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Chico State

Introducing Delaney Sarantopulos: 2023 Lt. Rawlins Merit Scholarship Recipient

Delaney Sarantopulos poses in a blue suit.
Jason Halley / University Photographer

Delaney Sarantopulos, one of the 2022-2023 recipients of the Lieutenant Robert Merton Rawlins Merit Award, is photographed on Friday, January 27, 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.

Delaney Sarantopulos says she took a chance coming to Chico State without having visited campus. The gamble paid off. For her and for the University.

Animal Science Professor Celina Phillips says Sarantopulos is a natural, service-based leader. Her peers gravitate to her and seek advice from her. Interim Associate Dean S. Patrick Doyle describes her as hardworking, kind, and professional.

The affection is a two-way street. Sarantopulos delights in speaking about her peers, professors, and the University’s animal science program. She sees her many contributions as part of a push to make newcomers feel welcome and get involved. Sarantopulos says a push to increase her own involvement has led to many friendships and special opportunities, and she wants the same for others.

As an advising intern for the College of Agriculture, she enjoys helping first- and second-year students navigate the program. She’s also a student employee on the University Farm, gathering research information about illnesses in sheep and organizing the data for the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Sarantopulos is also a member of the Chico Sheep Association and founding and executive board member of Ag Ambassadors, which performs outreach and leadership development for the college.

After she graduates in May with a degree in animal science and minor in biological sciences, Sarantopulos plans to attend graduate school in animal physiology, where she aims to specialize in genetics before going on to veterinary school.

Is there a faculty member that stands out as particularly impactful during your time at Chico State?

My advisor in the College of Ag, Celina Phillips, and my resident advisor from University Village, Angel De Trinidad, recommended me for my advising intern job during my sophomore year and wrote letters of recommendation for me. That job has helped lead to everything else I’ve gotten involved in. I used to be a lot quieter, and that experience encouraged me to get out of my shell and make more connections in the college. That led to Ag Ambassadors, which we helped build back up from the ground. Now I’m an Ag Ambassador officer and I’m an officer in the sheep club. It just led to more involvement. Many of the connections and friendships I’ve made are a result of them encouraging me to apply for that job in the very beginning. So, I’m grateful to them.

What does this scholarship mean to you?

It definitely helps financially. My dad passed away when I was in high school, and I have two sisters. My mom can’t pay for all of us. So, it does help financially to let me come here and get the hands-on experience I can at the Farm without having to worry about paying my tuition and paying for books and everything. I definitely am very grateful to have it to help me through. My sister and I both strive to do well in school and apply for any scholarships we can get. My mom is proud that we have, and we continue to.

Why did you choose Chico State?

I honestly took a chance on Chico. I hadn’t seen the campus before I came here and it was definitely a great decision. The pre-vet program was the biggest sell for me. I had heard great things about the pre-vet program, which turned out to be true, by the way. They say that the College of Ag is like a little family, and it’s true because we get to know almost everyone who is in it and have a hands-on experience that is really special. I was excited to get accepted but I didn’t know the campus was so beautiful compared to some other college campuses. Orientation was a really nice surprise, seeing all the trees and the creek that runs through campus. I hadn’t seen the Farm either, which is where I spend the majority of my time. So, looking back it was sort of a roll-of-the-dice kind of thing, but I’m really happy I made the choice I did.