations.
Alysan rewrote the manual, Zach reworked the section on theater policy and customer relations, and Matthew created new procedures for emergencies and the facility tour. They organized marathon games and relay races to inject fun and interaction during the training period.
To stress to new employees the importance of working as a team, Alysan came up with the metaphor of the VPAC as their house.
"We think of the patrons as guests coming to our house," he explains, "So it becomes their house too."
After all these months, there's never a day that Matthew doesn't love coming to work. He's been employed at movie theaters and in food service, and serving as a VPAC usher is, by far, his favorite job.
"I'm always excited to see what new things we're bringing to the table and what surprises are in store today," he says.
To find out more about the new performing arts center, check out the VPAC website.
For this family, a Northridge education is tradition.
Several times a year, brothers Jason, Chris and Patrick Beck can be found at the beach, chasing sun-flecked waves on their surfboards.
They're Southern California's poster boys, born and raised here, exuding casual confidence and a fierce hunger for life.
The youngest Patrick graduated in 2009 and is the most recent alumnus in a trend that began when father and uncle, Lou and Russell Beck, attended in the late 1970s. Back then it was called the San Fernando Valley State College.
Since that time, every college-bound Beck has attended Northridge, making an education here tradition.
"I could have gone to Humboldt [State University]. But my dad went here. I thought [why buck] the trend?" says Chris, the first of the three brothers to get his bachelor's degree.
From a young age, Lou instilled in the boys a sense of Matador pride. Some of their fondest childhood memories were watching Northridge football games. Tailgating events were family reunions for generations, young and old.
"This was the only time we saw our great-uncle Buddy," Chris jokes.
After following in the footsteps of his father, Chris also encouraged his brothers to join him. One day, while they were out at beach, Chris piqued Jason's interest.
"You know you can get a degree in surfing," he told his older brother, referring to the Northridge recreation and tourism management program.
After successfully hooking Jason, shortly thereafter, he also recruited Patrick.
The three remained close throughout their college years, joining Tau Kappa Epsilon, hanging out and surfing at least twice a week.
Despite being best friends, each brother found his own niche.
Like his father, Chris studied communications, in which he learned how to write effectively. This skill has proven invaluable in law school.
Patrick became involved in various clubs and volunteered as a university ambassador. He graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in kinesiology. He is currently finishing up his master's degree in gerontology, although he intends to go into law like older brother.
What's his reason for this decision?
"I want to change the world," he says.
Rather than dealing with the lawmakers, he aspires to drive policy one day.
Now Patrick and Chris work together at Lancaster, Calif.-based law firm Jeffries & Associates.
After completing his degree in recreation and tourism management, Jason decided to go down the institutional route. He is currently pursuing an Ed.D. in education administration and working at Student Marketing & Communications on campus.
Jason's son Jake, born spring 2010, is already creating a new generation of memories for the Beck family by becoming a regular fixture on campus. Is he a new Matador in the making? Only time can tell.
Health problems set him back in high school, but Jerrid McKenna's again playing with intramural sports at Northridge.
In senior year of high school, Jerrid earned the coveted title of captain of the basketball team.
But what should have been a rise to sports stardom was cut short by the discovery of a tumor in his brain. Jerrid suffered seizures, lost motor control and even blacked out in his mother's car after a game.
Following surgery and a swift recovery, he reunited with his team members but failed to secure a playoff victory.
"I was frustrated", says the 22-year-old transfer student. "The previous year we were defending champions. I don't regret what happened but it did leave a void."
Upon graduating from high school, Jerrid received offers to play at several universities in the Midwest. However, after his close encounter with death, he opted to stay close to home and attend local College of the Canyons. In 2009 he transferred to Cal State Northridge as a business administration major.
Once on campus, he quickly became involved with Tau Omega Rho and threw himself into his studies. But Jerrid was still troubled by his truncated basketball career.
Around this time he discovered Associated Students Recreation Sports.
Now four times a week, Jerrid can be found at the Matadome. On Monday evenings he plays basketball with his fraternity. On Tuesday and Wednesday nights he participates in independent league and open gym. And on Fridays, he practices softball.
Last year his flag football team placed second for the entire western region. After convincing Associated Students to sponsor it for the finals, the team secured fourth place out of 18 national competitors.
Earning second and fourth place is no small feat considering schools such as University of Florida boast 400 teams.
Recently, his team came in second at the regional basketball tournament in Las Vegas. Since the first-place winners won't be able to participate in the national competition, Jerrid, with help from AS again, hopes to get another shot at the championship.
Students like Jerrid are making Cal State Northridge a formidable opponent at region and nationwide intramural events. And thanks to AS Recreation Sports, Jerrid finally fulfills his high school dream.
But he doesn't just enjoy playing the game. After working at a neighborhood Boys & Girls Club, Jerrid aspires to run his own youth activity center someday. And having a bachelor's degree from Cal State Northridge would certainly help support that goal, he says.
The campus athletic facilities Jerrid utilizes are free for Northridge students. At the beginning of every semester, participants need to fill out a waiver from the Fitness Centre front desk by the fourth week of school.
For more information about ways to play sports and stay fit on campus, check out AS Recreation Sports.
The USU gives this former TV anchor a new challenge.
Her co-workers gave her the nickname Penny because, as a business services assistant, she doles out the paychecks for the USU.
By working on the financial side of operations, she encounters different people on a daily basis. She enjoys what she does because her co-workers engage and motivate her.
"The USU's a great place to work. My supervisor and colleagues treat me like I'm part of the family," she says.
Penny developed a knack for building relationships at a young age. In junior high, back in her native province of Dalian, China, she served as the friendship ambassador to her sister school in Japan.
Her love of the public sphere led to a bachelor's degree in public education and then to a career as a television journalist for eight years. In 2007, during the production of a televised charity event, she came across a seven-year-old boy with cerebral palsy.
His condition haunted her so much that she was determined to help him get the medical treatment he needed to attend school. She organized a fundraiser among local TV stations that raised $150,000 for children in the community with cerebral palsy.
"The reason why I'm studying public administration is because of the interview I did with this little boy," Penny explains.
While developing a proposal for the charity event, she experienced her first taste of public administration and realized she wanted a career in public service.
"I started to pay more attention during my interviews on government programs that provide benefits and people from the government who are effective organizers, coordinators and implementers of policy," she says.
Having heard about well‐respected faculty from Cal State Northridge — such as Christopher A. Leu, emeritus professor of political science — from friends, Penny decided to pursue her master's here.
In addition to taking classes that challenge her, working at the USU keeps Penny on her toes. She answers phone calls from parents and fields questions about Cal State Northridge youth programs such as the Sunny Days Camp.
"I chose to work at the USU because I know that is where I can serve more clients outside the campus besides staff and faculty. Here I can better hone my leadership skills," she says.
—Donna Watts, cinema and television arts major, spring 2011
Having faced homelessness and cancer as a teen, this student finally achieves stability with help from a campus job.
Kristal Larson is a sophomore studying radiologic sciences while working at the Matador Bookstore.
"The Matador Bookstore is my first real job," she says.
Before the bookstore, her previous places of employment were far less conventional.
When she was 10 years old, she discovered an abused miniature stallion abandoned at a local ranch.
