‘Faces of SSU’ exhibit showcases student involvement

It’s not uncommon for students to walk around campus with their heads down, spaced out on their phones. More often than not, a simple “hello” or “hey” will be exchanged between students rather than engaging in full-on conversations. This prevents students from connecting with each other, causing them to miss out on meeting people, which can lead to opportunities.

This year, The HUB has put together “Faces of SSU,” an exhibit featuring 26 students who are actively involved in the Sonoma State University community, whether it’s in clubs, student government or student association groups. The goal of the exhibit is to give other students a look into the lives of some of the students among us and see where they come from and who they are.

Whether a student is a freshman just getting used to his or her surroundings, or a senior in the last home stretch of college, it can be difficult for students to connect or feel they have a place at Sonoma State. 

“When I was a freshman, I was super sure I was going to transfer out of SSU. Then I got elected president of the Queer Straight Alliance, and suddenly there were people who were friendly and that were my friends,” said student Nick Hunley-Moore. “I had responsibilities here, which was cool, and it was kind of the way it was when I was back home. Accumulating stuff to make me busy instead of being bored in my dorm doing calculus homework in a major that I hated, I ended up saying yes to all these weird and random opportunities that created a beautiful family of other student leaders.”

Much like Hunley-Moore’s story, many students aren’t aware of the opportunities Sonoma State has to offer, or they simply don’t know where to look for them. The HUB, located on the third floor of the Student Center connects students with their community and highlights the things students are doing and contributing to.

Other than in clubs and organizations, these students were  able to expand their horizons and take advantage of opportunities they might have not thought were possible. “This past year I had the opportunity to study abroad. I’m the first of 19 grandchildren to go to college, so for me I never even thought about being able to afford to come here, let alone being able to live in another country for a year,” said student JaQuay Butler. “I got a whole other perspective on not just life in Europe, but life in America. I changed so much on the inside, and I want other people to be able experience that. It doesn’t matter where you come from as long as you set your mind to something and have goals, you can accomplish them.”

These students’ stories and many more can be viewed on the Seawolf Living website at seawolfliving.com/faces-of-ssu. The “Faces of SSU” exhibit was first displayed on Saturday at the Audra McDonald show at the Green Music Center. The exhibit will be on display again Wednesday through Friday at the Student Center and April 7 through  May 15 in the library.

“I see so many students struggle in their first years. Struggle to connect, for some they struggle to see or meet people who they have something in common with, or they don’t know what they have in common until they talk,” said Mo Phillips, associate director of student development. “I believe in face-to-face communication and really getting to know people. Being our authentic selves; the good, the bad and the ugly. I want people to be a part of something here. I want everyone to know that they are Seawolves, and because of that, they will always have a place here.”