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Ripple Effects

Student PwintPhyu Nandar looks toward the camera while standing in a stream.
With scholarship support, PwintPhyu Nandar ’19 researches water conservation and social justice, while mentoring other Southeast Asian students at UCLA.

Scholarships make dreams of coming to UCLA come true. And that’s just the start of what students achieve for themselves and society.

PwintPhyu Nandar ’19 came to UCLA ready to create her own path. The Anita and Julius L. Zelman Endowed Scholarship made it possible: “Without the financial strain, I can focus on learning in my classes, exploring my interests, and being involved on campus,” she says. “I have the opportunity to expand my horizons at UCLA.”

Education, Equality, and Environmental Justice

Expand them she has. An environmental science major, Nandar unites her passions for biology and social justice as an undergraduate researcher for the Gender Water Project, part of UCLA’s Sustainable LA Grand Challenge. Around the world, women shoulder a heavy burden, spending hours walking to and from distant wells and rivers to gather water for their families. But there is little gender-focused research specific to the U.S. To build knowledge and find ways to improve conservation, Nandar explores how gender, race, and economic status influence water usage in Los Angeles. And she is eager to continue such work in her future career and potential graduate study.

Passing on a Personal Passion

As she forges ahead, Nandar will never forget her roots. “My parents and I are immigrants,” she says, “and they have always instilled the value of higher education as a means of obtaining a better life.” Born in Yangon, Burma, she and her family moved to the Bay Area, where a community of diverse ethnicities and cultures shaped her own identity. Inspired by how scholarship support is helping her succeed, Nandar is helping other Southeast Asian students, who are historically underrepresented in higher education. She serves as a mentor for Southeast Asian Campus Learning Education and Retention at UCLA.

In and out of the classroom, Nandar is set on making a splash: “I will use this opportunity of higher education to give back to my community and help make the world more environmentally just.”

Published September 2018

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