Only 16 students were selected nationally to receive the most prestigious undergraduate scholarships from the National Institutes of Health from 2022 to 2323.
And three of them are Bruins.
Fourth-year students Marinza Marzouk of Covina, California, Monica Suleiman of Los Angeles, and third-year student Samuel Zamora of San Diego were selected from a national pool of applicants. The scholarship aims to encourage students from disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue education and employment opportunities in biomedical research.
Each UCLA honoree will receive up to $20,000 annually for up to four years. In return, they will complete a 10-week paid summer internship at the NIH laboratories, and after graduating from UCLA, they will work as full-time employees of the NIH laboratories for one year each year of grant support they receive.
“I am proud of these three outstanding students and all they have accomplished so far,” said Adriana Galvan, dean of undergraduate education at UCLA. “This scholarship is an inspiring vote of confidence on the national stage for their future potential, and I have no doubt that they will exceed all expectations.”
Marzouk is a neuroscientist who transferred to the University of California from Pasadena City College. She moved with her family to the United States from Egypt when she was thirteen years old.
“It was very stressful, especially with the language barrier, and I had a lot of doubt in myself — I never thought I could dream of going to UCLA,” Marzouk said. “But I kept challenging myself to get here.”
Marzouk volunteers in the research lab of Professor Edith London, a psychiatrist and biobehavioral scientist at the University of California. She hopes to continue her studies at medical school, with the goal of becoming a psychiatrist or a neurologist.
“Receiving this scholarship means a lot to me,” she said. “I still can’t grasp where I am and do what I do, but I am so happy to make my parents and myself proud. My parents sacrificed so much for me, and this scholarship shows them that their efforts are not in vain and that I am taking advantage of all the opportunities I have here in America “.
Soliman is a specialist in human biology and society with a minor in Arabic studies. Like Marzouk, she came to the United States from Egypt at a young age. Suleiman was 10 years old, and her family had been seeking religious asylum after the 2011 revolution there.
“Coming from a country where women don’t always have the opportunity to pursue higher education, I was determined to become one of the first in my family to earn a college degree,” she said. “Coming to UCLA helped me find community and a sense of belonging.”
Suleiman hopes to enter the MD program. program in sports medicine. An intern with the UCLA Sports Medicine team, Solomon has also served as a field research assistant for the UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program and a National Institutes of Health-funded project to improve the assessment and treatment of concussion in children and adolescents.
“I feel honored to have been chosen to earn such a competitive scholarship and to have the opportunity to work at the National Institutes of Health and develop the skills necessary for my journey,” Soliman said. “UCLA provided an environment that allowed me to develop, and I am grateful.”
Zamora, who specializes in microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, moved to California with his family from Tijuana, Mexico, when he was 10 years old.
“Like many other first-generation students, my parents never attended university and knew nothing about the process, which meant I had no sense of direction and struggled to find resources,” he said.
The key to helping him adjust to life on campus and find his way, Zamora said, is his involvement with Hermanos Unidos de UCLA, a student organization that helps male Latino and Chicano students connect their academic successes, community service, and personal growth.
Zamora has gained experience in several research laboratories on campus. He is currently a Research Intern in Professor Xiaojiang Cui’s lab, where he studies the effects of RNA splicing on breast cancer development. Although he has not ruled out medical school, he is also interested in continuing his clinical laboratory research.
“Receiving this scholarship gives me a feeling of victory,” Zamora said. “The ambition to make a difference in this world through the beauty of science is the reason I push myself.”