Associated Students, Inc. President Jonathan Molina Mancio shares his thoughts about CSUDH and his excitement for its future.
CSUDH Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) President Jonathan Molina Mancio is a busy man. By day, he works in the ASI office on campus, engaging with students and attending meetings as the student body’s elected representative. By night, he’s a fourth-year Toro student majoring in business finance, with a minor in English language linguistics.
The son of Guatemalan immigrants who moved to the U.S. during the 1990s, Mancio grew up in the shadow of CSUDH—his family has lived in Carson since 2013. He came to CSUDH straight from Palisades Charter High School, a school far enough away from Carson that he and his mother had to get up as early as 5 a.m. in order to get him there on time.
When he was accepted into CSUDH, he joined the Education Opportunity Program (EOP) and participated in their Summer Bridge program for incoming students. Mancio credits the program with helping him get acclimated to college life. “I remember coming on my bike every day during the summer, taking classes and getting to know other incoming freshmen. Summer Bridge really helped me with the transition and helped me make new friends and know the campus,” he recalls.
Mancio took a break from his busy schedule to discuss his job as president, his current plans, and his hopes for the future of CSUDH.
Q: What do you think are the greatest challenges facing ASI?
A: I think our biggest issue is a familiar one: engagement. We’ve always struggled with getting students out here and getting involved. Lots of students feel too occupied with their classes, social life, and family life. During COVID, it’s really been a challenge getting students to take leadership roles and advocate for their fellow Toros, because a lot of students have been preoccupied with other things. Being involved on campus was not a priority in their minds.
Hopefully, once we return from the pandemic, more students will get involved on campus. During the pandemic, there have been a lot fewer students on campus, which makes it harder.
Q: What are your goals as ASI president?
A: My main goal is to make sure that students have a healthy and safe transition back to campus, because I know this pandemic has hit a lot of people hard. It definitely hit me. Many students weren’t ready with Wi-Fi issues, family issues, economic issues.
Most students feel ready to come back. I know from our retention numbers that some people are getting left behind, which is very worrisome. I want to make sure that students come back ready to learn and experience college in its entirety, to get that full college experience that they missed out on during the pandemic.
Q: What is your typical day like?
A: My typical day consists of different meetings scattered throughout the day. I purposely chose my classes towards the end of the day, so my days can be free to attend meetings. Each day it’s different, something new, which I love.
Since I live so close to campus and I don’t have very good Wi-Fi at home, I tend to come here and take advantage of the network here at school. I come here every day and do my work, attend my meetings. My day ends at five in the afternoon, and in the evenings I have my classes.
Q: What has been your biggest success so far as ASI president?
A: I would say my biggest success is advocating for students and having an ear on the ground. I used to work as an EOP peer mentor. I was able to mentor incoming freshmen during their transition to college. It’s important to keep my ears to the ground, listening to what students are saying and communicating with them. I’m able to hear what their immediate concerns are and try to address them as best that I can. I let them know what resources are available to them, or bring their concerns to the proper people.
Q: What kind of concerns are you hearing these days?
A: Students’ main concerns have been housing issues, which we’ve brought up to the president and his cabinet, and they’ve been working diligently to address them. One of our ASI board members is actually a student in the new dorms. As they say, it’s a learning and living community. So all the students living there and the administration are learning as they go—what works, what doesn’t?
One big issue that the students brought to light was the lack of food options for on- campus students. That’s actually been one big success for us. Students brought that to our attention, saying how they had nowhere to eat on evenings or weekends. We brought those concerns up, and the Loker Student Union has been collaborating with us on extended hours of operation.
Now, they’re going to be open on the weekends for a few hours, so students can come in and pick up food. So that’s a big success that I feel like we’ve had this year, too.
Q: What has been your proudest moment as president?
A: I think my proudest moment has been at the beginning of the fall semester, speaking to all the students at New Student Convocation. That tops the cake, being able to introduce the new generation of Toros to their home away from home for the next couple of years. It was a rewarding experience, speaking to them and kind of being the hype man. It was a lot of fun.
It was great seeing all these new faces, because that was one of the biggest inperson events we’ve had since the pandemic began. So it was nice to see all the familiar faces I used to see pre-pandemic. That was very exciting, very fun.
Q: What are the biggest issues facing Toro students today?
A: The pandemic has brought to light a lot of mental health issues, as well as lot of economic issues. A lot of students have had to attend to family needs. Some have had to be the primary caretakers for their family, when people got sick with COVID.
As Dr. Parham says, crisis reveals character, and it also exposes weaknesses that need to be addressed. The pandemic has definitely revealed some issues. Hopefully, we’re in the back half of the pandemic and students can start to transition out of that. Everything at ASI is for students, by students, so we’re trying our best to address their concerns, sending them to the necessary resources, and helping them transition back to campus safely.
Q: Where do you see CSUDH in 10 years?
A: I think CSUDH is definitely exponentially rising. I have to give a ‘hats off’ to the president and administration for getting the new buildings constructed, because that was quite an amazing feat. As I mentioned in my speech at the Grand Opening luncheon, as a freshman, my very first class was in the small college complex, a little group of old bungalows, the very first structures built on campus.
And now to see the beautiful Innovation and Instruction building that’s risen up in that space during the pandemic, it’s been amazing. The new Science and Innovation building, with the Fab Labs, the 3D printing—it’s just so cool. When I walk around campus, it feels like a different, new Dominguez Hills. I see Dominguez Hills on the rise, especially with the president we have. He has an amazing vision for this campus.
Q: What is special about CSUDH that sets it apart from other universities?
A: What stands out for me at this campus is the culture of community. You won’t encounter anyone here at DH who will not be welcoming and inviting to you. You can go to any department, any office, and they’ll greet you with a smile. They’ll make you feel welcome and that you belong here.
As I said in my speech at New Student Convocation, during my first year here, I remember going to the library for my Summer Bridge class. One of the custodial staff would always greet me with a smile on his face. That felt very nice.
When I’m on campus, I don’t feel alone. I know there’s people I can go to.