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Welcoming the ‘Leaders of the Future’

UC San Diego honors Chancellor’s Associates Scholars at special reception

Nashaya Ross embraces her family following the reception. Photos by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

Nashaya Ross remembers walking home from Lincoln High School, thrilled that she had gotten into her top college choice: UC San Diego. But her excitement soon turned to anxiety. “I started thinking, ‘How am I going to pay for college?’ ” said Ross. “I had never felt so stressed. I had the grades and the knowledge, but there’s nothing you can do about money. I felt so powerless.”

But then, she got a telephone call from UC San Diego Interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Alan Houston with good news. She would receive a Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship, which, when coupled with the UC Blue + Gold Opportunity Plan, would provide a full-ride scholarship for Ross to attend UC San Diego.

“I called my mom,” recalled Ross. “She started crying. We were crying together. This meant that I could focus on school rather than worrying about money.”

Ross was one of approximately 33 students who were honored April 23 as part of a special reception to recognize and welcome incoming Chancellor’s Associates Scholars from Lincoln High School, Gompers Preparatory Academy, The Preuss School UCSD and Reality Changers, a local program which helps youth from underserved communities become the first in their families to attend college.

The scholarship program, which was launched last year by Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla to improve the pathway for all qualified students to achieve a higher education, is made possible with funding from Chancellor’s Associates, a loyal network of UC San Diego friends, alumni and parents who make an annual investment of $2,500 each. The pool of funds gives the Chancellor the flexibility to respond to the university’s most urgent needs and critical priorities—including ensuring access and accessibility to UC San Diego for local students.

As part of the event, newly admitted students were joined by their parents, grandparents, guardians and siblings at the Joe and Vi Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation in Southeast San Diego. They were warmly welcomed to the Triton community by UC San Diego leadership and staff from all areas of campus.

“We started this scholarship program for local students because you are the students we want at UC San Diego,” Chancellor Khosla said. He then asked the Chancellor’s Associates Scholars to stand. “Look at these men and women,” he remarked. “They are the leaders of the future.”

The Chancellor then invited Gompers director Vincent Riveroll; Lincoln’s interim principal John Ross; Preuss School principal Scott Barton; and founder and president of Reality Changers Chris Yanov to the stage to introduce each of the scholarship recipients from their respective schools and programs. As the students crossed the stage one-by-one, Chancellor Khosla congratulated each and gave them a blue and gold honor cord.

“Typically, you would receive your honor cord at graduation,” said Khosla. “But I give it to you tonight as a symbol of how much we believe in you. It also signifies our pledge to help you throughout your academic career. So we expect to see you wearing that honor cord again in four years, when you graduate as a UC San Diego Triton.”

Chancellor Khosla thanked the Chancellor’s Associates donors—some of whom were in attendance—for making this program possible and broadening the path to higher education for underserved students. He also highlighted recent expansions to the program: transfer students from San Diego City College and Southwestern College will also be eligible for the scholarship in fall 2014.

“I am delighted with this program, and I am particularly grateful to the Chancellor for expanding it to Southwestern College and San Diego City College,” said Ron Baza, a member of the Chancellor’s Community Advisory Board and adjunct professor at Southwestern College. “Having grown up in this area, I am happy that these opportunities are being provided. They weren’t there when my brother and I were coming up.”

Currently, $4 million of Chancellor’s Associates funds are designated annually to the program for each new class of scholars. But in order to expand it further—and help more students—additional scholarship support is essential. In recent months, Rick Sandstrom, co-founder of Cymer, Inc., and his wife, Sandra Timmons, stepped up to donate $500,000 to support scholarships directed through the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship program.

Chancellor Khosla finished the evening by thanking the parents and families who have helped their students get where they are today. After taking a photo with the Chancellor, Nashaya Ross returned to her family with her new honor cord draped on her shoulders and embraced her mother and grandmother.

“I have a lot of emotions,” said Nashaya’s mom, Donna Ross. “My daughter will be moving out soon, but she is a brilliant kid. I am glad that she is attending UC San Diego. We have been to campus a few times and it feels like home.”

In total, approximately 55 freshmen students, including the 33 who attended last week’s event, have been offered Chancellor’s Associates Scholarships for fall 2014. In addition, approximately 25 transfer students are anticipated to receive the scholarship. A separate reception to welcome transfer students to the Chancellor’s Associates Scholars program and UC San Diego will be held in May.