Office of Diversity & Inclusion

1st Generation Faculty & Staff Association

With more than 50 percent of our students poised to be the first generation in their family to complete a four-year degree, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion has launched an awareness campaign to support the first-generation community here at Chico State. Faculty, staff, and students who are first-generation themselves participated in the campaign, showing their diversity, solidarity, and support of students who are striving toward the same goal.

Maria Olson
Maria Olson
Chela Mendoza Patterson
Chela Mendoza Patterson
Julie Monet
Julie Monet
Kevin Calixtro
Kevin Calixtro
Michael Doris
Michael Doris
Silvana Velasquez
Silvana Velasquez
Jesus Garcia
Jesus Garcia
Tasha Alexander
Tasha Alexander
Tray Robinson
Tray Robinson
William Cuthbertson
William Cuthbertson
Angela Sigala
Angela Sigala
Jorge Garcia
Jorge Garcia
Michelle Morris
Michelle Morris
Cecilia Lapolli
Cecilia Lapolli
Amalia Rodas
Amalia Rodas
David Brown
Dr. David Brown
Donna Humphrey
Donna Humphrey
Katya Ponce-Sanchez
Katya Ponce-Sanchez
Ana Cany Mejia Cortes
Ana Cany Mejia Cortes
Ann Schulte
Ann Schulte

Maria Olson

Maria Olson

Hometown: All over Northern California, but mostly the Bay Area and San Jose. I moved so much I went to a new school every year from kindergarten through 6th grade.

Role on campus: Advisor in the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office. I’m also a part-time grad student.

Years on campus: 11

Did you or do you have plans to continue your education beyond a four-year degree? Yes, I am currently a part-time grad student in the communication studies program. I am utilizing the fee waiver benefit and have three semesters left. My main area of interest is in intercultural communication. In 2015, I was able to study abroad in Cuba over spring break with a Chico State faculty and staff professional development group, and it helped me realize how much I love traveling and sharing with other people and cultures.

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Dr. Chela Mendoza Patterson

Dr. Chela Mendoza Patterson

Hometown: Oxnard

Role on campus: Director, Early Outreach and Support Programs

Years on campus: 34

Did you or do you have plans to continue your education beyond a four-year degree? No. My initial plan was just to get a BA. I didn’t have any idea about graduate degrees until about my third year. Luckily, I had a mentor who explained to me I would need to get an MA if I wanted to work in higher education.

Why did you choose Chico? My husband and I were at the University of Maryland, College Park, pursuing graduate’s degrees. Originally from California, we were trying to get a job back in our home state. Chico State offered him a position at the Counseling Center and about two months later, I was offered a position with the Associated Students.

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Dr. Julie Monet

Dr. Julie Monet

Hometown: San Francisco

Role on campus: Professor and Chair, Department of Science Education

Years on campus: 34

Did you or do you have plans to continue your education beyond a four-year degree? No. My initial goal was to simply finish my AA degree. I soon realized that higher education provided me the opportunity to develop self-confidence, independence, and the ability to indulge my passion for learning.

Why did you choose Chico? The CSU system is where I earned both my BS and MS degrees. I was excited to return and become part of the same system where I was inspired to learn, and to challenge myself to achieve goals I once believed were unattainable.

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Kevin Calixtro

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Michael Doris

Michael Doris

Hometown: San Diego

Role on campus: Student, double major in physics and electrical engineering.

Years on campus: 1 year, 6 months

Will you continue your education beyond a four-year degree? I was on the fence for a long time. I also felt like I wasn’t good enough or smart enough for graduate school. However, thanks to the many people I’ve met at Butte College and Chico State, I now see that I can do this, and that everyone deserves to be a part of higher education. I decided to pursue a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering and a PhD in physics.

Why did you choose Chico? As a first-generation student from a low-income family, I had no support system. Chico State was close to where I was already living and working, and the tuition was low enough I could feasibly afford it …

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Silvana Velasquez

Silvana Velasquez

Hometown: Santiago, Chile

Role on campus: Analyst/programmer in Institutional Research

Years on campus: 1 year, 5 months

Did you or do you have plans to continue your education beyond a four-year degree? Yes

Why did you choose Chico? My best friends live here. Great community, people, and quality of life.

