What started as a volunteering position on Street Team during her freshman year led to a three-year career with Associated Students Inc., for Saba Ansari. Now, as ASI Vice President, Ansari said she is preparing to continue her passion for student advocacy.
Ansari was unanimously elected by the board with an 18-0 vote after the resignation of former ASI president Joshua Borjas. She is set to graduate this fall with a degree in political science and a minor in chemistry. Ansari said her career in ASI is driven by her desire to make an impact on students.
“The reason has always been to help students. Even when I help one student with something — whether it be helping them with financial aid, or helping them figure out resources or food and housing insecurity — helping one person will make it all worth it,” she said.
Ansari’s parents were born and raised in Northern India, but she has lived her whole life in Brea, California, where she attended Troy High School. Her parents met while pursuing their Ph.D. in chemistry and settled in Brea after getting married, Ansari said.
In addition to her time with Street Team, Ansari said she served as the Associated Students Strategic Communications Coordinator for Lobby Corps and Associated Students Chief Governmental Officer.
She said it was through these positions in ASI that she earned the opportunity to lobby over 25 times for the state to fully fund the Cal State University system . She described her first time as being nerve-wracking, and that lobbying with CSUF President Fram Virjee in Sacramento last year was a transformative experience.
“That whole day made me really proud to be a part of ASI, really proud to advocate on behalf of students and interacting with legislatures and hearing them listen intently to what I have to say,” said Ansari.
— Cal State Fullerton (@csuf) May 6, 2018
This platform allowed her to introduce Ana Aldazabal, the President and CEO of ASI into the world of student government a little over a year ago.
Aldazabal met Ansari after transferring from Fullerton College at a postcard writing collaboration between ASI and CSUF Diversity Resilience Education Access Movement Co-Operation, of which Aldazabal was president at the time.
“When I met her and I saw how passionate and strong she was and how much power she had within ASI, it made me realize that there could be more people like her in here. She was really my first introduction to the organization,” said Aldazabal.
Ansari said her No. 1 goal is to support her fellow student leaders and following the shift in leadership within ASI. She is part of the most recent all-female ASI executive team at CSUF and brings a wealth of knowledge about the university to the table, Aldazabal said.
During her tenure, Ansari said she also hopes to create a program for first-generation college students similar to the first year experience. She said that she envisioned the program to be a resource and celebration for first-generation college students.
When most people think of ASI, they think of Spring Concert and other fun activities they host, but Ansari said she thinks ASI’s importance derives from the fact that it gives students a seat at the table, Ansari said.
One of the challenges of being on the ASI board that Ansari has encountered is thinking of long-term solutions to problems that students might need fixed in the moment.
She has heard stories of many students in her experiences being on the ASI board throughout the years but one student who came to her struggling with food insecurity has stuck with her.
“They didn’t know where their next meal would come from. They told me how they would budget out each day and figure out what snack can they get that would last them the whole day based on calorie counts. My heart broke during that,” Ansari said.
Ansari’s path to ASI was preceded by her older sister, Neha, who served on the Associated Students Board of Directors Chair the year before she started college. Saba Ansari said this gave her insight to ASI’s functionality before she started school at CSUF.
Prior to the start of the spring semester, Neha Ansari said she encouraged her sister to apply for ASI Vice President and was excited to learn that she had gotten the position. She said she looks forward to seeing how it will help Saba grow.
CSUF wasn’t Saba Ansari’s first choice when she was deciding which college to attend but coming to the university ultimately shaped her.
“This entire experience, each class, every single moment has changed me and made me who I am today. I’m especially grateful for ASI for making me the person I am today because if it wasn’t for me coming here and getting involved I know my life would be completely different,” Ansari said.