CSUN is a microcosm of Los Angeles and its melting pot of different ethnicities and social backgrounds. Here on campus, we have more than 200 clubs and organizations representing every type of culture, religion, hobby, academic study and special interest. Our students come from different walks of life — from first-time freshmen right out of high school to parents, career professionals, international scholars and more. But all these individuals share a common thread — a place here at CSUN.
Meet a Matador
Both classroom and life lessons have made David Stamps who he is and who he hopes to become.
Student, dancer, friend, father — David Stamps was all those things when he came to California State University, Northridge. Now, he’s looking forward to adding a new title to his list. David is set to receive his master’s degree in mass communication at the end of the semester, and he’s planning to go on to a Ph.D. program at University of California, Santa Barbara. As he pursues a career in higher education as a researcher and professor, David is hoping to challenge stereotypes, break down barriers and inspire the next generation. Read more
Katherine Garcia is one of a small group of Clear the Air advocates helping to make California State University, Northridge a healthier place to study, live and work.
When California State University, Northridge’s Clear the Air policy took effect in August 2015, senior Katherine Garcia was there on the front line. As one of four Clear the Air advocates, she is helping to facilitate a smooth transition to a smoke- and tobacco-free campus, and the experience has been an amazing opportunity for her to leave a lasting impact on the CSUN community. Read more
As a CSUN student, Daisy Pimentel has overcome the trials of growing up in Compton, a community notorious for gangsta rap and violent crime.
Daisy Pimentel refused to become a statistic, trapped by the circumstances into which she was born.
When she graduates next spring, she will go into the world as a true example of Matador spirit, having proudly shared her experience with both younger students and while studying abroad.
When misfortune struck, one Matador found support through her involvement on campus.
Mary Fitilchyan knows a thing or two about weathering hardship. In the last year, her family home in Granada Hills was flooded, and her father was nearly fatally shot. She relied on the close connections that she developed at CSUN to help her survive — and thrive —during these tough times. Read more
California State University, Northridge student Mario Lopez is breaking barriers and defying the odds, his way.
Humble, soft-spoken and polite, Mario Lopez is not one that you would immediately peg as a trailblazer. But fueled by determination, a passion for learning and an intense work ethic, he’s gone from growing up in one of Los Angeles’ toughest communities to a prestigious graduate research position in one of CSUN’s top engineering labs.
University Scholar Tawny Thongsory is getting ahead by helping others.
It wasn’t until after her freshman year that Tawny Thongsory truly became a Matador.
“At first I just went to class and came home,” she says. “And when I wasn’t feeling happy and fitting in I thought it was everybody else, not me.”
As a high school student her only major extracurricular activity was playing on the tennis team, and her friends were the classmates she’d spent every day with since elementary school. Tawny discovered that creating a life in college would require a more proactive approach. That’s when she decided to start moving forward by giving back.
“I resolved that if I put in all the effort it would be different,” she says.
Hunter Paris is looking to become the man behind those great stunts you’re sure to see in the next big blockbuster. Read more
On and off the soccer field, Kourtney, Krystal and Lindsay Kutscher are achieving their goals together.
For California State University, Northridge’s Kutscher sisters, it’s all about soccer. In 2015, identical twins Kourtney and Krystal, along with younger sister Lindsay, led the CSUN women’s soccer team to a winning 11-8-1 record. Their love for the game, and each other, brought all three to CSUN, and together they’re finding individual success as Matador student athletes. Read more
His struggle was a real test, but CSUN student Devon Coombs is not about to fail.
California State University, Northridge senior Devon Coombs may be preparing to graduate with a degree in accounting and an internship at the global accounting firm Deloitte on his resume, but it wasn’t so long ago that he was waiting tables and living out of his car. Now he’s on the road to success and demonstrating just what it means to live the Matador life. Read more
CSUN is preparing dancer Karissa Petersen to leap to new heights.
If you’ve been to a Los Angeles Clippers basketball game in the past four years, you’ve probably seen California State University, Northridge senior Karissa Petersen somewhere out on the court. As a member of the Clippers Spirit dance team she performs at every home game, as well as community events, sponsor appearances and charity functions. Read more
Justin Rusch prepares for a future in law enforcement by protecting his peers as a member of the Matador Patrol.
