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The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles

University Times

The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles

University Times

Video: Spotlighting women on campus: Taraneh Tabatabai is recognized for helping students and centers

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Cross Culture Center (CCC), Asian Pacific Islander Student Resource Center (APISRC), and Center for Student Involvement (CSI) highlighted Taraneh Tabatabai, a double alumni and CSI staff member, as one of four women. 

Tabatabai is a student engagement coordinator for CSI. She focuses on creating student events on campus, such as The City of Orgs, leadership programs, and SWANA (Southwest Asian North African) workshops. Her goal is to create connections and community for the students on campus. She finds it very important to build relationships with students and faculty members. 

“I make an effort to get out of my office and walk around, talk with students. I make sure I build connections and community with staff and faculty outside this space because they’re part of this community and why wouldn’t I do that?” Tabatabai said. 

Growing up, Tabatabai was a social and extroverted kid who always interacted with people. This still holds true today, as she loves to build relationships and connections with others. 

Tabatabai is an alumna who graduated in 2022 with a master’s degree in communication studies. While attending school here, she worked as a student assistant worker at the CCC, CSI, and the communications department, where she was an instructor for COMM 1100.

Attending school and working on campus, she saw how special Cal State LA students are and wanted to continue working here. She was inspired by the staff she worked with and wanted to cultivate the same environment that she was given. 

“Working at Cal State LA has been such a good experience from when I was a student,” Tabatabai said. “I loved the staff that I got to work with, so I really model those that worked here before me. They were such a pivotal part of my life and in my academic journey, and I wanted to do the same for the students at this university.” 

Jaqueline Fajardo is a student programming assistant and Tabatabai’s student assistant. Fajardo said she feels fortunate to be working with Tabatabai because she sees her as an older sister. She is inspired and motivated by Tabatabai because she sees the importance of relationship-building and hopes to follow in her footsteps. 

She said that Tabatabai taught her that empathy is important to remember when working with others. 

“She [is] always saying you never know what someone is going through, so approach it with empathy,” Fajardo said. 

Tabatabai said her mission for students is to build future leaders that are humanity-focused and show compassion towards others. 

“There’s no reason why [students] should leave and be leaders that make things harder for everybody else because that’s what we don’t want,” she said, “We want our students to teach other people how to make other’s lives easier. So they can go on and feel I was given this grace, I was given this empathy that nobody else gave me, so I can do that for others also.”

She also works with APISRC to represent the SWANA community on campus as she wants to represent her culture.

Tabatabai is a part of the SWANA community as her ethnicity identifies as Persian. She organizes events and workshops to teach people about Middle Eastern culture. Tabatabai said she wants SWANA students on campus to feel represented, as she knows there isn’t much.  

“There is a lack of Middle Eastern programming on this campus,” Tabatabai said. “I try my best to at least somewhat highlight this community because I’m part of this community. As a student myself, there was still a lack of that programming, and it kind of sucks when you don’t feel represented on your campus community, but you know you exist.” 

Tabatabi’s co-workers spoke of her work ethic and positive impact on students and the campus.

“She’s done an amazing job working at the center of student involvement in supporting students. She’s really made an impact on our campus, and we are very, very proud of her,” said Fabiola Avina, director of CSI. 

Fraternity and Sorority Life Coordinator Ian Prieto said that Tabatabai is a great colleague to work with. 

“She’s been someone I can rely on for advice and a wealth of knowledge,” Prieto said. “She’s someone that’s very dependable and reliable.” 

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About the Contributor
Calista Pineda, Multimedia Reporter & Videographer
Calista Pineda is a multimedia reporter and videographer for the University Times. She is a television, film and media major with a minor in journalism, combining her skills to create innovative and compelling stories. Pineda has an interest in field reporting and documentary filmmaking, as she is always on the hunt for a story. When not reporting for the UT, she is either exploring her surroundings, tapping into her creativity through music or trying new things.
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