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Journey of Impact: Alycia Anderson’s Return to Chico State for the Distinguished Alumni Award Celebration

Published: Sunday April 28, 2024
alycia sitting in her wheelchair pointing up at a pillar that has a plaque that says california state university chico

This week, I returned to my alma mater, California State University, Chico – “Chico State,” to receive the “Distinguished Alumni Award” from the College of Communication and Education (CME) as their 2024 recipient. This award and accolade commemorates my journey and contributions in the world from a Chico State student to my professional heights in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Accessibility and Disability Inclusion/Representation.
The university had held a formal gala presentation last month on what was coincidentally International Women’s Day (IWD), nestled at the beginning of Women’s History Month (WHM), March 8th. As this serves as a powerful time period in my usual speaking schedule I was unable to attend the official recognition event at Chico alongside the other 2024 recipients from the other colleges.
Fate would have it that I had already booked a large-scale event at one of our nation’s leading healthcare providers, and was delivering an in-person keynote at Humana’s headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky for their corporate IWD celebration. Yet, as this award is a huge honor and the highest level achievement that a graduate can be bestowed upon by the university, they graciously offered to plan a separate event just for me.
As I prepared to be honored in person my heart filled with anticipation as I set out on a full day filled with events that started with a special lunch, where I had the pleasure of engaging with graduate students from the Adapted Physical Education (APE) and Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) programs in an intimate one-on-one. As we dined on delectable dishes, students eagerly asked me about my transformative journey from Chico State to speaking on global stages, advocating for diversity, equity, and accessibility.

Following lunch, I rolled through campus and the atmosphere in the campus BMU (Bell Memorial Union) was electric as students and faculty gathered for my special presentation event. The event, hosted by CME Dean Angela Trethewey, included a thought-provoking Q&A session moderated by Dean Trethewey herself, this was followed by the presentation of the esteemed Distinguished Alumni Award by Chico State’s President, Stephen Perez. After my official presentation of the award I took the stage to deliver my heartfelt “Heart of Inclusion” speech that emphasizes the importance of fostering inclusive environments in education and beyond.
Following this enlightening session, I had a productive meeting over drinks at Tres Hombres with Dr. Melissa Mache, Chair of the Kinesiology Department, discussing potential collaborations and initiatives within the department.

As the day progressed, I continued to inspire, and was honored once again with an opportunity to deliver welcoming remarks at Marcie Pope’s weekly APE Sports Night event at Yolo Hall, where I energized and motivated the students with words of encouragement and wisdom in the spaces I once learned in myself. I was elated when the students knew who I was and said that a photo of me was hanging on the wall, among other graduate students who have made an impact from the program.

The day’s festivities reached their crescendo with a memorable dinner hosted by Dean Trethewey. Among the esteemed guests were my twin sister Regina, close friends Rebecca Plumb and Rhiannon Priolini, college roommate Kerri Vanderbom, mentor Dr. Rebecca Lytle, and former classmates Carli Ross & Dr. Josie Blagrave who now lead APE programs at Chico State themselves. And of course, by my side was my unwavering support and constant companion, my husband Marty.

As I accepted the accolades and heartfelt congratulations, I couldn’t help but reflect on my journey from Chico State student to global advocate. My experiences underscore the transformative power of education and the enduring impact of a community that nurtures and celebrates its own. Through dedication and advocacy, I strive to embody the values of Chico State’s CME, leaving an indelible mark on generations to come.