Oct. 24, 2016Vol. 47, Issue 2

'We Are Chico State'

Decorative banners with the faces of Chico State line each side of First Street through campus.

In the semester’s first issue of Inside Chico State, we highlighted stories from six of the 110 students, faculty, and staff members featured on our newly hung banners representing the allied messages: “We are Chico State” and “We Are One University.”

For this issue, we wanted to share the stories of six more people who make help up the fabric of our Chico State community.

Ghadir Ishqaidef

Name: Ghadir Ishqaidef

Hometown: Amman, Jordan

Role on Campus: Assistant professor in Management

Years on campus: 1

Why did you choose Chico? I love the motto: “Today Decides Tomorrow.” When I was working on my doctorate, I knew I wanted to work in a student-focused, teaching-oriented university. Plus, I like the northern part of California. Chico State has met my requirements.

What does the Chico Experience mean to you? It means a lot of energy. The students, the faculty, the staff—everyone is really busy and active. I have been to many university campuses, and our campus is very lively and energetic. It is infectious!

What’s your favorite place on campus? The entire campus is very beautiful, especially in the spring with all the blooming flowers and trees. I walk around and take pictures of the colorful campus. A special energy booster is the creek that streams through the campus. I get happy when I see it high and active.

What’s something most people would be surprised to learn about you? I commute from the north of San Francisco to Chico! It is a long drive, but I got used to it. The time behind the wheel helps me review my day and plan for what is next. I also listen to a lot of podcasts, music, news, etc. The nature and scenery are a source of inspiration, too.

Tell us your greatest accomplishment or wildest ambition. My ambition is to travel around the world and observe the unique features as well as the commonalities that make us (humans) one race. I have a new baby boy, and I really hope he will grow to live in a peaceful world.

James Luyirika-Sewagudde

Name:  James P.S. Luyirika-Sewagudde Jr.

Hometown: Buwere, Uganda

Role on Campus: To assist with compliance issues with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State, Advisor to International Students and Scholars, and the National Student Exchange.

Years on campus: Long enough to see the first and second highest buildings on campus being built!

Why did you choose Chico? Initially Chico chose me, and I am blessed that it was the case. For it is here that many significant news aspects of my identity have been solidified. It is where I return to and where I know exactly where the best grapes at the farmers market can be found, and the Bidwell Park trails are always open.

What does the Chico Experience mean to you? People. It is the tapestry of grounds people, the ladies and gentlemen who ensure that my space is perfect, and the clerical individuals who make this place run smoothly and my life easier. It is the students, including those who, after a stumble here and there, get their degrees and years later they write of their appointments as assistants to the President. Those who have become authors, others who send pictures of their children, and those who send their children from foreign lands to find me and some to study here. It is that chain of individuals, past and present, who are committed to the good in all, and without whom my part would be very difficult. It is the “student” who consults with me and leaves with renewed hope and a smile. It is you.

What’s your favorite place on campus? The Free Speech Area (Trinity Commons) used to be very green. I love the creek—Big Chico creek as meanders through the campus, the amphitheater and perhaps the most favorite is the walk between Tehama and the Student Service Center. You cannot help realizing that each student you walk by, whether or not you have the chance or take the time to recognize their presence with simple and humble greeting, has a dream, a purpose and, if all the stars are aligned, you are a witness to their journey. The entire campus is beautiful and you can photobomb a selfie and smell a rose at the same time.

What’s something most people would be surprised to learn about you? Having grown up in Lake Victoria, Ssesse Islands, one would conclude that I swim like a fish. Wrong.

Tell us your greatest joy or wildest ambition. Perhaps the greatest joy came with my trip to the Republic of South Africa as a Fulbright Scholar, which gave the opportunity to witness the evil intent of apartheid, and to be on Robben Island in the same jail cell where one the most significant hero in my life, President Nelson Mandiba Mandela spent 27 years because, as he put it, “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for. But, my lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” It is my hope that I, too, make a small contribution to that pursuit of human dignity.

Go Wildcats!

Bright Davis

Name:  Bright Peace Blessing Circle Davis

Hometown: Dobbins

Major: Communication Design and Psychology

Years on campus: 2 years in January 2017

Why did you choose Chico? I am the youngest of nine children who all went to Chico State before me, as well as my father. My mother is currently earning her bachelor’s degrees in geography and in math, so I get to commute to school with her and actually take yoga classes together, which is very meaningful to me. Chico State is a family experience, a family rite of passage if you will.

