The first to serve as the Associated Students Diversity Senator is Kim Liaz, who, after growing up in diverse communities, says arriving at SSU felt a bit like "culture shock."
But since she has become a firm believer in getting out of her comfort zone she is finding the experience here to be "priceless."
Liaz was born in the Phillipines; she grew up in San Jose, and later, in Elk Grove.
When she came to the campus in her freshman year, she says she was probably about one Asian woman out of 30 Caucasian students. Now, she says she sees more students of color walking around campus and they seem happy to be here and feel welcomed.
When she started her student career, she immersed herself in SSU's multicultural community and served as president of the Filipino American Assosciation of Sonoma State Univeristy AASSU).
Liaz arrived at SSU as a biology major hoping to go into nursing. But at the end of her sophomore year, she switched to a sociology major.
"Sociology attracted me when I took my first Intro to Sociology class as part of a requirement to get into the nursing program. That course helped her realize "a calling to help underrepresented people."
The position as Diversity Senator is really that last thing that pushed me in this direction," she says. It helped her correlate her experiences as a disenfranchised individual as well as realize the privileges she has worked for.
Today, she plans to continue to grad school to earn a Master's in Higher Education, specifically with an emphasis in Student Affairs.
Liaz is a full time student and also works a second job as a mentor to children in the Rancho Feliz Mobile Home Park tutoring young people from four years old to high school sophomores.
She is the first to admit that it's a hectic schedule but she is proud of what she's been able to accomplish as Diversity Senator, particularly establishing the Assosciated Students Diversity Affairs Council (AS DAC). The council meets every two weeks, and gives Liaz the opportunity to dialogue with, and get feedback from, the students she represents.
Today, Liaz sees more support on the SSU campus for diverse student populations, especially more visible services, as well as staff and faculty that have become mentors for students.
"SSU still has a long way to go, but I believe this institution is on the right path to a more diverse environment," she says.