More than 200 devoted alumni, faculty and staff, and friends of the university heard firsthand how their generosity has made a life-changing difference for California State University, Northridge scholarship recipients at the recent President’s Associates and Heritage Society Donor Appreciation Luncheon, which took place on June 7.
CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison welcomed the donors to CSUN and shared how alumni giving and other philanthropic support have enabled the university to help more students reach their goals. She noted that CSUN’s alumni giving numbers have grown steadily since 2012, rising from 12th in the CSU to second in the system.
“Today is a great time to laud all the wonderful work that our donors do for us and that enable us to do for our students,” Harrison said. “Some of you give because you think of your own college journey and want to make it a little bit easier for today’s students. There are fees to be paid. There are books to buy. There is housing and food to purchase. Whatever reason you have for giving back, I hope your dedication will continue because as we have grown, our needs have grown.”
CSUN’s President’s Associates and Heritage Society organizations aim to raise money for the campus through alumni and donor contributions on an annual basis and through planned gifts to the university. Vice President for University Advancement and President of the CSUN Foundation Robert D. Gunsalus began the program by expressing appreciation for all those in attendance.
“For both groups represented here today, thank you on behalf of all the students and faculty and alumni who have benefited from your generosity over the years,” Gunsalus said.
The program featured recent alumni, who spoke about how they benefited from financial assistance and wanted to do the same for future generations of Matadors. Also in attendance was Cherry Hendricks, vice president for the President’s Associates, who spoke about the pride she feels being involved with the campus again.
“My journey, like many others, began after being introduced to CSUN again after many years of being off campus,” she said. “I graduated in 1969 when it was San Fernando Valley State College. I live in Northridge — I’ve driven by time after time after time, watched things happen, but had never gone on campus. I was raising a family, running a business, did not get involved. After being given a campus tour, boy did my eyes get big. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and I could not be prouder to be a CSUN graduate.”
Raymond Calnan ’03 (Finance) of the Heritage Society also spoke about his contributions and why he decided to give back.
“It’s so important, and I think that’s why my wife and I decided to give back, because CSUN gave us so much,” Calnan said. “It really launched our careers and launched our lives together, and we want to see other students have that opportunity.”
The work that President’s Associates and Heritage Society members already had accomplished meant opportunities for students who would never have dreamed of attending a four-year institution such as CSUN, let alone graduating from one.
Armine Tadevosyan ’15 (Theatre) spoke about how her scholarship set her on a career path that she would not have been able to forge by herself.
“Not only did the scholarship help financially, but knowing that the committee believed in me inspired me to do my best. It was a tough semester, but I made it,” Tadevosyan recalled. “I’m honored to be here with you today, not just because I received a scholarship that made my final semester and graduation possible, but because I’m proud to say that each of us in this room has made a commitment to give to students at CSUN.”
Recent graduate Joshua Khabushani ’16 (Philosophy) spoke about receiving the Sidney A. Luckenbach Memorial Award, a scholarship established by the family and friends of former CSUN philosophy professor, Sidney Luckenbach Sr., and how it has inspired him to pursue a future that he once thought was impossible.
“If professor Luckenbach were to be present in this room today, I’d want him to know that by creating the scholarship, he invoked in me an unabashed fearlessness and sense of hope. His gift validates what I was unable to independently affirm within myself,” Khabushani said. “What’s more, this award has given me the confidence that will lead me to a promising future — but also, and perhaps even more importantly, create a life of meaning by making our world a more empathetic and inviting place to live.”