Her location has changed, along with her title, but Joy Vickers’ devotion to students at Stan State’s Stockton Campus remains the same.
An academic advisor and outreach coordinator at the Stockton Campus since 2017, Vickers in October was named the lead admissions counselor for Warriors on the Way and is transitioning to an office on the San Joaquin Delta College campus.
Andres Gomez serves in a similar counseling role at Modesto Junior College and Pablo Gutierrez Benitez at Merced College.
All three community colleges signed Warriors on the Way (WOW) memos of understanding with Stanislaus State to make transferring to the University more streamlined and easier to navigate. Having someone at each site from Stan State will enhance that smooth transition.
“My hope is to prepare students even more at the beginning stages of their path, so they’re not fumbling around, particularly if they know they want to go to a four-year school,” Vickers said.
Reaching them directly at Delta will be a change from her previous role.
“When I came on board, I was helping current students with information about what they needed to graduate and connecting them to resources and faculty advisors. I also was establishing annual open house events for prospective students looking to transfer,” Vickers said.
WOW was in the planning stages when Vickers left her position as an academic and career counselor at Cal State East Bay to work in Stockton, where she had moved.
She was on hand when President Ellen Junn and Delta President Kathy Hart signed the first MOU in 2018, and now she’s positioned to occupy an office on the Delta campus.
“I still get to do a lot of the work I was doing before; it’s just catching the students at Delta. Even in my previous role, I was doing a lot of outreach, planning the open houses and meeting with prospective students. I was still talking to people who came to the Stockton Campus. Now, I get to go to them and be present at the community college.”
“I still get to do a lot of the work I was doing before; it’s just catching the students at Delta,” Vickers said. “Even in my previous role, I was doing a lot of outreach, planning the open houses and meeting with prospective students. I was still talking to people who came to the Stockton Campus. Now, I get to go to them and be present at the community college.”
Vickers’ advising on the Stockton Campus ranged from guiding transfer students through requirements for graduation, to explaining the difference between a bachelor’s and master’s degree to new students, particularly first-gen college students exposed to higher education for the first time.
“One of my passions has always been helping students with access to education,” Vickers said.
She also considers herself a builder and relished the idea of growing the program.
Stan State has had a Stockton presence since 1974, with quarters downtown before a 15-year run in space on the Delta campus. It moved to its present location at University Park in 1998. Still, the services at the Stockton Campus went largely unused by the community. San Joaquin County has a population of 762,000 people, yet only 18.8 percent hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Stan State’s Stockton Campus has had historically little impact.
Substantive changes have taken place since Dean Faimous Harrison’s 2016 arrival. He’s active in the community and working to make residents aware of what the University has to offer with upper-division majors for transfer students, teaching credential and master’s degree programs.
More resources have been dedicated to the Stockton Campus and programs have been created or expanded to better serve San Joaquin County residents. Putting a representative on the Delta campus, to meet students as they begin their educational journeys, is a major initiative.
For Vickers, the position feels like a ministry of service, an opportunity to help provide the assistance she could have used when she was a community college student who transferred to San José State.
“I wanted to be a high school teacher,” Vickers said, “but I wasn’t in the right major to be a high school teacher.”
She was a liberal studies major, the chosen major of most future elementary school teachers. It was while working as a student in San José State’s credential services office that she realized her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies wouldn’t qualify her to teach high school.
“I thought about staying another year to do another major as an English student, but that would have been 7 ½ years in college, and I wanted to get into the work force,” she said.
A colleague recommended she apply for a position in San José State’s admissions and outreach office, and after her 2006 graduation, she joined the Spartans’ staff.
“I fell in love with higher education, working as a student assistant at San José State, then coming on as a full-time staff member,” Vickers said.
She earned a master’s degree in education with a concentration in counseling and student personnel in 2014 from San José State and left her alma mater for Cal State East Bay to be an academic and career counselor.
The Stockton Campus position was a perfect fit, allowing her to utilize both outreach and admissions as well as academic and career counseling skills.
“It was challenging … but I was able to develop a relationship with students while they were at Delta College on through their graduation. That is so rewarding,” she said. “You’re not only helping someone with what they need to be admitted to the University, you’re helping them with the process of applying, partnering with orientation, working with student life and leadership. When they’re a Stanislaus State student, I’m assisting them with graduation requirements and guiding them to a faculty advisor, or if they’re interested in graduate school, telling them about the Center for Excellence in Graduate Education or the McNair Scholars program. That aspect of the job was so rewarding, following the students.”
Now, she’ll serve as Stan State’s initial contact with students, helping them chart their path.
“I learned I could help guide students by asking, ‘What is your goal?’ Let’s focus on the goal and find the path.”
Maybe if someone had said that to Vickers along the way, she’d be teaching English or history or math to middle school or high school students.
Instead, she’s guiding the next generation of students to better informed paths to educational success.