As UC Merced grows, more and more top students are landing on campus, evidenced by an increase in recipients of one of the most prestigious scholarships offered by the UC system.
This year, UC Merced has 30 Regents Scholars, more than in any previous year. That’s not surprising, said Diana Ralls, UC Merced’s director of financial aid.
“As our enrollment increases, so does the allocation we receive from the Office of the President to offer these scholarships,” Ralls explained.
But that’s not the only factor. In tough economic times, financial aid makes a huge difference to students when they’re deciding on a college. UC Merced’s excellent financial aid packages motivate students to choose the newest UC for their college education.
Student Genna Mullins, of Redding, received a financial aid offer from another UC campus that comprised mostly student loans, but UC Merced chose her for a Regents Scholarship.
“I decided to come here because I knew I would be able to afford Merced,” Mullins said. “I already knew that my family wouldn’t be able to contribute anything for my education. I’m a first-generation college student, and my parents divorced seven years ago. There was no way I could afford college unless I had aid, and UC Merced offered the most aid.”
Another recipient, Ronald Magpantay of Norwalk, was already drawn to UC Merced because of his desire to experience the new and rapidly growing campus, but his Regents Scholarship was the deciding factor.
“Knowing that I would not have to worry about paying for college in exchange for working hard and pursuing my degree was an offer that I could not refuse,” Magpantay said. He’s now a junior majoring in materials science and engineering.
Most recipients don’t know they’re being considered for the honor until they get word they’ve been chosen. That’s because they’re selected based on academic excellence and personal achievement as shown on their admissions applications.
Stephanie Jauregi of Madera — a valedictorian, cheer and dance team member and FIRST Robotics team captain and mentor during high school — recalled her surprise at her selection as a Regents Scholar.
“I had never heard of it before, so I was very grateful and honored that I was selected for such a prestigious award,” said Jauregi, now a freshman pursuing a career in robotics as a mechanical engineering major. “I could not stop smiling. I still can’t.”