By Anna Paladini

Growing up in a single-parent household, Christine Levine did not always have an easy childhood, but it was filled with love and encouragement from her dad and family.

Following the mantra “you can make anything you want if you try hard enough,” the business major, who is focusing her studies on entrepreneurship, has built an impressive portfolio of experiences and achievements during her undergraduate career. As she prepares to graduate with her bachelor’s degree later this year, the Santa Clara native still marvels at how she found a niche at Chico State that empowered her to thrive, both in her classes and extracurriculars.

When first applying to colleges, however, Levine had no intention of becoming a Wildcat.

“I was hard-set on going to UC Santa Cruz,” she said. “I was accepted on the wait list, but I missed my chance to go anywhere else because I was so sure I was going to get in.”

While disappointed, she took a year to explore her options. Working at a yogurt shop and interning at a woman-owned company, Levine was introduced to the world of business and how anyone’s dream can become reality.

“I was really influenced by the idea that you can make anything you want, and if you are successful, you can make that your daily job,” she said.

As she began to consider business as a potential major, Levine often spent days off visiting her boyfriend, who was a second-year student at Chico State, and decided to apply.

“I had come to really like the campus and the way Chico felt,” said Levine. “When I got my acceptance to Chico, it kind of clicked, and I thought, ‘you know, this is where I’m meant to go.’”

She enrolled in fall 2016 and began to earn a reputation for her hard work and talents. Her freshman year, she spent two semesters on the student-run newspaper, The Orion, where she was deemed the go-to copyeditor and quickly promoted to calendar editor, where she found events happening in Chico and collaborated with organizers to promote them. Levine also worked for the Wildcat Recreation Center (WREC), where she started as a front-desk assistant and moved her way up to programs lead and administrative assistant to the assistant director, getting hands-on experience for her major.

“I got to handle check requests, some of the financials, and see how serious it is on the back end,” she said. “It was a really great experience because I was learning how to work with others, including friends, and be really organized and learn to set yourself up for success.”

Levine’s independence, capability, and cheerful demeanor were a great asset, said Nancy Mantle, assistant director at the Associated Students. Just like at The Orion, she was often a first choice when needs arose.

“She mastered tasks very quickly,” Mantle said. “We always want to mentor students to learn something new and go on from there. That happens pretty organically as the need arises, but other times, all of a sudden you think, ‘Christy can take care of that. Christy’s the one.’”

Other employees were impressed by how much care she put into her work. WREC Program Coordinator Brooke McCall shared that Levine was always three steps ahead of her when planning events and scheduling shifts, and that her laugh was always so heartwarming.

“She made an impact through her actions, her work,” McCall said. “Everything she did for us touched people and made their lives better.”

Christy Levine smiles and leans her arms on a railing outside an academic building.
Levine placed first in the Center for Entrepreneurship’s Elevator Pitch Competition and second in its Seed Innovation Challenge in fall 2020.

However, Levine, who has also been on the College of Business’s Dean’s List for six of nine academic semesters, and won or placed in several entrepreneurship competitions, doesn’t feel her experiences make her any more outstanding than her peers. During much of her life, she has battled with anxiety, self-doubt, and depression, leaving her feeling like every achievement wasn’t quite good enough.

“I’ve always been trying my hardest to be the best that I can be because I feel like I’m never there,” she said. “I just want to prove myself wrong. To prove that I do deserve this, that I’m capable of all this stuff … and to be able to say, ‘Hey, I, I did all these things. Isn’t that an accomplishment?’”

That self-drive has made an impression on her faculty, especially with Levine’s proactive attitude during virtual learning.

“She is the kind of student you dream of,” shared Professor Eva Shepard-Nicoll. “She would reach out for one-on-ones. She wouldn’t ask me to give her the answer, she would ask for guidance. … It’s one thing to take feedback, there’s another altogether to act on it to the point where you yourself find yourself excelling.”

And excel she did. Since 2018, Levine has tutored her fellow students, volunteered with campaign drives for the 2016 and 2020 elections, and created several award-winning business ideas, including relief plans for wildfire victims in California. After graduation, she is excited to use the knowledge and skills she’s developed at Chico State to make any idea a reality—whether working at a small business, creating her own sticker company, or taking her award-winning ideas to new heights.

“I want to leave knowing that I really took advantage of every opportunity I had,” Levine said. “And that I deserved it.”

Anna Paladini (Journalism, ’16) is the marketing manager for the Associated Students.