With six years under his belt in Stockton, Delta Professor Evan Wade is still relatively new.
But he's already earning praise for his efforts to make the community a better place.
Wade, who teaches African American history, was given the "Man About Town" award recently by the African American Chamber of Commerce of San Joaquin County. It’s a reflection of his desire to help high school students in lower-performing schools, and his participation in statewide conversations on racial equality and inclusion, among many other activities.
"I wasn't expecting this award," he said. "It's humbling."
Born in Richmond, Wade benefited as a youth from mentors at his church and at an after-school program known as Making Waves. There he received the support that would ensure he succeeded in college.
Now he's paying it forward. Wade's award is based in part on courses he has offered -- on his own time -- to help parents in disadvantaged areas become better advocates for their children. The classes, funded by an NAACP grant, began last year.
Wade has also assisted with efforts to raise thousands of dollars in NAACP scholarship money for students headed to Delta or directly to four-year universities.
There’s more. He has written an African American history textbook, he has put on presentations and workshops at universities around the state, and he even partnered with the Smithsonian to start an exhibit on African-American fraternities.
As if all that weren't enough, he is a church deacon at the Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church.
Isn't he busy enough with his teaching job at Delta?
"I enjoy my community work," Wade said. "My mentors growing up were always engaged in their communities, and I benefited from that."
Wade sees positive things happening in Stockton. Consider the sheer number of high-ranking officials who are African American: the mayor, the city manager, the fire chief, two members of the school board, and the editor and publisher of the city's largest newspaper.
On top of that, initiatives like Stockton Scholars and Delta College's recent agreement with Stanislaus State to provide local bachelor's degrees are helping to "establish a college culture" for African Americans and others.
"I think we're in a better position now than when I first came," Wade said.
And he instills his students with a hope for more change, change that they themselves can help to bring about. "The folks who stood up during the Civil Rights era were just everyday folks," Wade said. "If our country is not what we want it to be today, we have the same ability to make change just as we did then."
In awarding Wade for his work, the chamber cited the words of scholar W.E.B. Du Bois, who said that education must prepare students not only for work but for life.
As the chamber put it: "Professor Wade has dedicated his career to speaking, teaching and helping young people so that they too may have the gift of life."