U-M Club of Greater San Francisco: Scholarship Recipients

2018 Alumni Club Scholarship Recipient

IMG_8746.jpgMy name is Kieta Mueller.   I am just completing my studies at Oakland School for the Arts, where I have studied classical piano for the past seven years.  Growing up, I spent my summers with my mom’s family in Indonesia. I was fortunate when I was young to have the opportunity to travel a lot and develop my interest in world language and culture.  I now study Japanese language in UC Berkeley’s ATDP program during the summer.  In my free time, I also enjoy playing music with my friends and volunteering at the library.  I am excited to be attending University of Michigan in the College of Engineering this fall!

2014 Alumni Club Scholarship Recipient


I remember the exact moment when I found out that I had been accepted to the University of Michigan. I was sitting in class taking notes when, in the corner of my screen, a “Congratulations!” popped up. I didn’t believe it. I sat there with the stupidest grin on my face for the remainder of the 80 minute period, in fact the teacher looked at me and started to laugh himself! That moment that I knew I would be a Wolverine was one of the happiest of my life. I chose Michigan not only because it is ranked as one of the top schools in the nation, but also because of the spirit. Coming from Saint Ignatius College prep, I love school pride and school spirit. I attended every home football and basketball game there my senior year, and played Varsity Lacrosse in the spring, so it is no surprise that I love to represent my school. That’s why when I was presented with the opportunity to attended the most spirited school in the country I jumped on it. I even have my football season tickets sitting next to me as I type this, and a M sticker where the letter would be on my keyboard. I wear my Michigan sweatshirt around, and when I get the occasional, “GO BLUE!” from a random pedestrian it makes my heart soar. The fact that I will also get a world class education and access to the largest alumni network in the nation doesn’t hurt my choice in Michigan either. In short, there are countless reasons why I am proud to call myself a Wolverine, and it means the world to me to be able to attend such a wonderful school! My name is

This need based scholarship from the alumni club would mean the world to me. The $2,000 scholarship would allow me to take out less in loans, which would help lift some of the tremendous stress that paying for college is bringing into our lives. My mother is paying for my college education, and as a single mother raising three kids on a teacher salary it hasn’t been easy the past few months. I am taking out loans and working everyday to try and pay for as much as I can, but the financial stress and strain on our family is huge. I have secured a job in the Michigan Union for this fall, but the burden of out-of-state tuition is still a heavy one. I would be extremely grateful to earn this scholarship, not only to support my education in the Engineering school, but to help ease the burden on my mothers shoulders. Thank you for your c!onsideration!

Copy of Personal Statement:

We approached the private jet in an air conditioned sedan. As a twelve-year-old boy, I had never conceived of such luxury. The plane was owned by my best friend from middle school. He had invited me to his second home in Idaho for a few weeks in the summer, and I was eager to take him up on the offer. But now, seeing this plane before me ““ this ostentatious display of wealth ““ I felt disarmed.

Growing up the son of a public school teacher in an affluent area came with many perks, but was often accompanied by a feeling of inadequacy. This experience continued throughout my high school years as I watched my peers get new iPhones, cars and sports gear. Although my mother always said that I could accomplish anything I set my mind too and that I didn’t need money to get there, a nagging voice in the back of my head told me otherwise.

This concept was challenged during a freshman year service trip to La Mission, Mexico. While there, I worked in an orphanage, taught in a day care center, and brought care packages to those struggling in the town. My experience doing this work transformed my perspective on how wealth relates to happiness. Despite the extraordinary poverty there, I found generosity and kindness at every turn. The women at the daycare laughed with each other while ensuring that each child had a full belly, the children treated each other kindly”“never leaving anyone out.

This tenderness was juxtaposed against a back drop of cement block houses and blue tarp roofs. It dawned on me that my childhood had sold me a false definition of need. When I played soccer with the local children, there was no difference in my joy and theirs. As we sprinted up and down the empty lot, caked in dirt and sweat, we did not think about wealth. We were happy, and not because we had a private jet.

Over the course of the trip, the idea that happiness was connected to wealth began to evaporate. I realized that happiness had much more to do with one’s interpersonal relationships than one’s material possessions. My mother had been right all along: Wealth was irrelevant, a red herring.

This new idea challenged my whole ideology and prompted me to act. Upon my return to the Bay Area, I saw the world in a new light. I realized that the things I need are actually very basic: food, shelter and family. From a young age I had been conditioned to believe that financial wealth was the most desirable thing to attain. If only I could roll up to my private jet in an air-conditioned sedan. But that is all just clutter.

