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Chico State

Introducing Yanetli Navarro-Hernandez: 2023 Lt. Rawlins Merit Scholarship Recipient

Portrait of Yanetli Navarro Hernandez, who is wearing blue top while her arms rest on a stool.
Jason Halley / University Photographer

Yanetli Navarro 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.

Yanetli Navarro-Hernandez knew as a preteen what she wanted to study and put an action plan in motion early on.

“I knew since I was 10 years old that I wanted to go into construction, so I started picking my pathway my first year of middle school,” said the 20-year-old Oxnard native.

She opted to enroll in Architecture, Construction, Engineering Charter High School in Camarillo—where she earned valedictorian honors—since it has courses in construction, engineering, and more. Navarro-Hernandez immediately applied to Chico State after learning about the University as a senior.

“I completely fell in love with the Concrete Industry Management program (CIM),” she said.

Navarro-Hernandez will graduate from the program this May—just three years after starting. Within her short time on campus, she has engaged in all that the CIM program offers: internships, student-led research, she is president of the American Concrete Institute and secretary of Women in Concrete, and a student ambassador.

She said she completed three internships in a year and a half because she wanted to apply herself and gain as much experience as she could in different sectors of the concrete industry.

“(Yanetli) is frank and hardworking in nature, always volunteers, and has an inquisitive attitude for learning new things,” said Seema Sehrawat, associate dean and CIM program director. “She has outstanding leadership skills and is the glue that binds all CIM students together. To sum it up, she has a magnetic charm and a never say never spirit.”

What does receiving the Rawlins Award mean to you?

I feel grateful and blessed. This feels like everything that I’ve worked for in the program is being recognized. Everything that I push for—my accomplishments are being awarded. Sometimes you get those days that you’re pushing and pushing but feel that nobody is seeing it. Now, I’m seeing that people are noticing all this work that I’m doing and my work ethic. It pushes me now to do even more. I’m just grateful. I don’t know how to explain the feeling, it’s just, wow.

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

A person here on campus is Nick Steinberg. He was my first boss at my internship with Mathews Readymix and now he’s our program director. He’s helped guide me through first, my internship experience—being out in the workforce—and now as a program director. I’m always in his office asking him questions, if I need help with classes or for personal advice, or now that I’m looking for a job. He pushes me to get out of my comfort zone.

Tell me something that is not in your resume.

I got my dual citizenship in Mexico, so I bought a property there so I can build my own house and have my family all involved (her father is a plumber, her brother is an electrician, and her uncle does ironwork). Aside from construction, I like dancing (she was a member of Chico State’s Envy Hip Hop Dance Team), sports, and traveling—I’ve been to seven states in Mexico.
Also, as a female leader in the CIM program—and in the industry—I want to be a role model for future female generations. It is important to me to encourage younger women to pursue a career in this industry.