College of Humanities & Fine Arts

2022 Lt. Rawlins Merit Scholarship Awarded to Benito Gutierrez

Benito Gutierrez sitting down at a desk

Benito is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Humanities. He has a cumulative GPA of 3.728 and a record of commitment and enthusiasm for his studies that spans his academic history. Benito was recognized as Outstanding Student of the Month at Merced College (October 2017), and while at Butte College he founded and led a student group called “Ascending Scholars.”

Benito is a nontraditional returning student and former gang member, incarcerated at age 19 until being released at 42. While in prison, Benito was awarded first place in fiction in the PEN America 2017 Prison Writing Contest. He also submitted a short film to the Pembroke Taparelli Arts & Film Festival in that same year. Benito has recently been working with student admissions in outreach to share his experience as a nontraditional returning student, and he is taking courses in museum studies, with an eye toward political art exhibition, and Arabic to fulfill his humanities major requirements. Benito is currently co-curator at the Greenhouse Studio & Gallery, a community gallery that features the work of local artists who are involved in activism.

In his nomination letter, Greg Cootsona, professor in the Department of Comparative Religion and Humanities, described Benito’s exceptional qualities as a student: “Benito is consistently prepared, consistently engaged, and consistently demonstrates his interest in the course material. He’s the kind of a student any teacher loves—the kind who creates discussion and interaction.”

-written by Neesa Sonoquie, Twelve Students Awarded Lt. Rawlins Merit Scholarships, Chico State Today, February 24, 2022.  Photo by Jason Halley, University Photographer.