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Chico State

Celebrating Student Leaders

Kendall Hall is flanked with colorful pink flowers and other green vegetation.
Jason Halley / University Photographer

Spring flowers are seen in front of Kendall Hall on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 in Chico, Calif. (Jessica Bartlett, University Photographer)

They are activists, engaged citizens, loyal friends, and phenomenal students. Fourteen Chico State students were recently honored with Student Leadership Awards, which recognize them as exceptional in their student service, achievement, mentorship and engagement.

The ceremony is co-sponsored by the Associated Students, the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, and Student Life and Leadership.

Meet the students joining the ranks this year:

Damien Bonis

President’s Academic Excellence Award

Portrait of Damien Bonis - Presidents Academic Excellence Award recipient

Damien Bonis will be graduating with his bachelor’s degree in concrete industry management, along with a minor in business administration. Throughout his time at Chico State, Damien has received several awards, including the 2015–19 CSU, Chico President’s Scholarship and the Bob Weatherton Award.

Damien has worked as a research assistant for faculty in the concrete industry management (CIM) department, where he has also been involved with completing several projects to renovate facilities in the community. He also recently competed alongside fellow CIM and civil engineering students in the National Precast Concrete Association competition, where he placed first. Damien’s valuable contributions to the CIM department and the community have earned his recognition for the President’s Academic Excellence Award.

CIM program coordinator Feraidon Ataie wrote: “Damien is an outstanding student. While maintaining a strong GPA, he has been active in community service projects with Chico’s Sierra View Elementary School and Inspire High School, as well as in CIM research projects. He is indeed a role model for other Chico State students.”

Michael Doris

Glenn Kendall Public Service Award

Portrait of Michael Doris - Glenn Kendall Public Service Award recipient

Michael Doris is a first-generation senior graduating with a double major in physics and electrical engineering. Michael’s public service contributions throughout his time at Chico State are highlighted by his involvement with the Society for Women Engineer’s Imagineer Day, serving as a physics learning assistant and peer mentor through TRIO, volunteering at the Makerspace in Meriam Library, and his representation of first-generation students in several University programs.

Due to his service and the enrichment he brings to the campus community, Michael was awarded the 2018–19 Glenn Kendall Public Service Award.

Anna Petrova-Mayor, physics faculty and one of Michael’s mentors, describes him as, “intelligent, naturally inquisitive, motivated, hard-working, and dedicated to his education. He provides leadership, and he is kind, patient, and always happy to help.”

Diana Castellanos

Wells Fargo Outstanding Student Leader Award

Portrait of Diana Castellanos - Wells Fargo Outstanding Student Leader Award recipient

Diana Castellanos is a senior graduating with her bachelor’s degree in anthropology and her minor in American Indian studies. Diana has been an influential figure in the campus community, through activities ranging from exposure of injustices in her films to activism in marginalized communities.

Diana is an active member of Leaders in Educating for the Advancement of Dreamers, raises money for Hamilton City Toy Drive through the organization MECHA, is one of the chief organizers for Students for Quality Education, and works at the Cross-Cultural Leadership Center. Diana is constantly challenging diversity and inclusivity, and that critical perspective comes out in her film making. Diana explores the theme of environmental injustices through film, where the latest topics include how Spanish-speaking communities in the San Joaquin Valley lack access to clean drinking water, as well as how solar development will impact Native American communities.

She plans to pursue a PhD in anthropology and continue making films that spotlight environmental issues. Diana’s notable commitment to underrepresented communities and the environment earned her the Wells Fargo Outstanding Student Leader Award.

Her nominator, anthropology professor Brian Brazeal, wrote: “She has dedicated herself to excellence in intellectual pursuits as well as creativity and leadership in the community. She is a poet, a musician, a filmmaker, and an activist.”

Valerie Olivares

Wells Fargo Outstanding Student Leader Award

Portrait of Valerie Olivares - Wells Fargo Outstanding Student Leader Award recipient

Valerie Olivares will be gradating with her bachelor’s degree in business administration with the option in management. Valerie has continued to leave a positive impact in all of her involvements on campus.

She is an active member of the Association of Women in Business and Delta Xi Phi Multicultural Sorority, has interned with the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), volunteered for the Career Center, and served as a student academic senator representing the College of Business through Associated Students. As a first-generation and EOP student herself, Valerie served as a paraprofessional in the introductory to college class “University 101,” where she proved to be an integral guidance figure as a mentor in the classroom. Valerie decided that after earning her master’s degree, a career in student affairs is her calling. Through her contributions to the campus and her peers, Valerie was awarded the Wells Fargo Outstanding Student Leader Award.

One of her nominators, graduate coordinator Carson Medley, wrote: “Valerie has a high-wattage smile that comes easily and warms any room. She is the kind of leader, friend, intellectual, and human being that higher education needs.”

Berenice Maldonado

Wells Fargo Outstanding Student Leader Award

Portrait of Berenice Maldonado - Wells Fargo Community Service Award recipient

Berenice Maldonado is a senior completing her bachelor’s degree in child development as well as minors in gender and sexuality studies, and psychology. Berenice is a member of Leaders in Educating for the Advancement of Dreamers (LEAD) and works to increase awareness on how to support undocumented students on campus.

