Showing off Stan State’s parklike setting and talking about its small classes and academic range is a good gig — even if you have to do it walking backwards. Just ask Lead University Ambassador Jairius Matthews, who helps arrange tours for the 16,000 or so future college students who visit each year.
“I love showcasing the campus, seeing kids just light up. ‘Oh, really? I can be here if I work hard?’ It’s amazing,” said Matthews, a 2018 graduate with a degree in communication studies and focus on relational and organizational communication. She plans on future graduate work in strategic communication for nonprofits.
Describing Stan State to potential students set her on her chosen career path, Matthews said, “That’s when I fell in love with outreach.”
On many weekdays, guided groups can be seen wending their way between the campus lakes and ponds and 19 buildings. Every so often the groups pause for stories about the site or its history. Each ambassador adds a sprinkling of interesting extras, such as:
- Stan State was the first California State University (CSU) campus to have a master plan.
- Stanislaus is the only CSU with a metal foundry.
- Part of Bizzini Hall used to be a movie theater.
- Naraghi Hall of Science was built primarily (75 percent) of recycled materials.
The Mary Stuart Rogers administrative building, flooded with natural light from high windows in its soaring lobby, offers a one-stop shop for student services. The newly remodeled Fitzpatrick Arena showcases Warriors’ achievements. The Student Health Center offers low-cost medical care for students. The wings of Demergassso-Bava Hall encircle the leadership of the College of Business Administration, the College of Education, Kinesiology and Social Work and the College of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as the campus radio station, KCSS.
Matthews’ favorite photo backdrops on campus are around the bridge and waterfalls near Student Housing. Visitors’ favorite site is typically Naraghi Hall, with its math and science tutoring area, roof observatory and conservation-conscious automatic lights.
Many schoolkids ask her about the campus cat population, which she explains is tended by AdvoCats. Visitors seem most amazed by the average Stan State class size: 21, even more when she tells them she had one class with only 10 students, comprised of fellow communications majors who became friends and study partners.
Matthews transferred from 29,000-student San Francisco State to find a more personal fit and be closer to family in Modesto.
“I wanted a smaller campus,” she said. “I knew I’d develop closer relationships with my professors. Sometimes they know me better than I know myself, like when I turn in a paper that isn’t my best, they’ll say, ‘Really, Jairius?’,” she said with a laugh.
“It has built my confidence,” she said. “I’m doing things I never thought I’d do.”