Eight people standing side to side, smiling.
UCI Provost Hal Stern is flanked by (from left) awardees Christine Wei, Joshua Nguyen, Emma Rosandich, Elizabeth Hafen, Owen Trimble, Grant Lai and Francis Aguas. Will Alvarez / UCI

The Scholarship Opportunities Program at UCI is pleased to announce record placements in prestigious, national merit scholarship competitions. The honorees include: five Fulbright recipients, two Fulbright alternates, one Fulbright semifinalist, five National Science Foundation Graduate Research fellows, a Goldwater scholar, a Donald A. Strauss scholar, two California Capital Fellows finalists and UCI’s first Fulbright Canada Killam fellow. Alongside these students is UCI’s first British Marshall and Rhodes finalist in over a decade.

UCI had a 75 percent placement rate in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program for the 2023-24 cycle, with five recipients and two alternates named:

  • William Dunkel (informatics)
  • Elizabeth Hafen (psychology and political science)
  • Owen Trimble (mechanical engineering)
  • Emma Rosandich (urban studies)
  • Michelle Wei (education sciences and social policy & public service)

These students will study, conduct research and/or teach abroad for the 2023-24 academic year in their chosen countries. Recent UCI graduates John Robb and Andrea Valentini received alternate status for Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards.

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships went to four graduating seniors and one recent graduate:

  • Anabel Chen (chemistry)
  • Brian Devine (aerospace engineering)
  • Owen Trimble (mechanical engineering)
  • Christine Wei (pharmaceutical sciences)
  • Francis Aguas (biomedical engineering)

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for Excellence in Research was awarded to Grant Lai (biological sciences and chemistry). Joshua Nguyen (public health sciences) received the Donald A. Strauss Scholarship for Public Service and was named UCI’s first Fulbright Canada Killam fellow. Graduating seniors Zachary Griggy (political science and urban studies) and Andrea Morales (international studies) were invited to interview as finalists for the California Capital Fellows internship program. Finally, Steven Gong (human biology, economics and political science) attained finalist status for both the Marshall and Rhodes scholarships.

The 2023-24 scholarship recipients represent UCI’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, with seven of them identifying as first-generation students from various backgrounds. For this award cycle, the SOP helped nominate 32 students representing 12 schools, a 25 percent increase from last year.

At the SOP’s 18th annual “Breakfast of Champions” recognition ceremony on May 25, Hal Stern, UCI provost and executive vice chancellor, commended the awardees: “We’re having breakfast with the best of the best. I, especially, want to credit all of you for taking a chance – you put yourselves out there to get opportunities, to pursue opportunities and to do the work to make them a reality. Your hard work and dedication have paid off for you, and you have very bright futures ahead.”

SOP director Rose Jones also extended her congratulations and thanked the honorees for inspiring the next generation of students: “UCI appreciates how you have strengthened the notion of what it means to receive a world-class Anteater education. You are leaving a legacy and establishing a tradition of excellence that inspires others to find their passions and the courage to dream big and make an impactful difference.”

Visit the SOP website for the full list of prestigious scholarship winners and honorees for 2023-24. The SOP – housed within the Division of Undergraduate Education and overseen by the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning – was launched in 1990 to assist UCI undergraduates and recent alumni in applying for 21 internationally prestigious merit-based awards. It provides advising and support services and manages the university-level application review and endorsement process for awards that require campus endorsement.