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Saturday, December 4, 2021

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Celine Jusuf Celine Jusuf
 


At Home in the Women’s Resource Center

New coordinator Celine Jusuf sees the center as a place for growth.
By Aaron Burgin
 

When Celine Jusuf arrived at San Diego State University in 2020, they were searching for a place to call home during graduate school — a place to pursue their passions and grow with help from others sharing the same values. 

For Jusuf that place was the Women’s Resource Center, where they first became involved as a WRC Fellow and then as a graduate assistant. Today, Jusuf is the new WRC coordinator.

“I loved how much energy, effort and time the WRC as a center spent on community members and students who were not staff — creating cultures within the space that weren’t ‘clique-y’ and creating outlets for social justice development for all,” said Jusuf, a psychology grad student with a social emphasis who is originally from Concord in the Bay Area.

Jusuf’s passion for the center’s mission — which it defines as “to provide a vibrant, brave and inclusive space that educates, empowers and advocates for womxn’s rights”  — led to the new job earlier this summer.

“Celine brings a deep care for intersectional feminism and student support,” said WRC Director Elzbeth Islas. “They are well-rounded in their breadth of knowledge, bring an open, honest perspective to the work and ask thoughtful questions. They are committed to amplifying both racial justice and gender expansivity.”

Islas said Jusuf’s personality allowed them to fit seamlessly into the center’s fabric after arriving from Purdue University.

“Celine exudes warmth, enthusiasm, and creativity, and their desire to grow and build with others makes them a true joy to work with,” Islas said.

Jusuf manages the operations of the Women's Resource Center: the day-to-day needs of the physical space and social media platforms, WRC programming and the WRC Fellows Program, among other duties. 

Arriving just before the pandemic as a WRC Fellow, Jusuf felt the authenticity of the center and wants it to spread to students pursuing projects on feminist topics or participating in weekly professional and feminist development meetings. 

“As a fellow I felt that my growth, goals and personal experiences in the world were valued and the WRC became a space to explore certain areas of growth, or even just ways of thinking, with others,” Jusuf said. “I was attracted to the center initially for their mission — centering intersectional feminism and the lived experiences of BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and people of color] helped indicate that they were rooted in present contexts working with an anti-oppressive lens.” 

Jusuf, who identifies as gender-fluid and pansexual, said they hope their presence will also provide to the safe space that the WRC provides for women who identify as LGBTQIA+ and gender-neutral/fluid or are in their own stages of self-discovery. 

“I knew that these concepts existed before college, but I hadn’t met anyone who I knew to be these things,” Jusuf said. “When I met someone who identified with these labels, it opened up a whole new world of community and possibilities for me to see myself as tangible and valid. This wasn’t something others could dismiss, because here was somebody else, taking up space, who was just like me.

“We know the effect of representation on marginalized identities and its potential for being a safety cue, indicating to someone who is questioning or perhaps identifies as nonbinary or genderfluid that the WRC may be a safe space where they can find belonging,” Jusuf added.

As students return to campus for the first time in nearly 18 months, Jusuf said the WRC will be ready with a slate of queer, trans, Black, Indigenous and people of color-centric programming, including Cafe for Women of Color, Womxn in STEM series, Queer Femme Healing Circle and Femme Healing Circle. 

“You can expect to see continued collaborations with other centers and departments, as well as new ones, especially related to academic success, interpersonal support and professional development for all students,” they said. 

Jusuf's experience with the WRC is an example of the value of grad students connecting to campus life, said Feion Villodas, the director of new Graduate Student Success Center.

“It is important for grad students to find a place on campus so they have a sense of belonging and community,” Villodas said. “This will help them develop connections and contribute to their overall mental health and well-being. The grad student center will also provide the academic and research support needed to help them thrive and in their graduate programs.”

Jusuf, who enjoys training in Brazilian jiu jitsu, sitting in the sun, cooking and learning how to surf, said they hope to remain with the WRC after they graduate from SDSU, which could happen as early as this winter. They also plan to pursue a Ph.D. in social psychology while continuing to pursue their passion of social justice work as their career. 

“I would love to remain working with the WRC and, if not, then I would love to transition to other cultural centers or nonprofits who do community-based work and research focused on gender-based violence prevention, economic justice or identity-development, healing and politicization within queer, migrant, international and communities of color,” Jusuf said.