Staff Spotlight: Abrahán Monzón embodies passionate social justice


Katlin Sweeney, Editor-in-Chief


As the new Assistant Director of the ASI Community Centers, Abrahán Monzón is enthusiastic about working with students, faculty and staff to develop programming about issues such as gender and sexuality, social justice and identity.

Monzón graduated from UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) with a B.A. in Feminist Studies and minor in Education, and an M.S. in Higher Education from CSU Fullerton (CSUF).

Monzón, whose preferred gender pronouns are they and their, initially was studying Computer Science until they took a general education Sociology course. This sparked their interest in human interaction and the sociology of gender and sexuality.

Monzón credits their undergraduate career for creating the foundation upon which they discovered their passion for helping others and where they became comfortable with their identity.

“Being a first generation college student, the queer community was kind of my navigational capital for getting to know folks,” Monzón said. “My first year on campus is when I came out and got involved. Initially I came out as queer, and then a year and a half later I came out as genderqueer. Getting involved on campus is how I learned what it means to be a college student, and I submerged myself in different leadership and queer groups on campus. I especially did a lot of work with queer and trans advocacy.”

Monzón said that college was initially difficult to adjust to due to struggling with balancing all of their responsibilities equally. Finding mentors taught Monzón the importance of learning from others and helped them to develop other queer leaders.

After graduating from UCSB, they worked as a summer orientation leader, a position that inspired them to think about going into higher education.

“When I was an orientation leader, I was genuine about my identities,” they said. “It helped motivate me to show first-year students someone who was queer and trans.”

Late into the graduate school application process, Monzón decided to apply for M.S. programs with the encouragement of their mentors. They were interested in applying to CSU Fullerton partially due to the presence of well-known LGBT higher education professor and speaker, Dr. Ronni Sanlo, who taught in the campus’ Educational Leadership program from 2010 to 2012.

While Monzón was eventually accepted into CSUF, Dr. Stanlo ended up retiring during the time that transpired from when they applied to the program to when they started at the campus. However, Monzón said that attending CSUF was the right program for them.

During graduate school, Monzón’s accomplishments included an assistantship, an internship with CSUF’s Diversity Initiatives and Resource Centers, working with TCAMP, completing one semester at a cultural center at a small liberal arts college and being awarded the Edwin Carr Fellowship.

Monzón’s enthusiasm for working at CSUSM stems from a desire for empowering students and the campus’ welcoming atmosphere.

“I really wanted to work at a cultural center or resource center, but when I saw this position I never thought that I would get it,” they said. “Being a first generation college and grad school student, getting a job was such a pressure to show my family that school was worth it.”

“A big thing with job interviews on-campus is that I always had to negotiate how I would represent my identity,” Monzón said. “If I could not be genuine to my genderqueerness, it was not going to fit. But I came to my interview at CSUSM with full face and suit, and when I got the call for the job, I was ecstatic. It was important to me not to go to an established center but go somewhere where I could create programming.”

Monzón has enjoyed their first semester at CSUSM thus far and is optimistic about how the ASI Community Centers will change in the next few years.

“It is a combination of working with passionate folks about creating a better campus for themselves and bringing a different set of eyes and thinking about gender, sexuality, programming and ideas for what is to come,” Monzón said. “The campus is supportive and being in a growing place like CSUSM, it is a time when I see some big changes to come.”

Monzón credits much of what they have learned and gone on to accomplish to their professional family, which includes the Masters in Higher Education faculty at CSU Fullerton, their mentors and Dr. Joy Hoffman (Dr. Mom).