As part of their commitment to advancing educational opportunities for students and giving back to their alma maters, Kyoki Prusela Phillips, ’14, and Tushar Narayan have established the Phillips Narayan Scholarship Endowment at UC Merced. The new scholarship will support promising undergraduates pursuing their bachelor’s degrees.
“Education is an important value for both of us,” said Phillips. “We’ve experienced first-hand the many opportunities that become available because of education.”
“Establishing an endowment at our respective universities was an important milestone for us,” added Narayan, an alumnus of Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Both children of first-generation college graduates, Phillips and Narayan live by the lesson taught by their parents that “education is the one thing that no one can take away from you.” Inspired by their experiences, the couple has identified higher education as their philanthropic priority — especially helping students overcome barriers to achieving academic success, such as access and economic hardship.
“Too many first-generation students drop out of college with debt but no degree,” said Phillips. She hopes the scholarship endowment contributes to a larger community-wide goal of ensuring more students can persist and complete their degrees.
“The support and generosity of our alumni open the doors for future generations of scholars,” said UC Merced Vice Chancellor and Chief External Relations Officer E. Edward Klotzbier. “Prusela and Tushar’s commitment provides students following in their footsteps much needed resources to pursue academic and professional success.”
In addition to her generous support of UC Merced, Phillips has dedicated her career to empowering students. She has served in leadership roles in higher education for the past eight years. Her professional path started at UC Merced, where she was actively involved on the Student Board of Trustees and participated in an alumni relations internship for all four years. Under the guidance of her mentor, then-Director of Alumni Relations Heather Buckner, Phillips gained valuable experience building projects for the alumni board and the student alumni association.
“I owe the jumpstart in my career to UC Merced,” said Phillips.
The Phillips Narayan Scholarship is the 15th endowment funded by an alumnus. These vital scholarship programs emphasize UC Merced’s culture of philanthropy, which fosters alumni dedication and passion to giving back to campus after graduation.