On Thursday, September 15, several NAC alumni who now attend Cal State Fullerton (CSUF) gathered for a luncheon on campus with NAC staff and several CSUF administrators, including Deanna Merino-Contino (Director of Center for Scholars), Yajayra Tovar (Assistant Director of Center for Scholars), Brittany Henry (Coordinator of Center for Scholars), Danny Juarez (Retention Specialist), Jaime Hamilton (Coordinator for Abrego Future Scholars and President’s Scholars), Kenitza Carrillo (Graduate Assistant for Abrego Future Scholars), among others. The administrators shared attributes of their departments and encouraged students to connect with them and take advantage of the services offered at Cal State Fullerton.
The event kicked off with students, NAC staff, and CSUF administrators conversing over lunch, introducing one another, or simply catching up on each other’s journey. Brittany Henry then opened up the floor to a group of panelists, consisting of Sam Barrozo (Retention Specialist, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics), Tatiana Pedroza (Graduation Specialist, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics), Peggy Garcia Bockman (Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, College of Health and Human Development), and Miguel Martinez (Career Specialist, College of Education).
The conversation held by the panelists focused on student involvement at CSUF as there are over 375 clubs and organizations on campus. These organizations suit a variety of interests and needs, including academic, social, cultural, faith, and community service to name a few. “Many students look around during graduation, looking for friends and peers to share the moment, but are left celebrating alone because they didn’t explore the Cal State Fullerton campus,” added Miguel Martinez. He continued by saying that many of his past students confessed to feelings of regret since they didn’t join clubs or take advantage of campus services, surroundings where the percentage of creating lifelong friendships with peers was greater. He better instilled the message of exploration by saying that attending Cal State Fullerton simply to go to class is like having an annual pass for Disneyland and only going for the “Tea-Cup” attraction and leaving the park soon after. You don’t get to experience the “magic”.
After the panel, NAC alum, NAC staff, and remaining CSUF faculty got into groups to devise plans of success for anyone attending Cal State Fullerton. One of the four questions read “With success can come challenges, how do you deal with challenges on your team? What advice would you give others who are struggling with reaching their success goals?” NAC Class of 2013 Alum, Eugenio Rivera, replied to that question, saying, “It’s okay to not know what to do, but the first thing you have to do is identify your challenges.” Two challenges his group used as examples were finding a balance between work and not having an identified major. “Accepting these challenges and finding support is key to overcoming obstacles.” Rivera continued, “If you are stuck in this situation, find a flexible job, work less hours, and learn to prioritize the important things in your life.” Rivera concluded, “Conduct a self-evaluation to discover or re-discover your strengths, then head over to the Career Center at CSUF to speak to a counselor about careers that utilize your strengths.”
Before leaving the luncheon, CSUF faculty, NAC staff and alumni gathered together one last time, clearing up last minute questions before NAC Scholars headed out for class.