This week, nine alumni will return to campus to be honored with one of the University’s most prestigious honors: the Distinguished Alumni awards. They are part of an elite group, with just 190 individuals honored since the award’s inception 25 years ago.

Since 1994, Distinguished Alumni have been celebrated for their contributions and achievements in their chosen endeavors. We turn to them as innovators and leaders, whose contributions have enriched the legacy of Chico State.

Here, this year’s honorees share their advice for graduating seniors and recent graduates:


College of Agriculture

Stephen Jones

Stephen Jones

Agriculture, ’80

Current Position: Director, The Bread Lab at Washington State University

“Wake up earlier and show up early to everything, including sunrises. It is not easy, that’s the point. Read outside of your interests. It will help you expand your interests. And I wish I had known earlier in my life that it would all turn out OK.”

 

 


College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Sheryl Beach

Sheryl Beach

Geography, ’82

Current Position: Professor and Chair, Department of Geography and the Environment at University of Texas at Austin; Fellow of the C.B. Smith, Sr. Centennial Chair in U.S.-Mexico Relations

“Be able to work with a variety of people and different perspectives. The ability to communicate is really important no matter what field you are in. That is true whether you are teaching or running your own business or any other career.”


Tim Beach

Tim Beach

Geography, ’82

Current Position: Professor, Department of Geography and the Environment, University of Texas at Austin; C.B. Smith, Sr. Centennial Chair

“Be ‘all in’ with what you are doing. Find your love of doing your work, that keeps you doing it in the middle of the night or on Saturday when most people would be interested in doing other things. Even if you put in long hours and calculate your hours of pay and realize it would be pretty low, you are accomplished when it’s still an endless fascination and you can’t wait to get back to it.”


College of Business

Tom Tognoli

Tom Tognoli

Finance, ’88

Current Position: Founder, President, and CEO of Intero Real Estate Services

“Success is a team sport. You can never underestimate the value of the people you surround yourself with, because you can’t be successful all by yourself. It requires other people to rally around you and be a support structure for you through every stage of life—from high school to college to professionally. And you constantly need to be giving yourself a checkup from the neck up, filing your head with positive inspiring things that are going to help keep you positive and focused through all the ups and downs of being successful and not successful along the way.”

 


College of Communication and Education

Lori McAdams

Lori McAdams

Communications, ’83

Current Position: Vice President of Human Resources and Administration, Pixar Animation Studios

“Keep an open mind as you start your job search and career. When you’re first starting out, you may not even realize what it is that brings you inspiration, challenges, or passion. Think broadly about what you might want to do as a first or second job, and talk with as many people as you can to learn what they do and what they enjoy about it. Use your network, don’t be afraid to ask someone for advice or a connection. As long as you are respectful, professional, and considerate, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask people for help.”


College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management

Gary Watters

Gary Watters

Civil Engineering, ’57
Current Position: Retired Chico State Faculty

“The most valuable thing you can carry with you throughout your career and professional life is your integrity. Nothing is more important than being able to earn respect and the ability to be trusted.”

 

 

 

 


College of Humanities and Fine Arts

Samia Yaqub

Samia Yaqub

English, ’89

Current Position: President, Butte-Glenn Community College District

“Stay open-minded, keep learning, and realize that college is for just one phase of a very long life. You never know where your career is going to take you or who is going to become that important person in your professional life. Stay open-minded and give whatever you are doing currently your best self. No matter what it is what you are doing, give it your all because there is so much to learn.”


College of Natural Sciences

Valeri Lucero

Valerie Lucero

Nursing, ’83

Current Position: Executive Director, Tehama County Health Services Agency

“Pursue your passion, while looking at career paths and degrees that lead to a job at the end. Take advantage of career services and activities that may give you some additional skills. Be open to opportunities and expand your realm of possibilities.”

 

 


Volunteer Service Award

Chris Nichols

Chris Nichols

History, ’69

Current Position: Retired Educator

“I wish somebody had told me when you start out on a career, it’s normal to possibly not be happy with that choice. I didn’t understand that it’s normal to change careers several times in your life. When you are making a decision as young person to pursue a certain subject area or career choice, you almost probably will change that career choice. And instead of punishing yourself over those kinds of changes, embrace them.”