In honor of their accomplishments in their respective fields and their service and support of the university, Cal State Fullerton is recognizing four Distinguished Alumni and two Honorary Alumni on Feb. 24 as the 2024 CSUF Vision & Visionaries Award recipients. Established in 1994, the biennial awards are the highest honors presented by CSUF to alumni and community supporters. 

As a freshman at Cal State Fullerton, Laura Archuleta came in with an undeclared major, unsure of which career path she should take.

She credits her time at CSUF and the guidance of her professors for helping her discover a passion for serving some of the most vulnerable around us.

And now, for more than 30 years, Archuleta has worked to bring housing, resources and hope to lower-income residents in California.

In recognition of her commitment to helping improve the lives of many in our communities, including those at CSUF, Archuleta has been named a 2024 CSUF Vision & Visionaries Distinguished Alumni Award winner.

Growing up in Whittier, Archuleta knew she wanted to attend college, and she was the first in her family to do so. Although she had several options coming out of high school, CSUF was the best financial fit for her family and allowed her to commute from home.

Archuleta’s first exposure to the Titan community beyond academics was when she pledged a sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, a decision that had a significant impact on her college career.

“I learned leadership through the sorority,” Archuleta said. “I learned philanthropy … and had just a ton of fun getting to know a lot of young college students.”

In her sophomore year, Archuleta began exploring career options and ended up taking a criminal justice course. At the time, the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program was prominent, and significant attention and focus was on Southern California youth gangs. She chose to pursue a degree in criminal justice and developed a strong interest in wanting to help people improve their lives, although at the time, she was not sure how she would put this into action.

She connected with one of her undergraduate professors, Jill Rosenbaum, who provided Archuleta the opportunity to conduct research with her on females and crime through what is now known as the California Division of Juvenile Justice.

“Doing research with (Rosenbaum), I got exposed to a whole other world of where education could take you,” Archuleta said.

Not only did Archuleta earn her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 1986, but Rosenbaum encouraged her to pursue her master’s degree in public administration, which she completed in 1991.

Her education took Archuleta on a career trajectory that first landed her an internship with Garden Grove’s Housing and Neighborhood Improvement Department. This was the start of a 12-year career working for cities in the affordable housing sector, including stops in Cypress, Palmdale and Anaheim.

Archuleta then took a step back from city government and began consulting work when she came upon Jamboree Housing, a local nonprofit with the mission of delivering, “high-quality affordable housing and services that transform lives and strengthen communities.”

She joined Jamboree Housing as the company’s assistant executive director, and within one year, she moved into her current role as president and CEO, a position she has held for nearly 25 years.

Along with her team and a volunteer board of directors, Jamboree Housing has over 10,000 units of affordable housing throughout the state, with more than 24,000 Californians calling one of their properties home. Through development and construction, and by working with various affordable housing financing entities, Jamboree Housing makes finding a place to live possible for many low-income families. The organization also provides support services for their residents who are dealing with mental health issues or special needs.

“It was just an incredible opportunity to bring together my background and passion for improving communities and neighborhoods, along with giving kids, those with special needs, veterans and seniors, hope that they could live in high-quality housing that they can actually afford,” Archuleta said. “It’s been an incredible journey, and it absolutely would never have happened without me going to Cal State Fullerton.”

Archuleta is now giving back to the Titan community, having recently joined the CSUF Board of Governors. Being selected as a 2024 Vision and Visionaries Award honoree leaves her “speechless” and with a heart full of gratitude, as she feels the education that she and so many other first-generation students received from Cal State Fullerton has opened doors and provided opportunities she never could have imagined.

“To me, being a Titan means that you can do anything,” Archuleta said. “We have Titans all over the world doing amazing things, and here at Jamboree (Housing), we are full of Titans. They are super-smart folks who come out of CSUF ready to get their hands dirty and dive into some of the most difficult and pressing issues facing California. Cal State Fullerton gets them ready to be a full-fledged Titan by the time they graduate.”

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