Steve Ford, Alumnus

My name is Steve Ford. I graduated in January 1985 in Speech Communication, which is today Communications Studies, but I was proud to be a Speech Communication major, and initially began as a marketing major, but wanted to be into Communications for broadcast and/or, marketing agency work, like advertising agency and public relations agency work.  So I crafted a special option in the speech communication department which allowed me to have a triple major: one third journalism, one third marketing, and one third speech.

My dad was a professor of Sociology here from 1958 to the late ’80s or early 1990s — I don’t know the date that he retired. But that let me really grow up on this campus.

People think Speech Communication is all about talking and standing at a lectern, you know, and blabbing away on rhetoric. I found the Speech Communication Studies program to be fantastic from the standpoint of understanding writing for broadcast, understanding rhetorical discourse, writing to persuade, advertising writing, interpreting and evaluating communication and understanding the theory of communication, world views of communication and all the theoretical things that you don’t think you would get, and I say that just to give a plug for the depth and academic side of Communications Studies. Really powerful information.

It actually makes me feel a bit like Rip Van Winkle, you know, to come back here today because I blink my eyes and wake up and I come back in 2009 and there’s nine new buildings. I parked my car over in the parking lot that’s east of the University Student Union, and I recognize the parking lot, but you know, I walk no more than twenty-five, thirty seconds into the University Student Union and I see a dramatically different structure. I was on the board of directors of the University Student Union in 1984 and 1985.  I was very involved there. So I have both affection for what I see on the campus today and also sort of shock and dismay because many of the open, green-lawn walk areas are now concrete buildings. But it’s tastefully done, and I still see the orange grove, so I must tell you that so long as the orange grove is here on this campus I will forever allow and bow to the expansion of the campus to build more concrete. But that orange grove has to stay.

When I look back at the difference between me today and what I would have been, say, if I hadn’t gone to Cal State Northridge, that education that I was describing — with the unique major that I had through the Speech Communications department — enabled me to do everything I’ve done in the 25 years since then. I’ve been in management, advertising agencies, public relations agency work, I’ve hosted a national TV show on the Home & Garden television network, I’ve done radio, television, print journalism, using the journalism I studied here. I continue to be motivated and excited about my career with the studies that I took here that have enabled me to be a better communicator, professionally, and make a living at it in the years since graduating.

CSUN makes a powerful difference. You are influenced by what was positive here at CSUN far beyond what you are aware of when you are going to school here. It takes you forward to open options and awareness that you didn’t know — you didn’t have — until you got here.  And then by whatever studies you go into, suddenly a whole new world opens up and, depending on how much vigor and enthusiasm you bring, CSUN meets you and pulls you forward.

Hinda Lee Sheffer, Alumna

Hinda Lee Sheffer

I wanted to go to a state college. Let me say that– one of the questions you asked was,  “what was the most significant day for you?” It was my graduation day. My high school guidance counselor said I was not college material, I had to take a business class and I would never graduate from college. So for me, I was looking for something that was small and easily managed. After I went to junior college I came here, I did not want something mammoth like a UCLA. What I’ve seen today of this campus is nothing what it was like when I first came here. It was a small city — not even a small city —  it was just very small and very comfortable and very familiar. And now I see so many buildings and so many things, it’s so huge, compared. You have a three or four story parking lot. We had outdoor parking lots that, you know, that might be filled. So that was one of the things I wanted. I wanted a smaller school, which is what this afforded me at that time.

Even though I only lived over the hill, I wanted to stay in the dorm and it was very exciting for me. My sister had lived in a dorm in college and I wanted the same experience. It was all so new. I was with the big kids, so to speak. To be quite honest, most of my memories are centered around the dorm life, although I have some wonderful memories of the school life also.

[Living in the dorms was] very much like a sorority of sisters. We had interesting things. Like if someone got engaged, there’d be a message on the bulletin board, there’s going to be a candle-lighting tonight. They’d pass around a candle with an engagement ring on it and when it got to the girl who was getting engaged she’d blow it out. Oh, and we’d cheer and have a bridal shower and all that stuff. Which today sounds like totally ridiculous I’m sure, but in those days that was something you did if she got pinned or she got engaged. And there was a big social hall where we did that.

They had what’s called a panty raid. And if you’re not old enough you don’t know what a panty raid is. It’s when the guys break into the dorm and steal all the girls panties and then the next day. . . I have a photo of it with me, and the panties were all strung from the Sierra Hall tower. I for whatever reason locked my door, and then ended up because I was judicial vice president, I ended up helping the police type up a report and everything. The best part of it is, they gave us a party afterwards. You know, like a “we’re sorry” party.