Civic Engagement and What It Means to Me
students, chico, people, community, civic engagement, chico state, voting, vote, campus, ballot, ricky, census, gridley, big, today, question, rural, university, counted, college students
Joshuah Whittinghill, Teresa Hernandez, Ricky Galvan, Ann Schulte, Introduction Music
Introduction Music 00:00
Joshuah Whittinghill 00:19
As we are recording this podcast in Chico, California, and are employed by the University, we acknowledge and are mindful that CSU, Chico stands on lands that were originally occupied by the first people of this area. And we recognize the Mechoopda and their distinctive spiritual relationship with this land and the waters that are run through campus. We are humbled that our campus resides upon sacred lands that once sustain the Mechoopda people for centuries.
Teresa Hernandez 01:03
Hi, everyone. Welcome to another one of our episodes. Welcome to the first generation one of many podcast. Our mission is to create an archive of discussions with and about first generation student experiences in and out of the classroom. We hope to continue raising awareness and understanding while providing voice for students and alum as well as providing staff, faculty and students with resources to continue proving our campus as a community.
Joshuah Whittinghill 01:26
All right, and I’m Joshuah Whittinghill. Welcome to first generation one of many podcasts, Episode Five. And I’m joined by the wonderful Teresa Hernandez.
Teresa Hernandez 01:56
Joshuah Whittinghill 01:57
How’s your day going today for you?
Teresa Hernandez 01:59
Pretty good. The sun’s out. It’s not too hot. So I’m actually enjoying it. I have the windows open for now. But pretty good so far, how about your day
Joshuah Whittinghill 02:09
It is going it’s been the adventure of being out for a few minutes this morning to run an errand bright and early. And back in hanging out with the kids. They’re doing their schoolwork. So yeah, I think their school days winding down already. And then they’re going into do some homework, I guess after lunchtime if they if they have any today. Some days they do some days they don’t. The interesting, interesting web of online learning for middle school and high school students and I’m learning about now. So yeah, that leads us now we’re gonna go in and share our quotes. We have quotes for the day. Usually we have one today I went with two of them that I think are connected to our work. And the people that the quotes came from were definitely connected with our discussion topics for today, which is going to be discussing today on civic engagement, voting, and rural settings and experiences are like for first generation students in rural settings. So the first quote is from Audre Lorde. The quality of life by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing upon the product, which we live. And upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives. I thought that’d be very pointed these times, it feels as if people I’m talking with I know I am also quite often realizing how critical I am of the things I’m doing because I’m because I’m so isolated at times. And a lot of people are feeling that as well, that more scrutiny upon themselves because we don’t always get time to bounce ideas off people or get to roam the halls and connect with people and get feedback. So that’s a good one there. The next one, from Angela Davis. It is important not only to have the awareness and to feel impelled to become involved, it’s important that there be a forum out there to which one can relate in organization of movement. I thought that would be extremely poignant. And then as we were getting started, we are we are joined by two guests today we’re very thankful for and one of the guests was was sharing something she’s going to talk about later on on actual movements and things that are happening in some rural settings around the state. So our first guest, Teresa.
Teresa Hernandez 04:29
Yes. So super excited to introduce one of our guests today. So Enrique ‘Ricky’ Galvan, who most of his friends called Ricky is from Gridley, California which is a small town about 30 minutes south of Chico. He is a first generation college student who graduated last year with his bachelor’s in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. He is currently in his second year as a master’s student in the Social Science program with an option and Career and Life Planning. After he earned his master’s degree, he would love to be an advisor, a counselor to help students who come from first generation under represented communities like himself. Awesome and welcome Enrique or Ricky, which will now refer to as Ricky.
Joshuah Whittinghill 05:09
Yeah, Ricky, welcome. Go ahead and unmute yourself there. Say. Hi.
Ricky Galvan 05:13
Hello everyone. Super excited to be here. Can’t wait to have the discussions we’re going to have today. I’ve been punk all week, so I can’t wait.
Joshuah Whittinghill 05:20
Yeah, yeah, I’m so glad you made it. And I want to throw in a little bit. Our our podcast is like we are only at Episode Five. so far. We’ve had at least two guests on every episode. We had, we had one episode with six guests. We had another one with three guests. So so far, we’ve had at least about 14 to 15 guests. But the only town that has been represented by more than one guest is of course, Gridley.
Ricky Galvan 05:48
Yeah and you know, we all have
Joshuah Whittinghill 05:51
Our very first, no our second episode, we had a guest from Gridley as well. Okay, and our second guest for today is Ann Schulte. She’s a professor of education and former teacher but also serves as our as the Chico State campus director of civic engagement. As the civic as the campus Civic and Voter Empowerment Coordinator, she works to make sure everyone knows what they need to be educated voters, in addition to doing voter outreach, she works very hard to connect the University to our 12 County regions, through community partnerships. She likes to be a part of preparing our rural students to contribute community vitality in their hometowns and learning from and about those places. Welcome, Ann.
Ann Schulte 06:37
Good morning, everyone. I’m very happy to be here with all of you.
