The 16th annual CSUN Volunteer Service Awards this fall recognized the devotion and loyalty of some of CSUN’s most fervent supporters.
Professor emeritus Tung-Shan “Tom” Chen and former CSUN Alumni Association President and alumna Francine Oschin ’84 (Journalism), M.A. ’85 (Mass Communication) received the top honors at the ceremony, which took place Nov. 15 at the Hilton Woodland Hills. CSUN also honored 27 individuals for their service to the university and Alumni Association chapters.
Chen was awarded the Dean Ed Peckham Award, which recognizes an emeritus or retired member of the faculty or staff who is loyal to and supportive of the university. The award is named after CSUN’s former dean of students and vice president for student affairs.
Chen began teaching at the university in 1969 when it was known as San Fernando Valley State College, and he has been an influential figure in CSUN’s College of Health and Human Development. His field of expertise is food science, and he has received numerous research grants, including the Minority Biomedical Research Support and Maximizing Access to Research Careers programs funded by the National Institutes of Health. As a result of these studies, many students completed their master’s degrees under Chen’s tutelage, and he published extensively in key peer-reviewed journals.
He was instrumental in the establishment of CSUN’s Marilyn Magaram Center for Food Science, Nutrition and Dietetics. Chen retired from teaching at the university in 2001 and stayed on as the founding director of the Magaram Center until 2009.
Oschin was selected as the 2017 recipient of the Dorothea “Granny” Heitz Award for Outstanding Volunteer Leadership, named after one of CSUN’s most beloved and spirited figures.
After earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from CSUN, Oschin embarked on a career in city government. Her work as assistant chief deputy to former Los Angeles City Councilman Hal Bernson brought her to campus often and led to her joining the CSUN Alumni Association Board of Directors. For nearly two decades, she has served on the board and was president of the Alumni Association from 2013-15.
Oschin also has served on the CSUN Foundation Board of Directors. She received her first Volunteer Service Award in 2006 and was named as CSUN’s 2010 Advocate of the Year. Oschin is a member of The Soraya Ambassadors Committee and the Communications Studies Advocacy Committee for the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication. She is also a donor to numerous campus causes, including student scholarships.
“I never met Granny [Heitz], but I understand this is like getting the Academy Award from CSUN,” Oschin said. “There are such dedicated people who are so involved and bring so much. I was truly, deeply honored to receive this award. I owe so much to the opportunity I got at CSUN, and I’m happy to give back what I can. What I give back is so little compared to what I received. I feel so blessed.”
Dynamic New Alumni Association President Cindy Chernow brings a lifetime of career counseling and mentorship to benefit Matadors.
By Cary Osborne
CSUN was a catapult for its newest Alumni Association President, Cindy Chernow ’78 (Anthropology), M.A. ’91 (Counseling and Guidance), to develop into a public speaker, alumni relations star and entrepreneur.
Chernow and her husband, Dan, hold five CSUN degrees between them. Dan ’67 (History), M.A. ’89 (Foundations of Education), M.A. ’03 (History) is the former executive director of the UCLA School Management Program and was honored by CSUN in 2001 with a Distinguished Alumni Award.
A major milestone brought Chernow, a consultant, career coach and president of Chernow Consulting, to CSUN in the first place. She attended UCLA first but became a mother during her freshman year and had a second child a year later. With Dan teaching junior high school in the San Fernando Valley, the family moved closer to his work in 1970 and closer to CSUN. Cindy soon enrolled.
“CSUN prepared me for the diversity I would encounter throughout my career and life,” she said. “The flexibility of my undergraduate and graduate programs helped me achieve my goals.”
After working in human resources as the HR manager for Siemens Corporation and as a branch manager for United Personnel, she worked as a counselor in UCLA’s Career Center. From 1992-99, she worked for UCLA Alumni Relations and built its Career Services Program from scratch.
In 1999, she went into business for herself as a speaker, trainer and mentor. Her impressive list of clientele has included AT&T, H&R Block, NASA, Shell Oil Company, the U.S. Navy, Universal Studios and several UCs and California State Universities, including CSUN.
Now she has taken on a greater role for the university as one of its most prominent volunteers.
“I have strong convictions about what we can accomplish as a university and an Alumni Association, and I’m passionate about encouraging alumni to give back,” Chernow said.
Her goals for her two-year term are to connect and engage CSUN alumni and students in a variety of ways including social media, secure more funding for Alumni Association scholarships, and increase alumni membership and giving to alumni initiatives and programs.
“My vision is to provide a meaningful experience and connection for CSUN students and alumni, both digitally and physically, that will result in more career opportunities and increased participation with the university, and increased membership and giving to the university and the Alumni Association,” she said.
“Cindy will continue the momentum started by immediate past president Carlos Fuentes and our board as we continue to engage, connect and inspire alumni to give their time, talent, energy and generosity back to CSUN,” said Shellie Hadvina, assistant vice president of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving. “When you first meet her, you can’t help but be drawn in or inspired by her passion for CSUN and her ability to connect with people and motivate them.”
CSUN-60th-Anniversary-Grand-ReunionSave the Date: Grand Reunion
Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018
Calling all Matadors! Whether you were a Valley Stater in the 1960s and ’70s or studied at California State University, Northridge in the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s and beyond, come home to campus to help celebrate the university’s 60th birthday. The CSUN 60th Anniversary Grand Reunion will take place on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018, on the Delmar T. Oviatt Library lawn. Programs will include a Founders’ Day luncheon, a Grand Reunion picnic, campus tours, main stage entertainment, kids’ zone and much more. Mark your calendar, and visit
csun.edu/60 for more details.
