May 13, 2016Vol. 46, Issue 6

Worth the Wait

Malcom Dixon graduates after eight years of education, widespread involvement

Eight years in the making, Malcom Dixon’s graduation from Chico State this spring is a long-awaited victory. His tenure on campus has been a journey of exploration, as he worked multiple jobs, immersed himself in campus activities, and took classes full- or part-time to prioritize real-world experiences. 

The senior in media arts, design, and technology is now considering career possibilities in TV, radio, film, or digital media.
 
“I feel like the opposite of a student who comes in undeclared, looking for a major,” said Dixon, who began college as a communications major and focused on radio. “I don’t quite have my finger on what (my career) will look like. But I’m wanting to use what Chico State has taught me.”
 
It may have seemed inevitable that Dixon would end up a Wildcat, since both his parents are alums and met while on campus. But after being homeschooled for part of his childhood and moving from South Sacramento to Elk Grove, he struggled some in high school and his college choices appeared limited.
 
However, Dixon got into the first place he applied—Chico State—and was immediately successful in his studies. He says his parents didn’t push him to attend their alma mater. Their only rule for a college destination was “No safety net,” which meant he couldn’t go to neighboring Sacramento State or UC Davis. In retrospect, Dixon appreciates their advice.

I don’t quite have my finger on what (my career) will look like. But I’m wanting to use what Chico State has taught me.

“Living closer to them, I could’ve gotten more help, but it would have truncated my ability to grow and move from being a kid to a young adult,” he said.
 
His passage to adulthood was challenged when his parents divorced following his first year, forcing him to cope with many difficult emotions. Naturally introverted, Dixon decided to lift his spirits by pushing himself to meet people and get involved in more activities.
 
He worked at the Cross-Cultural Leadership Center and KCSC Radio, helped organize the 2010 Action Rally for Chico State in support of higher education, and joined Men of Honor, eventually becoming an officer. He learned about the African American community group during a campus visit before enrolling, and it has given him the space to explore his identity and purpose.
 
“It is so valuable for us to break down barriers for what it means to be a man,” Dixon said. "You are not supposed to cry, you walk around with feelings bottled up—to talk about this and form a bond with other men was really valuable.”
 
Dixon was comfortable being behind the scenes in various groups but eventually grew into positions of leadership. He recognizes how the values of Chico State—emphasizing service and putting students first—gave him and other students the opportunities they needed to succeed.
 
“I noticed talking to people and networking that pretty soon you knew the president and the mayor,” Dixon said. “At a larger university you would be just another number—here, you can talk to anybody. You can collaborate to make change.”
 
One of his greatest impacts was through the First-Year Experience (FYE) Program, which counts on experienced students to host events and mentor new students. Dixon’s FYE achievements include organizing hundreds of first-year students for a community project to aid the Jesus Center, and being lead organizer of the Chico Great Debate. At 26, even though he is older than all but a few first-year students and well known on campus, he likes treating new students as peers.
 
“Get rid of the power dynamics. That makes people feel like they can’t talk to you,” Dixon said. “Drop the formalities—it’s just ‘Malcom.’ I may have had more experiences than you, but you have a fresh perspective that could enlighten me.”

Dixon has been equally busy off campus. He has operated a DJ business since his freshman year, working at clubs and parties. He also worked at Target. His multiple jobs and heavy involvement in multiple campus organizations led him to reduce his course load to one or two classes some semesters, stretching out his tenure at Chico State.
 
Two years ago, he was selected for the Office of Undergraduate Education’s Outstanding Student Leader Award. This year, he was honored with the Outstanding Student Leader Award for the College of Communication and Education (CME). In nominating him for the CME award, Professor Jennifer Meadows, chair of the communication design department, called Dixon “professional, thoughtful, articulate, and smart,” “a wonderful student,” and “a delight to work with.”

“I highly recommend Malcom for this award,” she wrote. “He deserves it for all of his contributions to the University and College over the years.”
 
As he ponders the future that awaits him, Dixon says he continues to rely on the advice of his mother and father—“Anything you do, you do your best. Take it as far as you can take it, you never know who’s watching.”
 
Joe Wills is the director of Public Affairs and Publications.

Photo of Chico State grads

126th Commencement

Four days of commencement ceremonies begin Wednesday, May 18. Search #Chico2016 on social media for a live chronicle of events.  See schedule.

Senior Sendoff

A Super Sendoff

The Alumni Association honored the Class of 2016 with a BBQ and fun activities to wish them a fond farewell. Watch Video.

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