Joshuah Whittinghill 06:44
All right, so we’re going to go ahead and get this discussion started. And like I said, I’m in so we’re gonna, we’re going to talk about civic engagement, sort of the umbrella sort of bigger picture, and we’re going to narrow our ways down through the day, and go into then some voting, and discussions around that, and then into experiences for first generation students in rural settings. So first, it’d be good to hear what is civic engagement, we hear people talking about that. So if you’re working on a campus, people say it and the phrase gets used, but doesn’t mean we always get to see it in action or really understand it. So. So we’d love to hear from both of you on that, like, since you’ve been so involved with for the last number of years. What exactly how do you define civic engagement? And what does that really mean?
Ann Schulte 07:34
Well, technically, the definition of Civic is related to of the government. And so when we think about civic engagement, we think about how do we, as community citizens participate in our government, and that can look lots of different ways. But the most common way is voting. And, and so this year, we had a primary in March, and we have a general election, a presidential election in November. And so voting has been a significant part of our civic engagement work this year. And we also had a census this year. So census happens every 10 years. And some would argue that’s our civic duty to be counted as a member of our community so that our communities are represented in all the different ways that census data is used. So in in a literal sense, that’s what civic engagement means. But really, in a broad sense, what we mostly do is, is seek to engage with our community, that being Chico because our campus sits in the town of Chico and in Butte County, but our university serves 12 counties the size of about 33,000 square miles. And most of that is rural areas. And so another large piece of our work through civic engagement, as part of the strategic plan of the university is to connect with all of the communities that are in our region. And not only try to provide our resources and our intellectual capacity and our suggestions and ideas, but also to learn from those communities. Because there’s a lot of innovation that happens in small communities, where they just get stuff done because they’re small and everyone knows someone, and things are able to get accomplished as a community in ways that sometimes bigger places don’t happen. So our goal is, my goal as a director is to try to help the university understand the value and the benefit of all of these places around us, while also bringing to bear whatever we have to offer those communities in terms of support for Community and Economic Development.
Joshuah Whittinghill 09:55
And Ricky, as a as a student, doing some of this work. What do you feel? Or have you experienced is part of the idea of so we can gain from the student standpoint of what you get to do and what you’ve been able to do?
Ricky Galvan 10:13
Yeah, so I guess what that means to me is just trying to give back to my community, so they can help give back to me, I help get back to them. So kind of like a cycle of me doing my part in terms of voting and voting promotion and census and things like that, or talking to like my family members who may not be able to come to college, but they still want to learn what it means to vote in the census and all that good information. So when I think about that, I just think about civic engagement, I think about. Yeah, just what I can do for other people who make other people who I don’t always see around me. So I think about like my younger siblings, people from my hometown, back at Gridley people all around Butte County and beyond. Yeah, just get it. Well, I just think of civic civic engagement. I for sure, think of giving back and trying just trying to help.
Joshuah Whittinghill 11:04
And when you first got into it, was it? Was it something you were already thinking about? Or was it something that just sort of appeared in front of you one day, as you’re walking across campus? And and discovered it randomly?
Ricky Galvan 11:16
It’s just kind of like that exactly. because growing up, um I wasn’t my my parents don’t vote because they’re undocumented. So voting was never really a conversation we had in my household. So when I was walking around campus, when I was a freshman, I remember seeing a booth, and I was exhibiting engagement. What is it? Oh, no, I thought it was like, like a restaurant or something. I had no idea what it was. I no idea what it meant. But once I got some information, and he talked to me, and gave me more resources about voting, and that’s my right, as an American citizen, they get to do that. And it’s my civic duty. That’s kind of how I became more involved. And I know as to that, like, when I got older, like I said, we never really talked about voting or census in my household. But as I got older, I and still happens to this day, my dad always comes to me, and he asked me questions about voting and the process, and how is it to like be in the booth or to mail it in. And I just think it’s super exciting that he still wants to be interested and involved with it, despite his circumstances, and I’m happy that I get to give him, my friends, other family members and like people in my community, that kind of information.
Teresa Hernandez 12:19
That’s awesome. And I think one of the things too, that came to mind, well, and you were, you were talking and then Ricky, you mentioned it, too. It’s kind of like one of those aspects of the census. And I feel like from when that was occurring, a lot of like, the information that was going around, especially in the Latinx communities was, what exactly is the senses and really clearly defining it, because a lot of a lot of us in in the Latinx community, we didn’t understand it, or knew what the purpose of it was, and there was a lot of fear and stigma around it, like don’t fill out the census. That’s how they will know, if our family members are undocumented. That’s, that’s when, you know, the you kind of increase your risk of deportations and things like that, I think, like really understanding what that is. And what it’s used for is like super, super imperative for all the communities. Um, which is, I’m super happy you guys mentioned that too. Um, and I wanna, I’m also wondering, in terms of what is one example that the civic engagement office is currently doing, or what is something that the civic engagement office is working with thier, um communities currently, anything that’s programming and planning?
