“Vagina Monologues” performer inspired by show

With powerful performances, the “Vagina Monologues” closed their annual performance at Sonoma State last week. 

“The Vagina Monologues”, a theater production written by Eve Ensler, discusses the good and bad experiences women have with their vaginas and the experiences within the LGBTQ+ community and is an annual event on campus. 

This year, the cast and crew was composed of 74 people, most of whom are SSU students. Profits of the show were donated  to Verity, a non-profit that strives to end all forms of violence such as sexual assault and abuse.   

First time performer, Estephanie Ascencio, a junior communications major, was first inspired by the show during her freshman year as an extra credit assignment. 

“I decided I wanted to join and be a part of something so empowering and I finally found the courage to join as a third year,” Ascencio said. 

Julia Kistner, a junior communications major and director of the show, said that although it was Ascencio’s first time performing, she was a great a great addition to “The Vagina Monologues.”

“She’s such an easy going and positive person and she definitely brought her personality into her performance,” said Kistner.

Although she was nervous to perform in the show for the first time, Ascencio found immense support from her friends and her V supporters who are, “people in our lives who we feel empower and support us.”

According to Ascencio the overall themes of The Vagina Monologues, “range from the acceptance of women’s sexuality, to the end of rape and violence, to the understanding of transgender experiences.” 

This year the proceeds from ticket sales will be going towards Verity which is a crisis hotline and support system in Sonoma County for anyone who is a victim of sexual assault or abuse. They provide services such as counseling, intervention, and educate the community on prevention of sexual assault and abuse. 

“The importance of “Vagina Monologues” goes beyond just raising money,” said Ascencio. “The most important part is the conversations that come out of our show.” 

She hopes that by doing the show people will continue to talk about these issues and make a change. 

“Change happens when a spark is ignited within someone,” Ascencio said.  “‘Vagina Monologues” is that flame that ignites that spark, and we are the voices of everyone who can’t or won’t be heard.” 

With this being her first performance, Ascencio has made some amazing memories and she plans on participating next year during her senior year. 

Being part of the cast of  “The Vagina Monologues” has been an experience that Ascencio will never forget. She even hopes to carry the things that she has learned by integrating “The Vagina Monologues” into whatever career she decides to pursue after college. 

“It was so great to see how much being in The Vagina Monologues positively impacted her life,” said Kistner.  

Ascencio is very grateful to have been a part of something as special and empowering as “The Vagina Monologues” that she said, “works towards creating change for important ongoing issues in the world.”  

“Thank you to the directors of the Vagina Monologues 2018 production, and the amazing cast I got to be a part of for creating some amazing memories that I will cherish forever,” said Ascencio. “I love you all.”

SSU welcomes UndocuResource Center director

At the age of 16, Rosa Salamanca Moreira made her journey to the U.S, traveling from El Salvador to Los Angeles to join her family. 

Born and raised in El Salvador, Rosa came to the states with no prior knowledge of the English language nor did she know much about the lifestyle she would encounter in the U.S. Moving to Los Angeles was the first step in what would later create the pathway to her devotion for helping the needs and providing support for undocumented students. 

Her newly position as director of the Undocu Resource Center has given her the chance to recreate how the campus welcomes undocumented students and how resources will be made easily attainable. 

At her high school in Los Angeles, Rosa found a program called the Newcomer Center that helped students who had recently arrived to the United States from different parts of the world. This program offered a group of students the opportunity to meet others who were going through similar experiences and find the help needed to succeed in their education. 

“As a teenager, going through adolescence at the time, it was difficult being able to transition into a place I didn’t know, especially trying to understand the language and being able to succeed”, said Salamanca. 

At the beginning of her senior year in high school she had come across the Undocumented Students Club that had been formed and funded by two of her friends. At the end of that year she had been asked to take on the lead position for this organization, and regardless of her skepticism at the time, she decided to take the offer. 

“For me being able to be in a program that helped me transition made me realize how having a place where you are able to relate to others and feel that you aren’t alone was so important”, said Salamanca. 

