About the SOP

**The Scholarship Opportunities Program advises competitive undergraduate UC Irvine candidates in applying for prestigious merit scholarships. Our staff conducts outreach and manages the campus-level application and endorsement processes for these national and international scholarships, all funded by outside agencies. Applicants cannot apply directly to the funding agency (except NSF).

Please visit our main website for application information, deadlines, services provided by our office, and more details about all of our prestigious scholarships.**

This blog captures the experiences of our past scholarship recipients, as they embark on journeys around the world funded by grants and fellowships such as the Fulbright, Strauss, Rhodes, and others. Read about their exciting adventures below!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this blog site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position or views of the Scholarship Opportunities Program or UC Irvine.

Joyce Nguy – Fulbright Recipient – Taiwan Experience

Joyce Nguy (’19 Political Science, Education Sciences) was awarded the Fulbright Teaching Assistantship and is currently teaching English in Taiwan. Here are a few of the many moments Joyce experienced during her Fulbright year —

Taiwan 小朋友

“Little friends,” I translate affectionately over weekly calls home to loved ones. In Taiwan, students are widely referred to us 小朋友, literally “little friends,” (a.k.a the cutest term ever). More than halfway through my Fulbright grant, little joys continue to fuel my days on an island 1/13 the size of and thousands of miles away from my home state of California.

Graduating in June of 2019 and leaving a month and a half later for August training in Taiwan was a whirlwind! I had never left home for so long. A San Diegan through and through, and then a proud Anteater, I found the transition into living in Taiwan challenging, even though I had waited for so long to go on such a big adventure. My biggest tip is to maintain your support system at home, but also be present and in the moment. I found such a great support system in the 10 other ETAs that live in my county, and have continued to lean on them and explore with them throughout the whole year.

I was placed in Changhua County, an agricultural county in the middle of the west coast. Although I originally preferred to be located in a city like Kaohsiung or Taichung, living in a quiet small city/suburb of Yuanlin City has allowed me to see a slice of real Taiwanese life. While I have easy access to all the big cities via bus or train (Taiwan is SO convenient and interconnected!), I typically enjoy staying within my county and experiencing the local culture that is hard to find in the cities. Plus, many people in my county do not speak a lot of English, which mostly presents a welcome challenge if you want to practice your Mandarin Chinese, or learn Taiwanese from the grandpas at the shops!

I currently teach at 5 schools in Changhua. My main school is Fen Yuan Elementary School, located in rural Fen Yuan Township, known for its pineapple production. Every Monday, Tuesday and Friday morning a teacher picks me up from my apartment and makes the scenic drive through the mountains and pineapple farms to take me to school. My school is considered midsized with about 400 students total, and while I primarily teach English to 5th and 6th grade, I interact with all of the students at school (1st grade – 4th grade) through my storybook class, where I teach character education and English with the help of storybooks in our library. On Wednesday’s and Thursdays, our government sends us to other schools on a rotating schedule so that we can reach as many students as possible in our short time in the country. In a typical week, I teach 18 elementary school classes, each with their own unique personality!

One of my favorite things about living in Taiwan as an ETA was getting licensed to ride a scooter during August training. With scooter culture being huge in Taiwan, scooter training is essential and built into our orientation! After getting licensed, I bought a scooter (her name is Mantis) and have been scooting around ever since. People even use their scooters to pull up to tea shops or food stalls like a drive-thru, and I have since applied my scooter experience during travel. I have rented scooters at the beach in Kenting (southern Taiwan), and even rented a scooter in Thailand during winter vacation!

My Fulbright grant has provided me with the opportunity to live and work abroad, and become part of a community that has welcomed me with open arms. There’s the egg lady, who always adds an extra egg to my bag, insisting that I eat more. There’s the director that drives me home from school, who always takes small detours on our way back so that he can show me his favorite spots in town. And there’s my LET (local English teacher), who brought me to get chocolate on a particularly hard homesick day and brings soymilk for my coffee in the morning, even when I tell her not to. Love and care for others knows no borders and have no singular language. Even though some days are harder than others, every moment of discomfort has yielded life lessons and learning. When I return to the U.S. as a graduate student at UCLA, I will carry this year with me as one of the most impactful in my life.


Below are some of the photos Joyce took during her Fulbright year —

Kissing the Sea Cow

“Fulbright Taiwan makes sure you get an immersive cultural experience. The Changhua ETAs went on a field trip to Fangyuan township, which is famous for its oyster fishing and peanuts. While there, we got to ride a cart drawn by a ‘sea cow’ into the ocean to visit the oyster farms.”

Mantis

“The day I bought my scooter with my roommate! The best investment I have ever made.”

School Culture

“I started to work with the counseling department at my school to help me with storytime! The counselor gives ‘talkbacks’ after my storytime to tie our stories into character education. For example, we used ‘The Paper Bag Princess’ to talk about gender inequality.”

Changhua Cohort

“11 ETAs live and work in Changhua county. We live together, train together, and teach together!”

Running Culture

“Taiwan is a country of runners and active aunties. The Tianzhong marathon, held in Taiwan’s ‘rice heaven,’ is a Changhua spectacle. I ran/walked the 10k to enjoy the food along the way (fried chicken, guavas, shrimp, pasta, and so much more)! One of our ETAs ran her very first half-marathon here and won first place, a Fila sponsorship, and a massage chair for her apartment.”

Storytime!

“My Local English Teacher(LET), Yinhsueh, and I in action in our school’s library.”


 

Alexander Alvara – Fulbright Recipient

 

Alexander Alvara (Fulbright 2017)

Alexander is a recent alumni who triple-majored in Mechanical, Aerospace, and Materials Science Engineering and minored in Biomedical Engineering and Business. His research includes development of a carbon fiber unmanned drone, a user-controlled prosthetic hand, a mobile phone compatible spectrometer, and an “exosuit” for shoulder and bicep rehabilitation. Alexander was a mentor for the Office of Access and Inclusion and is now a Ph.D. student at UC Berkeley in Mechanical Engineering researching condensed matter physics, high-energy nanotechnologies, and space systems. Alexander is also a recipient of the National GEM Consortium Ph.D. Fellowship, NSF CRFP Honorable Mention, and the Berkeley Chancellors Fellowship. In 2017, Alexander received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award to research medical robotics and develop pediatric surgical robots for bone biopsy and neurosurgery applications at the University of Toronto in collaboration with The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and Engineering Services Inc., a precision robotics company.

