USU

The University Student Union Presents

What’s Your Story?

Featuring the Students of the USU

The University Student Union’s “What’s Your Story?” is a fun monthly series of quick Q&As that focus on the interesting lives and work experiences of its dynamic and diverse students. Without these talented people, the USU simply could not provide all of the events and programs it offers CSUN students every year. And since we have more than 300 student employees and board members working together, you just know they’ll have a lot of stories to tell. Let’s go meet some!

October 2020

Savannah Styskel (She/Her/Hers), Student Guest Services Assistant

USU: What do you do in your position with the USU?

Savannah: As a guest services assistant, I’m usually informing students by connecting them to different resources on campus and answering their questions. I also provide services for the faculty and staff, so I’m working both in front and behind the scenes.

USU: After graduating, what career path interests you?

Savannah: I’m aiming to go into the Student Affairs profession. This past year, I’ve decided I want to be either an academic advisor or a counselor because I’ve had such positive experiences working with them.

USU: What’s the best advice your supervisor has given you?

Savannah: I was once told to always be true to myself. When working with students, it’s important to be relatable. It fosters a relationship that students will continue to use because they feel comfortable.

USU: What are three goals you have at this moment?

Savannah: Get into a program for grad school. Take my fitness and health more seriously. Be a better plant mom

USU: If you could have any actor play you in a movie, which actor would it be?

Savannah: Rachel McAdams. I feel like all the roles she plays range from being the “sweet girl” to also being assertive, which describes me pretty well.

USU: Favorite movie genre?

Savannah: Probably comedy or action. The movie “Clueless” always makes me laugh.

  • October 2020 What's Your Story — Savannah Styskel
  • October 2020 What's Your Story — Savannah Styskel

Michelle Zuniga, Student Building Manager

USU: What do you do as a Student Building Manager with the USU?

Michelle: I typically ensure every event in the USU is running smoothly and provide help where needed. Now, I make sure everything is okay in our study spaces.

USU: What is your favorite part about working at the USU?

Michelle: Meeting new people every day. Different kinds of people. We get events with CSUN students and some events from the Northridge community and other areas. I love getting to know the many cultures and perspectives.

USU: How has working at the USU changed you?

Michelle: Compared to who I was before working at the USU, I feel that I’m more outgoing and willing to put myself out there. Without the USU, I would’ve never taken on leadership roles. Since joining the USU, I have served as president of the women's basketball club and president of Sports Club.

USU: What are 3 goals you have at this moment?

Michelle: Get an internship in my major. Switch over to healthier habits, eating more fruits and veggies. Open my own non-profit to help hospitals in third-world countries.

USU: If you could have any actor play you, who would it be?

Michelle: Zoey Saldana. I’m brown and there’s not a lot of women actors that look like me. I want someone who looks like me to play me. Plus, she’s a great actress.

USU: Who is someone you aspire to be like and why?

Michelle: My mom. She came here from Nicaragua and had a degree as an engineer. But she sacrificed that good-paying job to clean houses so I could have a better life in this country. Now, she works at a hospital in accounting. I have so much respect for her diligence and I’m so grateful to have her in my life.

  • October 2020 What's Your Story — Michelle Zuniga
  • October 2020 What's Your Story — Michelle Zuniga

September 2020

Gemma Jimenez Gonzales (She/They), Student DREAM Center Assistant

USU: What is your position with the DREAM Center of the USU?

Gemma: I assist undocumented students in navigating the school system. I also co-facilitate our coffee talks where we have conversations on wellness and general check-ins with our students. The DREAM Center joining the USU felt so natural because we share the same goal to create a community space for all students.

USU: After graduating, what career interests you?

Gemma: As an urban planner, I want to engage folks to build and develop vulnerable communities to be safer and more vibrant. Often outsiders come in and make decisions for those communities, but I want to take what I’ve learned and bring it back to my community.

USU: What project have you done for the USU that makes you most proud?

Gemma: I oversaw creating programs and sashes for Undocu-graduation and it made me so happy to see the graduates look at the shout-outs for them. It was an honor to see so many folks be optimistic for the future and I was proud to give them a little gift to celebrate themselves.

USU: Who is someone you aspire to be like?

Gemma: Audre Lord is someone I’ve always praised. I admire how she connects to what it means to be here, what it means to have community, what love is, and her determination to live in a world where she chooses to be her full authentic self. /p>

USU: What do you do to help de-stress?

Gemma: Recently, I’ve been building a relationship with herbs. I have my own little garden where I cultivate the land. It’s so great to see your hard work flourish after harvesting and being able to share it with others. I love spending time with nature, it’s beautiful!

USU: Which musician would you want to sit in a front row seat to see?

Gemma: This is hard to choose! I think I would watch Blood Orange open for Solange.

  • What's Your Story September 2020 — Gemma Jimenez Gonzales
  • What's Your Story September 2020 — Gemma Jimenez Gonzales

Liliana Palafox (She/Her/Hers), Student DREAM Center Assistant

USU: What do you do at the USU?

Liliana: I help students who are from mixed status families, undocumented or need any support at home. Since everything is virtual, I handle more complicated cases like financial aid for undocumented students. I also help teach the new interns.

USU: What project have you done for the USU that you’re most proud of?

Liliana: I’m really proud of the Dependents Binder. It includes important resources for students who have dependents. I complied all of the resources on CSUN campus as well as off campus. I wanted to advocate for students with dependents, like myself.

USU: What attracted you to working at the DREAM Center?

Liliana: I’m from a mixed status family. Growing up, I had to discover the best resources for my family since I was the oldest. I want to be a resource for my two younger sisters on how to navigate higher education. This job is perfect for me because I can help other students.

USU: What is something you are looking forward to at the moment?

Liliana: My sister’s 19th birthday! I’m still putting her gift together and I’m excited for her to see it.

USU: Who is someone you aspire to be like?

Liliana: My grandmother. She played a huge role in my life and I admired her willingness to push the family forward.

USU: Which musician would you sit in a front row seat to see?

Liliana: Lady Gaga. I’d love to watch her perform my favorite song, “Paparazzi”.

  • What's Your Story September 2020 — Liliana Palafox
  • What's Your Story September 2020 — Liliana Palafox