2016 Distinguished Alumni

Photo of Alisha Valvanis in Seattle Storm statium. Photo courtesy of Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE

Honor recognizes those who exemplify what Chico State does best.

Gage Chrysler (BS, Business, ’78) is the CEO of Modern Building, Inc. in Chico.

Gage ChryslerWhat advice would you give your graduating self? Upon graduation, my father hired me as a carpenter instead of as a salesman. I was frustrated and impatient because I felt I was ready to start my career. But, as a carpenter working on the ground level of a project, I learned all aspects of building and developed relationships with my fellow carpenters and subcontractors. Both helped me become a better contractor and employer. I would tell my graduating self to relax and that I was building the foundation to my future success. 

Can you share a favorite campus memory? During Pioneer Week, my fraternity participated in a Quad Project where each fraternity built a building to create a city in the quad. We had to do it within 12 hours. I loved working with my fraternity brothers and creating a building in a short period of time. I was in charge of the project, and it was very exciting when we won. 

Do you have a favorite quote? “In the construction business, there is no second place.” This quote is what motivates me as I go into every bid. Construction is a very competitive business and if you do not put your best foot forward, you do not get the job. 

Marilyn Everett (BS, Accounting, ’78) retired as a CPA with KCoe Isom in Chico.

Marilyn EverettWhat do you value most in life? It’s really important to be honest. Honesty is the key to our success. And I always knew 
I wanted to be an accountant. I paid my way through college as a bookkeeper. It not only provided a great source of financing for my college education but launched me into my accounting career as it is today.

What advice would you give your graduating self? Show up early and leave late. Be passionate about your profession.

What do you do for fun? My husband and I are skiers, windsurfers, gardeners, fly fishers, and pilots. We do lots of outdoor activities outside of work. We love to travel, so we have flown to places in Montana and Wyoming for fly fishing, and we fly to the coast a lot for abalone diving.

Keely Bosler (BS, Agriculture, ’97) is the cabinet secretary for Gov. Jerry Brown.

Keely BoslerWhat do you value most in life? My family and friends. I was fortunate to grow up in a small town surrounded by a supportive community. When I attended Chico State, I was able to connect to small learning communities in the General Studies Thematic program and the College of Agriculture. I believe these communities provided me with the support and connection I needed to develop as a person and a student. Now, I am fortunate to have a demanding and rewarding career, but I am still grounded by my family, friends, and the community.

Do you have a favorite quote? Maybe because I am the parent of two young girls, in recent months I have been inspired by this anonymous quote:
“I facilitate thinking. I engage minds. I listen to questions. I encourage risk. I support struggle. I cultivate dreams. I learn every day. I teach.”

What do you do for fun? I love to cook, read, travel, experience different and diverse cultures, hike, and just be in nature.

John Rivers (BA, Sociology, ’68) is a professor of psychology at Butte College and Yuba College.

JOHN RIVERSWhat do you value most in life? It was shaped by the social conditions of the 1950s and 1960s—I value the necessary work and sacrifices that help reduce the negative effects of carelessness, prejudice, greed, injustice, exploitation, and degradation.

Can you share a favorite campus memory? When we got the radio station KCSC up and operating. We built a small studio in the [Campus Activity Center] and began playing music for students as they ate and socialized. The sound was awful and they protested, so we had to quit before we could start. Our teacher helped us solve the bad sound quality and we started laying down the music and talk.

What do you do for fun? I like to listen and play music, write prose and poetry, and engage in unobligated thought.
I also like to watch Star Trek and visit with old men who are liberal with their stories.

Alisha Valavanis (BA, Communications, ’00; MA, Physical Education, ’04) is the president and general manager of the Seattle Storm.

Alisha ValavanisWhat do you value most in life? There is nothing more sacred to me than family; after that, I’d say human connection. Whether it’s five minutes with a stranger or an afternoon with a close friend, I love connection!

Can you share a favorite campus memory? On my first trip to Chico State, the head women’s basketball coach, Maryann Lazarrini, walked my twin and me around campus telling us stories and inspiring us to become Wildcats. Obviously, it worked! 

Do you have a favorite quote? “There is one language everyone understands—the language of kindness.” 
—Alexa Benson-Valavanis, my twin.

Lisa Dal Gallo (BS, Construction Management, ’86) is a partner with Hanson Bridgett LLP in Larkspur.

Lisa Dal GalloWhat advice would you give your graduating self? One will always want 10 more years to accomplish goals. The important thing to remember is to get started and it does not matter when you get there but rather that you eventually do arrive. So, slow down, make sound decisions, and remember that success is measured by happiness—not financial wealth.

Can you share a favorite campus memory? Eating lunch and hanging out with friends near the rose garden on a sunny spring day, hanging out at the Madison Bear Garden on a Friday afternoon with friends, and going dancing at The Graduate on Thursday nights.

What do you do for fun? I enjoy spending time with family, talking to my husband, watching my son and daughter play sports, walking and running with my digity-dog, pleasure reading, having wine with friends, and traveling with my family.

William Beezley (BA, History, ’64) is a professor of history at the University of Arizona.

William BeezleyWhat advice would you give your graduating self? Pick up the required Sunday tie you left in the dining hall when you lived in the dorm two years before graduation; return the library books you hauled to graduate school so you don’t have to pay fines and mail them from Nebraska; and keep your 45 rpm records of the Beatles, Ray Charles, and Howlin’ Wolf—vinyl will come back.

Can you share a favorite campus memory? The Cuban Missile Crisis sent a chill as far away as Chico, as many thought there might be a nuclear war. Several friends and I decided on a party we called the Fiesta de Misiles Atómicos . Each of us brought four quarts of beer (super beer missiles), we cooked 20 tacos for each of us with super-hot jalapeños, and we played Yahtzee until the crisis passed. Great party and we think our efforts prevented war.

Do you have a favorite quote? “History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again.”
—Kurt Vonnegut.

Jeanne Conry (BS, Biology, ’74) is an assistant physician-in-chief and OBGYN at Kaiser-Permanente in Roseville.

Jean Conry, MDWhat do you value most in life? Family: I had my son Ryan right before medical school started and brought him to anatomy practicums on weekends as I studied and he played. My daughter, Erin, was born during medical school, and our class learned to do a newborn exam with her in the front of the class. But that focus on family also led me to women’s health and appreciating that if we invest in the health of women in this generation we are investing in future generations.  

What advice would you give your graduating self? Enjoy the journey! You have NO idea what path life will take, it can be circuitous, but it often takes you on the most incredible adventures.

Can you share a favorite campus memory? The creek! I used to study along the creek near Holt Hall. 

Read full bios of each Distinguished Alum online at www.csuchico.edu/alumni/distinguished.