Category Archives: Graduation

Meet Some of Chico State’s Amazing New Graduates

damario-sims-thumbBasketball star Damario Sims has left an indelible mark on Chico State athletics history over the past four years. But beyond the buzzer-beating shots is his most defining aspect: the obligation he feels to be a role model for young people from his hometown of West Oakland. Read More

ariel-ellis-thumbIf there’s one thing Ariel Ellis wants those who feel depressed to know, it’s that they’re not alone. In fact, the graduating psychology major has dedicated most of her four years at Chico State to spreading that message and other facts about mental health.  Read More

mmartinez Spending time with Melissa Martinez today, you’d never guess that she was once a college dropout. After excelling in high school, Martinez enrolled in Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with the best of intentions, but found the transition to college life at 17 challenging. Martinez graduates on May 25 with a degree in biological sciences (cellular and molecular) and a minor in biochemistry. Read More

asherrodIf the start of Adrian Sherrod’s high school career was an indication of the rest of his life, his future would likely look different now. After spending most of his young life in Mexico, his mother moved the family back to San Diego County for a fresh start, and the transition to the States was a rough one. That all changed when he was introduced to running track and cross country. Read More 

nwalkerA few months before Nicole Walker started her freshman year at CSU, Chico, her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Being too far away from her San Luis Obispo hometown to visit often, Walker decided to support her mom in a different way—by getting involved with the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society of Northern California. Read More

ian ruddellWhen Ian Ruddell came to CSU, Chico as a freshman, he was prepared to make change. The organizer of the first gay-straight alliance at Atascadero High was already a seasoned activist, used to making things happen. But he may not have anticipated that he would leave such an indelible stamp on both the University and the CSU—changing the way CSU, Chico supports LGBTQ students and voting on issues that directly impact the CSU’s 437,000 students. Read More

tim-sain-thumbUntil he was 25, Tim Sain did exactly what he says was expected of men in his family: He got into drugs, he dropped out of high school, he became an absentee father, he went to jail. He lost his house, his car, his job, his wife, and nearly, his three children. And then Sain did the unexpected. He decided to change everything. Read More


Greg Wells, who uses a wheelchair, was paralyzed at the age of 15 in a high school wrestling accident and also has a documented learning disability. These challenges, he says, make everything a little bit harder, but by staying true to his mantras of “keep going” and “never give up,” he has overcome them in a way that’s impressive by any standard. Read More

Dee ThaoGraduating communication design major Dee Thao is promoting social change through a highly social medium: film. Thao, recipient of the College of Communication and Education’s 2013 Outstanding Student Leader Award, recently premiered a 24-minute film she created that documents her family’s journey as refugees from Thailand when she was 5. Read More

Michael Bluing

Michael Bluing came to Chico as a freshman, sight unseen, on the recommendation of high school teachers who were Chico State alums. “I heard their stories; I saw the brochure, saw all the trees, and thought ‘Hey, I like trees,’” he said, laughing. Bluing is especially passionate about integrating diversity awareness into the learning process. Read More

Swan TomaFew understand or embody the meaning of service work and leadership quite like graduating political science major Swan Toma. Born in Iraq under the regime of Saddam Hussein, Toma and his family, along with others, faced the threat of persecution in 1997 related to his father’s work with Western countries. Evacuating as refugees to camps in Turkey and Guam, the family eventually immigrated to the United States through the sponsorship of an uncle in San Diego County when he was just 6. Read More

Post-Graduate Advice from a Chico State Grad

By Samantha Gasper (Journalism, ’10), Associate Client Executive at Voce Communications, a Porter Novelli Company

Graduating from college elicits a whirlwind of emotion—accomplishment, excitement, and, you can admit it, fearing the unknown. Leaving the town you’ve called home for the past four (or more) years is the ending of one chapter, but only the very beginning of the next as you enter the job market.

I won’t deny that getting started is the hardest part—job hunting takes dedication, persistence, and most of all, patience. I recall spending hours upon hours on my parents’ couch while digging for the ideal position, daytime TV buzzing in the background. Initially, I was reluctant to take an internship because I felt I was ready for a fulltime gig. In retrospect, I cannot stress enough how thankful I am to have had internship experience after seeing the doors it opened for me. I encourage you to stay open-minded, and to view internships as a trial period, not only for the employer, but for yourself. It’s your career, your life—and it’s all right to be picky. At the very least, you will have gained valuable experience and put yourself ahead of the next candidate applying for your dream job.

If I could offer you any advice to help steer your job search in the right direction, it would be this:

  • Build your resume – Aim for one page; use bullet points and proactive language (“I drove this project” or “I managed this program”)
  • Craft a cover letter – Explain why you’re awesome and a solid candidate
  • Networking is key – Connect with friends or classmates in your field of interest; don’t be afraid to ask them to forward your resume to Human Resources (this is the best way to get your foot in the door!)
  • Connect with HR – Take it a step further after submitting an online application; track down the HR manager’s email or phone number and connect directly
  • When interviewing:
    • Have your “three bullet points” ready – By this, I mean highlight your best and most valuable assets
    • Research – Know what the company is all about and why you want it
    • Ask Questions – Always. You have a right to interview them a little, too!