Without any proper training, she became a stable hand by exercising animals and cleaning out stalls. Her wages went toward rehabilitating the rescued horse, which she eventually named Little Dipper.
During the course of working there, she was sent to the hospital six times with various broken bones.
"I'm crazy and reckless," she says.
Growing up in the small town of Nipomo, near San Luis Obispo, Kristal often found herself champing at the bit.
"I was cooped up," she says. "I wasn't allowed to leave the house-not even to see my best friend."
By the time she turned 19, she had been kicked out of her parents' house twice for smoking cigarettes and talking back.
In 2008 a diagnosis of lung cancer brought about a reconciliation with her family. Chemotherapy treatments put the cancer cells in remission, but Kristal came out of the harrowing experience shaken.
"I made it through. [Now] I strive for higher education and to support myself, and thank my parents," she says.
Now that she is a Cal State Northridge student, only a semblance of that former wild child remains.
Kristal's job at the bookstore gives her rebellious spirit something she's craved for a long time - independence.
Her earnings allow her to live on her own and pay back her parents, who supported her medical treatment while she was sick with cancer.
"I have not had a job like the Matador Bookstore. Everyone is super nice, and I'm not stuck at a desk," she says.
Some of Kristal's duties include entering online orders, picking out books from the showroom floor and preparing them for shipping.
Constantly working on the computer and learning new codes for the bookstore's cashier and inventory management system is a major boon for her dream career in radiology.
"X-rays use computers now, not film," she says. "Being able to adapt to new technology gives me confidence in whatever job I do ."
Working at the bookstore builds her social skills, which, in turn, will help her pass the mandatory interview required to enter the radiologic sciences major.
"There's a lot of variety in the work we do. You can work between classes. And when I mess up, I don't have to worry about getting fired. They mentor me and help me out," she explains.
To find out how to work at the Matador Bookstore, check out the website.
—Donna Watts, cinema and television arts major, spring 2011
For one former foster youth, Cal State Northridge is home.
Karisma Gideon is not your ordinary 20-year-old.
At a very young age, she was forced to face some ugly realities. But those potent experiences have shaped her into the strong individual she is today.
"I'm mature for my age. I can't be anything else. I carry that [burden] on my shoulders," she says gravely.
Karisma was born to an abusive father and a drug-addled mother. As a teenager, she was told to make a tough decision—remain in the household where she was abused or go into foster care.
She opted for foster care which estranged her from her birth family. Despite her grim circumstances, Karisma knew she would attend college one day.
Higher education was her golden ticket. "Once you're emancipated, you don't have anywhere to live," she says. "Northridge is like my home now."
While she was researching and applying to schools, Cal State Northridge jumped out at her immediately. She joined the campus as part of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). She also became a Resilient Scholar, which introduced her to a support system of former foster youths, faculty mentors and campus staff.
Attending college was not only a turning point for her, but also for her family. For most of her life, Karisma has watched her mother and other relatives struggle with addiction to drugs and alcohol. Her success has helped her reconcile with them.
"It all stops with Karisma," her maternal grandfather told her family. The knowledge that she is a role model for future generations motivates her to keep pushing forward.
With her winning smile and effervescent personality, Karisma has an optimism that belies a childhood filled with tragedy and hardship. But her desire not to dwell on the negative has helped her get to where she is today.
Furthermore, she prefers to focus on the beauty around her. She loves all art—film, theater, and especially dancing. She hopes to work up the courage to audition for "Kinesis," the student dance showcase that takes place every year.
As a teen, when she felt most alone she sought guidance from her high school teachers and counselors. Ultimately, she too wants to mentor disadvantaged young women and children.
Even though she knows firsthand how hard life can be, her outlook remains perpetually bright and she wants to share that with others.
"Life can be good—and I want to show them the good side," she says.
After a terrible accident, DRES helps one student rise above his disability.
Roderick "Shawn" Williams is no stranger to sorrow.
Incarcerated for the majority of his life, he sought to rectify his past mistakes through hard work and education. After laboring through junior college, he transferred to Cal State Northridge in 2007.
At first, he was worried about the stigma of being an ex-convict.
"When I got into the classroom, [the anxiety] disappeared," he says.
However, he still struggled with college life. It was intimidating being on campus, surrounded by students who were much younger than he was. Back in junior college, he took distance-learning courses, which are not proctored by actual professors.
To help pay for school, he held a job at the Tarzana Treatment Center as a handicap van driver. He invested in a bicycle to commute to work. On the way home one evening, he collided with another cyclist and was thrown into the direct path of a Metro DASH bus.
The impact was devastating. Shawn sustained fractures to his skull and jaw, and tore a vital nerve in his arm, leaving his right hand useless. When he awoke, he was greeted by classmates and his sociology professor, Dr. Helen Dosik, along with her husband, at his bedside.
"I thought, 'Wow, that's pretty nice,'" he says.
Shawn stayed in intensive care for two weeks, but despite the strong support system, he fell into a deep funk.
"I would lie in bed, face the wall, cry and think, 'Oh God, what am I going to do?'" he recalls. He struggled with the once-simple tasks of filling out forms and signing his name. The pain in his arm agitated him.
"I've done some bad things in life, but getting hit by a bus is pretty severe," Shawn laments. "If God had a message for me, he didn't have to use a bus." Gloomy over his prospects, he lost the motivation to return to school.
Shawn didn't go back to Cal State Northridge in the fall semester following the accident.
However, his professors persisted in persuading him to come back. Dr. Dosik introduced him to Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) at Cal State Northridge. Out of respect for his former instructor, Shawn agreed to meet with the staff, but he had no expectations.
When he arrived at the office, "Everyone was so happy, I wondered what they were on," Shawn jokes. He was amazed at their resolve.
"Instead of claiming that they'll try their best, they kept telling me, 'We'll do this, and we'll do that,'" he says.
The staff at DRES introduced him to Naturally Speaking, a voice-recognition technology that helps him answer email and surf the Internet, and set him up with note and test-takers for class. When Shawn went back to Cal State Northridge in the spring, his grades picked up.
"I don't advise getting hit by a bus, but I didn't get anything lower than an A- [afterward]," Shawn says. Since the accident he has had to visit his professors during office hours to set up test dates. During these visits his professors inquire about his assignments and give him extra instruction.
With help, Shawn finished up his bachelor's degree in sociology only one semester behind schedule. The staff at DRES did more than just provide a service to him—they were like a family.
"They believed in me more than I did," he says.
Today Shawn is pursuing his master's degree in public administration at Cal State Northridge. His goal is to work with convicts and their rehabilitation.
Similar to his recovery, rehabilitation is a long, painstaking process and a labor of love. But like those who supported him through his injury, Shawn is up to the challenge.
Being president of Associated Students is not all fun and games—it's also about empowering students.
Conor Lansdale isn't afraid to speak his mind.
This character trait comes in handy for Associated Students (AS), for which he serves as president and student liaison to school administrators.
He attributes his candid brashness to his New Jersey upbringing.
"I have an East Coast communication style," he admits. "Some [people think I'm] too blunt...too aggressive."
But Conor just doesn't allow himself to be bullied. When he speaks, he looks you directly in the eye. He's self-assured but friendly. And he's not afraid to say no.
