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Chico State

Fond Farewell: Psychology Major Terry Nilsen

Terry Nilsen poses with a woman
Courtesy photo

Junior Terry Nilsen, Jr., a psychology major, passed away March 6. He was 22.

Born February 21, 2000, Terry was raised in Pacifica and changed decisions on where to attend college after taking a tour with the College of Agriculture. He fell in love with Chico State and said his choice to enroll here was the best he ever made. Even during the height of the pandemic, when classes and other experiences were taking place virtually, he told his family he wanted to spend his time in Chico and with his campus community.

After Nilsen changed his major to psychology, Cheryl Lugo, major advisor for the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, met with him several times and was struck by how motivated and eager he was to immerse himself in his coursework and persist toward his degree.

“He took it upon himself to meet with the faculty teaching his classes to make sure that he clearly showed his commitment to succeeding in them this semester,” she said. “He was respectful, incredibly kind, and a bright light every time he came in to talk to me.”

Nilsen also had a deep interest in the arts. Art professor Trevor Lalaguna describes him as a kind and open-hearted individual with a loveable spirit.

“Terry—or TJ, as we knew him in “Sculpture”—was a wonderful energy in the classroom. His creativity and attention to detail made for some beautiful artwork,” Lalaguna said. “I, as well as the students that worked around him, were encouraged and inspired by his bright demeanor and curiosity.”

In addition to working at Dutch Bros, Nilsen loved skateboarding and was interested in wakeboarding and waterskiing. He is survived by his mother, Jenna Gilman, and father Terry Nilsen. Services are private.

The University flag will be lowered Thursday, March 24, in his memory.