Recently, the SOP office conducted an interview with Alexander, and provided below are his responses about the application process and tips for future applicants:


What did you learn about yourself during the scholarship application process?

During the application process, I learned a lot about asking for help around the campus… I learned I didn’t know my campus as I thought I did. I had been around and I tried to make it my duty to really know what resources were available to me. But, obviously, I didn’t do that great of a job. Because the Scholarship Opportunities Program was a huge help to me and I just found out through chance by walking by one of their workshops. 

And the second most important thing that I learned was I may not be the best storyteller when it comes to myself. I can talk about research, I can talk about other things, but that was really a big hurdle for me, learning how to talk about myself during the application.


What are the biggest benefits of working with SOP?

So, the biggest benefit of working with the SOP, was that they had a lot of hands-on help. The fact that they offer so much help and so much feedback was actually a huge, huge factor for me. They helped me through at least 20 revisions and helped me whittle away the problem I mentioned earlier of not being able to talk about myself. They really helped me to grow and develop my writing style and had it not been without them, I am not sure that I would have gotten the scholarship. I went through like 20 revisions of my application, and the strongest ones were usually from, interestingly enough, the strongest revisions came from the non-technical side because it had to be readable for the general audience. For people that are policymakers and people who are administrators, so it wasn’t just about my research.


Do you have any advice for students who are considering applying for scholarships? 

My biggest advice would be to just apply. No matter what, apply.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take; it’s kind of a cheesy way of saying it.

There was no indication that I thought I was going to get the fellowship and I was already planning on doing something else during that whole time. To me if you don’t apply, you’re not going to get it.

Megan Braun – Rhodes Scholar

Megan Braun: Rhodes Scholar (2010)

Since completing her master’s in International Relations at Oxford with Rhodes funding, Megan Braun (’10 History) finished law school at Yale and is currently the one Supreme Court clerk assigned to accompany John Roberts to the impeachment trial of Donald Trump. UCI in the News, UC Irvine’s news website, highlights Megan’s achievements and current involvement in the impeachment process.

Please click here to visit UCI in the News, and view Megan’s profile article.

Joyce Nguy – Fulbright Recipient – Taiwan – Application Process

Joyce Nguy: Fulbright Recipient (2019)

Joyce Nguy (’19 Political Science, Education Sciences) is currently in Taiwan teaching English as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant. In her article “The Scholarship Opportunities Program” in UCI Unfiltered, a student-run blog aiming to give an authentic snapshot of what life is like at UCI, Joyce shares her experience of working through the Fulbright application and how the Scholarship Opportunities Program was able to provide her with helpful advising throughout the process.

Before pursuing a career as a research professor, Joyce plans to attain a Ph.D. in political science in order to focus on race, ethnicity, and identity politics, especially pertaining to Asian American communities.

Please click here to visit Unfiltered at UCI and view Joyce’s article about SOP services.

Daniela Estrada – Fulbright Winner – Colombia

Daniela Estrada: Truman Recipient (’15-’16) and Fulbright Recipient (’16-’17)

Read the rest of this entry »

Pauline Ho – NSF – Honorable Mention Recipient

    Ho with Vice Provost of Teaching and Learning, Michael Dennin

Pauline recently graduated cum laude from UC Irvine with a double major in Education Sciences and Social Policy & Public Service. She came to the United States ten years ago and did not speak any English and still considers her English language skills to not be proficient. At UCI, she worked in the Digital Learning Lab under the supervision of Dr. Mark Warschauer. As an undergraduate, she presented her independent research at different local and national conferences. She has achieved a variety of academic honors such as the AERA 2017 Undergraduate Fellow, 2017 Chancellor’s Award of Distinction and the School of Social Science’s Order of Merit. She applied for the 2016-2017 National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship and received Honorable Mention as an undergraduate senior. Currently, she is pursuing her doctorate in Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.


How did I hear about the NSF fellowship?

I knew about the NSF Fellowship through my graduate student mentor. In the summer, my graduate student mentor met with me individually to discuss my future plans after UCI. At that time, I was struggling between whether I should pursue a Masters or a PhD. I was very passionate about doing research, but I was worried that I was not ready. At that time, I also didn’t know my research interests.  My main interest is to help English Language Learner (ELL) students like me do better in school. After a long conversation with my mentor, she told me about the NSF fellowship. At that moment, I thought “applying for a national fellowship – am I even qualified?”

I’m very thankful that I had the opportunity to work at the SOP office as a student intern during my undergraduate time. Through this position, I realized the application process can be overwhelming, but rewarding. I heard stories about students who went through the process and received awards and students who didn’t get the award but received acceptance to grad school. I know that it was not just about getting the award, it was also the process and the growth. Therefore, I decided to give it a try.


What resources have you used when preparing your application?

My mentor provided me with a variety of resources on campus – past winning applications, some books about Science Motivation, etc. From my experience working at SOP, I know that applying for competitive scholarships can be overwhelming. So I actively reached out for more resources and guidance.

As I was working closely with my mentors, I reached out to Michelle and Courtney to get their advice on my NSF application. They read through my application essays carefully and provided many helpful comments. Their expertise in helping students apply for national scholarships gave me a realistic perspective on my qualifications and applications. By the time I submitted my application, I was on the ninth draft of both essays.


What did you learn or gain from the process?

Throughout the process of revising my research proposal, I also figured out my plan for after graduation – I want to pursue a doctoral degree and conduct research. As I was working on my application, I was challenged to think about the intellectual merit and broader impacts of my research. I realized that I can contribute to the literature as well as make an impact in society. That’s exactly what I want to do with my life. Therefore, I went on and submitted my applications for several PhD programs. I used my NSF personal statement and revised it for my graduate school applications.

After spending over four months working on my application, I was honored to receive Honorable Mention. Even though I’m not getting the financial support from NSF, the skills that I gained from the application process are very useful. I was accepted into the number one ranked PhD program in Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and recieved full-funding.


Tips for students who are interested in applying for the NSF.

