Ellen Young Paves the Way for a New Student Body


Ellen Young

Fiona Fox, Features Editor

If you don’t feel you look like the “typical” college student, think again- Non-Traditional Students in Solidarity club is changing the way we view CSUSM’s student body.

We’ve been sold a vision of what the typical college student looks like: barely out of high school, rushing in a fraternity/sorority while living off ramen noodles and sharing a dorm room with a roomie one can only hope they get along with.

But what if the college experience looks completely different for another student? What if a college student’s experience looks like an older student in his 30’s, married with children while trying to juggle a full-time job? What if the student was in her 20’s with a baby, married to a deployed military officer who lives far away from her family while she tries to learn new material every week on top of making sure her child is thriving?

Cue Ellen Young, founder of the club on campus that’s creating a community to help others see they aren’t alone in their distinctive college experience.

The Official Club Name
“Non-Traditional Students in Solidarity.”


Founded Fall 2021
“Because of Ash [Fogle] and her class [SSCI 300 Transfer Student Success]. I wasn’t even going to take it, I didn’t know anything about that class; when I went to my orientation and they were talking about it I was like ‘oh well, maybe I should take this cause like I don’t know much about the campus- I think the last time I had to do research I had to use a card catalog which (says with disbelief), we don’t use those anymore, maybe I should take this class.’ So, I did and when she started talking about doing things on campus and getting involved, I was like, ‘there’s nothing here for anybody like me, no one wants an older student,’ and that was a lie! There are plenty of things that are here, we just don’t see it cause we, ourselves, are walking around with our heads down and being harsh on ourselves for not being able to follow a traditional path or having things in our lives that have led us to where we are now, and so I was like ‘I’m just going to reach out.’ And this transfer student Group Me was started for orientation, and I was like, ‘Hey! Is there anyone else out there?’ and I had 25 people responding to me and it was insane.”

No. of Official Members

“It’s more or less text messaging right now and just being there for each other. We have a mom in the group and she’s not older, but she’s a younger mom and she’s a single mom and she’s like, ‘oh I can’t do this, the baby is crying in school.’ Through text message, we can walk her through it, and we can help that we understand. Her group work was like, ‘well why can’t you meet us?’ and she was like, ‘well I have the baby…’ She got really stressed out and we were able to come together- all of us- and help her through a situation. It’s a lot more of mental support. Eventually we want to have coffee hours, maybe a bowling night, you know we want to have fun too.”

Board of Directors
“I could not have done this without Simon (Dragon NTSIS Treasurer) and Jeannette (Burgess NTSIS Vice President). There were multiple times last semester that I was like, ‘okay, I don’t think we can do this, I don’t think I can do this.’ And it was the two of them that rallied behind me to give me the mental support to say ‘hey, you can do this.’ Simon and Jeanette, I think they are a more instrumental part of this group than I am. I think it was my idea, I think I brought a bunch of people together, but I think that, without Simon and Jeanette we probably wouldn’t be where we are right now.”

Coming Back to Campus
“That’s a loaded question (says with emphasis) I did not grow up in a very nurturing, loving environment so there would be a lot of things [said] where I could accomplish nothing, I would be nowhere, I could do nothing, and it’s taken 8 years to get here but I’m slowly proving people wrong and proving more to myself that I am worthy to get an education. So just being worthy has brought me here and accepting that I am worthy of an education.”

Studying Human Development
“I’m embracing myself more as I’m learning more about human development. In a book sense, I’m learning more about myself, I’m able to apply it more to my family, my friends; I have two kids who are in their first year at college and they’re twins, and they went away who are pressured to do well and I’m just like ‘girl, just get it done. Do what you have to do to get it done and if that is a C, then it’s a C, if it’s a D and you have to retake the class, then you have to retake the class- no one’s timeline is your timeline; and even as your mom, I can’t make your timeline be your timeline, you have to make it your timeline. And that’s what I’m doing now, I’m making my timeline. I’m 49 and I’m making my own timeline and I’m having fun while I’m doing it.”

Professor Inspires NTSIS
“Ash [Fogle] definitely, we would not be having this conversation if it wasn’t for her. She’s the one that really inspired me to figure things out and do things and supported it; as soon as I said something, she got excited about it, and having someone else be excited makes you even more excited.”

Where It’s At
“It’s definitely in its beginning stages. I see it already giving support to people, which is what I wanted it to do. We’ve already reached out and supported people just with words, words really do matter to a lot of people. We’re talking about having a picnic where family is invited, kids are invited, there are so many things that happen on campus, but you don’t want to bring your kid with you. So, if we put together a picnic where you can bring your kid, it will be like ‘oh my gosh, let’s do this!’ Those are things we see happening in the future.”

Where NTSIS Is Going
“I would like to get the word out that we are here. I would like to be able to have one giant picnic where families are invited- that is probably the biggest thing we are looking at doing, and then the monthly coffees. I never thought of reaching out to other colleges but my old friend from high school went back to college this semester in Iowa, and she has been watching what I’ve been doing through my Facebook and TikTok’s and what not, and she said she is going to start a similar association at her college. Simon thought big from the *very beginning* ‘this could branch out to other colleges’ and without him even knowing it, it’s actually starting to happen.”

Mission Statement
“Everybody deserves a college experience, ours just looks different.”

If NTSIS had a mascot…
“I could see we could have a little Cougar with a little backpack with a child in it with a cane holding a map like ‘which way am I going? What am I doing?’ Or we could just have Harry Styles represent us, I’d be happy with that too (says laughing).”

Last Words
“We’re here and us “non-traditional” students are done holding our heads down and we’re ready to make a little bit of a change and kind of make a little bit of an impact on the campus.”

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