Ann Schulte 13:28
Yeah. Um, so we’re really focused right now on doing voter education and outreach, and just making sure everyone knows how to register to vote, make sure they know how to fill out their ballot, it’s a mailing year, everybody’s mailing in their ballot, and that being a new voter, and also having never voted by mail before. So all of these things are not something that anybody, if you’ve never done it before, knows how to do. And so we’re working really hard to make sure that students get that information several times from different sources. But in terms of community partnerships, I want to talk about a really great connection we have with Corning High School, which is about 30 miles away, and they are in Tehama County, and Corning High School has a ranch. And they have asked us to help them with their master plan for that ranch. And that includes lots of things like building a bridge, creating an interpretive trail throughout the ranch. Doing some upkeep could potentially include engineering projects or agricultural education projects might even include a mural. We have an arts professor who teaches a murals class who’s who’s done some murals into Tehama County and in Butte County. And so there’s lots of ways we can think about connecting with our communities and and being a part of what they’re doing. And this is a really exciting example that we’ve had probably for faculty that are really already doing projects with Corning around this ranch. And ideally we’d like to be out there. But because we’re isolated because of COVID, we haven’t been able to for the past six months, but I have had students out there and, and it’s and maybe even sooner than later because it’s an outside context. It’s a place where we can actually do some of the COVID safe connections before next fall, potentially. So that’s exciting.
Joshuah Whittinghill 15:31
Yeah, thank you for that is um a note on on the murals, if you want to see some of the work that that class has done, I was able to talk with them about a year ago. And we wanted to increase awareness around STEM or science, technology, engineering and math. And there’s a school of elementary school here in Chico that is focused on STEM, their curriculum is STEM. And so we were able to work with the school and a couple of the fourth graders at the time. And they selected some women scientists and some scientists of color. And then the class from Chico State went and was able to paint a mural that is about 30 feet, 40 feet wide by 20 feet higher. So and it represents the scientists that the students had picked out. So it has a had some women and some scientists of color as well. But that’s one way if you want to go check it out locally, and see some of the work they’ve done. It’s really great. That class does get involved quite a bit. And then also, to go back to what Ann was saying with 12 days and counting. Right 12 days left to register to vote at the time of this recording. Oh, go ahead Ann.
Ann Schulte 16:42
Actually 12 days until October 19, which is the last day to register online to vote. Okay. So you can register to vote until the last minute on November 3 election day. But you have to vote in you have to register in person after October 19. So you still have an opportunity to register to vote until the end of Election Day. It’s conditional, but you that meaning it’ll you’ll have to wait for it to be approved. But I don’t want people to think you can’t register to vote after October 19. But you can’t register online after October 19.
Joshuah Whittinghill 17:20
Okay, perfect. Thanks for that exact correction. And where would you where would one go? If they want to register online? Where would you go to do that?
Ann Schulte 17:31
Yeah, they would go to the Secretary of State website. But, do you want me to read out the address?
Joshuah Whittinghill 17:39
Oh, yeah, you can. That’d be great.
Ann Schulte 17:40
Okay. You should go to https colon backslash backslash register to vote (All no spaces) dot ca dot gov backslash question mark t equals s. Or you could just Google registered to vote. But if you go to the site I just gave you which we will put in writing somewhere.
Joshuah Whittinghill 18:06
Ann Schulte 18:07
If you go to that site, it’s going to ask you what University you attend. And then we’re going to get credit in a contest where in, in California, all of the all of the colleges are competing for the most voter registrations. And Chico State is number one in percentage, not number one in total, because we’re smaller than Fullerton is killing it. But they have like, you know, a gazillion students. So but we are number one proportional percentage wise at Chico State. So we’re hoping to really improve the number of students that we have registered to vote.
Teresa Hernandez 18:43
That’s awesome. And in terms of voting, so I feel like Personally, I have 1000 questions with these mail in ballot and like, deadlines, and really crucial deadlines to know about. And are there what would you say would just be like tips for first timers who are doing mail in ballots? Like when should we make sure we it’s postmarked by or does that matter? Do we have to send it in by a certain day kind of just those over arching things?
Ann Schulte 19:07
Yeah, you should send it in as soon as you get it and fill it out and send it back. So there’s a couple things to think about. When you fill out your ballot, everybody’s going to be voting by mail, you’re going to get a paper ballot, you’re going to fill it out according to the directions, you’re going to make sure you sign the back. That’s very, very important where it asks you to sign it’s underneath the flap on the envelope. Because that signature is going to get compared to a signature they have on file, which for most people, many people it’s going to be your DMV signature. So whatever signature you have on your driver’s license, and if you don’t have a driver’s license, or an ID through the DMV, then you maybe need to check with your elections office about a signature. But make sure that your your signature matches that. Make sure it’s signed, either send it through the US mail Mail, or you can google where to send by ballot, and you could do it, put it in an official ballot, dropbox, all communities will have them. And in Chico, we have one at the BMU, outside the BMU, right now open and ready to take ballots, up until Election Day. And if you lose your ballot, you can show up at the vote center in the BMU, October 31 to November 3, you can ask for a replacement ballot, you can ask to have get a ballot in a language other than English, you can ask for assistance on a voting machine, if maybe you have some visual needs or some other kinds of needs, you can have assistance in completing your ballot, if you’re not exactly sure what to do or how to do it, you can show up there on those four days up through election day. And you can do any of those things there.
Teresa Hernandez 20:55
Okay. And I think one of the questions that was when there’s some conversation, would be if you submit your ballot, if you do that, like on Election Day does or is your vote actually counted towards the election? having it be election days? That make sense?