Eventually she made her way to CSU Northridge where she helped fight for a Dream Center. Soon after, she continued to work for nonprofits and other organizations to provide support for undocumented populations. Her background and experience with undocumented students has provided her the tools and skills needed to implement new ideas for Sonoma State. 

“I see an opportunity at the university where I can create a place similar to the one I come from,” said Salamanca. “The place that I was able to benefit from, to create a space for students where they can go to, which is the main reason I came here.” 

Omar Santiago, a senior history major says, “She brings professionalism with the way she carries herself and the way she approaches students, but at the same time she is very welcoming.” 

With the power Rosa’s position holds she hopes to create a welcoming place for undocumented students and to create an immigrant friendly campus for all students. She wants to ensure that they are being heard and that at the end of the day those needs are being met. 

Her primary goal is to show the UndocuResource Center and its members that they have a place that will support them and provide the necessary information and tools to succeed in their college career. She believes that the barriers these students face can affect their success in all aspects of their lives, Rosa is determined to break these barriers and find opportunities for students. 

Maria Nolasco-Ramirez a senior anthropology and chicano latino studies major says, “Her job now is to make sure undocumented students aren’t thrown under the bus, she has to make sure that we are getting the resources that we need, not what the university thinks we need.”

 

Students compete in laser battles at Student Center

If you’re looking for new ways to meet people on campus, get involved in recreational activities or just have a good time, then you might want to look into the many activities hosted by Student Involvement.

 Lazer Battles was a free event in the Ballrooms of the Student Center where students played free rounds of laser tag. Student Involvement transformed the Ballrooms into a laser tag arena with bunkers for students to hide behind as they played. Student Involement desiged Lazer Battles to be a game of seven versus seven, but students could also come as individuals and play. 

Mo Phillips, director of Student Involvement, hopes to provide opportunities for students to get together, with Lobofest being one of the three involvement weeks that allow SSU students to participate in fun on-campus activities.

“Lobofest is one of three spirit weeks designed to promote community spirit and tradition on campus,” Phillips said. Laser Battles on Thursday night was the final event of the week of Lobofest. 

Student Involvement has also created a new program called Swipe2win where students can earn points for going to events and win prizes at the end of each month. 

“Swipe2win is an opportunity for students to come out to events like Lazer Battles,” said Rob Smith, Campus Life Advisor for sports clubs. “The more times they see us at events and swipe their ID cards that’s more entries they get to win prizes at the end of the month. 

“We also select grand prize winners at the end of the semester,” Smith said. “Last semester they had bluetooth headphones and visa gift cards.”

This semester Student Involvement is giving away prizes such as Warriors tickets. Prizes can be anything and everything.

Morgan Sterni, a senior political science major, is an employee of Student Involvement and attended the event on Thursday.

“Lazer Battles is a fun interactive game,” Sterni said. “Everything we put on for students is free, so this is a free fun event if they’re just hanging out on campus.” 

According to Mishelle Baltazar, a freshman liberal studies major, it was nice going to the event and being with friends since she is not from Sonoma County and can’t easily go home. 

Eliza Verlarde, a freshman and a pre-nursing major, enjoyed playing Laser Battles because she said it was the perfect way to have, “a good time with friends and not focus on school.” 

 

Escape to adventure with Outdoor Pursuits

Camping, backpacking and kayaking are just a few of the things you can do through the Sonoma State University Outdoor Pursuits program. Whether you’re an outdoors type of person or a beginner, there’s something for everyone with Outdoor Pursuits. 

Having begun in the early ‘90s, the Outdoor Pursuits program has brought together SSU students, faculty and staff who all share love for adventure in the outdoors. The program takes participants around California to do a variety of activities, and sometimes offer the option of an out-of-state trip. This semester students can choose to take a trip to the Grand Canyon.

“This program allows people of all skill levels to experience the great outdoors here in California,” said Tre Jones, outdoor pursuits programmer. “Students benefit a lot from being able to get away from campus, and those who attend our trips are able to form strong connections with one another and create friendships that will last outside of the trips.”

