History of DIRC
Founded in 1957 as the 12th California State College, California State University, Fullerton has served as a positive example for its works towards diversity and inclusion. With a population of 34,432 students (Fall 2016), the ethnic distribution consists of 41.82% Hispanic, 20.37% White, 21.36% Asian/Pacific Islander, 2% Black, 4.43% Multiple Race Non-Hispanic, 6.14% International Students, 3.75% Unknown, and 0.12% Native American. The university is known for being both a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI). CSUF’s diversity helps drive the institution’s commitment to aiding student development both in and out of the classroom, and to “create an environment where all students have the opportunity to succeed” (CSUF Student Academic Services).
Moving forward with its commitment to creating a welcoming learning environment for its diverse student body, the department of Diversity Initiatives and Resource Centers (DIRC) was established in 2014 under the leadership of Dr. Joy Hoffman. DIRC aims to create learning environments and opportunities that support the University mission by preparing students to become socially-conscious leaders in a global society by offering workshops and trainings that address issues related to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, gender, ability, and class. The department oversees five of the identity-based resource centers on campus: the African American Resource Center (AARC), the Asian Pacific American Resource Center (APARC), the Chicana and Chicano Resource Center (CRC), the LGBT Queer Resource Center (LGBTQRC) and the Titan Dreamers Resource Center (TDRC).
Within the centers, there is a full-time Coordinator, graduate assistant(s), and 5 student leads, each with their own unique task of engineering an environment conductive towards creating a safe and brave space for students to foster growth. Particular centers were formed through the help of administrative individuals; the Titan Dreamers Resource Center was established on April 23, 2014 through the help of President Mildred Garcia and Vice President Berenecea Johnson-Eanes. Our department recognizes the important role of students, faculty, and staff in our work towards creating a more welcoming environment for our students, and this life-long mission towards diversity will be nothing without the help and dedication of these individuals.
Meet the staff
Dr. Sofie Leon, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)
Director, Diversity Initiatives & Resource Centers
Dr. Sofie Leon joined CSUF as the Director of Diversity Initiatives and Resource Centers (DIRC) in July 2019. Immediately prior to CSUF, she worked as the Director of Student Programs in the Division of Physics, Math, and Astronomy at Caltech in Pasadena, California. There she served as a resource and advocate for students, advised and counseled students on issues they encountered during their studies, and worked with leaders in the students, faculty, and staff to implement initiatives to increase diversity and provide an inclusive community. Prior to moving back to her home state of California, she also spent some time in Paris, France where she worked as the Scientific and Pedagogic Coordinator of the Frontiers of Life Science PhD Program at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (CRI).
Dr. Leon holds a PhD in Civil Engineering with emphasis in Computational Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BS in Civil Engineering and Minor in Computer Science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. As a Haitian-American, woman of color in engineering departments at Primarily White Institutions, Dr. Leon learned the importance of community and support in academia. She found the community that helped her thrive in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at Cal Poly, SLO. Noticing that the same support group for graduate women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) did not exist at the University of Illinois, she founded GradSWE at Illinois and the weSTEM (Women Empowered in STEM) conference. These experiences of becoming a student advocate and creating the change she wanted to see are what led Dr. Leon to Diversity and Inclusion work in Student Affairs. Now as the DIRC Director, Dr. Leon is committed to ensuring that underrepresented and underserved students have support, community, and a home away from home. She is also dedicated to the hard work involved in making not just DIRC, but the entire campus, a more inclusive space for students.
In her free time, she loves to spend time with her partner, CSUF Assistant Professor of Physics Wylie Ahmed, and their dog, Lisa Frank. You will find them working on DIY projects together on the weekends (yes, sometimes Lisa included), from building furniture out of scrap wood to tiling their kitchen backsplash.
Nate Nguyen, M.S.Ed. (he/him/his)
Coordinator, Diversity Initiatives & Resource Centers
Nate Nguyen is currently a doctoral student in Educational Leadership at CSU Fullerton. He holds an M.A. in Writing, Rhetoric, & Discourse from DePaul University, an M.S. in Education from CSU Fullerton, and a B.A. in Communications & Religious Studies. In the last ten years, he has pursued careers in teaching ESL, English & Composition, developmental skills, and has practiced student affairs roles in international education, TRIO programs, transfer programs, and academic advising. He is currently the Coordinator of Diversity Initiatives & Resource Center where he leads diversity and social justice education. He believes in the potentials and advocacy of education for social change, social justice, empowering communities, and fostering global democracy. His goal is to ensure students have access to and obtain high quality education that opens hearts and leads to critical consciousness of self, community, and responsibility. In his free time, Nate likes to cook and tend to his ever growing plant collection.
