‘Collaborating for Change’ Conference Steers Students Toward Mentors — and Greater Purpose

  • Attendees standing at a table by a HERE Center poster

    At CSUN's "Collaborating for Change" conference in late February 2020, students and staff check attendees in at the conference. Photo courtesy of Amber Bui.

  • Carrie Saetermoe, standing by a BUILD PODER poster

    CSUN professor Carrie Saetermoe, of BUILD PODER and the university's newly chartered HERE Center, gives a welcome address at the "Collaborating for Change" conference, in late February 2020. Photo courtesy of Amber Bui.

  • At CSUN's "Collaborating for Change" conference in late February 2020, attendees discuss a variety of issues such as climate action, health disparities and mental health. Photo courtesy of Amber Bui.

On Feb. 26, dozens of CSUN students gathered to learn about how they can make a difference in their communities — while also exploring their interests and preparing themselves for their careers.

To help realize these goals, CSUN held a conference on community-academic partnerships, “Collaborating for Change.” The interdisciplinary conference was open to students, faculty, staff and community organizations. Students and faculty could learn about grant and internship opportunities, matching up students with mentors — and finding collaborators.

The event included a panel discussion related to funding opportunities available for community-partnered research and ways in which faculty and students can get involved. There were also presentations from CSUN’s Institute for Community Health and Wellbeing, the university’s newly chartered Health Equity Research and Education (HERE) Center, and CSUN’s Office of Community Engagement, Tseng College, Institute for Sustainability, and Valley Nonprofit Resources program.

Students perused tables featuring topics such as data mapping, climate action, mental health, childhood chronic illness, maternal health in families of color and much more. The students had the chance to speak with faculty and representatives of a variety of community nonprofits — potential mentors to help them as they delve deeper into these fields.

“We’re excited about students becoming involved in the community, as interns or researchers, and we welcome people to come to our website and learn more,” said Carrie Saetermoe, the newly appointed director of CSUN’s HERE Center.

Some of the projects students, faculty and staff perused included ValleyGo!, a new CSUN program funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs; and the ReLAY (Reconnecting Los Angeles Youth) Institute, a platform to improve outcomes for young adults age 16-24 who are unemployed and out of school, and who have experienced the foster or probation system or homelessness.

Attendees also explored information on other CSUN programs, such as the Marilyn Magaram Center for Food Science, Nutrition and Dietetics and BUILD PODER, which focuses on social justice and has helped hundreds of students and faculty mentors work together on biomedical research projects and present their work at professional conferences.

A future conference will focus specifically on community partners.

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