He doesn’t wear a cape or have any special powers, but for many California State University, Northridge students, Justin Rusch is a hero. A Matador Patrol advisor, he helps to ensure that students — as well as faculty and staff — get across campus safely at night. For Justin, the job is a great opportunity to gain practical experience for his future. Read more
The most exciting Saturday night for California State University, Northridge student Patti Rodriguez is one when she can go to bed early. As a single mother of three bubbly, young daughters — ages 2, 8 and 10 — she has her hands full managing parenthood, a part-time job, an internship, and her course work.
Learning from the experience of his parents, Nathaniel Chaparro is on the way to building a secure financial future at CSUN, and he’s not about to let any obstacles block his path.
Although he was barely a teenager when the Great Recession began in December 2007, the global financial crisis hit Nathaniel Chaparro hard. His parents were separated, and he watched both his mother — who was battling cancer at the time — and father lose their homes.
“It kind of opened my eyes,” Nathaniel, a senior business management major, says. “Originally I thought that it was easy to attain a comfortable middle-class life. Now I realize I have to work extremely hard to get to that point.” Read more
Jessica Cardiel identifies as a queer Chican@, but look beyond those labels and you’ll find a mentor and activist who stands out as a quiet leader and a true individual.
While many college students are still finding their footing as individuals, California State University, Northridge student Jessica Cardiel is already standing strong. Growing up in South Central Los Angeles with four brothers and four sisters, Jessica learned how to speak up early. Now, through mentoring and advocacy, this CSUN leader is helping others to rise. Read more
Drew Lucas served in some of the world’s most dangerous places with the U.S. Marine Corps before coming to CSUN. Now he’s helping other veterans and sharing his experience through spoken word, poetry and music.
California State University, Northridge student Drew Lucas is not one to hold back. He’s proud of the six and a half years that he served as an infantryman in the Marine Corps, but he doesn’t sugarcoat the fact that facing combat left him emotionally scarred and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. It was going back to school and finding a creative outlet for his emotions that saved him from becoming a statistic. Read more
When Hala and Hadel Somo immigrated to the United States from Iraq seven years ago they couldn’t speak — or even hear — English. Both were born deaf and had no formal training in any form of sign language. Now, as California State University, Northridge students, they’re on the way to becoming advocates for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
Growing up in Northern Iraq, Hala and Hadel Somo weren’t expected to amount to much. Born deaf, the sisters had no formal education, and their only sign language was a system of rudimentary hand gestures they developed to communicate with family members. Few in their small farming village could have imagined they would ever become the strong, confident CSUN students they are today.
Outdoor Adventures guide David Montero brings the beauty of nature to even the most urban of CSUN students.
How many California State University, Northridge students can say they’ve spent two days in the wilderness alone? Outdoor enthusiast David Montero has. David is a seasoned explorer, and as a trip leader for CSUN’s Outdoor Adventures program he’s sharing his passion and forging a unique career path. Read more
A prestigious scholarship is allowing Tia Brisco to fulfill her goal of helping others.
While most California State University, Northridge students are sleeping, Tia Brisco is often working overnight hours as an intake coordinator for a Southern California eating disorders and addiction treatment center. A graduate student pursuing a Master of Science degree in counseling (marriage and family therapy), Tia’s using her education to help heal and empower others, and it was receiving one of Southern California’s most prestigious awards for young women that made it possible for her to achieve her dreams.
Work-study has made college — and a whole lot more — possible for Diane Young.
When Diane stepped onto the California State University, Northridge campus as a first-year student, she was fresh from small-town rural Louisiana and a high school graduating class of 27. As the first in her family to attend college, she wasn’t sure what to expect and felt even more confused about where she would fit in.
Now a senior psychology major with a minor in Africana studies, Young’s work-study positions have been the compass guiding her through CSUN. Read more
Caring for one sick family member is hard enough. Joanna Joy Paulo discovered inner strength — and a new career path — while caring for two sick parents.
Meet Joanna Paulo in person, and on seeing her bright smile it will seem immediately fitting that she is better known as Joy.
Joy completed coursework in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science Nursing program in August 2015, but her road to graduation was not always cheerful. Read more