When Briana Marie Sanchez looks back on her time at Stanislaus State, her memories don’t include much about the campus.
That’s because she became a Warrior in Fall 2020, months after in-person classes had transitioned to remote learning due to COVID. That fall and spring semester, Sanchez took classes online and got to know her classmates and professors through her computer. The following spring, she started a nine-month study abroad stint in Portugal and South Korea.
“My best memories, even online, were from my communication professors,” said Sanchez, who graduates with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies with a concentration in public communication and media. “Their classes and teaching styles got me through my years at Stan.”
Sanchez, a first-generation college student from Atwater, who transferred to Stan State from Merced College, will deliver an address to her fellow students at Thursday’s 8 a.m. Commencement ceremony for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
She said she credits faculty members Keith Nainby, Christopher Claus, Veronica Dawson, Michael Tumolo and Marcy Chvasta for playing an important role in her educational journey during the darkest days of the pandemic.
“When things in life outside of the classroom got hard, they worked with me,” said Sanchez. “Without them I wouldn’t have made it this far.”
By the time in-person instruction resumed on campus in fall 2021, Sanchez had signed up to study abroad and embarked on her adventures in Lisbon, Portugal and Seoul, South Korea late that spring. But she didn’t go without trepidation, and that is when Associate Professor of Communication Studies Shannon Stevens made a lasting impression on her life.
“She really changed my perspective. Even though I had only one Zoom meeting with her, she helped me feel confident about studying abroad when I was scared and intimidated,” Sanchez said. “I never sent her a postcard from the countries I studied in, like she had mentioned, but she made an impact on my decision more than she knows.”
When Sanchez was still a Merced College student, she chose to attend Stan State through the Warriors on the Way (WOW) program, because she wanted to stay close to home and her family. Then she learned about the many options available to her, like study abroad, and she discovered the joy in taking advantage of opportunities she never expected would come her way.
She now encourages all students to investigate the possibilities and tap into everything offered at the University, from programs like study abroad to electronic tools like Handshake and social media.
“Take advantage of all the programs and fellowships on campus. I never thought I would have studied abroad; then I sent an email to the (Extended and International Education) department,” she said. “Most importantly, talk to your professors. They’re not scary, and they want to see you graduate.”
After graduation, Sanchez hopes to enter a career in medical technology. She believes her Stan State education will help her have the career of her dreams.
“I want to become an extraordinary person in life and my career,” she said. “Having a communications degree will help me open those doors.”