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Cougar Spotlight: Christian Cayetano

Christian Cayetano

February 9, 2016
By Jasmine Demers, Tukwut Life Marketing Assistant

Christian Cayetano is driven 5th year student who has persevered through many challenges in order to pursue his dream of higher education.

Born in Manzanillo Colima, Mexico, Christian moved to Pasadena, CA with his family at the age of two. He was a teenager when he found out he was undocumented and he has since faced many obstacles. Now as a Arts and Technology major at CSUSM, Christian will stop at nothing to achieve his dreams and educate others about the issues facing undocumented students.

Why did you choose CSUSM?

I chose CSUSM because I was a candidate and recipient of the College Readiness, Experience the World (CREW) Scholarship by Pathways in Education. It was a scholarship offered by a non-profit organization in Pasadena and I was one of nine students to receive it. It was an intense six month program, but with the help of my mentor, I was able to obtain an opportunity like no other.

What specific experiences in your life have influenced who you are today?

All my life I never thought of myself as any different from everyone else and thought I had equal rights, just like they did. Finding out about my undocumented status at the age of 14 was challenging. It definitely created a lot of roadblocks for me, but I always tried to find a way around them.

When I started at CSUSM, the scholarship that I was awarded was my only source of aid and it did not cover all of my tuition. I have had to work hard to fund my education including holding yard sales, selling cans and organizing food drives. During my third year, I was given some relief when the California Dream Act was passed, allowing undocumented students to receive financial aid. Through the help of others and the government, I was able to make it this far. It's still challenging but I am hopeful that Congress will one day pass a reform act, so that undocumented students, and even their families, can become U.S. Citizens and one day be reunited with our loved ones. I just want others to be informed of these issues so that we can make a change together. I am proud of where I come from and am not afraid to let others know who I really am.

What is your favorite part of being a student at CSUSM?

My favorite part of being a student here at CSUSM is feeling like I belong here. Last semester I had to leave school due to some financial deficits. Luckily, I was able to get a job as a phone sales representative. However, during my time away from school, I realized that it wasn’t where I needed to be.. I was a 23 year old, working full time every day, and dealing with customers with bad attitudes who ruined my day. So, I made sure I did everything that was possible to come back, because I wanted to be where my heart was.

Are you involved in any on-campus organizations?

I'm all about being involved. Ever since high school, I’ve made it a personal obligation to get involved as much as possible because I want to feel accepted and equal like the rest. For those reasons, I made an active effort to get involved at CSUSM. I have served as the Vice Chair for the University Student Union Advisory Board (USUAB), I was a peer mentor for the Peer Mentoring Program, Publicity Chair for Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlan (M.E.Ch.A), Publicity Chair for Standing Together As oNe Dream (S.T.A.N.D.), Vice President of Marketing for Associated Students, Inc (ASI) and the President of Nu Alpha Kappa Fraternity. All of these clubs and organizations have helped me to construct new parts of my identity and made me into the person that I am today.

What are your future goals?

Graphic design and video production have always been my passion which is why I want to graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Arts and Technology. My all time goal is to work for a big entertainment company as the head creator. I’ve made it this far in life as an undocumented student with many challenges, so I believe that the sky is the limit.