Campus, News

A clean slate: Meet the future leaders of ASI

Nikki Majidi, Matt Melendrez and Andre Achacon swept the Associated Student Inc. election season as a slate and will be the new leaders of Long Beach State ASI during the next academic year.

Running as a joint ticket under the slogan “Forward for the Future,” all three leaders started at CSULB eager to become involved.

Passion in the Presidency: Nikki Majidi

Entering CSULB as a freshman criminal justice major in 2022, Majidi never imagined the trajectory her first year would take her.

“I was a shy girl, very anxious but I really wanted to make the most out of my time here,” Majidi said.

September of 2022 would prove to be a defining time for Majidi and her passion for advocacy as civil unrest and protests broke out in her birth country of Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody.

“It’s my home country, my family is there,” Majidi, who was born and adopted in Iran before being brought to the U.S. and raised in Mission Viejo, said.

“My mom was almost taken by the morality police. It struck me. It was so hard watching so many women fighting for their lives,” Majidi said. Through Beach Forensics, Majidi was able to write a speech on the situation in Irna and went as far as the national competition.

Feeling isolated on campus, she was one of the founding members of the Iranian Student Association at CSULB. Majidi also joined Delta Sigma Pi, a co-ed business fraternity where she was introduced to student government.

“I started to feel like I belonged, like I had a place,” Majidi said.

Changing her major to political science, Majidi joined ASI and Lobby Corp where she met her future team members.

Juggling participation in multiple organizations, Majidi was hesitant to consider a run for ASI President.

“At first I wanted to take a year off. I was doing a lot and honestly, I had imposter syndrome. A couple months went by and I thought about it more. Mostly the reason I ran is I want to give back because CSULB has changed me,” Majidi said.

Majidi’s win was a moment she described as “surreal.” Majidi said she hopes to demonstrate her passion for advocacy through her actions as president, with outreach first on the agenda.

Marching to a new beat: Matt Melendrez

Before beginning at Long Beach State, much of Melendrez’s life revolved around music. Born and raised in Downey, he found community through music, playing piano and alto saxophone as well as serving as drum major in his high school band.

“For me, music meant expressing myself without using words. It let me find who I was before coming to college,” Melendrez said.

A commuter student, he did not envision himself becoming involved in student government until meeting current ASI Vice President Teresa Falcon in his astronomy class.

“I saw that a lot of the topics ASI talked about were things I was also passionate about,” Melendrez said.

His interest in advocacy stems from his experience with the immigration system when his parents came to the U.S. from the Philippines.

“I still have siblings in the Philippines trying to immigrate here. Some of them have been waiting over a decade. It was a hard decision for my dad to leave the country when a lot of his children were still there,” Melendrez said.

A second-year political science major, Melendrez hopes to become an immigration attorney after experiencing the hardships of the immigration process first-hand.

He became a senator in ASI and worked in the first-year programs, emphasizing one of his campaign’s core values: transparency.

“At the time I was really thinking about my experience as a student who commutes. I was so surprised to learn about programs like Beach Balance and Beach Wellness. I thought, ‘Shouldn’t other students know about this?'” Melendrez said.

Motivated to bring school resources and programs to students, Melendrez won 66% of the votes for Vice President.

“The gravity of it hits you and it’s a full circle moment. Now It’s all about getting that work done,” Melendrez said.

Betting on the freshman: Andre Achacon

A first year from northern California, Achacon’s first year at CSULB was unconventional from the start.

Raised in Santa Rosa, Achacon decided Long Beach State was the school for him, both academically and financially.

“I wanted to get out of Santa Rosa and CSULB was an affordable option for me. As soon as I was admitted, I knew I wanted to get involved in advocacy,” Achacon said.

He was involved in advocacy in high school, leading the movement “Value life not violence” and demonstrations for school safety. Like Melendrez, Achacon’s parents came from the Philippines, making him a first-generation student.

“They came to the U.S. for more opportunities. Both my parents work physically taxing jobs and it was tough growing up,” Achacon said.

In junior year of high school, he came out as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, an emotional experience after fearing he would not be accepted.

“All these intersecting identities have shown me the struggles a lot of communities have faced,” Achacon said.

Before attending Long Beach, Achacon contacted ASI to ask about how to become involved on campus, leading to him joining Lobby Corps during his first semester.

“I felt like I needed to work extra hard for people’s respect and show that I could do my job,” Achacon said.

The decision to run for VP of Finance came after weeks of deliberation.

“I was like you’re crazy, I’m literally a freshman,” Achacon said. “But I thought to myself that I have the same qualities as an executive officer for ASI and just because I’m a freshman it doesn’t mean I can’t do it.”

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