For nearly two decades, the Floyd. L English Natural Sciences Scholarship has provided more than $880,000 in total aid to hundreds of students, including Nutrition and Food Science senior Maifeng Yang. She and others are awarded up to $5,000 annually for their demonstrated potential, character, and community involvement in the field of natural sciences.

It takes only a few moments to see why Yang is emblematic of the students Floyd L. English (BS, Physics, ’59) passionately wrote about supporting—individuals whose “motivation to succeed is inspiring.”

Yang was born and raised in Oroville and is the third oldest of seven children. Immersed in a predominately Hmong community she didn’t learn English until first grade.

“Even students like me that come from really rough, tough backgrounds—they’re able to succeed with just a little push like that.”

—Maifeng Yang, scholarship recipient

She attended her first two years at Chico State by catching the crowded 6:50 a.m. bus from Oroville, often having to stand the whole way. At times—with the two-hour roundtrip commute, studying long hours at the library, working, serving as an officer in the Nutrition and Food Science Association, and volunteering as a mentor for local students—the stress seemed like too much.

“It kind of makes you think back to what brought you here,” she said.

Yang first became interested in nutrition in sixth grade, after her grandfather had a stroke. Prior to that, she didn’t understand the impact food could have on the human body.

“Especially coming from a minority family, we’re so focused on our own type of food that we didn’t know that it wasn’t so good for our health,” she said. “And you wouldn’t know that unless you go to school or you learn more about it.”

Students teaching young children about nutrition and healthy eating, showing a food group chart

Maifeng Yang (left) and Afshan Ahmad (right) teach nutrition classes at the African American Cultural Center in Oroville. (Photo by Jason Halley)

As part of her internship-turned-job at Chico State’s Center for Healthy Communities (CHC), Yang spent many hours translating nutrition lessons from English to Hmong—a language that doesn’t always have words for key concepts, such as dietary fiber. It was rough but worth it, said Yang, who also taught the lessons she translated to elders. “They just bring a different kind of light into you,” she said.

Yang credits her professors, parents, and CHC supervisors for preparing her to “jump back and forth between the lines” of science theory and community-based practice.

In her final year, classes will be harder and she’ll have to spend more time researching and applying to competitive dietetic internships—the first step in her plan to earn a graduate degree in a field related to public health.

“I want to really focus,” she said. “So, [this scholarship] will help me take some time off of work and also financially with gas and even the littlest things like paying for lunch when I don’t have time to pack it.”

Maifeng Yang, with her parents Joua Yang and Chue Chang (left to right), at the Floyd L. English Scholarship award reception. (Photo by Sam Rivera)

Maifeng Yang, with her parents Joua Yang and Chue Chang (left to right), at the Floyd L. English Scholarship award reception. (Photo by Sam Rivera)

As her mother, brother, and father proudly watched, Yang cried as she recorded a video message to thank the English family.

English knew the power scholarships can have on students. For Yang, it’s hard to describe what it means to know someone believes in you.

“Even students like me that come from really rough, tough backgrounds—they’re able to succeed with just a little push like that,” she said.