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Hard Work Pays Off, Student Pays it Forward

January 26, 2006

Hard Work Pays Off, Student Pays it Forward

There is a difference between being smart and working hard, says Uday Bali. Despite his perfect SAT score, his demanding computer science and engineering major, and his many projects, Bali doesn’t consider himself a genius.

“I work really hard at everything. Sometimes I need help too,” said the 20-year-old sophomore from Modesto. Bali considers himself lucky to have an engineer as a father so that he can get that help easily when he needs it, but he knows that is not the case for everyone.

To help make sure that tomorrow’s college students get all the help they need with their school work, Bali joined an Engineering Service Learning team working on student outreach. Their mission is to help motivate students from Merced County by tutoring them and designing new math and science curriculum materials.

During UC Merced’s first semester the team Bali worked in partnered with the Merced County Office of Education to tutor more than 200 students from Merced High School in physics, chemistry and biology. As the team grows, Bali hopes the program will branch out to other high schools in Merced.

“We wanted to do more, but there are only 11 of us and we were spreading ourselves thin as it is,” said Bali.

Dozens more students are working in Service Learning teams on projects for nonprofit organizations around the Merced area through UC Merced’s Foster Family Center for Engineering Service Learning, a National EPICS site.

In the spring semester, Bali will work on another Service Learning project, helping to design and implement information technology solutions for A Woman’s Place, a shelter for battered women and their children.

“I’m looking forward to this,” said Bali. “With the work we’ll be doing, the shelter can accomplish a lot more.”

And Bali still manages to lead a life outside of academics. He is a member of the Vanguard student engineering club and recently took up karate again and joined the Martial Arts Club on campus, which drew a large crowd at a recent exhibition.

“I’m a little rusty but we had a pretty successful training session. About 200 people showed up!” he said.