Achieving Excellence
at California State University, Chico


Photo: Carolyn Shoemaker with telescopeSuccess After Graduation

Carolyn Shoemaker (B.A., history, '49; M.A., credential, '50) is the world's most successful living "comet hunter." She has achieved worldwide recognition in her field as a planetary astronomer with the discovery of 800 asteroids and 32 comets. Shoemaker is a research scientist at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.

W. Gary Sitton (B.S., marketing, '66; M.S., computer science, '68) is the retired CEO of SunGard Bi-Tech Software, a multimillion-dollar financial and administrative software company he co-founded in Chico in 1981. Sitton, who earned a Ph.D. in computer science, was a professor of computer science at CSU, Chico for 16 years.

Rusty Areias (B.S., agriculture, '74) has served as director of California Department of Parks and Recreation since 1999. From 1983 to 1994, he was a California assemblyman. During the 1970s, Areias managed the 6,000-acre Areias Dairy in California's Central Valley.

Antoinette Procopio (B.S., mathematics, '78) is a spacecraft manager at Boeing Satellite Systems, leading teams working on satellite programs. Procopio began her 24-year career in aerospace as one the first female engineers to perform integration and testing of communication satellites.

Mike Thompson (B.A., public administration and economics, '82; M.A., public administration, '86) has been a congressman for California's First District since 1998. He served as a California senator for eight years.

Dianne Badoud McKay (B.S., marketing, '82) is CEO of Strategic Television, a satellite transmission company, in Thousand Oaks, California. Clients include ABC, Dick Clark Productions, Discovery Network, HBO, and MTV.

Matt Olmstead (B.A., English and B.A., journalism, '88) is a writer and executive producer for the TV show NYPD Blue. After graduation, Olmstead moved to Hollywood and, four years later, sold his first film script.

Rebecca Hanks (B.A., journalism and B.A., political science, '99) is press secretary for the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, chaired by Senator John McCain. Hanks worked on McCain's presidential campaign in 1999, became McCain's deputy press secretary, and then press secretary in January 2002, before holding her current position.

From the halls of Congress to corporate boardrooms, from creating art to taking on Hollywood, Chico alumni have made outstanding contributions in their fields. We are proud of their accomplishments and grateful for the way many mentor the graduates who follow. Those listed on the left represent only a few of many accomplished alums.