Department of Social Science

Outstanding Students

Drexler Alcantara

Drexler AlcantaraMy name is Drexler Alcantara. For a couple years now, I’ve been interested in working in higher education. I am passionate about guiding and helping students reach their personal, academic, and/or career goals. Friends, colleagues, and professors who have pursued careers in education, have inspired and motivated me to pursue an undergraduate degree in Social Science, with a concentration in Career and Life Planning and Psychology, with my hope to someday be a Guidance Counselor at my local community college.

My plan after I graduate this semester, is to pursue a Master’s degree in Educational Counseling, emphasizing in Student Affairs, at California State University, Bakersfield. After being in the Social Science program for a couple years, I’ve learned and gained valuable life lessons that I will apply to in the real world. The program helped me discover my passion and has led me to develop my leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills efficiently and effectively.

As a first-generation college student, the transition from a community college to a university was overwhelming. I knew I had only two years to make the best out of my college experience, so I got involved as quickly as possible. In the Fall of 2017, I volunteered with CAVE (Community Action Volunteers in Education) at Chapman Elementary School. In the Spring of 2018, I became a group leader for the Classroom Aide Program, ensuring that volunteers were meeting all requirements and service hours. I also volunteered for ASB (Alternative Spring Break), where I was able to take a trip to Portland, Oregon along with other Chico State students. There we had the opportunity to work with the houseless community which entailed providing aid to not only the different food banks in the area, but also the local churches with whatever they needed assistance with. We additionally organized books at a local children's library.

My second year of college, I further involved myself on campus and in the Chico community. I was the Public Relations Officer for FASO (Filipino-American Student Organization), where I was responsible for making sure the organization was being publicized at the University. I had got promoted to Program Coordinator with CAVE, ensuring that volunteers were placed at a school site the Chico Unified School District. I got a job as a tutor and mentor at the BSS Student Success Center, assisting and guiding students with their assignments, projects, and educational plans. I had the honor of representing my major department as Student Ambassador for the College of BSS and was chosen to be part of the BSS Student Learning Fee Committee. I was additionally a Service-Learning Specialist Intern, with the responsibility to ensure that students were getting placed at a school and meeting the required hours for their classes. I recently put together a Volleyball team for the Intramural Sports League held at the WREC, which I’ve always wanted to do for a while now.

Aside from my campus involvement, I was also involved in the Chico community. I volunteered for Chico Make a Difference Day, serving food to not only the volunteers who worked on service projects, but also the homeless population. Furthermore, I volunteered for the Boys and Girls Club Valentines Gala, which was a very memorable experience. There, I was able to meet local business owners who donated their money for the paradise victims and several other charities. I additionally offered a helping hand at the Wildcat Food Pantry, where I assisted employees, stocked cases of water, produce, and other necessities.

Looking back at these past couple years, I can truly say that these were the best two years of my life. Chico State and the Chico community has given me countless opportunities that I wouldn’t have had back home. I’ve gained valuable knowledge, expanded my network, acquired important professional and personal life skills, got involved on campus and the community as much as I could, and met some amazing people. Being the first person in my family to go to college and having gone through my peaks and valleys, I’ve been reassured that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Looking forward, I have a mindset and saying of ‘I don’t care about the money, title, or awards, I just want to be part of a fun-working environment, where I can be comfortable, have an impact on others, and make a difference in my community.’

Aimee Lynch

Aimee LyncgAs a child who loved school, I was often called an “overachiever.” I graduated high school midterm at the age of 17. My first aspiration in my emerging adulthood was to be a homemaker and a mother. When my two daughters were old enough to start preschool, I enrolled myself in a community college so that I could get them in the preschool program the college provided. Friends often asked me what my “plan” was, when I would finish college (probably because I only took 1-2 classes at a time) and I would answer that I was on the “30-year plan.” Well, just as I finished high school earlier than projected, I’m finishing college earlier, too- it’s only taken me 27 years!

Raising three kids, making and managing a home, working weekend jobs, and even running my own yarn shop for five years, my education trajectory was put on hold, often for years at a time. Being the first generation in my family to attend college, there was never an importance placed on education, and my support system was limited. In my mid-thirties, I finally knew why I wanted to finish school. My passion is teaching knitting. There’s something “hospitable” about it and as most of my students have been older adults, I discovered I had a gift for finding ways to connect with the aging population. I also have a fascination with memories, which ones we hold onto, which ones we forget. It finally clicked and I knew what I wanted to be-a gerontological social worker!

I lived in Paradise, as did my support system, so it only made sense to choose Butte College and then transfer to CSUC. This way, I could continue raising my son and care for my granddaughter while her mom worked, and still pursue my degree. I was thrilled when I found out CSUC would allow me to design my own major, which is social science with a primary concentration on gerontology. I plan to further my education to achieve a master’s degree in social work. My ultimate goal is to be an advocate for people who have Alzheimer’s disease/dementia; a reminiscence therapist; a friend to the aged; and a voice for those who don’t have one.

The path to getting here has been very challenging. I wasn’t sure if I could finish, financially or mentally. With an enormous amount of support and encouragement from my husband, kids, friends, combined with a lot of grants, some scholarships, and a free B-Line bus pass, I was able to work up the courage I needed to return to college. Going back to school in my forties hasn’t been easy, usually being the oldest student in my classes, even older than my professors, I felt like I “stood out.” But as soon as the word got out during introductions that I’m a former roller derby girl, I suddenly appeared somewhat younger, or not as “old” to my classmates, despite my constant knitting during lectures!

I’ve had a few life-altering events, some good and some bad, but nothing could have prepared me for the unexpected firestorm that took mine and my family’s homes on November 8, 2018. This traumatic event didn’t just rob us of all our possessions, it drastically changed our everyday, our normal, our rhythm. It separated me from my children and grandbabies-just a few of the reasons why I breathe. It removed my husband and I, along with our little dog, over two hours away from town, from our lives, as there wasn’t even a campground that wasn’t already filled to the brim. I lost all my textbooks, a month before finals! Too shaken from the evacuation to drive, my husband, and once one of my professors, drove me to and from school a couple days a week so I could complete the semester. Now with one semester left but living far away in our 15 ft. vintage travel trailer, fortunately CSUC moved me into the distance learning program. I had to finish. I had come too far and had worked too hard and too long to give up and I wasn’t going to let the Camp Fire defeat me!

So, here I am, still at it, going full-steam ahead, still clicking my knitting needles while watching lectures online, more determined than ever to finally get that Bachelor’s degree, and within my projected 30-year plan!