"I'm very fair. I don't even show favoritism to my fraternity," he says, referring to Pi Kappa Alpha, the Greek organization he's been a member of for five years.
The same fraternity helped him first become involved with AS. In 2007, the group ran into some trouble. It was brought to trial before the Interfraternity Council, and Conor stepped forward as a delegate.
In doing so, he realized that neither he nor his fraternity had a working relationship with the rest of the campus. To remedy this, he decided to join the AS Senate.
As an information systems major in the College of Business and Economics, Conor is fascinated by the inner workings of AS, which runs like a nonprofit professional organization. He voted on policies and allocated funds as a senator, and hired staff when he was elected vice president in 2009.
Now, as president, he meets with university leaders and makes executive decisions. But he's still not afraid to get his hands dirty.
On the first day of school, he can be found sprinting around campus with cans of spray paint and red-stained fingertips, tagging AS billboards with stencils. He doesn't shirk from chatting with students or inviting them to events like the Freshman Convocation or Big Show X.
Conor's administrative responsibilities extend beyond school matters. Unafraid to bring up controversial issues such as immigration reform and state ballot measures, he plans to host several professional speakers this year to address some of these topics.
The objective isn't to take a stand, but to give students access to the facts so they can be educated voters, he says.
"Most people wait until they are old and rich to vote," he explains. He wants students to realize that their vote gives them clout in society.
And that power, says Conor, allows them to take charge of their future.
Applying for a scholarship is no easy task. But for one student, it's one step closer to a long-held dream.
The first time Robbie Haughton tried to get a scholarship, he didn't succeed. On the second attempt, he applied the lessons he learned to create a stronger application.
He realized it wasn't enough to simply list his accomplishments. He had to market himself and showcase his abilities in the best light. And that's not all.
"You need to describe your achievements in a way that someone else can understand," Robbie says.
As simple as that sounds, actually achieving it takes a little work. Brushing up on the rules of grammar and syntax was helpful, Robbie says. He also sought advice from his father, a professional business writer. But most importantly, he pored over every sentence in his application to make sure that his intended meaning was clear.
Waiting one year to apply allowed him to gain some relevant experience, such as working as a student assistant for Dr. Dorothy Nguyen-Graff in the chemistry 100 classes and joining the laboratory of Dr. Paula Fischhaber, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Robbie also asked professors, friends and family to review multiple drafts of his application before he sent off the final version.
In the end, his efforts paid off. When he was finally awarded the University Scholarship, he was exuberant. "It was a huge honor," he says.
Not only did victory taste sweeter for having missed out the first time, the University Scholarship catapulted him to even greater prestige—the Presidential Scholarship.
As a Presidential Scholar, Robbie is required to design a project and find a faculty member to sponsor him. Since he was already working with Dr. Fischhaber, together they designed a study of the molecular mechanisms of cells that repair DNA damaged by the sun's UV rays.
Robbie stresses the importance of finding the right mentor before applying for these scholarships. His best advice? Get to know your faculty. "A mentor will help you build an idea for a project," he says.
And do your homework, he adds. Since the scholarship is competitive, you need to demonstrate to the selection committee that you've done your preliminary work. Your project needs to be well-researched and ready to go by the time you submit it for consideration, he says.
While Robbie appreciates the cash he earned, it wasn't the impetus for seeking out this scholarship. Support for his project brings him closer to his dream of attending medical school.
Additionally, the scholarship program allows him to understand the greater implications of what he does. When he and the other scholars prepare for the annual spring showcase, in which students present their projects in front of President Jolene Koester and Northridge patrons, they are actually training for careers in professional research.
This preparation is invaluable to Robbie, and he hopes his project will lead to research that "will [expand] our medical [knowledge] so we can treat people with skin cancer."
Through the Presidential Scholar program, Robbie also has had a wonderful opportunity to observe a microcosm of Cal State Northridge's diverse student body. He mingles with Presidential Scholars from a wide range of disciplines spanning the arts, design, dance, psychology, deaf studies and more.
The experience has been eye-opening—and well worth all the extra time Robbie took to get his scholarship application just right.
Despite parallel lives, each member of this Matador family is carving out an identity of his or her own.
In first grade Jewel Hernandez began to develop bruises on her arms and legs.
Concerned teachers sent her to the nurse, fearing abuse at home. When she fainted at school, her family took her to the hospital for some tests.
The news was grim. Five-year-old Jewel was diagnosed with leukemia.
However, after successfully undergoing chemotherapy, she went back to school and attended second grade with her younger brother, Andrew.
Despite the happy outcome, the events took a toll on their parents. With their father deported to Mexico and their mother unable to financially support them, Jewel and Andrew were at risk of being placed in foster care.
Fortunately, relatives came to the rescue. The two went to live with their cousins, Tania and Leah Gudiel. Their friendship blossomed as they grew up together in the San Fernando Valley and attended the same elementary, middle and high schools. Now, the four share a bond through Cal State Northridge.
Despite their parallel lives, each fosters a dream of his or her own - dreams aided by an education at Northridge. Although all four work together in Bayramian Hall, each has branched out to find his or her particular calling.
While Tania was studying abroad in Madrid, she traveled to a nearby town called Salamanca. During a tour of the local university, she witnessed its famous large sandstone facade.
According to legend, Tania explains, if you find the frog hidden in the carved wall, you'll have good luck in your academic life.
"[In Spain] I experienced something new and became my own person," she says.
After returning to the United States, Tania changed her academic concentration from accounting to Spanish. As a Spanish major, she further explored the history and culture she'd encountered in Madrid.
After earning her bachelor's degree, she decided to pursue her master's in educational leadership and policy studies. A first-generation college graduate, Tania wanted to give high school students access to the same resources she used when she applied. Now the 27-year-old alumna works for Admissions and Records and assists students.
Leah's sister, Tania, first introduced her to the University Ambassadors program. Leah became involved with the group for three years, during which she made close friends, joined the executive board and, through networking, found a job at Student Marketing & Communications.
Although Tania was the trailblazer of the family, 24-year-old Leah succeeded in forging a path of her own. Like her sister, she too wants to help others.
But in lieu of working in education, Leah is interning as a human factors consultant at Medtronic, a manufacturer of insulin pumps for diabetics. For the former graphic design major turned human factors master's student, improving the usability of medical devices marries her love of helping people with product design.
The 19-year-old cancer survivor is a recreation and tourism management major and dreams of becoming a wedding planner one day.
Initially, Jewel shunned Cal State Northridge simply because her two older cousins were already students there.
"I didn't want to seem like I'm always following in their footsteps," she explains.
At that time the University of California, Santa Barbara, was her first choice. But as soon as she set foot on Northridge grounds, she sensed a connection.
"The campus felt like a perfect second home," she says.
Having family around has actually boosted her independence. Her older cousins helped her buy a car and find a job with the Outreach Internship Program where Tania once worked.
"Without them, I would have been lost," she says.
As the youngest of the bunch, 18-year-old Andrew thought all he wanted after high school was to leave home.
"I was looking for something different," he says.
However, he fell in love with Northridge after Leah took him to a Clippers game with some of her friends from college.
