Grad Profile: ‘Born leader’ will leave indelible mark at CSUB

Tyree Boyd-Pates is heading to the East Coast for a master’s degree in African American studies.

Tyree Boyd-Pates
BA Communications, minor in African American Studies

Tyree Boyd-Pates’ boisterous enthusiasm is both infectious and infamous at CSUB. In his five years here, he has made friends on every corner of campus – from the residence halls, where he’s lived since his freshman year, to the Student Recreation Center, where he can often be found playing pickup basketball. In fact, it’s a safe bet that no other student has pounded the pavement at CSUB as much as Tyree, who has led more than 150 tours of prospective students during his five years working for University Outreach. Everyone knows Tyree.

“Tyree has a gift of connecting with students. He is a recognizable young man on campus due to his desire to bring change in other students’ lives,” said Steven Watkin, Outreach Director. “He is also able to interact with all segments of the education community – from faculty and administrators to current students. He treats them all with the same respect and consideration.”

The Outreach Office was instrumental in reeling in Tyree to attend CSUB. Raised along with his four younger siblings by his grandmother in Los Angeles due to his mother’s substance abuse, Tyree was unfocused in high school and graduated with a poor GPA.

“I didn’t have many male influences. I was kind of just bumbling around. I knew I wanted to go to college, I just didn’t have the grades to get me to college,” Tyree said.

But when a contingent from CSUB visited Tyree’s church and offered him the chance for admittance through the Educational Opportunity Program, he went for it. The Outreach Office then chartered a bus to bring Tyree and other prospective students and their families to Bakersfield for the annual open house and orientation event, Celebrate CSUB. That sealed the deal for Tyree.

Little did he know that he would someday emcee the annual orientation of more than 1,000 incoming freshmen as part of his job with University Outreach – or that his experience in motivating young people to go to college would propel him into research that would ultimately get him into graduate school.

As for his major, Tyree first chased his passion for theater, then tried to settle down in business. Then he decided on a happy medium – communications with an emphasis in public relations. He also added a minor in African American studies.

Through the McNair Scholars Program, which prepares minority students for graduate and doctoral studies, Tyree decided to research an unfortunate phenomenon he has witnessed: Many of the African American students recruited along with Tyree from LA have since dropped out of college. Tyree wanted to find out why.

Under the mentorship of McNair director and psychology professor Isabel Sumaya, Tyree begin researching the retention of African American males in the CSU system, looking at their proneness to dropping out in the aspects of motivation, receptivity, academic services and stress.

“The topic is very meaningful to Tyree as he is one of those students that deeply cares about making a difference in his community,” Sumaya said.

His research is still in its beginning stages, but he hopes to continue it in graduate school as he earns a Master’s in African American Studies. He has applied to several programs and will decide in July where he will attend.

“I suspect in another five to six years, Tyree will be somewhere in academia influencing and inspiring hundreds of students. He is a born leader,” Sumaya said.

Tyree says he would like to ultimately work in politics or grassroots organizing. Whatever his future career is, it will include mentoring young people and encouraging them to go to college.

“I want to be an advocate for urban communities and those who go voiceless because of limited life chances,” he said. “A deep passion of mine is showing others that they can go to college, because I have. It’s a huge milestone to have this degree, not only for me but for my community back at home.”