And remember that the Chico State Career Center has great resources for you.

Chico State grads are a rare breed. We are outgoing, hard working, and confident in ourselves, and employers view us as a breath of fresh air. Take pride in what you’ve accomplished, Graduates, and the best of luck to you all!

My Unexpected Paradise

By Jaclyn Percy, senior, major in journalism option in public relations

If you would have asked me four years ago where I was going to go to college, never in a million years would the words “Chico State” have come out of my mouth. I was bound and determined to get the heck out of California and play soccer for the next four years of my life; and my first year I did exactly that, at Metropolitan State College of Denver.

Fast forward through a year of soccer, living in snow, not so pleasant roommates, and loneliness, and the only place I wanted to be was at Chico State: a place close to my friends and family that I had heard such wonderful things about during my year in Denver.

I’ve learned over the course of my college career that life has a way of playing funny tricks. Sometimes the things that you least expect are the things you will cherish forever. Chico State is one of those things I will cherish forever.

This place has been my home for the past three years. A place where I have developed some amazing friendships, found my calling in journalism, and just plain grew up. It has been a place that has opened up so many doors for me and allowed me to become this so-called adult that I am today.

Let me break it down for you… if I never came to Chico State I would never have…

Studied abroad. Chico State has an amazing study abroad program that sends more than 300 students to 34 different countries annually. I was lucky enough to be able to study abroad in Viterbo, Italy for five months, a place that allowed me to become much more culturally conscious and independent. If I can leave one piece of advice with Chico students, study abroad! Trust me, it’s an experience that won’t come easily again after graduation.

Found journalism. I stumbled upon a journalism class my sophomore year. Long story short, I learned what I needed to do with my career. Chico State’s journalism program is wonderful. Between the teachers, courses, clubs, and so forth, this program has fully prepared me for a career in public relations post-college.

Shopped local. Okay, this one may seem clichéd, but it’s true. There is just something about waking up on a Saturday morning and walking down to the Farmers Market to buy produce, flowers, and knick-knacks. Chico is lucky to have such an amazing market and a community who makes it thrive. I have been to a fair share of markets world-wide, and let me just say, there is really something special about Chico’s local market.

And the list goes on…

As I made my way across that stage on Saturday, I remembered all of the good that Chico offered me. This is my way of saying thank you and goodbye. Thanks for all of the memories and experiences and finally, arrivederci.

Jaclyn Percy, the voice behind Chico State’s social media for the spring 2011 semester, is officially signing off.

…And 4 Years Later, Let the Party Begin!

By Dan Hokenson, senior, business administration major with an option in finance

And 4 years later, the adventure is coming to a close. After all the late nights studying at Meriam Library, the hundreds of Scantrons purchased and nervously turned in, and the countless numbers of essays written, it seems that my four-year experience at Chico State is finally coming to an end. On Sunday, May 22nd, I will receive my ticket into the next stage of my life – my BS in Business Administration, with an option in Finance.

I came to Chico State as a transfer student from Butte in 2009. I instantly felt like I was home at Chico State during the first week I attended classes here. I loved how intelligent the professors were, how helpful the advising staff was, and how friendly all the students were. And the best part about Chico State is how beautiful the campus grounds are, and all of the rich history and heritage in the original buildings that are still producing the world’s next leaders today.

My experience at Chico State has been one that I will remember for the rest of my life. The friends I have made up here, who I have shared the struggle of getting through school with, will remain my close friends for the rest of  my life. I will always remember the joy of finishing a semester, and then instantly crossing that semester off in my mind – “Another one down, only 3 more to go!” I eventually stopped thinking about the end; it always made it seem so far away. Once you get into the latter years of your studying, you tend to forget how close you are to the end. All of a sudden, it was September 2010 – only 8 months to go. And now, we are down to only a few days.

Looking back on my time here, I don’t think I would ever do anything differently. I am so grateful for the opportunities that Chico State has provided me. From the Leadership Boot Camp in spring of 2010, to the many career fairs I was able to attend, and the numerous on-campus interviews I have had, Chico State has provided me with the greatest toolbox I could ask for going into the “real world.” I am lucky enough to be one of the ones to already have a job coming out of school, and I owe that to the Chico State Career Center and to Chico State.

I will always remember the first day of each semester, all of the accidental naps at the library in between studying, the satisfaction in getting an A on a test, and the disappointment in getting an F on a test. I will always remember the weekends I spent with my friends downtown, the quiet (but quite hot!) summers in Chico, and the amazing array of colors that engulf Chico during the spring and fall.

And to the graduating class of 2011, congratulations—we finally made it!