Titan leader turned a setback into success

Mary Chammas founded the SWANA and Lebanese Students Association in response to a lack of representation on campus (Elizabeth Tovar / Daily Titan).

This April, Cal State Fullerton’s Lebanese Student Association was awarded as the most outstanding University Lebanese Club in the country at the Lebanese Collegiate Network, also known as LCN, a virtual convention.

“They were recognized as being the best model of what a Lebanese club should be like this past year,” said Anthony Boulahoud, president of the western region at the LCN. “They demonstrated exceptional talents, creative ideas and a strong dedication to promoting student academics.”

LCN serves as an umbrella for all university Lebanese clubs across the United States. The non-profit organization aims to foster community academically and professionally, as they pride themselves on being non-religious, non-political and non-discriminatory.

“The committee recognized all of the events; they’ve done a lot of events and engaging workshops for their students, and so we recognized that,” Boulahoud said. “We wanted to acknowledge the fact that they’ve been extremely active, and very, very good with their students and alumni.”

Previously called the Lebanese Social Club, the Lebanese Student Association was founded in 2019 by Mary Chammas, the current president. Since then she has been holding multiple events to promote community and celebration for a part of the Southwest Asian North African community.

Elie Khalail, vice president of membership at the LCN, said the rubric for the award was based on multiple factors, including board members evaluating the club as part of the application process, the diversity of workshops, events and alumni involvement.

Khalail said there are about 30 clubs involved with LCN, and while they are all welcome to apply for the award, it is very difficult to win.

While Khalail was not part of the decision committee, he said he noticed that the Lebanese Student Association at CSUF was heavily involved with the campus community, the LCN and other Lebanese clubs from other universities.

“I’m really happy that the committee was able to see that,” Khalail said. “I had no say in it and so knowing that I wasn’t the only one that felt that Cal State Fullerton was a strong front runner in winning this award felt really good.”

Lebanese Student Association will also host the next Lebanese Collegiate Network convention next year, which will be a good transition from the award to host, Khalail said.

This year’s Lebanese Student Association events varied. To celebrate Arab Heritage Month they invited stand-up comedian Amer Zahr to one of their meetings, while in another they hosted professionals to give advice to students searching for internships.

Talia Boukhalil, a first year biochemistry major at CSUF, said that she researched potential colleges that had any Lebanese clubs before applying to any university. When she found out CSUF had one, she decided to join it as soon as the school year started.

“Ever since the first day I felt like I’d been part of a family,” Boukhalil said. “They welcomed me, and they never failed to plan an event, even during the pandemic, I got to meet everybody.”

Boukhalil said she’s been able to stay active within the club thanks to the events and is grateful to Lebanese Student Association and its members for providing a sense of familiarity and community to those who join.

Boukhalil said she’s excited to go back to campus and meet everybody in person as the university prepares for in-person instruction next fall.

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