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Class Notes: Spring 2024 – Chico State Today

Whether it’s starting a new business, writing a book, or achieving a lifelong dream, the Wildcat family continues to reach milestones. Alumni share professional and personal updates for spring 2024.

1960s

Dick Carlsen (Business Administration, ’68) retired from federal government service after a 44-year US Navy civilian career and recently published his sixth novel, Monkey Bottom Redux, the third book in the Monkey Bottom Trilogy. The Naval Criminal Investigative Services centric story takes the reader into the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the highest levels of the Colombian Army, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the Department of Justice on a search for the blood revenge killer of a Navy admiral in Virginia and a top Colombian Army general. His books are available on Amazon.

Robert Blesse (English, ’69; MA, English, ’72) retired after 31 years as the director of the Black Rock Press, the book arts program at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). He was also the director of the Special Collections Department for the UNR libraries.

Don Carlsen (Economics, ’69) and Carlos Jacobo (Attended, ’76) have been hard at work organizing the Wildcat Football Alumni’s annual gathering from July 12–13. A great way to renew old friendships, make new connections, and enjoy a perfect summer in Chico, the weekend’s agenda features a golf tournament with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. Golfers from the public are invited to join and portions of the fees will go toward future scholarships awarded to descendants of Wildcat football players. For more information, visit chicostatefootballreunion.com.

Margaret Sansom (Social Science, ’61) published her first children’s book, George the Alligator Finds a Home. The book is about a small alligator with no teeth or tail who is adopted by a family. Margaret plans to write a sequel about ice cream and pie-loving George, who goes on a diet. The sequel will have a subliminal message not to judge people who are overweight.

1970s

Franklin Jones (Physical Education, ’72) married Cristina Esperanza Rodriquez on October 5, 2023, in a small ceremony at their residence in Lakeland, Florida. After graduation, Franklin flew for the US Navy for 23 years and was a captain for American Airlines on Boeing 777s with a career that spanned 33 years. He is now retired and spends his time on his business restoring classic cars and building single-family custom homes.

Mark Simmons (Social Science, ’74; Credential, ’75) published his first book, The Hooky Bookie Comic. It tells the story of his journey from a Los Angeles comedy club jokester to a successful attendance counselor (also known as a hooky bookie) in the very large and often dangerous LA Unified School District. Mark’s heartrending story tells the inspiring transformation of a Hollywood entertainer to a compassionate advocate for public education for disenfranchised and historically underserved students. The Hooky Bookie Comic is available on Amazon.

Joe Schmidt (Physical Education, ’78) was elected to the Board of Education in Grants Pass, Oregon. Joe served as the headmaster of Seabury Hall on the island of Maui for 20 years, the principal at Hammond High School in Columbia, South Carolina, for five years, and athletic director at Seabury Hall at Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for 10 years. He served as an education consultant and leadership trainer for Independent School Management for 23 years and continues to serve as an independent education consultant for schools around the country. In 2015, he retired from education administration and moved to Paradise. After the Camp Fire in 2018, he resettled in Grants Pass, where he and his wife, Cynthia, enjoy golf, RV camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

1980s

Maria Barrs (Information and Communication Studies, ’81) has achieved her dream of writing mysteries with her first book, Parallel Secrets, published by The Wild Rose Press in September 2023. Using the pen name ML Barrs, she draws from her diverse life experiences, including having to overcome a deep sense of loss and vulnerability to create a gripping tale of struggle and redemption. Barrs now lives in Olympia, Washington, with her husband, Jonathan Kemp (Information and Communication Studies, ’82).

Thomas “Earl” Reed (Physical Education, ’83; MA, Education, ’87) was inducted into the College of DuPage Class of 2024 Athletic Hall of Fame. During his 28 years at DuPage, he served as a coach, administrator, and professor of physical education. During his 11 seasons as the head women’s basketball coach, his teams won two National Junior College Athletic Association championships and five Region 4 titles, and he coached 11 All-Americans. He also coached the men’s program for three seasons and served as an assistant men’s tennis coach, helping the Chaps to a national title in 1997. Earl currently serves on the University Foundation Board at Chico State.