Berenice also served as the organization’s 2017–18 president. Through her involvement with LEAD, Berenice organized the Educating Without Borders Conference for high school students in collaboration Butte College, and also helped organize the 3rd and 4th annual Dreaming Without Boundaries Conference. She was also an integral part of the organization receiving $50,000 in grants to fund scholarships and conferences. Through Berenice’s unwavering commitment to LEAD and its mission, she was awarded the Wells Fargo Outstanding Student Leader Award.

One of her nominators, Elizabeth Alaniz, shared: “Berenice is a true friend to the entire LEAD organization and to students. She has been there for students in need of a friend and is always thinking of other’s well-being.”

Samuel Akinwande

Chris Hilbert Outstanding Chico State Friend Award

Portrait of Samuel Akinwande - Chris Hilbert Outstanding Chico State Friend Award recipient

Samuel Akinwande is completing his double major in social work and multicultural and gender studies. Samuel has established his presence on campus as a leader, counselor, and friend for Chico State students through numerous roles.

He has served in the Educational Opportunity Program as a mentor, and currently serves as president of the African Student Union, director of University Affairs, an intern at Safe Place, and a member of the Men of CHICO. Samuel has also served as a mentor for the Pipeline Through College program within the Cross-Cultural Leadership Center, where he was assigned to mentor students in Title 1 schools to bridge disadvantaged students to college. Samuel aspires to be a high school counselor so he can be the person who listens to students and helps them achieve their greatness.

Samuel is described by his nominators as a student dedicated to supporting his peers, and a true advocate for social justice and community. Samuel was awarded the Chris Hilbert Outstanding Chico State Friend Award because of his presence on campus.

One of his nominators, Krystal Tonga, wrote: “He has been someone who goes out of his way to ensure that in every space that he takes up, every person is valued. His heart, passion, and loyalty to people is what makes him incredible.”

Angelina Zuri Bazzell-O’Balles

Jackie Faris-Reese Student Leadership Award

Portrait of Angelina Zuri Bazzell-OBalles - Jackie Faris-Reese Student Leadership Award recipient

Angelina Zuri Bazzell-O’Balles is a senior who will be graduating with her bachelor’s degree in anthropology. Through her leadership positions and advocation, she has proven to be an advocate for underrepresented groups on campus.

Angelina was elected as Commissioner of Diversity Affairs for the 2017–18 term, and additionally fulfilled several on-campus roles such as a volunteer for CAVE and as a fundraiser for charities. She also helped implement the campus volunteer program that offers students volunteer opportunities on Cesar Chavez Day, providing a positive and enriching way to celebrate the holiday.

With a primary focus and interest in medical anthropology, Angelina has also made several medical mission trips to Jamaica and Mexico where she administered simple medical services to the impoverished communities. Her commitment to her community was recognized through the Jackie Faris-Reese Student Leadership Award.

One of Angelina’s nominators, Department of Anthropology faculty Jesse Dizard, praised: “She was always a dedicated student, but while here at Chico State she blossomed into a subtle and analytical thinker, rejecting simplistic explanations others are content to accept.”

Jonathan Negrete

Ron Rohde Memorial CAVE Scholarship

Portrait of Jonathan Negrete - Ron Rohde Memorial CAVE Scholarship recipient

Jonathan Negrete is a freshman working toward a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology. Jonathan’s involvement on campus quickly launched through his service in the Chico State student government and his volunteer work through CAVE.

He is part of CAVE’s Tutorial Program, allowing him to work as a volunteer tutor at Rosedale Elementary School in Chico, where he is passionate about being both an academic and social guidance figure. As a first-generation student, Jonathan immediately began volunteering for CAVE to fulfill his goal of being a positive and inspirational academic role model for younger students. Because of his impactful contributions as a volunteer for CAVE, Jonathan was one of two students awarded the 2018–19 Ron Rhode Memorial CAVE Scholarship.

His presenter at the award ceremony, CAVE Director Ann Schwab, described Jonathan as “a multi-talented young man with many facets.”

Kylie Lindquist

Outstanding CAVE Volunteer Award

Portrait of Kylie Lindquist - Outstanding CAVE Volunteer Award recipient

Kylie Lindquist is a sophomore studying business administration with a minor in journalism. Kylie’s connection to CAVE started when she volunteered for the animal connection program in fall 2018, which bridged her to the Butte Humane Society.

After the Camp Fire occurred, the campus closure didn’t stop Kylie from volunteering. She contributed to relief efforts by distributing pet supplies to families in need and tracking supply inventory, as well as offering herself as emotional support to those working through their loss. Her impactful presence in the CAVE program has earned her the 2018–19 Outstanding CAVE Volunteer Award. Kylie is now a staff member for CAVE, where she has been able to recruit others to the program.

