Former student government president shares campus experience at Sac State

Christine Kittle

Many students come to college and have minimal involvement on campus outside of their academics.

Nielsen Gabriel is not one of those students.

Gabriel joined Associated Students Inc. his freshman year as a committee member, then ran for the director of natural sciences and mathematics. He was elected and remained on the Board of Directors for three years.

“He was probably one of the most dedicated people to the organization that I’ve ever seen,” said ASI President Lauren Lombardo. “He ran as a freshman for director of natural sciences and mathematics ended up taking office his sophomore year, then became the executive vice president, then stayed an extra year and became president. So he dedicated three years of his college career to ASI.”

Before a friend told him he would be a good candidate for ASI, Gabriel never thought of himself as the kind of person who should be in student government. He thought science students could not get involved, then found student government is for any type of student on campus.

“[My friend] thought I would be a great candidate for the [natural sciences and mathematics] director position,” Gabriel said. “I really do thank my friend for getting me involved with ASI.”

Gabriel credits ASI with helping him get out of his comfort zone. He now considers his greatest personal achievement at ASI to be how much he was able to grow as a person.

“I interacted with a lot of people that I would not have gone out of my way to interact with, people that as a board member I had to interact with, and I don’t say forced in a bad connotation at all; that was just in the nature of what I had to do,” Gabriel said. “Not every interaction was pleasant but again, that helped me grow as a person as well. Conflict can help a person to develop into what they are, help them deal with future career goals.”

Gabriel’s achievements during his time with ASI include creating the campus farmers market and bringing attention to the sciences by establishing joint councils for his college.

“He expanded scholarships, he expanded resources for the directors of the colleges, he helped establish joint councils for the college of natural science and mathematics,” Lombardo said. “He really, really did a lot for the organization during his time here.”

While part of ASI, Gabriel focused on helping his colleagues, as well as the students he represented. His experience on the board made him a knowledgeable resource and sounding board for the other directors and executives on the ASI board, including new staff members.

“Nielsen actually had more experience than I did when I first started here as the board associate,” said Lisa Dalton, board associate for ASI. “I actually really sought him out to help me learn my job, and he was quite gracious in doing that and letting me know how important it was to do certain things.”

Gabriel is no longer on the Board of Directors, but he still feels connected to ASI and has some unofficial involvement with the current board members.

Because of his long experience, the current board members will occasionally ask him for advice. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in biological sciences at Sacramento State and is applying for medical school this year.

Outside of school, Gabriel spends time with his dog– a jack russell terrier named Woodhouse– kayaks, snowboards and attends farmers markets.

Sac State was Gabriel’s first choice, but when he came to campus he knew it was the right choice.

“I originally came here for the business and kinesiology and then I fell in love with whole different aspects of Sac State,” Gabriel said. “College is what you make of it.”