A group of kinesiology students in Temecula celebrate graduation with a gift of their own.
Despite a challenging senior year overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of Cal State San Marcos kinesiology students finished their undergraduate studies on a positive—and giving—note. They designed and assembled appreciation baskets for the staff at a local 24-hour urgent care.
The students are all officers of the Kinesiology Student Organization (KSO) at CSUSM at Temecula. Inspired by the medical care provided to the community by Temecula 24 Hour Urgent Care, especially during the course of the pandemic, the kinesiology students wanted to give the staff a boost.
“They have been working so hard,” explains KSO President Shari Nguyen. “The doctors and nurses are out there every day trying to save people’s lives and they work long hours. We wanted to show our appreciation and we put our heart into it.”
The students—all of whom aspire to careers in the medical field themselves—gathered an array of snacks and other supplies such as hand sanitizer, USB chargers, hand lotion, tissues and water bottles with designs customized by KSO Vice President Jessica Maki.
“This spoke to their mission and purpose,” says Maritza Baida, KSO advisor and senior admissions, advisor and outreach coordinator at CSUSM at Temecula. “They were hungry to connect through the pandemic and they were looking forward to doing something for someone else.”
The students’ surprise at the urgent care facility was warmly received.
“When Shari spoke on behalf of the students, the CEO of the urgent care said, ‘You are going to make me cry,’” Maritza recalls.
The project was made possible with funds provided by Associated Students Inc. (ASI) as part of an effort to encourage involvement in student organizations while the CSUSM campus was operating remotely. For the KSO group, maintaining that critical connection throughout the pandemic made all the difference.
“Even though we met just once a month for an hour, it was a time when everyone was there supporting each other,” Shari says. “It was a relief just being there and having a shoulder to lean on because we were all going through the same thing. I couldn’t have asked to be president of a better organization. I will never forget it.”
For Maritza Baida, being named the 2020-21 Advisor of the Year took her right back to her own college days.
“This goes so deep for me because I was a student leader in college and that was my home because I couldn’t afford to be in the residence hall,” Maritza says. “It was the clubs and organizations that made it bearable for me to finish.”
Maritza was honored at the annual Tukwut Leadership Awards Night, sponsored by Associated Students Inc. each spring to celebrate individuals and student/campus groups for their commitment to student life at CSUSM. The Advisor of the Year award goes to an individual who has excelled in service as a volunteer advisor for a recognized student organization.
At the CSUSM at Temecula campus, Maritza is a senior admissions, advising and outreach coordinator. As an extension of her commitment to students, she can always be found working magic on behalf of student organizations as well.
“There would be no Kinesiology Student Organization if it wasn’t for Maritza,” says Shari Nguyen, KSO president. “Whenever we needed something, she would be there to support us and she always had a smile on her face. Even during the holidays, she would say, ‘I can help out.’ She did not have to go out of her way for us. I am so happy that she won this award because she 110% deserves it.”
Especially during a year when the COVID-19 pandemic largely separated the students physically, Maritza says student organizations are essential.
“I believe that the student clubs are so important because they connect the students,” she says. “They make the students excited to stay.”