Because he loves to work out and play sports, Andrew hopes to become a physical trainer. At the urging of his high school teachers, he enrolled in the kinesiology program and joined the Kinesiology Living Learning Community, where he currently resides with others who share his major.
If Andrew had any doubts about staying local, being on campus quelled them.
"The dorms are really exciting," he says. "It gives me a sense of being on my own."
Despite being just a few miles from home, Andrew gained the independence he craved. Working alongside his sister and cousin in the Student Marketing & Communications office helps him meet new financial responsibilities.
And while he enjoys his freedom, knowing his family is just a phone call away is always reassuring.
JADE helps one student root for a personal cause.
While training to become a ballet dancer, Tiffany White noticed the pressure to lose weight.
Girls with slender physiques received coveted roles in performances, she recalls. All dancers were weighed in their costumes before practice.
But her family kept her grounded.
"I grew up in a family that totally accepted my body the way it was," Tiffany says.
Thanks to their support, she avoided the dangerous dieting habits practiced by her peers.
Upon arriving at Cal State Northridge, Tiffany became a peer educator for Joint Advocates on Disordered Eating (JADE), a campus service sponsored by University Counseling Services and dedicated to raising awareness about eating disorders and their prevention.
Even though most eating disorders start before adolescence, college can be a critical period because young people are on their own for the first time, Tiffany explains.
Having experienced eating disorders firsthand in her youth, the junior, a psychology major, chats comfortably with Northridge students about them. As a JADE peer educator, she not only informs students but directs them to psychologists and nutritionists if needed.
But it's not as simple as it sounds. "Sometimes people get angry," she says, "because there isn't a universal solution."
"We're not telling people which diets work. Everyone is different. There are things some people can or can't eat," she says. But in lieu of offering easy answers, her group focuses on larger social issues.
"When you see celebrities [pushing diets], they never talk about how diets can be a problem," Tiffany says.
And people forget that photographs in magazines get airbrushed, she points out. The ads sell products by making consumers want to look like the models.
Thus, JADE also teaches media literacy.
The event, which runs Feb. 22 to 24, 2011, includes an information fair on Matador Walk and talks given by faculty at the University Student Union.
Being a part of JADE changed Tiffany's college experience. "It gave me a strong connection to CSUN," she says.
For more information about JADE and becoming a peer educator, check out the JADE website.
Even as MEChA chair Jose Gomez looks toward the future, his feet remain firmly planted in the past.
For Jose Gomez, growing up Mexican-American in South Central was rough.
Compton High School was a hostile environment. Police cars parked outside the entrance every day. Students were often assaulted during or after school. And every Friday at lunch, black and Hispanic gangs drew racial lines across the cafeteria.
To Jose, these circumstances seemed like a straight road to prison or the military. He felt detached from the teachers and curriculum. However, his father was firm on securing a better future for his son.
"You're smart," he told Jose. "I want you to go to college."
Inspired by his father's words, Jose struggled to do well during his senior year. He signed up for AP English, even though he had previously attended only remedial classes. He took the SAT and applied to nearly a dozen colleges, including Cal State Northridge.
Being accepted by Northridge was the best thing that ever happened to him.
"Before Northridge, I had nothing," Jose says.
For the first time in his life, Jose thrived in an academic setting. He met people from different walks of life and gained firsthand experience of other cultures. He traveled abroad—to Puerto Rico, Mexico and Latin America.
Growing up among working-class immigrants, he often observed the voices of the masses silenced by more powerful people. As a student now, though, he is encouraged to speak up and be heard.
Learning to think and write critically has given Jose a sense of validation.
"Writing is powerful," he says. "We use it to preserve culture and history, and to start conversations."
As his knowledge of the world grew in scope, Jose also returned to his roots.
"Your past, your culture and traditions—[these are] what [give] our lives guidance. Otherwise it's just as easy to say [everything] is worthless because we all die. When you are disconnected from your past, your lifeline is cut," he says.
Jose currently serves as the internal chair for Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA de CSUN) and plans to pursue a master's degree in Spanish literature after he graduates. He is a double major in Chicana and Chicano studies and Spanish, and he is a member of the American Indian Student Association (AISA)—he was formerly vice president.
Every spring, MEChA hosts the Raza youth conference, an all-day campus event aimed at encouraging high school students from underserved areas to enroll in college. The festivities include free workshops, food and special giveaways, such as scholarships and laptops. Three hundred students attended last year.
Every week, Jose and MEChA members counsel elementary school children living in neighborhoods caught between rival gangs.
As Jose pursues his academic goals, he plans to apply his education to serving his community.
"Academia is privileged," he explains. "In college, professors and students have access to resources unavailable to others. As academics, we have to look out for the future, and [repair] the damage done by the past." His desire is to create a better world for younger generations, including his younger sister.
"I once was there," he says. "That's why I need to help them out,"
Find out more about cultural clubs on campus by visiting the Matador Involvement Center.
Four times a year, Northridge student dancers take the stage at the Plaza del Sol Performance Hall. Here are some of their stories.
Classically trained dancer Martha Carrascosa was most recently featured in "Colaboratoria," a graduate student and faculty concert performed on Nov. 16, 2010. "Colaboratoria" is one of four shows annually hosted by the Kinesiology Department at the Plaza del Sol Performance Hall.
Martha performed a piece called "Wyandot," which used real snow onstage to evoke the frigid climate of the North American region where the indigenous group Wyandot resides.
In addition to snow, which made the floor slippery, the choreography included the use of heavy chairs as props. These conditions challenged the petite performer.
"I think all the dancers got stronger by the time of the show," Martha jokes.
But a challenge has never daunted her. Before coming to Cal State Northridge, she first had to take a leap of faith. Martha moved to Los Angeles when she was only 19 after struggling to find higher education opportunities for dance in her native country of Guatemala.
After earning an associate degree and a certification in dance and fitness at Glendale College, she transferred to Northridge and enrolled in the kinesiology program.
Between academics and conditioning, Martha squeezes in rehearsals and performances. Life as a dancer can be thrilling but hectic. However, this balancing act is a labor of love.
"Dance makes me happy," she says. "When I'm having a bad day, I go to class. Everyone is so positive, it makes me feel better."
In addition to performing at Northridge, Martha apprentices at Los Feliz, Calif.-based Daurden Contemporary Dance Theater. She hopes to open her own fitness studio after she graduates.
This happy-go-lucky senior has been a dancer since she was three.
Liezel de Guzman's specialty is jazz funk, which she calls a "silly-type movement that fuses ballet technique with hip-hop."
Her passion is helping people open up through dance. Liezel finds it even more rewarding to watch her dancers bring her choreographed pieces to life than to be onstage herself.
"Dance can be intimidating" Liezel says, "People might think, 'I can't do this.' But it's about having fun and expressing yourself."
Of all the shows she performs at the Plaza del Sol Performance Hall, "Kinesis" is Liezel's favorite because participation is open to nonkinesiology majors. She recruits both novices and seasoned dancers like herself to perform.
For last year's "Kinesis," she composed a piece called "Bus Stop," the story of a young man so engrossed in dancing that he misses his ride.
Inspired by the success of "Bus Stop," Liezel and fellow kinesiology majors Mariko Iwabuchi and Nancy Ishihara formed a dance crew called Creative Organization for Synergistic Movement and Innovative Choreography (COSMIC) to fuel their passion for choreography even after they graduate.