Volunteer to serve on the Grand Reunion alumni planning committee! Email or call (818) 677-4198.
Vets and Arts Alumni Volunteers Launch New Chapters
The CSUN Alumni Association often develops new alumni chapters and clubs to unite students and graduates who share similar passions, provide networking events to students and graduates, and connect them with alumni in their desired field. This past summer, the association launched two new groups: an Arts Alumni Chapter and a Veterans Alumni Chapter.
The alumni behind the new Arts Chapter aim to bridge the gaps between industries, graduates and current students in the Department of Art.
“We aspire to engage our members through bringing awareness of job opportunities, fellowship, mentoring and art-related social opportunities,” said Alec Cheline ’13 (Art), chapter president.
Through networking and professional events, the Arts Chapter also will work to extend the connections that students make after graduation, he said.
“Social gatherings, exhibition opportunities and the accomplishments of our incredibly talented alumni all make our CSUN arts community stronger, for alumni and for future students,” Cheline said.
In October, the Arts Alumni Chapter hosted an exhibition, Beautiful Parts, at CSUN’s West Gallery, coinciding with the exhibition in the Main Gallery, The Great Wall of Los Angeles: Judith F. Baca’s Experimentations In Collaboration and Concrete. Baca ’69 (Art), M.A. ’80 (Art Education) is a world-renowned muralist (see Diagram, page 10, for more on Baca and the exhibition).
Tomas Diaz ’13 (Marketing) first envisioned a Veterans Alumni Chapter in 2013. Today, he’s the new chapter’s president.
“I felt there was a need for a veteran-oriented alumni chapter. However, I did not have the personnel that would support a sustainable infrastructure for a chapter,” he said.
Networking with some of his veteran cohorts helped generate more support, more volunteers and turned the idea into reality, Diaz said.
The Veterans Chapter launched officially on June 24. The group aims to nurture a community of veterans at CSUN and provide events for chapter members to interact with alumni veterans from a variety of career fields, Diaz said.
The chapter also joins forces with local posts of organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion, and they are working on plans for joint events in 2018.
For more information on the Arts Alumni Chapter, please contact . For information on the Veterans Alumni Chapter, please contact . —Jan Palma
CSUN GOES SOCIAL
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Alumni Lift Up the First Generation
Student Lilly Linares dreams of working as an interpreter for the deaf community.
“I’d like to work in a courthouse as an interpreter, or in the medical field. I’m even thinking of double majoring,” said the freshman Deaf studies major.
This fall, a CSUN Alumni Association First Generation Scholarship nudged Linares one step closer to her career goals. Along with 13 other student recipients, Linares was honored Sept. 24 at the 2017 CSUN Alumni Scholarship Recognition Dinner.
“This scholarship will help me pursue my education by providing me with books and other school essentials,” she said.
Linares said her path to higher education has, at times, been rocky. She grew up in the San Fernando Valley and moved to Sylmar at 11 years old. She is one of five children of a deaf adult — her mom is deaf and a single parent.
“I don’t know how I would be able to afford things for school or anything in general,” she said of the scholarship. “I struggle every day at home. Sometimes, my family and I don’t even have food to eat.” Linares’ mom and Linares’ boyfriend continue to motivate her to work hard in school, the freshman said.
“I look up to my mom because she’s been through so much,” Linares said. “She didn’t have a great relationship with my father, has been deaf since she was little and has struggled financially. But I look up to her because she’s still here supporting her children and trying her best.”
Linares said she hopes her story will motivate and support other teens who have similar stories and show them that college is attainable.
“Students sometimes need those reminders that they are enough and can accomplish anything they set their minds to,” she said. —Jan Palma
At just 15 years old, Christopher Ordoñez learned the value of life. Born and raised in El Salvador, he immigrated to the United States after he was shot in the hip, shoulder and neck — and the bullets weren’t meant for him.
“It begins at age 13 or 14,” Ordoñez said. “That’s the age they force you to join a gang. I was shot mistakenly because a gang thought I was someone else. I was in my house. After they realized it wasn’t me, they tried to compensate for the damage by offering to pay for my medical bill. But my family couldn’t accept it — we weren’t sure where it had come from.”
The traumatic incident pushed the Ordoñez family to relocate to the U.S., where their son would be safe. Today, he is a Dreamer, a term given to young people in the U.S. with undocumented status — who arrived as children, with parents or other relatives who dreamed of starting a new life. Ordoñez uses his past to propel him forward — if bullets couldn’t stop him, he said, nothing will. He is a freshman at CSUN, studying computer science.
“I’m the first member of the family to attend college,” Ordoñez said. “It is the greatest accomplishment I have made so far, and I know that there are more to come.”
His family inspires him, particularly his grandmother — who helped raised him and still resides in El Salvador, he said.
“What makes me want to go to school is to help my family and people who have a similar background to mine,” Ordoñez said. “What I really want to do is help students in high school go to college. I work at the EOP Dream Program, which provides services to historically low-income, educationally disadvantaged, first-generation college students, and I would like to help kids.”
Like Linares, Ordoñez was honored along with other student recipients on Sept. 24 at the 2017 CSUN Alumni Scholarship Recognition Dinner. Ordoñez said he hopes his story will inspire others. —J. P.