Mike Scanlin (Founder)
The Chris Borton Memorial Scholarship Fund is now in its twentieth year and with the addition of the current five recipients, 61 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, Spain, and South Korea. For up to date details see the Fund web site.
In its annual Open Doors Report, the Institute of International Education (“IIE”) reported that 313,415 American students received academic credit last year for study abroad in 2014/15, an increase of 2.9 percent from the prior year, and up more than 50 percent from a decade ago. In spite of this progress, only one in ten undergraduates participates in studies abroad before graduating, and the numbers are skewed to students at private universities. “Studying abroad is one of the best ways to prepare to enter and succeed in the interconnected, globalized workforce, yet 90 percent of American college students do not study or intern outside of the United States. We owe it to the next generation of Americans to find ways to make it more accessible to a wider range of students,” said IIE’s President, Dr. Allan E. Goodman. The Chris Borton Memorial Scholarship Fund, and other programs like it, play an important role in achieving the goal of greater access to education abroad.
Current Scholarship Recipients
Sophie Osborne, an International Studies/History major with a minor in Japanese Studies, is studying at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. A native of Sacramento, California, her family spent four years living in Tokyo during her childhood. She has focused her studies on spaces of multicultural intersection such as ethnic relations. At Waseda, Sophie will draw on her knowledge of Korean culture to pursue independent research of a Zainichi (ethnically Korean Japanese) neighborhood. At UCSD, Sophie worked part-time as a student lead on two specialty food trucks and was a staff writer for the Opinion section of the school newspaper. She has volunteered at the Chinese Historical Museum, where she worked to revamp the walking tour of the Asian-Pacific Heritage District. At Waseda, Sophie has started classes, settled in her dorm, enjoys frequenting a cat café “where you can sip coffee while petting the store’s many feline residents”, and joined a club that practices Nihon Buyou (traditional Japanese dance). She writes that she is amazed by “the contrast between the informal, everyday slang of my Japanese friends and the centuries old language of the traditional dance they practice.”
Dominique Winfield is a Biochemistry and Cell Biology major, with a Spanish minor, studying Spanish language and culture at the University of Córdoba in Córdoba, Spain. She has a dream of becoming an oral surgeon for Dentists Without Borders that was inspired by her first experience volunteering at a free dental clinic in San Diego. Dominique feels that learning Spanish will help her provide more effective care to Hispanic communities in San Diego. In Córdoba, Dominique has begun an intensive language learning program during the fall semester and then will spend the spring semester taking standard college classes in Spanish with local students at the University of Granada. She writes that she is learning the Spanish practice of taking some time to just be quiet. “There is a saying here that I quite like, ‘Los Españoles no vivan a trabajar, ellos trabajan a vivir.’ It translates, ‘Spaniards don’t live to work, they work to live.” Dominique has traveled within Spain, and highlighted a trip her program took to Morocco, that included stops in Tangier, Asilah, Sale, Rabat, and Chefchaouen. She writes that, “there were things that I saw and experienced in Morocco that have changed my life and perspective of the world.”
Jennifer Rivas, a Communication major with a minor in Environmental Science, is studying at the University of Lyon in Lyon, France. She grew up bilingual in Los Angeles and French is her third language. At UCSD, she has worked as a project developer for the university, teaching students and staff how to live in an eco-friendly manner through interactive games and activities. She has also performed as part of UCSD Dancesport, the School’s competitive Latin-ballroom dance team. In Lyon, she hopes to get involved at local food banks and farmer’s markets to engage with the French population and understand how everyday interactions affect sustainable food choices. She plans to pursue a career in environmental policy after finishing her degree at UCSD. She writes that the French university system is quite different from California, highlighted by different lecture styles and greater individual responsibility for students. She writes that “a lot of students are politically active and aware, and I think they hold their education system to a high standard.” Jennifer particularly enjoyed a trip to Beaujolais, the well-known wine region outside of Lyon. She was introduced to a French couple who walked her through the long history of the land and their unique bread and wine making processes.
Justin Lim is a Human Biology major studying at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. He is a Korean-American raised in Northern California. His interest in Korea was sparked when he visited the country as a third grader. Justin plans to apply to medical school in the future. In his free time, he enjoys photography and learning about computer hardware. His initial experiences in South Korea include being exposed to new forms of Korean cuisine, as well as dishes known to him that have gained new dimensions but retain enough familiarity to remind him of home. Justin writes that, “School life at Yonsei does not seem to be significantly different than at UCSD. While class sizes seem to be smaller at Yonsei, the difficulty and procedures are comparable to those at UCSD. Student interactions are a different matter.” He is working hard to acclimate himself, and though it is difficult, he finds the process enjoyable, and it is in these interactions that he is “learning things about Korea that I could only learn while living here.”