Bill Magladry (Business Administration, ’84) retired after 33 years as a financial advisor. He now lives in Gardnerville, Nevada, and spends much of his time in the outdoors, skiing, hiking, biking, fishing, and shooting sporting clays. Bill reached out after we shared a Hangtown fry recipe in the fall 2023 issue of Chico Statements. “My late father served this to our family when we were growing up. With a Hangtown fry for breakfast, you don’t need lunch! Dad learned his culinary skills when he was in medical school at Stanford in the early 40s. I used to cook Hangtown fry for my friends and roommates at Chico State.”

Tina Lee-Vogt (Public Administration, ’87) was appointed as the first nighttime economy manager for the City of Sacramento in October 2022, becoming the first African American woman appointed to the position in the United States. In this role, she leads an interdepartmental team to manage the city’s nightlife and social economy. Working closely with city staff, local businesses, residents, and communities, she helps ensure a safe, vibrant, and well-managed nightlife in Sacramento. With more than 30 years of public service, Tina has worked in various departments with the City of Sacramento including Parks and Community Services, Convention Center, Police, Neighborhood Services, and Finance. She also worked in the California State Legislature, and following graduation she was awarded an appointment to the Jesse M. Unruh California State Assembly Fellowship Program. Her daughter, Allison Vogt, transferred to Chico State in fall 2023 and is an English major.

1990s

Matt Petersen (Political Science, ’90) is president and CEO of Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), a nonprofit that helps start-ups scale their clean transportation and energy technologies in communities exposed to high levels of pollution. LACI is heading up efforts to make LA’s cars, buses, and trucks emissions-free by the 2028 Summer Olympics. Matt was recognized by Business Insider’s second annual Climate Action 30 list highlighting top global leaders working to address the climate crisis through collectivism, community, and accountability. He previously served as the city of Los Angeles’ first chief sustainability officer, a position appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti. There, Matt was the chief architect of the groundbreaking Sustainable City plan, helping LA become a leader in electric vehicles, solar, and water conservation. He also helped create and serves as board chair of the Climate Mayors program, bringing nearly 500 mayors together from across the nation to collaborate on climate change.

Hilary (Katz) Seitz (Child Development, ’90) is a director in the Educator and Leadership Programs with the California State University Office of the Chancellor. In this role, she meets and works with people from all over the state, and she is always proud to let others know that she is a graduate of Chico State! Hilary is looking forward to working with the 23 CSUs and community colleges to continue the work of the Office of the Chancellor in building future educators. Hilary was also recently recognized as a professor emerita at the University of Alaska Anchorage. After 20 years in The Last Frontier, Hilary and her husband, Joe Seitz (English, German, ’92), are happy to be back in their home state of California with their beloved black lab, Penelope.

Anthony Botello (Recreation Administration, ’91) was named supervisor of the 2.4-million-acre Flathead Forest in November 2023. He had previously served as the deputy forest supervisor for the Wallowa Whitman National Forest in northeast Oregon since April 2020. He’s honored to be appointed to this new role, saying, “The thought of helping steward the world-class resources and landscapes on the Flathead and working with community and Tribal partners here is incredibly exciting. My family and I are eager to get to the Flathead Valley and join the forest and the community.” Outside of work, Anthony enjoys playing baseball, coaching, and officiating. He plans to take part in northwest Montana’s hunting, fishing, and outdoor opportunities. He is married to Alexandra Davis-Botello (Recreation Administration, ’92).

Karen Graf (English, ’92) joined the Office of the Vice Provost for Research as the director of operations and special projects at George Washington University. Informed by her time at Chico State, she obtained experience in multiple industries through technical and professional writing and project management roles. These experiences will parlay into her current role, where she supports the university’s research grants through applications, programs, and data science support.

