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Scholarships Lift UND Students Onto National Stage

Awards recognize students’ academic achievements, leadership skills and career promise

Apply to UND, get in, then spend the next four years in college in Grand Forks. Right?

Wrong, as UND sophomore Patricia “Trece” Hopp now is finding out. Hopp is one of several UND students who recently won prestigious national scholarships. In Hopp’s case, she won a Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship, which the U.S. government offers under the umbrella of NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

That means Hopp now will be getting academic assistance of up to $9,500 per year for her junior and senior years at UND, plus a 10-week, full-time, paid ($700 a week) internship at a NOAA facility during the summer.

During that summer experience, previous Hollings Scholarship recipients have found themselves north of Alaska, flying over the Chukchi Sea and deploying floats with a NOAA Arctic Research group; sailing on a NOAA research vessel off the coast of California; and in Hawaii, designing coastal nurseries meant to help the world restore its populations of coral.

Hearty congratulations to Trece and UND’s other scholarship winners, who’ve discovered that for students who work hard and apply themselves, doors of opportunity have a way of swinging open, said UND President Andy Armacost.

“This experience will lay a foundation for Trece and the others to achieve their career goals, and it will introduce them to a new group of like-minded scholars,” Armacost said.

Many thanks to the faculty and staff members who have supported our students in their academic careers and in preparing for these scholarship opportunities, Armacost added.

The winners and their scholarships are as follows:

Cheyden Paulson

A UND freshman who’s planning to double-major in political science and international studies and minor in Spanish, Paulson has won a Critical Language Scholarship to study Azerbaijani. Closely related to Turkish, Azerbaijani is a language spoken in many of the countries bordering the Caspian Sea, including millions of speakers in Iran.

Cheyden Paulson

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Critical Language Scholarship program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages.

Each summer, CLS provides rigorous academic instruction in 15 languages that are critical to America’s national security and economic prosperity.

“Cheyden has a remarkable sense of adventure,” said Yee Han Chu, Academic Support and Fellowship Opportunities Coordinator at UND.

“In early 2020, before the pandemic hit, Cheyden, just 18, braved living on his own, leaving his small farming community in Richardton, N.D., to study Spanish in Málaga, Spain. Then while other students returned home when the pandemic hit, Cheyden stayed behind to learn the language and understand the culture, as he intended.

“Cheyden is a gifted learner of languages and has a clear professional purpose to work in the federal government,” Chu continued. “I am just delighted that a student so young, but already so talented has caught the eye of national evaluators.”

Said Paulson himself, “I am so incredibly grateful and excited for the opportunity that is the Critical Language Scholarship. Not only am I excited to represent UND, but this scholarship will also help me to realize my goal of one day representing the United States by working for our government in the realm of diplomacy and foreign service.”

Sydney Menne

A UND sophomore and physics major, Menne has been offered a DAAD-RISE Germany scholarship to complete a summer research internship at a top research institution in Germany.

Sydney Menne

Sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service and funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, RISE Germany matches undergraduates with a host university or institute according to the student’s area of interest.

The program gives students a monthly stipend for three months to help cover living expenses, while the host universities and institutes provide housing assistance.

“Conducting research internationally is a big dream of mine, and I am so excited and thankful for the opportunity,” Menne said.

“To be able to study something I am passionate about and something that could have significant implications on our understanding of the universe is incredible, and this experience could play a significant role in my future research career.”

Marveled Yee Han Chu, “What can Sydney not do?

“She is a hard-working, focused, self-aware, and gifted young researcher,” Chu added. “Her intellectual capacity to understand abstract concepts is quite advanced for her age, and she also has the social intelligence to relate well to others in a humble and endearing way.

“I am so happy that Sydney received this opportunity to study in Münster, Germany. What a wonderful learning experience!”

Michelle Nguyen

Nguyen, a UND senior who’s double-majoring in economics and political science, has been accepted to the American Economic Association’s Summer Program at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Michelle Nguyen

The two-month program is designed to prepare promising minority students for PhD programs, particularly in economics. To attend this program, Nguyen will receive a $3,250 stipend plus a full scholarship, which is valued at $20,000.

As many as 20 percent of PhDs awarded to minorities in economics over the past 20 years have gone to graduates of this program, the program’s website reports.

“I am so proud of Michelle,” Chu said.

“This award recognizes her achievements and potential to conduct meaningful research in economics. It will give her a wonderful opportunity to work alongside prominent professors and build a network of support. What a fantastic bridge between UND and graduate school.”

Nguyen has won a number of other scholarships at UND, including a Dream Award from Scholarship America, a $10,000-a-year renewable scholarship for her undergraduate studies. That made such a difference in her present that it’s inspiring her future: in the fall, Nguyen plans to start her graduate work by pursuing a master’s degree at Indiana University, home of the first school in the world dedicated to the study and practice of philanthropy.

“After I earned the Dream Award, I saw how philanthropy changed my entire trajectory in higher education,” Nguyen said.

“It’s been so empowering to see and experience the generosity of others: mentors, donors, sponsors, educators. It’s a feeling I will never forget.

“I felt it again with the AEASP notification,” she continued. “I am so grateful for this opportunity to pursue my dreams! I want to earn a Ph.D. in Economics to further research how we can create more sustainable economies throughout our world.

“I believe that we can all contribute to the world by leaving it in a better condition than how we found it.”

Patricia “Trece” Hopp

Now, here’s more about “Trece” Hopp, the NOAA/Hollings Scholarship recipient named at the top of this story.

Patricia Hopp

Hopp is an Atmospheric Science major at UND. That means she’s especially interested in NOAA’s role as the home of the National Weather Service, the agency that provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States.

Through her summer internship, Hopp is hoping to research weather information accessibility, the process that makes sure all individuals – with and without disabilities, and from all walks of life – can access weather information.

“I am honored to have been selected to be part of NOAA’s Hollings Scholarship Program,” Hopp said. “I am absolutely thrilled for the opportunity. An abundance of gratitude goes to both my mentors in the atmospheric sciences department and in the Honors College; thank you for your support!”

Said Yee Han Chu, “Trece’s strength as a scholarship candidate is her unique constellation of interests and how she will bring these perspectives into her work. While studying atmospheric sciences, she is also minoring in mathematics and dance.

“As an Honors student, she has discovered a critical link between atmospheric science and the social sciences and will look into researching the relationship between weather information and weather communication.

“It has been a delight working with Trece, who is so enthusiastic in all her interests. She arrived to UND knowing exactly what she wanted, and I am so happy that her focus and diligence have been rewarded.”