Mikayla Webster is a Computer Science major studying at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. She intends to use her programming knowledge to advance the field of language translation. At UCSD, she led a collaborative project with the Red Cross of Tijuana. Her team’s goal was to create a software solution to help better distribute the Red Cross’ limited number of ambulances. The experience inspired Mikayla to pursue an international career in software engineering. Her love of language learning narrowed her focus to automated language translation. Her goal is “to facilitate higher, faster, and easier levels of communication across nations and cultures by tearing down the language barriers that separate them.” Mikayla has a personal goal of learning at least five languages in her life: English, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Arabic. She writes that, “learning new languages gives insight and perspective that can only be accomplished when individuals step outside their own area of comfort and experience. By gaining knowledge about different peoples beyond one’s current understanding, the mind can better facilitate tolerance, acceptance, and universal love.” She is living in the international housing area at the university and has befriended students from China, Indonesia, Germany, France, Poland, Spain, and Venezuela. Mikayla has met Japanese students through an English-Japanese language exchange group that meets regularly, including several students who were good friends with previous Borton scholars attending Tohoku (Christian Koguchi, Austin Pukasamsombut, and Vincent Yu). She is working in the Advanced Acoustics and Intelligent Systems Lab at Tohoku University, with a focus on psycho acoustics. The prompt for her research is the human brain’s ability to filter sounds that it hears. Mikayla is working under a Japanese master student who is attempting to recreate this affect in headphone speakers. She will spend the upcoming months learning from this master student while defining her own similarly-themed project.
Updates on recently returned Borton Scholars
Mary Ma (China, 2015-16) is finishing her undergraduate degree at UCSD. Mary became fluent in Chinese during her year abroad, opening up a new realm of opportunities for her after she completes her degree. She writes, “I was immersed in a new China far flung from my childhood memories. The dusty old buildings of a bygone era had given way to skyscrapers of glass and steel, tributes to an unrelenting pursuit of modernity.” She interned at TEDxBeijing, where she was exposed to a diverse group of international colleagues. She writes that her year abroad allowed her to come to “a fundamentally new understanding of myself as both American and Chinese.”
Daniel Lee (Japan, 2015-16) has resumed studies at UCSD. He went to Japan with three goals: increasing his Japanese proficiency, joining a band to perform music, and fully immerse himself in Japanese culture. He writes that by the end of his year abroad, he reached all three goals and more. Daniel took Japanese classes that focused on the way speaking Japanese varies depending on the listener, and writes that the class showed him how “Japanese, the language, is a vessel that carries the different attitudes that Japanese people carry towards other people.” Daniel joined a band club which allowed him to participate in musical performances, form strong bonds with Japanese students, and gain fluency speaking Japanese. He was able to travel to Hokkaido, Kyoto and Osaka during the year. When the school year ended, he got an internship at a software startup in Tokyo based on his academic work in natural language processing, and the experience has led him to consider the possibility of working in Japan in the future. Daniel writes that he felt a connection to Chris Borton, someone he never met, through the shared experience of living abroad, and that the scholarship “changed and touched my life by giving me this opportunity to study abroad.”
Megan Bright (Germany, 2015-16) is finishing her undergraduate studies at UCSD. She was recently accepted to be a member of STARS program on campus, acting as a peer ambassador for the study abroad program. During the year she attended the Free University Berlin she was able to travel to Split, Dubrovnik, Amsterdam, Budapest, Vienna, Nuremberg, Dresden, Prague, Dublin, Barcelona, Valencia, Paris, Rome and London. She writes that the experience of studying and traveling abroad both opened her eyes and “made me appreciate the people in my life and has actually brought us closer.”
Vincent Yu (Japan, 2015-16) is exploring career opportunities with Google. During his year in Japan he joined a language exchange program (the same one that Mikayla Webster is participating in this year) and the Tohoku cycling club. During his winter break, he and a Swiss friend did an extensive bike tour, covering 500 kilometers that, over a span of six days, took them from Sendai to Fukushima, and on to Aizawkamatsu, Niigata, Oguni, Yamagata, and back to Sendai. His academic life consisted of lab research pertaining to computer vision and Japanese language and culture. Vincent volunteered at nursery schools and daycares during his year abroad and found the experience very rewarding. He passed on an anecdote to illustrate the awakening of cultural awareness. One day on the way to school, he “heard the sound of playful music coming from what sounded like a truck. I ran toward the music fully prepared to have some ice cream, but was sorely disappointed to discover that the music had been coming from a garbage truck.”
