Mike Scanlin (Founder)
The Chris Borton Memorial Scholarship Fund is now in its nineteenth year and with the addition of the current four recipients, 56 UC San Diego students have benefited from your generous contributions. They have pursued international study at universities in Austria, China, Costa Rica, Denmark, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Ghana, Holland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Scotland, Senegal, and Spain. For details see the Fund web site.
In a November blog post entitled “Study abroad should become the norm” Dr. Angel Cabrera, President of George Mason University, writes, “It is a mistake to see study abroad as a sort of finishing school for the elites who can afford it. It should be seen as a necessary learning experience to develop critical skills for the 21st century.” Based on UNESCO statistics, the total number of students studying abroad has grown in recent years, but the U.S. still ranks near the bottom in the rate of students studying abroad as a proportion of total higher education enrollment. We believe that the number of students studying abroad would likely be significantly higher if more leaders like Dr. Cabrera made it a priority and there were more programs offering financial assistance for these specific opportunities. Your contributions allow us to offer scholarships that help students surmount obstacles to pursuing opportunities to study abroad.
Current Scholarship Recipients
Mary Ma, a Political Science/International Relations and Chinese Studies major, is studying at Peking University in Beijing, China. She is ethnically Chinese, was born in Singapore, and calls Northern California home. She has traveled across Asia with her family. Mary writes, “Growing up straddling an individualistic American culture and a collective Chinese culture has given her a great curiosity about understanding people of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds.” That interest was further influenced by travels in Uganda and throughout Europe. At UCSD, she volunteered as an English tutor for international students. Mary has played the cello for ten years in various music ensembles and has a great interest in music.
Mary plans to pursue a career in human rights law and is looking forward to deepening her understanding of Chinese culture while expanding her global perspective during her year abroad. In Beijing, Mary has joined the university news corps, where she does English reporting and Chinese to English translation for the Peking University Office of International Relations. She also got an internship at TEDxBeijing and has been working hard preparing for their annual December event. Mary writes, “I’m really glad that I came to China for a year and not just a semester. I’ve gained so many invaluable skills in addition to Chinese and now have clearer goals for my future and career.”
Daniel Lee is pursuing a degree in Computer Science with minors in Mathematics and Interdisciplinary Computing and is studying this year at Keio University in Japan. Daniel was born and raised in Taiwan and studied at an international school during his high school years.
Daniel believes in the importance of understanding the digital world and holds a deep passion for computer science. He is currently interested in artificial intelligence and machine learning and believes that the mastering of this technology will bring humans a step further into the future. Since Japan is a hub of technology and a leader in artificial intelligence, he plans to take courses in artificial intelligence and big data during his year abroad. Daniel also enjoys the arts. He started playing piano when he was four, beginning with classical training and progressing later on to rock, pop and accompaniment. He would like to try composing in the future. Daniel started drawing at a young age and enjoys doing sketches, watercolors, acrylic, painting, and digital art. He believes that “being multi-faceted will help me gain a better understanding of the world and the people around me.” He is excited about his year in Japan and the opportunity to immerse himself in a different culture.
Megan Bright, a Political Science major with a minor in German Studies, is studying at the Free University in Berlin, Germany. She is an active member of the UCSD Pre-Law Society. In high school, Megan was a member of the Mock Trial Club and played basketball and volleyball. In her free time, she enjoys practicing yoga and maintaining a healthy lifestyle through preparing locally sourced, organic, plant-based meals. She is happiest when “hiking through a forest or nature reserve or enjoying the sun on the beach.” Since arriving in Germany, Megan has been able to take trips to Croatia, Amsterdam and Budapest. Her housemates are from Germany, France and Argentina. In her first term, she is taking two political science courses taught in English, a course about the dividing of Berlin in German and German language courses. By studying abroad, Megan hopes to “immerse herself in another culture and expand her language skills.”
