“If you guys ask anyone in the Communication Department and or around school (specially at the President’s Office & Staff) ‘who is Selene Aguirre?’ without hesitation they will tell you who she is and what she has done for our school and for the Lambda Pi Eta Sigma Phi Chapter!” That was a comment on our Facebook that we received from Maria Sanchez, who nominated Selene for Campus Celebrity. With a stellar compliment like that, we decided to follow up and speak to Selene about her Cal State L.A. experience.
Maria wasn’t exagerrating. Selene, a first generation college student, has taken the Communication Studies department by storm and has involved herself heavily on campus. Her resume is covered with accomplishments, from being President of Lambda Pi Eta, Vice-President of the Studemtn Alumni Association, a P.A.I.R. student assistant, and so, so much more. With graduation coming this spring, Selene already has her sights set on the future with plans to persue a graduate degree. Not only is Selene accomplished and well rounded, but she showcased a wonderful kindness in our correspondence. Read on to find out more about this week’s incredible Campus Celebrity.
You mentioned that you are a first generation college student. What made you choose Cal State L.A. over other universities? Education has always been important to me and my family; choosing Cal State LA was an easy choice for me. I visited the campus once while I was in my junior college and became enamored with the campus atmosphere and its school colors. A professor I had in my junior college (Cerritos College) is an alum from Cal State LA and he always expressed wonders of the programs this university has to offer. Plus, the campus is close to my house.
How did you become interested in your major? I had great experiences taking speech and communication classes that I decided to pursue a career within the Communication Studies field. I am a quarter away from receiving my Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and I look forward in pursuing a graduate degree to avail myself in the field. I believe that people who pursue advanced academic training in this field will be able to function in various professional capacities, therefore being a part of this field’s future growth is an honor.
What extra curricular activities are you involved with on campus? I am the President of the National Communication Honor Society, Lambda Pi Eta Sigma Phi Chapter (2014-2015), and have also serve as the Vice-President of the Student Alumni Association (2014-2015) and its Event Coordinator (2013-2014). Since January 2015, I have been serving as the Communication Studies Department Representative, the Social Media Representative and the Facilities Committee Chair (summer and fall 2014) for the Startup Weekend Cal State LA powered by Google. Hence, I am a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. I also plan on becoming a helpful volunteer for the Eagle Film Festival taking place this spring quarter. These experiences have profoundly influenced my career goals and personal outlook.
Do you do any extracurricular activities off campus? As of right now, I do not. My primary goal has been to focus my energy to the growth of my university and enrich the care for one another, as students. Lambda Pi Eta also helps promote outside community services, which we have been a part of (e.g. the LA food bank). I was however, involved with the Lakewood and Norwalk Sheriff’s Department in my junior college years. After graduation, I plan on volunteering in the realms of educational services.
What do you like to do in your free time? I aspire every day to come home to my family and simply be with them. My family consists of my loving partner (Jorge Mendoza), my little thirteen-year-old sister (Viridiana Aguirre), and my father (Roberto Aguirre). I enjoy spending my Saturdays with them exploring the great city of LA. If alone, I enjoy reading and writing.
You’re a superstar when it comes to campus involvement! Some students might get overwhelmed, but you handle it flawlessly. How do you decide what organizations you want to participate in and how do you balance it all out? I have a pink agenda that allows me to write my entire schedule and keeps me organized. I’ve learned to use my time wisely and manage it appropriately (i.e. time management); this helps me balance everything out. I’m at a point in my life where I need to make wise decisions about what will better prepare me for a career. Therefore, joining and being the President of Lambda Pi Eta, Vice-President of the Student Alumni Association, and a member of Phi Kappa Phi has helped me understand the practical aspects of how to develop my career goals and personal outlook. I look for an organization that compliments my beliefs for personal and academic success, and where I can complement the organizations mission and goals.
What do you do as a student assistant for P.A.I.R. (Peer-Assisted Information Research Program)? The program is located in the Library, Palmer Wing where other student assistants for P.A.I.R. and I offer one-on-one-in-depth research assistance. We help any student that needs assistance with their research by helping them navigate through the library catalog and academic research. Hence, we also teach students how to cite properly using specific forms of citation (e.g. MLA, APA, ASA, etc.).
Can you tell us about the CGSG 2015 Annual Student Power Research Conference and the research proposal you are going to present there? The Center for Study of Genders and Sexualities (CSGS) invited paper proposals for their student research conference to be held on May 12, 2015. They are interested in students’ work that takes an interdisciplinary approach and consider any gender and sexuality’s intersections. Therefore, I proposed a study that is very dear to me: Latinas in higher education. The purpose of this research proposal study is to advance the understanding of Latinas in higher education utilizing the intersectionality theory to examine and understand their intertwine identities. Introducing identities, such as, gender, ethnicity, social economic status, age, and first-generation scholars. Primarily, focusing on Latina college students’ experiences within a California State University system. Attempting to answer the following research question: How do Latinas in higher education experience their intersectionality identities?
You are very dedicated to your department, from being the Arts and Letters Communication Studies Department Representative and being President of Lambda Pi Eta! How has being involved with the department shaped your education compared to someone that is not involved? I can’t speak for someone else, who has not had the same experiences as me by not being involved. I can, however look back at my own experiences and share how they have shaped my academic and personal experiences. My experiences at Cal State LA’s Arts & Letters Communication Studies Department has had a positive influence on my academic and personal life. Every faculty and staff member allow for the COMS Department to feel like a second home, they encourage and promote each student who walk through those doors. Being the Firsts, Bests, and Only’s COMS Department representative and President of Lambda Pi Eta has granted me to work closely with several well-respected and admired faculty members who have built up my confidence to continue to grow as a Latina in higher education. I fully encourage students to become involved within their departments and to form close relationships with the faculty.
You also participated in the two Startup Weekends held at Cal State L.A.! What was your favorite part of being a part of Startup Weekend? It’s difficult to choose a specific part, since I had an overall great experience! I grew with experience on how to formulate a proposal, coordinate venues, and more. However, my favorite parts of both Startup Weekends where the hard work of the entire team and the concept of encouraging entrepreneurship among the Cal State LA community.
How did you become involved with the Student Alumni Association? I remember my first week as a transferred undergraduate student in fall 2013 and walking towards several tabling booths of different organizations promoting themselves. That day, the Student Alumni Association stood out. Ever since that day, I have been a part of this organization who has allowed me to meet and form a close relationship with an alumni who has become my mentor.
Before you graduate, what do you hope to accomplish? I’ve applied for the graduate program in the Communication Studies Department at Cal State L.A. I hope to receive an acceptance letter, so I can pursue a graduate degree in Communication Studies and work hard to develop my knowledge of the field. Enjoy my graduation ceremony alongside my family, friends, classmates, and professors. Finally, leave a small legacy in Lambda Pi Eta.
Where do you see yourself in five years? If all goes well, I would have received my Master of Arts in Communication Studies (approximately in spring 2017) and obtained the necessary experience of teaching by being part of the Teaching Assisting Program. Potentially, continuing my training in this field by pursuing a doctoral degree. I ultimately, would love to become a professor in this field, conduct research, and publish my work.