Chico State graduate reflects on many college accomplishments

Master's graduates pose for a picture at their commencement Thursday

CHICO, Calif. - The big day is finally here for many Chico State students, graduation has officially begun.

Thursday was an exciting day for those ending one journey and starting a new one.

"I spent five years in my undergraduate education and I'm excited to commemorate that and I'm also excited to move onto graduate school," said Jessica Candela.

Candela is one of 3,530 undergraduates finishing Spring of 2017, but she is the only one who can say she was a student coordinator. A rare designation for Chico State University.

"I got to coordinate the voter friendly campus designation for Chico State, which we just got in March," said Candela.

She said it nonchalantly, but Chico State is only one of four California institutions to receive that honor. It's given only to schools that have provided students with the proper voting resources and education.

"It was a really wonderful experience to really make sure that students are connected to their community and voting on issues that are so pertinent to them," Candela explained. "And really be able to have a voice in politics when some students don't think they can, but they really do have a voice and so it was wonderful to see that occur on campus."

The list of Candela's accomplishments only starts there. She was a mentor for first-generation students, a research assistant, a coordinator of civic engagement and perhaps the cherry on top will be when she speaks as the commencement speaker for her own graduation Saturday.

"I'm grateful," said Candela. "I'm so grateful for all the opportunities that are here, all the people that are here and what this campus and community does for each other."

Beyond that, it's a passion for Chico that drives the local to give back as much as she feels she has received.

"I want to give back to this community in any way I can because it's given me wonderful opportunities and it really drives me, it makes me happy, I'm passionate about this kind of work," said Candela.

She hopes to send all of her peers on their new journey with this message, "I hope that the students who hear my speech realize that they can make a positive change in their communities and they have all the skills and tools and experiences to do so. So wherever they go, just know that they can create change in a positive way."