Jenna Otter is nothing if not focused. And that keen ability enabled her to survive an attack by a 400-pound grizzly bear while on a hike with her father during the summer of 2005 in Montana’s Glacier National Park. As Jenna walked ahead of her father, Johan, she encountered a sow with two cubs. Johan leapt in front of Jenna, and as he fought to protect her, he rolled down an embankment while the grizzly continued to inflict horrific damage on him. Then the bear turned its sights on Jenna.

“I am a natural problem solver,” Jenna explains. “So while the bear was attacking me, I was thinking, ‘What do I need to do next?’” She played dead, and the bear lost interest. Though her father was gravely wounded on a cliff below her, Jenna remained calm. They both called for help and, a short time later, several hikers discovered them. Jenna has since recovered, and although her father’s injuries were more severe, he has returned to work and reclaimed his passion for running marathons.

Now a third-year UCI Regents’ Scholar studying dance and pre-med, Jenna is more focused than ever and hopes after graduating to perform with a national dance company. Later, she plans to attend medical school to train as an orthopedic or heart surgeon.

She continues to be recognized for her heroic accomplishments: She is a 2008 Lauds & Laurels recipient for her heartfelt dedication and commitment to UC Irvine. Additionally, as a Regents’ Scholar, she receives a merit-based scholarship to help her excel academically.

Jenna says receiving a Regents’ Scholarship was the determining factor in her choosing UCI. “This scholarship has given me the resources to do my best.”

With more top students desiring a UCI education, combined with increasing costs and fewer resources to reward their achievements, proceeds raised from “A Celebration of Stars – The Medal Awards” for Regents’ Scholarships and other key areas help students like Jenna maximize their educational potential.

The Medal is the university’s highest honor, and A Celebration of Stars is one of Orange County’s premier fundraising events. For more information, visit: