CSU, Chico News

Hearst/CSU Trustees’ Award Honors Student Activist

Date: 09-20-2010

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs

Jillian L. Ruddell, the youngest director ever of the Associated Students Women’s Center, has received the prestigious William R. Hearst/CSU Trustee’s Award for Outstanding Achievement. Ruddell is beginning her junior year at California State University, Chico.

The Trustees’ Award provides financial support to students who show superior academic performance, community service and personal accomplishments in the face of personal hardship and challenges.

Ruddell was raised in a single-parent home in the small community of Atascadero. Although she was a soccer star and vice president of the senior class, she experienced verbal and physical assaults due to her sexual orientation. Ruddell focused her energy into establishing her high school’s first gay-straight alliance.

“The creation of the club at Atascadero High School gave me and my story a sense of worth and direction,” said Ruddell. “I wanted to encourage individuality and expression of self in all forms. I wanted to celebrate the beauty of diversity, and most of all, I wanted to learn from others’ experiences.”

Now a junior at CSU, Chico majoring in multicultural and gender studies, Ruddell continues her advocacy for social justice through her involvement in campus diversity issues. As director of the AS Women’s Center, she initiated and organized the first and second Annual LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Leadership Conferences.

“Getting this award made me feel that my efforts have been acknowledged,” said Ruddell, “and that I am truly making a difference on this campus. I was stunned to know that I was going to be the representative of CSU, Chico for this scholarship. It helps cover my tuition for the rest of the year, and that is a huge help and relief.”

Ruddell will travel to Long Beach on Sept. 21 for an awards ceremony with the CSU Trustees. Her mother and President Paul Zingg will be in attendance at the ceremony.

Recently, Ruddell also received a summer stipend from the University Honors Program to develop a proposal to establish the Gender and Sexuality Equity Center at CSU, Chico—a center she hopes to have established before she leaves for graduate school.

She intends to pursue a PhD in sociology and continue her commitment to activism.

The previous awardees from CSU, Chico are Ger Thao (2009), Marycarmen Rosales (2008), Kevin Brady (2007), Anna Sorensen (2006), Elizabeth Coudright (2004), Ben Seigler (2003), Diana Fazlic (2002), Patty Cotter (2001), Aimee Webb (2000), Lynn Wirt (1996), Kelly Baylor (1995) and David Ware (1993).