Governor Jerry Brown recently announced the appointment of CSUSM undergraduate and student leader Cipriano Vargas to the California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees, the highest and most prestigious position a student can hold within the 23-campus university system. Vargas is the first student in University history to be appointed to the CSU Board of Trustees.

As a student trustee, Vargas will represent the voices, concerns and perspectives of the CSU’s 400,000 students and help shape higher education policy for the CSU, the largest public university system in the nation.

“It is a challenging responsibility to represent all 400,000 voices across our 23-campuses, but it’s a challenge I’m up for,” said the 20-year-old Vista native. “I’m eager to advocate for students on the issues that are of utmost importance to them.”

Vargas, currently studying sociology and women’s studies, has been a standout student leader at CSUSM since he first arrived on campus in 2009. A first-generation college student, he participated in the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) as a freshman. In his sophomore year Vargas returned as a peer mentor, helping students from farm-working family backgrounds acclimate to the rigors of college life.

Last year, he served as the chair of the University Student Union Advisory Board, volunteered as an Orientation Team member, helped spearhead the Civility Campaign and held the position of social justice officer for Associated Students, Inc. (ASI). In May students elected Vargas to the position of vice president of external affairs for ASI. He is an alumnus of the Vista Future Farmers of America and a current member of CSUSM’s Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán student organization.

“The entire University is proud of Cipriano’s appointment to the CSU Board of Trustees,” said President Karen Haynes. “Through his involvement and leadership at CSUSM, he has demonstrated his commitment to serving and empowering students. I have every confidence that Cipriano will be a strong student voice on the CSU Board of Trustees and that he will advocate for public higher education.”

The appointment, which was announced by Governor Jerry Brown on Friday, Aug. 24, is for a two-year term. Vargas will serve as the non-voting student trustee in his first year and assume the voting student trustee position in his second. The current voting student trustee is Jillian Ruddell, a multicultural and gender studies student at CSU Chico.

The Board of Trustees is responsible for the governance of the 23-campus system. Under present law there are 25 trustees, comprised of 24 voting members and one non-voting member.  Five trustees are ex officio members: the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the assembly, state superintendent of public instruction and the chancellor. Trustees do not receive a salary for their service to the university system – with exceptions for the chancellor and the faculty trustee.

Serving the public is a passion that Vargas plans to make into a career. After he graduates from CSUSM, he plans to attend law school where he’ll study constitutional law. He hopes to use his degree to create social change and advocate for higher education.

Vargas hopes his appointment and leadership will motivate his fellow students at Cal State San Marcos.

“I want to be a role model for students at CSUSM and show them that there are many ways to get involved and advocate for the issues that they wish to see changed,” he said. “I want to inspire, mentor and encourage the next generation of student leaders.”

“The entire University is proud of Cipriano’s appointment to the CSU Board of Trustees,” said President Karen Haynes. “Through his involvement and leadership at CSUSM, he has demonstrated his commitment to serving and empowering students. I have every confidence that Cipriano will be a strong student voice on the CSU Board of Trustees and that he will advocate for public higher education.”