May 5, 2014Vol. 44, Issue 5

Poised for Success

At Butte College, Katlyn Perugini struggled. She spent three and a half years there fighting a lack of motivation in general education classes that she says felt like high school 2.0.

“When I was at Butte I was failing,” she says. “I had such a low GPA. I was just not doing well, because I wasn’t excited about anything that I was studying.”

But she eked it out, and upon transferring to Chico State in fall 2012, she found that not only was she capable of meeting the challenges presented by university coursework but also that, with a newfound passion for political science theory and research, she had what it takes to be an outstanding student.

Perugini graduates this May as the 2013–2014 Political Science Student of the Year, an award she was nominated for unanimously by a committee of professors. In each of her three semesters at Chico State, she took no fewer than 18 units and made the Dean’s List each time. Her professors in her nomination for the student of the year award praised her as “one of the most accomplished, visible, and active students in our department for this or any year.”

These academic accomplishments are all the more impressive when taken in consideration with the remarkable amount of extracurricular work she does: She is a research assistant for political science professors Paul Viotti, Jon Caudill, and Matthew Thomas. She is a grant writer for School Ties, a nonprofit organization that provides school supplies and services to homeless and foster youths, and for O’Neill-Sea Odyssey, which connects low-income students to marine biology and marine conservation projects. 

And she also works with the Butte College Office of Education and the Chico State Foster Youth Program mentoring current and former foster youth students. Only 3 percent of foster youth graduate from a four-year college program. A first-generation college student and former foster youth herself, Perugini’s difficult path motivated her to serve others.

She attributes her success at Chico State to her supportive family and her professors in the Department of Political Science, especially Viotti. “He’s just been such a great mentor to me,” Perugini says, “and he’s pushed me in the direction of going into higher academia and entering these research competitions, because I would have never done that.” 

Perugini participated in the CSU, Chico Student Research Competition this spring and was one of three undergraduates selected to continue on to the CSU-wide research competition this May at CSU, East Bay.

Her provocative thesis argues that neither gun-control measures nor increases in mental health care funding are likely to decrease gun-related deaths. She contends that while these variables fail to explain differences in levels of gun-related violence across the United States, economic inequality appears to be a significant factor related to firearms deaths.

Perugini is pursuing two possibilities for work after graduation: studying social policy at the Monterey Bay Institute of International Studies or serving in the Peace Corps. But first, she plans to take a break, at least until January. “I’m going to move to Santa Cruz, and I’m going to surf and work a crappy job, and I’m so excited about it,” she says. 

—Kacey Gardner, Public Affairs and Publications

Senior Sendoff

Senior Send-Off

Soon-to-be grads tell us "what's next" at Senior Send-Off. See their responses.

Sarah Langford

From the Editor

Chico State faculty and staff have left an indelible mark on the class of 2014. Read more.

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