Sometime after, I was outside my economics class, talking to my friend, when a boy I knew jumped in the conversation. We had been talking about the government shutdown and which Americans it would affect. He said something about how he was the 1% and that I was the 99%, his face twisting with laughter. But he couldn’t phase me. His insult only added to my strength because I knew that I was not defined by my family’s material wealth.

2013 Alumni Club Scholarship Recipient


Personal Statement:

“Balance the boat. Don’t ever let it capsize.” These were words from my rowing coach that became a mantra for me and my family through the next two years. On June 9, 2010, my mom was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She was thrown into a violent cycle of chemotherapy, and my family and I were sent reeling from the shock. We gathered to watch helplessly as my mom was continually pummeled by the drugs; constantly pushing her to the very edge of death and pulling her back in at the last second. I watched my mom fade under the effects of the drugs, occasionally reappearing to give me a weak smile. After six months of ultimately unsuccessful chemotherapy, my mom was forced to face a difficult decision. She would either be transferred to The Stanford Hospital, where she would receive a bone marrow transplant and face endless risks and a discouraging success rate, or freely live the rest of her life while allowing the disease to slowly progress. Choosing the bone marrow transplant gave us no guarantee of her survival, and the treatment was experimental and radical. But that was the best chance she had.

My mom moved into the Stanford Hospital, and my siblings, my dad and I were forced to go on with our so-called “normal” lives. My siblings traveled back to their respective homes, I went back for my sophomore year at Saint Ignatius, and my dad tried to balance being the sole income provider for us, a loving and caring husband, and an understanding father. He and I moved to Palo Alto, about an hour and a half from our home in Fairfax, to be close to my mom. My mom would have some good health reports, some bad health reports, some days stable, some days unstable–always unpredictable. Between school, rowing, watching my dad’s silent fear increasing each day, easing my mother’s unwarranted guilt, and keeping my own emotions in check, there was a lot to balance. I credit a lot of my ability to balance all of it to rowing. At the time, rowing was the only way I could protect myself from my own fear. Every practice was a physical discharge of energy; a visible outlet for my abundance of pent up anger and emotion. Having crew to fall back on allowed me to forget, for three and a half hours every day, that my life was crumbling. This allowed my mom to focus on getting better, my dad to focus on her, and me to just keep rowing through the turmoil. Much like the blade of the oar forces the water out of its way, I pushed my fear and anxiety out of my mind and let the rhythmic sound of the boat be my only thought. Thankfully, my mom’s transplant was successful, and although she continues to face chronic side effects, she is breathing and living today and I am eternally grateful for that.

What Being a Wolverine Means to Me:

The college search is a complicated process. There are many different factors to take into consideration: location, majors, athletics, reputation, graduate success, campus atmosphere, and many others. For me, Michigan fulfilled and exceeded all of these requirements. However, one of the main reasons I chose Michigan–one of the main reasons I knew I wanted to be a Wolverine–was the love that the students and alumni have for their school. During my first campus visit, I was overwhelmed by the spirit of the students and the dedication and loyalty they have for the Maize and Blue. Since I have decided to attend the University of Michigan, and therefore worn something purchased from the M-Den nearly every day, that spirit has been confirmed and encouraged by strangers on the street asking me what year I would be attending, or giving me a simple, “Go Blue!” Being a Wolverine means working hard, discovering who I am as a person, and Hailing to all that makes the University of Michigan so great.

Scholarship Information:

There were many aspects of my life that changed when my mom was diagnosed with leukemia. Thankfully, my family has healthcare and many of her bills were taken care of by friends and family wanting to help out. I was able to continue my private high school education through scholarship and work-study. Although she is no longer in the hospital and her medical bills have decreased dramatically, she is still on a strict and costly regimen of over fifteen pills a day, and her disease leaves her primarily unemployed. This scholarship would mean less strain on my family, more trips to and from Ann Arbor, and a sense of financial reassurance for my parents.

2012 Alumni Club Scholarship Recipient


Christopher is a Trumpet Performance Major with the UM School of Music

In his own words …

My high school years have definitely been the best years of my young life. My dad always advises me to take full advantage of each step I take in life, wherever I am. I have so many friends in high school who say “I can’t wait to get out of here. I just want to get to the next place in my life.” I never feel that way. I want to enjoy each stage of my life to the fullest. I dearly love high school and hate to leave, but I clearly want to move on to an equally happy place when I choose my college.

When I examine a place like Michigan, I see that everything is “on the table” for me to take advantage of. I see that Michigan is a place that will allow me to extensively explore my chosen career of music and to broaden my understanding of music in ways that I can scarcely imagine today. I know I’ll be surrounded by the best and most talented faculty members and among the brightest, most promising musicians in the country.

