There is a saying that if the friends in your circle do not push you to be your very best, they are not your real friends.
For these two Montclair State University students, Ashon Lanada, a senior business administration major with a concentration in management, and Guillermo Estrada, a senior public health major with a concentration in health systems administration and policy, this is true. Once the two met their freshman year at Montclair State, they stuck like peanut butter and jelly and became the best of friends.
Lanada and Estrada met through The Brotherhood/La Hermandad, an organization that caters to the academic, social and professional success of, but not limited to, Black and Latino students on campus.
The pair have been inseparable throughout the years.
“We just always clicked,” Lanada said. “We had similar interests, hobbies, sports talks and we had similar mentorship. There were similar leaders that we looked up to and that’s what made us click even more. We were around the same group of successful people, and after that, it’s history.”
Since the two became friends, they have always pushed each other to do more than they could have ever imagined. The two made a pact freshman year that they would make it their biggest achievement to be in the Student Government Association (SGA) together in their senior year, and it happened.
“I like to think of our friendship like Dwayne Wade and Lebron James,” Estrada said. “In our first year, it was trial and error. Ashon was vice president of [The] Brotherhood and I was the treasurer. Next year, he was the president and I was the treasurer. Now, this year, we ‘won the championship’ because we are at the top of our game in the SGA. We’ve talked about making this happen since freshman year and it’s here.”
This is not Estrada’s first time being a part of the SGA. He has been a member since his freshman year as a legislator, director of class one his sophomore year and the director of academic affairs his junior year. Now in his senior year, he serves as the executive treasurer.
On the other hand, Lanada is the executive president of the SGA. He used organizations and clubs to perfect his leadership skills for this moment. He became involved with the Latin American Student Organization, Black Student Union, Fashion Club and much more.
Lanada was also an executive board member of The Brotherhood/La Hermandad for two years, vice president and public relations sophomore year and president junior year.
Former president of the SGA Ernst Lozin has watched the pair throughout the years and has become very fond of them.
“Their friendship is very unique,” Lozin said. “Usually when you come into freshman year, building friendships is an important thing. They became brothers along the way, combining forces to make a great impact and because of that, they were able to obtain their positions within the SGA.”
To say their impact has inspired others like Lozin and has been influential within the Montclair State community would be an understatement. Lanada and Estrada have big things to come during their time left at the university and they aspire to make the most of it.
When asked about the plans they have for the students at Montclair State, they both paused, gave each other a hard stare with a grin and began to laugh.
“Our goal this year is to revive student life on campus,” Lanada said. “We saw how campus life, organizations and club activity died last year [due to the pandemic] so we feel like it’s on us as students to help other students and serve the students by bringing life back.”
Lanada and Estrada have great things in store for Montclair State as they look to continually make their mark before it all comes to an end. One thing is for certain: their bond will remain unbreakable.