University of Southern California

USC Student Affairs and Campus Life

Kristo Gobin

Area Director for the South Area Residential College, Residential Education

By Diane Ver Steeg Anderson

Kristo GobinPhoto by Nathan CarterKristo Gobin

With new staff and faculty in a new residential college community, recently hired South Area director Kristo Gobin is excited to be part of the change.

“We are building a program is what we’re doing,” said Gobin of the South Area Residential College, which comprises Marks Hall, Marks Tower, Pardee Tower and Trojan Hall. “We are laying the groundwork to build a phenomenal program.”

As part of that process, Gobin and the South Area staff, faculty and residents are figuring out a mission, values and standards. The goal, he said, is to “really put South Area on the map.”

As area director, Gobin oversees the residential communities, works with staff and faculty to keep residents safe and connected, and provides developmental and educational programming. He also likes to walk the buildings and talk with students.

“I try to eat in the residents’ dining hall so I can be visible and engage students,” he said.

Gobin got interested in residential education when he was an undergraduate at California State University, Northridge (CSUN).

“I had a very typical first-generation experience, where I was told to go to college, but I really wasn’t told what to do when I got there,” said Gobin, whose parents immigrated from Croatia. “I stumbled into a communication studies class and became a resident adviser. My life just flipped. I found where I belonged.”

Gobin earned his bachelor’s degree in communication studies and interdisciplinary journalism from CSUN, then worked as a resident director for the University of California, Riverside.

He next went to San Jose State University (SJSU), where he earned his master’s degree in communication studies and worked in the Mosaic Cross Cultural Center doing social justice programming and multicultural education.

At SJSU, he also developed an interest in performance. His master’s thesis, a personal narrative about his coming-out process as a gay Croatian American, was the first communication studies performance thesis in the university’s history, he said. He turned the thesis into a one-person show called “That’s So Gay.”

“It’s like a comedy about homophobia meets an ABC afterschool special about being nice to gay people,” he said. “It does really well with college students.”

After graduating from SJSU, he worked at UCLA as a resident director before leaving to take his show on the road to colleges and universities across the country. Schools invited him to come for campus performances, and to meet with staff and student groups.

“Every school has different issues,” he said. “It’s been really fun to see how different they are.”

Now that he’s starting a new chapter at USC, Gobin plans to incorporate his interests in educational performance, communication studies, social justice and media deconstruction into programming for the 780 students in his buildings.

“Kristo has been a great addition to the staff,” said Romando Nash, associate dean and executive director of Residential Education. “His wealth of experience and passion about social justice issues will play a vital role in the new direction of residential education at USC.”