Ann Schulte 21:11
Yes, it’s a really good question. And you can also sign up for something called track my ballot. And you can just google that, and you they will let you know where your ballot is when and you can make sure that it gets there. As long as your ballot is submitted by November 3, those ballots will count. So the one thing that’s happening this year is like because of the pandemic, because so many states are using vote by mail. It’s we don’t know that we’re going to know the outcome of the presidential election on November 4. I mean, I think most people are saying probably we won’t know for sure. Unless Unless it’s really clear. But we think it’s probably going to take you know a little bit longer this year, because of everything that’s going on to to count ballots and things like that. So I’m encouraging people. As soon as you get your ballot, fill it out, send it in, so that if there’s an issue, if your signature doesn’t match, if your address isn’t right, if something’s askew, they’ll contact you and say, Hey, is this you? Is this your signature? Or we need another signature on file for you to do or what have you. So you want some time in case anything happens.
Teresa Hernandez 22:27
Awesome. Thank you for that.
Joshuah Whittinghill 22:30
And as far as the Voter Assistance Center, ours is opening up here, you said on October 31. Are you aware of other campuses doing similar things?
Ann Schulte 22:41
Yes, I don’t know which ones this year. But last in March, there were 12 campuses with voter assistance centers. So I suspect those campuses will have them again this November.
Joshuah Whittinghill 22:52
Perfect. I was gonna say because for all college students out there, if you’re a Chico State student, and you’re in your back home, somewhere away from Chico, maybe if you’re near another CSU or a UC, check and see what they might have available for you and those voter Assistance Centers aren’t aren’t open exclusively just for students there for anybody in the community to come to correct.
Ann Schulte 23:13
Yep, that’s correct.
Joshuah Whittinghill 23:15
Perfect. So that’s a good message for anybody to check on the university nearby, you may be able to help support some of the questions or concerns you have around us right now. And that that much takes me back to a question I had, because voting we talked about is very important. And we’re doing all the work. It sounds like you’re doing a lot of great work getting the message out with our campus only having roughly 16,000 students and being top percentage that’s that’s a great work in the messaging is obviously working. But you we’ve talked about the census a little bit. What What does the census mean? Like why should college students even be counted on the census? Why do they want to fill it out? Or why should they be asking their families to fill it out? Because now they’re back home. And so the idea of the census is very confusing to begin with, for students who never have really filled them out before, because the last time it happened, you know, the average age of a student in the university is around 23 to 24 years old. So those even those students, the average age student wasn’t really involved. They were 1213 years old. So what is the importance of the census? What does it mean for campuses?
Ann Schulte 24:27
Yeah, the census is really important for a couple reasons. I mean, not unimportant is the amount of money we get as a result of the data that comes from the census. So for every not person not counted, we lose about $20,000 over 10 years in our county. So we get money for programs like you know, social programs and CalFresh and different kinds of Pell Grants, different kinds of programs that are still Students in our community members may participate in get funded, in part because of census data. So if our census data doesn’t reflect as many people as we have, then we we don’t get our fair share of that money. And the second thing is represent representation. And if we don’t say who’s here, then we can expect our elected leaders to represent those people, we need to know who’s here in order to say these people in our community should be represented should be served should get what they deserve in our community. And if we don’t know who that is, we haven’t documented that in any way, then it’s harder to ask for those services, and that commitment from our elected leaders.
Joshuah Whittinghill 25:50
Okay, and that kind of leads us into the idea of then being away from campuses now. And, and you’re saying, oh, be counted, and mean for our county? But is that what’s the important thing? If you’re living in Los Angeles, San Diego, somewhere in between Chico or you’re away from your main campus? How is that impact the situation?
Ann Schulte 26:16
Yeah, thanks for bringing that up. Because it was really, it was really complicated when we left campus in March, because the date for census is technically April 1st, wherever you’re living on April 1st, and a lot of students had gone home and weren’t living in Chico anymore. The thing is, the census isn’t about you as a person, the census is about who you represent in that place. And in that time, so you would normally typically be living in Chico on April 1, you should be counted here. Because in 10 years, or five years, someone else is going to take your place who’s more or less like you, right, so you’re representing a population of college students in Chico during this time. And that’s why we we tried really hard to make sure our students and their parents knew that they should be counting themselves from Chico where they would have typically normally been on April 1st, even though they might have been anywhere because of the pandemic. It’s it’s been a very, very confusing, complicated census this year. And I’m just crossing my fingers and hoping we’ve done everything we possibly can to have gotten the best count possible.
Joshuah Whittinghill 27:33
And you said April 1st, and that is the date when it opened up, and people could start registering or filling out information for the census. But is there an important date for when it ends?
Ann Schulte 27:45
Refer back to my comment about chaotic. So the census was extended, it was supposed to end in July, because of the pandemic it was extended until October. And then the government said no, September 30th. And then that’s still in question. I’m not sure that it’s actually officially decided we have we have stopped outreach as of September 30th. But it’s possible they’re still allowing people to do the census. I mean, you could go to my 2020 census.gov and see if it works. But it’s been really quite confusing about when it’s actually going to end. But April 1st, is the date that you see is the date where we say if we stop time, where is everybody on that date? And that’s the number that’s the place where you record yourself having been?
