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Alumna shares success and experience at Chico State

Stephanie Schmieding

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Chris Ernst, vice president of marketing and corporate communications for El Camino Hospital, uses what she learned during her years at Chico State in her career today. Photo courtesy of Chris Ernst

The Silicon Valley has produced some of the biggest companies and most influential executives in modern technology. Amid these technological leaders lies Chris Ernst, a wildcat spirit dominating her field as vice president of marketing and corporate communications for El Camino Hospital.

Ernst arrived at Chico State’s 119-acre landscape in the fall of 1984. She graduated in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies, with an emphasis in business.

Right out of college, Ernst landed an introductory position at NeXT Inc., a startup company founded by Steve Jobs.

“A few short months after my arrival, my mentor, Kathryn Kilcoyne, created a position for me on the marketing communications team,” Ernst said. “I was so lucky to be on her team just before the launch of the NeXT computer. It was such a thrill.”

After her time at NeXT Inc., Ernst discovered her passion for the field of healthcare. Her skills and knowledge grew tremendously when she worked for several cardiovascular device and pharmaceutical startup companies including Heart Technology, Heartport and Scios.

In the midst of her blooming career, Ernst decided to take time off to start a family. After her daughter’s birth, she was recruited by El Camino Hospital, where she has been for five years.

As the vice president for El Camino Hospital, Ernst leads the marketing communications strategy and implementation team. Her team is responsible for all of the positioning, marketing and communications of the hospital along with crisis communications and proactive public relations.

In addition to her position as vice president, she is also on the Pulse Point Board, a CPR first-responder app in the Santa Clara County. The app saves lives by alerting citizens who are trained in CPR of situations involving sudden cardiac arrest. It helps involve bystanders and creates power within the community.

“I thought so highly of the app that El Camino Hospital sponsored the build and implementation for Santa Clara Country,” Ernst said.

Through all of her successes in areas of her career, her college experience was what helped her learn to connect with others by creating engaging and interesting communication, Ernst said. This has helped her in her field, especially now that digital communication and social media are so prevalent.

“It provided me with an incredible environment to learn and grow, and it enabled me to have a wonderful career doing exactly what I love to do,” Ernst said.

Ernst now lives in Los Altos with her husband Clay and her two children Colton and Camryn. After her success both at Chico State and in her career endeavors, Ernst advocates for students aiming for success to follow their dreams.

“Do something you love and are passionate about and pursue it,” Ernst said. “Be open and embrace things that make you uncomfortable. That is how you learn.”

Stephanie Schmieding can be reached at [email protected] or @stephbottt on Twitter.

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Alumna shares success and experience at Chico State