Faces of SSU participants encourage diversity on campus

Sonoma State University welcomed students to come meet the Faces of SSU 2018 and to learn about everyone’s story face-to-face. 

Mo Phillips, director of student involvement, held the event on Wednesday in the ballrooms of the Student Center, where all faculty and students could come grab a bite and start a conversation with one of the selected students of the project. 

The school premired The Faces of SSU in a photo campaign where they highlighted brief stories of their lives, including student involvement and a description of who they are. All the students involved in this annual project shared their own personal experience to help others see where they come from. 

Some of the students spoke  words of advice, support and the hope to help someone throughout this campaign. 

The project allows Sonoma State to show students the diversity that is often overlooked in a community that it could benefit from. 

Each student came from a completely different background and they all chose to come together to show the campus there are people who are relatable and are willing to be a voice for those who need it. 

Jose de Jesus Torres Navarro, a Chicano and Latino studies major, said being part of the event and sharing his story in the hopes of inspiring others was a humbling experience.

“Growing up in Richmond, a city where you don’t live past the age of 16, I never pictured myself on a banner, but only on a t-shirt saying Rest in Peace,” said de Jesus Torres Navarro.  “It is something that gets me emotional because I am here right now for myself and I hope I can change someone’s life.” 

The students represented some of the issues Sonoma State faces every day and shed light on what needs to be changed. The lack of diversity and support for underrepresented groups of students were two prominent topics that the Faces of SSU are advocating for. 

According to Carly Solberg, a junior and gender studies major,    seeing the face of someone on a banner who was visibly queer her first year on campus excited her.

“I just wanted to let them know that seeing a queer person on a banner around my school made me feel safer on campus, whether or not the school is taking any legit actions to make queer and trans students feel safer,” Solberg said. “Knowing that the students are there to support me or just be there with me living and walking around made me feel incredible.” 

A project that those who want to see change put together has the potential to make a profound impact that will offer diverse students on campus an opportunity to feel comfortable and safe. 

The students who spoke and gave speeches at the event made it clear they want to inspire others and reassure those who struggle to continue their journey and push through. In addition, students shared their experience at Sonoma State and explained what they all thought a Seawolf is and what that label means to them.

“Coming from an immigrant family, some of us often think we can’t make it this far,” said Manuela Gonzalez-Antonio, a sophomore. “We can do it as students whether you come from an immigrant family or any other type of situation.”