Awards February 2015

Awardees Feb 2015

The following Scholarships were awarded to these wonderful young women committed to education, service and fellowship on February 18th, 2015.

Butte College Scholarships - $1000:
Acknowledges and supports those students who are committed to achieving their academic goals and who demonstrate potential to be successful in their future career paths.

kimberlyKimberly Newkirk
“I went from a life of addiction to graduating Magna Cumuli from Butte College. While earning my AA in Social Behavior Science I was inducted into 3 honorable society

  • Phi Theta Kappa Society where I received special recognition for academic excellence
  • Sigma Alpha Pi, National Society of Leadership and Success where I was awarded Presidential status.
  • Butte College Honor Society for outstanding scholastic achievement.

I am pursuing my education further by working towards my AA in Art Education. My goal is to one day work with children who are caught up in the system.”

shawna 1Shawna (Anna) Burns
Is the mother to 3 children ranging in age from 9 to 17 years old, one with special needs. Anna comes from an unprivileged upbringing. She has worked tenaciously over the years to cultivate a nurturing and fruitful home for her children.

Shawna returned to school a few years ago and is currently a full-time student at Butte Community College with a 4.0 g.p.a., earning her membership in Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of two-year colleges. At the conclusion of the fall 2014 semester, Anna received the Certification in Sustainability from Butte College, and is just one class away from attaining an Associate of Arts degree in Social and Behavioral Science. She plans to remain at Butte another year before transferring to Chico State, where she will accomplish a Bachelor of Science degree in Plant Biology.


A.G.E. Award - $1000:
For Concentration Year Students accepted into the School of Social Work, CSUC Hartford Partnership Program in Aging Education (HPPAW), Excellence in Serving Older Adults.  HPPAE is an innovative program for students interested in gaining knowledge, skills and experience. (Endowed scholarship of CSUC)

GainGain Saetern
Is completing her final year at CSU Chico for a Master's in Social Work. In 2011, she graduated with a dual Bachelors of Arts degree in Sociology and Asian American studies from UC Davis. She is Iu- Mien, an ethnic minority group from the mountains/ highlands of Laos and Thailand, and is the second eldest daughter of a family of eight. She was born and raised in Sacramento, California, first generation to graduate high school, undergraduate, and in spring 2015, to earn a graduate degree.

Ms. Saetern’s lifelong interest is in advocacy and social justice. Her interest was influenced by the difficult experiences she learned about and witnesses in her ethnic community and family. Her passion for working with older adults grew from working with her grandmother and older community members. She relates that in her culture, elders are seen as leaders and healers and are given the utmost respect. With her personal experience and professional experience with working with older adults, her passion continues to grow in this field. She relates that she strives to provide quality services and care in an effort to improve the lives of many.

MollyMolly Isenberg
Was born and raised in the small town of Loomis, California. She graduated from Del Oro High school in 2000. She discovered her passion for working with older adults when she began working for Kaiser Permanente in 2001. In 2011, Ms. Isenberg moved to Las Vegas to attend The University of Nevada.  While working in an oncology clinic in Las Vegas, she discovered that social work with older adults and end-of-life care is her true passion and calling.

In 2013 Ms. Isenberg graduated from The University of Nevada, Las Vegas at the top of her class with a degree in social work.  Her hard work and dedication earned her special recognition from the Alzheimer's Associations, National Association of Social Workers, United Association of Social Work Students and UNLV Professors. When Ms. Isenberg graduates in May 2015 with her Masters Degree in Social Work, she will proudly become the 4th generation female graduate of Chico State from her family.  She looks forward to starting her career with older adults and is excited to see what the future holds.

MindyMindy Johnson
Is from Orland, California and has lived in Chico for nearly nine years. She graduated from CSU, Chico in 2010 with a BA in psychology and worked in admissions at a skilled nursing facility. In 2013, Ms. Johnson returned to school to earn a master of social work degree. Ms. Johnson graduate internship opportunities include work at a cancer center developing a care management program for lung cancer patients, many of whom are older adults. Ms. Johnson experiences include a collaborative development of a workshop for caregivers and professionals, and community presentation on regional resources.

