The program director of CSUDH’s Rose Black Resource Center (RBRC), Catherine “Cat” Jermany is dedicated to helping Toro students succeed. When the center opened in 2017, it was the only space of its kind on campus, and its success has paved the way for the Queer Culture & Resource Center, Latinx Cultural Resource Center, and more.
Located on the first floor of the Loker Student Union, the RBRC provides a network of academic, personal, and professional support services for Black students at CSUDH. After coming on board as a program coordinator in 2019, Jermany was named the center’s first program director in July 2020.
“I’m proud of the fact that I have been able to contribute to the growth of the center and its community,” says Jermany. To that end, Jermany spends her days interacting with the students who come into the center, building bonds of community and friendship that help connect them to the university and one another.
She can usually be found in the center “facilitating open conversations and discussions about topics related to Black students’ interests and experiences,” and says that watching students grow and develop personally and professionally is the best part of her job.
Born and raised in Santa Rosa, Calif., Jermany’s nickname may have been pre-determined: her birthday is October 29 – National Cat Day. Her first job was as a hostess at IHOP, where she started working at just 14 years old.
Her favorite childhood memories are of trips down to Los Angeles with her mother, who had moved to Northern California from South Central L.A. when she found out she was pregnant in order to get away from the dangers of the inner city. “Every summer, my mom and I would travel to L.A. to visit family and close friends,” recalls Jermany.
“My mother thought it was important for me to know my dad’s side of the family. I am my mother’s only child, but my father has six other children. He is also one of nine brothers and sisters, so I have many aunts, uncles, and cousins. It seemed like every time I visited L.A., I would be introduced to another new cousin or family member,” she laughs.
The summertime treks also contributed to Jermany’s current position and mission. “My mother also thought it was important to expose me to Black culture,” says Jermany. “Santa Rosa is a predominantly white, middle-class town, so vacationing in L.A. was very important for my Black identity development growing up, as well.”
Although her job involves talking with people all day long, Jermany says she’s an introvert at heart. She prefers relaxing at home to spending her time out on the town. “Also, rent in L.A. is super-high, so I have to make sure I’m getting my money’s worth!” she adds.