October 25, 2012Vol. 43, Issue 2

Outstanding Students Receive Rawlins Merit Award

This year marks the 31st annual Lt. Robert Merton Rawlins Merit Award Scholarship, and 18 California State University, Chico students were chosen to receive the prestigious $3,000 scholarship based on their academic achievements and their involvement in the community.

In 1981, Mrs. Fern Rawlins established the endowment in memory of her son Robert, an army pilot in World War II who was lost over Tokyo Bay while flying a B-29. Mrs. Rawlins believed in rewarding merit and achievement in education. It was her wish to remember her son and his contributions by rewarding excellent students. The scholarship is considered one of the highest honors on campus.

Audrey Denney speaks at the Rawlins Merit Award Reception Oct. 10.

Audrey Denney speaks at the Rawlins Merit Award Reception Oct. 10.

Audrey Denney, who received the award in 2007 and now teaches in CSU, Chico’s College of Agriculture, was this year’s speaker at the awards reception, held on Oct. 10.

Denney has served as a lecturer and the outreach coordinator for the College of Agriculture for the past three years. “It was an incredible honor to receive that award in college,” she says. “Looking back on it now, I can trace that moment back as one of the initial sparks that propelled my passion for service.”

The recipients of this year’s Rawlins Merit Award Scholarship include a student whose research involves getting fertilizer to a small rural community in Africa, a student who spent a summer as an archaeologist in Antigua, and a marketing intern for KICU-TV in Oakland.

Keith Koch is one of this year’s recipients, nominated by computer science professor Renee Renner. Koch, a mechatronics engineering major, participates in many organizations on campus, including Tau Beta Pi, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the Super Mileage Vehicle competition team, the Human Powered Vehicle competition team, and the American Institute of Mechatronics Engineers. Some of his contributions to the community include assisting with MESA Day, co-organizing numerous robotics events on campus, refereeing the first Lego Competition, serving as a tutor, and assisting with Downtown Chico cleanup events.

“Keith has spent countless hours assisting me and his peers in the preparation of competition entries, demonstrations and exhibits, classroom curriculum, and outreach events for the community,” says Renner. “He has a heart of gold and is a shining example of engineering with moral character and compassion.”

Cecilia Fernández is another recipient, nominated by history professor Stephen Lewis. She is a double major in health science and Latin American studies. She works four six-hour shifts per week as a server at Burgers and Brew in Chico, as well as devoting 10 hours per week at the Study Abroad Office as a Latin American peer advisor.

“By any measure, Ceci is a star—a 3.6 GPA, a double major in health science and Latin American studies, and a semester of study abroad in Chile,” says Lewis. “Over the years, I have come across precious few students who have Cecilia’s skill set, energy, and determination.”

The 2012 winners of the Lt. Robert Merton Rawlins Merit Award Scholarship. From bottom left: Anthony Nanfito (Natural Sciences), Cecilia Fernández (Humanities and Fine Arts), Sydney MacBain (Business), Jenna Valdespino (Communication and Education), Azucena Carrillo (Business), Maija Glasier-Lawson (Behavioral and Social Sciences), Hugh Hammond (Humanities and Fine Arts), Ariana Stafford (Communication and Education), Angela Jenkins (Behavioral and Social Sciences). From top left: Kristine Magri (Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management), Kelli Wildman (Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management), Keith Koch (Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management), Daniel O’Brien (Office of Undergraduate Education), Michelle Johnson (Behavioral and Social Science), Ashley (Rivera) Koala (Agriculture), Adam Navone (Natural Sciences). Greta Streed (Communication and Education) and Alexis Bakhtair (Business) not pictured.

Whether they are volunteering for a local organization or going halfway around the world to offer services, these students will be able to focus more on outreach and academics thanks to the Rawlins scholarship.

—Cassandra Jones, Public Affairs and Publications