CSUN’s LGBTA hosts career conference

Lifeworks representatives Jenny Daughets and Aiden Aizumi talk to students during the LGBT conference at the Northridge Center on Tuesday. Photo Credit: Simon Gambaryan / Contributing Photographer

CSUN’s LGBTA hosted a resource and career conference on Tuesday, the first of its kind on campus. With a culmination of amenities from the community and the university, the organization made efforts to spread awareness and gain recognition to have their own facility.

Eighteen participants made up of business and support groups settled in the Northridge Center to provide information for those in attendance.

The conference offered a resume workshop conducted by the KMPG accounting firm and an interview workshop organized by the Light House Employee Resource Group. Also, community support groups like, Popular Opinion Leader (POL) based in Tarzana, offered information about its services.

Anthony Contreras is an advocate for open communication and proctors HIV awareness discussion groups for POL. They base their work on the diffusion innovation theory, which states that information is better transmitted through people and word of mouth, Contreras said.

“Awareness happens through conversation,” he said. “If a friend talks about it, you’ll listen.”

Sharing, gathering of information and networking were the objectives for two of the conference participants.

Diego Ortiz, a CSUN alumnus and avid participant of CSUN’s LGBTA events said he attended the conference to talk to others about his current work.

Ortiz and his friend, Alexander Tepaz, said they experienced discrimination in their household because of their sexual orientation. With a recent increase in suicides by LGBTA youth, linked to mental health, they are working to establish nurture gatherings in the San Fernando Valley in order to provide a safe space for them. Their organization is called Legacy and it’s in the process of evolving. They spread word of the group at the event.

“We want to empower the LGBTA youth,” Ortiz said. “We want to make sure they do good for themselves so they can succeed.”

For CSUN’s LGBTA, organizing the conference represents the group’s growth, initiative and goals.

Martel Okonji, president of LGBTA, said that the event means they are paving their way across campus. With more than four months of preparation for the event, Okonji said the time and energy was worth it.

“We’re taking the next step further,” Okonji said.

Whether students stayed at the event for the workshops provided or casually browsed through the resources’ tables, Okonji found value in the fact that students at least noted it was taking place.

The organization has been trying to implement an on-campus facility for the LGBTA community. The USU’s Facilities and Commercial Services committee recently approved their proposal for the space.  LGBTA club members have also dedicated countless hours to inform their peers about the necessity for the resource center. For now, they have gathers 670 signatures on a petition in favor for the facility.

“We’re still raking up the numbers,” Okonji said. “We’re hoping to reach 1,000 before the (Board of Directors) meeting.”

Okonji said that due the successful turn out in part of the resources that participated and the need for the event, the organization plans to continue the conference annually.

“We had this event so that the campus can see that there are resources available and we want them to know what the LGBTA community stands for,” Okonji said.