My private trumpet teacher has advised me that it’s not only vital to attend a great music school, but to attend one that is placing their graduates in the best jobs in the music business. I understand that Michigan has a great track record of placing its graduates in some of the best orchestras in the country. Michigan graduates are leaving school thoroughly prepared to succeed in the insanely competitive music world. I want to have that kind of chance at success – to be the greatest trumpet player I am capable of, but also to earn the kind of living that rewards my lifetime of dedication I will devote to my craft. That’s the big payoff of attending a school like Michigan.

I also relish living in an idyllic college town like Ann Arbor. I’m a small-town boy and don’t want a big urban university experience. But I do want to take advantage of the myriad large-scale opportunities that exist on a major university campus like Michigan. I want a well-rounded college experience because music is not my only interest in life.

I look at where I want to be 10, 20, 30 years down the road and realize that Michigan makes it all possible as long as I work diligently. I understand that Michigan stands for the highest quality not only in music but across the spectrum of the various schools on campus. I want to join those students who are at Michigan because they are the best America has to offer, students who are focused and committed to their goals far beyond the quality of students found on the average American campus. I demand the highest standards from myself and I know that Michigan will push me to achieve my greatest success in life.

“Why Michigan? What Being a Wolverine Means to Me”

Dad told my sister the other day with tears in his eyes that I was clearly the LEAST likely kid to succeed. From 7-10 years old, we prayed nightly that I might just, please, become a “normal” child, my Tourette’s Syndrome was so devastatingly debilitating. I had it really bad. I also had terrible asthma, frightening, painful skin ailments, and was painfully shy.

My learning disabilities were so severe I couldn’t focus my mind on a single math problem for 30 minutes straight. But I persisted nightly at the homework table and never walked away in frustration through those years. I always pushed forward, determined.

But we decided we didn’t JUST want to try to be “normal”, so we went against teacher advice and enrolled in advanced math in 5th grade, I rose to top ten in the class, doubling my efforts. My dad and I hiked and biked together extensively EVERY weekend for years, giving me much-needed confidence that I could handle physical challenges far beyond my peers despite my extreme physical limitations. We eventually scaled Half Dome together after 2 years of training, America’s most difficult one-day hike, 3 people died that year in their attempts.

Dad asked the elementary band director on my first day as a trumpeter if he could sit next to me EVERY day, to play trumpet with me, as I began learning trumpet, I was so shy/quiet, so fragile. The director was dumbfounded, no parent had ever suggested such a thing in his 30 years. Dad and I both played trumpet in that elementary band together side by side every practice, all year.

In the coming years, I eventually won every trumpet prize I pursued and was aggressively recruited by the greatest college trumpet faculties across America.

The least likely child had climbed to the top of the trumpet world.

What does becoming a Wolverine mean to me and my family? Attaining admittance to the greatest trumpet/music university in America.? — Far more than I could ever put down in meager words.

2011 Alumni Club Scholarship Recipient


Trevor in his own words …

My name is Trevor Assaf and I am a student in the Engineering School at the University of Michigan. I intend to double major in Computer and Biomedical Engineering. While my interest in biology is fairly nascent, my interest in Computer Science is quite advanced. My first serious computer project involved research in the field of Artificial Intelligence. For five months I was struck by the similarities between the computational and cognitive sciences. This budding computer-brain curiosity blossomed during an internship I conducted at Kno Inc. in Santa Clara. There, I worked on an algorithm to link educational videos to pages in virtual textbooks. This project was exciting because it forced me to quantify my qualitative reasoning. By codifying my own thoughts, I experienced the fusion of program and cognition, catching a glimpse into the hybridization of the two fields. My life’s ambition is to unify these disparate disciplines; I can’t think of a better place to start than the University of Michigan.

From his scholarship essay:

To Be a Wolverine

Wolverines express their school spirit in many ways. Some lecture their wives for buying yellow instead of maize; others celebrate the resignations of scandalous Buckeyes; yet others spontaneously break into song: Hail to the Victors. The U-M family is a vastly diverse network of people, each communicating their spirit with their own unique voice. Despite this impressive diversity, there is a common form of expression that unites them community. When I wear the M on my chest I am inundated with the smiles and embraces of fellow Wolverines, excited to share their spirit with me and excited to experience mine. I feel like a thread in a giant quilt; I feel connected. To be a Wolverine is to be a thread in the Michigan quilt to rejoice in the Michigan family to express your Michigan spirit by encouraging others to express theirs.

Trevor Assaf

July 14, 2011

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