Oriented Toward Success

December 20, 2016

Shannon Ashford’s work with the New Student Orientation has given her new direction.

Shannon AshfordWhen Shannon Ashford stepped onto the California State University, Northridge campus for the New Student Orientation (NSO) almost four years ago, she was not sure that CSUN was the right school for her. By the time she left, her mind was made up.

“I was ecstatic that I was going to CSUN and convinced that I had made the best choice,” she says.

The experience made such an impact that Shannon knew she had to get involved. Now, a senior, she is helping provide the same warm welcome to incoming students, and, in the process, she’s discovered a new direction for her own future. 

Shannon, whose father is an alumnus, grew up just five minutes from campus. She started her undergraduate career as a deaf studies major, but soon changed her mind. 

“I just didn’t see myself having a career in it,” she says.

Through her work with NSO, Shannon realized that her bigger passion was building student communities and guiding student leaders. Her first role with the program was as an orientation leader. As a junior, she was part of the TAKE XXVII cast, which performs informative skits, focusing on topics such as the transition to college, relationships, abuse, body shaming and prejudice.  

This year Shannon served as a student coordinator. She oversaw all 85 orientation leaders.

“As student coordinators, we help to enhance every facet of our orientation program,” she says. “My specific role is to guide our current leaders and expand their knowledge of the responsibilities of being a mentor.”

Shannon has become so passionate about her work with NSO, she’s now a communication studies major planning to continue utilizing her experience in higher education and student affairs as a professional. 

“Before coming to college I didn’t even know that student affairs was a thing,” Shannon says. “Through NSO, and my different mentors, I discovered different strengths, and I learned how to better work with people of different backgrounds and communication styles.”

Along with her NSO staff supervisors, Shannon says she’s been inspired by many of the students and staff she’s worked with while serving on the University Student Union Board of Directors, and as the USU student representative for CSUN’s Campus Fee Advisory Committee.

Her Delta Zeta sorority sisters also motivate her. In 2014, she served as the risk management chairwoman, responsible for overseeing the values and protection of the Pi Gamma chapter. In 2015, Shannon was nominated to serve as vice president of new member education. In everything she does, Shannon’s goal is to find ways to achieve serious learning outcomes, while keeping things fun, and always have a backup plan.

“I never thought I’d join a sorority,” Shannon says. “In college, you might come in thinking there’s a certain path, but it’s OK to deviate and challenge yourself.”