Threading black and white film into a grandfather’s old-school camera. Attending a research conference. Even … shh, don’t let the word get out … discovering that free food sometimes shows up in Argyros Forum.

Those are just a few of the moments that helped make extraordinary college experiences for Chapman University’s 2017 Cheverton Award nominees, seniors who best represent the spirit of Chapman. Begun in 1929 to honor an outstanding graduating senior, the Cheverton Award continues to be one of the campus’ most beloved traditions.

This year the Cheverton went to Taylor Lee Patti, who was presented with the honor at the 2017 Campus Leadership Awards on Friday, May 5. But here we introduce all the finalists, a remarkable group with ties to every corner of campus, and invite their advice for making every Chapman experience a memorable one.

Caroline Aziz, biological sciences

Favorite study spot: The first floor of the Leatherby Libraries. I love that it is quiet, but not too quiet so I do not feel isolated from the rest of the world while studying!

A class outside your major that you loved or surprised you: I am an art minor and the class that I enjoyed the most outside of biology classes was probably ART 120, which was black and white photography. I loved using my grandpa’s old camera to take photos and it was very rewarding to actually develop the pictures myself in the dark room.

A program, professor or campus resource that was super helpful: The Tutoring and Learning Center has been my best friend for four years! It has been an amazing resource for me to both get help as a student and help other students who need it.

An experience at Chapman that has changed or shaped the way you see the world: I joined Global Medical Brigades my junior year and that experience has by far been the most influential experience I’ve had at Chapman. Taking myself out of my comfort zone to help people in a country other than my own was an experience that opened my eyes to cultural differences around the world and made me very excited to begin my journey as a medical professional.

A tip for incoming freshmen: Plan ahead!! I cannot stress how beneficial and important planning is! A lot of students struggle when they put too much on their plates and I think that can be avoided many times if you plan your classes ahead of time and make sure not to take too many hard classes in one semester.

Katie Kendrick, economics and communication studies

Favorite study spot: The Student Union at the tables in the corner across from Qdoba. It is a little more lively than the library and sometimes there is free food. The library just gets way too quiet for me.

A class outside your major that you loved or surprised you: I thoroughly enjoyed History 388 with William Cumiford. It was a class that looked at the integration of technology into American society. It made me very critical of how more technology isn’t always better.

A program, professor or campus resource that was super helpful: The Career Center is by far the best resource on campus. The one for main campus, the Career Development Center, and the Argyros Career Center are both amazing tools available. I spent one summer working with Sahzeah Babylon on my resume, then I spent a semester participating in the Summit Career Institute run by Brittany Deneau, and I used the Argyros Career Center for countless on-campus interviews and recruiting events. It was through the Argyros Career Center that I landed my post-grad job.

An experience at Chapman that has changed or shaped the way you see the world: Chapman Radio. It was a great way to break up my daily routine and just have fun. Throughout my academic career I was always stressed about midterms, grades, tests, my job, etc. It was Chapman Radio that allowed me to cut back and be silly. For an hour every week my co-host and I talk about pop culture, play music, and laugh. Chapman Radio made me realize that life doesn’t have to be all that serious all the time.

A tip for incoming freshmen: I am a transfer student from a California Community College. I usually like to direct my advice to transfer students because I feel they get lost in the excitement of the new school year and are underrepresented at Chapman. If there is any advice I could give, it is to start slow. I remember coming to Chapman as a transfer and feeling behind before I even attended my first class. I would say take the semester to get acquainted with the new environment and class structure. Then after your first semester get involved and keep getting involved to your comfort level. I recall thinking I had to be in every club, organization, and society possible. That mentality just caused me more stress. Join a couple things on campus and be super involved in those. However, coming to Chapman is the best decision anyone could make, so make sure to enjoy it, meet new people, and try new things!

Jonathan Mackris, film studies

Favorite study spot: Admittedly, I did the majority of my studying in my room, though I always enjoyed sitting on the patio on the third floor of Argyros Forum.

A class outside your major that you loved or surprised you: Every art history class I took during my time at Chapman was phenomenal. The faculty in that department are absolutely outstanding, and those courses have been incredibly rewarding, greatly expanding my academic vocabulary (at least as far as the kinds of topics I tackle in my writing and the kinds of examples I can draw upon). But I can’t forget my FFC, Close Reading with Dr. Kent Lehnhof, which not only enhanced the caliber of my writing but also gave me the courage to pursue larger, more audacious topics in my work, setting the precedent for the rest of my time at Chapman.

