Dining with giants

By Janet Curiel |Staff Writer|

The Riverside Convention Center was filled with the who’s who of San Bernardino on April 29, and I found myself wondering how I had stumbled upon the guest list at the president’s gala.

The theme for the night was INSPIRE.

The Board of Trustees, President Tomás Morales, along with the honored guests of the night Lou Monville & Elizabeth Sanchez-Monville were only a table away.

As I sat with my fellow ASI representatives, I gazed upon the blue and silver linens that draped the table while taking in the aromatic smells of the floral centerpiece.

After the dinner began the speeches from my fellow peers in ASI as well as members of the Model United Nations Program.

President Morales began to speak, it felt as if he was talking directly to me.

“I started a tradition in my very first commencement of December of 2012, and I asked the students in the audience, the graduates, who are the first in your family to earn a baccalaureate degree, and about 80% rise, and it’s just a wonderful celebration,” said Morales before introducing Elizabeth to speak.

At that moment, everything came together. I began to tear up as the long journey through college to that moment came full circle.

Being the youngest of seven children, and the first to graduate college, I have always felt as if I had this imposter syndrome as if I did not belong in that kind of arena constantly feeling like I was not smart enough, or was not good enough to sit at that table.

When Elizabeth Monville accepted the honor of the night, she spoke and became emotional when referring to her own inspiration of her grandfather.

For about ten minutes through their speeches, I was overcome by emotion and fortunately was able to personally thank the Monvilles for their words.

After the event, the Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Brian Haynes, came over and thanked me and the other ASI representatives for all of our hard work.

The dinner options included grilled filet mignon, coriander encrusted salmon, and vegetarian option

I conveyed to him how much I appreciated this experience, and knowing that I have someone like that championing me to continue my journey and believing that I too could someday be on that stage, is beyond words.

Alex Gutierrez, the current ASI President who presented the Monvilles with a glass sculpture by CSUSB student Mariah Conner and Nicole Stahl, later reflected on the importance of attending the showcase.

“We are showcasing all the hard work and all the transformative things that have happened on our campus… it’s the transformation of students and bringing students into the leadership roles of leading our community for future generations to come,” explained Gutierrez.

Gutierrez also spoke during the gala on behalf of students and shared his experience as ASI President and model UN participant.

“It just shows how far leaders before me have paved the way, and it shows that when you come here, you can essentially go anywhere, and that’s extremely important,” said Gutierrez.

This campus has given me more than just an education.

It has given me confidence, experience, and the opportunity to dine with community giants that I hope to strive to be.