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Cheyanne Harris, Jesse Herche, Marcos Beltran-Sanchez

Cheyanne Harris '18, Jesse Herche '16, Marcos Beltran-Sanchez '16 and Alea Freeman '15 (not pictured) received prestigious summer fellowships. These highly competitive fellowships will provide for research at Princeton and MIT and for intensive language study in Japan.

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Stockton, Sacramento and Lodi students win prestigious summer research awards

May 18, 2015

Stockton, Sacramento and Lodi students win prestigious summer research awards

Four University of the Pacific undergraduates have been awarded prestigious summer fellowships that will take them from Princeton and MIT to Tokyo.  Two of the awards are going to Pacific students for the first time.

"These merit-based awards are very competitive," said Susan Weiner, Pacific's fellowship adviser. "With some fellowships, only about 10 percent of applicants receive the awards. Pacific students are often attractive applicants because of their own undergraduate research and their involvement in the research of faculty mentors."

Cheyanne Harris '18, a civil engineering major from Sacramento, and Marcos Beltran-Sanchez '16, a chemistry major from Stockton, each received scholarships to support intensive language study in Japan.

Harris received the U.S. Department of State's Critical Language Scholarship, a summer language immersion program, as well as the U.S. Department of Defense's Boren Scholarship, which will support four months of study at a Japanese university. This is the first time a Pacific student has received the Critical Language Scholarship.

Beltran-Sanchez received the Gilman Scholarship, also funded by the Department of State, which supports study abroad.

Princeton and MIT are the summer destinations for Alea Freeman '15, an English and philosophy double major from Stockton, and Jesse Herche '16, a violin performance and biology double major from Lodi.

Freeman received her summer research scholarship from Leadership Alliance, a national consortium of colleges, universities and private industry, to study at Princeton.  She will conduct research on American literature under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Freeman is the first Pacific student to win the Leadership Alliance award.

Herche received the Amgen Scholarship to conduct biochemistry research this summer at MIT.

Cheyanne Harris

Harris will use the Critical Language Scholarship to support summer study in Japan, where she will live with a host family and work on her language skills. It will be her first trip to Japan. Her Boren Scholarship will then support her study at Sophia University in Tokyo from September 2015 to January 2016.

"Pacific's commitment to liberal arts education is what allowed me to major in civil engineering and minor in Japanese," Harris said.

To continue her study in Japan, she hopes to land an internship with a Japanese engineering firm during spring 2016 to satisfy her engineering cooperative education requirement.

Marcos Beltran-Sanchez

For Betran-Sanchez, receiving the Gilman Scholarship not only makes studying abroad more affordable, it also supports his future career plans.

"I hope to work in either government or private research on drug development for neurological diseases and disorders, and some of the leading research on neuroscience is being done in Japan," he said. "Knowing the Japanese language and culture will make it easier to collaborate with fellow scientists there."

He said that being at Pacific helped him win this award.

"At Pacific, the class sizes are small enough that my professors all know me, and I have had the opportunity to meet with them one-on-one whenever I needed any advice," he said.

Alea Freeman

The Leadership Alliance introduces students to research-based careers by providing stipends, housing and travel expenses for summer research projects.

"This opportunity would not have been possible without the support of Professors Jeffrey Hole, Amy Smith, and Courtney Lehmann of the English department and Susan Weiner, Pacific's Fellowship Adviser," said Freeman.

Freeman plans to pursue a doctorate in English. She said she looks forward to the opportunity to hone her research and writing skills for two months under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

"More importantly, the Leadership Alliance scholarship will allow me to network with undergraduates who, like myself, will be building a theoretical framework for the complex questions they intend to work through in their research," Freeman added.

Jesse Herche

Herche, of Lodi, also will focus on research this summer using an Amgen Scholarship at MIT. Funded by the Amgen Foundation, Amgen Scholarships enable students from around the country to conduct biology and biochemistry research at some of the country's top research institutions by covering travel, housing and food expenses, and offering work stipends. At Pacific, Herche is pursuing minors in French and chemistry in addition to his double majors in music and biology.

"I look forward to a research internship when I can build on the skills I've developed as an undergraduate researcher with Professor (Marcos) Gridi-Papp here at Pacific, studying electrophysiology techniques in neuroscience," Herche said. "He's one of many Pacific professors who have been generous with their time, expertise and encouragement."

After graduation, Herche plans to pursue an M.D.-Ph.D. dual degree in neurophysiology with a goal of becoming a physician-researcher who studies the processing of music in the brain.

Weiner said that national scholarships put students on a path that goes beyond simply getting their degrees.

"The process of applying for these awards is so valuable in helping students clarify their goals," she said. "Plus we've seen with past Pacific applicants that landing one of these prestigious undergraduate fellowships-or receiving an honorable mention, or even going through with the challenging application process-often helps students gain admission to the graduate program of their choice."

To find out more about scholarship opportunities at Pacific, contact Weiner at 209.946.2406 or, or visit

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