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Chico State

Class Notes: Fall 2018

Kendall Hall is bathed in light on an early winter morning.
Jessica Bartlett/University Phot

Kendall Hall is bathed in light on an early winter morning.


GEORGE FOSGATE (Speech Arts, ’59) is a professor emeritus of theatre arts after 32 years of teaching at the University of Minnesota, Morris, where he also endowed a theatre scholarship. After retirement, Fosgate and spouse Pat (Burton) Fosgate spent 20 years in Portland, where he was a freelance professional theatre actor and director, and both worked as senior lifestyle models doing commercial TV spots. He appeared in a few national TV movies and series, notably the films Final Justice and Take My Advice: The Ann and Abby Story, and a featured spot on Leverage. The couple now lives in Las Vegas, where they recently celebrated their 60th anniversary.


MARK REISCHLING (Physical Education, ’69) retired after working for 35 years as a secondary teacher and coach at Gridley and Petaluma High Schools. He also refereed at the major college level for 35 seasons (including the 2001 Final Four) and worked for the NBA for nine seasons as an official’s observer for the Golden State Warriors. Reischling also spent time working as the supervisor of basketball officials for three community college conferences: Bay Valley, Big Eight, and Coast.


KENDRA MCKEEN (Business Administration, ’70; Credential, ’71) worked in the insurance industry, including most recently as a senior excess underwriter. She also received her MBA in business and industrial relations and a chartered property casualty underwriter designation from Golden Gate University. McKeen is now retired and lives in Martinez, where she spends her free time playing bocce ball, participating in a garden club and other volunteer clubs and activities, and traveling the world.

Wayne Edmiston and his wife Jacque officiating a wedding on Pismo Beach.WAYNE EDMISTON (Industrial Arts, ’71) retired after teaching in the state prison system for 23 years. He and his wife, Jacque, moved to the central California coast in 1998 to begin their ministry and ordination through The Centers for Spiritual Living. Edminston’s recent project has been publishing several of his works, including Unfatally Dead: To Thaw or Not to Thaw; a whimsical family fiction Ellie and Her Elephant; an upcoming paranormal novel focused in the Chico area, Crisis at Paradise Eye-Land; and the thrillogy Promises Kept, Until Broken.

Portrait of Joseph CornellJOSEPH BHARAT CORNELL (Special Major, ’73) After publishing his first book, Sharing Nature with Children, in 1979, Joseph Bharat Cornell has become an internationally renowned nature educator and author. The US Fish & Wildlife Service selected Sharing Nature with Children as one of the most influential books—published from 1890 to today—that has connected children to nature. As someone who designed his own degree at Chico State—a BS in nature awareness—the mysteries and beauties of the natural environment is something he wants every child to experience. His most recent book, Deep Nature Play, is a 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Award finalist.

Cover of Don Graham's book "Coming Home Whole"

DON GRAHAM (MA, Psychology, ’73) came to Chico as a graduate student in 1971 and retired as the associate vice president for Student Affairs 36 years later in 2007. Don and his wife, MaryAnne, retired to Sonoma County and spend their days enjoying family dinners and choral events. Graham frequently hits the gym, noting, “I also take part in a seniors boxing club. We hit punching bags, not each other.” His most recent endeavor has been writing and publishing his book, a memoir titled Coming Home Whole, which candidly recalls the dilemma of how young American men like himself responded to the government’s efforts to draft men into the increasingly unpopular Vietnam War.

Cover of Rita Catching's book "A State of Grace"

MARGUERITA “RITA” CATCHING (Nursing, ’74) retired from her occupation as an instructor of nursing at Lower Columbia College in Longview, Washington. Her mystery novel, A State of Grace, was shortlisted for the 2016 Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award. Her novel is the first in a series set in eastern Oregon that features a nurse as the protagonist.


 Cover of James Sanford's book "While the Gods Slept"JAMES SANFORD (Communication Design, ’75; MA, Special Major, ’80) retired as project coordinator for the parolee education program with Contra Costa County Office of Education in 2014. He lives in Antioch with his wife, Linda Pinkston-Sanford. After graduating, Sanford served as a teacher and education administrator in various junior high schools, high schools, community colleges, and within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He has taught science, English, creative writing, art, reading, adult basic education, and substance abuse education. Sanford has also written eight books since graduating from Chico, the latest being a historical novel, While the Gods Slept.

ERIC GERSTEIN (Physical Education, ’78) is the owner of Eric Gerstein Brokerage in Sugar Loaf, New York. He has helped clients with financial management for over 30 years, as well as dedicating himself to being a single parent to his 21-year-old son. He never hired a babysitter outside of the family, ensured he made three meals a day, and took him to and from school every day. “I am very proud of him!” Gerstein boasts.

CLAUDINE CAMPBELL ZENDER (Child Development, ’79) continues her political activism in Moscow, Idaho. A veteran of the 1960s free speech, anti-war, civil rights, and women’s rights movements, she recently attended a March for Our Lives protest, braving the snow and hail in hopes of inspiring younger generations to follow suit. In addition to marching, Zender also raises money for progressive organizations by selling political shirts on her online store.



KAREN CLYDE (Home Economics, ’83) has served as a human resources professional for over30 years. She began working as the director of human resources at Cycle Gear, Inc. 4 ½ years ago and is thrilled to shared the news that a store will be opening in her old college town this fall—“very exciting!”

Portrait of Chehab ElawarCHEHAB ELAWAR (Civil Engineering, ’80) Chehab Elawar and his wife, Bricia, have dedicated their lives to helping others through the San Bernardino Sunset Rotary Club, while also serving with other nonprofit groups and traveling the world searching for opportunities to help. The couple contributes to communities by repairing cleft palates on children, building tiny homes for people who are homeless, and serving food to those who are hungry. This year, they were awarded the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the San Bernardino Black Culture Foundation. The Elawars have served communities in the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Kenya, Thailand, Turkey, and Lebanon. Next stop: India!


CRAIGE MAZUR (Computer Information Systems, ’92; Business Administration, ’93) and JESSICA FEINSMITH (Recreation Administration, ’94) met at Ray’s Video in 1991 while attending Chico State. Events and friends surrounding the Mother Hips, a local band, flagged the beginning of their friendship. Throughout the years, the couple briefly reconnected while living in various places in the United States—including one time when their college roommates married each other. Mazur pursued a career in technical science support at Oregon Health and Science University, while Feinsmith pursued a master’s degree in mental health counseling at Lewis and Clark College. In 2016, they began dating while they were both living in Oregon, and after two months could hear wedding bells sounding in their future. They married in August in Ashland, and the event was deemed a “big Chico reunion.” Feinsmith affirms that their time at Chico has “stayed close to our hearts all these years later.”

Portrait of Nasser Dean.NASSER DEAN (Political Science, ’93) is the newly elected chairman of the California FFA Foundation Board of Directors, an organization that supports over 89,000 California students each year through scholarships, competitions, events, and leadership development opportunities. Dean grew up on a rice farm in rural Northern California, where his love and enthusiasm for production agriculture was cultivated. He also works as a stakeholder relations manager for Bayer Crop Science, supporting agricultural polices that advance scientific innovation to feed a global population. He shares that his life has been driven by “invaluable principles I picked up from FFA: learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live, and living to serve,” and he credits Chico State faculty for teaching him about public policy and advocacy, which have been keys to his success.

ROBERT BRYAN III (Industrial Technology, ’94) and VANESSA (VOLKSEN) BRYAN (Journalism, ’99) met at Chico State in the ’90s, but their paths would not cross again until 2011 when they ran into each other at a mutual friend’s restaurant. Seven years later, they are married with a 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son. They both work at PG&E and reside in Roseville.

