Skip to main content
You are here

Scholarships for First-generation Aggies

By Nav Chima ’15 on November 13, 2015 in Education

Being first in the family to attend college is life changing. It’s exciting both for the students and for the family members invested in the college student’s success. 

But the decision to get a college education can also present significant financial challenges.

That’s why UC Davis scholarships for first-generation college students are invaluable.

Several are available, including the Chancellor’s Achievement Award, supported by unrestricted gifts to the UC Davis Annual Fund, and the Boyd Family Foundation Scholarship


Campus dedicated to social mobility 

UC Davis is recognized for its dedication to social mobility. This year, our campus ranked second among U.S. colleges for doing the most for low-income students (New York Times “College Access Index”), including those who are the first in their families to set their sights on a college education.

Through the Boyd Family Foundation, philanthropists Mary Ann and Lou Peoples, created the scholarship to help first-generation students from the Sacramento Unified School District attend UC Davis.


Scholarship established because of UC Davis' reputation

The Boyd Foundation established the scholarship at UC Davis in 2011 because of the university’s great reputation and proximity to Sacramento—a community that was near and dear to the late Eugene and Kathryn Boyd, longtime Sacramento residents whose estate funds these scholarships. 

“I give to provide scholarships to young people who are in the first generation in their family to attend college because I believe that this type of gift can sometimes change the future of an entire family,” Mary Ann Peoples said. 

These funds are helping Aggies like Cameron Do ’16 and Jean Liu ’15.  Because their financial burdens have been lifted, our students can focus on academic pursuits and achieve success.


Chinese parents focused on education 

‘It’s hard when you’re the first. But I embraced the title when I was selected to be the first ever Boyd Scholar — the award picked me up and propelled me to my success here.’

— Jean Liu

Liu was raised by parents who worked on farms in northern China. They wanted to better their children’s lives — lives they knew should begin with a good education.

The Lius’ perseverance led them to the United States and inspired a work ethic in all of their children, but especially in their eldest daughter, Jean, the first in her family to attend college.

Monetary security from the scholarship has allowed Liu to focus on finding her path at UC Davis through exploring classes and student clubs. 


Hesitant in engineering to confident in business economics 

“I entered UC Davis as a hesitant engineering major because I enjoyed math in high school. But after taking many classes, Professor Maxey’s business economics course led me to accounting,” Liu said. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to explore that’s encouraged at Davis and feasible because of the Boyd Scholarship.” 

During her time at UC Davis, Liu split her time between studies, her internship at a prominent accounting firm in Sacramento, her activities with UC Davis’Accounting Society and reading her favorite novels on the Quad. 


Liu inspires her siblings 

Just as her parents’ example inspired her, Liu’s pursuit of a college education is inspiring all three of her younger siblings, who plan to follow suit. 

“My sister is already graduating from high school and wants to come to UC Davis just like her big sis,” says Liu, who is busy helping guide her sister through college admittance.

“When I was in her shoes I didn’t even know what FAFSA was, and I had wavering confidence about my success in college,” she said. “It’s hard when you’re the first. But I embraced the title when I was selected to be the first ever Boyd Scholar — the award picked me up and propelled me to my success here.”


Can-Do attitude

The Boyd Scholarship program has also propelled Do to academic success.

As an award-winning valedictorian and cross-country athlete, Do’s only limit to continued achievement in college was financial.

As a high school student, he feared his parents’ struggles to support three older siblings’ educations would hurt his future. That concern disappeared when he received the Boyd Scholarship from UC Davis.


Great relief from stress

“The award gave a great relief from the possible stresses of making ends meet while you’re just starting to make out who you are,” he says. 

With his limits lifted, Do is continuing his streak of exceptional achievement at UC Davis. He spends his free time running and is on course to graduate in three years as a managerial economics major.

“My parents have always said that good comes to those who give, and I see that same philosophy here at Davis,” Do says. 


Joined nonprofit student tax initiative 

That’s why he joined the nonprofit student tax initiative UC Davis Students in VITA.

“I’m so thankful to the Boyd Scholarship, and I plan to give back to it when I can. For now I return the favor through giving my time to the Davis community through Students in VITA.” 

Through his work with the nonprofit, Do files taxes for lower income families. The work has solidified his interest in accounting and helped him get to know many of the clients. 

“I see myself in the families that come in…. A kid came in translating for his parents just like I did when I was younger. I hope there are always scholarships for first-generation college hopefuls,” Do says. “Because to me, being a first-generation student isn’t a limit, it’s a motivation to excel for my parents, myself and future generations.”