Joshuah Whittinghill 28:43
That clears it all up. Yeah, because because I know a lot of searches. When you look go online to look census, a lot of information is coming up that says October 31st. And so who knows what’s, what’s being decided and chosen. So that leads us into so we have civic engagement and voting, is did we miss anything, Ricky that you wanted to add about voting? And being a student? Or when you’re talking with, you know, your peers about?
Ricky Galvan 29:20
Yeah, one big thing I guess about voting in that we just like a message I really want to get across is that your vote really does matter. I know I have some very close friends who just think oh, my vote doesn’t matter. I’m not gonna vote, it’s been chosen before I even try. And it’s like no, like, you know, who made you think that way? Because whoever is trying to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter, is doing a good job. And that’s not that’s not the truth at all. You know, when you vote, you’re not just voting for yourself. You’re voting for people who can’t. So I always think about like my parents, I think about my little cousins who are not 18 yet, I think about some of my friends who are you know, in the penitentiary, things like that people who deserve to have their vote their voices be heard. They they. That’s why you have to vote so that you can be the voice for them because they can be that for themselves just yet. And you just want to make the best decision that you can make informed voting decisions. Don’t just whatever your parents or friends or whatever they whatever they tell you, please do some research behind it. You don’t have to be a mini version of your parents, you can make your own decisions and as your own voice, your own voice that’s being counted for. So I’ll just the biggest thing I want to get across is that your vote does matter. So please, please take it very seriously. Don’t wait to the last day to mail it in, do it ahead of time or drop it off in the box. That’s why I could do like a drop off in the box and get my sticker. Probably won’t get my sticker this year. But that’s okay. Cuz I know I still voted so.
Ann Schulte 30:45
You get a sticker in the mail. You get a sticker that comes with your ballot so
Ricky Galvan 30:49
I haven’t got my I think I need to get the mail today. I think I should be getting it. Mail in balllot. Yeah. So I’m excited I do get my sticker. Cool.
Ann Schulte 30:56
I also want to add to what Ricky was saying about students who think their vote doesn’t matter. And sometimes they say, Oh, well, I live in California, you know, our our presidential votes already decided because of the state that I live in. But the I just hope that everyone understands that there’s a lot more on the ballot than just the president. There are several levels of government where you have an opportunity to vote for city council member who makes decisions about how your city does certain things, and what kinds of things they support and how they hire a police chief. And the way that police chief does trainings for its force, they you have a state legislator that makes decisions about programs that might serve your population, or college students in your area or the university, you the state legislators who decide whether or not the university is going to get more funding or not. You have propositions on the ballot that impact certain things in your life. Right now, prop 22 is related to Uber and Lyft. And any kind of companies that are contract workers. I mean, what are they called? Anyway, gig, the gig, the gig industry is impacted by this proposition. So there’s lots of things on the ballot that matter to you more than just the president. And and you it’s important that you have your voice heard about those things as well.
Ricky Galvan 32:26
Teresa Hernandez 32:27
I like that. Um, I like that you mentioned Ricky about kind of like voting for those who can’t or not taking, you know, taking your right to vote for an advantage. Because so, I used to think like, when I first the first year, I was able to vote, I used to think like, Oh, well, you know, you learned about this. And if they win certain states, even if I vote, it doesn’t even matter and stuff like that. But then I was talking to one of my friends about it, she was a lot more, she got involved in politics a lot faster than I did a lot sooner than I did before I even had the remotest of understanding around it. And she’s undocumented. And she told me, she was just like, you know, as a friend with so much love. She’s like, you’re being selfish. So you have a right to do something that I will never be able to do that I can only dream about, I can only wish I could have that experience. And you have the ability to do it yet you’re you’re not taking advantage of it like that. That’s so selfish. Like, you don’t want to do it for yourself right now do at least for me, because I can go in there do it for us. And so that kind of really, like woke me up. And I was like, Oh my gosh, you’re right. Like, that’s so rude of me to not even care consider consider it in that perspective. Um, and so it’s a really important point that that you brought up. And one of the questions I have to and I kind of feel like to a degree with ever experiences when it comes to voting and learning about that and in your education because I went to school, to high school in Durham. So it’s also very, very small town I would consider, you know, being a rural town. It’s right outside of Chico. And maybe now I feel like it’s a little bit bigger. But at least when I was in high school, it just was very small and isolated, and up from Gridley, I know that your notes bigger than Durham, but not by much. But what’s your experience been kind of being a student with the rural background from a rural town and what does even the word rural mean to you?
Ricky Galvan 34:31
So, I guess the word rural means to me is if you come from like a very small town with a lot of agricultural around you like to meet Chico is still a rural town. It’s a bigger town but still rural. And I think it’s because my mom, she grew up in LA so I think of LA is like a real big city. But I understand some folks, Chico is a real big city and it kind of is I mean it has a Best Buy and a Walmart stuff. So I guess that’s like the qualification
Teresa Hernandez 34:55
Kind of a big city.