The group has already received offers to perform with theme park entertainment organizations with links to Disney and Universal Studios.
As it stands, the sky's the limit for Liezel and the other dancers at Northridge.
For more information about performances at Northridge check out the Valley Performing Arts Center.
The path to higher education can be challenging as well as expensive. "My Two Cents" is an article series that contains tips to help you make good financial decisions while you're in school.
It can be difficult to keep track of money when you're a student living on your own for the first time. Going out with friends, watching movies and frequenting clubs and restaurants can quickly drain your bank account. Before you know it, you won't have enough money to cover the cost of food or bills for the rest of the semester.
My Money Management, a program hosted by the Financial Aid and Scholarship Department, is a series of workshops that teaches students how to manage their finances. For more information, visit the My Money Management website.
Freshmen Magaly Rubio and Maria Vasquez, who both attended the workshops, offer some tips they've learned during their My Money Management training.
Some necessary expenses – your rent, toiletries, cleaning supplies, food and bills – can quickly empty your bank account if you don't keep track of them.
To prevent getting overwhelmed, create a list. This will help you prepare your budget.
Magaly utilized the "Budgeting and Financial Planning" section on the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department's CashCourse website to create her budget.
She also used the calculating tool to graph expenses and track where she's spending the most of her money. This helps her determine which areas to cut back.
"For me I was spending a lot on food because I kept going out to eat," Magaly explains.
She began to cook and eat more at home, thus allowing her to save money to put toward other expenses.
Technology makes this easy. You can either download a mobile app or visit your bank's website to sign up for text or email updates for your account.
Magaly advises regularly keeping an eye on your checking or savings account balances.
For one thing, it can help you avoid overdraft fees if you are close to overdrawing your account. You can also catch bank errors or correct a mischarged purchase.
And it can also help you detect if you've become a victim of identity theft.
Although identity theft isn't directly related to financial planning, it's a topic that the My Money Management workshop covers because it's an increasingly common crime.
Remember to always log out of your account after you complete a transaction. If you allow your bank account to go unprotected, such as leaving the Web page open and unlocked on your computer or saving the password on your phone, someone may access it and quickly steal all your money.
If you've ever seen the terms "subsidized" and "unsubsidized" on your student loan documents, the My Money Management workshop will help explain the difference.
In a nutshell, the subsidized loan offers a low fixed interest rate in which the federal government pays the rate while you are in school and for a grace period of six months after you graduate — as long as you are enrolled in a minimum of six to eight units (half-time).
An unsubsidized loan is also available at a low interest rate. However, you are solely responsible for interest, which accumulates as soon as you start receiving payments. That interest can add up so that you have a lot to pay off by the time you graduate!
Interest rates are typically offered as "fixed" and "variable." If you are given a choice, Maria recommends you choose fixed over variable because even if the fixed rate is higher, it's guaranteed not to increase during your loan term.
On the other hand, variable interest rates can fluctuate after you've signed the contract. One day it may be low and the next it may be quite high. This can be incredibly confusing and frustrating to follow and it's often not worth the headache.
Unwise credit card usage is one of the quickest ways to get yourself into serious debt. Most credit cards come with high interest rates and it's tempting to use credit when you don't have cash on hand.
Be wary of credit cards that offer promotions, such as six months without interest. Most adults, not just students, neglect to pay off the balance by the end of those six months (by then the balance is probably very high).
If you fail to pay it off before the promotional period ends, you will probably be responsible for covering all the interest on top of the high balance, Maria says.
Thus, unless you're already disciplined about making monthly payments and good at reading the fine print, you should probably avoid some of the complexities of owning a credit card, she points out.
If you fail to make payments on time, not only will you get into debt, it can also negatively affect your credit score. A good credit score is necessary to secure a loan for buying a car or house in the future.
Now if you own a credit card, you should attend the "Credit Management" session in the My Money Management workshop. It discusses responsible credit card use as well as teaches you how to read your credit score.
- CB Flynn, journalism major, graduating spring 2013
By offering day care for her two young boys, the Associated Students Children’s Center gives former foster care youth Jessica Chandler a shot at higher education.
Jessica’s world fell apart when her parents divorced.
The struggle to clothe and feed Jessica and her five siblings overwhelmed their mother. As a result, 12-year-old Jessica and her two older sisters were sent to foster care. Throughout her years as a foster child, Jessica shuffled in and out of group homes and schools.
This took a toll on her studies.
“I didn't have any foundation or future. I didn't get really good grades and I was a troublemaker,” she explains.
At 18 Jessica was emancipated from foster care and then later became pregnant with her first son Noah. Fearing she would repeat the same mistakes as her mother, Jessica knew something had to change.
“I didn't have a goal until I realized I was going to bring someone who might end up just like me into this world,” she says.
Determined to turn the tide on her life, Jessica decided to go to college. But the need for child care would make that difficult. Because of lost contact with Noah’s father and her parents’ financial troubles, she couldn’t look to them for support.
Still determined, she researched financial aid programs.
“I figured I would try to be that 1 percent of foster care children that goes to college,” she says.
With help from friends and mentors at the advocacy group Alliance for Children’s Rights, Jessica enrolled at El Camino College in 2008. Thanks to the CalWORKs and Chafee Foster Youth programs, which offer child care assistance, Jessica was able to concentrate on school.
While at El Camino College, Jessica saw a flier for A.S. Children’s Center at Cal State Northridge. Then pregnant with her second son Jonah, she realized her family’s future lay with Northridge.
She applied to transfer and enrolled at Northridge in fall 2010. In addition to utilizing the A.S. Children’s Center, Jessica and her two sons, 4-year-old Noah and 2-year-old Jonah, live in the family-friendly University Village Apartments.
Because both provide a safe and nurturing environment for her family, she feels more confident.
“It legitimizes what I'm doing and that I'm still a good mother while I'm doing it,” she says.
After graduating with a major in psychology in May, Jessica plans to stay at Northridge to continue with a master’s degree in social work in fall 2012. She has already received grants to work with low-income communities for the Department of Children and Family Services – the same program that accepted her as a foster care child 11 years ago.
“It’s very dark and gloomy in the foster care system,” she points out. “I just want to be a light and make sure the youth are utilizing all the resources available to them.”
She hopes to inspire others like her to pursue their dreams.
“You’re that 1 percent who will go to college because you know me,” she plans to say to them. “I’m going to tell you exactly how to do it.”
- CB Flynn, journalism major, graduating spring 2013
As Delta Sigma Pi (DSP) president, senior Jacob Rivkin inspires others to change the course of history.
After the 2008 U.S. financial crisis, the future of the country seemed uncertain to many young people like Jacob. The financial markets were in disarray and housing had just collapsed.
However, rather than discourage him, the troubling times ignited his curiosity.
"I wanted to learn what happened and why, and figure out a way not to let it happen again," he says.
Jacob recognized that he was living in a historical moment. And he knew he couldn’t change the course of it on his own.
When he enrolled at Cal State Northridge, he decided to major in finance. In fall 2010, he rushed for the Iota Upsilon chapter of Delta Sigma Pi (DSP).
In the coed business fraternity, he finally found the community he was seeking. DSP comprised of individuals who shared his passion for business and desire to solve U.S. economic problems.
