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  • Erika Johnson

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  • Erika Johnson

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A Heartfelt Thank You

Annual Hearts and Scholars dinner connects scholarship recipients with donors


Alumni Board members Annamarie Bezzerides (and daughter Iliana, center), Matt Newsome, Tony Fiori, Chancellor Khosla

Driven by a desire to understand our place in the cosmos, Diana Alsindy decided early on she would dedicate her life to exploring the origins of the universe. Now a senior studying chemical engineering at UC San Diego, Alsindy is pursuing her passions with the support of the Bhat Family Scholarship. On Feb. 23, she and more than 80 other undergraduates had the chance to meet and thank the donors who have invested in their success at the annual Hearts and Scholars event.

“The annual Hearts and Scholars dinner is a special opportunity to thank our scholarship donors and connect them with the students whose educational aspirations have become a reality because of their generosity,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “Fundraising for scholarships is a priority in The Campaign for UC San Diego, as we strive to provide support for more next-generation leaders who will push boundaries and challenge expectations to make our world better.”

For Alsindy, the journey that brought her to UC San Diego was wrought with challenges. After enduring war in their native home of Iraq, her family sought refuge in Jordan before moving to the United States in 2008. In high school, she worked diligently to overcome language and cultural barriers, motivated by her goal of studying science.

As part of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space student organization at UC San Diego, Alsindy recently led the propulsion team to develop the first rocket ever launched by a university with a 3D-printed engine. Her next mission is to help spearhead the development of a chemical propulsion system powered by a 3D-printed thruster that will send a cube satellite into lunar orbit on NASA’s most powerful rocket, Space Launch System, in 2018.

“Leading a team of young and talented engineers to complete an arduous, high visibility project is a lifelong dream of mine,” shared Alsindy. “I want to work on projects that are made to inspire the future of human space exploration into the unknown, discover new worlds and push the boundaries of scientific and technical limits.”

According to Alsindy, receiving the Bhat Family Scholarship has allowed her to focus on her studies rather than worrying about how to pay for school. “I appreciate the Bhat family for seeing something in me and my story, and I hope I can make them proud with my achievements,” she said.


Recipient of the Bhat Family Scholarship Diana Alsindy with Jayaram Bhat

Alsindy was the featured student speaker at the Hearts and Scholars dinner, which took place at Estancia La Jolla. The evening also included program remarks from Chancellor Khosla, as well as UC President Emeritus and UC San Diego Chancellor Emeritus Robert Dynes about the impact of scholarships. In addition, UC San Diego Sitaare, a 16-member acapella group that fuses American and Bollywood music, performed during the event. The ensemble included scholarship recipient and singer Aswini Krishnan, a junior who received the Jacobs Scholarship.

Throughout the event, students had the chance to meet their donors and share with them the impact they have had on their academic success. When Jayaram Bhat first met Alsindy at last year’s Hearts and Scholars event, he was impressed by her perseverance and her dreams of becoming a rocket scientist. His own story shares common threads. Bhat immigrated to the U.S. at a young age to attend graduate school, where he received a scholarship to pursue a master’s degree. After his son, Rohit, graduated from UC San Diego in 2014, he decided to contribute to student scholarships. When the idea of creating an endowed scholarship fund was proposed—one that would provide continuous funding into perpetuity—he and his wife embraced the idea.

“It is our hope that the scholarship will help students achieve great things—for themselves, the nation and our world—and that they will be inspired to give back to others in the future,” said Jayaram.

Jayaram and his wife, Vani, created the Bhat Family Endowed Scholarship for Transfer Students in 2015, pledging $50,000 toward a fund that will provide a $2,000 scholarship award each year. The scholarship benefits transfer students who continue their four-year degree at UC San Diego, the route Rohit took. Alsindy, who began her studies at a community college, was the first student to receive the scholarship.

“The Bhat family’s generosity has inspired me to help others and give back to the community,” said Alsindy. “I hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as they have helped me.”

To learn more about the impact of scholarships or to make a gift, please visit

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