If you have the research experience, give it a try! It doesn’t hurt to try, and you will grow a lot throughout the process. Given that it is very similar to graduate school applications, it is not too time-consuming because you don’t need to write a completely different essay. Instead, if you are serious about graduate school, start on your NSF application in the summer. Get a lot of help from your advisor and the SOP staff. Then, by the time you submit for grad school, you will have a strong application. If you are not sure about grad school yet, still give it a try in the summer. NSF really challenges you to think deeply about your research and what you want to do as a researcher. The intellectual merit and broader impacts criteria will make you think more seriously about your research interests. The amount of work to prepare a strong NSF application is very similar to the level of work that you should be doing in grad school as well. So if you can manage the process or learn to manage the process early, you are more ready for grad school.

Sunny Liu – Fulbright Winner – Nigeria

Sunny graduated from UCI in 2015 as a magna cum laude graduate having triple majored in Public Health, International Studies, and Anthropology. Sunny was a recipient of the Chancellor’s Award of Distinction and awarded the School of Sciences’ Order of Merit Award. Sunny was awarded the Fulbright Scholar Program in 2015-16 to conduct public health research in Nigeria. Additionally, she served in the Peace Corps for the Community and Youth Empowerment Project in Fiji. Her research interests include immunology, epidemiology, disaster medicine, and the emergency response to Ebola. She plans to earn a doctorate in Global Health as well.

http://www.socsci.uci.edu/files/news_events/2015/liu,%20sunny_220.jpg


Nigeria seems like an odd choice for those applying for a Fulbright Scholarship. The statistics says it all. The majority of Fulbright applicants choose their destination in the Western Hemisphere or in emerging economic powerhouses in the East. Additionally, Nigeria’s international reputation is tainted by news stories that reduces the country to a few keywords: Boko Haram, abductions, political instability, economic recession, and corruptions.

To have the words “Nigeria” and “good” in the same sentence is highly unusual. Therefore, I was not surprised to find many puzzled faces when I announced my departure to Nigeria in late March to embark on a journey of curious discoveries.

In my previous trips to Africa, I ventured on a life-changing journey to Kenya. Then, as a naive teenager, I was stunned by the beauty of Kenya and its people. Like many Americans and people from other parts of the world, I assumed that the word “Africa” is synonymous with disease, poverty, and suffering. My experience in Kenya was a life changing one where I found my passion and direction in life undergoing a paradigm shift. I longed to return to Africa with greater humility, knowledge, and skills.

My first impression of Nigeria came from Nigerian authors such as Uzodina Iweala and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. These author’s work challenged the West’s stagnant and biased view of Nigeria as the most populated country on the African continent.Iweala and Adichie told the true story of Nigeria through shedding light on the richness of Nigerian history, portraying the diversity within their culture, and highlighting the complexity of their social issues.

Following the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Lagos (a metropolitan center with a population of over 22 million), Nigeria became the poster child of the international public health community overnight. I arrived in Lagos with little expectations and much hope to learn about a country as culturally diverse as Nigeria. However, there were many obstacles awaiting me. Despite these obstacles, my Fulbright experience has become an opportunity for self-reflection, discovery, and character building.

Brittany Schick -George Mitchell Scholarship Winner

 

Brittany Schick In a C-130 during an ROTC fieldtrip.

Brittany graduated from UCI in 2005 having double majored in Political Science and International Studies with a focus on Western Europe. A graduate of the UCLA ROTC program, she commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force in 2005 as well but delayed her military service one year so she could study for her M.A. in International Security and Conflict Studies at Dublin City University as a George J. Mitchell scholar. Following her year in Ireland, Brittany returned to the U.S. for a year of training as an intelligence analyst in the Air Force; she subsequently used those skills in an eight year Air Force career, with postings in Korea and Belgium, as well as deployments to Afghanistan and Africa. In 2014, Brittany joined the Foreign Service and has been posted to Haiti and Brunei. Along with her husband and daughter, Brittany is currently serving as the Deputy Political, Economic and Consular Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, where she works on an array of issues, including human rights, religious freedom, and international trade.

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 Brittany Schick, UCI’s first Mitchell Scholarship winner, received her bachelor’s degrees from UCI in Political Science and International Studies in 2005. She pursued a Master’s degree in International Security and Conflict Studies at Dublin City University through the Mitchell. Her long-term goal was and has been to work in the intelligence community.

The US-Ireland Alliance is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to consolidating existing relations between the United States and Ireland. Brittany knew she wanted to study for her Master’s overseas and she was really interested in using the N. Ireland conflict as a model for other conflicts in the world, so this was a major factor in pursuing the Mitchell and Ireland.

“Mitchell scholars leave a footprint and have a lifelong impact on Ireland, “states Schick.

“Having an understanding of the culture and the history of conflict there has been helpful for my work, not only in my work with other Europeans in organizations like NATO, but also in my work now as a diplomat.”

How did the Mitchell opportunity prepare you to make an impact, not only in Ireland, but in the world and in your own career path?

Brittany Prior to Graduating from UCI

“Academically, I think being part of a security and conflict program that was so multi-national, i.e. included the perspectives of many diverse nations, has been really helpful in my work with NATO and now as a diplomat. Personally, I really must credit the Mitchell with providing some of my closest friendships and professional contacts, which is of course a huge part of daily lives and cannot be underestimated.”

During my Mitchell Year, with all the other female Mitchell Scholars, 2005

You have been the only Mitchell recipient at UCI. What was your major at UCI and how did learn about the Mitchell? What inspired you to apply?

I was majoring in political science and international studies with a focus on Western Europe. I was part of the Campuswide Honors Program and they had a program to help students apply for prestigious scholarships, like the Fulbright, the Truman and so forth. I actually applied for a few of them, but the Mitchell is the one I received and in retrospect it really was the best fit for me. I was working with Audrey DeVore and Rebecca Harris back when they worked there in the Campuswide Honors office.

Why the Mitchell? Why study in Ireland?

I was focusing on Western Europe in my studies and the summer between my junior and senior year I was part of a study abroad program, the first cohort to go do an exchange with the University of Lund in Sweden. And now, more than 10 years later, that exchange continues. Students from all the UCs went to the University of Lund; we took classes with Lund students and we had both UC professors and University of Lund professors. It was different from most international exchanges because the focus was more on politics, rather than on language or culture.. Our focus was mostly on the politics of Europe and the European Union. During the program we took a trip to Brussels and, among other places, got to visit EU headquarters and NATO headquarters.

Brittany at NATO

We also went to Stockholm and met with members of the Swedish government. So, it was a really interesting program and was the first time that I got to spend a significant amount of time in Europe, which helped solidify my desire to come back and do my Masters in Europe. So this experience led me to apply for the Fulbright in the UK, as well as the Mitchell to study in Ireland or Northern Ireland and it ended up working out for the Mitchell.

