Irvine, California, June 6, 2022 – The UCI Scholarship Opportunities Program (SOP) is pleased to announce that 22 UCI students have placed in nationally- and internationally-known prestigious merit scholarship competitions during the university’s challenging transition from remote to in-person operations. 

This year’s honorees include two recipients and two finalists for the California Capital Fellows Program; UCI’s first-ever Carnegie Junior Fellows finalist; four recipients, two alternates, and three semi-finalists for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program; one recipient and one finalist for the Gates Cambridge scholarship; five NSF Graduate Research fellows and one honorable mention; a Donald A. Strauss scholar; and our first Truman scholarship finalist in six years. 

Reflecting UCI’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, over half of this year’s recipients self-identify as either first-generation college students or as coming from immigrant backgrounds. These outstanding scholars also represent nearly all of UCI’s 14 schools, demonstrating academic diversity and excellence across campus. 

On May 19, 2022, the SOP hosted its 17th annual Breakfast of Champions ceremony to recognize and celebrate this year’s prestigious scholarship recipients, finalists, and honorees. At this event, keynote speaker Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Hal Stern personally addressed and congratulated students: “You are all truly champions. It’s great to celebrate and recognize the success of you students in receiving these nationally and even internationally known scholarships.”

Provost Stern went on to highlight how this year was particularly special for UCI in regards to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. In addition to being recognized by the U.S. Department of State as a Fulbright HSI Leader, he noted, “We were recognized as one of the U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most Fulbright Fellows. This made UCI one of the top 1% of all universities in the country.” 

Following Provost Stern’s remarks, Michael Dennin, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning and Dean of the Division of Undergraduate Education, acknowledged the importance of teamwork in supporting students as they competed for these awards. Vice Provost Dennin went on to thank the support staff, programs, units, and faculty mentors that helped students throughout the application process. He specifically recognized the SOP’s role in guiding students throughout the application process:

“The SOP was created specifically to help students win these prestigious awards. We wouldn’t be able to do that without your talent, your ability, and your hard work—we can’t create awards out of nothing! You are absolutely amazing, but it does help to have a team behind you and working to support you. Look for that team moving forward, remember this experience, build on it, and know that we’re always here to continue to support you in the future.” 

NSF Graduate Research Fellow Erin Arenata, Strauss Scholar Jira Trinetkamol, and Gates Cambridge Scholar Catthi Nguyen then took the stage to address their fellow honorees and share their unique journeys of perseverance and growth during a year made challenging by the pandemic. Finally, Dr. Rose Jones, Director of the SOP, extended her gratitude to the honorees, thanking them for their tremendous work as leaders in their fields who “inspire those who follow to nourish their passions and excavate the courage deep within themselves to dream big and build that ‘brilliant future’ now, in the present.”

For a complete list of UCI’s prestigious scholarship winners and honorees for the 2021-22 academic year, visit the SOP website.

About the Scholarship Opportunities Program

Housed within the Division of Undergraduate Education and overseen by the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, the Scholarship Opportunities Program (SOP) was launched in 1990 to assist UCI undergraduates and recent alumni in applying for 21 internationally prestigious, merit-based awards. The SOP provides advising and support services as well as manages the university-level application review and endorsement process for awards that require campus endorsement. For more on the SOP, visit: