Testimonials From Our Students

Read the inspiring stories of our graduate students, who have benefited from the generosity of our donors.

  • Rebecca Harvey Rebecca Harvey
  • student_carly_thomsen Carly Thomsen
  • Chris Donlay Chris Donlay

Rebecca Harvey's Testimonial

Rebecca Harvey, a 5th-year Chemical Engineering graduate student, is working to improve and implement "an algorithm to predict hypoglycemia, a common and extremely risky side effect of the current treatment for Type 1 diabetes." Her important dissertation research focuses on "the design of a Health Monitoring System for use in the Artificial Pancreas for automatic control of blood glucose in people with Type 1 diabetes."

Two fellowships have assisted Rebecca as she pursues her graduate studies at UCSB. As an incoming student, she received the Eugene Cota-Robles fellowship, which covered her tuition and stipends for the first two years. In her third year, she received the Air Products and Chemicals Discovery Fellowship, which covered tuition and stipends, and included an internship at Air Products in Pennsylvania.

Rebecca, who earned a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from Northeastern University, said receiving the Eugene Cota-Robles fellowship was a big factor in her decision to come to UCSB for graduate school.  She said the fellowship guaranteed that she would be paid and her research advisor would not be liable for paying for her as a student. "I feel like both fellowships allowed me to branch a bit in terms of my research focus, because I was essentially self-funded."

She had an opportunity to participate in a special UC program, meeting with legislators in Washington, D.C., to advocate for biomedical research funding. "It was very fulfilling, and great to see that the UC system is taking the initiative to secure funding for their groundbreaking research."

Rebecca spoke of the vital need for funding for graduate students in all disciplines. "As an engineering student, I know that many of us are supported by federal and industrial grants. I am well aware that in other majors, funding can be scarce, and students must live on a very low stipend, secure their own loans, and TA so much as to not get any of their own research accomplished. These students are the ones that drive innovation, and there needs to be some job security and incentive beyond just the degree for them to become students here or at any institution."

Carly Thomsen's Testimonial

A combination of central fellowships, Santa Barbara community fellowships, national, and other extramural funding awards have helped Carly Thomsen flourish in her graduate education. Carly, a 4th-year Doctoral candidate in Feminist Studies, was one of six recipients nationwide of the Woodrow Wilson Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship in Women's Studies for 2012. The fellowship supports the final year of dissertation writing for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences whose work addresses topics of women and gender in interdisciplinary and original ways.

Carly earned a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric and Women's Studies from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. She received a master's degree in Women's Studies from the University of Arizona. Her dissertation is titled "‘I'm Just Me': Queer Critiques of Gay Visibility, Identity, and Community from LGBTQ Women in the Rural Midwest."

Of her fellowship award, Carly says: "Receiving this support allowed me to complete my dissertation interviews in a timely manner, to develop and teach new courses never before taught in my department, and to organize events that inform and are informed by my academic research. Most importantly, the UCSB funding has allowed me to have the time necessary to present and publish my research."

"Funding for interdisciplinary work that attempts to bridge multiple bodies of scholarship as well as humanities and social science approaches is both extremely competitive and rare," says Carly. "Beyond the material benefits that UCSB fellowships offer, receiving these awards is symbolic; receiving local fellowships convinces outside funders of the value of our projects, and, on those tough days, reminds us that our work is worthwhile."

Carly says that "providing support to graduate students, who represent our university at conferences, in our publications, and at community events, is one of the best ways to grow, promote, and highlight the prestige of UCSB."

Other important support Carly has received includes the Steve and Barbara Mendell Graduate Fellowship in Cultural Literacy through the Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life; and the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship through the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center. "The Mendell Fellowship covered a great deal of the costs associated with my dissertation research and the IHC Fellowship gave me the time away from teaching to focus on dissertation writing."

Chris Donlay's Testimonial

Chris Donlay, former Vice President of International Corporate Communications for online auction company eBay, returned to school in 2006 to pursue a passion for Linguistics. He had previously earned a bachelor's degree in Political Science & East Asian Language and Culture from the University of Kansas and an MBA in Marketing/International Business from New York University. He earned a master's degree in Linguistics from San Jose State University in 2008, and entered UCSB's Linguistics Ph.D. program later that year. Chris advanced to candidacy in June 2011, and he expects to receive his Ph.D. in Spring 2014.

Chris' dissertation will be a descriptive grammar of Katso, an endangered language spoken in a single farming village in Yunnan, China. He is a recipient of a doctoral dissertation research award from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of the agencies' Documenting Endangered Languages program. His research will contribute to the understanding of language contact and change.

NSF funding is enabling Chris to continue with his research, which has worldwide implications. "More than half of the world's 7,000 languages are likely to die out in this century," he said. "The NSF is one of only a few granting institutions that fund the documentation of these endangered languages. Its support is allowing me to spend a full year with the Katso in China so that I can build a comprehensive archive of their language. The archive will help the local community maintain the language as well as provide data of interest to linguists around the world."

Chris also received a Foreign Language and Area Study (FLAS) fellowship from the U.S. Department of Education for the 2009-10 year. UCSB's Department of East Asian Languages & Cultural Studies nominated him for the grant.

Chris spoke of the importance of funding graduate education. "Coming from Silicon Valley, I know firsthand how new technologies can revolutionize our world," he said. "These changes are also happening throughout academia. New vistas of knowledge are opening up before us, but without funding to pursue these opportunities we are quite simply impoverishing the future."