PENELOPE KUHN (Psychology, ’94) is a professor at Chico State who established and maintains the neuroscience laboratory in the Department of Psychology. The laboratory serves as a space to study brain and spinal cord injuries as well as mechanism repair at the cellular level. Kuhn also established the Psychology Study and Tutor Center, which is staffed by student tutors and serves over 500 students each semester.

Gina Sims at the top of Table Mountain during a visit to Cape Town, South Africa.GINA SIMS (Anthropology, ’95) hiked to the top of Table Mountain during a visit to Cape Town, South Africa, in fall 2017. Her traveling partner for the trip was her best friend and fellow alumna Nicole Stolte (History, ’95). They were randomly paired together as roommates in Mechoopda Hall in 1991 and have enjoyed a decades-long friendship, traveling together around the world to destinations including the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, and British Columbia.

JILL HOMER STEWART (Political Science, ’95; History, ’97) is now based in Washington, DC, and is the director of federal government relations for the Jackson Laboratory. JAX has a mammalian genetics headquarters in Bar Harbor, Maine; a facility in Sacramento; and a genomic medicine facility in Farmington, Connecticut, that is enabling the laboratory to translate its fundamental science to the clinic. In addition to its National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, the laboratory has also initiated a cancer research laboratory in Seoul, South Korea.

Portrait of Andrea DavisANDREA (BERWIND) DAVIS (International Relations, ’96) Andrea Davis is the director of Global Crisis Management and Business Continuity for the Walt Disney Company, where she is responsible for developing and implementing emergency management training, exercises, crisis and family assistance operations, and employee preparedness initiatives around the world. Over eight weeks in 2017, she and her team led Disney’s response to nine activations of its global Emergency Operation Center, and this year she was named Emergency Manager of the Year by the International Association of Emergency Managers.

COREY CONNERS (Organizational Communication, ’97) recently joined Rincon Consultants as its first director of communications on the executive team. The company is an environmental consulting firm, where Conners works to influence the evolution of the firm’s culture of communications and collaboration in order to include employee communications, marketing communications, public relations, and professional development programs.


ROSEANN LANGLOIS KEEGAN (Journalism, ’00) has joined the advancement and engagement department at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine as a content marketing manager. In this position, she will develop digital content that tells the UNR Med story through medical education and research developments. She is also a fitness professional dedicated to her students’ success while working at Yoga Pod, Full Pedal Reno, and Double Diamond Athletic Club.

KIMBERLY (RILEY) KOLCZ (Art, ’01) is the owner and principle of Offay Design Studio in Newport Beach. She says she “has been lucky enough to design projects such as the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, the Fairmont Hotel in Dubai, and Taj Resort in Coimbatore, India … just to name a few!” She and her husband recently welcomed a baby boy, and together the couple loves to SCUBA dive and travel the world. They honeymooned in Africa where they trekked throughout Uganda to see gorillas. Kolcz states that her company “holds a charity raffle every December to benefit one of the schools we visited while we were in Uganda, and it’s always a great success!”

JASON MELLOW (Economics, ’01) is currently the director of business and dealer development for Agmechtronix, an agricultural equipment designer and manufacturer that focuses on automated solutions to difficult-to-find labor.

VIANNA (BORING) RENAUD (Music, ’01) is now based across the pond in the United Kingdom, where she is working on her doctoral studies in peer-to-peer employability mentoring at the Centre of Excellence in Media Practice at Bournemouth University. Renaud also teaches piano at Bournemouth University and in her local community, and recently performed in the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s 125th Anniversary Celebration in the Bournemouth Gardens.

