Office of Diversity & Inclusion

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, I also fell in love with the beauty of the campus.

What first sparked your interest in a college education? I always loved learning and wanted to teach. My fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Frank, had a huge impact on my education. I knew by junior high that I was going to move from Compton and attend college. I was going to use sports and/or music as a vehicle to help facilitate the process. I lost too many friends to gang violence.

What were some barriers that prevented others in your family from completing a four-year degree? Lack of role models who were going to college. Also, other issues were a priority (survival, earning income, taking care of children).

Who can you point to as a mentor or inspiration in your pursuit of a four-year degree and why? Mrs. Frank (see above). My high school math teacher, Mr. Alexander, who challenged all of his students to do better. My high school history teacher, Mr. Montgomery, who was hard on all of his students and truly cared about us. He also spoke to us about going to college and his college experiences. My 11th grade English teacher, who laughed at me when I told her that I wanted to attend college—after I completed my 1st year at Chico State I went back to her classroom with a Chico State sweater on. My niece Precious, who was born with a rare disease (coupled with my sister using drugs) and was not supposed to live six months. She is now in her thirties. She is an inspiration to my entire family.

What does being first-gen mean to you? Being a role model and leader to my nieces, nephews, and students, illustrating to them that they can attend and graduate from college too. Learning and experiencing things for the first time without guidance from family members who were not able to attend and graduate from college. Caring forward my father’s last name in a positive light. Legacy.

What challenges do you struggle with or have you overcome as a result of being first-gen? Not knowing how to save money and avoid debt. Growing up too fast. Not knowing the process or believing that I can purchase a home. Asking people for help. Intimidation by being the only person of color in most of my classes.

What is your wildest ambition? Get my PhD, go to seminary school, own a vacation home, travel the world, write a book.

What message do you want to send other first-gen students? You got this. Stay focused and you too will earn your degree. Ask for help and find a mentor. Learn how to study, manage your time, and save money.