Ricky Galvan 34:57
Yeah, but definitely growing up in a small rural town. Representation was a really big thing. Because there was me growing up in the town was very like you either Mexican American, or you were like a white American in or that was like the two biggest demographics. And if you were like, another person of color and other minority, you just kind of chose your spot. Um I’ve seen so many times where the voices of the Mexican American community weren’t being heard in town, because they just had no positions of power, I guess you could say, like, I can’t think of many examples of Mexican American or I guess, non white teachers that I had growing up in Gridley. And I think diversity is a big part of that. The first time I had like a Hispanic teacher was during my Spanish class in high school when I was a junior or senior in which was pretty surprising. And even in college, the first time I had a black professor was when I was taking an African American Studies class here at Chico. So I just because that’s one big thing that I think of when I think of rural living, is like, not so much diversity. And not so much representation in terms of the higher ups. But that’s kind of was always a motivator for me and my friends growing up for it was like, man, it feels like our people’s voices they never get heard. So we have to be the ones to make a change, and be the inspiration and influence to the next generation. So we can show them that you can do more than just be like a field labor, you know, you can be an educator, you can be a lawyer, you can be this and that. And I’m the oldest cousin of all my little cousins. So I always had this chip on my shoulder to where I had to go and want to come to college and show them that you know, you can get your degree and you can do this despite what people think of you. You can you can give back and give to the community and, and even though it is a small town, Gridley, it’s still a town that matters, you know, we don’t matter any less than LA, we don’t matter any less than, than Paris, nothing. Because this town is what raised me. And this is where all my friends and family live. And you want to take care of the things that you love. So just giving back. And I guess that would be the biggest thing, because part of the role of living is that I’m thankful that it is a small town where like almost everyone knows everyone. Because when you see someone doing good, it gets reflected upon the whole town. And when you try and do a positive thing, word of mouth spreads pretty quickly. And I just think it’s, I don’t know, it’s, I guess it’s easy to be an inspiration, because everyone can see you shining, either like on social media or like your friend, your big brother can share just how good people from Gridley can actually do, or people from small rural towns can actually do.
Teresa Hernandez 37:34
Yeah, I love that. And I, one of my, um, you bring up a memory that I had in college, and I was talking to one of my professors, and my Latino Latina studies courses, and I took and so he asked me, What do you want to do when you graduate? Or, and I told him, I was like, well, I want to go to grad school and get my master’s. And he was like, awesome. What? And I was like, an education, which I ended up doing. He was like, then what do you want to do after that? And I told him, I started thinking about and I was like, you know, I just want to do something that can make a difference. I was like, I want to help. And I was like, but, you know, I don’t think I’m gonna be someone big and famous, you know, like all these, like, martyrs that we have in our history, but and then but he was like, you don’t have to be someone like that, or do you know exactly as they did to make a difference. He was like, you can go back into your community and make a difference in yours and specific goals and things like that. And I think like, I’m really grateful towards him to kind of have embedded that idea in my head where, you know, I can take everything that I’m learning, and bring it back to Chico, bring it back to Durham in my county and still help out, you know, my people help out my community that I identify with as well. And that’s something that I feel like, growing up was never really brought up like because it was kind of like, go go to big cities go do big things. And I was like, well, I can for a little bit. But why can’t I bring all that knowledge back, and like feed it to my community. So everyone has it and we can all use it and grow from it. And I think that’s something that really drives me and having come back because they’ll say you live in San Francisco, why did you go back to Chico and I was like because it’s my community. That’s where my family is. That’s where I grew up. That’s what I love. Like, I want to come back and share everything that I’ve been able to learn and learn more from them.
Ricky Galvan 39:22
There’s an expression I always say, it goes, What’s the point of eating, if you can’t feed your family, you know, I mean, it’s like, if I do good, then we all got to do good. Sharing is caring. And I just saw my parents raised me like coming from like a Mexican American household is that community. And sticking together means a lot It means I mean, it can take you so very far. So I always think of that phrase when I am feeling kind of lazy or if I see an opportunity that is like, Oh, you can go talk to these kids and Gridley via zoom. Now in the virtual world. It was like, yeah, I’ll do it. You know, I’ll make the time I’ll make the space like cuz it’s not just good for the community, but it’s like it’s good for your soul. It just feels so good.
Joshuah Whittinghill 40:03
That’s good to hear because we have such an array of students that are coming into higher education from all over. And you say you consider Chico to be rural and Gridley rural. But don’t we also have students coming from other areas where, where to them, Gridley is a extremely large city. Right? So and Can you can you share any experience or any just a little bit about kind of the, the spectrum of rural or what that means?
