College of Communication & Education

Together We Will: Reflections from an Alumni Visit

by Erica Flores, Director of Development, College of Communication and Education

Last night I began to reflect on my gratitude from the day, and I wanted to share. “Together We Will” is more than a catchy phrase or logo, but is the hallmark of what we do, every day - and today, We Did!

Beyond the Chico Experience – It’s Chico Magic

One of my favorite quotes has always been "attitude reflects leadership" and today was evidence that the “Chico Magic” reflects leadership at every level and every corner of our campus. Today, couldn't have been scripted or planned more perfectly, and that's what makes the Chico Experience authentic and enduring no matter what era someone calls Chico State home.

Chris and Dwight of University Public Events cleaned up the golf cart and graciously loaned it to me to host our two Alums Carol (Rec Admin ’75) and Julie (Liberal Studies ’74) who have both devoted their life as educators.  Through the years, they always dreamed about a trip back to Chico. Over 40 years later, they finally returned, and on one of our hottest days - thank you UPE team for helping us create a comfortable morning tour of campus and welcome home our Chico Alums.

A Presidential Surprise

After getting settled in the golf cart I realized quickly that while I am a Chico Alum, I have other team members that could give a much better tour than me. Without hesitation and only a moment’s notice, Andrew Paske said "yes" and became our official tour guide and trusted golf cart driver. 

As Andrew was highlighting our Normal School beginnings, sharing the philanthropic efforts of the Bidwell’s, and explaining the significance of the Trinity tower, we heard a voice behind us, "Hello there, what are you all doing?" And mid-sentence, in unison, our heads turned to the voice behind us. To our surprise, there stood President Hutchinson.  With a torn MCL and full knee brace, arms full of tote bags, and hands made like a platter to hold her leftover birthday cake (and I am certain a staff and email inbox awaiting her attention), President Hutchinson stopped and wanted to know more about who was there.

Carol quickly perked up and said "I recognize you from the magazine!" and we confirmed it was in fact our University President in front of us. Introductions followed. Quickly, the three lifelong educators exchanged stories about the joy of teaching, the love for students, and their shared commitment to education at every level. President Hutchinson shared how she still considers herself a teacher and that she views administration as another form of teaching.

The three women walked up towards the beloved Chico State sign and with Kendall Hall as a backdrop, I snapped a photo to commemorate a special and unexpected moment. This photo is also as reminder that the spirit of a teacher, a heart of service, and the priority to stop and connect with people is who our President is as at her core, not defined by a title or position. 

I was filled with immense pride because no matter how our university evolves and elevates its presence, Chico State remains warm, welcoming, and authentic. Thank you President Hutchinson for stopping and creating a treasured memory for our Alumni.

Discovering The Pedagogy Lab & Autism Clinic

How do you top meeting president Hutchinson?   Well, Andrew and I weren't trying to because we didn't think it was possible. We did “wow” Carol and Julie with the state-of-the-art WREC, and we giggled at their disbelief that Whitney Hall was still standing. They couldn’t believe the growth with the surrounding Sutter Hall and complex.

We made a stop at Yolo, today’s home to Carol’s past Department of Recreation, Hospitality and Parks Management, which was built years after her departure.  Yolo is also home to Kinesiology. Julie spent 36 years as a teacher and Carol is head of religious studies at a prestigious Catholic School in Santa Ana, so they truly marveled at the Pedagogy Lab and two-way mirrors. They loved learning about the service-learning partnership with Notre Dame Catholic School and how their second graders are taught by our future Physical Education teachers in that lab.

They were stunned as we walked farther down the hallway to the Autism Clinic.  I thought we would just peek in, Carli Ross greeted us with the brightest smile and shared her passion for the Clinic services and clients. She reflected that she too had been trained through applied learning and service to the community through the Autism Clinic. She described the vision of Laura McLaughlin and leadership of Josie Blagrave, and encouraged Julie and Carol to explore the space.  Julie and Carol were very proud to know this was part of “their Chico State.”

Community & Learning at The Gateway Science Museum

Jess Edmunson, Science and Education Coordinator, saw unfamiliar faces approaching the locked doors and dark building.  She opened the door and I shared that we were hosting alums who returned to campus after over 40 years since graduating. Without skipping a beat, Jess unlocked the door, turned on the lights, and insisted on welcoming us, even though the museum was closed. 

Jess connected California history to the design and architecture, highlighted the relationship with the surrounding 20-plus schools, and shared about the education course where our Chico State students develop content and curriculum to accompany the exhibits. She showcased the advanced technology and current exhibits, and even took us outside to the gardens with native plants found in a 100-mile radius of the museum. Like Carli, Jess's passion and pride for her work and the impact it has on our community and region was contagious.  

(Jess, you didn’t even need to acknowledge the “strangers” out front, but you did, and you made each of us feel like family!)

Final Thoughts & Gratitude

The little acts of interest, care and enthusiasm have a significant and lasting impact. You each are incredible ambassadors for your respective programs and I am honored to be a colleague. I also recognize there are an army of people behind the scenes: Angela,Ariana, Tami, Wendi, Christina, Barb, and more that made the day special.

The brick buildings, babbling creek, and towering trees are a stunning backdrop for the most beautiful part of our campus – the people! 

As I reflect on today, the day was an ordinary day, but yet each interaction, made it extraordinary. The Chico Experience truly is magical.

Together We Will.

- This article was adapted from an email sent to Chico State President Gayle Hutchinson, College of Communication and Education Dean Angela Trethewey, Assistant Director of Development-Annual Giving Andrew Paske, University Advancement Senior Prospect Management Analyst Christina Smith, Vice President for University Advancement Office Coordinator Wendi Engasser, University Public Engagement Box Office Sales Lead Christopher Zinna, University Box Office Administrative Patron Service Coordinator Dwight Kirland, University Public Engagement Business Coordinator Barbara LaRue, Gateway Science Museum-Science and Education Coordinator Jessica Edmunson, College of Communication and Education Director of Development Assistant Ariana Roman, Kinesiology Lecturer Carli Ross, Alumni and Parent Engagement Administrative Coordinator Tamara Adams, and College of Business Director of Development Kristine Mazzei.