How did you sell your point in your personal statement? What do you think made you stand out?

The program was still relatively young. 2001 was the first graduating class of Mitchells.

The U.S.-Ireland alliance administers the Mitchell program, which allows American leaders to pursue a year of graduate study in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The goal is to provide future leaders with an understanding and interest in Ireland. The Alliance was created by Trina Vargo in 1998. She had worked with Senator Mitchell to create a program that would deepen that U.S.-Ireland alliance. So, basically, the scholarship was the main place holder in that alliance.

Being a young program back when I was applying in 2005 (2001 was the first graduating class of Mitchells), they hadn’t had a lot of candidates with military background, service academy experience, or anyone who was part of an ROTC program.

I was one of the first females accepted into the program who was also pursuing a future  in the military. I think my ambition to combine my academic study with a military career, specifically serving overseas within the intelligence field, was part of what made me a relatively unique candidate for the scholarship.

Meeting Senator Mitchell with some of the Scholars while in N Ireland, 2006

Tell me about your military background and UCI? What came first?

During my four years  at UCI, I was also a cadet in  the Air Force reserve officer training corps (ROTC) program up at UCLA. ROTC is basically, one of three ways someone can earn a commission and become an  officer in the U.S. military. So when I graduated from college, I commissioned the same week, became an officer, and was granted an administrative delay from the Air Force, which essentially allowed me to take advantage of the Mitchell scholarship.

I served in the Air Force for eight year after graduate school and am currently in the inactive ready reserves, which means I maintain my commission as an officer but am not actively serving in the military.

How did you juggle ROTC duties with UCI demands?

It was really hard. That’s the reason that I got a “C” in honors micro-bio. I remember I was in the Campuswide Honors Program and had to do ROTC every Friday, so I was gone from Irvine and forced to miss classes every Friday. I was lucky enough that I was able to schedule  most of my classes Tuesday/Thursdays or Mondays and Wednesdays, but there was this one required micro-bio class that was M/W/F and I found it impossible, having missed 1/3 of the classes, to do well.

UCI is so intensive. It almost requires a full-time commitment to the space.

Yes, it definitely does. Being first to register for classes because of being in the CHP program gave me that edge to accommodate a crazy schedule. It was hard. I double-majored, and technically, could have triple-majored because I was taking classes up at UCLA, like Aerospace studies, history and classes that were specific to ROTC affairs. I ended up graduating with so many units that it was enough for a triple-major.

It would suffice to say that through my college years, I didn’t work during the school year; there just wasn’t enough time.

Brittany Traveling with the SACEUR while posted to SHAPE in Europe, 2010

What ended up being your double-majors at UCI?

Political Science and International studies.

I didn’t get a degree from UCLA, I just completed my ROTC requirements there. ROTC detachments are located all over the United States and allow cadets to come to that university, even if they’re not a full-time student there, just to fulfill their ROTC obligations in order to earn their commission, which means taking  military studies classes and otherwise participating in the  ROTC program. The degree, at UCLA, in my case, was getting a commission in the United States Airforce and becoming an officer upon graduation.

And, since I get this question a lot, in order to an officer in the U.S. military, yes, you must have a bachelor’s degree.

Brittany-Deployed to Afghanistan, 2012

Why did you choose UCI?

I grew up outside Chicago and when I started looking at universities I was drawn to ones far away from home. I think, like a lot of teenagers, I wanted to have a different experience. My aunt and uncle lived in Yorba Linda and we used to come out on vacation, so I knew I loved the area. I knew that the University of California was the #1 public school system in the country, so I went out there and looked at a few of the UCs in that area. I remember coming onto the Irvine campus and walking out to Aldrich Park and it was so calm and peaceful that I just knew I’d be at home there.

Once UCI endorsed you for the Mitchell, where did you go for the interview?

I went to Washington DC.

Tell me a little bit about that process. What kind of questions did they ask you?

Back then, they were still doing semi-finalist interviews in person. I understand they have now changed that. So I flew out for that. A couple of days later, I found out that I was going to be a finalist and then I had to fly out a week later for the final interview. Literally the day after the final interview I found out that I had received the scholarship.

The semi-finalist interview was just an interview. There were just two people I met with.  When I did the finalist interview, the whole process started the night before the actual interview. There is a reception, usually at the Irish Embassy in Washington D.C,. And you are there with all of the other finalists and with the people who will be part of your panel the next day, but you don’t know who they are.

It’s all part of the process. The Irish Ambassador is usually there, so it’s formal but not an intimidating event. The Mitchell interview process is meant to be an opportunity to let you talk in a more natural atmosphere and see if you are the type of person who can handle this type of situation because they look at you as essentially being an ambassador of the U.S. abroad.

The next day they do the finalist interviews. They had a panel of interviewers, about 9 to 12 people on the panel; it was a huge panel. You walk in and you are like, “Wow! This is a lot of people.” But it’s not an aggressive interview. They are not trying to trip you up. You still need to know your stuff. Everyone takes turns asking you questions. It’s a thorough interview, but it is also fast-paced, about 20 minutes.

Brittany-Engagement Photo in Seoul

What do you mean by, they will expect you to know your stuff?

They will ask you questions about your experiences and details in your application. They will ask you, why the Mitchell? Why Ireland? To get to this point in the application process you need to have identified the what, why and where in Ireland. They will ask you about that.

The reason for these specific questions is that  lots of people will want to say that they got this prestigious scholarship, but the question for the committee is, has this applicant really thought it through?  Interviewers are trying to gauge whether the candidate is really interested in the U.S.-Ireland relationship or just looking for opportunities to study abroad.

Are you just chasing the accolade, or do you have a really good reason for why you want to pursue this specific opportunity?

Brittany-Hiking in Haiti with my daughter on my back, winter 2015

What did you tell them?

I was interested in the Northern Ireland conflict; specifically, how they resolved that conflict. I ended up doing my dissertation on a comparison between the IRA in Northern Ireland and Hamas in the Palestinian Territories and Israel. I was interested in comparing how the populations supporting both of those groups influenced their tactics.

It sounds like you wowed them with your knowledge of the political climate and the contemporary issues.

