On the line to helping others

Stephanie Bermudez

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Brandon Tong, 22, working toward a master’s in clinical psychology, has been volunteering for the CSUN hotline for the past three years, where he helps callers who want to talk about any issue. Photo Credit: Stephanie Bermudez / Staff Reporter

Brandon Tong came to CSUN with an interest in the music program, five years later Tong is working on getting his master’s in Clinical Psychology and helping others by volunteering his time as a trainer for the CSUN hotline.

“I auditioned and got in the program to see if I would like it and if I could keep up with it but I’ve always has an inkling towards psychology,” said the 22-year-old.

Despite his change of heart, Tong has nothing but positive things to say about the music department.

“The music department has got t o be the closest, tightest knit family in any major in CSUN,” said Tong. “The coolest thing about the program is that you are doing something you love, you all get along and you play.”

After awhile Tong said he did not have time to do music and psychology.

Then the CSUN Hotline called his name.

“A lot of people don’t know about the hotline, regardless, it needs to get out more,” said Tong.

Tong learned about the hotline through his roommate.

“I wanted to do it because it was a vague feeling that I should do it and if I wanted to go in to psychology, I felt like I should do it,” said Tong. “At the time, the number one priority was that it would look good on my resume and it has.”

Helping others by working in the hotline has helped him with grad school, helped him with jobs, and it’s helped him get an edge on his classes.

Tong said the best thing about the hotline is that callers call to talk about anything.

“That’s what separates the helpline from other hotlines because a lot of lines are specific; you can call a rape hotline and say you’re suicidal and they’re going to turn you away and refer you to a suicide line,” said Tong. “If you call a suicide line and say you’re depressed, they going to refer you somewhere else, where as you call us and you can talk about anything. Calling us helps them.”

Tong has been involved with the helpline for three years now and has been a trainer for two.

“I’m really into training now,” said Tong. “It’s fun, enjoyable, challenging, and different and it’s a good group of people.”

Even though the helpline has done good to many people, Tong said that is not always the case.

“Sometimes it does but even on a bad night if I do a shift, I just feel a little better. It’s a subconscious feeling inside where I feel good and like I helped somebody out,” said Tong.

Aside from being a trainer for the hotline, Tong used to be treasurer and is thinking of doing backup, which is the person that helps the callers if a case gets intense.

“We train anybody that wants to be on the helpline, you don’t have to be a student. In nine or 10 weeks we teach them all the basic skills needed to be on the helpline,” said Tong.

According to Tong, there are members in the hotline that have been involved for seven, eight, and even nine years.

“You can be anybody in the community if you want to help,” said Tong.

Though Tong wants to be part of the helpline for as long as time allows him, he plans to eventually work in a mental hospital, his ultimate goal is to have a private practice.

When Tong is not attending classes or volunteering time in the hotline, Tong has his hands tied with two jobs, as a server and working with disadvantaged kids.