“Joining DSP has not only made my college experience better, but without a doubt has changed the course of my entire life,” Jacob says. “In the past year, my life has gone places I had no idea it would.”
In 2011, he was elected DSP president. Like others before him, he helps the fraternity prepare members for a career after college. In addition to networking and business opportunities, DSP also offers resume writing help and mock interviews.
“This experience and practice is priceless in a competitive job market,” Jacob says.
He himself received a referral from a fellow DSP member who is a Bank of America employee.
Consequently, this June, Jacob will start working at Bank of America’s corporate audit management program, learning about risk tolerance, efficiencies and government regulation implementation.
In addition to its professionalism, DSP offers a diverse experience to members.
As Jacob points out, this enhances their ability to learn from those of different backgrounds and perspectives. For instance, he and other DSP members recently volunteered at the Northridge senior living center Emeritus.
“It was a real pleasure to take a step back and listen to the stories of the elderly people who have been there and done it all before,” he explains.
While joining a business fraternity may not be for everyone because it involves a great deal of commitment, Jacob encourages all students to look into it.
“A business fraternity such as DSP can provide internships and job opportunities that aren’t always available anywhere else,” he says.
Plus for someone like Jacob, who wanted something more than his daily routine of work, school and family, DSP is a great way to make friends and get involved with the community.
For more information, check out the DSP website.
- CB Flynn, journalism major, graduating spring 2013
This student employee dedicates herself to keeping the campus safe.
On a nightly basis, Matador Patrol coordinator Christine Villasenor strikes up friendly conversations with strangers.
The senior deaf studies major is one of about 30 students who serve as Matador Patrol Community Service Assistants (CSA).
“Our bread and butter service is the personal safety escorts,” she says. “We walk people to their cars, apartments or classrooms at night. We stand with them while they wait for a tow or another car service – we’re basically like the good friend who you’ll call.”
Matador Patrol also looks out for suspicious activity on campus, and reports it to police.
“We are required to report anything that looks suspicious and the police are the ones who determine the outcome of the situation,” she says.
Christine says that having confidence plays a lot into how someone, whether mentally unstable or belligerent, will react to her or any of the other CSAs.
Additionally, Matador Patrol monitors Student Housing, checking in visitors and assist campus security guards at the gates surrounding the dorms, including those at guest parking lots and building entrances.
“We work at all kinds of special events. We also do crowd control at commencements, which is actually my favorite thing,” Christine says.
The CSAs are also trained to offer helpful crime prevention tips, especially for bike theft, which has been a recurring problem on campus.
“If we’re walking someone to their bike, we’ll say something like, ‘Oh you don’t have a very good bike lock, here are some good suggestions,’” she says.
When Christine began to work for Matador Patrol about three years ago, there were about 15-18 students involved. Now its numbers have nearly doubled.
The program originated in the 1980s by fraternities and sororities that saw a need for improved campus safety, Christine explains.
It started with volunteers but switched to paid positions when the program was taken over by Cal State Northridge’s Department of Police Services.
Christine has plans to create an even broader training program to help future CSAs communicate with more members of the Cal State Northridge community.
“I’m actually trying to create proper deaf culture training,” she says. “My goal is to get the Matador Patrol name out there and connect more with the deaf community.”
For more information, check out the Matador Patrol website.
— Gretchelle Quiambao, journalism major, fall 2012
The Student Recreation Center (SRC) keeps this senior kinesiology major moving.
Francisco Santiago’s active life started back when he played high school football.
The senior chose to combine his passion for staying in shape with a major in kinesiology at Cal State Northridge.
“Kinesiology interests me because I was always into sports, athletics and physical activities,” he says.
However, reading textbooks about how the body and the mind worked together wasn’t enough for Francisco. He wanted to apply his knowledge outside of the classroom as well.
So when the brand-new Student Recreation Center (SRC) opened in January 2012, Francisco saw his chance.
He applied and was hired as an operations services assistant. Some of his responsibilities include setting up equipment in fitness zones and studios.
While at the SRC, Francisco gets an opportunity to observe the science of kinesiology in play, such as “how our muscles contract and how we get sources of energy,” he says.
When he’s not on the clock, Francisco works out in the SRC’s Inspiration Studio, which hosts spinning, yoga, and Pilates classes.
“Spinning is an endurance class and it's just like cycling,” he explains. “I'm into cycling so that's the class I like to set up equipment for most of the time.”
During his time working and exercising at the SRC, Francisco has made some great friends with whom he goes cycling together out to Burbank.
Eventually, Francisco aspires to advance beyond the position of operations assistant.
When the SRC is not too busy, he takes on some of the bigger responsibilities of the building manager – a position he dreams of taking on himself one day.
On occasion, he is put in charge of filing injury reports and opening and closing the SRC at the beginning and end of a day.
Without the SRC, he would have never had the opportunity to take on such an amazing role.
“Now I have the capabilities to do that job confidently,” he says. When he’s at the SRC, he observes the excitement of the students who bring friends from other schools to check it out.
“It’s a big hit,” he says.
For more information about the SRC, check out the website.
- CB Flynn, journalism major, graduating spring 2013
One Matador packs her bags for her upcoming adventure in England.
Lillian looks forward to entering the next stage of her life in fall 2012 by studying abroad.
"I have a lot of obligations at home, church and school and there isn't enough time for me to really discover who I am," Lillian says. "So I wanted to take this opportunity to do something for me."
No stranger to international destinations, the junior psychology major moved to the United States from Hong Kong when she was 10 years old.
Because she wants to learn Hebrew, her second choice of where to study abroad was Israel (when you apply for the study abroad program, you are asked to pick your first- and second-choice country).
But ultimately she chose the U.K. as No. 1 because of her major. London's Kingston University, located in Kingston upon Thames, a town 25 minutes outside of Central London, has a top-rated psychology program.
"My mom is actually the one that influenced me the most because she studied in England. I just like the historical context of the place and the background," she explains.
If you want to study abroad, be prepared to fill out a lot of paperwork, Lillian warns.
The application for the year-long California State University study abroad program is available on the International and Exchange Student Center's website. Additionally, you have to submit an application to your host university.
She advises applying for scholarships because you'll need them to cover school and living expenses while you're studying in another country. She applied for her scholarship about two weeks before the deadline to give herself a better chance of getting it.
Lillian was able to find her scholarship with help from the program's financial aid and scholarship page. She also looked at websites such as Fastweb for scholarships specifically designed for students looking to study abroad.
Lillian's main motivation for deciding to study abroad is to try something out of her comfort zone and having faith in herself to figure out a new country and a new culture.
In order to become more familiar with the area, Lillian plans on arriving in London a couple of weeks before school starts in September.
"I know, in the beginning, it will be really good. But I'll probably go through a phase where I'll want to go home. But I will try to find people that have a similar background as me," she says.
Although Lillian is excited and looking forward to going to London, she is also preparing to cope with being away from her family – and friends.
"It's kind of like the first day of school all over again," she says.
After Jessye's life hit a rough patch in her first two years at Northridge, she found a fresh start in a new country and culture.
Jessye left Chico for Northridge to experience college life and independence.