Ann Schulte 40:36
Well, rural means whatever you think it means. I mean, I spent, I’ve spent 10 years studying rural education. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s very difficult to define. Sure, we can say size, we can say distance from an urban setting, we could, we can look at some of those things. But unfortunately, a lot of times it gets defined, it’s gets defined through rates of poverty, through lack of access, through lack of broadband, we just too often define rural by what it doesn’t have. And that is very unfortunate and unfair. And I think that it doesn’t do justice to our people who live there, or our students who come from those communities. And so I just tried to work with students from our small community, smaller communities, and, and help to give them opportunities to share their perspectives, and their experiences, and, and their strengths, and all the all the ways in which these small communities do amazing things. And then also try to help the university think about students, you don’t have to leave a small community to be successful. And I don’t think we always at the university think like that, like today. So it was saying about, you could you can still, that’s an option. If you want to go home, into your community, how do you take your degree in media design, or electrical engineering? Or whatever degree you have? What would it look like to go home with that, if that’s how you, if that’s what you want to do. I just think too often we push students to leave our small communities and and that doesn’t help our small communities develop in ways that they’ll survive. And I’m very concerned about our region surviving if we keep pushing people out of our rural communities, and then giving and then expecting nothing of the young people who stay. So it’s two parts, you know, coming back, but also, when I teach teachers, I help them think about what are you doing to engage your young people in your communities right now, as 12 year olds as 14 year olds as 18 year olds, what can you do to help them see that this place deserves their commitment and their work and their love. It makes us who we are places are a part of who we are. I love what Ricky was saying about how connected and how grateful he is for being from where he’s from. And, and that doesn’t have to stop when you leave. And I just, I just think we’re losing opportunities to capitalize and to highlight that piece of our places.
Joshuah Whittinghill 43:42
Yes, it seems to be an extremely complex process complex situation, have to go through, because working with first generation students from from all over California for 20 years now, I unfortunately, also have students share with me quite frequently, that the message they get is go to college, and don’t come back to our community. Because we want you to have a different life. And then we hear Teresa and Ricky talking about, hey, I want to be able to come back and uplift the community that that brought me up, that encouraged me as a young person to go out and do those things and accomplish things that weren’t common in our community because it was small and it wasn’t a message for decades pay go to college, it was more of a message seems to be for a long time was your responsibilities here in our community. And so people weren’t leaving as much. And so even for me in those 20 years, I’ve seen a large number of increase and increase in students coming from those rural type areas has really increased over the time. And quite often I talk with students as they’re entering their third fourth year, and many students seem to be in extremely confused, quite often up, do I go back? Do I move on? And how do I balance those two things? So. So it is a very common situation for students coming from different areas. And trying to balance that because like Ricky mentioned, coming from Los Angeles, or San Diego or San Francisco, or large city like that the question of going back isn’t really necessarily a question. in that study that the people are too worried about, unless they really have come to like, Oh, I really do like living in this smaller type of area. And so maybe we see some of the reasons why towns like Chico population over the last 20 years has increased, almost doubled. You know, in that time, yes, we have other extenuating circumstances that have impacted our population in Chico. But in general, it was growing at a steady rate, because a lot of people are realizing, oh, maybe I don’t need to go back that large city and I can still do stuff here. And so anyway, it is it is a big complex situation that many first generation students are now grappling with. Because we have such an increase also, in the number of first generation students who are attending higher education. We’re seeing that so so the work that the civic engagement officers doing is really important. And it’s one of the main reasons we wanted to bring you both on today to kind of get some insight, and be able to read that vision, and be able to share some of the insights of what students are experiencing and share this with other with the listeners, because many of us working in higher ed, are impacted by first generation students, whether we know it or not, because we have them in classrooms we’re teaching and we have programs were advising that we’re programming with, and then how are we helping to engage with them? and get them involved a little bit more. So
Teresa Hernandez 46:50
I want to, I’m sorry, go ahead.
Joshuah Whittinghill 46:51
No, no, go for it Teresa.
Teresa Hernandez 46:53
I think I want to just encourage, especially the listeners, who are first generation, keep encouraging you and your for you and encourage your peers, to keep questioning that kid to ask yourself, where where do I want to end up? Why? Where did this idea or thought of I have to go somewhere different to make a difference? Or to do something or to thrive? Where did that come from? And question yourself? Why can’t you do that in your own community, I can only speak from my personal experience as a first gen student. And I feel like within my, my community, specifically my family, um they they were my aunts and uncles, all my extended family. They’re all we’re all field workers, they’re all field workers. And so for them, their perspective of the world is it was a lot smaller for them, all they knew was field work and traveling and knowing that, you know, during this season, they can go to Bakersfield and then they can travel Merced for during this season. And Chico is great for the harvest. So it’s just like their perspective was just a lot way different. And me having the opportunity to go and pursue my heart higher education really broaden that perspective for myself. And that’s when I really, with the help of my mentors, they started questioning me things. And so keep asking yourself these questions. And you might not have the answer, but search them out talk to people talk about it. And I promise you, you are not the only student attending Chico State who’s asking yourself, I’m being pressured to go to a big city, but I don’t want to like how can I make my family or whoever it is that’s telling you that understand that I want to be here and I want to make a difference here and be okay with that.
Joshuah Whittinghill 48:35
Thanks for adding that Teresa. And this brings us to the moment of the episode where we’re going to hear some recommendations. And those these are recommendations that listeners can go and actually engage with or at least search out on the internet and they find to enhance your daily lives and, and our recommendations, each episode may or may not be connected to the topic. So and you have a recommendation.
Ann Schulte 49:06
Well, I’d like to, I’d like to promote something called Wildcats Connect. And you can Google that on our Chico State page and find a link to that. And that is a platform we’re using to try to connect alumni with current students. So anyone who’s on our campus right now is a student and you want to talk to someone who has graduated from Chico State and is doing the job you want to do or lives in the place you want to live. You can connect with people through that platform. And we have a group within Wildcat Connect called Northstate. So you can join that group if you’re from one of the counties that we serve up here. But it’s open to all students and all alumni. But if you particularly are from a smaller community or from the Northstate, and you want to connect with other people who who are from similar kinds of backgrounds or areas as you, you can sign up for that group when you sign up for Wildcats Connect.
