In early spring 2000, Elizabeth Yanni was grappling with a life-altering question: Where should she attend college? As a highperforming senior at Santa Margarita Catholic High School, she had enough acceptance letters from top universities to make her decision a tough one. UCI was already in her sights for its exceptional academic and mentoring programs, but when the university offered her a Regents’ Scholarship – the most prestigious scholarship offered to incoming undergraduates – Yanni needed no further coaxing.
“I chose UCI primarily because of what being a Regents’ Scholar represents – an individual who is rewarded for outstanding academic achievement, scholarly promise and the potential to make valuable contributions to society,” she explains. A senior with a double major in neurobiology and literature, Yanni aims to become a physician and medical researcher. Already a member of the Campuswide Honors Program and the Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society, this year she was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and the Dean’s Arthur Grant, a neurologist at UCI Medical Center, she is on track to enter the College of Medicine’s Medical Scientist Training Program, with hopes of ultimately earning both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees.
“Elizabeth has the motivation, determination and intellectual curiosity to make a fine clinician-researcher,” says Grant, who also serves as neurological director of the UCI Comprehensive Epilepsy Program. “In addition, she has the humanistic qualities essential to establishing a trusting, therapeutic relationship with her patients.”
Yanni believes that all prospective physicians and researchers should find balance in their education, which is why she augments her scientific studies with her love for the humanities. “I believe it is very important for every physician to be well rounded,” she explains. “My humanities courses have taught me so much, and I know these classes will help me become a more compassionate doctor.”
Yanni’s family emigrated from Cairo when she was 3 years old to pursue greater opportunities in the United States. Early on, Yanni’s parents instilled in her the importance of helping others. Although her high school mandated volunteer service from its students, she loved the experience of tutoring children so much that she continued to volunteer long after she had met the requirement. Now she plans to specialize in pediatric cardiology and perform her scientific research in neuroscience.
“The Regents’ Scholarship has enabled almost everything that has made my UCI experience so wonderful,” Yanni explains. “The benefits I’ve gained from having the time and opportunity to excel here will last me a lifetime.”