Long Beach State’s Associated Students, Inc. voted in a new senator for the College of Education Wednesday during its weekly Senate meeting.
Robert Ortiz Archila, a graduate student working as the education and outreach coordinator for Project Rebound, landed the seat after ASI held a runoff election between Archila, Spencer Kelly, Crystal Mendoza and Alec Sixta.
A United States Army veteran, Archila served with the 82nd Airborne Division as a paratrooper but was wounded in combat and inevitably sent home.
During his transition back into civilian life, Archila said he faced hardships including addiction, housing insecurity and incarceration.
After four years of sobriety, Archila has earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from California State University, Fullerton and is working on his getting master’s in counseling at CSULB with an emphasis in student development.
“My qualifications are more of a life experience, I don’t have a lot of experience in higher education, but I do, I do possess a lot of skills that I’ve learned along the way,” Archila said.
Upon becoming a member of the Beach, Archila joined Project Rebound, which is a program that helps formerly incarcerated individuals who are seeking to advance their education at CSULB.
“I didn’t really think I would make it this far, but because of the support of the community, I’m actually here today,” Archila said. “And I want to give back as a token of appreciation. I want to give back to the Beach community and also help those that share identities such as myself.”
As a way of giving back, he said he wants to serve as a voice to empower students who were formerly incarcerated such as himself, who feel they don’t belong.
“Sharing those experiences with the students that are marginalized, [who] tend to shy away from leadership because of the imposter syndrome, and we don’t really have a sense of belonging when we first get to higher education,” Archila said.
Archila’s position is one of several being filled as the 2021 ASI elections are underway. According to Maythe Alderete Gonzalez, the previous senator of the College of Education stepped down due to personal reasons.
The ASI presidential debate will be held via Zoom Thursday, March 11 from 5 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. This story was updated on March 12 at 3:22 p.m. to include information about Achila’s predecessor.