Gaining success and involvement as a CSUN commuter

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Gaining success and involvement as a CSUN commuter

Courtesy of Morguefile.com

Courtesy of Morguefile.com

Courtesy of Morguefile.com

Courtesy of Morguefile.com

Yvonne Zimmerman

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For Associated Students Vice President Sevag Alexanian, getting involved on campus wasn’t just a desire. It was a priority. What is a challenge for many was one of his greatest incentives – a commute to CSUN.

With a 25-mile drive to campus, he joins approximately 93 percent of students who attempt to balance academics and travel, while deciding how and if they will make their mark on campus.

“There’s a mix of [students] who are involved, and others who just come to class and leave,” Alexanian said. “The ones who are involved have a greater sense of school spirit towards CSUN.”

Alexanian said that involvement in student government has increased his knowledge and enjoyment of college life. He is also a member of the Armenian Student Association and Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

Tim Trevan, director of Student Housing and Conference Services, said between seven-to-eight percent of students live on campus – 10 percent residency is needed to consider a college a residential school.

However, many students live within a mile radius of CSUN, giving the college an unexpected residential feel.

Although commuters lack specialized programs from housing, he said that on-campus opportunities coming from AS, University Student Union, Athletics and the Valley Performing Arts Center help students enliven campus life.

This involvement provides many benefits for students in their connection to CSUN.

“[Students involved] are more likely to persist over time,” Augie Garibay, Matador Involvement Center activities coordinator said. “They’re more likely to graduate in a manner of four-to-five years – to have a positive experience or an outlook of their overall undergraduate experience here.”

AS Lower Division Senator Christian Rubalcava remembers the burden of commuting his first semester, which is now overlooked since he is involved.

“[It was] full of days where I would go to class and go straight home,” Rubalcava said. “I made the decision to take it easy my freshman year, to learn the ropes of college life. It was always my plan to be involved in AS, and I told myself that no commute would stop me from joining this organization.”

Ultimately, it’s up to each student to decide to get involved.

The Matador Involvement Center offers clubs, fraternities, and sororities and volunteer services. It hosts Meet the Clubs Day each semester.

With over 300 clubs and organizations, Rubalcava suggests to first organize your current schedule, then join things that connect to individuals, their majors and interests.

“Not only do you feel a connection to the campus, but you feel a deeper connection to what you really are,” Rubalcava said.

In addition to AS, Rubalcava is part of the GE Honors program.

A commute does mean extra sacrifices and planning. Sophomore sociology major Kimberly Newton dreamed of being on the cross country team, but has to leave her house at 6 a.m. for 7 a.m. practice.

“Thankfully I am able to miss a majority of the traffic on the 5 and 405 freeways,” Newton said about her 30-mile commute.

Newton notes that being on the team overrides the burdens of driving.

“I love being involved at CSUN because I feel like I am not alone in my journey through college. I am also thankful for all the benefits that come with being an athlete,” Newton said.

For others, a commute means being choosy with activities. Senior English major, Cat Cherish, who lives 25 miles from campus, has made work on campus her top priority.

CSUN offers work with various employers. Kristen Pichler, University Student Union human resources and professional development officer, believes that the USU was the largest employer of students as of spring 2015, with over 300 employees in departments such as events, fitness and wellness, administration, the Games Room and marketing.

Students can also volunteer at events such as the Matador Nights carnival held each semester.

Cherish joins students in such departments as peer education, web development event services at the CSUN Career Center as a Pathways Program Assistant. She also works in the Learning Resource Center.

She works on campus for its convenience.

“If I had to boomerang between home, campus [and] another job, I think I would go insane with L.A. traffic as a deterrent,” Cherish said.

Cherish said she gains quality experience that prepares her for her goal of becoming a college professor.

“If you are fortunate enough to not need to work, then I would say getting involved is essential to your time at CSUN,” Cherish said. “It can be hard to make memories alone, and equally difficult to make friends in large classes, clubs or groups can be vital to making lasting memories.”