As a mechanical engineering major, Salam Ali received awards and acclaim for her promotion of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). She embraced opportunities to teach children robotics, built a prosthetic for a woman who had lost several fingers, and helped grow the campus’ Society of Women Engineers into a thriving club that hosted its third annual Imagineer Day, which sparks children’s interest in STEM through rocket-building, flying quadcopters, and other activities. Beyond her studies, she played bassoon for four years with Chico State’s elite Wind Ensemble group, served as a teacher’s assistant in ballroom dance, and taught rock climbing at the Wildcat Recreation Center.
The 2015–16 incoming class had the highest average GPA in recent history—3.44—while also boasting the greatest ethnic diversity, with students of color making up 58 percent of first-time freshmen and 37.7 percent of incoming transfers.
First-generation college student Diego Yepez labored as a farm worker in fruit orchards to fund his college education and is now pursuing a PhD in math and philosophy on a full-ride special student scholarship to Harvard University. He aspires to follow in the footsteps of his Chico State mentors and become a university professor who encourages students to follow their dreams.
Produced entirely by undergraduate anthropology students, the student film Putting on Face was screened at the International Ethnographic Film Festival of Quebec. The comedic and dramatic narrative follows three groups of drag queens in an exploration of gender fluidity that will inspire future generations.
In 2016, students Blake Northam, Camille Davis, and Aaron Bursten started EqualPay USA, a nonprofit that aims to end the gender pay gap. Through a certification process, they recognize businesses that have a pay difference of 5 percent or less between equal employees and allow them to brand themselves with the EqualPay logo.
Triathlete and agricultural business major Enrique Piñon was part of the 2015 College of Agriculture Food Marketing Team, which won the national title at the Food Distribution Research Society Case Study Competition.
Music industry and recording arts major John Klezmer co-wrote and performed an original holiday song, “Holidays are Here,” performed by music and theater students. He also produced “Here Right Now,” which was used in the season finale promotion for the ABC hit crime drama Castle.
Business information systems students Jose Diaz and Daniela Gonzalez Diaz placed first in SAP InnoJam’s “Coding the Future” challenge, a coding contest hosted by SAP, the world’s largest inter-enterprise software company.
Psychology graduate student Anna Bartel won the 30th Annual CSU Student Research Competition, besting top contestants from all 23 campuses. Her winning paper analyzed the complex interaction between a voter’s philosophical orientation, a candidate’s appearance and gender, and perceptions of the candidate’s competency.
For the sixth year in a row, our students won the Western States Collegiate Sales Competition, beating out 13 university teams from around the country and taking three of the four individual performance awards.
Gabriel Sandoval, a third-year journalism student, was one of five students nationwide selected for ProPublica’s Emerging Reporters Program for students of color. He spent summer 2016 working in a prestigious internship program at the Chronicle for Higher Education.
Jillian Casacca’s passion for agriculture began in 2008 when she started managing her own beef herd. During the agricultural business major’s time on campus, she was an active member of Chico State Young Cattlemen’s Association, won the California Beef Ambassador Competition, and devoted her extracurricular time to competitions and educational activities at University Farm.
In three short years at Chico State, Ashkaan Daneshi started a leadership club, helped Syrian refugees, and visited the White House at the invitation of Michelle Obama. A double major in business administration and international economics, he organized the first annual Middle East Symposium that attracted more than 250 students, faculty, and other community members. Working with his student group, he also raised more than $10,000 to start a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) chapter on campus.