Joshuah Whittinghill 50:10
Great. Wildcat Connect. And we will have the link here as well. Um, Ricky?
Ricky Galvan 50:21
So one thing that I really want to, I guess plug is the power of social media. Since we’re all virtual, you can’t really see your friends. I’ve been following a couple pages that I think are super awesome, giving friendly reminders and updates. And one of my favorite ones is Chico underscore civic engagement. I think they’re super awesome. They have cool little reminders. They have giveaways and stuff like that, I think are super awesome. They always give updates about the ballot ball. And I’m always excited to see Chico, um in first place. So definitely check that out as a resource. Another resource I like to follow is project pulso. So PROJECT PULSO, and it’s a like a Spanish based platform similar to where they give friendly reminders and updates in Spanish and in English, about the census about voting. They have a bunch of feel good stories about what different Latino or Hispanic people are doing in the community all over the world. So I really enjoy their content too.
Joshuah Whittinghill 51:31
Thank you, those are two good recommendations. And I wanted to recommend two quick ones about engagement. There’s one called youth engaged for change. And it is a federally organized program a number of years back that is to bring us together from elementary school, middle school, high school, to kind of find opportunities and inspiration and be able to share some of their stories. And that is on engage youth engage.youth.gov
Joshuah Whittinghill 52:10
And then the second one is a book on called How I Resist Activism and Hope for a New Generation. And that was a book that came out about two years ago. But it’s a collection of essays, songs, illustrations, interviews about activism and hope. And it ranges from middle school to post secondary. So the collection and it’s called how I resist activism and hope for a new generation.
Ann Schulte 52:39
Can I just piggyback on that for a second, Josh? I’m so heartened by the kinds of things I’m seeing in rural communities in the last year. With respect to racial justice activism, I think typically rural spaces have been seen as white. And I would say, you know that they are often characterized as racist. But I think real spaces are more diverse than we realize. And that there are certainly people in those spaces, who are want to be a part of this revolution of racial justice. And they are now showing up in ways that more publicly and more intentionally than I’ve ever seen before in my lifetime. So I am, I’m very excited to watch these movements develop and these voices become part of the fabric of rural spaces as more complex and more complicated spaces, then we may be like to give them credit in our in our general narrative about them.
Joshuah Whittinghill 53:46
Yeah, thank you. Thank you for that. And Teresa? You have a recommendation for us today.
Teresa Hernandez 53:54
Hi. Yes, I mean, besides, besides encouraging students to start questioning the their surroundings, and these different things about what they’re being told, and further into the further career goals, um one of the things I would say is definitely encourage you to also brushed up on like, one of the biggest things for me would be the propositions when it comes to voting. And because they could be read entirely different than what they actually will do. Um so you know, it’s that play on play on words, that language, the difficulty of really understanding what it is that you’re eating. And you think by voting, yes, it’s doing something but it’s actually doing the total opposite. So really just encouraging you all to google it really, there’s some great resources out there that I will release on the show notes. And I was trying to look for the website right now. But there’s also this really amazing one I totally appreciate that actually has rewritten the propositions in Spanish and in a way for your family members to understand which is amazing because I would always say send my parents off with a little sticky note and say like, vote yes on one, two, or like no on to kind of like really just breaking it down for them. And while as we would go over it beforehand, so they really understand how to vote what it means that they’re signing off on. So, um I think that one’s super awesome. And I will, I will include that in the show notes too. So everyone has the resources as I locate them, but I would say those two big things, it’s just kind of understand what you’re reading, and there’s resources out there that really do an amazing job breaking it down for you.
Joshuah Whittinghill 55:35
That reminds me, I wanted to highlight one of the propositions that really connects with our discussion today and really looking at college students and incoming college students specifically, because proposition 18 is set up to allow 17 year olds who will turn 18 at the time of the next general election, it allows them the right to vote during the primaries and special elections. So I wanted to highlight that what was proposition 18 can be really impactful for for college students and campuses in general, moving forward. Alright, so that brings us to an end. Unfortunately, we do have to log off and go to do other things. But we appreciate Ann and Ricky being here. Thank you both so much. You’ve added a wonderful discussion for us to share once we get these podcasts posted and public and shared. So hopefully, we see you again soon. And other discussions or collaborations may come up. But thank you very much. Teresa, It’s been another great day seeing you again.
Teresa Hernandez 56:42
Yes, thank you.
Ann Schulte 56:44
Thanks so much. Really enjoyed it.
Ricky Galvan 56:46
Thank you. Super awesome. I’ve never been part of a podcast. That’s cool.
Joshuah Whittinghill 56:50
All right, good. It’s only your first of many maybe moving forward. Right. All right.
Joshuah Whittinghill 57:00
Okay, well thank you again, everybody, and have a great day.
Teresa Hernandez 57:04
Ricky Galvan 57:05
Joshuah Whittinghill 57:06