Kevin Murphy (Recreation Administration, ’93) was hired by the California Department of Parks and Recreation to serve in a new role as public information officer for the department’s four public commissions overseeing state parks and recreation, historic resources, off-highway motor vehicle recreation, and boating and waterways. In this new role, Kevin cultivates relationships to support commission and department goals, develop media and legislative communications campaigns, and provide outreach to recreation industry partners and the public.

Kimberly Meneray (Journalism, ’95) is an assistant property manager for Cushman Wakefield. Prior to that she was a realtor for 15 years. She has two children.

Shawn Mulqueeney (Business Administration, ’92) has been selected as the new senior vice president and chief information officer for SESLOC Credit Union. He previously held various leadership roles with Boeing Employees Credit Union—the fourth largest credit union in the United States. Shawn and his wife, Kara Mulqueeny (Communication Design; Information and Communication Studies, ’92), are moving back to San Luis Obispo after calling Washington home for more than 25 years.

2000s

Nancy Tudor (History, ’00) has spent the last five years teaching yoga in Southern California. She is also a freelance writer, publishing haikus, short stories, and a children’s book titled Giles the Bear. Prior to that, Nancy spent more than 10 years in education teaching history in the United Kingdom and multiple subjects in the United States. She also spent six years in the tourism industry in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Theresa Fagouri (Health Science, ’01) is the project director for nutrition education with El Dorado County Public Health.

Robert Katz (Geography, ’04) is a board member of the Redbud and Marin Chapters of the California Native Plant Society. Since July 2023, he has provided free consultation services for Chico State’s Arboretum and Campus Vegetation Committees.

Casey Hersch (Social Work, ’06) recently made time in her schedule as a psychotherapist and social worker to publish I am Pawso, a picture book that teaches kids (and the young at heart) how to “calm down, problem-solve, and gain confidence in difficult situations.” Funny, charming, and delightfully inspired by her work as an animal rights advocate, Pawso also draws from her experiences helping children and families build resilience and minimize the effects of stress and trauma.

Daniel Hazelhurst (Psychology, ’08) has found a second calling as a licensed financial broker with Transamerica Financial Advisors. In this role, he helps people achieve financial stability, with the ultimate goal of providing financial freedom and independence. He is also a physical therapist with Select Medical in Los Angeles.

Alejandro Lira (Social Science, ’08) is a full-time tenured social science history teacher at Mills High School in Millbrae.

Travis Sluys (History, ’08) completed the master’s program from the Naval Postgraduate School, earning an MA in security studies. He and his wife, Janelle (McLane) Sluys (Liberal Studies, ’07), recently relocated across the country to the Washington, DC, area, where Travis took a position with the International Operations Division with the Department of Homeland Security. Travis and Janelle both credit their passion for continuing education and curiosity about the world to Community Action Volunteers in Education at Chico State—“life is for learning!”

Jolyn Young (Agricultural Business, ’08) published her first book, a memoir called Never Burn Your Moving Boxes: A True Tale of a Real-Life Cowboy Wife. The book was released in September 2023.

Lindsey Elfenbein (Communication Studies, ’08) was promoted to vice president of global summits and strategic partnerships with Variety, the premier source of entertainment news.

2010s

Sarah (Bergquist) Kosumi (Geography, ’11) published a graphic novel, The Last Free Dog, about environmental issues and animal welfare in Kosovo in the Balkans. The novel, intended for readers between the ages of 9–14, teaches strategies for urban environmental stewardship and about the hardships the region’s stray dogs face.

Lena Heffern (Mechanical Engineering, ’13) earned earned an interdisciplinary physics and engineering PhD from Arizona State University in 2022. She was a science team member of the LunaH-Map mission which launched an Artemis I rocket in November 2022 (which performed the first analysis of lunar flyby data for LunaH-Map). Lena co-designed the gammaray spectrometer with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists on the NASA Psyche mission, which launched on October 13, 2023. She married her husband, Jon, the next day and signed her marriage license during the peak of the annular solar eclipse. Lena was also added as a science co-investigator to the NASA Lunar VISE commercial opportunities rover mission. She is currently the lead systems engineer on an instrument concept design for space weather monitoring at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Andrea Hernández (Liberal Studies, ’15) is the director of student experience at Pikes Peak State College in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Cody Miller (Recreation Administration, ’15) was honored with the 2023 Arne Gonzales Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Award for leading with a passion and commitment to DEI. Cody is the director of operations at C&S Wholesaler Grocers.