Ms. Johnson will complete her graduate education in spring 2015 with an emphasis on gerontology. Following graduation, Ms. Johnson plans to work with older adults in the north state. Ms. Johnson was recently married. She enjoys walking her two dogs, traveling, running, and spending time with friends.


Soroptimist International Goodwill and Understanding Scholarship - $1000:
Supports non-resident, international students who have completed at least 24 units at CSUC.  Dr. Valene Smith, professor emeriti and long-time Soroptimist member fostered the establishment of this scholarship to help international students come to CSUC to complete their degrees.  (Endo0wed scholarship of CSUC)

nikitaNikita Nenson
Nikita Benson double majored in Economics and Applied Mathematics at Chico State. She participated in the Philosophy Department sponsored Ethics Bowl Team, an annual international competition where teams are given cases that represent real ethical dilemmas. Her team represented Chico State in San Jose at the California Regional Ethics Bowl and placed 5th overall.

In addition to participating in Ethics Bowl, Nikita was the secretary of the Philosophy Honors Society, Phi Sigma Tau and also spent time as an intern at a local economic development firm, Chabin Concepts, an organization specializing in strategic positioning, marketing and organizational management.

Nikita was also involved at a local non-profit organization called One Media Player Per Teacher, which provides rural communities in Panama, Mali, Nigeria and India with technology and training. This technology is used by the community leaders to help inform their members of health issues, provide education to children and attack other community-related problems.

In 2010, Nikita spent four months volunteering in India (her country of citizenship) as a tutor for students who came from underprivileged and transient families.
Nikita is passionate about education and hopes to someday work at the IMF or the World Bank.

Nikita is passionate about education and hopes to someday work at the IMF or the World Bank.


Dr. Valene Smith Soroptimist Graduate Scholarship - $1150:
Established by Dr. Valene Smith and SI of Chico, this scholarship is awarded to business or interdisciplinary graduate students at CSUC who embody the Soroptimist spirit of service.

malindaMalinda Blank
Before beginning her studies at California State University, Chico this semester, Malinda worked at Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Over the course of five years, she was promoted from an Exhibition Technician to the Chief Registrar, heading up her own department. Throughout her career, she learned much about the inner-workings of a museum from a logistical perspective as well as the ethical component to caring for a collection. There are elements of responsibility and management that are unique to museum work. Two of the most important aspects of her career were ensuring the safety of the collection while, at the same time, sharing art and history with visitors. Malinda feels this educational component, the sharing of art and artifacts with the public, is an obligation all museum workers must ensure.

Her goal after completing a Master of Fine Arts degree is to continue to work within a museum environment. She is interested in continuing with Registration work. It is important for her to not only have a career that makes her financially secure, but one that enriches the community she lives in. Museums with their emphasis on community outreach and development provide this type of an opportunity for Malinda.

Over the past three years, Malinda has been involved in many community organizations in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She was a member of the Camp Fire USA Executive Board Youth Development Activities Committee. In 2003, she received Camp Fire’s highest award for youths, the WoHeLo, by completing various character-building exercises paired with volunteerism. Since this experience was invaluable to her as a youth, she felt it important to give back to the organization that has provided so many opportunities for her. Malinda was also a member of the Youth Development Activities Committee and was responsible for overseeing various programs such as Teens in Action designed to teach children and teenagers the importance of giving back to the community through volunteering. She also worked at numerous Camp Fire sponsored events including organizing and facilitating the National Art Competition.

Malinda was also a member and volunteer for Tulsa Living Arts and the Tulsa Artist’s Coalition, two community based arts organizations committed to bringing exhibitions and artist workshops to local audiences.