Inside USD

Scholarships: ‘Passport’ to Academics, Research

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sou Fang and Sabrina Phillips are first-generation college students at the University of San Diego. Both have a passion for academics and undergraduate research — in architecture and biochemistry, respectively — but for it to fully blossom, one ingredient is essential: scholarship support.

“Without the financial support of donors and support that the university provides, I wouldn’t be here,” said Fang during Tuesday’s 25th annual USD Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon in the Hahn University Center Forums.

Fang, a sophomore, has received the Ahmanson Foundation Scholarship, a Dollars for Scholars Scholarship and he’s a 2011-12 Keck Foundation Student Fellow. The scholarship support for Fang, who is active in both academic pursuits and community service efforts such as being a high school mentor, working in TRiO Student Support Services and with USD Rotaract, enabled him to put together a research publication that, pending final approval, will be a architectural design resource for both students and professionals.

Phillips, who graduates in May, has thrived in biochemistry, working closely with experienced faculty and with access to resources normally found only at a larger university. She’s taken the opportunities given to her and it influenced her decision to pass that on to others as a preceptorial assistant as she works with incoming freshmen chemistry students.

She’s benefitted from her participation in the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program, as a Doheny Foundation Fellow and a USD Trustee Scholarship recipient. Phillips will take the skills gained from her USD biochemistry research lab experiences to the University of Georgia’s doctoral program in chemistry this fall with an emphasis on atmospheric chemistry.

Scholarships, whether annually awarded or endowed, are what USD President Dr. Mary E. Lyons called “passports.” This financial support, she said, “gives students an entrée to life-changing experiences.”

Sarah Kriz, PhD, USD’s Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research said it is the support of a major grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation for a comprehensive undergraduate research plan and the long-term assistance of the Doheny Foundation and all donors who provide USD students with these “passport” opportunities.

“Our students can stay here on campus and do exceptional work rather than have to take an outside job to make ends meet,” Kriz said. “We really thank all of our donors whose scholarships help support undergraduate research and keep our students on campus to do these amazing extracurricular activities.”

Three strong examples of USD’s dedication to undergraduate research comes through its annual spring Creative Collaborations event — this year’s showcase for faculty/student research projects takes place April 19 in the UC Forums — and the SURE and Pre-Undergraduate Research Experience (PURE) programs for current students and incoming freshmen, respectively. Research opportunities exist for all undergraduate students, whether they study in the hard, behavioral or social sciences, arts and humanities, business, engineering or leadership studies.

“USD has become one of the leaders in undergraduate education,” Kriz said. “I’ve received phone calls from other universities and I’ve had people come up to me at conferences and say things like ‘USD seems to be about two years ahead of where my institution is in terms of what you’re doing to offer opportunities for your undergraduates.’ We’re very proud of that.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

The University of San Diego thanks all of its donors and invites you to learn more in the latest online edition of the USD Honor Roll of Donors.

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