Isabel Charles (International Relations, ’16) is the project manager of impact and learning for Spark Microgrants, a nonprofit organization that supports communities to design and launch their own social impact projects, from an agricultural business to a school. Isabel and her husband, Matthew Clark (Biology, ’16), live in London.

Efren Rodriguez (Exercise Physiology, ’16; Credential, ’23) is a special education teacher at his alma mater, Chico High School, after being a personal trainer for six years. He also has been coaching wrestling at Chico High for eight years and counting. In June 2024, he will complete his first year of teaching.

Adam Steele (Business Administration; Communication Studies, ’17) graduated from UC Hastings College of the Law with a Juris Doctor in 2021. He lives in Texas and has a passion for sustainable space policy development.

Karina Chavez (Child Development; Spanish, ’18; Civil Engineering, ’19; MBA, ’20) is an Early Head Start family support worker for Valley Oak Children’s Services in Chico.

Maxie Holmberg-Douglas (Agricultural Business, ’18) is the director of communications and district services for the California Senate Republican Caucus.

Esperanza Ojeda-Rangel (Animal Science, ’18; Business Administration, ’19) was recently promoted to scientist for pharmacokinetics and drug metabolism with Amgen, where she has been employed since 2020.

Bianca Quilantan (Journalism, ’18) is a reporter for Politico in Washington, DC, where she covers higher education and K–12 education policy, Congress, and civil rights. Her beat includes covering affirmative action, Title IX, community colleges, and more. While a full-time student at Chico State, Bianca covered the Camp Fire, and her reporting earned her the honor of being a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news.

Anthony Costales (Kinesiology, ’13) was ranked by UltraRunning Magazine as the #4 Ultrarunner of the Year for 2023. Anthony’s stellar year featured a course record win at the Black Canyon 100k and a third-place finish in his 100-mile debut at Western States. A former Chico State track star and 2:13 marathoner, he now lives in Salt Lake City with his wife, Katie, and their three-year-old daughter, Piper. Hear from Anthony in his own words.

Paulina Muro (Communication Design, ’20) is an EOPS/CARE substitute specialist at Yuba College.

Roberto Cepeda (Business Administration, ’21) accepted an offer as a manager with Amazon and relocated to Southern California’s Inland Empire, where he currently lives with his wife, Kasandra Estrada (Child Development, ’23). “It’s a great experience so far and I really appreciate Chico State helping me get to where I am at today,” he said.

Garett Hanlon (Political Science, ’20) is an information technology consultant III at Oregon State University.

Steven Loya (Music, ’21) was hired at Sacramento State as the director of planned giving. Prior to that, he was senior director of development and communications at Yolo Food Bank, where he helped to address food insecurity for more than 60,000 individuals every month throughout Yolo County. The last 2 years have been filled with personal milestones for Loya. In 2022, he married the love of his life, Jessica (Bartlett) Loya (Communication Studies, ’16), whom he met on campus and now runs a thriving wedding and lifestyle photography business. They recently bought their first house, and in April 2023, they welcomed their first child, Steven, who they hope will one day grow up to be a Wildcat himself!

Leilani Alva (Agriculture, ’21) has has started an exciting new professional chapter as the lead of school programs at SMUD Museum of Science and Curiosity in Sacramento where she hopes to further her passion of “igniting curiosity to inspire lifelong learners.” Leilani started her career in science education during her undergrad years as a field trip guide at the Gateway Science Museum and was promoted several times over four years, ultimately finding her groove as the education coordinator. Gateway’s director Adrienne McGraw describes Leilani as a rock star and someone who will make a big impact.