Regents' and Chancellor's Scholarship Program - Summer 2016 Newsletter

Regents' and Chancellor's Scholarship Program
Letter from the Chair, Borivoje Nikolic

Faculty engagement is at the heart of the Regents’ and Chancellor’s
Scholarship. This year, over 100 faculty members interviewed more than 1,000 students selected from among the very best of 100,000 admissions applications received by UC Berkeley. At just over 200 strong, the class of 2020 is the most selective in campus history.

The faculty interview and selection process makes this scholarship program unique in class; these interviews are an historic tradition. For more than 50 years the human element — the conversation between student and faculty, the shared sense of accomplishment — remains the foundation of this prestigious program. As you will
read in our donor profile of Jan Leeman, himself a scholarship recipient, the interviews themselves have a lasting impact on our students. The profile of our current
student, Drew McPherson, shows how our scholarship recipients benefit from the continued mentorship of our dedicated faculty through one-on-one conversations, group meals, outings, and even faculty game nights organized by the Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholars Association.

This being the final year of my tenure as Chair of the Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship Subcommittee gives cause for reflection on the incredible growth of this program. What began 54 years ago as a modest endeavor has blossomed. As you will read in our profile of alumna Radhika Kannan, University Medalist, our robust programming supports our scholars’ intellectual and social development, and provides unique research and
leadership opportunities. I am truly proud to be part of the legacy of the Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship.

The depth of our programming and breadth of our financial
assistance is due to the generous support of our donors. Almost one-third of our scholarship funding is from private philanthropy. Donors, alumni, and other friends of the program are continuing to make a difference in the life of a
student with all you do to support the Regents’ and Chancellor’s scholarship. Help change the world by  changing a student’s life with a scholarship.

Borivoje Nikolic
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Chair of the Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship Subcommittee

Many Incredible Opportunities 

Drew McPherson, Class of 2017, Mechanical Engineering Major
Hometown: Sacramento

The Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship has opened the door to many opportunities for Drew McPherson. He has been able to meet faculty and learn about their research in intimate settings. He has had the chance to engage with the campus community through scholarship-related programs, which has enhanced his experience here at Cal. He’s also been able to attend research conferences, which have motivated him to pursue opportunities in graduate school that, in his words, “I didn’t think possible — or had even considered.” This is all on top of the financial support of the scholarship, which has allowed him to focus on school and research.

A senior transfer student studying mechanical engineering, Drew’s research focuses on developing assistive devices for the disabled. Inspired by his own experiences after becoming paralyzed nine years ago, Drew co-founded a new UC Berkeley student club, EnableTech, to encourage students and community members to partner in the creation of meaningful technical solutions to improve quality of life and promote independence. The club now has several multidisciplinary teams that receive mentorship, collaboration, and feedback with end-users, as well as access to materials and fabrication resources. (Berkeley Engineering EnableTech: Engineering for Accessibility)
His community of fellow Regents’ and Chancellor’s scholars has inspired Drew toward leadership and connection with students and communities beyond Berkeley. A fellow scholar introduced Drew to the Public Service Center’s Alternative Breaks, and Drew has participated in — and even led — programs to address social and systemic inequalities in New Orleans and the Bay Area.
Thinking back on his experience at UC Berkeley as a Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship recipient, Drew reflects, “I am truly grateful to have met so many amazing fellow students and to have been granted so many incredible opportunities.”

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Empathy, Creative Thinking, Public Service

Radhika Kannan, Class of 2014, Economics Major and
Conservation Resource Studies Minor, University Medalist

Radhika Kannan is truly grateful for being awarded the Regents’ and
Chancellor’s Scholarship. “It has made a world-class education accessible to me. It has enabled my involvement in activities outside of academics, from mock trial to Indian classical dance, which have helped me develop as a person. Most importantly it has allowed me to meet like-minded people (and also some very interesting not so like-minded people), form friendships, and open my mind to new ways of thinking and learning.”

It was through other Regents’ and Chancellor’s scholars that Radhika
learned which classes to take to challenge herself intellectually; it was
through her peers that she opened her mind to new issues and debates; and it was through volunteering for TEDxBerkeley run by Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholars Association volunteers that she started to build her leadership and organizational skills, which she notes have served her well throughout college. Above everything, she appreciated the support extended by the staff of the Financial Aid Department, especially when she needed it in her time of personal grief. The support she received throughout her academic journey at Berkeley enabled her to excel, and Radhika, who graduated in December 2014, was chosen as the 2015 University Medalist,
an honor awarded to the most distinguished graduating senior on the UC Berkeley campus.

Radhika reflects how “The Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship made the Cal college experience possible and helped me discover what drives me: empathy, creative thinking, and a strong sense of public service.” She also notes that it is thanks to Berkeley and the Regents’ and Chancellor’s scholarship that she is currently pursuing a master’s degree in environmental change and then plans to study law.

Radhika says that “words can’t express the extent of my gratitude” for the opportunities made available to her through the financial support and the honor of the Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship. “I truly believe that being a scholarship recipient has pushed me to be a better person, build networks, and give back to my community — the way our trustees do.”

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It's Good for the University and Good for the Public

 Jan Leeman, Class of 1989, B.S. in Chemical Engineering (with high honors), Investor and Adviser 

Jan Leeman was not the first person in his family to attend college. “But I was the first to go to a school like Berkeley, which is an entirely different thing.” Jan received a Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship, which gave him the feeling that “Okay, I can do this. They expect me to do well here.” He still feels the beneficial effects of the program: how it opened his eyes to new ways of seeing things, gave him an adviser, provided him access to opportunities that other students didn’t have. These benefits began even at his initial interview for consideration. Jan recalls how Professor Richard Saykally made an observation about the connection between physics and chemistry, and Jan realized, “I never thought of that. Now I understand something I had no visibility into before. I’ve always carried that with me.”

Jan also attributes his experience of being a Regents’ and Chancellor’s scholar to being able to take risks as a young investor. He knew he had an outstanding education, career support, and a network to fall back on.

The scholarship also gave Jan a lifelong feeling of connection to UC Berkeley, to his faculty mentor, fellow students, the College of Chemistry, and even today’s students. “It was very important to me to be a Regents’ and Chancellor’s scholar. I always knew I would give back. I didn’t know if I’d have the means, but I always knew I would do something.” This view led Jan and his family to establish the Leeman Family Endowed Scholarship, which supports Regents’ and Chancellor’s scholars to study in the College of Chemistry. He considers giving back to the scholarship program more than supporting an individual student, but supporting public education. Jan explains he doesn’t give out of a sense of obligation or responsibility or to receive any personal reward. Of giving, Jan reflects, “I want my children to know that the benefit doesn’t accrue to us specifically, but it’s good for the university and it’s good
for the public.”

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Did you know?

State support for Berkeley has plummeted, making private philanthropy more important now than ever.
Supporting scholarships ensures that Berkeley remains one of the top academic institutions in the world, by educating future leaders who will find innovative solutions to the world’s problems near and far.

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The state provides only about 12 percent of Berkeley’s $2.3 billion annual budget. Currently, tuition and fees for resident undergraduates amounts to $13,518.

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Thirty years ago, the state provided more than 50 percent of Berkeley’s funding. In 1985–86, tuition and fees for resident undergraduates totaled $1,296.