Coming Full Circle: A Student’s Success Story Working with Sacramento State’s Full Circle Project

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Marietess Masulit

The Full Circle Project (FCP) is a federally funded Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI) program at Sacramento State dedicated to increasing the graduation rates of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) students by providing them with academic support as well as opportunities to get involved on campus and develop leadership skills.

As a former FCP mentor and administrative assistant, I am a living example of the program’s success in its mission to serve AAPI students. In reflecting on my time with FCP, I have realized how much I have gained from the program. I love the community that FCP has created on Sacramento State’s campus. It is a support system for AAPI students that I feel had been lacking on campus during most of my time as an undergraduate.

Puukaninoeaualoha Tiwanak, another one of the students in the program’s first cohort, agrees: “At Sac State, the Full Circle Project is a holistic opportunity. It provides me with the means to succeed as a student, a leader and a cultural advocate, all the while helping me reach toward my dreams. When I walk into the FCP office, I am in a place where I can speak about any issue that’s on my mind, whether it’s about grades or even about my identity. I’m constantly grateful that I have a safe space that can help me in so many ways.”

FCP’s first cohort began on campus in falI 2012. At the time I was beginning my junior year as an undergraduate and serving as the teaching assistant for the Introduction to the Ethnic Studies course that was a part of FCP’s learning community courses. From then on I continued to stay connected with FCP by attending their events, participating as a mentor in the FCP mentor program, and establishing relationships with the program’s staff and faculty. In my last year at Sacramento State, the administrative assistant position with FCP became available and I was hired on to fill the position.

In my transition from an undergraduate student to a FCP staff member, one of my first tasks was setting up FCP’s first office ever on campus. The office’s space was small with just two rooms, and we started the office with furniture from other departments and centers on campus. We collected desks from the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), were given couches and chairs from the PRIDE and Women’s Resource Centers, and held onto cabinets, tables, and chairs left previously by the Serna Center. The chairs and couches were different colors and the cabinets and tables varied in wood grains. Now some may have walked into the office thinking nothing matched, but to the staff and our students it all came together.

When the Fall 2014 Semester began, and the campus transitioned into full swing, so did the FCP office. It took a little time at first to get the word out about the office, however once students learned about the space they began to make it their own. From its beginning, the program made it clear that this was a community space. Eventually a wave of students flowed into the space like clockwork and once it hit noon and lunchtime came around, you just knew the office would soon be filled with students, talking and laughing while eating and sharing food. The office transformed into a safe space for students to come together, de-stress, and be their whole selves.

The FCP office is still very young, but even in its short time on campus the rapid growth of the program and its students have already outgrown the space. However, it has become a home base on campus that has never existed before for the AAPI community at Sacramento State.

For students like Michael Saguin, the FCP office has also been a place where he has been able to find mentorship and guidance from students in previous FCP cohorts. Brothers Andrew and Alan Yang both call the FCP Office their “second home,” and according to Alan, “we don’t treat each other like peers, but as family.” For Pakou Her, “the FCP office is a safe space, like a second home, where I am able to focus on my studies and be open-minded with a group of peers who endure similar challenges.” And Angela Sarte believes the FCP office encompasses the program’s philosophy of coming “full circle” in saying that “being able to have a space like this gives us students a chance to interact and connect more with other students and staff. Full Circle indeed is our foundation of the ripple effect on passing on that kindness, compassion, and perseverance to follow the dreams we have.”

The FCP office and its students are some of the things I miss most about Sacramento State. Just like the sentiments shared by students from the different cohorts, I also consider the space a “second home” on campus and know that I have gained another family through FCP. From my firsthand experience, I know that FCP and the office plays a crucial role in ensuring the growth of support for the AAPI community at Sacramento State. I believe the current FCP office is just a start in providing AAPI students a communal space on campus, and its unprecedented success inspires hope that someday the space will become larger to better serve the AAPI community on campus.

Marietess Masulit is an M.S.Ed. candidate in Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and a research assistant at the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions.

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