I think they appreciated that I had done my research on Ireland and why I wanted to study there. Also, generally speaking, they appreciate candidates who are well-rounded. They are not just looking for a 4.0 GPA and candidates who just have a stellar academic record. They want you to have community service, and leadership experience, and a certain type of personality – someone who can speak comfortably and be articulate. Not just someone who is book-smart.  I believe they would be willing to accept a 3.5 or 3.6 GPA if a candidate had the other qualities.

Brittany-Giving a radio interview while posted to Haiti as a Foreign Service Officer, 2015

What was your experience like when you got to Ireland? What was a day in your life like?

Once the Mitchells are awarded, the program can send up to two Mitchell’s to any university in Ireland. You could have Mitchells in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland. Generally they’ll have two students at each of the best known universities,  like Queens in Belfast and Trinity in Dublin. But there are universities all over the island. I went to Dublin City University (DCU), which is about 20 minutes north of Dublin. Depending on where you go, you will have a different experience. You’ll be in a different city, a different campus and naturally you are going to study different subjects, but you have an opportunity to influence all that in your application.

I was fortunate. The year I got there was the first year they had a program in International Security and Conflict  Studies. When I interviewed I was going to go into a general IR program because that’s all the country had. But when I found out they’d be adding the security/conflict degree I asked for permission to go into that instead and they approved it.

DCU ended up attracting students from all over the world for this particular program and it was wonderful. There was one student from Nigeria; there were a couple other classmates from the United States; there was a classmate from Spain. I thought it was a great program because you didn’t just have the Irish perspective. When you talk about a topic like international conflict it is always great to have people from several perspectives and different continents share their views. I’m actually still friends with one of the great Irish girls who was in the same program.

The most enduring relationships that I created were with my fellow Mitchells. Several of us have stayed in touch. We’ve gone on vacations together, our kids play together, one of them was even in our wedding party! . In fact, I’m going over to one of their homes for brunch tomorrow!  More than 10 years later, we are still very close.

This was really the best period of my life for developing genuine relationships with truly kind people who also have great careers and are really going somewhere.  It was never networking in the sense of using one another to claw your way to the top. It was more like drinking beer together, talking about our classes, and catching up. We traveled all over Europe together and beyond. We had all these great, organic experiences together. And over time, since graduation, that has developed into a network of great friends who I call for everything from parenting advice to help prepping for an important interview. Most of them have gone on to get additional advanced degrees from some very prestigious universities like Yale and Harvard. They’ve lived all over: Timor Leste, Germany, Sri Lanka… They’ve traveled to some incredible places, and they’re doing everything from groundbreaking research to fighting to reduce poverty.

Given that you are our only recipient at Uci so far, where do you suggest that we recruit students who might be a great fit?

The great thing about the Mitchell, unlike many other programs, is that they take people from any field of study. You can have a dancer or a musician. We even had a guy in our class who was a firefighter. If they can articulate why they want to study in Ireland, any major is eligible for this program. It’s not just political science or international studies. I’m not sure where it’s ranked now, but I know when I went to UCI the dance program was 2nd in the nation and I’d be surprised if students in the fine arts realize that opportunities like the Mitchell are available to them. I would say you can also definitely recruit through the campuswide honors program because you’ll find students there with strong academic backgrounds, which of course is a must for a scholarship like this. Students who are strong academically, diverse, articulate, well-rounded and leaders will be solid candidates.

In the application there is a space for the candidate to identify the top three universities and programs they’re interested in. It would be good for applicants to do their research on both because if theyget to the interview point, they’ll need to be able to articulate that.

In looking up your biography, you’ve lived in Haiti and Korea. Can you tell me about that?

Currently, I am a Foreign Service officer with the State Department. I lived in Haiti for two years where I worked as a Counselor Officer. I worked in the immigrant, and non-immigrant visa units, as well as American Citizen Services. I interviewed applicants for visas, whether it was for leisure, business, or study. I also conducted interviews for those who were in the process of legally immigrating to the United States.Working in American Citizen Services was a bit different – probably the most interesting part of the job! It wasn’t just helping Americans who had lost their passport, it was everything from prison visits to helping U.S. Citizen parents transmit citizenship to their foreign-born children.  I’m proud to say that I now speak Haitian-Creole very well.

My husband and our daughter and I have just arrived in Brunei in Southeast Asia, where we will be for the next two years. It’s a small embassy here so I will sort of be in a ‘jack of all trades’ position working on political, economic, and consular issues.

Tell me about your Korean experience.

I lived in Korea back when I was in the Air Force. I loved living there; really, I love Asia in general, which is largely why we’re back in Asia now. My husband and I actually met when we were both posted in Korea. We loved the culture and the people. We lived outside of Seoul, and we found that area to be so vibrant; an incredible juxtaposition of modern technology and traditional lifestyles and architecture. Six years after we met he took me back to Korea to propose and surprised me with engagement photos at one of our favorite locations up in Seoul!

What was living in Belgium like? What did you do for NATO?

I was also posted to Belgium, where I worked as an intelligence analyst at Supreme Headquarters Allied Power Europe (SHAPE), which in simple terms is NATO military headquarters

Following that, I was deployed multiple times while working for Air Force Special Operations Command. I had a deployment to Afghanistan and another based out of Stuttgart, Germany, which was focused primarily on work related to Africa. As you would expect, being deployed isn’t easy; you’re working 12+ hour days every day the whole time, so it’s a pretty grueling pace. I guess it was good training for becoming a mom, haha.  

Timeline of Brittany’s Journey:

  1. UCI/UCLA/ROTC – graduated and commissioned in June 2015
  2. Mitchell year in Ireland, 2005-2006
  3. 2006-2010, active duty officer in the Air Force (training, Korea, Belgium/NATO)
  4. 2010-2013, reservist in the Air Force (multiple deployments), I was also working for Booz Allen Hamilton in DC during this time, but we didn’t really talk about that.
  5. 2014-current, Foreign Service Officer (diplomat) with the State Department (training, Haiti, Brunei)

 

Now we have a one year old. She’s our sweetie.

What dreams do you have for her? What do you hope for her?

Everyone hopes that their child grows up with more opportunities that they had. My dad passed away when I was a kid. As simple as it sounds, l hope our daughter grows up with both of her parents. My husband and I have been actively trying to give her the gift of language because neither of us grew up bilingual. Her first language was actually Creole.

If I were to ask you now for final words of advice for students contemplating the Mitchell what would you say to them?

