‘Believe in yourself’
Q&A: AS President Dylan Gray on campus life
If you're looking for an upperclassman to get advice from on navigating your first year at Chico State, you could hardly do better than Dylan Gray. The senior political science major came to Chico from Morningside High School in Inglewood and has since played an active role at the Cross-Cultural Leadership Center and on the Student Affairs Diversity Committee. He just finished up a year as the Associated Students commissioner of diversity affairs and was elected to the post of A.S. president for 2017-18.
Just out of high school, Gray got the chance to meet with President Barack Obama. The experience was inspirational for Gray, who says that, after he graduates from Chico State, he plans to go to law school. The goal is to start his own practice and eventually run for political office.
Gray sat down with the CN&R in a lounge in the Bell Memorial Union to offer advice on making the most of your time in Chico.
What should newcomers do first when arriving in Chico?
I wish someone would've told me this: There are so many student services available, tailored to every single student. And if there is not a student service you feel you can connect to, then A.S. will create a student service [for you]. First, come to the BMU, come to the second floor, speak to a representative and get involved. Get connected.
Any tips for doing well academically?
The more students feel connected to our campus, the more overall student success improves. So, if you find that person you can study with … and not just study with but who you can hang out with and talk personal with, that is when you can overall feel comfortable at Chico State. And that's when students can thrive. Get involved some way, somehow.
What’s the biggest adjustment you had to make after moving to Chico?
I had a culture shock, definitely. Los Angeles is a melting pot. The city is all I knew—concrete jungle. So, it was just hard for me to get used to the small-town feeling. But, on the other hand, you come to grow and appreciate that. You'll walk down the street and people are saying hello to you. That vibe and that energy that you get from other people is something that I've come to truly value.
Where’s the best place to study?
My first two years, [it] was the Cross-Cultural Leadership Center, definitely. They have their quiet hours and things like that, but also someone will see you doing your work and they'll say, “Oh, what class are you taking?” That's that connection that I'm talking about.
Any words of caution?
It's really easy to get caught up in the party scene. But as long you can stay focused, there's nothing wrong with partying. Everything has to have a balance … you're not 50 percent partying and 50 percent academics. That's the key to failure. More time should be devoted to your academics. Time management is very crucial.
What’s your favorite thing about Chico?
Most favorite would have to be the hikes—the fresh air, the natural everything. You don't get this where I'm from. You have to drive an hour or so away to do all that, but Bidwell Park is right in our backyard.
Where’s the best burrito in town?
Right now, I'm really going to Serrano's [Mexican Grill, 645 W. Fifth St.] a lot, as well as La Familia [1008 W. Sacramento Ave.]. La Familia's fantastic, although I've been transitioning from the burritos to the papusas there. Oh! Fantastic!
Where’s your favorite place to hang out?
That new Parkside Tap House [300 Main St.] … is a great place to go hang out with friends. They have little lawn games and things like that. But, primarily, I'm going to have to say campus. Something's always going on. I just hosted the International Festival on the Kendall lawn. It was huge, fantastic, with cultural orgs selling their food, we had Mystic Roots perform as well as a lot of other cultural performances. There are events like that going on all throughout the semester.
Any words of wisdom for incoming students?
First and foremost, if no one else does, believe in yourself. Seek out those resources. Have confidence in everything that you do. Believe in yourself and dream big, because, truly and honestly—and I'm a testament to this—anything is possible here at Chico State. Coming from Inglewood, I did not think that I was going to be student body president, but here I am today.