However, she had a hard time adjusting to a commuter school and was having a difficult time finding ways to get involved on campus.
"My first two years weren't the best," she says. "I was not finding many opportunities to get involved and I wasn't finding a whole lot of people that were wildly helpful on campus."
She decided to apply to study abroad in the United Kingdom and for a position as a resident advisor at the CSUN dorms.
"It was one of those things where I was like 'whatever happens, happens,'" she says.
Little did she know she would be accepted to both. By the time she received news regarding the study abroad program, she had already planned on accepting the resident advisor offer.
At first, "I did not want to do it," she says.
Although study abroad students pay the same amount of Cal State Northridge tuition, Jessye wanted to save money on housing, which would be free as long as she worked as a resident advisor.
"The housing staff I spoke to kept saying, 'You need to study abroad, seriously study abroad,' so I was like okay, I'll try to figure out the money situation," she says.
Jessye was able to get funds to study abroad through personal savings and help from family and friends. Although she did not apply for any scholarships at the time, she does urge other students to pursue financial assistance. She also suggests preparing a budget before going abroad.
"While I was in Europe I was always like this will never happen because there was no way I could afford it. Of course there was always a way to figure it out," she points out.
Like Lillian, Jessye was placed at Kingston University. She attended the college from September 2010 to about June 2011. While studying abroad, Jessye visited Italy, Amsterdam, Norway and Ireland. She fell in love with the international students with whom she went to school and traveled.
"International students are the coolest people because they are just down to learn something new," she says. "When I came back I decided to apply for the International Program (IP) alumni assistant position."
The IP alumni assistant is a student employee and former study abroad participant who works in the study abroad office and provides information to prospective students about the programs. Now Jessye shares her experience with others who may have had the same reservations as she did when she started.
"The hardest part was just totally being taken away from my family. Also the academics are a little different. Just go for it, that's my only advice. It was the best experience I've ever had. I made so many friends that whenever I want to visit I have someone who can show me around."
"It makes the world so much smaller. That's probably one of the coolest things about the program," she explains.
Now that she's back at Northridge, she is happier than ever.
"I like Northridge a lot more now because I was able to find something that I could get involved in," she explains. "It gave me more of a connection to school."
For more information, check out the study abroad program website.
- Gretchelle Quiambao, journalism major, fall 2012
MARC U-STAR fosters the next generation of biomedical researchers.
Instead of folding T-shirts or flipping burgers, Jessica Williamson spent the summer of 2012 doing something extraordinary.
The senior psychology major conducted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) tests on schizophrenic patients at the University of California, Davis.
The setting was like something out of a sci-fi movie – Jessica's patients sat in a copper box while she fitted them with an odd-looking helmet constructed from electrodes (after first wetting the spongy ends of the electrodes with a liquid measuring device called a pipette). She then charted the brain's electron activity on a computer. Afterward she helped doctors analyze the data.
"It was my first time doing something like that. I was also trained to give Structured Clinical Interviews for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders," says the 22-year-old.
The unique opportunity was afforded by Minority Access to Research and Careers Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (MARC U-STAR), a research training and fellowship program spearheaded at CSUN by biology professor Maria Elena Zavala.
CSUN students apply to MARC U-STAR during their junior or senior year; applicants must have a 3.0 GPA or higher and must demonstrate the desire to pursue a doctoral degree in the biomedical sciences.
Jessica applied in May 2010 and is one of 16 current MARC U-STAR scholars at CSUN.
In addition to summer research, in July 2013, she will attend the American Psychological Association's annual convention in Honolulu to present her research on condom usage in Hispanic populations. MARC U-STAR will subsidize her hotel, travel and meals.
With the program's financial assistance, Jessica has already presented several times at the Western Psychological Association Convention, the Association for Women in Psychology Conference and the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students.
"Without Dr. Zavala and MARC U-STAR, I wouldn't be doing all this. Before, I didn't know I had to work in a lab or have research experience. I would have tried to apply to Ph.D. programs with my GPA and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test alone," Jessica says.
Every Friday, professor Zavala invites all MARC U-STAR scholars to lunch at the Orange Grove Bistro. After the complimentary lunch, guest speakers, including faculty from other schools, talk about their research projects or graduate programs.
"Dr. Zavala mentors us. She tells you want you need to be doing and what you're doing wrong," Jessica says.
Besides providing mentorship and many ways to boost students' curriculum vitae, MARC U-STAR also encourages student support.
"We have parties at Dr. Zavala's house – a hello/goodbye party for new scholars and scholars who are leaving. She calls it 'our' house. All the MARC U-STAR scholars have a close connection. We talk and we know each other," Jessica explains.
Since Jessica is graduating in spring 2013, she plans to apply for a Master of Arts degree in psychology at CSUN.
"First I want to get a master's degree to get an extra boost in statistical methods," she explains.
Ultimately, her goal is to apply to doctorate programs in clinical psychology at Fordham University, Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Thanks to Proposition 37, the phrase "genetically modified" has recently developed a bit of a bad rap.
Ivan Rueda, an aspiring biotechnologist, attributes this to a lack of public education. Even at home, his family wrangled with him over genetically modified food.
"Prop 37 really made me aware of this problem," Ivan says.
His realization affirmed the importance of his research as a MARC U-STAR scholar. Under the supervision of Dr. Zavala, Ivan studies plant biology, specifically the genomics of root development. His research investigates which regions of DNA are responsible for certain stages of growth.
"I want to find ways for the roots to develop in foreign soil – soil that the plant normally wouldn't do well in – for example, a tropical plant in a desert," he explains.
He believes the ramifications of what he is doing are huge.
"Plants are being used to discover more new chemicals for medicine. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) help our society produce more crops and in arid soil. But because of Prop 37 GMOs are being met with a lot of resistance. People just don't know how the future of plant science depends on GMOs. Prop 37 shows that we [as a scientific community] haven't been letting the public know what we've been doing at all," he points out.
Thus, Ivan's dream is to come up with a technology platform – either a computer program or a smartphone application – to teach people about science the way his idol American astronomer Carl Sagan taught him. In 1980, Sagan starred in the thirteen-part television series "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage" that aired on the Public Broadcasting Service.
Ivan watched Sagan's hour-long episodes on YouTube and was particularly affected by "Blues for a Red Planet," which proposed the idea of terraforming a Martian colony.
"It kind of blew my mind. I thought, 'Wow, it's possible to do something like that. Maybe I can contribute to human advancement.' It helped me realize that I could be doing something more."
That realization spurred Ivan to change his major, which at the time was art, to biology.
Thus, when he first entered the laboratory, he had a lot of ambition. But he didn't have the experience to match his vision. Fortunately, he met professor Zavala at an opportune time.
"She fostered me from a shaky scientist. She helped me get to where I wanted to be. I went from being entirely insecure to very certain about coming up with my own approach to how to research things," he says.
Upon graduating in spring 2013, Ivan hopes to secure a biotechnology job in the San Fernando Valley. After a few years, he anticipates applying to doctoral programs in biology at top schools such as Cornell University, Purdue University, the University of California, Riverside, and the University of California, San Diego.
CSUN's Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) helps hundreds of historically disenfranchised students go to college every year.
The path to college may seem transparent – earn good grades, ace the SAT and write a killer personal statement.