I would say, just apply. I applied for many scholarships that I did not receive. But I would say that going through these experiences prepared me for the next opportunities. I think many times we are afraid of risking failure. But life, ultimately, is experiences. Everything is meant to prepare you for the next thing and to make you a stronger person. Even if you don’t make it all the way, do it for the experience. I just don’t think you can go wrong with applying for a prestigious scholarship. You’ll always have that experience to draw from in the future.

 

 

Sara Arellano, Fulbright Winner, Blog Post #3: Research findings and reflections

Trigger warning: This post contains summaries of research findings on sensitive topics such as forced displacement and domestic violence.

In my prior blog I shared the sense of community between family, friends, and neighbors, and the willingness of a majority of the public to assist each other with directions when they are lost, and the common practice of businesses and people sharing food with those whom are less fortunate. Medellín rests within a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains. These are the qualities of Medellín that I absolutely love.

Sara’s friend Bladimir serves lunch with 5 different dishes

As beautiful as Medellín is, the topic of my Fulbright Scholarship U.S. Student Program Fellowship is violence against women. Violence against women is not a problem unique to Colombia, but rather a global problem that international and nongovernmental organizations have grappled with for decades. Another component of my investigation focused on how does race and ethnicity impact a woman’s access to resources, which was a challenge, because the entities in Medellín that collect data on victims of violence do not code race and/or ethnicity.

My research was conducted within the context of the Colombian internal armed conflict, where close to 8 million Colombians have been directly affected (Red Nacional de Información, October 26, 2016). Although a peace accord between the Colombian Government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia–Ejército del Pueblo was passed by Colombian Congress in December of 2016, forced displacement continues, as some demobilized armed actors have reformed, and/or joined criminal gangs (referred to as BACRIM for bandas criminals by the Colombian Government).

Conference with various womens’ organizations, including Ruta Pacifica de las Mujeres

I have interviewed Afro-descendant, indigenous, and mestiza women whom were victims of intra-familial violence, and also experienced forced displacement, and/or had relatives assassinated by armed groups. During my research I realized the revised 1991 Constitution of Colombia impacts the security of indigenous women, as Article 246 specifies indigenous communities have the right to self-govern. A consequence of protecting indigenous culture and tradition has resulted in confusion, as to when Colombian ordinary law supersedes indigenous internal law. Thus, laws designed to protect women from intra-familial, non-partner, or sexual violence often exempts crimes that were committed within indigenous communities (Escobar, Maria Roldån 2015, “In the backyard of indigenous justice-Weakness of communities” El Tiempo).

Comments from interviews I conducted with indigenous women organization leaders suggest indigenous community authorities (whom are usually men) do not resolve the issues of violence against women with consistency, or to the satisfaction of the victim.

Hilda Liria Domicó Bailarín from the indigenous community Embera Eyábida

Within the Afro-descendant population there is a strong culture of silence, which is similar to the indigenous culture. I was advised by several Afro-descendants that they do not speak about intra-familial or sexual violence with “outsiders” or those who do not share their same skin tone. Based on my research, I believe this is due to the exclusion of, and discrimination against generations of Afro-descendants, which has resulted in distrust of “outsiders”; furthermore, there does not appear to be equal employment of Afro-descendants in the entities that provide resources for victims, which may further exacerbate their unwillingness to use available resources.

I propose race and ethnicity does impact a woman’s access to resources. Race and ethnicity have a historical context in the social and political structure of each subpopulation, which has an affect on their decision to reach out to available resources after an assault. Based on participant responses, Afro-descendants and indigenous women do not encounter blatant discrimination when reaching out to resources within the Municipality of Medellín; however, my research involved a limited sample size (30 participants).

CERFAMI (Centro de Recursos Integrales para la Familía​) social workers

Providing statistics on race and ethnicity would provide important demographic data for research groups and organizations interested in understanding the scope and dimensions of victimization for a specific subpopulation. Disregarding this information underscores the ideology of “mestizaje”, where all Colombians are considered one mixed race (Wade, Peter 2005, “Rethinking Mestizaje: Ideology and Lived Experience”; Dulitzky, Ariel E. 2001, “A Region in Denial: Racial Discrimination and Racism in Latin America”).

Multiple dynamics exist within Colombian civil society that exacerbates the vulnerability of women. The intersectionality of the internal armed conflict, culture, socioeconomic status, and the politics of law compounds the realization for women to reach equality, equity, and a life free from violence.

The author, Sara Arellano, and her friend, the late poet Jhony Arenas

My Fulbright experience has impressed upon me the magnitude of the internal armed conflict, however, I have also witnessed the strength, resilience, and hospitality of the people of Medellín, Colombia. The friends I have made, and my positive international experience has enhanced my professional and academic development, for which I will always be eternally grateful to all who supported me (UCI professors & SOP, and friends & family).

Mohamad Abedi–NSF Winner and SOROS Fellow

Mohamad and President Obama Mohamad Abedi-Dinner with the Soros Fellows and President Barack Obama

Mohamad was born to Palestinian refugees in the United Arab Emirates. His family was under the constant threat of deportation back to the refugee camp in Lebanon where they had come from. His parents, lacking strong educations themselves, could not help Mohamad with his school work, but always served as his role models and inspiration.

Growing up, Mohamad spent his summers visiting family in the Beddawi refugee camp in Lebanon, where resources for health care were inadequate. He watched family members struggle with ailments that should have been easily curable, but instead persisted and grew worse. This experience motivated Mohamad to pursue an education in bioengineering, however he felt limited by the range of education options available to him. A world of education options opened up to him when, his senior year, after a ten-year waiting process, his family’s application to the United States was approved. Mohamad was able to pursue a degree in bioengineering at UC Irvine where President Obama distinguished him during a commencement address as someone who knows, “what it means to dream.”

At UC Irvine, he worked on building diagnostic devices for rural areas by designing computers that run on air instead of electricity. Later, he investigated the robustness of bacterial genetic circuits with respect to noise. Recently, Mohamad received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, recognizing him as one of the future leaders in his field.

Mohamad is now pursuing a PhD in bioengineering at Caltech. The long-term goal of his scientific career is to develop tools for non-invasive modulation of brain circuitry, which would allow scientists to understand and treat neurological and psychiatric diseases that involve the dysfunction of local neural circuits. Biography by Mohamad Abedi as posted in the Paul and Daisy Soros Foundation’s Meet the Fellows section.

What was your major at UCI, and how did you learn about the SOROS and the NSF? 

