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California State University, Long Beach
Alumni Association

Joanna Sanchez-Avila


Name: Joanna Sanchez-Avila
Hometown: South Central Los Angeles
High School: John C. Fremont High School
Age: 22
Double Major: English: Rhetoric & Composition
Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies
Favorite Quote: “I change myself, I change the world.” -Gloria Anzaldúa

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My Beach Experience:

My name is Joanna Sanchez-Avila. I am majoring in English & Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies and this is myBeach Experience

I have been extremely fortunate to have an overall positive experience at the Beach. I have met very interesting peers in my classes, student organization involvement and the various locations that I studied at. I hope never to forget the amazing people I have come to know throughout campus, especially the few that I am proud to call friends.

I was able to get hired by and work with a remarkable woman who always had the utmost faith in me even when I personally expressed doubts about myself. Under her great guidance, I became her student assistant at the CBA’s Education Effectiveness Center.

I will definitely miss staying until midnight writing research papers at the USU and occasionally conversing with the late-night staff about music.

But the one of the best parts of CSULB are the resources that we have such as the DSS office, CDC, WRL, SWRC, CAPS, SLD, Scholarship office, the LIB, etc. They are great places and sources of support for us as students to thrive.

Getting to CSULB:

I chose to come to CSULB because it was close to South L.A. and also because my eldest sister was getting her Bachelor’s in Biochemistry here. I was not ready as a person to move far away from my mother, sisters and dogs. For the majority of my educational career here I commuted on public transportation, the L.A. Metro Train and LB Transit buses. My commutes were never boring, and I always found it interesting how almost every day I passed through various cities just to get to school. These experiences definitely are foundations to my personal narrative. I also wanted to get fabulous scenes and weather, but I also appreciated the quality education that our school offers.

Taking the Opportunities:

CSULB has offered me intellectually enriching experiences. My greatest accomplishment to date is being awarded the CSU Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholarship. Because of this scholarship I have travelled to different states and I have met some of the radical thinkers of our time. As part of my scholarship, over the summer I interned at the University of Arizona with Drs. Adela C. Licona and Stephen T. Russell at the Crossroads Collaborative. I lived in Tucson, Arizona for two months and learned about participatory action research. Not only was I an intern, or a “visiting scholar” as I was starting to be called, but I also participated in making a documentary about Tucson youth with Kore Press, a local feminist press. Kore Press’s Literary Grrls Workshops focuses on getting youth the resources to become social activists through making media. My most memorable experience from Grrls was going to a Native American Reservation located in Sells, AZ to interview Tohono O’odham Nation youth that were participating in a radical program that helped youth reclaim their traditions through agricultural practices.

My Beach and Beyond:

After graduation I will take the year off to prepare myself for graduate school. I worked hard throughout my stay here and I need a good rest. Not only that, but I want to enjoy the company of my friends and most importantly my family before I finally decide to move out of the state to pursue a PhD. My long term goal is to obtain my PhD in English Rhetoric with an emphasis in Feminist Studies. In the future, I hope to come back to CSULB and teach as a professor. I also want to be able to serve as a role model for fellow 49ers to pursue their own dreams but to always keep in mind the potential that our campus has to offer for strong community coalition building.

I decided to join the alumni association because I am a firm believer in the notion of community. I am grateful for the community of strangers that have helped me thrive at The Beach, from the professors in the classroom, to the staff at various on-campus offices, to the custodial staff at the library and the USU. I want to express my beach pride in both my professional and personal lives. By providing a donation is one way of giving back to the community that nourished me during my awesome educational career at CSULB. In the future I hope to stay active within this association that still provides alumni great benefits and connections to The Beach.


Favorite Class: I loved the majority of my classes but four classes that changed me as a person and enlightened me were:

  • ENGL 100- Intro to Composition,
  • ENGL 410- Theories of Writing and Literacy
  • WGSS 318I- U.S. Women of Color
  • WGSS 392- Feminist Pedagogy: Peer Facilitation.

Favorite Professor: I loved the majority of the professors I was fortunate to have tutelage, but as a double major I have three professors that truly motivated me to appreciate and love each of my academic fields of interest:

  • Professor Anthony Olah
  • Dr. Gary Griswold
  • Dr. Maythee Rojas

Favorite Spot on Campus: I spent most of my time at the Lib (library) throughout my educational career at The Beach. I loved spending my time studying at the 5th floor because of the beautiful views and also because it served as a concentration challenge during studying, since it is one of the loudest floors. As a senior I began to explore the Horn Center and the USU Games Center, and started spending more time at each location. But my most favorite spot between the three is the USU Games Center because during my senior year I was taking research and writing intensive courses that required me to stay until midnight almost every day, and this was the only place on campus to stay open until midnight.

Activities and Organizations: I was involved with EOP, SSSP Trio, Hermanas Unidas Long Beach (HAU) as Academic Chair Fall 2012, Leadership Academy, NSCS, Golden Key, WGSSSA and Long Beach State Archery (both short-term).

- Joanna Sanchez-Avila
Go Beach!