For one CSUN student, the Presidential Scholars award is the perfect stepping stone for a future medical career. On the third floor of Magnolia Hall, cell and molecular biology major Tania Benjamin meticulously constructs what is invisible to the naked eye — a molecule.
Ever since she was a freshman, Tania has spent most of her time in this building at one of its chemistry labs.
Tania is working on a catalyst for a chemical reaction called olefin metathesis. Her goal, once she finishes the molecule, is to create a new catalyst and produce a better reaction. She hopes her experiment and research will better prepare her for a career in the medical field.
“These catalysts are used in the pharmaceutical industry to assist in the development of anti-cancer therapies or therapeutics,” explains Tania.
The CSUN Dreamers Scholarship gives undocumented students — who are not eligible for federal financial aid — the funds they need to achieve a college education.
Although undocumented students are ineligible for federal financial aid, the California Dream Act made it possible for some of them to apply for grants and scholarships from the state. But for many like journalism major Angel Silva, sometimes this still is not enough.
In light of this fact, CSUN created the Dreamers Scholarship for undocumented undergraduate students with a 2.5 GPA or higher. Winning students receive one of the four scholarship awards: $2,500 for full-time students, $1,250 for part-time students, $12,500 for full-time students living in Student Housing or $8,800 for undocumented students who don’t qualify for California Assembly Bill 540. [The Dreamers Scholarship opens] up a good amount of opportunities that I would not have been able to pursue [before],” Angel says.
Thanks to CSUN services, Langston Jackson overcomes physical and learning challenges caused by the anoxic brain damage he sustained from a heroin overdose almost three years ago. During his 37-day coma, the best scenario for 22-year-old Langston seemed to be a nursing home, a feeding tube and a diaper — a jarring contrast to his former glamorous life as a University of California, Berkeley, football player.
The doctors at the Cedars Sinai Medical Center where he was a patient explained to Langston’s family that it was unlikely he would ever wake up. Despite the bleak forecast, Langston’s mother chose to keep him on life support. Every day, Langston’s family visited him. On one visit, his sister put ice on his lips. He woke up and began to chew the ice. Langston’s odds were a million to one and, to this day, neurologists can’t explain his recovery. Some suspect that his youth and history of athleticism helped.
Cole Christie, business management major, organizes Camp Matador — an event that prepares incoming freshmen for their first semesters at California State University, Northridge. The loud chants of more than 80 first-time freshmen echo through the sunlit cabins, recreation area, trees and mountains of Ponderosa Pines Camp in Lake Arrowhead, California.
“Who are we? Matadors!” the lively crowd shouts at the top of their lungs.
The freshmen are excited to start their first semesters at CSUN in the upcoming week and the chant marks the last group activity for Camp Matador — a three-day, two-night summer camp for freshmen who are enrolled in the fall semester.
Camp Matador is a high-school-to-college transitional event. Students zip line, swim and play games while learning about Matador culture from current CSUN students like Cole.
Brian Gross nurtures the intellectually curious minds of homeless children through Big Buddies — an award-winning organization founded at California State University, Northridge. When Brian, an accounting major, isn’t filling out financial applications, inputting data or crunching numbers for Big Buddies, he is tutoring children living at the local homeless shelter, Genesis House.
Sponsored by the Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, Genesis House is temporary housing for single mothers and their families transitioning out of homelessness. Big Buddies, a student-run organization, mentors the children of these families.
On Thursday evenings, Brian and other Big Buddies volunteers help 4 to 13-year-olds with homework at the Genesis House and encourage their intellectual curiosity through science projects, spelling bees and brainteasers.
“[Because of Big Buddies, I] get to be a kid every week,” Brian says. “It’s a nice stress relief from school and something I look forward to.”
Thanks to the Los Angeles CleanTech Incubator (LACI), CSUN students like computer information technology major Aidan Anderson are given invaluable opportunities to work for technology start-ups. A team of CSUN students, including Aidan, gather in the LACI facilities near CSUN every Friday to create an app from scratch for the start-up Project Pals. LACI is a nonprofit organization that invests in and supports new businesses in clean technology. In fall 2014, LACI partnered with CSUN to generate economic growth in the San Fernando Valley and provide hands-on experience and networking opportunities for students like Aidan.