CSU Voices and Views

The Big Win

By Monica Arellano
Graduate of the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE)

Monica and Pablo Arellano with their youngest daughter, Tania, during her high school graduation.

Monica and Pablo Arellano with their youngest daughter, Tania, during her high school graduation.

To me, “winning” means being able to successfully send my children to college. It means doing anything in my power to help them succeed. Winning is not letting my daughters go through what I went through as a child, and being able to give them a better life that will open doors to a promising future.

When I was growing up, no one told me that I had the option of going to college. I was raised by a single mother who worked so much that she wasn’t really aware of what opportunities were available beyond high school graduation. Back then, there weren’t many programs that helped parents get their children college ready, which is why I am so thankful that collaborations such as the CSU/PIQE partnership exist today.
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Empowering Others to Do More

Julie Debbs

By Julie Debbs
Student, Sacramento State

It starts with one thought: I can do more. At least that’s where it started with me.

My story begins more than 30 years ago, during a time where addiction and prostitution were the only things that mattered in life. When I finally was able to admit to myself that “I could do more,” I enrolled in a rehab program, cleaned up my life and started to take school seriously. It was then that I realized that I could also function in an advocacy role and use my unique history, combined with my education, to make a difference in the world.

At Sac State, I worked with professors Mimi Lewis and Dana Kivel to help build Community Against Sexual Harm (CASH), a program that assists sex workers in transitioning out of commercial sexual exploitation and into college. As a program coordinator, I provided women emotional support, encouragement and inspiration to move forward. More …

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A Call to Public Service


By Steven Avila
CSU Monterey Bay Alumnus
Special Assistant, Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, US Department of the Interior

When I transferred from community college to CSU Monterey Bay in 2009, I thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life: I would study business, graduate and move up to Silicon Valley or New York to pursue a life of big deals and enterprise.

But later that year, the most incredible opportunity flashed into my student inbox and it changed my life forever.

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Helping Others Move Forward

Monica R. Correale is one of 23 recipients of the 2014 CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement. As the top-scoring recipient of the CSU Trustees’ Award, Correale was selected as the Trustee Emeritus Ali C. Razi Scholar and will be receiving a $12,000 scholarship.

By Monica R. Correale
Graduate student at Humboldt State University
2014 Trustee Emeritus Ali C. Razi Scholar

Growing up, school was a safe place for me. Going to class was the best part of my day—not only because it challenged and excited me, but because it was a temporary relief from my home life.

Child abuse, domestic violence, and my parents’ struggles with mental illness and substance abuse were among the myriad of issues that I faced every day. Although I enjoyed school and dreamt of professional success, it was difficult to envision a future for myself that differed from that of my parents. For much of my childhood and adolescence, I struggled with self-doubt, anxiety, and depression. I eventually realized that there was a long legacy of trauma and dysfunction in my family. It was at this point that I truly embraced my responsibility to develop myself into a healthy, productive person, not only to break the cycle in my own family, but in order to affect social change in the world.
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Traveling Towards Graduation

By Laura Parada
San Francisco State Student

Laura Parada in Florence

Laura Parada in Florence

I boarded the plane to Italy fully aware that my life would be forever different. The decision to study abroad was quick, as I can imagine it is for most students. The hurdle was not the decision but actually transforming it into a reality.  My financial and academic plans needed to line up and I did not want my trip to prolong time to graduation.

After applying to study abroad, I waited for the letter that would tell me the fate of my third year at SFSU. Luckily, I was granted the opportunity to study in Florence, Italy, which was a location I had only dreamed of going to. With that I embarked on my first international trip and my first solitary travel experience. More …

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Connecting the Dots at CSU Summer Arts

By Ian James
Theatre Arts Student at Long Beach State


Students, faculty coordinators and guest artists share how
CSU Summer Arts has impacted their lives.

I came to Summer Arts expecting to learn the basics about musical theatre and stage combat, but I have taken away more than I could have ever imagined. As a transfer student to Long Beach State, I wasn’t able to develop the typical connections of students who dorm together or who met freshman year. Summer Arts allowed me to share that traditional college experience.

We all come here with one goal in mind: to become a better artist. We are immersed in art 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are constantly collaborating, sharing and pushing each other. More …

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Extended Ed: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Amada Maggio
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Student
CSU San Marcos, Extended Learning at Temecula

Amanda Maggio visits members of the California Legislature to share how CSU Extended Education has enabled her success.

Amanda Maggio visits members of the California Legislature to share how CSU Extended Education has enabled her success.

Extended learning has offered me an invaluable educational experience. Not only has this been an exciting and fulfilling journey, but I have had outstanding opportunities that have allowed me to chart my future course for career success as well.

Initially, I was accepted to CSU San Marcos and attended the main campus for several years. Although I was enjoying my education, the classes were always so full and I felt like I was no different than any other student on campus.

Since I started attending CSU San Marcos at Temecula, I have become more than just a face in the crowd. The Temecula campus reminds me of the Cheers’ theme song: Where Everybody Knows Your Name. All of the faculty and staff know me and my fellow students by name, and consistently are willing to go above and beyond to help with any needs we may have. That extra personal touch has made a significant impacted in my education.
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CSU Stanislaus Reconnects With ‘Golden Grads’

By Lisa McMullen
Director of Alumni Relations
CSU Stanislaus

Lisa McMullen

Lisa McMullen

The memory of graduation day, walking across the stage to the sound of Pomp and Circumstance with family members in attendance, is one graduates hold close for years after commencement. The feeling that accompanies the great accomplishment of obtaining a college degree ranks high with other significant lifetime achievements.

At CSU Stanislaus, we are welcoming our esteemed alumni and their families back to our beautiful campus — for some, a campus that was not yet fully developed at the time of their graduation. This year, alumni from the Class of 1964 will remember their graduation day as our Golden Grads, with an invitation to be recognized by President Joseph F. Sheley at our commencement ceremonies.
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Inspiring Future Generations

Dr. Joely Proudfit (Luiseño)
Director, California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center
CSU San Marcos Director of Native American Academic Strategic Planning and Native Studies

Graduating students and tribal leaders with Proudfit (fourth from left) and CSUSM President Karen Haynes

Graduating students and tribal leaders with Proudfit (fourth from left) and CSUSM President Karen Haynes

This is my sixth year at Cal State San Marcos, both as a professor and as the coordinator of the American Indian Honoring Ceremony. This year’s ceremony was gratifying for me because I am proud to have seen the recruitment and retention levels of American Indian students increase over the last six years; but particularly special because I have come to advise and know well many of the graduates. More …

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Today We Make History

By Curtis Lee Ortega, Jr.
Vice President, United Student Pride
Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology, Class of 2014
Fresno State

Curtis Lee Ortega, Jr.

Curtis Lee Ortega, Jr.

Today, 17 Fresno State students will make history with our university’s inaugural Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) Commencement Celebration.

I am the chairperson of the committee that made this event a reality. I am honored and proud to be among those first 17 participating in our celebration.

This milestone represents a major step in our personal lives and the broader community. Fresno State prides itself on discovery, diversity and distinction and the presence of an LGBTQ graduation ceremony fittingly underscores that.

This celebration is a dream I pursued based on my own personal history. With poor grades and delinquent behavior, I was almost a high school dropout. Fortunately, I was accepted to a school that offered independent studies and was able to graduate even though I was heckled throughout my high school years for being openly gay. There was even heckling when they announced my name at the graduation ceremony. More …

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