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Chico State

Introducing Hannah Scholzen: 2023 Lt. Rawlins Merit Scholarship Recipient

Civil Engineering Student Hannah Scholzen
(Jason Halley / University Photographer)

Hannah Scholzen, one of the 2022-2023 recipients of the Lieutenant Robert Merton Rawlins Merit Award, is photographed on Tuesday, January 24, 2023 in Chico, Calif. Each year, faculty members nominate students based on their scholarship, involvement in extracurricular activities, and outstanding accomplishments. Nominations are based on these standards, along with evidence of students’ sincere intent to complete their education, increase their personal knowledge, and to achieve success in every aspect of their lives. (Jason Halley/University Photographer/Chico State)

In the coming weeks, we will be celebrating the accomplishments and stories behind this year’s Lt. Rawlins Merit Scholarship Recipients. The award—one of the largest and most prestigious at Chico State—celebrates scholarship, extracurricular activities, and outstanding academic, and professional accomplishments.

Hannah Scholzen was sitting on a boat on Whiskeytown Lake when she had an epiphany—she wanted her own boat one day and she wanted to go back to school. She had grown up in Red Bluff, excelled in math in high school and been heavily involved in the Future Farmers of America (FFA). She had even attended Butte College. But after being put on academic probation, she dropped out.

“School has always been hard for me,” Scholzen said. “But I realized that I wanted to become financially stable, so I asked myself, ‘What am I actually good at?’”

Struggling with confidence and suffering from stage fright, Scholzen knew that she didn’t want to teach or go on to graduate school—she wanted a solid degree that could secure her a good job. Once she heard that Chico State was known for its strong civil engineering program, she jumped in full force.

Scholzen began interning at the Department of Water Resources, served as deputy treasurer for Chico State’s Society of Women Engineers, and then, upon the urging of one of her professors, became secretary, and soon after, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) student club on campus. She also volunteered to be captain of the ASCE Chico Chapter Mid-Pacific Conference water treatment team, helping grow support for the annual civil engineering competition—Chico State will be hosting the conference this April. Scholzen is now slated to graduate in May 2023.

“I was afraid at first, but I did really well,” Scholzen said. “Hard classes like chemistry, calculus, and physics were a breeze for me. I finally said to myself, ‘I think I can do this.’”

What does receiving this Rawlins award mean to you?

I feel seen and recognized. I’m not necessarily a star student—I think I have a 3.1 GPA—but I care a lot and work really hard.

I’ve been through the wringer this last year, being heavily involved in both the ASCE club and the ASCE-run Mid-Pac competition. As president, I felt it was my duty to recruit as many people as possible because this is a huge competition and we need a lot of volunteers. After COVID-19 most people didn’t even know what it was. So, I ended up signing up as wastewater treatment team captain and am now essentially in charge. I have a lot on my plate, including just being a student studying civil engineering.

Is there a faculty member that stands out for you during your time at Chico State?

Every single teacher I’ve had in the department has been inspiring, but Professor Steffen Mehl, in particular, has supported me every step of the way. He teaches water resources and fluid mechanics, and he’s the ASCE academic advisor. It was Professor Mehl who really pushed me to join the club and serve as an officer. He’s been consistently empathetic, kind, welcoming, and so smart. He’s also known for being one of the most challenging professors on campus, but I leaned in to that challenge and became a better student because of it.

What is something unique about you that isn’t in your resume or nomination form?

I actually have a passion for floral design. I was introduced to it in high school, as part of the FFA. I would take part in flower arranging competitions, and then I worked at a florist shop here in Chico for a long time. I picked it up really quickly and loved it. I guess that’s a pattern of mine—try it once and then dive in. I just had a friend get married and I did her flowers, and I helped at the flower shop over Valentine’s Day, so it’s still a big part of my life.