What first sparked your interest in a college education? My parents. As they did not have the opportunity to follow their dreams of a college education, they always motivated me and encouraged me to pursue my dreams. They worked very hard so that I could have the best education while I was growing up in Chile.

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Jesus Garcia

Jesus Garcia

Hometown: Pittsburg

Role on campus: Student, majoring in cellular and molecular biology

Years on campus: 2

Why did you choose Chico? I chose Chico because of the homey vibe I received the second I stepped on campus and the community.

What first sparked your interest in a college education? Realizing within myself that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to through hard work and determination.

What were some barriers that prevented others in your family from completing a four-year degree? Some barriers that prevented others in my family from completing a four-year degree were limitation in resources and overall shortage of support from their schools and community.

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Tasha Alexander

Tasha Alexander

Hometown: Santa Cruz

Role on campus: Project director of TRIO Student Support Services

Years on campus: 16

Did you or do you have plans to continue your education beyond a four-year degree? I earned an MA.

Why did you choose Chico? Chico Stated looked like the universities I had seen in movies!

What first sparked your interest in a college education? My parents insisted that I get a degree so that I didn’t have the same struggles and roadblocks in life that they had.

What were some barriers that prevented others in your family from …

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Tray Robinson

Tray Robinson

Hometown: Compton

Role on campus: Director, Office of Diversity and Inclusion; lecturer in Multicultural and Gender Studies

Years on campus: 22 as a professional, 6 as a student

Did you or do you have plans to continue your education beyond a four-year degree? Originally, I did not, the plan was to get my teaching credential and go back to LA and teach. I continued my education and received my master’s in interdisciplinary studies with a focus in human relations.

Why did you choose Chico? I got recruited to play football. There were also a group of other folks from my high school who applied, were accepted, and decided to attend Chico. I also wanted some distance from my hometown to avoid distractions while I focused on my education. Like many other people …

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William Cuthbertson

William Cuthbertson

Hometown: Ogden, Utah

Role on campus: Undergraduate engagement librarian (an assistant professor)

Years on campus: 1 year in February 2018

Did you or do you have plans to continue your education beyond a four-year degree? I have a master’s, and frankly, that’s enough.

Why did you choose Chico? I was excited that Chico State is a Hispanic Serving Institution, and by the high percentage of first-gen students coming here. If you’re looking to make a difference, which I am, then this is the student population I see as being the future of academia.

What first sparked your interest in a college education? I loved reading from early on, so it was always assumed I’d go—that, and having high–achieving …

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Angela Sigala

Angela Sigala

Hometown: Fontana

Role on campus: Biology major

Years on campus: 2

Did you or do you have plans to continue your education beyond a four-year degree? I want to attend graduate school to become a professor.

Why did you choose Chico? When I first visited Chico, I was immediately interested in the school’s great programs and atmosphere.

What first sparked your interest in a college education? At age 12, my father sat me down and talked about how difficult life can be. We had a long conversation about my options for my well–being. That is when I was first introduced into the concept of seeking higher education. Just like any immigrant parent, my father wanted to offer me opportunity for a better life.

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Jorge Garcia

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Michelle Morris

Michelle Morris

Hometown: Santa Rosa

Role on campus: Faculty diversity officer in the Office of the President, and a professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science

Years on campus: 18

Did you or do you have plans to continue your education beyond a four–year degree? Yes! Near the end of my undergrad years, I knew I never wanted to leave college so I immediately applied to the PhD program in nutrition at UC Davis.

Why did you choose Chico? I was offered my dream job of a tenure–track faculty position!

What first sparked your interest in a college education? My friend’s father was a defense attorney and during junior high we went to watch one of his cases …

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Cecilia Lapolli

Cecilia Lapolli

Hometown: St. Helena

Role on campus: Study Abroad Advisor, Office of International Education

Years on campus: 1 year, 3 months

Education: BA, Latin American Studies. I am hoping to start a master’s degree in spring.

