Worthy Learners
Trio of recipients recognized for their achievements with two new scholarships

MICHELLE LIEBRAND ’07 loves challenges; that’s one reason why she’s the first recipient of the Kyle O’Connell Memorial Scholarship.

Senior Michelle Liebrand thrives on challenge. As a freshman, she got a chemistry exam back from her professor with the question “why?” written all over it. “She expected more than had ever been asked of me before,” recalls Liebrand. “And I grew to love the challenge.”

It’s that sort of attitude that made Liebrand the first recipient of the Kyle O’Connell Memorial Scholarship, created in honor of Kyle O’Connell, the son of Michael O’Connell ’87 and Julie (Belfiore) O’Connell ‘88. The scholarship is given to a junior, senior or graduate student who’s pursuing studies in the field of health sciences.

“It is our hope that one of the recipients one day might find a cure, develop new treatments or provide help to ease the suffering of patients and their families affected by cancer,” the O’Connells said when setting up the criteria for the scholarship. Liebrand plans to pursue a Ph.D. in marine biomedicine and ultimately end up with a career in natural products chemistry doing cancer research.

Sophomore Allison Christian and senior Rhett Buttle are proud recipients of scholarships from the USD Alumni Association’s Terry Whitcomb ’53 Alumni Scholarship. Christian, who’s carrying a double major (Communications/Spanish) wrote a heartfelt essay about her experiences working in Tijuana on community service-learning projects through the Oscar Romero Center for Faith in Action. “I feel no greater joy than when I am serving others,” she wrote, “because I am so passionate about making a difference in others’ lives.”

Buttle, of course, is the president of the Associated Students. “I am a student who has truly embraced the University of San Diego,” he wrote in his application essay. “I live and breathe USD!”