When I first transferred from Irvine Valley College to UCI, I wasn’t really sure of what I wanted to do. I was leaning, mostly, toward medical school. But, as I took more classes, I realized I really enjoyed physics and chemistry classes, which led me to think that if I went to medical school I wouldn’t be able to focus on these topics.

I decided to come into UCI as a mechanical engineer major and transferred into that field. Then, I had another change of plans and ended up majoring in biomedical engineering. This way, I could also satisfy the part of me who wanted to be a doctor.

How did I hear about the SOROS fellowship?

When I was at UCI, I worked in a couple of labs doing research. I remember talking to professor Chang Liu and Elliot Hui about applying to graduate school and they recommended that I apply to fellowships and talk to other graduate students about options. I learned about the NSF and I also learned about the SOROS fellowship through them.

Did you visit the SOP office?

I did, when I wanted examples of NSF essays.

Tell us about the SOROS. How did you write a competitive application and sell your case?

The SOROS is a unique fellowship. I would say that they are looking for funding people as opposed to funding ideas. The NSF funds you based on an idea, mostly.

When it comes to the SOROS fellowship, you have to be an immigrant or the son or daughter of an immigrant.

However, what they really look for is more than an immigration story. They want you to show that you are a person who holds great potential to contribute to the United States as an immigrant. They also want to learn about the certain ways in which the United States helped you. In short, in the telling of this story, they want to know that the help an immigrant student received in the United States was life-changing and would not have been possible anywhere else. They also want to attract students who have a clear path to becoming future leaders in their fields.

What is your immigrant story? Where is your family from?

It’s complicated. My family and I are Palestinian refugees.I came to the U.S. as a teenager. I was 17. In the beginning, I stayed with my aunt. A bit later, my sister joined, who is younger than me. As we got more financially stable, another family member would join. My family followed me later. As a virtue of being a refugee, we lived in Lebanon and we applied to come to the US. It was a very long process and toward the end, we got accepted to emigrate here.

How did you craft your story? The SOROS looks for students who value the US Constitution and demonstrate potential for creativity and leadership. What did you tell them that you wanted to do with your life?

One major factor in my case as a refugee was that in other countries, I always felt I was a second-class citizen or even lower. In these countries, we didn’t get a lot of opportunities. This was totally different when I came to the U.S. Here, I was treated as a U.S citizen, even though I wasn’t one at that point.

I was given a lot of opportunities here to be creative and to focus on school. One of the most important benefits was that the US allowed me to be involved in research, which is an opportunity I wouldn’t have received anywhere else. The incredible opportunities I was given in the U.S. have been a major part of my story, and have influenced the path I pursued, and continue to follow today.

Mohamad and lab partners at Caltech enjoying a day off.

How did the SOROS connect with the NSF project and what did you do for the NSF?

Between applying to the SOROS and the NSF there was a year. When I applied for NSF I was still at UCI. The project that I proposed then was inspired by the research I had done as an undergraduate student. But when I started graduate school I started pursuing a different project.

The one that I proposed for the SOROS fellowship was mainly focused on engineering cells in the brain, a project that was linked to the brain initiative launched by President Obama.

Tell me about the brain initiative that President Obama proposed.

A couple of years ago, the President directed funding of a billion or more (it is roughly half a billion per year and it has been going since 2013) to research the human brain. President Obama launched this initiative referencing that we understand the galaxies around us better than we do our brains. The White House wanted to pave the way towards understanding the brain by driving research towards developing new tools to study the human brain.

What graduate school are you attending?

I am pursuing a PhD in Bio-Engineering at Caltech. I didn’t go too far.  I like it here. I’m in the middle of my 3rd year.

What are you working on right now?

Recently, I published a paper that details my work and what I’ll work on in the future.

I’m working on developing proteins that respond to temperature changes. We are creating medicinal proteins intended to heal the body. Currently, people use light to communicate with brain cells, specifically, with neurons. The problem is that to get the light into your brain you have to drill a hole in your skull. The alternative is that you can use ultrasound to focus on a specific region of the brain and heat it without damaging the brain cells. But you also need a receiver that you can install in your cells so that they can respond to heat signals and that is where my work comes in. Through the use of an ultrasound, you don’t have to drill and the light reaches within the brain.

What advice would give a student considering the SOROS and the NSF?

If you are in a STEM field, participate in research. In my case, I ended up liking it so much that I changed my career to be a researcher, which was not my initial goal. Through the process of research, you start learning to be independent; you learn how to solve problems.

Then, if you decide that research is what you want to do, fellowships become important because you can otherwise be limited to work on projects that a professor is working on, especially when the funding is coming from that professor.

On the other hand, if you have a fellowship, like the NSF or the SOROS, you have more freedom of choice regarding which school, which lab and which project you want to work with. It gives you a lot of freedom to do what you care about, which is the biggest plus you get out of these scholarships. This is the case for the NSF.

What is unique about the SOROS is that they really care about people, which is not very common for other fellowships. When you become a SOROS fellow, they fly you every year, for 2 years, to New York where you get to meet with other fellows and discuss major issues with them. You meet people from a lot of different fields. I got to meet musicians, people that work in the business field, people who work in clinical medicine, and many others. It is a great opportunity to meet all these different people who come from all these different fields.

Mohamad Abadi and Soros Cohort

Mohamad Abadi and Soros Cohort

All of us have something in common. We all came to this country as immigrants, and we are all more or less on the path to help advance the field that we are in in this country, which is something really nice and I don’t think could be possible through any of the other fellowship.

How many years have you been flying to New York to meet with the SOROS team?

I’ve been a SOROS fellow for 3 years, and they pay for your expenses to go to New York and stay there for a weekend. It’s usually a combination of fun activities, skill-development, and networking. The aspect of making connections is very nice.

The year before, the U.S. Surgeon General, who is also a SOROS, sat with us and we got to discuss health issues affecting Americans. These are incredible opportunities to meet people that you would otherwise not have the opportunity to meet.  These conversations allow you to meet amazing people on a  personal level, interact, and build connections.

They book us all in one hotel; they plan every day and they have a schedule, including food, workshops, and talks.

Mohamad Abedi Soros Conference 2015

Mohamad Abedi Soros Conference 2015

How big is the group?

The way it works is that every year they invite the class that won the fellowship that year and the year before so that’s why I went last year and the year before. Next year, I won’t get a paid invitation. I will have to pay for it myself, but every 10 years or so they have a big conference where everybody is invited.

