Nine students with major achievements in the classroom and in the community will be honored in a special ceremony on March 5 as recipients of the 38th annual Lieutenant Robert Merton Rawlins Merit Award.

The award—one of the largest and most prestigious at Chico State—celebrates scholarship, extracurricular activities, and outstanding academic, and professional accomplishments. Awards are also based on evidence of a student’s sincere intent to complete their education, to increase their personal knowledge, and to achieve success in every aspect of life.

The Rawlins merit scholarships are named in honor of Lt. Robert Merton Rawlins, who died piloting a B-29 bomber over Tokyo Bay during World War II. Wishing to leave a legacy in the name of her son, Fern Rawlins established the Lt. Robert Merton Rawlins Merit Award endowment in 1981.

Since the program’s inception, more than $1 million in scholarships has been awarded to more than 800 deserving CSU, Chico students.

Meet the students joining the ranks this year:

College of Agriculture 

Ryan Soleto

Ryan Soleto poses for the camera

Nominated by Garrett Liles and Sue Peterson

Ryan is a double major pursuing bachelor’s degrees in agriculture and communication studies with a minor in sustainability. He made the Dean’s List every semester from fall 2016 to fall 2018, was an undergraduate researcher in summer 2018 for Chico STEM Connections Collaboration, volunteered with Community Action Volunteering Experience (CAVE) in spring 2018, volunteered for the spring 2017 This Way to Sustainability Conference, participated in the Great Debate for fall 2015 and spring 2017, was a speech and debate finalist in the fall 2015 Debate Rookie Tournament, and is an Academic Advising intern for Chico State. Nominator Professor Garrett Liles called him “a prime example of the passionate, hardworking students that make a difference during their time in Chico and beyond,” and speech and debate director Sue Peterson noted that he “brings a level of maturity and life experience that will help him succeed in his future academic pursuits.”

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Madeline Olwert

Madeline Owert poses for the camera.

Nominated by Cindy Ratekin and Diana Shepherd

Madeline is a double major pursuing bachelor’s degrees in child development and psychology with a minor in gender and sexuality studies. She has been a Dean’s List honoree each semester from 2016 to 2018. Other honors include being a President’s Scholar from 2016 to present, a General Education Program honors student from 2016 to present, recipient of the 2016 James O. Haehn and the 2017 Dr. Cindy Ratekin and Dr. Kirk Monfort Scholarships, and a member of Psi Chi International Honor Society in Psychology and Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society. Her research and professional experience includes interning with the Chico State Associated Students Child Development Lab and Learning Cognition and Instruction Research Lab, being a research assistant for Marie Lippman in the Department of Psychology, tutoring in the Psychology Tutoring Center, and working as an office assistant for the Honors Program. Nominator and chair of the child development department Cindy Ratekin called Madeline a “gifted student” who has “an unprecedented motivation to be involved and learn from experiences available” and “she will be successful and those in her presence will be fortunate.”

College of Business

Ryan Brumfield

Ryan Brumfield poses for the camera.

Nominated by Kristin Minetti

Ryan is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He holds a professional sales certificate from Chico State and participates in the Seufferlein Sales Program. He placed third in a Western States Collegiate Sales Competition and third in a AT&T B2B National Sales Competition. He earned two 2017-18 Rookie of the Year awards, one in the Seufferlein Sales Program and the other in the Chico State American Marketing Association. He also received the Chick-fil-A Remarkable Futures Scholarship in 2017 and 2018. Ryan has secured an summer 2020 corporate sales development internship with Workday in Salt Lake City, Utah. Nominator and finance and marketing lecturer Kristin Minetti said Ryan is “absolutely one of the most impressive students I have come across in my years at CSU, Chico. His dedication to scholarship and personal growth, along with his maturity and desire to help others, make him a wonderful candidate for this award.”

College of Communication and Education 

Shannon Bible

Shannon Bible poses for the camera.

Nominated by Mark Newton

Shannon is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and holds Dean’s list honors for spring 2019. Shannon has experience teaching special needs children to play little league baseball, mentoring her high school peers in the importance of perseverance, teamwork and leadership, and working as a desk attendant for University Housing. Her nominator, professor Mark Newton, called Shannon an “exceptional student and leader” and was impressed with the fact that “she was able to maintain a high level of scholarship” while also playing rugby for the Chico State Rugby Club throughout her college career. “The biggest compliment that I can give Shannon is that I would be proud to have her as a colleague. Her motivation and initiative place her at the very top of students that I have worked with over the last 20 years,” said Newton. 

Amanda Widgay

Amanda Widgay poses for the camera.

