Putting Students First

Oct. 19, 2020
Scholarship recipients on the steps of Old Main

SBS student scholarship recipients (l-r): Kevin Sanchez (Magellan Circle scholarship recipient), Zachary Stout, Saudra Alvarez, Zia Pearson and Lauren Easter. Photo by Mackenzie Meitner.

We offer hundreds of undergraduate and graduate scholarships each year, but with more than 6,000 students, there is so much more we can do. With the rising cost of higher education, you can help make college more affordable and accessible and help us recruit and retain our highest achieving students. Here are just some of the amazing students who have benefited from your generosity!


Zia Pearson
Political Science and Africana Studies major
Recipient of the Louis F. Landon Memorial Scholarship

Zia said that her dream of attending the University of Arizona seemed possible until the age of 12, but then her life was severely impacted by her father’s mental illness and his decision to leave her family. “I then watched my mom work harder than I thought was humanly possible to support my brother and me. This experience made me value education even more and ignited my passion to understand mental health in the African American community.”

Determined not to add to her mother’s financial burden, Zia scoured Scholarship Universe and found the Louis F. Landon Memorial Scholarship, which covers tuition, as well as room and board.

“I am beyond grateful for the blessing of being awarded the Louis F. Landon Scholarship,” Zia said. “I am not exaggerating when I say I would not be in school earning my degree if not for the scholarship. It has truly changed the direction of my life.”



Gabriel Peña
Economics major and Latin American Studies minor, ‘20
Recipient of the Governor Raúl H. Castro Scholarship

When Gabriel was a first-year student in college, his mom’s cervical cancer returned, and she was quite sick until just recently. Needing financial support in his senior year, Gabriel discovered the Raúl H. Castro Scholarship, which was created in honor of Castro, the only Mexican American governor of Arizona and a U.S. ambassador to three countries.

Gabriel has tremendous admiration for Castro and considers him a role model. An economics major, Gabriel found a “true passion” with Latin American Studies, starting with his first class in “Human Rights in Latin America.”

“I feel very fortunate to receive the scholarship, and it also made me feel more confident that I could follow in Raúl H. Castro’s footsteps and become a lawyer and politician,” Gabriel said.



Ryan Bravin
Communication and Creative Writing major, ‘20
Recipient of the Brenna Ilana Berger Memorial Scholarship

Ryan had various health problems growing up, which included fine motor skill disorders, cerebral palsy, and an autism diagnosis. During his path to college, he has exhibited perseverance and resilience, which make him an ideal candidate for the Brenna Ilana Berger Memorial Scholarship.

Each year, the Brenna Ilana Berger Memorial Scholarship provides $30,000 to two Communication majors who have faced significant hardships in pursuing their education. Fiercely determined to keep Brenna’s memory alive,
Melany – Brenna’s sister – and her parents, Esther and Bob Berger, created the scholarship in 2013 to honor Brenna’s love of the university and her work as a counselor with at-risk students.

Receiving the scholarship twice was life changing for Ryan, giving him the financial freedom to apply to the Teach for America program, which he started this fall as a high school English teacher in North Carolina. He eventually wants to be a pastor, where he “hopes to inspire a hurting and broken world.”

“I am so grateful to the Berger family that they are willing to make an investment in me,” Ryan said. “They see what I’ve overcome and think that I can use that to help other people.”



Saudra Alvarez
Information Science & eSociety major
Recipient of Richard H. Tyler Student Emergency Funds

The University of Arizona established the Richard H. Tyler Student Emergency Fund to help students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with various expenses, including housing, food, course materials, technology, healthcare, and childcare.

A working mom, Saudra is pursuing her B.A. degree while working at the library full-time. “What drives me to commit myself to work and study are my three boys, ages 17, 13, and 10. I strive to be a great example to them, and I want them to know that pursuing higher education is valuable and will open doors,” Saudra said.

“Our income decreased due to COVID-19, and we were struggling with bills, and we also received unexpected bills during this time,” Saudra said. “I’m very grateful for the generous support from the Richard H. Tyler Student Emergency Fund. This helped my family and provided some peace of mind.”



Lauren Easter
Law and Philosophy major, ‘20
Recipient of a Magellan Circle Scholarship

Lauren endured a five-year abusive relationship where she was physically, mentally, and sexually abused. At the age of 24, Lauren left her abuser. While in a women’s shelter, she recognized the need to finish school and be a role model for her son.

While double majoring in Law and Philosophy, Lauren worked full-time as a paralegal and volunteered with Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse. When she graduated in the spring, Lauren received the prestigious Provost Award. She plans to pursue a dual MBA and JD and recently created a scholarship foundation for individuals impacted by gender-based violence.

“My success and endeavors could not have happened without the support and recognition I have received from being a part of the Magellan Circle family,” Lauren said. “The generous donation by my patron allowed me to be more selective with my time – dedicating my passion and talents to my academics and advocacy. The Honorable Margaret Houghton’s contribution has inspired me to give back by assisting others in achieving a higher education.”



Zachary Stout
PPEL (Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law), Philosophy, and Economics major, ‘20
Recipient of the Kathryn A. Governal Perseverance Award

Zachary went from opioid addiction and prison to being a triple major. Zachary, who plans to be a lawyer, found his calling advocating for criminal justice reform and increasing access to higher education. He hopes to help change the way our prison system works.

“The Governal Award as well as other scholarships I’ve received have provided encouragement as well as needed funds,” Zachary said. “As a first-generation, non-traditional student, I am especially honored to receive an award recognizing perseverance.”

The award – which was established in 2002 by George and Roberta Governal in memory of their daughter, Kathryn Anne – recognizes distinguished achievement by a student in overcoming personal, economic, or physical obstacles in completing a degree. Every year, the award is given to five students from different majors – Philosophy, Communication, Journalism, History, and Psychology.



Mojtaba Ebrahimian
Middle Eastern and North African Studies Ph.D., ‘20
Recipient of the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Fellowship

Mojtaba grew up in Iran, coming to the University of Arizona for his Ph.D. He recently completed his dissertation, which explores 19th-century Persian travelogues of Europe and their reflection of a new historical consciousness of Iranian and global history in Iran. Mojtaba comes from a family of teachers and would like to work in academia.

“Words cannot even begin to express how grateful I am for the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Fellowship and for the support of Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute,” Mojtaba said. “Without the fellowship, I could not finish my program. As a foreign student, I cannot apply for FAFSA and am not authorized to work anywhere except on campus. The fellowship allowed me to work with peace of mind on my dissertation, to travel for academic conferences, and, most importantly, to pay for my living expenses, tuition, and insurance.”



Miranda LaZar
Anthropology graduate student
Recipient of the Lewis and Clark Fellowship

Miranda grew up living in the mountains in New Mexico and was fascinated by the wildlife she encountered. During high school and college, she learned about wildlife conservation through volunteering and working at the Albuquerque Biopark. She fell in love with the discipline of archaeology.

“I was drawn to the combination of theories and methods from both the hard sciences and the humanities to create a holistic understanding of human life in the past,” Miranda said. “Zooarchaeology allowed me to combine my two interests to research human/animal interactions through time.”

For graduate school, Miranda chose the UArizona School of Anthropology because of its excellent faculty mentors and research opportunities. She feels fortunate to have received the Lewis and Clark Fellowship, which is awarded to students pursuing studies in paleolithic archaeology or paleoanthropology.

“I am extremely grateful for the Lewis and Clark Fellowship, as it will provide me with stable financial assistance during a time of immense uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Miranda said.


This article was part of the 2020 SBS Developments magazine.