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Five Pacific students receive prestigious scholarships

May 30, 2019

Five Pacific students have received distinguished scholarships to continue their studies either in the United States or abroad.

Three students have been named winners of Fulbright scholarships, one has received a Goldwater scholarship and one has been admitted to the UCLA Public Health Scholars Training Program.

"I am thrilled that they were selected for these prestigious awards. This demonstrates that Pacific students are well prepared to compete at the highest academic levels," said Provost Maria Pallavicini. "I know our students will make the most of these opportunities to grow personally and professionally."

The scholarship winners are:

·         David Carranza '16, economics, '19 PHS pharmacy - Fulbright Scholarship
·         Armando Borrego, '21, philosophy - Fulbright Scholarship         
·         Diego Sandoval, '21, bioengineering - Fulbright Scholarship
·         Kyle Poe '20, bioengineering, applied math - Goldwater Scholarship
·         Miguel Rodriguez '20, sociology - UCLA Public Health Scholars Training Program

Research and cultural exchange

The Fulbright program, named after U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright, works to foster international understanding with exchanges in a variety of disciplines, such as the sciences, business, academe, public service, government and the arts. The emphasis is on cultural exchange. 

Carranza will use his Fulbright U.S. Student award to pursue a master's degree in global health at the University of Tampere in Finland. Rising seniors, college graduates and graduate students are eligible for the U.S. Student award, granted through the State Department. Students use it to pursue master's degrees, conduct independent research or teach English in one of many different countries. 

Carranza earned his bachelor's degree in economics and his PharmD from Pacific. Working with patients in Stockton who have limited access to health care has made him curious about health care policies in other countries. He plans to immerse himself in Finland's system to see first-hand what the patient experience is like.

"What I see myself doing is working on health policy, affecting change on that level, making access to health care easier for a larger part of the population," he said. "With regard to my own career path, I want to be sitting at the table for those policy discussions."   

Carranza is the 13th Pacific student in the past 10 years to receive a Fulbright U.S. Student Award.

Borrego will attend the University of Birmingham Summer Institute in the U.K. to study film and media.  

"Through the shift in perspective from going to a totally different country, I'll learn a little bit more about someone else's perspective, someone else's point of view and how that's reflected through film and media," said Borrego.

Sandoval will attend the U.K. Fulbright Summer Institute in Scotland, which focuses on technology, innovation and creativity.

"For three weeks I will be in Scotland learning about its culture of innovation and how the technological and creative industries have shaped it into the country that it is," he said.

The Summer Institutes are for freshmen and sophomores with GPAs over 3.7, for summer study related to particular themes at one of several British universities, as part of a cohort of high-achieving students from all around the U.S. Borrego and Sandoval are the first Pacific students ever to receive that award. 

Poe will use his Goldwater Scholarship to continue his research into carbon nanotubes and how those nanotubes can be as substitutes for cell proteins. His work, which has applications in medicine and engineering, can potentially lead to technology that allows computers to communicate directly with the human mind.

Miguel Rodriguez will spend the summer at UCLA's program that helps students from underrepresented groups train for public health careers. Only 3% of the 1,200 students who applied were admitted. Rodriguez will work at a health or government agency and travel to Atlanta to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fellowship application coaching

All five students received assistance from Pacific's fellowship adviser Susan Weiner, who helped them decide which scholarships to pursue and coached them on how to stand out as they wrote their essays.

Weiner said there are many kinds of scholarships available, including research fellowships, student ambassadorships, summer research opportunities, critical language scholarships and others. It is a competitive process, and she encourages students to think about applying for scholarships as early as their freshman year. The students described the application process as a growth experience that would have been worthwhile even if they hadn't received an award.

 "If nothing else, it's an exercise in refining your thoughts. You need to convince someone else that what you're doing is worth doing," said Poe. "The experience - in terms of refining what your own career is, what your vision for your life is a few years down the road - is incredibly empowering," said Carranza.

Students interested in learning more about applying for scholarships or fellowships, can contact the Pacific Fellowship Office at 209.946.2406 or email Susan Weiner at

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