Jones said he is excited for the spring break which he called “a sort of a farewell tour of some national parks in the region,” Jones said. “Due to Trump reducing the size of some national parks, we thought it would be fun to offer students a chance to join us in exploring Zion Park, Bryce Canyon, Red Rocks and more really cool places.” 

To sign up for a trip, students can visit the recreation center and mention the Outdoor Pursuits program to the front desk clerk, or they can sign up by filling out all the forms then and there. Prices range from $60 to $260. However, the prices include everything you may  need during the duration of the trip such as experienced instructors, campground permits, maps, group gear such as stoves, water filters, tents, and cooking kits.

“Although I have never gone on a trip with outdoor pursuits, I think it’s really awesome that it’s open to everyone,” said Zach Somola, a senior SSU student. “Being able to bring friends from off campus makes the program so much better.” 

Senior Jonathan Alley said that although he’s new to campus and hadn’t heard of the Outdoor Pursuits program, he thinks the program could be really useful for those looking for a little escape from school. 

“I love to go camping,” Alley said. “It is super fun and allows me to get a little break from everything.”

Sonoma State senior student, Krystal Bacon, said she’s excited for the trips to begin and cannot wait to go on new adventures with her friends. 

“The price includes everything you need and it’s super easy to go on trips,” Bacon said. “I didn’t bring very much camping stuff with me when I came back from break, so it’s nice that I don’t have to go buy anything in order to take these trips.”

 

SSU graduate helps achieve college success through 10,000 Degrees Organization

Formerly known as the Marin Education Fund, 10,000 Degrees has helped over 25,000 students gain access to a higher education. Their mission is to help students from low income backgrounds get to and through college in order to positively impact their communities and the world.

This non-profit organization has many programs that help students learn  how to access, enroll, and complete college. Some of these programs include the 10,000 degrees institute, college day tours, cash for college workshops, and college and financial aid counseling.

Amy Martinez, a SSU graduate and College Success fellow for 10,000 Degrees, was assigned to a cohort of Sonoma State students to serve as academic support on campus. Her role is similar to that of a counselor. 

Her SSU cohort of students often meets once or twice a week at Charlie Brown’s Cafe where she is available throughout the day for students to drop by for advising or just socializing. 

“We help with financial aid renewal, guiding them through the hardships of   registration, major changes, or academics and connecting them to resources on campus,” said Martinez.  “This gives students resources and support for their college career.”

 Martinez, just like the organization she works for, believes that all students have the potential to succeed, which is why they rely on a strength-based approach to their work. 

“We focus on treating each and every student as a unique individual,” said Martinez. “We lean on their strengths to help them learn, grow, and achieve their academic goals.”

According to Martinez, there are two ways to become part of the program and most students are chosen while in high school. One of these programs is a 10,000 Degrees institute that occurs over the summer before their senior year. 

“This program is aimed at upcoming high school seniors, who are first generation or come from low income backgrounds where they spend some time at  a college campus and are a part of workshops,” said Martinez. “This serves as an introduction to college, and lets them know that college is an option.”

Once they become part of the program, 10,000 Degrees supports students through their remainder high school years up until their completion of higher education. 

Once a student becomes part of their  success program they have staff determined to help guide the student through college,transferring and graduation. 

“We are open to helping anyone who needs it,” said Martinez. “Anyone can come to our offices or office hours and ask for help, we will never turn anyone away.” 

According to Martinez, she often has students who refer friends who need help with financial aid renewal or who bring non-10kd friends along to 10kd events. 

The organization gets its funding from reaching out to our donors, as well as hosting a gala in which they have raffles and bidding for people who are interested in the organization. 

Josue Castillo, a senior early childhood development and spanish major, is one of the many students helped by 10,000 Degrees. He is currently a student ambassador at SSU and helps Martinez in counseling and advising other students. 

“I make sure the students feel welcomed and comfortable with the community, as well as serving them as a guide to find resources,” said Castillo. “We also create fun events for our students to engage and get to know each other with the goal that they serve each other as resources for networking.” 

According to Castillo, being part of 10,000 Degrees and working with Martinez has been beneficial in many ways. 