How does the SOROS conference appeal to the distinct fields? What do you have in common besides being immigrants?

What we all share in common is that regardless of your discipline, SOROS recipients are ambitious, self-driven people who are goal-oriented. They have tall plans and are working to achieve them. These traits, we all share in common, and we appreciate them in others, regardless of the field.

These are more than networking opportunities. You actually become friends. So if they are close to you, you can meet with them regularly in LA, for example, and whenever I fly somewhere, if I know there is a SOROS fellow, I email them or Facebook chat, “I’m around. Do you want to meet up?”

There is a very strong networking component to the SOROS.

Mohamad Abedi-Soros cohort meets for conference

Mohamad Abedi-Soros cohort meets for conference

What countries or world regions are represented in your class?

A big variety: Middle East, Iran, Egypt, in my case, United Arab Emirates, Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia, China, Taiwan, India, South America.

What did you have to do to apply for the SOROS?

You write 2 essay. One, of your work and your plans for the future, and the other, is about your American experience, your immigration story and why U.S. values are important to you and how you have used those values and opportunities to charge ahead.

Once you send this in, if you are selected, you attend a personal interview, either in New York or LA. They fly you there, and you are interviewed by previous Soros fellows and other people.

When I interviewed, the panel had previous SOROS winners and the Mayor of L.A. was one of the people who interviewed me. From the 70 candidates, they pick 30 to win the fellowship.

What was the interview like? What questions did they ask?

You go through 2 interviews. Each interviewing committee has 4 or 5 interviewers. Questions include: which research are you working on;  what do you do in your free time; what’s important to you, other than work.

They are looking for certain type of people. They really want to find out who you are as a whole.

They tailor questions based on your background, and they are really interested in understanding your goals and they ask you lots of personal questions.

Do you remember those?

Yes. They asked, “you told us about your research, you are busy all the time, but do you have something else in your life or do you only do research?” This is the point where they look to see if you are a well-rounded person and that question surprised me.

I told them, I do spend most of my time in lab because for me the lab is  fun. It never feels like an obligation. Some people find fun in sports or movies which I do participate in. But for me, working in the lab and interacting with my colleagues is fun, and what I do for fun.

What sense did you get from the interview process? What are they looking for?

They really want people who are showing strong potential in whatever field they are in. They don’t really care about specific types of research. What they care about is that you are a person who in the future will make the fellowship’s name and reputation more prestigious. The more successful you become, the more prestigious the SOROS becomes. They look for the people who have the potential to become successful, to become leaders in whatever they are doing.

It’s not enough to have an immigrant story. It’s important to show how that story affected you and informed the person that you are today. And if that person shows promise, then that’s the person they want to keep as a SOROS fellow.

How has the SOROS process changed you? 

I think the biggest advantage, other than the money, is the amazing people I would have never had the chance to meet in my life. These meetings give you new perspectives. They inspire you because they show you what other people are doing with this opportunity and their personal drive. We  help each other out to reach these goals. We encourage each other to stay motivated, to stay inspired and to stay connected.

What would you tell a student who is preparing to apply for the SOROS. What should they definitely cover in their essays?

Show that being in the U.S. has helped you become the person that you are. Connect your story to how these opportunties have developed a patriotic spirit for the U.S., that you are on the path to success because of the U.S. and in turn, your success will help the U.S become a better country.

The SOROS is a patriotic fellowship that is interested in making this country better.

They want to see people who  have the potential to be successful so in the application and interview it is important to focus on the bigger picture and demonstrate that what you are working on could be useful and impactful for the country as a whole.

Show them that you have a clear path of where you want to be in the future. They don’t want people who are unsure. They want people who have a goal, are driven and know what they need to do to reach that goal.

How did you convince them that you are going to be successful? What are the values of America that you love and that push you to be the best that you can be? How will you give back and be a contributive member of U.S. society?

The first question relates to the American dream. It doesn’t matter where you come from. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you put in the effort and the work, opportunities will be open to you and you will be able to reach what you want.

In other countries, in order to be successful, you have to come from a big family name, or you have to be rich. Over here, when I came to the U.S. my name didn’t mean anything and I wasn’t financially in a good place, but because I was putting in the work and I had a vision, doors opened for me, either through fellowships, scholarships, or assistance. Doors will be open to you to reach your goal as long as you put in the work for it.

The second part, how I convinced them that my project will be impactful, it is very important to have strong letters of recommendation. I can talk all day about who I am and what I plan to do, but it is through the letters verifying that, that the committee can start to see it. When professors write letters making comments like, “I know this person; I’ve seen his work; I know that he will be x y z in the future,” this is really important.

And in my case something else that helped me during graduation from Irvine, was that president Obama during his commencement speech, one of the people he mentioned was my name, Mohammad Abedi came as a refugee and now he is working on his Ph.D. getting an endorsement from the president, saying I got here as a refugee and now he’s going to do great things, helped me a lot in my application for the SOROS.

How did President Obama learn about you?

When the president decided he was coming he had people contact UCI for recommendations. He wanted to mention names. They asked people for profiles and biographies and sent them back to the White House and the White House contacted me a day before to verify information. They said there is no guarantee that he is going to talk about me. When I went to the graduation, I wasn’t even sure. It was great when he mentioned my name.

Any other advice you’d give students thinking about fellowships?

It isn’t only about the grades. Doing research is important, learning how to be a good writer is important. Also important is to seek help, ask for  help. There are a lot of nice people who have a lot of information and are very willing to help, but you have to seek them out. Be active about the things that are important. When I wrote my application, I sent it to tons of people; whoever was willing to read my application. Many people write their applications and they are either shy or they don’t want to share it. Get as much feedback as possible.

What is next for you? What do you want to do after you get your degree?

I’m working on completing a Phd so  I can start a career as a tenure-track professor. I  would love to stay in California. I love the weather here.

Mohamad is available to answer questions about his journey, experiences and life accomplishments. He can be reached at x@caltech.edu

Follow this link to learn about his latest research. To find out more about Mohamad and his partners in Shapiro lab, click here.

PhD, Candidate at Caltech, Mohamad Abedi is an immigrant from the United Arab Emirates. The Soros Fellowship was awarded to support his work towards a PhD in Bioengineering at Caltech

President Obama mentions Mohamad’s accomplishments during his commencement speech.