Experience Excellence

Inspirational Alumni

Stephen Jones (Agriculture, ’80) baked his first loaf of bread at age 6 and grew his first wheat crop at the University Farm at Chico State in 1977. Now one of the nation’s premier wheat breeders, he is adding flavor, nutrition, and versatility to grain varieties—a boon not just for chefs, bakers, and brewers alike, but for anyone with an appetite for better bread. He’s also director of The Bread Lab at Washington State University, and in 2018, he was named the Clif Bar and King Arthur Flour Endowed Chair(opens in new window) in Organic Grain Breeding and Innovation. (Photo courtesy of Shawn Linehan)

Rachel Belle’s podcast, Your Last Meal, was nominated for a James Beard Award, known as the “Oscars of Food.” The Seattle radio host (Communication Design, ’02) interviews celebrities like actor Zach Braff, rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot, and Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro to learn the stories behind the food they love most.

Rachel Belle’s podcast Your Last Meal

CEO of Hayden Homes, Dennis Murphy

As CEO of Hayden Homes, Dennis Murphy (Civil Engineering, ’94) is committed to building quality homes and stronger communities in equal measure. His related nonprofit, First Story, dedicated its 68th new home this year to families in need and has donated more than $1 million to charitable organizations providing food, shelter, emergency relief, and basic human services to children, seniors, and veterans.


After 34 years overseeing the development of almost every new beer at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Steve Dresler (Biological Sciences, Chemistry, ’80) was honored with knighthood in the International Order of the Hop, making him the first American brewmaster to receive the award in its 646-year history.

In 2017, Athletics Hall of Famer Michelle Vanden Bosch (Health Science, ’98) accomplished a feat only a few hundred people have ever done—she completed her seventh marathon on seven continents.

Michelle Vanden Bosch marathon running


After Hurricane Maria unleashed her wrath on Puerto Rico in September 2017, Build.com founder Chris Friedland (Political Science, ’99) established the nonprofit Power for Puerto Rico. With his wife, Melissa, he raised more than $200,000 and bought 290 generators to provide power to those desperately in need.

Real estate experts Chenoa (Business Administration, ’10) and David Rivera (Recreation Administration, ’08) star in a new HGTV series, Rustic Rehab

Real estate experts Chenoa (Business Administration, ’10) and David Rivera (Recreation Administration, ’08) star in a new HGTV series, Rustic Rehab, that gives a glimpse into their lives as full-time house flippers remodeling 30 homes a year.

Sergio C. Garcia

After becoming the first undocumented immigrant in California with a license to practice law, lawyer Sergio C. Garcia (Attended, 2004) is now using his personal and professional experiences to help Dreamers and others navigate legal cases and find a path to citizenship.