“It has been a great learning experience since  they are all smart friendly and well-trained professionals that care and are passionate about helping others achieve a higher education,” said Castillo. “10,000 Degrees has become a family that has supported me since high school, and has stayed around to continue to help me until I reach my goals.”

Students for Quality Education award scholarships for the first time

The UndocuScholars Coalition and Students for Quality Education will be awarding six undocumented students the Educación Sin Fronteras Scholarship for the first time at Sonoma State University. 

The scholarship has been funded through money raised at the Undocu5k which takes place in April with last year being the first time the event was held in order to raise money for the scholarships. 

The scholarship offers undocumented students who attend SSU or those who are part of either Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), License Information (AB-60), California Dream Act, and AB-540, the financial support to succeed in their academic career. 

Briana Rodriguez, co-founder of the undocu5K, and Monica Robledo, former UndocuScholars president, were set on selecting those who demonstrated leadership skills throughout Sonoma State and showed that they financially needed the award. 

“We ask for a little statement of purpose of what they’re going through and how this scholarship would benefit them,” said Rodriguez. “We blocked out everyone’s name and went through the random process, we didn’t want to feel bias by any names.”

According to Rodriguez, with the Undocu5k being new to campus, the goal is to spread awareness of the event to raise as much money to put towards the scholarship. 

The number of recipients who are awarded with the scholarship is based on how much money is raised at the Undocu 5k. Each year can differ depending on the number of participants who participate or donate to the 5k. 

Mariana Martinez, faculty advisor to the UndocuScholars Coalition club said that the brain child was really Briana who is an ally member of UndoScholars Coalition.

“I think that for the first time in not having that much money we actually put it together with $250,” said Rodriguez. “We pretty much put it together the month before because we weren’t getting the responses from campus that we wanted, but we had a lot of community members come out and show support the day of, which we didn’t think would happen.” 

This organization aids students with information and help to understand the community in which they live in. Along with the financial award, the organization is also fundraising to give the opportunity to visit other universities for those who are planning on attending graduate school. 

Robledo explains the requirements the scholarship asks of any applicant is that they acquire a passion for education and hope to apply that knowledge into their communities. 

Any members who are leaders in the UndocuScholars Coalition are not allowed to apply because they want to assure students that just because one holds a leadership position they would have the upper hand in receiving this award. 

“This opportunity offers a group of students who are suffering in their education the help to progress and find their voice in the community, said Rodriguez. “I hope it spreads awareness about this issue that not all of us have access to education and it’s not always affordable.”

Rodriguez hopes that the scholarship opens more opportunities for events like the Undocu5k that help undocumented students in some way to pursue their education.  

The resources on campus for undocumented students are very limited, including money awards that can help students succeed through their college career. The financial stress accompanied with the fear that can come with being an undocumented student is a barrier that the UndocuScholars Coalition and Students for Quality Education are hoping to break down. 

Maria Nolasco-Ramirez, a senior anthropology and chicano and latino studies major, is one of the recipients of the scholarship and says that it has inspired her in many ways.

“Coming to Sonoma State there wasn’t really an active voice for undocumented students so when the scholarship was made available to students it was like wow there are people here supporting us and there are changes being made here at this university,” said Nolasco-Ramirez. “It’s very inspiring to know that something that didn’t exist can be created and made possible.”

Tyler Perez wins first place at Seawolves Got Talent

For the past three years Seawolves got Talent has been bringing remarkably talented young people to perform against each other and battle for the cash grand prize. 

This year Tyler Perez, a master’s student in SSU’s school of education, took down six other opponents for the first place title and a grand prize of two-hundred and fifty dollars. 

Gifting the audience with  original songs and his voice, his overall message and remarkable guitar skills that won the judges hearts. 

With the competition being so diverse and gifted and ranging from professional yo-yoing to voice acting, it was no easy task for the five judges to narrow it down to the top three. 

The audience enjoyed laughing hysterically while at other times the room fell silent in awe. There was truly something for everyone and the audience’s positive response showed that to be true. 

Sam Long, a senior sociology major, was one of the five judges evaluating the competitors and this was her first year attending Seawolves Got Talent. 

