From discovering their passion for public service to learning more about their inner strengths and the importance of community, four Cal State Fullerton alumnae share how their alma mater prepared them to serve as local and state elected officials.

Myra Maravilla, Councilmember, City of Hawaiian Gardens 

Myra Maravilla

Hawaiian Gardens councilmember Myra Maravilla ’12, ’17 (B.A. public administration, M.P.A.-urban management) was first elected to the city council in 2015. She previously served as Hawaiian Gardens’ mayor from 2018-19.

How did your educational experience at Cal State Fullerton shape who you are as a leader?

“CSUF faculty helped me amplify my voice with logic, empathy and persistence. A public administration degree from CSUF means I strive for excellence every day and challenge the institutions that affect others to do better.” 

Crystal K. Miles, Mayor, City of Villa Park

Crystal K. Miles

Serving on the Villa Park City Council since 2018, Crystal Miles ’94 (B.A. biological science) was appointed mayor of Villa Park in December 2020 for a one-year term. Miles previously taught human anatomy and microbiology labs and worked part-time as a middle school science teacher. She also worked in research and development for Johnson & Johnson as well as Nichols Institute Diagnostics.

How did your educational experience at Cal State Fullerton shape who you are as a leader?

“My experience at CSUF helped me learn and understand my own strengths and weaknesses, which gave me confidence I did not realize I possessed. Increased self-confidence empowers me to be a better leader, a better team player and allows me to continue to grow and improve as a good citizen and public figure even today.”

Claudia Alvarez, Former President and Trustee, Rancho Santiago Community College District 

Claudia Alvarez

Claudia Alvarez ’91 (B.A. criminal justice) recently completed her second term as board president of Rancho Santiago Community College District during her eight-year tenure as a trustee. Alvarez also ran as a city of Santa Ana mayoral candidate in 2020. Alvarez served as a councilmember for the city of Santa Ana from 2000-12, leading as mayor pro tem for six years. 

Alvarez was the first Latina elected to the Santa Ana City Council. Alvarez has also served on the Orange County Water District Board of Directors from 2006-12, including two years as board president. She is a senior deputy district attorney, serving the County of Orange for the last 21 years.

How did your educational experience at Cal State Fullerton shape who you are as a leader?

“My experience as a CSUF Titan included serving as an elected member of the Associated Students Inc. Board of Directors representing the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. I was a biology major at the time, thinking I was on my way to medical school. Serving on the board of directors advocating for students and taking political science classes from Professor Raphael Sonenshein shaped my passion for public service advocating on behalf of the community’s best interest. I changed my major to criminal justice, minored in political science and went on to law school.”

Michele Martinez, Commission Member, California Transportation Commission

Michele Martinez

Michele Martinez ’09 (B.A. criminal justice), a member of the California Transportation Commission, was elected to the commission in 2020 and previously served as a councilmember for the city of Santa Ana from 2006-18. Martinez is a resident of Long Beach.

How did your educational experience at Cal State Fullerton shape who you are as a leader?

“My experience as a student at CSUF helped me with understanding the importance of community and diversity and, more importantly, helped me become a system thinker and adaptive leader. In the end, community is always the answer to helping us become better leaders and the CSUF community has lived up to ensuring we put community first before self.”