Vincent Yu is a Computer Engineering major with a minor in Japanese Studies studying at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. In high school he built a headphone amplifier from scratch and took programming courses in community college before transferring to UCSD. At UCSD, he is a member of the Japanese Student Association, participates in Eta Kappa Nu (an electrical engineering honor society), and trains and races on his road bike with the UCSD Cycling team. In Japan, he went on an outing with the Tohoku University Cycling Club to Fukushima, where they climbed a mountain so high it was snowing at the summit. He recently passed his second interview for an internship with Google Tokyo. Vincent writes of his early experiences in Japan: “making every moment count, this is how I should live my life, abroad or not. What a wonderful lesson this trip has taught me even in just the beginning of the program.”
Updates on recently returned Borton Scholars
Shelby Newallis (Italy, 2014-15) is finishing her undergraduate degree at UCSD in the spring. She works in the study abroad office at UCSD on the outreach team and writes that she really enjoys helping other students plan their journeys abroad. In Bologna, Shelby interned with the Human Rights Night Film Festival, helping promote the film festival put on at the Cineteca in Bolgna. She worked with the founder and an international team consisting of people from Senegal, the Philippines, France, Italy, England, the United States and Brazil. She described it as providing “the unique opportunity of being a foreigner and the perspective of life as someone who is not a native, which has been truly rewarding and humbling.”
Varanon Austin Pukasamsombut (Japan, 2014-15) has resumed studies at UCSD and has been sharing his experiences at study abroad information sessions. He writes that “studying abroad was a wonderful opportunity for me to really explore the world and grow as a person, so I’m trying to get others to have the same experience.” Before leaving Japan, Austin climbed Mt. Fuji with a group of friends from Tohoku University. It was a ten-hour climb to the top rewarded by one of the brightest and reddest sunrises he had ever seen. At the end of the term, Austin presented his research project on Autonomous Quadcopters for Indoor Navigation. The experience gave him “useful experience working in a graduate-level laboratory doing research on robotics that can be used to help people. It helped me decide that I want to do project-based positions relating to research and development for a career.”
Sunny Young (Holland, 2014-15) is enrolled in a post-baccalaureate program for Communication Disorders at Cal State Los Angeles with a goal of becoming a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP). She is volunteering at a local hospital in the rehabilitation unit so that she can observe and help the SLP’s. In addition, she tutors middle school students in math. In the evenings, Sunny attends an aerial arts studio. She writes, “I like to think back to Utrecht and compare what I am doing now to what I was doing then. Not compare in a ‘which is better’ way, but it is just amazing to see where life can take me in a matter of months.”
Christian Koguchi (Japan, 2014-15) is finishing his undergraduate studies at UCSD. He learned the importance of language and communication as an ethnic Japanese person with initially limited Japanese language skills. At times early in his year abroad he found himself trying to “defend myself when people thought of me not as a non-Japanese speaker, but as an incompetent or just a prankster giving others a hard time. It was tough, but it motivated me and made me embrace not only being Japanese, but also being American as well.” By the end of his time abroad he had achieved mastery of technical and business Japanese and formed a real comradery with his lab partners working on ultra- broadband communication. Inspired by the 2011 earthquake, they worked on communication solutions that would be resilient in the event of natural disasters. He writes, “I felt like I could have a real influence in what I was doing and on the people around me.”
Borton Scholar Gatherings
In February, Ray and Verena drove to San Diego to attend UCSD’s Hearts and Scholars Dinner. This annual event brings together scholarship recipients and donors. We were joined at dinner by Borton Scholars Brenda Vega (Spain, 2013-14), Rebecca Korff (Spain, 2013-14), Jessica Pham (France, 2013- 14), and Andrew Kubal (United Kingdom, 2013-14) and enjoyed catching up with each of them. It was fun to see them all connect with many discussions turning to future plans and graduate school possibilities. Rebecca and Jessica even found out they currently work for the same company! The event has grown large enough that it has been moved to an off campus venue.In addition to meeting the Borton Scholars, we met with Kim Signoret-Paar and Jennifer Leighton who work on the undergraduate scholarship staff and Ruth Newmark of the Friends of the International Center, an organization that also give scholarships to students studying abroad. We had our usual update with Kim Burton at her Education Abroad office. On the same trip, we were also able to catch up with Ben McCue (Spain, 2001- 02) who is the Executive Director of Outdoor Outreach, an organization that has as its vision “To transform lives by connecting youth to the outdoors” and as its mission “To empower at-risk and underprivileged youth to make positive, lasting changes in their lives through comprehensive outdoor programming.” Ben has made himself available to meet with Borton Scholars on the UCSD campus before they depart. One thing he would like to make more students aware of is the route he took, where he made the connections with his university in Spain himself and was able to arrange a better financial deal as a result.