As a self-nominator, she recalls: “I was able to gain valuable skills and meet amazing and motivated individuals, and want nothing more than for others to get to experience the same.”

Dollie Partida

Award for the Enhancement of Multicultural Understanding

Portrait of Dollie Partida - Award for the Enhancement of Multicultural Understanding recipient

Dollie Partida is completing her bachelor’s degree in business administration with an option in marketing, as well as her minors in international business and European studies. Throughout her time at Chico State, Dollie has participated in several on-campus organizations to contribute to her peers’ long-term success.

She has worked in various positions for Freshman Leadership Opportunity through Associated Students, the Wildcat Leadership Center, AS funding councils, ‘Cats in the Community, Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship, and the Study Abroad Office. Dollie was able to study abroad for one year in Marseille, France, and has since traveled every opportunity she finds. Due to her contributions to various communities on campus, Dollie was recognized with the Award for the Enhancement of Multicultural Understanding.

Her nominator, Krystle Tonga, wrote: “Dollie is truly inspirational and fearless in her approach to helping others understand that the world of knowledge and diversity is not limited to the possibilities of where they live, but the endless possibilities in the places people can travel.”

Claire Wayne

Richard Dahl Scholar Athlete Award

Claire Wayne - recipient of Richard Dahl Scholar Athlete Award, Mac Martin Excellence in Leadership Award, and Chico State Outstanding Student Leader Award

Claire Wayne is a senior completing her bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders. Since she has competed on Chico State’s softball team throughout her four-year academic career, she has been recognized countless times for her academic and athletic excellence.

Claire has been a dean’s honors list recipient for six semesters, as well as CCAA All-Academic team honors recipient for three years. She has also been a member of the Chico State Student Athlete Advisory Committee for her entire four years at Chico State, where she served as co-president of the committee this year. Claire has also proven to be an outstanding volunteer, as she dedicates her time to assist elementary students at Rosedale Elementary School and students at the Teen Autism Clinic. Considering her numerous awards based on her academic and athletic success and her community involvement—such as the 2019 Mac Martin Excellence in Leadership Award and the 2019 Female Scholar-Athlete—Claire also received the Richard Dahl Scholar Athlete Award.

Her presenter, Athletics Director Anita Barker, emphasized, “Claire is an excellent representative of the award, and someone who exemplifies student leadership.”

Kelley Sullivan

Bud Hanna Scholar Athlete Award

Portrait of Kelley Sullivan - Bud Hanna Scholar Athlete Award recipient

Kelley Sullivan will be graduating in spring 2019 with his bachelor’s degree in business finance. Kelley has been a dean’s list recipient for three years and, as a member of Chico State’s men’s golf team, was named three years to the CCAA All-Academic team.

Throughout his athletic career on campus, Kelley has earned several recognition awards, including: 2016–17 Golf Coaches Association of America/PING Honorable Mention All-America Award, 2016–18 Golf Coaches Association of America/PING First Team All-West Region, 2016–18 First Team All-CCAA, and a six-time CCAA Men’s Golfer of the Week Award winner. This year, he ranks seventh in the nation and No. 1 in the West Region in the Golfstat Division II player rankings. Kelley has also served as a member of the Chico State Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for all four years of his time on campus. Considering his outstanding recognition for his athletic success and leadership skills, Kelley was awarded the Bud Hanna Male Scholar-Athlete award.

Dylan Smith

Mac Martin Excellence in Leadership Award

Portrait of Dylan Smith in Wildcats gear with CSU, Chico water tower in background.
(Courtesy photo)

Dylan Smith has completed his bachelor’s degree in economics and is now working toward his master’s degree in business administration. Dylan competes as a decathlete on Chico State’s track and field team.

He has served as his team’s student representative for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for three years, where he is currently serving as co-president. Through this leadership position, Dylan has led community activities such as food drives, elementary school visits, charity fundraisers, and creek clean-ups. Dylan was awarded the 2019 Mac Martin Excellence in Leadership Award for his distinguished role as a leader on campus.

Robert Talley, his nominator and athletics development director, wrote: “Last fall, his coach and teammates named Dylan as the team’s ‘Ultimate Teammate.’ This honor reflects Dylan’s leadership for supporting others, doing for others, while at the same time working on maximizing his own abilities. He does everything he can to help his team.”

Vanessa Mendoza

Ron Rohde Memorial CAVE Scholarship

Portrait of Vanessa Mendoza
(Courtesy photo)

Vanessa Mendoza is a first-generation freshman pursuing a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a minor in Spanish. Vanessa is involved with several organizations on campus, including Chico STEM Connections Collaborative, Chico State Pre-Vet Interest Group, and CAVE.

She also served as a student leader for the Chico Upward Bound Summer Program. And she has been involved with CAVE’s Tutorial Program as a tutor, and the connections she made and pursues with her students has proven to be beyond the standard. She has served her students as both an impactful leader in academics and as well as a supportive friend. Her kind dedication to her students’ success and self-growth has earned her recognition as one of the two students awarded the 2018–2019 Ron Rhode Memorial CAVE Scholarship.