Skip to content Skip to navigation

Two UC Merced Students Win Strauss $10K Public Service Scholarship

May 9, 2007

MERCED - The Donald A. Strauss Public Service Scholarship
Foundation, established as a memorial to the late Don Strauss of
Newport Beach and now designed to award $10,000 scholarships to at
least 14 California college juniors annually, has announced that UC
Merced students Christiane Pailo and Kshiti Vaghela are among the
foundation’s new group of recipients..

The Strauss scholarships fund public-service projects the
students have proposed and will carry out during their senior year.
Pailo, who hails from Merced, and Vaghela, who comes from
Bakersfield, will facilitate bi-monthly, after-school, hands-on
science clubs for elementary school children. They will also
organize a field trip to the Exploratorium in San Francisco for
children who have never had the chance to step within the
perimeters of a science museum. Their goal is to encourage young
children’s curiosity and scientific dreams.

“We’ll be recruiting our fellow students to volunteer as club
facilitators,” Pailo said. “That way there’s almost no limit on how
many elementary school students we can touch with our program. We
already have six other students interested in helping out.”

The duo plans to use the scholarship funds to buy equipment like
microscopes and Petri dishes to create club kits that can be
transported to different schools on different days. They are also
soliciting donations from companies.

Club facilitators will use this equipment to teach young
students science in accessible terms - helping them think about the
forces that influence a soccer ball, the properties of waves in a
bucket of water or a Slinky toy, and how the tastes of their
favorite foods travel from the mouth to the brain through the
nervous system.

“We hope this makes science not so scary for students, so
they’re ready to enter science and engineering fields when they
reach the college level,” Pailo said.

Don Strauss demonstrated a strong, life-long commitment to
public service and education, reflected in his 10 years on the
Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board and 12 years on the
Newport Beach City Council, including one as mayor.

He also founded summer internships in Washington, D.C., for
students at Cornell University, Stanford University, the University
of Rhode Island, the California Institute of Technology and Harvey
Mudd College, and he endowed scholarships at Stanford, U.C. Irvine
and Harvey Mudd. He died in 1995 at the age of 79.

Strauss’ widow, Dorothy M.R. Strauss, established the foundation
in January 1997 as a “tribute to the vision, ideals and leadership
of Donald A. Strauss.” In its first year, the foundation board
invited 10 universities to nominate up to three students each for
Strauss scholarships, with the board making the final selection of
the 10 winners. Dorothy Strauss saw her vision for the Foundation
realized - she phoned each of the 10 first-year winners to notify
them personally - before she passed away in October of 1997 at the
age of 83.

In its second year, the Foundation broadened its reach and
awarded 15 $10,000 scholarships. It now gives no fewer than 14 each
year. This new group represents the Foundation’s 10th year of
awarding such scholarships, and like their counterparts in the
past, all of this year’s recipients have extensive records of
community and public service, as well as a demonstrated desire to
“make a difference.”

UC Merced student body President Josh Franco won the Strauss
scholarship when he was a junior. He created Students for the
Central Valley and has become an active leader in Valley issues.

For more information, visit the Strauss Foundation at