“I’ve gained so much during my time at UCI,” says Christine Louis, who graduated in June with a B.S. in neurobiology. “I would not have been able to accomplish as much as I did without the support of the Atwood Scholarship, and I am forever grateful.” Steve Zylius / UCI

Having graduated with honors this past June with a bachelor’s degree in neurobiology, Christine Louis has achieved her first higher educational goal in pursuit of a lifelong dream.

“I’ve always wanted to be a doctor – ever since I was a little girl – because I want to help and heal others, especially those who can’t help themselves,” says the Fullerton native.

She’s quick to credit UCI for equipping her with the skills she’ll need to excel in both medical school and clinical practice.

“I worked really hard in all my difficult biology classes and took advantage of tutoring services that were offered on campus, as well as forming study groups with my classmates,” Louis says.

During her time as a UCI undergrad, she paid it forward as a peer tutor in the biological sciences and, when she was a senior, as a freshman seminar teaching assistant, aiding struggling students and mentoring those transitioning into the major.

Aligning with her passion for medicine, Louis also worked as a certified peer health educator at the UCI Center for Student Wellness & Health Promotion. “I strove to encourage healthy behaviors by raising awareness and providing knowledge in the topic area of alcohol and other drugs,” she says. “I was an advocate for students to make informed decisions supporting their health and safety.”

In addition, Louis mentored fifth-graders at Jeane Thorman Elementary School in Tustin and served as a free intern at Crescent Clinic in Anaheim. She also worked in the Emergency Medicine Research Associates Program, which gives UCI undergraduate and postbaccalaureate students a unique opportunity to contribute directly to research projects in emergency medical services and interact with people at UCI’s Level 1 trauma center.

There, Louis enrolled patients in various clinical studies for the Department of Emergency Medicine at the UCI Medical Center and conducted original research – presenting her findings at regional conferences of such professional organizations as the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine and the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Scholarship support

While working toward her degree, Louis received the Atwood Family Endowed Scholarship, which lessened the financial burden of higher education on her family and allowed her to focus on her studies.

“It was a huge help, as my sister and I were both in college at the same time,” she says. “And it really encouraged me to take advantage of all the resources and opportunities UCI has to offer.”

Louis is one of many grateful UCI students who benefit from philanthropic support. These scholarships partly cover university expenses and enable them to pursue activities outside the classroom – such as research or community service – that enrich their UCI experience and help them succeed after graduating. UCI provides nearly 1,000 scholarships funded by generous donors, giving students more than $4 million in academic aid.

“I’ve always believed in giving back,” says donor and UCI alumnus Brian Atwood ’74. “UCI helped propel me on an incredibly rewarding trajectory, and I was happy to give back to the university for its investment in me and to help make an investment in the futures of students like Christine.”

Though she’s already graduated, Louis is still on campus as she takes a gap year before applying to medical schools. She’s associate publishing director for the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, published by UCI’s Department of Emergency Medicine, helping to format accepted research papers from physicians all over the globe.

And, of course, she’s still volunteering – with Team KiPOW, which promotes healthy behaviors among local elementary school students, and with the UCI branch of the Flying Samaritans, which provides essential public health services to the Mexican community of El Testerazo.

“I’ve gained so much during my time at UCI – from being a published co-author on a research manuscript to presenting at national and regional conferences,” Louis says. “I have gained confidence in myself and my abilities as a student and as a future healthcare professional.”