Updates on past Borton Scholars
Rebecca Korff (Spain, 2013-14) graduated from UCSD and is working full time as the graduate admissions assistant at the Rady School of Management at UCSD.
Katerina Siefkas (France, 2011-12) is studying law at the University of Virginia. She is taking an International Law overview course which delves into the complex legal issues facing our world. She writes, “French is definitely one of the most important languages in the international law arena and I’m so grateful for my time in Lyon that allowed me to develop my French skills and, of course, spend a year in a wonderful place.” She is thinking about ways to spend more time abroad, whether over the summer or through a semester abroad. Katerina visited Ray and Verena in Davis in July.
Debbie Leung (Denmark, 2011-12) started a new job as a Junior Systems Planner at IBI Group, a transportation planning firm in San Diego. Debbie first became interested in studying transportation during her year abroad in Copenhagen. She completed yoga teacher training courses and is now teaching several classes per week. Last winter, Debbie had the chance to return to Denmark for vacation and spent Christmas with her host family. She also visited the UK, France and Germany.
Molly Tremblay (Ireland, 2011-12) is currently working at Nasland Engineering, a local civil engineering firm in San Diego. She is working on a wide array of projects, her favorite of which is the coastal rail trail (a bike path along the coast from San Diego to Oceanside). She is planning a trip to Guam next year and hopes to be able to go to New Zealand and Japan as well.
Yoshie Yamamoto (Japan, 2010-11) will be graduating from her nursing program in Baltimore in December. She is currently doing her senior practicum in a critical care unit of a local hospital, and states that she really enjoys the acuity and diversity of the patient population and fast-paced environment. After graduating, Yoshie hopes to return to California to work as a nurse.
Tamar Freeland (Spain, 2010-11) is currently a teaching credential candidate at Sacramento State, and hopes to be a certified high school Spanish teacher by spring 2016. She writes, “My time as an English teacher in Chile has definitely prepared me with valuable experience, but even so, the program is very challenging and pushes me to reach higher and give my best every day. I’m enjoying sharing my love of language and culture with students, and I hope to inspire them to continue learning Spanish and seek opportunities abroad.” Tamar visited Ray and Verena at the Artists’ Collaborative Gallery in Old Sacramento.
Hanna Rahimi (Spain, 2009-10) is currently enrolled in a Single Subject Teaching Credential and M.S. in Education program at Dominican University, working towards credentials in both English and Spanish. She begins student teaching in January at San Marin High School in Novato.
Kipp Trieu (France, 2008-09) continues to teach kindergarten and first grade and has started a doctoral Program in Education at Johns Hopkins University. His research focus will be on how to involve parents of diverse backgrounds in their students’ education, using progress assessment and reporting as culturally responsive engagement tools. In June, Kipp attended a conference where he heard a presenter from the Asia Society talk about incorporating Global Competences in primary education. He writes, “Like the habits of mind, these are mindsets and skills we can teach our students to be flexible, engaged citizens in an increasingly connected and globalized world. I was excited to hear that this is a ‘thing,’ since this has always been a goal of mine as a teacher.” Kipp helped Verena with the Human Rights Day program – a reading of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Davis, CA.
Laura Summers (Holland, 2008-09) got married this year. She met her husband Will at a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer gathering and they have been together ever since. Laura attended a three- month full-time graphic design boot camp earlier in the year at the Shillington School and is now finishing three months as a Communications Design Intern at Reboot, a social-impact firm based in New York City.
Nicola Hil (France, 2007-08) graduated from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (“SAIS”) in May and started a new job as a Business Intelligence Analyst at an international nonprofit called GlobalGiving in June. GlobalGiving is the first and largest crowdfunding platform for nonprofits around the world. Nicola and her fiancé Amaury, a US diplomat currently in training in DC, got married in November.
Tamami Komatsu (Italy, 2005-06) returned to Italy in 2008 to do a M.Sc. in Social Economics at the University of Bologna. After graduating, she completed a one-year research grant from the Emilia- Romagna region working in a social cooperative. Then she began working with a social start up incubator in Bologna. More recently, she is working as a Researcher for Social Innovation at the Politecnico di Milano. She writes, “My future ambitions include pursuing a PhD in Social Entrepreneurship, moving to another country, hiking Machu Picchu and learning another language.”
Brian Israel (United Kingdom, 2003-04) has been working at the State Department for the past six years. Last spring, as the U.S. assumed the chair of the Arctic Council, Brian was appointed co-chair of the Task Force on Artic Marine Cooperation, which is charting the future of international coordination in relation to the Arctic Ocean. When not playing international environmental lawyer/diplomat, he and his wife are enjoying every moment with their eighteen-month-old daughter, Adelina.
Jacob Habinek (Hungary, 2003-04) is living in Oakland and finishing a Ph.D in sociology at UC Berkeley. He writes about the impact his year abroad has had on his path post-graduation: “Before studying in Hungary, I don’t know if I had thought much about cultivating a more global perspective, and I certainly hadn’t given much consideration to the social sciences. And now I’m a sociologist who mostly writes about Europe!” He has returned to Europe almost every year, and lived in Germany and the United Kingdom for most of 2011 and 2012 while completing research for his dissertation. He is now applying to faculty and postdoctoral jobs in both countries.
Nicole Wu Hirsch (France, 1999-00) is living in Tokyo, Japan with her husband and two children. After graduating from UCSD, she spent several years in New York City working in finance, before pursuing a degree in interior design. She opened her own interior design practice, which allowed her the flexibility to work and be an engaged mother. In 2012 her husband received a job offer in Tokyo and they have lived there since. She writes, “It has been an incredible experience! It’s very different to move to a new country as an expat family and exploring becomes a bit more challenging when you have small kids. But it’s been wonderful – experiencing a new culture, making new friends, visiting new places, learning a little bit of the language.”
Andrea (Martinez-Calvillo) Hussan (Costa Rica, 1999-00) has been teaching high school for twelve years and has participated for several years in a high school exchange program where teachers and students from her school stay with families in Ciudad Rodrigo, Spain for three weeks and then the Spanish counterparts are hosted in the U.S. for three weeks. Last year she traveled with her husband, parents and young son Andres to Costa Rica. Before leaving, she wrote to us, “It will be my first time back there, but this time I get to share it with my husband, my son and my parents. I hope to share my love of travel and all the world has to offer through first-hand experiences with my son. I hope that he will learn to appreciate and respect all cultures and understand how deeply connected we all are at a basic human level.”
Austin Leininger (Scotland, 1998-99) has completed a PhD in Ethics and Social Theory and is teaching classes both online and in the classroom. He has written a book called Holy Baptism, Holy Eucharist, Holy Sex: a Sacramental Approach to Sexual Ethics which he is currently seeking to get published. Austin and his wife Jane have three children: Luke is in kindergarten, Anthony is in second grade, and Marie is in third grade.
Mark Morris (Ghana, 1998-99) is living in San Francisco and his clothing label recently opened a second retail outlet called Lexington Standard in the Mission neighborhood. During the year he visited an old friend of the Chris Borton Memorial Scholarship Fund, Roberta Beardsley, in Paris (they first met during Mark’s year abroad).
Thanks to all of you who enable us to support the efforts of these remarkable young people to become world citizens and in doing so honor and remember Chris,