Inspirational Alumni

Three journalism graduates—all former reporters at The Orion student newspaper—have been awarded journalism’s highest honor. Rick Hurd (BA, Journalism, ’92), Malaika Fraley (BA, Journalism, Political Science, ’99) and Katrina Cameron (BA, Journalism, ’14) contributed to team coverage about a devastating fire, winning the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting for the East Bay Times. Fraley said each member of the team that covered the horrific event would return the award to erase the deadly tragedy, “but we are proud of our work in giving a voice to the victims and holding public agencies accountable to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Samia Yaqub

The daughter of a Palestinian immigrant who earned a PhD from Purdue University, Samia Yaqub (MA, English, ’89) harnessed the hope and power of education to become president of Butte College. Leading Chico State’s neighboring community college, she hopes to inspire students to change their lives— and their families’ lives—through education.

Rose Esposito-McCallen (BS, Mechanical Engineering, ’80) has been a researcher and project lead at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for more than three decades. Among her numerous accolades, she boasts the Global Security Directorate Award for exceptional performance on a Department of Energy Project.

Chris Wondolowski in a USA Soccer uniform

San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski (Attended, Child Development, 2001–04) is one of the top strikers in Major League Soccer (MLS) and an international powerhouse. He played in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, scored his 100th goal in MLS play in 2015—only the ninth player in league history to achieve such a feat, and was one of 23 players chosen for the Copa América Centenario to represent the United States in 2016.

Greg Gangnuss in a camouflage vest stands in front of an Air Force plane

Greg Gangnuss (BS, Physical Science, ’88) was presented the Air Force Civilian Award for Valor and called an “American hero” for performing life-saving actions under perilous conditions. A civilian engineer, he raced to rescue four people when a helicopter crashed in the headquarters of Camp Resolute Support in Kabul. He has 25 years of civil service with the US Air Force and currently serves as branch chief for the Air Force Base Realignment and Closure Program.

Mary Kight

The first female adjutant general of the California National Guard and the first African American woman National Guard adjutant general, retired US Air Force Major General Mary Kight (BA, Social Welfare, ’73) has been a trailblazer on multiple fronts while also amassing a collection of military honors and professional achievements.

Marni Walden (BA, English ’90) is executive vice president and president of Global Media for Verizon. She is the only female executive directly reporting to Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam, and she is leading the Fortune 14 company’s evolution from pure telecom player to diversified platform and solutions provider. Fortune magazine listed her No. 40 on its 2016 listing of Most Powerful Women—the only woman from a telecom firm to make the ranking.

Jonathan Brown (BA, International Relations, ’16) recently returned from spending 10 months at the Nu Po Refugee Camp in Thailand, where he taught English and community development to refugees at a college-level school.