Hearts and Scholars Dinner and Friends of the International Center Awards Ceremony
Ray and Verena made a very quick trip to San Diego to attend the annual UCSD Hearts & Scholars Dinner for undergraduate scholarship recipients in the company of 2014-15 Borton Scholars Austin Pukasamsombut and Shelby Newallis and Kim Burton from the Education Abroad Center. Unfortunately Sunny Young and Christian Koguchi could not make it due to scheduling conflicts. It was most interesting to talk with Shelby and Austin about their experiences abroad and their readjustment to UCSD after a year away.
Two months later the Friends of the International Center at UCSD suggested that the five newly selected Borton Scholars for 2016-17 could be included in their Annual Membership Dinner and Awards Ceremony to be held May 17. We were delighted with that invitation and although Ray and Verena had to cancel plans to attend, it was a chance for four of the five new recipients to meet and mingle with a large group of students who were similarly heading abroad with scholarships. Jennifer Rivas was not able to make it, but the picture shows Dominique Winfield, Mikayla Webster, Sophie Osborn and Justin Lim with their awards at the ceremony. They clearly had a fine time and we thank Ruth and Katya Newmark of the Friends of the International Center for welcoming them to join in the festivities.
Updates on past Borton Scholars
Christian Koguchi (Japan, 2014-15) interned with Intel the summer after returning from Japan. Back at UCSD, he became an officer of the electrical engineering honor society on campus and is in charge of holding technical seminars and workshops for undergraduate students. He is working hard and thinking about career options and graduate schools, and considering doing a Master’s program abroad.
Austin Pukasamsombut (Japan, 2014-15) is finishing his fifth year as an undergraduate at UCSD. He did an internship at MIT’s Lincoln Lab over the summer. One of the research groups at the Lab was interested in the work he did at Tohoku University on quadcopters and unmanned aerial vehicles and offered him the paid summer position. He has taken a strong interest in the field of virtual reality, and, after graduating, hopes to find work in the private sector that combines skills in that field with his previous work on autonomy and machine learning.
Shelby Newallis (Italy, 2014-15) is working as an Intervention Aide at an elementary school in Wilmington. She helps second and third grade students that are below grade level improve literacy and foundational phonics skills. She has applied for a Fulbright Scholarship to continue her studies abroad. Shelby recommended an excellent Italian film on the refugee crisis, Terra Ferma, for the International Film Series hosted by the Davis United Nations Association.
Rebecca Korff (Spain, 2013-14) is working in the admissions office at the Rady School of Management at UCSD, where she was promoted to Graduate Admissions Coordinator for the MBA program. She traveled to the East Coast this fall and is considering applying to graduate programs in International Relations within the next year.
Molly Tremblay (Ireland, 2011-12) continues to work at Nasland Engineering, a local civil engineering firm in San Diego. She has been focused on storm water regulations, as San Diego has updated its requirements in the hopes of promoting eco-friendly development. Outside of her full-time position, she has been working as a stage manager for two San Diego City College Productions: “Almost Maine” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.” She also adopted a deaf puppy from a rescue in Northern California and is in the process of training her using sign language.
Debbie Leung (Denmark, 2011-12) is a Transportation Systems Planner at IBI Group working on projects that enhance mobility, access, and quality of transportation in San Diego and beyond. Debbie first became interested in transportation while studying in Copenhagen. On the side, she teaches several vinyasa and aerial yoga classes per week. In the near future, she plans to apply to graduate school in the UK or Denmark to study transportation planning.
Katerina Siefkas (France, 2011-12) is in her second year of law school at the University of Virginia. She is on the managing board of the Virginia Journal of International Law and continues to be very passionate about international law. She spent the summer working for an NGO that involved travel to Sarajevo. Next summer, she will be working at the Bay Area office of a large global law firm.
Hanna Rahimi (Spain, 2009-10) is teaching Spanish at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley. She writes that it is “an amazing opportunity to share my love of language, literature, and travel with students in grades 9-12.”
Laura Summers (Holland, 2008-09) is making a career transition to design. She began the year as a freelancer and is spending several months working with Doctors without Borders in New York. She and her husband extended their family by adopting two cats.
Kipp Trieu (France, 2008-09) is in his sixth year of teaching, but is now at a French-American school. He is teaching First Grade in the American program, and is thrilled to be back in an international and multilingual environment. He is excited to continue imparting the global mindsets and cultural intelligences necessary for engaged, 21st century citizens to his students. These important elements of his teaching philosophy were solidified long before his first day in the classroom; rather, they are a result of his year abroad in Paris.
Nicola Hil (France, 2007-08) and her husband moved to China in June in connection with her husband’s job with the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou. She is currently learning Chinese, doing freelance research, and exploring beautiful East and South East Asia. She hopes to start a new job at the Consulate in the new year following the clearance process. If you would like to follow along with her adventures, you can sign up for her newsletter and view past newsletters.
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,