But as some of us know, these things are not easy to achieve when you have unpredictable circumstances in your life.
Junior and sociology major Javier Mulato grew up in the Mid-city district of central Los Angeles, a part plagued by gang activity. His devotion to baseball and his coach Julio Colon, a former Los Angeles Dodgers player, prevented him from dropping out of school. But they couldn't keep him out of trouble.
Because both his parents worked late shifts in order to support him and his siblings, Javier spent most of his childhood on the street. Wearing the wrong color shoelaces would be enough reason for a gang member to persecute him and his friends.
In retrospect, he laughs about it.
"I had to take public transportation because my parents couldn't pick me up after practice. Depending on luck, I'd come across a crew [of a particular gang] on the bus or on my walk home. Being mugged is interesting," he says.
While attending Los Angeles High School, Javier felt discouraged about his academic prospects. Guidance counselors encouraged his peers who earned good grades and high test scores to apply to four-year universities. Many of his friends opted for community college because they thought they couldn't pay tuition at a larger academic institution.
Fortunately for Javier, his older brother told him about EOP.
"Without EOP, I wouldn't be in college," Javier points out. "EOP sees the student – where they come from – and not just the grades or SAT scores."
EOP gives special consideration to historically disenfranchised applicants (e.g., low income) who cannot fulfill the minimal admissions requirements but demonstrate potential and motivation to graduate from a four-year university. Applicants must meet the income criteria, and be California residents, unless they are a candidate for the AB 540 exemption. Some EOP students may also qualify for an $800 grant.
In order to be admitted with EOP's assistance, you must file supplemental documents and materials, such as personal recommendation letters, in addition to filling out the CSUMentor EOP application. If you have questions about the program, email email@example.com.
Once enrolled, EOP students have access to mentorship and tutoring, academic advisement and transitional summer programs.
Javier is a residential mentor for EOP Summer Bridge, in which newly admitted EOP students acclimate to college life. For six weeks, they live in dorms, and attend classes and academic advisement sessions.
As a mentor, Javier supports and teaches the students about campus resources, such as the Delmar T. Oviatt Library, Klotz Student Health Center, and the main EOP office, located in University Hall 205, which features its own computer lab and free printing.
"I love working at EOP. I don't see it as just a job. I'm giving back what they've given me. Without learning about EOP resources at the beginning, I'm pretty sure I would not have survived a semester here at CSUN. A lot of the EOP students come from harsh backgrounds. Their environment may keep them from succeeding in college," he says.
Eventually, Javier wants to apply for a job as a peer advisor at one of the EOP student services centers on campus.
For more information about applying and working for EOP, visit the website.
Former CSUN soccer player and 2012 Big West Goalkeeper of the Year now trains and plays internationally with an English national team.
In fall 2012 the CSUN men's soccer team won the coveted Big West Conference title. An additional honor was awarded to goalkeeper Michael Abalos for his impressive performance last season. He made university history by becoming the third Matador to claim the title Big West Goalkeeper of the Year (Joe Barton won it in 2002 and Kevin Guppy in 2005 and 2008).
Michael ended the season with a 12-6-0 win-loss-draw team record, 53 saves and an average of 0.99 goals scored against him per game.
Although his Matador career came to an end, his playing days are not quite over yet. He aspires to become a professional soccer player, and he's pursuing that goal by being a part of the Nike Football Academy based in Loughborough University, England (soccer is known as football outside the U.S.).
"I have a window of opportunity to make soccer into a career, and I'm going to run with it," Michael says.
Michael got a shot at his dream when the global finalists for Nike's The Chance challenge came to Los Angeles. Through some favorable connections, he was invited to train with them. He impressed coaches Jimmy Gilligan, Jon Goodman and Ryan Garry so much that they invited him to play with their team.
"I left for England at the beginning of February 2013. So far it's been one of the best experiences of my life," he says.
As a Nike Football Academy player, Michael has the opportunity to meet and even train under the likes of soccer legend Roy Hodgson, who is currently the manager of the England national football team.
Michael became a Matador in 2009. The Orange County native was playing for the Pateadores Soccer Club in Irvine when CSUN coach Terry Davila saw him at practice and decided to recruit him.
The University of California, Irvine, had also made him an offer. But when it came time to choose, he picked Northridge because he wanted to try living in another part of the Southland.
"I like experiencing new places, new things," Michael says.
Initially, he found the transition to a NCAA Division I team difficult.
"The players were technically better, physically stronger and faster," he explains.
Michael's transition to college life was facilitated by coach Davila, who placed him and the other freshman team members in the same house. There they practiced and worked out together every day. They traveled in close quarters on a bus or airplane for the majority of the semester.
"A lot of these kids will be friends of mine for life," he says. "We've gone through ups and downs together as a team. It's good to experience all that with friends you've been around for a while."
In the classroom, studying communication provided the opportunity to interact with peers – which he enjoyed. Just like on the soccer pitch, he found it easier to work as a member of a team.
For now, the days of defending the Matador goal box are over. But whether it's on the field or in another occupation, expect Michael to score big.
– Marcos Rodriguez, marketing major, spring 2013
Sometimes you don't have to wait until you graduate before your college education starts to pay off.
Patricia Cabral, who is working her master's in psychology, found a scholarship that rewards her for research she is already doing at CSUN.
Bruce Lawrence Schentes was the former director of CSUN's Associated Students AIDS Speakers Bureau and a major proponent of AIDS education. In 1990 the Associated Students established a scholarship in his honor.
Recipients of the Bruce Lawrence Schentes Memorial Scholarship receive an annual gift of $2,000. You apply when you are a junior, a senior, or a graduate student, and you must demonstrate involvement with AIDS education or research.
Over the last few years, Patricia has been studying sexually risky behaviors, specifically psychosocial triggers such as peer pressure, with supervision from professor Luciana Lagana.
Patricia first became interested in the subject after observing the high rate of teen pregnancies and dropouts at Ulysses S. Grant High School, located in Valley Glen, where she attended for four years.
Because one of the consequences of sexually risky behavior is AIDS, her research was a perfect fit for the scholarship. But since the application limited her essay to less than 500 words, she had to get to the point right away.
"When you have more than 500 words, you can give your essay a hook, introduce and link it to yourself," Patricia explains. "But with this kind of scholarship, my best suggestion is to make sure you make it immediately clear why it is the right scholarship for you, what you can contribute and how it can help you in your research."
Patricia wrote about her interests, which are the behaviors that put a person's health at risk and the negative outcomes such as unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and AIDS. She emphasized her focus on minorities, specifically Latinas (who among one of the fastest-growing subpopulations at risk for HIV infection) and her commitment to reducing those numbers. Patricia also listed her publications, conferences and grant writing.
"I just mention how my research will contribute to scientific knowledge, which is always the goal anyway when it comes to any kind of research," she points out.
After graduating in spring 2013, she plans to apply to doctorate programs in psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of California, Merced.
"I would like to come back and teach at an academic institution like CSUN," Patricia says.
Patricia recommends visiting CSUN's Financial Aid & Scholarship Department website to find scholarships. She also utilizes Stars Online, a scholarship tracking and review system. Stars Online helps you streamline the application process and is a great resource for finding scholarships that you qualify for.