A program, professor or campus resource that was super helpful: There are so many teachers I could name who have helped me along my path – likely all of them, to be honest. I must single out Dr. Kelli Fuery, who has served as an irreplaceable mentor and muse. She has had an incredibly transformative impact on my academic career, and as I have told her many times, I couldn’t have accomplished half of what I did at Chapman without her help and support. I am incredibly grateful to have worked with her during my time here. Additionally, there are many others who have been supportive guides along my journey: Emily Carman, Nam Lee, Maja Manojlovic, Kent Lehnhof, Karen Lloyd, Denise Johnson, and Andrew Erish, just to name a few.

An experience at Chapman that has changed or shaped the way you see the world: As far as transformative experiences, one that immediately comes to mind was my trip to Bologna, Italy, as part of Dr. Emily Carman’s travel course, which landed us at the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival held every July. Having read about this festival for years, to be able to finally attend was an incredible experience, made even better by the fact that it was my first time leaving the United States. Ten straight days of watching some of the greatest films from around the globe was an absolute dream and I still think about that trip regularly.

A tip for incoming freshmen: Take school seriously from day one and take advantage of all of the time afforded to you. Four years (or three in my case) flies by in a flash, and it behooves us to do everything we can – be that internships, extracurricular involvement (shout out to Chapman Radio!), or submitting work for publication – as early as possible. Waiting until your second or third year to capitalize on these opportunities can be fine, but especially for those who know their passion right out the gate, I strongly encourage doing everything you can to make the best use of all four years’ worth of time.

Jordan Ott, computational science

Favorite study spot: I sit down at my desk in my room with three computer monitors, put in my headphones, blast some classical music and get to work.

A class outside your major that you loved or surprised you: I took a writing class that made me appreciate writing and being able to communicate complex ideas to non-technical people. It doesn’t matter how smart you are if you are unable to communicate your thoughts to others. I also had a neural network write my final essay, so that helped me enjoy it a little more.

A program, professor or campus resource that was super helpful: My dream is to be a machine learning researcher. Working with Dr. Erik Linstead and the faculty of Chapman’s MLAT lab, I have been able to work on numerous machine learning research projects.

A tip for incoming freshmen: College is nothing more than time management. The only reason people fail is because they cannot manage their time well.

Taylor Lee Patti, Spanish, mathematics, physics and computational science

Favorite study spot: Definitely the coffee table of my Chapman apartments. Go Davis and Harris halls! They provided me with an affordable and comfortable place to learn for many years.

A class outside your major that you loved or surprised you: I did Speech and Debate my freshman year. I wasn’t surprised but I did have a lot of fun. I think that a comprehensive and critical reflection on society was good for my worldview and self-esteem alike.

A program, professor or campus resource that was super helpful: The Institute for Quantum Studies has been fantastic to me. I have done research and traveled with them and received grants both through them and with their assistance. The Institute for Quantum Studies is an organization full of intelligent, wonderful human beings.

An experience at Chapman that has changed or shaped the way you see the world: When my physics 107 (physics for life science majors) professor, Dr. Eric Minassian, convinced me to study physics, he definitively changed my life for the better. He gave me the encouragement I needed to become who I’m supposed to be. I owe the trajectory of my career to him and to all of the Chapman folks who stepped up after him to help me succeed.

A tip for incoming freshmen: There is no subject that you are not capable of pursuing. There is no person whose talent or intellect you can never match. Push yourself and the difficult becomes easy, the gaps you perceive will close. Be encouraging to those around you; that includes yourself.

Robert Schumaker, creative writing and French

Favorite study spot: Unlike most people, I love studying in noisy spaces, so one of my favorite places to sit down and read is in the Attallah Piazza. For a writer like me, it’s a good place to people watch and still stay focused on whatever I’m doing.

A class outside your major that you loved or surprised you: One class that really surprised me was African History. I took this my first semester at Chapman and it really opened my eyes to the history of an entire continent that is never really talked about much in most history classes. This class was incredibly challenging, but it was so rewarding because of all the new things that I learned.

A program, professor or campus resource that was super helpful: There were innumerable people and programs that helped me throughout my time at Chapman. One resource that stands out to me, in particular, is the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity. OURCA helped fund my trip to my first conference in Minneapolis. There, I presented original poetry at the 2016 International Sigma Tau Delta Convention. It was an unforgettable experience where I got to meet so many people and learn more about what it means to graduate with a degree in English.

An experience at Chapman that has changed or shaped the way you see the world: One experience at Chapman that has changed the way I see the world was taking a travel course to Shambhala Mountain Center in the Colorado Rockies. There, I had the opportunity to learn more about Tibetan Buddhism and meditation with my peers. It was eye-opening as we all learned to look inside of ourselves and opened up to each other. I learned that we all struggle with something; many of us, in fact, struggle with a lot, and therefore, we must always extend compassion to our fellow human beings.

A tip for incoming freshmen: Chapman is a great place to be a leader. There are so many opportunities waiting for you here, so don’t be afraid to stand out and follow your passions.