Lucia P. De La Torre (she/her/hers)
Administrative Coordinator, Diversity Initiatives & Resource Centers
Lucia P. De La Torre has worked at Cal State Fullerton since 2014 and joined DIRC as Administrative Coordinator in 2017. Under the supervision of the Director of DIRC, she serves the department by providing budget, payroll, and administrative support. Born in Peru, her family immigrated to Orange County, California in 1991. She graduated UCI with a B.A in Political Science and International Studies in 2008 and is currently working towards a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology degree from Hope International University. Her interests include being in nature, spending time with her family, puppy and two pet rabbits.
Bleu Vargas (she/they)
Program Support Assistant, Diversity Initiatives & Resource Center
Bleu is a first generation, genderqueer, Pilipinx, and recent CSUF transfer scholar/alum who received their Bachelors of Arts in both Sociology with a concentration in Social Inequalities, as well as American Studies. They currently serve as the Program Support Assistant for the department of Diversity Initiatives and Resource Centers. During their time at CSUF, holding positions of leadership in the LGBT Queer Resource Center and the Queer and Trans People of Color Collective for two years, the National Undergraduate Fellows Program under NASPA, and interning out of the office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programs under Human Resources, Diversity and Inclusion, Bleu has found their passion and journey within the field of Student Affairs. Currently, applying to out-of-state masters programs, Bleu intends to help other students find, explore, and identify their own educational journey through mentorship, co-curricular learning, and serving as a foundational resource.
Torrell Foree, M.S. (he/him/his)
Coordinator, African American Resource Center
Torrell Foree serves as the Coordinator for the African American Resource Center (AARC). He earned his Bachelors of Arts in History and African American studies with a minor in Sociology at California State University, Fullerton. He also has a Masters of Science in Education, with a concentration in Higher Education from CSUF. He has worked in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs at Iowa State University. As a first-gen scholar and someone who has utilized the AARC as a student, he hopes to provide opportunity where students can have transformative experiences that impacted him as a student. In addition to supporting students, Torell loves driving stick-shift cars, is a fan of anime and Marvel, and enjoys everything Apple.
Coordinator, Asian Pacific American Resource Center
Contact: Nate Nguyen
Ariana Mora Mero, M.Ed. (she/her/hers)
Coordinator, Chicana & Chicano Resource Center
Born in Manta, Ecuador, Ariana immigrated to the United States at the age of 10 and grew up in Ames, Iowa. Ariana attended Iowa State University where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and her Master of Education in Student Affairs. Prior to her role as Coordinator for the Chicana and Chicano Resource Center, Ariana served as the Program Coordinator for Services for Undocumented Students at the University of California, Merced. As the CRC Coordinator, she hopes to foster an inclusive and welcoming environment for all students to feel part of the Titan Community. On her free time, Ariana enjoys dancing bachata and cooking Ecuadorian food.
Nat Betancourt, M.S. (they/she, Mx.)
Coordinator, LGBT Queer Resource Center
Nat Betancourt serves as the coordinator for the LGBT Queer Resource Center. They earned their Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a minor in History at California State University, Fullerton and their Masters of Science in College Counseling and Student Development from Azusa Pacific University. They have worked in First-Year Experience, Career Services, Leadership Development, and Residence Life. As someone that identifies as bisexual and genderqueer, they hope that their narrative and experiences can positively impact others and be of support to students navigating their queer identities. Aside from their passion in supporting students, Nat is a die-hard Dodgersfan, I have 10 tattoos and counting, and absolutely love King Taco!
Martha Zavala Perez, M.S. (she/her/hers)
Coordinator, Titan Dreamers Resource Center
As a student at Pepperdine University working on her concentrations of Intercultural and Organizational Communication, Martha realized that she never had a professor who looked like her, talked like her or came from her neighborhood. As a DACA recipient who found out, Martha was undocumented at the age of 17, she truly sees education as power. She loves working with students and it is her goal to give back to my community by helping others reach their dreams