USU Graduate Appreciation Lunch Celebrates Student Achievements

May 20, 2024

By Teagan Davidge

University Student Union (USU) employees and Board of Directors (BOD) members nearing the end of their time at CSUN filled the seats at the USU Northridge Center earlier this month to celebrate their accomplishments at the USU Graduate Appreciation Lunch. Graduating students were accompanied by supportive supervisors that have been instrumental to their success at California State University, Northridge (CSUN).

USU Executive Director Debra Hammond attended the festivities and gave a speech honoring the graduates’ impressive achievements during their time with the USU.

“There are 88 of you graduating this year, that's amazing! Out of our workforce and our Board of Directors members of almost 300 people, that's almost a third of our group that is graduating,” Hammond told the soon-to-be graduates. “To say that we are proud of you is an understatement. We are thrilled, we are elated, and we are just overjoyed that we get to celebrate this attainment of your dream.”

Hammond also bestowed some advice onto the students who shortly will be stepping into the professional world.

“It is our hope that the skills that you have gained and the lessons you have learned through your USU work experience will serve you well,” said Hammond. “My challenge to each of you is that you choose your profession, your partner, and your path wisely. Do something personally and professionally that is significant.”

CSUN seniors recounted great memories made alongside their USU colleagues.

“My first Summit, I was freshly hired, I was scared, and I was sitting by myself until [Marketing Coordinator] Malahat came and found me. She was like ‘Come over here and join us!’ and then everyone welcomed me. I think that is my favorite memory,” said Lindsey Ramirez, graduating graphic design major and student graphic artist for the USU. “Enjoy your time here because it goes by so quick! Make connections with your coworkers and with your supervisors and coworkers as well.”

Summit is a USU event that takes place prior to the start of each semester. Student assistants attend creative workshops for an entire day to better their leadership and teamwork skills while forming connections with their coworkers and engaging with employees from other departments.

USU student assistants said they also enjoyed seeing their hard work pay off at momentous occasions like the Valera NEST Renovation Celebration on May 3.

“The Valera NEST opening was my favorite memory because we worked on that collaboratively. We had so many brainstorming sessions for the name choosing, and being there from when it was just an idea to being at the groundbreaking was so unreal,” said Tomas Gonzalez, graduating creative writing major and USU student copywriter. “Usually, you don’t get to see stuff like that because they’re like, ‘Oh yeah, in ten years we’re going to build this building,’ so that was cool.”

Students fondly remembered outdoor events that engaged their peers, namely the USU’s Matador Nights and Night Market.

“The last Matador Nights was really fun. The people that won [the prize giveaways] didn’t even know that they were entered for a prize, and it was just hilarious seeing their reactions. They were up on stage, they had won, and their friends were all cheering for them,” said Gonzalez.

Other students described how the USU has allowed them to form strong friendships with their peers and build community through meaningful work. 

“The USU is a unique program that is a fantastic opportunity for every student to get involved. There are also a lot of campus job opportunities for every student, which is very crucial for international students like me,” said Akash Rajashekar, USU student web designer. “I feel like it's a wonderful platform for connecting with people, connecting with friends, colleagues, and sharing with each other. Also, working as a web designer helped me to enhance my technical skills and learn from my colleagues and other students. It has been a wonderful opportunity, and I am so grateful for Steven and the other supervisors.”