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Our Scholars


The Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship program is built on a commitment to diversity and inclusion, with outreach to high-achieving students from e 3 Civic High School, Gompers Preparatory Academy, Hoover High School, Lincoln High School, and The Preuss School UCSD. We also serve eligible attendees from San Diego City College, Southwestern College, Imperial Valley College, and organizations for underrepresented communities (such as Reality Changers) and students enrolled in federally recognized Native American tribes.

Our exceptional awardees would like to share the incredible journeys that led them to UC San Diego: 


Meet this quarter's featured alumni

Indira Hood-Esparza ’15, MA ’16

Indira Hood-Esparza

Indira Hood-Esparza’s family relocated here, from Mexico, in her childhood, and she grew up aspiring to expand education’s reach within her new community. The Preuss School sharpened her focus, and receiving the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship further intensified her drive. A first-generation college graduate, holding a 2015 bachelor’s and 2016 master’s from UC San Diego, Indira remains motivated by the comprehensive support she received on campus: “I felt like I had a mini family cheering me on the entire time that I was a scholar.” Eager to inspire coming generations, this former peer-mentor now teaches humanities at High Tech High Chula Vista, where she facilitates rich interdisciplinary discussions and emboldens students to carry curiosity beyond the classroom. Indira shared these experiences with our newest scholars, at July’s CASP 101, in hope they too might “pursue education as their careers” and “give back as much as possible,” turning dreams into rewarding action.


And learn more about our other scholars and graduates: 

Samantha Champi '17

Samantha ChampiSamantha Champi ’17 arrived at UC San Diego in 2013, as part of the first cohort of Chancellor’s Associates Scholars. She notes that “when I got accepted to UC San Diego, I didn’t even consider it an option; I would not have been able to attend without this scholarship.” Now a graduate ready to pursue her master’s degree, she hopes to work as an advisor for low-income and first-generation students and is already serving as a mentor. Samantha is dedicated to helping other learners like her. “I help high-school students make sure they are on the road to graduation and reassure them that college is possible,” she says. Samantha is on her way to becoming a true community leader.

Jacqueline Le '17

Jacqueline Le

When Jacqueline Le ’17  opened a financial-aid packet from UC San Diego, she thought someone had made a mistake. She says her Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship “made it possible for me to find my passion and dedicate myself to work that I love.”

She kicked off her career last summer, participating in a UC San Diego School of Medicine internship program, where she will gained hands-on experience learning about diseases among underserved populations in the San Diego and Tijuana regions. With her background in public health, Le looks forward to a career serving others by finding innovative ways to expand access to health care and lower its costs.

Leslie Lopez '21

Ruber Lopez-Chavez

Civil-war violence, financial instability, teen pregnancy — these issues prevented Leslie Lopez and father from envisioning their future in their respective home countries, El Salvador and Guatemala. They fled to the United States to raise their children, and Leslie emphasizes that she and her brother grew up “understanding the blessing…of living in this country.” Upon graduating from the California Academy of Mathematics and Science (a magnet school in Carson, CA), she worried that her parents would be crushed by debt if she attended college. Still they encouraged Leslie to achieve what they couldn’t. When they found out Leslie had received a scholarship, “They were on the verge of tears, as was I…The scholarship was our saving grace.” She finds daily inspiration in being a Chancellor’s Associates Scholar, calling our group’s belief in her “the push I need to reach out and experience what this university truly has to offer.” A mechanical-engineering major who is ready to delve into leadership opportunities, she will serve as academic chair for the Society of Women Engineers in her sophomore year. No wonder Leslie has her parents beaming with pride!

Nirvana Navarro '17

Nirvana Navarro

Nirvana Navarro ’17 came to Warren College as a transfer student and found the Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Program (CASP) vital to her momentum. Receiving her BA in international studies and business was a “dream come true,” and she is eager to give back, working in the Student Retention and Success office as she prepares for GMATs and her MBA program at UC San Diego Rady School of Business.

Nirvana now serves as a CASP mentor, advising transfer scholars about resources she found invaluable. "Without CASP, I wouldn't be where I am today! CASP…empowered me to pursue my dreams, make my goals a reality, and let me attend a prestigious institution such as UC San Diego,” Nirvana says. “Additionally, CASP gave me my support system — my UC San Diego family — which pushed me to make the universe the limit."