Nominated by Ann Schulte and Krista Strand

Amanda is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and a minor in special education, with hopes to have a career as a teacher in elementary special education. Her awards and achievements include being a national ambassador for Educators Rising, earning a Certificate of Leadership Development from the Wildcat Leadership Institute, and the Diversity Award, Teamwork Award, and Rookie of Distinction award from Chico State University Housing, where she worked as a resident advisor. Her professional experience also includes working as an agricultural educator for elementary schools in Chico, a volunteer counselor at the recreational camp of pediatric oncology Okizu, a student representative for a Center Planning and Development Committee representing the North State, and is a board member for the Rural Education Initiative. Nominator and professor in the School of Education Ann Schulte said, “Amanda is a leader, both because she welcomes opportunities to be a part of important initiatives and also because she brings her peers alongside her, like no student I have ever known before.”

College of Humanities and Fine Arts

Gisela Ramirez

Gisela Ramirez poses for the camera.

Nominated by Eileen Macdonald and Asa Mittman

Gisela is a double major pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in printmaking and a bachelor’s degree in art education. Her artwork has been shown in numerous exhibitions in locations all over Chico, including the Chico State Annual ArtED Juried Art Show, B-So Gallery, Bell Memorial Union Gallery, 23rd Annual Ink & Clay at the Janet Turner Print Museum, Chico Art Center, and Great Northern Coffee Shop. She was treasurer of the Chico State Printmaking Club and a member of Southern Graphics Council International. In 2019, she was published in Multicultural Echoes Literary Magazine. Nominator and chair of the art and art history department Asa Mittman described her as “extremely enthusiastic and self-motivated and is a positive addition to any studio environment.” Nominator and BFA coordinator Eileen Macdonald said, “Not only is Gisela talented, with an affinity for the arts, she is thorough in her research, thoughtful in idea development, and meticulous in her craft; it is these factors combined with her outstanding work ethic that demonstrates her potential in the field.”

College of Natural Sciences

Kendall Block

Kendall Block poses for the camera.

Nominated by Daniel Everson and Randy Miller

Kendall is pursuing a major in chemistry and has gained Dean’s List honors every semester from fall 2016 to present. Other awards include the President’s Commission Scholarship for summer 2018 biotechnology research, the summer 2018 Chemistry Summer Research Institute grant, and the spring 2018 Outstanding Academic Award in Organic Chemistry. Her professional research experience in organic chemistry and demonstrated excellence in classes has chemistry assistant professor and nominator Daniel Everson calling her “a strong contender for the best student to come through our department in a decade. Kendall consistently performs at the top of her class in every course while simultaneously being an active member in many clubs, societies, and dance groups.” Chemistry and biochemistry department chair and nominator Randy Miller applauded her “inquisitive mind” and her impressive achievement of scoring a “98th percentile national ranking on the American Chemical Society standardized final.”

Breanne Lencioni

Breanne Lencioni poses for the camera.

Nominated by Lauren Housely and Kathryn Silliman

Breanne is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and food science, hoping to enter the field of dietetics. She was a member of the Chico State Nutrition and Food Science Association and the academic society, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Also, she was awarded a Nissen Family Scholarship from Las Positas College in spring 2018 and Dean’s List honors since fall 2018 at Chico State. Breanne is also proud of her involvement with “Pantry to Plate” classes, a collaboration between the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry and the Department of Nutrition and Food Science. Nominator professor Lauren Housely said Breanne “would like to work in community and clinical nutrition settings, improving access and quality of resources to underprivileged and underrepresented areas of society. Additionally, she wishes to pursue a PhD in public health, and I strongly believe she has the ability and determination to make that goal a reality.” Nominator professor Kathryn Silliman added, “She is an individual who has overcome many obstacles and challenges in her life, but she never lets challenges stop her from achieving her goals.”

Kristen Rueb

Kristen Rueb poses for the camera.

Nominated by David Stachura

Kristen is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in cellular and molecular biology with minors in chemistry and health and wellness. She is a trained emergency medical technician and took basic life support skill training from the American Heart Association. On campuses, she has been involved with numerous clubs and activities, such as Omicron Theta Epsilon, the Pre-Medical Association, March for Science, and the Science Club at Shasta College in Redding. She earned the Duane Irvin Durkee Scholarship in 2018 and the Sterling Rood Memorial Scholarship in 2017. She also volunteers for numerous community agencies, such as the Shalom Free Medical Clinic, FEMA Disaster Recovery Center, Dignity Health Mercy Medical Center in Redding, and Boulder Creek Elementary School Booster Club. Nominator Professor David Stachura described the nontraditional student and mother as “hard-working, dedicated, intelligent [and] will be an excellent scientist and scholar. . . . She is also very dedicated to going into the health field, either as a physician or a physician’s assistant. . . . Peruse her CV, look at her grades, and interview her; you will immediately agree.”