During this holiday season, we’re checking in with Matadors on campus who make a difference — including students who juggle classwork with jobs or volunteer positions where they offer a helping hand to others.

At CSUN, there are myriad opportunities to provide peer mentorship, through the colleges, clubs and administration. Students might need advice, or someone to just listen.

Since high school, Blanca Giron has spent time honing her skills as a mentor, lending an ear and her expertise to her peers. Giron is a senior, double majoring in political science and criminology and justice studies. As a sophomore, she participated in the Mentor Connect program, where she helped new Matadors.

Mentor Connect offers a virtual platform to pair up new students with more experienced Matadors who share advice about classes, campus resources and college life.

“I [was] basically your big sister … guiding you through everything school related,” Giron said. “And then, if [they] needed any other resource, I could help [them] find that resource.”

Giron said most of her conversations with mentees took place over text, and often centered around normalizing common student concerns.

“We would text and [I’d ask], ‘What do you want to major in?’ And sometimes [they’d] say, ‘I don’t know,’ but I let them know that was OK.”

She advised students to use General Education classes as a way to explore different majors, as she did. She viewed her role as a human “handbook” — or intro guide to college, Giron said.

“[I’d say], ‘Any questions you have, I can help you, even if I don’t know the answer,'” she said. “‘We’ll find it out.'”

Giron is a very busy senior. She moved on from Mentor Connect to participate in other extracurricular activities: She plays lacrosse and serves as treasurer for the women’s lacrosse club team. She also serves as an upper-division senator for Associated Students and participates in the university’s Model United Nations (UN) team. She often finds opportunities to mentor other students in these areas as well as in her jobs, Giron said — as a youth coach for the Southern California Golf Association, and as a peer learning assistant and tutor in the Matador Achievement Center, where she advises other student-athletes.

“I mentor others because of the impact other mentors have had on my life,” Giron said. “I feel like everyone has an obligation to help make this world a better place… one of the best ways to do that is to pass along knowledge, wisdom, and experience to others, as well as just being a safe environment for them.”

She also spent a semester as an intern in Washington, D.C., as part of the Panetta Internship Program. A former CSUN professor recommended that she look into the program.

“I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve been able to get,” Giron said. “All of the support, being able to make all these friends at CSUN, even through mentorship.”

This is part of a series introducing our community to people who work or volunteer at CSUN to make life on campus a little easier, friendlier or more beautiful.  Check out the first story in our series about CSUN Grounds Manager Tom Case.

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