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Chico State

Introducing Theodore Greenfield: 2023 Lt. Rawlins Merit Scholarship Recipient

Portrait of Theodore Greenfield who is wearing sunglasses, and a blue button up dress shirt.
Jason Halley / University Photographer

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.

Theodore Greenfield wears many hats and hopes to soon add high school math teacher to his list of roles.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in math from Chico State in 2022, Greenfield enrolled in the University’s teacher credential program—no small feat as he juggles a busy work and family life.

Besides school, Greenfield is a father of two little girls, a band instructor at Chico Country Day School since July 2019, and a reader (a minor rank of the clergy) at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Church. While finding downtime is rare, he said when he finds it, he enjoys working on Project Euler problems (recreational mathematics); woodworking; coding; reading; and writing, playing, and listening to music.

“But spending time with my family takes the cake,” he said.

Professor Thomas Mattman said he formed a very high opinion of Greenfield soon after meeting him.

Greenfield, a polyglot, chose to first earn his degree in math to prepare to be a high school teacher, Mattman said. Greenfield was drawn to the different, more nuanced courses, which teach students that there are so many ways to get the right answer.

“As a teacher, he wants to be fluent in the various approaches so that he can guide students who may opt for a less-traveled road to the solution,” Mattman said. “I feel that we are fortunate that someone with his talents is interested in working with our youth as a high school teacher.”

What does this scholarship mean to you?

This scholarship is a huge help to me and my family. I am the sole provider for my wife and two daughters—one is 2 and the other is 5 months old—and even working while going to school, money has been tight. So having a boost in the budget is really what is allowing me to still pursue the career I want, namely teaching.

Is there a memory, place, or faculty member at Chico State that has been especially impactful to you?

Overall, the pure math professors were always helpful and fun. While I am currently in the teaching credential program, my undergrad was spent getting a pure math degree, and Professors Daniel Vallieres, Kevin McGown, John Lind, and Thomas Mattman were all very influential in how I view and interact with mathematics. The reason I want to be a math teacher is because I love math and want to share that love and appreciation with my students. These professors always taught out of a fascination and true love of math in all forms and taught me a lot not only about how math works and how to engage in true inquiry, but how effective teaching through one’s own interests can be.

Why did you choose Chico State?

I was born and raised in Chico, and most of my family is still here, so moving out of town was undesirable. Right from the start of my college journey, my goal was to get my bachelor’s degree in general mathematics and then go into the credential program to pursue education. Since Chico State offered both of these options, and with a certain amount of prestige to boot, it was a good fit, and I didn’t feel a need to look into other schools.