UC San Diego News Center


The Sky’s the Limit

Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship Program helps students reach their dreams


Huy Nguyen. Photo by Erika Johnson/University Communications

As a child in Vietnam, Huy Nguyen gazed up at the sky with wonder. Space travel and rockets captivated him. A career focused on our universe, however, seemed unlikely, if not impossible. Yet with hard work, coupled with the support of his family and the community, Nguyen is now pursuing his lifelong passion as an aerospace engineering major at UC San Diego.

Nguyen’s journey to UC San Diego was not easy. He immigrated with his parents to the United States when he was 10. The family settled in the University Heights neighborhood of San Diego. Although his parents were not able to attend college, Nguyen, an only child, strived to achieve academically with the goal of someday studying at a university. “My parents worked hard for me; I felt that studying hard was the only way to pay them back,” said Nguyen.


Incoming freshmen Chancellor's Associates Scholars at a recent reception on April 28. Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

As a teenager, Nguyen got involved with Reality Changers, a local program that provides disadvantaged, inner-city youth with the resources to become first-generation college students. Through Reality Changers, Nguyen participated in UC San Diego’s Academic Connections program, a pre-college summer academic and on-campus residential experience, with the hopes of attending our campus.

Getting into UC San Diego was one hurdle, but the cost of a higher education weighed on Nguyen’s mind, as well. That concern was alleviated when he was admitted to UC San Diego and learned that as a participant of Reality Changers and Academic Connections, he was eligible to receive the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship. The scholarship program was established by Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla in 2013 to improve the pathway for qualified students from all backgrounds to achieve a higher education at UC San Diego. The Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship essentially provides a full scholarship when paired with the UC Blue + Gold Opportunity Plan, which covers tuition and fees for California residents whose families earn less than $80,000.


Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla welcomed the 2016 Chancellor's Associates Scholars. Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

“As scholarship recipients, we don’t have to worry about gaining a side job, taking out loans or having our families worry about the cost of education,” said Nguyen. “We have a community behind us, so that we can focus on our studies and giving back however we can on campus.”

Nguyen has taken the initiative to give back, dedicating himself to mentoring fellow students. He tutors students in math and serves as a Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Program peer leader, helping a group of 10 freshman scholars acclimate to the campus and thrive academically, emotionally and socially.

“I understand what incoming students are going through,” said Nguyen. “So, I can explain that, ‘yes, I also struggled in certain areas, but I can also share what helped me overcome those challenges.’ ”


The Chancellor's Associates Scholars Program provides resources and support to ensure that students thrive once on campus. Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

The peer leader program is just one aspect of the retention and success efforts that have been created to support recipients of the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship. In addition to mentoring, students also have access to a dedicated study lounge, faculty courses on critical thinking and communication, individualized financial aid and academic counseling, and priority enrollment and guaranteed on-campus housing.

“Our goal is to provide the resources and support that our students need to be successful at UC San Diego,” said Belinda Zamacona, who manages the Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Program. “We are pleased that the program continues to grow and benefit even more motivated and deserving students.”

UC San Diego hosted a special welcome reception on April 28 to introduce incoming freshmen Chancellor’s Associates Scholars and their families to the campus, program administrators and current scholars. On May 15, a similar reception will be held for incoming transfer students and their families.

“The Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Program gives incoming students a second support system, a community and network of scholars from different paths of life, all pursuing the same dreams and aspirations,” said Nguyen. “This program creates a cycle of inspiration, helping bridge UC San Diego to the rest of San Diego and allowing students to accomplish things that will benefit the world for generations to come.”

To learn more about the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship or to support the program, visit