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Chico State

Celebrating Rosemary White: 2022’s Wildcat Spirit Award Winner

Rosemary White stands with an arm around the Wildcat Statue in Wildcat Plaza
(Matt Bates / University Photographer)

2022 Wildcat Spirit Award winner Rosemary White is photographed on Thursday, June 15, 2023 in Chico, Calif. (Matt Bates/University Photographer/Chico State)

Ask anyone—Rose White shines like the sun.

With her legendary big heart and big voice, she has dedicated 21 years and counting to our campus, our students, and our community. White has held positions within the WellCat Counseling Center and Passages, and since 2016 she has worked as outreach student support coordinator for Graduate Studies and the Adelante program.

Students, staff, faculty, and colleagues alike praise White’s compassionate and kind approach to her work, describing her as “a beacon of light,” “salt of the earth,” “unwaveringly enthusiastic,” and even “being made of pixie dust and having magical powers.”

“Her energy, gregariousness, warmth, compassion, and commitment illustrate her spirited approach to actualizing one of her deepest beliefs—that education is the key to transforming all of our students’ lives,” said Sharon A. Barrios, dean of Graduate Studies. “All of her work and voluntary service is dedicated to supporting students—particularly underrepresented students—to find and navigate a lifelong pathway to personal and professional success.”

White has helped programs develop curriculum to provide new degree opportunities for students; has worked tirelessly to promote graduate programs and help students prepare for and transition to them in order to grow campus student enrollment; she has engaged in trainings, workshops, and committees to increase her understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts; and she volunteers for all kinds of activities across campus to provide support for other units and their staff, students, and faculty.

Of the almost 50 grad students working under her supervision in the last few years, 100 percent have graduated or are completing their master’s degrees, and her outreach efforts connect with 5,000 undergraduates per year!

This May, White was presented the Wildcat Spirit Award during the 2023 Staff Excellence Awards, which honors those who best embody the values and spirit that define Chico State. As an innovator, leader, collaborator, faithful colleague, and trusted friend, White is an inspiration for the rest of us to try to live, work, and love BIG.

What do you love about Graduate Studies?

The people! There are so many wonderful people who really care about our grad students, and I get to work directly with students by doing outreach. I am a first-gen student myself and didn’t have a clue about grad school. If there had been an Adelante program back then or more outreach it would have made a huge difference in my choices. So, I am dedicated to making sure that undergrads hear about their options and know that they have support.

Who or what inspires you?

My boss and my coworkers. They are absolutely amazing for all the work that they do, the vision they have, and how much they care about the people that they’re working for.

What is something about you that might surprise other people?

I started out as a welder. I was a house painter too, so when the paint crew comes around on campus I get a little bit jealous because I still like to paint. But it will break your body down after a while—you don’t want to be painting houses at 60 years old.

What do you like to do on the weekend?

I like to listen to audiobooks while I do chores, and I love to go to thrift stores and take long walks.

How do you cheer yourself up on difficult days?

I just think about all the things I have to be grateful for. And I listen to music.

If you could bring one famous person (living or not) to deliver a talk on campus, who would it be?

There are a lot of historical figures I’d love to have come—from women of ideas and deeds and literary works to the likes of Ben Franklin or Lincoln or FDR or Truman or Eisenhower or more ancient choices—but based on The Fire Next Time and some short stories that really struck me, I’d pick James Baldwin right now.

What are three things that bring you joy on campus?

People, people, people!