Portrait of Jaclyn DunnJACLYN DUNN (Communication Design, ’02) Jaclyn Dunn has experienced Bay Area traffic from practically every perspective— listening to scanners, sitting in slowdowns, or scanning scenes from the air to provide updates from above. In April, she celebrated one year at CBS Bay Area as the traffic anchor for KPIX 5 TV morning news. Her first job out of college was an assignment editor at KTXL in Sacramento, where she got her first taste of traffic reporting working with CHP officers on live updates. She then reported for the most respected traffic outfit in the nation— KCBS All News Radio—and got her big TV break as a traffic reporter for KPIX 5 and then at KCRA 3. She’s very happy to be back in the “City by the Bay.”

YANNICK DE ALWAIS (Mechatronic Engineering, ’08) says that after “over 7 years of designing, developing, and testing consumer medical technology, I started my dream job at Raytheon in December of last year.” He is now happily employed working on critical defense technologies that protect the United States and allies from a variety of possible threats. De Alwais explains he has worked on some very challenging problems but still describes his work as invigorating and immensely satisfying. He also says he enjoys living in “the beautiful Sonoran Desert of Tuscon, Arizona.”

MIKE FITZPATRICK (Business Administration, ’08) graduated with a degree in finance at the height of the financial crisis. Since there were few available jobs, he accepted a teller position at Wells Fargo. Years later, he landed a job as a sales development rep at Jobvite—a job he was referred to by his roommate at the time, who had also lived a couple doors down from him in Lassen Hall. Since then, Fitzpatrick has worked with several startups, including Reflektive and, most recently, Sapling, which strives to create a world-class new-hire experience for employers. He is the sole member of the Sapling sales team today, and works directly with the CEO.

JEREMY SANKWICH (Business Administration, ’08) recently started a position at TAPCO, where he oversees consumer, mortgage, and Visa lending and the strategic portfolio growth. Sankwich says the move “was a big jump in my career and I can thank the leadership and mentorship from Dr. Willie Hopkins and Bob Sprague in the business school! I still reflect on a lot of the advice I received from both faculty!” Sankwich was also part of the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity and served as the president in 2008.

MATTHEW KAIN (Music Industry and Technology, ’09) has been working in music publishing royalties since graduation. Last year he was promoted to senior manager of global royalties for Universal Music Publishing Group.


NICOLE ESCOBEDO (Liberal Studies, ’10) taught mathematics for the last five years at three different low-income middle schools in Elk Grove and Nashville, Tennessee. She went on to attend Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College and earned a master’s degree in education with a focus on leadership and organizational performance. She is now working in healthcare, focusing on population health.

CARL ZINN (Recreation Administration, ’10) started a job at Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe two days after graduating in June 2010. He is currently the assistant director of food and beverage at the hotel, and in 2017 he opened the Hyatt Regency Lake Washington. Zinn reflects how when he started at the company “there was a group of five of us Wildcats in 2010 and it has grown to at least 20–30 students each summer! I was able to come and help recruit a few times—which was amazing!”

BRANDON MASAI (Kinesiology, ’09; MS, Kinesiology, ’12) worked as an adjunct associate professor in kinesiology for five years at San Joaquin Delta Community College, where he also served as head assistant coach to the men’s soccer team for four years. Masai was hired this year as a student advisor and visiting assistant professor at University of the Pacific’s physical education teacher preparation program. He lives in Stockton.

MEGAN MCCOURT (Journalism, ’11) earned a promotion to director at Small Girls PR in New York, where she runs and lends her expertise to a “Woman in Business” hub as well as an entertainment hub. She loved her time at Chico State and has fond memories of being involved in The Orion and Tehama Group Communications, as they set her on the path she’s been following since her graduation.

EMI HANSEN (Mechanical Engineering, ’12) works as the quality program manager with Aristocrat, a gaming company, assisting with running quality programs and initiatives to ensure the highest quality on slot machine games and cabinets.

HANNAH HARDING (Political Science, ’12) and ZACH NEWMAN (Political Science, ’12) graduated from the University of Oregon School of Law in May. They sat for the Oregon Bar Exam in July, with Hannah planning to begin a federal clerkship with the US District Court in Southern Oregon and Zach pursuing a career as a criminal defense attorney.