Why did you choose Chico? I love the community and the campus environment. Most of all, I love the nature aspect of this city, as I spend most of my time getting lost in Upper Bidwell Park. Hiking and swimming is my happy place.

What first sparked your interest in a college education? I’ve always been inspired to go to college because of the community I grew up in—it was normal to expect to continue on to get a higher education. I consider myself very …

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Amalia Rodas

Amalia Rodas

Hometown: Escondido, California

Role on campus: Graduate student pursuing an MPA

Years on campus: 7

Did you or do you have plans to continue your education beyond a four–year degree? I did not have plans to continue on to graduate school. I came in as a pre–nursing major without even thinking about how much I dislike taking blood and vaccines. It took me five years to get through my undergrad degree, and that was a huge accomplishment for me since I almost dropped out when I first came to Chico. It took me a while to get used to the different place and people, and to learn how much I love and value education.

Why did you choose Chico? I got accepted to four CSUs—San Marcos, East Bay, San Bernardino, and Chico. My favorite high school teacher, Mr. Lance Keller …

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Dr. David Brown

Dr. David Brown

Hometown: Riverside

Role on campus: Professor, Geological and Environmental Sciences

Years on campus: 20

Education: BA in independent Studies with a concentration in environmental studies, MS in hydrology/hydrogeology, PhD in soil science

Why did you choose Chico? As a transfer student coming out of Lassen Community College many years ago, Chico State was just where everyone moved on to. It wasn’t really a conscious choice. I chose the faculty position here because there was a job offer but also because the town seemed to be a great community in which we could raise our two young sons.

What first sparked your interest in a college education? My family just assumed I would go to college and I didn’t question that. I didn’t become …

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Donna Humphrey

Donna Humphrey

Hometown: Las Vegas

Role on campus: Assistant to the director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and a graduate student in the master’s program for education.

Years on campus: 3

Did you or do you have plans to continue your education beyond a four–year degree? I hope to graduate with my master’s degree in May!

Why did you choose Chico? I was an employee and I love the positive energy on campus.

What first sparked your interest in a college education? I decided to go to college when I was 34 years old (and had three children under the age of 10) and began working at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. The driving force behind going back to school to get my degrees (associate’s, bachelor’s and …

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Katya Ponce-Sanchez

Katya Ponce-Sanchez

Hometown: Chico

Role on campus: Journalism major with an emphasis in public relations

Years on campus: 5

Did you or do you have plans to continue your education beyond a four–year degree? Yes. I plan to pursue a master's degree in social work.

Why did you choose Chico?  I wanted to stay close to my family, especially close to my little brother. By staying close to him, I was able to watch him grow in to the smart young man that he is now. Also, I wanted him to see me grow and see that all the hard work that my parents have done to give us a better future is paying off.

What first sparked your interest in a college education? My parents. From a very young age I knew that I was going to go to college. As a daughter of …

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Ana Cany Mejia Cortes

Ana Cany Mejia Cortes

Hometown: Santa María, California

Major: I graduated with bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and Latin America Studies in 2017.

Years on campus: I transferred from a community college in my hometown called Allan Hancock College in 2015 and graduated this May.

Did you or do you have plans to continue your education beyond a four–year degree? I am currently attending University of Nevada, Reno, to get my master’s degree in Spanish.

Why did you choose Chico? It was a small university and I thought it was going to be better and easier to meet my professors and be able to have a connection with them. I also went to Chico because a Spanish teacher I had in high school would always talk about Chico and how great her experience was, so I wanted to have the same experience.

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Ann Schulte

Ann Schulte

Hometown: Yankton, South Dakota

Role on campus: Faculty in the School of Education

Years on campus: 17

Did you or do you have plans to continue your education beyond a four–year degree? I did not plan to continue after I graduated with a BA in Education. I never even thought about getting a PhD until right before I applied for it.

Why did you choose Chico? I loved the people and the place, and when I applied for a job as a professor, I wanted to move near my sisters who had lived in California for many years.

What first sparked your interest in a college education? I was not a very academic student. In high school, I took all the home economics classes I …

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