Three years ago, Jesus Gonzalez had his admissions offer rescinded by Long Beach State.
After advocating on behalf of himself, with the help of the Educational Opportunity Program, he was soon readmitted.
Now, during this final year at Long Beach State, the 21-year-old sociology major grins wide, reminiscing about how advocating for himself three years ago, paved the way to becoming ASI president.
“I got my admissions back and I’m here for a reason,” Gonzalez said.
Through advocating for himself, Gonzalez has learned how to advocate for others. He said upon starting at Long Beach State, he realized the drastic differences between high school and college, and the resources students need to be successful in their educational career.
In the past year, Gonzalez worked as a senator at large, representing athletics.
But last year was challenging for all of ASI as the transition to virtual learning made it more difficult to reach out to people, Gonzalez said.
During that time, Gonzalez created a program proposal for the university. Because CalFresh doesn’t serve the undocumented and international communities, Gonzalez saw the need for alternative grocery assistance.
“Students who are able to receive those benefits can apply and basically have assistance to reduce food insecurity,” Gonzalez said. “The most exciting part is that we’re going to be the first university to have something like this, out of the other 22 Cal State universities.”
Gonzalez, who also sits on the board of directors for the Cal State Student Association as a student representative, hopes to have the program implemented in about a month.
Miles Nevin, the executive director for ASI, describes Gonzalez as “highly dedicated to his role” and notes that the ASI staff are all excited for his presidency. His initial priorities are expanding the Basic Needs program and providing additional support services for undocumented students.
“Jesus brings passion, deep worth-ethic and a lot of innovative ideas to the role,” Nevin said. “As a professional staff trying to support student leaders and their initiatives, this is a good combination of qualities to work with.”
Whatever the students want, Gonzalez says he will try to assist, whether that be by him helping himself or connecting students with someone who can. If students want to speak with Gonzalez, they can visit him during his office hours or reach out through his email or his assistant’s email.
Gonzalez also encourages students who want to share their opinions to do so through public comment at ASI’s Senate Zoom meetings Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m.
“I’m a student too, I don’t appreciate a lot of stuff happening sometimes,” Gonzalez said. “Now in this role what I can do is to listen to those issues, those concerns, those questions, and bring it up to the individuals.”
For those who are interested in having a more hands-on role with ASI, there are many options, from internships to paid positions. Gonzalez reminds students that there’s more to the college experience than class requirements and says “to enjoy the college environment, you want to be involved.”
Gonzalez said he is looking forward to making the university more inclusive, equitable, and supportive to all students. Nevin also noted that “Gonzalez’s experiences and challenges he’s encountered in life” have allowed him to “better empathize with students and further serve the 39,000 students at Long Beach State.”
Though it’ll be hard to keep such a robust and diverse population satisfied, Gonzalez said he is determined to try his best.
“It’s a huge honor and privilege that I have,” Gonzalez said.