The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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CSUN alumnus makes history by becoming the youngest Hispanic presidential campaign manager

Jose Cacho
Mario Arias and Kamala Harris at the CSUN Young Democrats event on Nov. 1, 2016 to rally up voters. Photo courtesy of the CSUN Young Democrats.

In American Samoa, Super Tuesday is not a popular event. Although Democratic presidential candidate Jason Palmer has never been to American Samoa, he has hosted town hall events through Zoom and heard the people’s voices. Out of 91 ballots cast in the primary caucus, Palmer won 51, while incumbent President Joe Biden received 40, according to the Guardian.

Thirty-year-old CSUN alum Mario Arias made history by leading Palmer’s groundbreaking victory over Biden on the South Pacific island.

Despite facing major personal challenges like a battle with stage 3 lymphoma, Arias remained devoted to his commitment to public service. During Arias’ cancer diagnosis, COVID-19 started and he witnessed how political choices affected the lives of vulnerable individuals.

Even as he underwent 21 rounds of chemotherapy and six surgeries, he persisted in advocating for change, recognizing the importance of political engagement in crafting a more promising future.

“I had to navigate through a political landscape that often overlooked young and minority voices,” Arias said. “It reminded me of the importance of perseverance and determination in the face of adversity.”

As a second-generation American born and raised in Los Angeles, Arias observed the challenges and aspirations of immigrant families firsthand, which ignited his passion for political activism and social change.

He pursued higher education by earning a degree in political science from California State University, Northridge. During his time at CSUN, Arias became the president of the CSUN Young Democrats, representing his university in the California Democratic Party.

“CSUN played a crucial role in shaping my journey and preparing me for the challenges ahead,” Arias said. “From providing academic resources to fostering a supportive community, CSUN helped me develop the skills and confidence needed to succeed in the world of politics.”

Nicholas Dungey, a professor in the Department of Political Science, had a strong impact on Arias’ future. Dungey created an environment where students did not want to miss a session. He pushed his students to think critically and consider different perspectives.

“I will revisit CSUN just to go see one of Dungey’s seminars again,” Arias said.

After a successful battle against cancer, Arias co-founded the Nevada Forward party, seeking to challenge the two-party system.

The party’s three priorities consist of removing barriers to individual choice, creating an economy where everyone can thrive, and giving people more confidence in the government.
Arias expressed that his journey as a cancer survivor has fostered a deep appreciation for life’s opportunities.

Arias’ dedication and perseverance caught the attention of entrepreneur Jason Palmer, which led him to appoint Arias as the Nevada State Director and later as his campaign manager.

“Being appointed was incredibly validating and serving as a testament to my hard work and commitment,” Arias said.

While Arias was confident in his capabilities and determined to make a meaningful difference in the political sphere, he did not expect to be a presidential campaign manager at such a young age.

Palmer went up against and defeated incumbent Biden in a primary contest, something that has not been pulled off in 44 years. Arias had to get creative by promoting ads on social media and organizing local events.

“From what I’m gathering from the community there, they just wanted to be heard,” Arias said.

Arias hopes to continue advocating for positive change and amplifying underrepresented voices in the political process.

“Always believe in yourself and your abilities, even when faced with challenges and setbacks,” Arias said. “Every setback offers valuable lessons that can propel you forward when you take time to learn them.”

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