HANNAH (RAMEY) MEYER (Agriculture, ’14) recently returned from a two-year internship working in rural Southeast Asia where she was a herd manager of a Westernized 40-cow dairy farm. Since returning to California, Meyer began her career at Dinner Bell Farm, a pastured pig and certified organic flower farm, and notes the job grew out of an internship she had with the farm during her senior year at Chico State. The company is passionately committed to animal welfare and is on the cutting edge of behavior “to the point where we rarely see or hear a sign of fear or pain, at the same time, fully recognizing that these are animals to be raised for delicious pork you can feel good about eating.” Those values are so important to her, she even had Dinner Bell Farm cater her recent wedding!

Portrait of Matthew Day in his zoo keeper uniform posing next to a tree branch stuck in the sand.MATTHEW DAY (Recreation Administration, ’15) Matthew Day is traveling the world as part of his master’s degree program through Miami University’s Global Field Program. He studied manatees and coral reefs in Belize, and primates and palm oil in Borneo before spending summer 2018 in Guyana to study the traditional ecological knowledge of the Makushi people. Day lives in Omaha, Nebraska, where he works as an elephant keeper at Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. He works with six African elephants—all wild rescues from Swaziland—cleaning up after them, training them, promoting elephant conservation, and cleaning up after them some more!

CHRISTOPHER KUNZ (Business Administration, ’15) launched into a real estate career shortly after graduation. In 2018, Kunz was recognized as one of Coldwell Banker’s top 30 real estate agents under the age of 30—an internationally recognized award that bases its recipients off their success in sales and philanthropy. He now lives in Sacramento and states, “I’ve been able to use my degree to launch into a career that I’m passionate about, and for that I am very thankful.”

MCKENNA SCHOTT (Business Management, ’15) comes from a family that has been in the commercial construction industry for decades. During her college years, she completed marketing internships at two commercial construction companies in San Francisco— one of which her grandfather founded in 1969. She recently began working at Source Planning & Construction as its first official marketing coordinator. She reports, “I am enjoying every minute of it. I get to work with some amazing people, and I am always learning. I am so proud to be a Chico State alum and would not be where I am today if I had not gone there.”

ASHLEY SIMON (Psychology, ’15) earned a master’s degree in sport and performance psychology from the University of Denver in 2017. While she was there, she interned with the US Olympic Committee and also volunteered as a crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line. After graduating, she moved back to Northern California and is now the program and development director for Roseville Home Start, a transitional housing program for families who are homeless. She works with families to help them overcome obstacles and has seen families go from camping on the streets to signing a lease for their own apartment. She stays closely connected to Chico as an advisor for the Zeta Theta chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi, of which she was a founding member. She is grateful for all that Chico gave her, and she is still close to her “little college town.”

COLE BUCHNER (Business Administration, ’16) started a career in hospitality working at the luxury resort L’Auberge Del Mar in San Diego and has since received two awards: “Values Champion of the Quarter—Earn Trust,” and “Employee of the Year 2017.” He plans to continue his career in hospitality, while also striving toward owning his own company in the foreseeable future.

VLADAMIR DROZDOV (Business Administration, ’16) recently opened a hotel in St. Petersburg, Russia. Harbor Club Hotel is a lovely 10-minute walk from the Vosstaniya Square and Chernyshevskaya metro station. Wildcats welcome!

CLARISSA CHAIREZ (Agriculture, ’17) participated in Miami University’s Earth Expeditions global field course in Baja, where she studied desert and marine landscapes through ecological and social field methods. Chairez, a plant science intern at The Walt Disney Company, lives in Kissimmee, Florida, and is a graduate student in Miami University’s Global Field Program.

CARSON PREDOVICH (Management Information Systems, ’18) has since started a career as an IT collaboration engineer at Informatica LLC in Silicon Valley, where he was offered a job prior to graduation.