Through working in the involvement center for student government she worked closely with Associated Students Productions,  which was what helped her not only get involved but land the judging gig at Seawolves Got Talent. 

“They were really awesome just in general getting out and performing, it is the hardest part of anything like this, and especially the turn out,” says Long. “I honestly didn’t even expect it to be this big, so it was really awesome to see people get out there.”

Some of the performers at Seawolves Got Talent were first timers attending while others had been contestants before. 

In the audience was Kylie Walker, an english and women and gender studies major. Coming to support her friends, she was shocked at the turnout that this year had brought. Walker attended last years Seawolves Got Talent and couldn’t wait to see what this years contestants had in store. 

“I thought the show was great!” said Walker. “I went last year, and the turn out this year was much better! 

“I have a couple of friends who work for ASP and they invited me to come and so I thought I would,” said Walker. “I know a few people from the Vagina Monologues and then I know Grey because we are both in Queer- Straight Alliance together.”

First timer Shelby Olivas, a senior business major, heard about Seawolves Got Talent from a friend and decided to go. Since it is her last year, getting involved in everything she can as well as trying new things is very important to her. 

“I didn’t know what to expect and it only being an hour there was no reason not to go, and it was free,” said Olivas. “I thought it was great, it was funny at times and emotional at others, but all of them were very talented and it was a great thing to go and do on a Saturday night.”

“I could never imagine going up there in front of so many people and I got a little nervous for them, but they all did amazing,” said Olivas. “Even though it was my last year I would definitely recommend people to go, it takes a lot to get up there.” 

Transfer Student Social provides networking opportunity

About 10 percent of the student population at Sonoma State University is made of transfer students.

Transfer students are encouraged to get involved by going to social events specifically aimed at them and often hosted on and off campus, such as the transfer social.

Some of these events are created for specific transfer students, from events for transfers with children to events for non-traditional aged students, with the goal of connecting them to others alike. 

Transfer students can also take advantage of peer advising and mentorship aside from attending the different events available to them.

Alvin Nguyen, director for the transfer and transition program, planned and held a transfer social in the student center this past Wednesday.

“We try to get students aware of the different things they can take advantage of when they come for orientation and then again during the semester,” said Nguyen. “We have a lot of transfer student mentors make an appearance at orientation and at events like these to show transfer students that there is always someone there they can talk to or ask questions if they need any help.”

Several of the students at the transfer social said that the reason why they chose to attend SSU was because of its beautiful campus and how nice everyone was to them during their visit. 

“I think the dorms are super nice and the Green Music Center is also really beautiful,” said Evann Essert, a junior who transferred to Sonoma from Monterey. “I loved the small town feel of Rohnert Park, and thought the campus was stunning.” 

Michael Widling, a junior new transfer, moved from the Santa Barbara area and said he decided to continue his education at Sonoma State because he was ready for a change of pace. He found that not only was the campus beautiful, but the educators were also really good as well.

Max Porter, a senior transfer student who spent some time furthering his education in Montana decided to come home and finish his education at Sonoma State. 

“Being able to go to school so close to home and save money while living at home was a huge factor as to why I chose to come here versus going elsewhere,” said Porter.

 

SSU ranks fifth in U.S. for study abroad program

SSU ranks fifth in U.S. for study abroad program

Australia. Spain. The United Kingdom. These are only a few destinations that Sonoma State University’s study abroad program offers its participants.

Studying abroad as a college student is a once-in-a-lifetime, life-changing opportunity—one Sonoma State has recently gained acclaim for providing.

The Institute of International Education, a leading nonprofit educational and cultural exchange group, has ranked Sonoma State as one of the nation’s top five universities for studying abroad, giving it the number five spot among colleges that provide master’s degrees. 

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Spring into the new semester: SSU students prepare to shift gears for spring 2018

Spring into the new semester: SSU students prepare to shift gears for spring 2018

As one semester ends, the last thing college students want to think about is the beginning of the next. 

During “dead week,” more commonly known as the week before finals, many Sonoma State University students focus on how they can finish the semester strong and soon won’t have to worry about impending tests, essays or research projects. 

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