Social justice panel provides its expertise


Krystina Andrade

Guest speakers during the careers in social justice event at the career center on Nov.8.

Chase Spear, Staff Writer

On Nov. 8, the Career Center hosted a discussion panel that gave students insight and information on social justice within the modern career field.


The five panelists were Kesha Dunigan, EEO Specialist for the FAA, Office of Civil Rights, Char Booth, Associate Dean of the CSUSM Library Administration, Dr. Renzo Lara, Associate Director of the CSUSM [email protected] Center, Ariel Stevenson, Diversity Coordinator of the CSUSM Office of Inclusive Excellence and Andrea Gaspar, Organizer of the Center on Policy Initiatives.


The panelists provided advice to students on how social justice can be incorporated within a career.


Prior to working at CSUSM, Dunigan worked for 13 years as a human resource specialist at the U.S. Department of Defense. “I am an expert… in reasonable accommodations hiring individuals with disabilities,” said Dunigan.


Dr. Lara said he went into education to help out individuals from marginalized communities to gain access to college. Growing up between San Diego and Tijuana, Lara experienced, “a world from two different lenses.” As associate director of the [email protected] Center, he utilizes his personal experience to help CSUSM’s Latino population.


Growing up in Pennsylvania, Stevenson said that there was never a “person of color in a leadership position.” She also said that she participated in organizations such as the African American Society at Albright College.


Booth said that libraries are great places that help foster social justice aims. “Libraries are free open public spaces that welcome all comers,” said Booth. She said libraries “respond to people’s needs” and that they “are all about understanding and supporting all the communities that we serve.”


Gaspar discussed her personal experience when moving to the U.S. from Mexico at age of 15. She wanted to understand how certain systems responsible for oppressing communities of color are created in the U.S. Gaspar also said she wants to understand topics such as racism, homophobia and transphobia, and how these topics are viewed in Mexico in contrast with the U.S.


The five panelists said that social justice does not have to fit into a certain career or major, but rather can be utilized in any job position. “It starts with the individual,” said Dr. Lara. “There’s no one path that can lead you to the social justice world.”


When asked about common positions in the social justice field, Stevenson said that it depends on one’s passion. “There are many pathways, but you must know your purpose,” she said.


Dunigan said  that harassment and discrimination are a reality in the workplace, even at the federal level. “If you have the opportunity to do the right thing,” she said, “whether it’s defending someone, whether it’s pushing for a policy, whether it’s just changing the atmosphere of where you work, I would encourage you to take that opportunity.”


If a student wishes to work in a library to pursue their social justice interests, Booth recommends working at a public or academic library because they involve direct community engagement and outreach.


Gaspar said that there are plenty of jobs where students can take a social justice approach. She said that students should be aware of the dynamics regarding direct service works, especially when pursuing an interest in social justice. “When you go to direct services,” said Gaspar, “it’s hard to challenge the way direct services work.”


According to Gaspar, direct service involves, “working within a system that is already in place,” so trying to implement any changes that align with social justice may be difficult.


For more information about social justice careers visit

The Cougar Chronicle: The independent student news site of California State University, San Marcos