CSUN Alumni Assist in Writing Opioid Epidemic Paper Presented to the White House
CSUN alumni and the leadership group National Millennial Community (NMC) had the chance to present a paper on the state of the nation’s opioid epidemic to President Donald Trump’s administration. According to its executive summary, the paper discussed ways to provide a millennial perspective that coincides with the administration’s current and future health initiatives.
In March, distinguished alumnus and co-founder of NMC Bill Imada ’84 (Human Resource Management) made a visit to the White House with the help of Eljay Feuerman, NMC co-founder, and CSUN alumna Edith Gomez ’16 (Marketing). The visit’s purpose was to engage in a conversation about the country’s opioid crisis.
Initially, the NMC was scheduled to visit and tour the White House in August 2017. That visit was postponed to this spring, after White House staff asked the group to prepare a conversation about millennials’ perspectives on the opioid crisis. Feuerman said the conversation had shifted because an NMC member had seen people in his hometown deal with the effects of opioids. The group suggested they take the planned conversation one step further and send recommendations and exploratory research on the opioid crisis to the White House.
“Instead of walking into a room and having the conversation stop in that room, we wanted to do something that was a little bit more actionable to further the conversation,” Feuerman said. “It was about change in a way that could reach more than the people inside the room.”
According to Feuerman, the administration was open to hearing the students’ ideas, leading to the white paper “Millennials Take a Stand Against Opioids.”
Imada said he was proud to have so many CSUN alumni and representatives from another California State University present at the White House.
“It was a great feeling having representatives from 20 different states at our meetings with White House officials, and even better having CSUN students there to address some of the critical issues impacting our country,” Imada said. “CSUN was joined by another state university, Sonoma State, at our meeting. It was a cordial conversation about how millennials could play a greater role in addressing opioid abuse and addiction in our country.”
In May, the NMC received a positive response to the white paper from President Trump’s administration. Special Assistant to the Secretary at the White House Melissa Fwu told Imada that the White House was impressed by the well-thought-out essay and by the level of understanding that the NMC community demonstrated on the opioid challenges facing America, Imada said. She sent the document to Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the President and the White House’s point person on response to the opioid crisis, Imada said.
NMC member Brittany Gamble ’18 (Journalism) was one of five members pre-selected to speak with White House executives. She said she felt honored to have the opportunity to speak to the White House on such an important topic.
“Having an opportunity to visit the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building was something I never expected to do in my lifetime,” she said. “It was truly an honor to serve as a student ambassador from California State University, Northridge, and be one of only three student delegates from our state. As lead members of our delegation, we were given a rare opportunity to receive a high-level briefing on the opioid crisis from four members of President Donald Trump’s team. We were also personally escorted from the White House to our briefing, passing the West Wing along the way.”
Gamble wasn’t the only CSUN student to participate. NMC member Nicole Delgado ’18 (Marketing) helped research and write the white paper. Although she was not able to attend the meeting at the White House, she felt compelled to contribute to the project.
“It felt really cool because I never thought I would be asked personally by the White House to talk about the opioid epidemic,” Delgado said. “It was a new experience and felt like a test, because I’ve never been asked about this before. I was more than willing to do it.”
Delgado said she appreciated having a chance to make change. Social movements can affect everyone, directly and indirectly, and she hopes that the white paper will help people understand the national crisis, she said.
“It was a lot of pressure because I wanted to do a good job,” she said. “As a CSUN student I wanted to prove to the White House that Cal State students have the skills and ability to provide quality knowledge, research and advice. I’m glad my advice and research was selected and hope It inspires the White House.”