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Chico State

Introducing Josephine Hernandez: 2023 Lt. Rawlins Merit Scholarship Recipient

Animal Science Student Josephine Hernandez
(Jason Halley / University Photographer)

Josephine Hernandez, 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.

Josephine Hernandez has a passion for goats—Boer goats to be exact. The animal science major has even bought her first breeding goat and is tending to Boer babies around the clock under the name J Bar Livestock. These are market goats, raised mainly for meat, and Hernandez is considering genetics and other factors as she tries to build her name and give back to the industry.

“That’s the fire underneath me,” said Hernandez. “I’m hoping that new 4-H and Future Farmers of America kids can take these goats and have the same experience I did. I want them to learn about agriculture and the Farm to Fork movement, where you raise your own animal and then put it on your table.”

Hernandez has also been busy making a name for herself at Chico State. A teaching assistant in animal science since 2021, she helps with class preparation, grading, and guiding weekly study sessions with lab students—she has even led a few lectures on her own. She is also a member of the Sheep Unit at the University Farm where she helps with daily feeding and flock management.

“Josie is a passionate, respectful, and brilliant student, and the hardest working and capable teaching assistant to ever enter my ANSC 101 classroom,” said animal science faculty member, Kate Moore. “She regularly seeks feedback, she is not afraid to ask for help, and she interacts with students using grace, compassion, and fairness.”

Hernandez has discovered a love for research while in school, and plans to earn a master’s degree and then, likely, a PhD in animal science after graduation in May.

“I want to keep up my momentum and motivation,” Hernandez said. “I have the energy, the focus, and the experience right now to achieve everything I’m striving for.”

What does receiving the Rawlins Award mean to you?

Honestly, it means the world to me to be recognized by the College of Agriculture, where there are already so many high-achieving and accomplished students. This award is one of my biggest successes, and I want to give back by encouraging others to do their best and try new things.

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

I have a quite a few. Associate Professor Kasey DeAtley, she’s helped me grow in the field of research—I was actually able to go to a conference this past fall and felt like a new person afterward. And Professor Celina Phillips; she has been there from the beginning. She’s taught me to just get out there and do it. And then Kate Moore has given me teaching experience and so much more. I am truly inspired by her and want to be her when I grow up!

What has been the key to your success?

Getting exposure in front of a class has really helped my confidence. Some days I stumble, others I am perfectly fine, but I just keep telling myself I can do it. In the long run, I know it’s going to be okay—everybody makes mistakes. How you learn is you move forward and try again.

Connecting with faculty members has also changed everything for me, and I encourage other students to do the same. Go to your professors and say, ‘Hey, I’m interested in this or that,’ and you may end up doing an internship or trying something new. You can always adjust if you don’t like it. I’ve changed my interests throughout my time here, so I recommend building those relationships and finding your niche.