Mahin Sandoval: The Woman, The Myth, The Legend

Mahin with Carly Demple, SafeZone Coordinator, at the Big Event

As an itty bitty freshman, I blundered into the Campus Activities Center, and looking a little lost, Mahin Sandoval kindly took the time to tell me about Friday Night Fever. Even though I only volunteered for two events, I had the opportunity to work with this amazing woman again, two years later, on the 2015 Women’s Leadership Conference. I constantly looked up to her for her organization, attention to detail, and understanding processes. Graduating at the end of this semester, Mahin leaves behind a legacy of excellent and varied programming. Read on to understand how.

Her Campus: Where are you from originally?

Mahin Sandoval: "Denver, CO."

HC: What are you studying?

MS: "I’m studying Family and Consumer Sciences with an emphasis in Human Development, and a minor in Sociology."

HC: Why did you choose this major?

MS: "I really like working with people, and I also felt that it satisfied me as a student because it’s very hands-on and challenging in regards to understanding other people’s perspectives."

HC: How did you end up at UW?

MS: "I stumbled upon UW by accident. I was playing basketball my senior year of high school and I didn’t think I was going to get into college. I was talking with my basketball coach, who went to UW, and my advisor for high school said that I should just apply to CSU, so I applied to CSU and I applied here and DU, but after doing a campus visit, UW felt more like home."

Mahin (middle), Cowboy Joe Handler, Jordan Jungck, Student Activities Council LSP, and Cowboy Joe.

HC: Switching gears a little, what is your current position? How long have you held it? What are your duties?

MS: "I am the Lead Student Programmer for Friday Night Fever. I have been in this position for three years plus two years of volunteering before that. I’ve been here forever! I am responsible for programming alcohol-alternative events on campus and off campus every Friday night. I want to work to make programs more comfortable to students so students can feel they can be a part of these events."

HC: What do you like best about the position?

MS: "I really enjoy my job. I joined because I wanted to make friends and learn more about diverse programming. I saw students leave because of drinking and getting MIPs and DUIs, but students who volunteered for Friday Night Fever and came to Friday Night Fever events are still here – it helped keep the students. Entertainment tends to be a draw for lots of the students to stay. I also love programming events. All of it. From day-of schedules, floor plans, working with agencies… working with volunteers is the most fun. That’s what I love most. We’re all friends outside."

Mahin, Maddy Graham, Concerts and Convocations Lead Student Programmer, and Nick Offerman.

HC: What other activities are you involved in?

MS: "I’ve done some work with Service Learning + Community Engagement and SAFE Project. I’ve also done Alternative Spring Breaks, and the Women’s Leadership Conference this past fall. I was also part of the selection committee for the National Association for Campus Activities."

HC: Tell me more about that.

MS: "It’s an application process, you also have to submit letters of recommendation and provide enough background to show you are experienced in programming events, so it was mostly kind of helping them understand what kinds of programs I have planned and how I was dedicated to that component of college life, and what I saw I would gain out of it professionally. We got to go through 500 performers and acts, which included musical performances, magicians, comedians, hypnotists, a guy that juggled chainsaws and circus acts, and we took that and broke it down to about 100 people. It was lots of fun. I spent a few days in South Carolina throughout that process with 10 students from across the US. We had to pick people’s fates, the stress was real! At the end, we were 100% satisfied. We had a few volunteers go to the national conference this past February and they enjoyed it, so we think we did great."

HC: 7220 Entertainment is a big change coming to campus programming. Can you talk a little about that?

MS: "Sure. The new program structure for the Campus Activities Center is in regards to Friday Night Fever, Student Activities Counsel, Concerts and Convocations, and Visual Cultural Arts. By having 7220 Entertainment, we are helping the entertainment industry understand who we are and where we’re coming from, because right now, there’s four of us, and it’s hard for agencies to see what kind of programming board you’re coming from. The biggest change was mostly with Friday Night Fever; Concerts and Convocations will stay the same; Visual and Cultural Arts will add a lecture component in order to have thought-provoking lectures on campus; Student Activities Counsel will continue to have weekly programming. Friday Night Fever will turn into Late Night Programming and the Films Committee, which will include every Friday night movie, as well as movies Student Activities Counsel has done, such as BANFF film festival. Late Night Programming will be specific nights such as Halloween, Casino Night and Destressor night, which usually see 2,000 students as opposed to weekly programs that see 100-500 students. These bigger events will use the entire Union as a space, almost like creating a larger Destressor once a month, with comedians in one area, karaoke in another, etc. The mission for the Late Night programming will be the same in that it will provide alcohol-alternative programs."

HC: What can you tell me about the X Ambassadors concert that happened last week?

MS: "Since myself and two other Lead Student Programmers are graduating and the current Campus Activities Center programming structure is dissolving, we wanted to give something back to the students who gave us so much while we were here. We wanted students to know that we as boards want students to have fun for free. The concert is part of the rebranding of 7220 Entertainment. We just wanted to do one last thing to leave behind before we left. We figured if we are going to do one last thing, why shouldn’t everyone enjoy the benefits?"

HC: Switching gears again, what is your greatest accomplishment since coming to UW?

MS: "I think I feel my greatest accomplishment is creating more diverse programming structures. In the past it was comedians and magicians and variety acts, but since I’ve jumped on board, I think there’s a bit more diversity, such as LGBT Pink Prom and Ally Week. We are also working more with international students such as with International Night, and reaching out to professors for panels and movies that wouldn’t generally come to campus, in regards to topics that are very current, such as with the “Straight Outta Compton” panel."

HC: What challenges at UW have you overcome?

MS: "I think challenges in regards to the diversity aspect. Our students tend to have a certain way of thinking because it’s our culture we’re used to… Students come and say, “I didn’t know this was so awesome, I didn’t know what to expect.” A few professors offered extra credit for the Asia Project and students didn’t know it was a thing; they aren’t exposed to these things in the community. Sometimes, I don’t know how to satisfy their needs."

HC: What do you want to do after you graduate?

MS: "I have applied to grad schools in CO and moving back home is a big goal."

HC: What is the best advice you can offer a woman at UW?

MS: "Don’t be afraid to apply for a leadership position. My second year as a volunteer, I didn’t want to apply for the Lead Student Programmer position because I felt I wasn’t good enough. Little did I know, it’s what I love. I felt I wasn’t capable of leading a group of people in a fit manner. Before I jump into any of these roles, I evaluate myself and it’s true, you’re your own worst critic. In my culture, a woman should not be in a leadership position, but from a young age, I have always challenged the process and argued with people and got the different perspective. By challenging the process, I challenged myself and I got here. I love what I do. Genuinely. Don’t be afraid to try something new."

Mahin with Rob Essaf, Program Advisor, and TJ Miller.