Huy Nguyen '18

Huy NguyenLeaving Vietnam and settling in University Heights was a pivotal childhood transition for Huy Nguyen — a motivated student who was determined to reward his parents' unflagging support. Participating in resource programs like Reality Changers and Academic Connections led him to UC San Diego, and while admission to his “dream school” was significant, it was receiving the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship that brought access. Huy notes, it “allowed me to be the first in my family to attend and graduate college” and removed the burdens of “taking out loans, working part-time jobs, and worrying my parents.”

Through the Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services Summer Bridge Program (a free transition program that allows first-year UC San Diego students to live on campus before the academic year begins, earn college credit, and further develop their academic skills), Huy made the connections that advanced him into aerospace engineering. Now, this 2018 graduate feels keenly prepared for his new Lockheed Martin Space Systems career in mission analysis and design, and noting that he will “forever be grateful for the world-class education” and “invaluable advice and guidance” he obtained here. We wish him every success ahead!

Meghan Stern '21

Meghan SternA graduate of local Lincoln High School, Meghan Stern ’21 came to UC San Diego ready to make a difference. The gregarious theater major, who also plans to pursue an educational-studies minor, notes that her Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship is helping her achieve her life goal: “to increase the importance of the arts in our society, especially in our K–12 educational system.” The oldest of four children, she hopes to heighten her siblings’ aspirations by inspiring them “to chase whatever dream they have until they reach it.” She credits the Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Program with boosting her confidence, both socially and academically, and with giving her “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gather…knowledge and skills.” Keep following your dreams, Meghan! 

Rabia Syed '21

Rabia SyRabia Syeded’s academic record shines. A native of Los Angeles, Rabia received her diploma from the 
California Academy of Mathematics and Science and is excited to pursue her higher education at UC San Diego. Rabia is majoring in public health and considering a double major in Spanish. She hopes to study-abroad for a semester and pursue a master’s degree. With two older sisters already in college, Rabia is extremely grateful that her Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship has lightened the economic load for her parents, granting her the “opportunity to pursue further education without having to worry about the financial costs.” Joining the Muslim Student Association has eased her transition, and she notes that campus is now her “home away from home.” Much success, Rabia!

Maria Triplett '20

Maria TriplettSophomore Maria Triplett is eagerly preparing for the future, with a clear focus on earning her doctorate in ethnic studies and ultimately working to improve the quality and accessibility of health care for women from underserved communities. As a student at Gompers Preparatory Academy, Maria dreamed of becoming the first in her family to attend a four-year university but was concerned about the burden to her single-parent household. Then came her life-changing Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship and the accompanying support of the Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Program. Maria is grateful for the Chancellor’s Associates “dedication to help students succeed, especially first-generation students….The scholarship has made me push harder in terms of academic work and motivated me to give back.” Look out, world!

Lexius Waltar '20

Lexius WaltarAs a first-generation college student, receiving a Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship was important to Lexius Waltar ’20, who says, “It means a lot to me and my family that I was able to continue pursuing my passions into higher education.”

Majoring in environmental systems, with a minor in African American studies, Waltar makes time in her busy schedule to advocate for other students’ success, as a freshman-mentoring intern with the Summer Bridge Program and as a member of the Black Student Union. She also attended the University of the West Indies on a study-abroad program.

Access to UC San Diego has expanded her horizons, and she’s ready to pay it forward. “This opportunity has not only opened doors for me but also for my family,” she says.



Khalil Williams '20

Khalil WilliamsKhalil Williams isn’t waiting until he graduates in 2020 to start cultivating real-world change. This Chancellor’s Associates Scholar has enrolled as a double major in political science and clinical psychology, and he volunteers with UC San Diego’s Foster the Students organization, which mentors students who have come through the foster and social-service systems and connects these learners to the campus’s full range of support services. Already an advocate for young people who are overcoming challenging backgrounds, Khalil ultimately plans to join forces with his sister and establish a juvenile-psychotherapy practice with a legal emphasis, in order to address criminal-justice issues and improve the lives of children nationwide. Our scholars put plans into action!