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Animal Science student receives University Medal

Jun 07, 2016 Charleen Floyd
Five other scholars to be lauded at commencement

Animal Science student Lucydalila Cedillo has been awarded the University Medal, the highest honor awarded for scholastic excellence at UC Davis. She will receive the University Medal at the 2 p.m. commencement of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences on Friday, June 10, at the Pavilion of the Activities and Recreation Center.

Five additional CA&ES students—Veronica Ruiz Quinonez, Naomi Cholst, Amanjot Kaur, Ashley Shepard, and Chun Yin Lai—will also be honored for their excellence in scholastics and community service.

‘My gift to my parents’

Cedillo grew up in East Los Angeles in a home without books, collected recyclable cans to help support the household, and didn’t know anyone who had gone to college. But she took to heart what her father told her about the importance of learning.

She is now bound for a doctoral program at Harvard University and a career as a professor.

“It means a lot to me,” Cedillo said. “And it’s sort of my gift to my parents for all of their support. As soon as I get it, I hope to give it to them with a huge, warm hug.”

Pedro and Dolores Cedillo are immigrants from Mexico and were not able to continue their education beyond the seventh grade. But Cedillo spoke of what her father, a mechanic and musician, would tell her: “He would give me those long talks about why it’s a privilege to be here and how I should never take my education for granted. He’d say, ‘Learn as much as you can. No one’s ever going to take it way from you.’”

Award recipients a class of their own

The award, which includes a $2,000 honorarium and a plaque, is for excellence in undergraduate studies, outstanding community service, and the promise of future scholarship and contributions to society. Cedillo will join a class of recipients who have gone on to become doctors, engineers, professors and others devoted to work that ranges from seeking a cure for cancer to helping the poor in developing countries.

Cedillo originally considered majoring in veterinary medicine, but she became interested in genetics as a route to researching gene therapy for diseases. She earned an A+ in 26 courses and a cumulative grade point average of 4.0. Cedillo also served as an undergraduate teaching assistant.

She participated in the McNair Scholars Program that helps prepare historically underrepresented students for doctoral programs. As a volunteer in a genetics laboratory, she conducted an independent research project to construct a genetic map of rainbow trout and is the lead author of a research paper being prepared for publication.

Cedillo also won scholarships to support her research, her participation in a national research conference, and the cost of her education.

Asked how she did so well, Cedillo said she stopped worrying about grades and focused instead on understanding concepts and “connecting the dots between classes.”

“It led to the same result, but I appreciated my education a lot more,” she said.

Other exceptional graduates    

Veronica Ruiz Quinonez has been selected to receive the College of Agricultural and Environmental Service Medal for scholarship and extracurricular activities. She will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development.

Naomi Cholst and Amanjot Kaur have been selected to receive the 2016 Mary Regan Meyer Prize, given to students who demonstrate exceptional motivation. Cholst will graduate with a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Agricultural and Environmental Education. Kaur will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Plant Biotechnology.

Ashley Shepard and Chun Yin Lai have both been selected to receive the Charles Hess Community Service Award, in recognition to outstanding community and campus service. Shepard will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development. Lai will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition. 

You can read more about Cedillo, the University Medal award winner, at this link on the UC Davis homepage.

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