Event inspires others by sharing personal stories


Sasha Anand, Assistant Entertainment Editor

Self-expression is a feat not easily performed in front of others, but five CSUSM students and staff members braved a crowd to share their stories.


Workshops led by Assistant Professor of Sociology, Dr. Mary Robertson, preceded the event titled “A Common Story: Finding Joy in the Face of Adversity.” The event allowed members of the CSUSM and public communities to showcase monologues prepared in the workshops.


The theme for the event was based on the The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the 14th Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams. Topics discussed in the monologues ranged from difficult family life and teen pregnancy to self-discovering one’s sexuality.


There were various stories and one of those was about a student’s battle with their own identity and finding a place to fit in. Varanee Chinnapong told their story of being a queer individual and transferring to a new school.


“I was struggling with who I am,” Chinnapong said.


Chinnapong said  they felt as though their feelings did not matter. Through a difficult journey of self-destructive behavior and coming to terms with who they were, Chinnapong said they were able to change their mindset.


Staff member at CSUSM Jennifer Fabbi told her story of being a pregnant teenager in high school. She said she faced  judgment from those around her. Fabbi said that people who respected her looked down on her for getting pregnant at such a young age.


Fabbi said she felt guilty for something that she should not have been made to feel ashamed of but as she grew into her role as a mother, Fabbi eventually overcame that feeling of guilt.


CSUSM senior, Omar Galindo, spoke on how he was raised in a masculine environment and how his father emphasized the idea of machismo. He said he felt as though he was different, but had no way to express it to his family for fear of judgment.


“I’m a failure. I’m a faggot,” Galindo said.


At his lowest, Galindo considered leaving college. However, he said he began to realize that there was only one way for him to become more open with himself and others.

“To heal and to move on is to express [one’s feelings],” said Galindo.


Another staff member, Anne Dabb, told her story about having to help raise her brother as a young girl due to her father’s mental illness. Tragedy struck her family, first with the death of one of her nephews and then the death of her brother. She fought for custody of her other nephew for years, finally getting approval for his adoption later this year.


The final presenter, Alexandria Hernandez, took her negative experience and turned it into a passion and a career path. She was given a DUI at the age of 18 and said she thought her life would be over.


“[When we are young] we tend to think we are invincible and we tend to make bad choices,” Hernandez said,


Hernandez is involved in the student organization on campus, Transitions Collective, which helps incarcerated students build skills to lead a successful life. She is also pursuing a career in Criminology.


Student and staff writer for The Cougar Chronicle, Mekala Lehmunn,  said she had a positive experience from the event.


“[It was] inspirational. This inspired me to get involved in developing personal development [and] developing my writing,” Lehmunn said.