Bringing Pride to Hillside

Meet Paul Fernandez

By Emily Ayers ASI Press Secretary

(Diana Martinez/Staff Photographer)

Commanding the attention of a room filled with hundreds of students isn’t easy, yet California State University, Long Beach student Paul Fernandez made it look natural as he emceed the Delta Lambda Phi Drag Show in March.

It is that same mix of passion and natural ease that has allowed Fernandez to leave his mark on CSULB through his extensive involvement. He has served as the ASI student government Secretary for LGBTQI+ Affairs from 2016–2017, a residential aid in the dorms and was a SOAR Advisor for 3 years.

“I am from Whittier, California and I have truly loved my experience at CSULB,” said Fernandez. “Everyone thinks because I was a part of SOAR that I am the ultimate fanboy, but I see what the university does and from my perspective I have enjoyed my time here and all they have done for me.”

Fernandez has given a tremendous amount of his time to CSULB, and one of his most recent projects has been working with faculty and staff to create the first ever Pride Floor in the Hillside dorms.

“The Pride floor has been talked about for years, and finally last semester we were able to make it a reality,” said Fernandez. “The Pride floor will offer resources and programming for queer students, residential aids that are aligned for queer oriented spaces and is a full-fledged pride floor for any identity on the LGBTQI spectrum.”

Fernandez said the goal with the Pride floor is not to close people off, but rather to create a space where young, incoming students can surround themselves with people who have similar identities that they can turn to if things get difficult. The Pride Floor is set to launch in Fall 2017.

Continuing to advocate for young students is one of Fernandez’s goals. Next Fall, he will be finishing his degree in Political Science with a minor in economics. He hopes to pursue a career in academic counseling for higher education.

“I really want to be involved in future college students’ lives,” said Fernandez. “I think that is why becoming a residential aid has been the most fulfilling because I want my career to be in education and working with students — what better way to do that than to live with them.”

Another event that Fernandez and the Secretary for Cultural Diversity, Victoria Villa, have been working on is the Multicultural Fair. The fair is scheduled for May 2 from 11a.m. — 2 p.m. on the University Student Union Southwest Terrace.

“We really wanted to punctuate the fact that we are a cross-cultural campus,” said Fernandez. “It is one thing to say, ‘I have my identity I’ll stay here,’ but it is another to say, ‘I have my identity and I’d like to share it with you.’ We really want people to be proud of their identities and to feel open and comfortable enough to showcase them.”

The fair will have student organizations tabling, arts and crafts, food, and will provide an opportunity for students to unwind and express themselves before finals.

“I am so thankful that when I came to CSULB I met so many queer individuals,” said Fernandez. “I didn’t have many queer friends in High School, so coming to this school and understanding that there were others with similar, yet different struggles than me made it so much easier. I came to understand that my struggle is unique. Leaning on my friends has been the most powerful experience for my own identity.”

Fernandez’s excitement and passion for helping people shines through in his continued work and presence on campus. He has taught countless people on campus the art of embracing their diverse identities and how to proudly bring them to the table.

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