What does the Chico Experience mean to you? I went to Butte College before I started at Chico State. Butte’s campus is a lot smaller than Chico’s, so I guess the Chico Experience to me is crowded walkways between classes, the constant roar of the student body making its way through life, and the quiet I can sometimes find under a solitary tree somewhere on campus.

What’s your favorite place on campus? My favorite place on campus is any small, tucked-away spot I can find for myself. Usually it is the basement of Plumas, where I have my photography classes.

What’s something most people would be surprised to learn about you?  Even though I complain about my early morning classes, or my hour drive to campus, I genuinely enjoy school. I enjoy learning, and I want to gain the knowledge Chico State has to offer. And I am proud of my accomplishments thus far in school.

Tell us your greatest accomplishment or wildest ambition. Interestingly enough, my fondest ambition is to be a mom. I know that isn’t wild and crazy, and it isn’t modern, but it is what I want. In doing so, I will be emulating the stronger woman I know, my mother.


Joel Zimbelman

Name: Joel Zimbelman

Hometown: Chico. I’ve lived here seven times longer than anywhere else.

Role on Campus: A faculty member in Comparative Religion and Humanities—super group of colleagues and great areas of study!

Years on campus: 29 (but let’s not count)

Why did you choose Chico? Jobs were tight in the ’80s, and this is the only place that offered me one. But I had loved the town from earlier years when I was stationed here while fighting forest fires in the early 70s with my helitack crew. Not a hard choice to come back.

What does the Chico Experience mean to you? A learning community that welcomes diligent study, open debate, help in shaping a life trajectory; all pursued in an environment of respect and informality—I’ve really experience that over the years.

What’s your favorite place on campus? The side of the creek behind Regional and Continuing Education (RCE) and Sylvester’s. Used to steal a mid-day smoke there in my tenure-track days. Now I just admire the creek and the art.

What’s something most people would be surprised to learn about you? My undergraduate degree was in biochemistry—a perfect preparation for the study of comparative religion!

Tell us your greatest accomplishment or wildest ambition. Surviving the raising of my two daughters. Looking forward to doing the complete climb of Mount Kilimanjaro soon. 


Jennifer Thayer

Name: Jennifer Thayer

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

Role on Campus: Buyer III in Procurement and Contract Services

Years on campus: 16

Why did you choose Chico? My dad got transferred here to open up the Fleetwood Motorhome Plant from Indiana. Luckily, I got the Chico State vibe and never looked anywhere else to go to college or live.

What does the Chico Experience mean to you? Somehow you never leave Chico. It becomes a part of you. Even if you move away, you get a good feeling just thinking about Chico. I love that people say, “Hi” to each other as you walk by. There is kindness here.

What’s your favorite place on campus? The bridges. I love the water. Not really into nature, but I can stand on the bridges and enjoy all the beautiful nature around me without having to actually be in nature.

What’s something most people would be surprised to learn about you? That I’m a big crybaby. I cry over just about every commercial that has a puppy, baby, grandma, or good beer in it. I cry when I hear bands play. I cry thinking about how lucky I am to have been surrounded by so many special friends and family members. I should invest in Kleenex.

Tell us your greatest accomplishment or wildest ambition. My son is my greatest accomplishment. He was born with severe food allergies. At the time, we didn’t have all these fancy, easy-to-read food labels and we had to heavily educate ourselves to help keep him alive. We spent days and weeks in the hospital through the years, but he’s grown into the most wonderful man, and his dad and I adore him and all he’s overcome and accomplished.

Giovanni Tahsini

Name: Giovanni Tahsini

Hometown: Hercules

Major: Creative Design

Years on campus: 5

Why did you choose Chico? I chose Chico because I never ever heard of it prior to graduating high school, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to meet people I would've never met in my entire life on top of the social constructs of the dynamics this city embraces through the culture embedded in the fibers of this city. I also wanted to get an excellent education and really make something of myself in the world.

What does the Chico Experience mean to you? Having the ability to learn on the fly and be strong just when you're ready to give up. I guess the Chico Experience has taught me not to want to give up, and to put my best foot forward every time I do something.

What’s your favorite place on campus? My favorite place on campus is the amphitheater because the aesthetic of the architectural representation of the creek is utterly stunning to me.

What’s something most people would be surprised to learn about you? Chico is really the place that springboarded my music career. I got a lot of love for Chico. Here is where I got my big break.

Tell us your greatest accomplishment or wildest ambition. Getting solidified in the Chico State Hall of Fame by having my face on the banners by the new Arts Building. 

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