Yang Zheng

2011 John J. Peterson Scholarship Recipient

Biography: Yang Zheng is a fourth-year student pursuing a Business-Economics major and Accounting minor. Born in China, Yang moved to Hawaii when he was four and later to Davis, California. Over the past year, he interned with UBS Private Wealth and Mulholland Financial Services. Most recently, he served as a Market Research Assistant at Hangzhou Longguan Industrial Co. Yang is a Founding Father at Lambda Chi Alpha and plays on the UCLA Lacrosse Team. He is currently studying Entrepreneurial Development and Project Evaluation at Fudan University in Shanghai, where he will also be continuing his work with Longguan. In his spare time, Yang likes to paint and write music.

Future Plans: While in Shanghai, Yang plans on interning at an investment bank or wealth management firm to gain international work experience. After graduating from UCLA, he would like to work for a couple years to accumulate capital and experience before returning to school to earn an MBA. Ultimately, Yang would like to take advantage of his bilingual and bicultural assets and open his own business.

What does the scholarship mean to me?: I am both honored and grateful to receive the John J. Peterson Scholarship. I want to thank Mr. John J. Peterson for his continued generosity that has helped students like me through tough financial circumstances. With the rising costs of tuition over the past three years, it has been hard to focus on my academics and at the same time pursue my extracurricular activities. The scholarship will help alleviate some of the financial burden and allow me to concentrate on what I love. More importantly, receiving the scholarship has reaffirmed my goals and strengthened my determination to obtain them.  

Amar Vanmali

2011 The Boeing Company Scholarship in Economics Recipient

Biography: Amar Vanmali is a third-year Business Economics major and Statistics minor from Los Angeles. In addition to managing a family business on weekends, he has internship experience in the investment banking, financial services, and business management industries. Aside from his academics and work life, Amar is an avid golfer who has competed in junior golf tournaments in Atlanta, San Antonio, Thailand, Scotland and England. He has also traveled throughout parts of Europe and Asia. In his free time, Amar likes to workout, read non-fiction books, follow the stock market, and spend time with family and friends.

Future Plans: Amar plans to pursue a career in finance upon graduation. He aims to take the CFA exam soon after graduation to prepare him for his profession. After a few years of work in the field, Amar intends to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree to broaden his horizons and enhance his knowledge base. In addition to his career, Amar wishes to set up a foundation whose mission is to educate children who aspire for higher education in the third world.

What does the scholarship mean to me?: First, I would like to personally thank The Boeing Company as I am honored to be a recipient of their scholarship. As an aspirant of higher education, it means a great deal in my life knowing that I have support as I go through my undergraduate studies here at UCLA. I am grateful for their generosity, as it will open various doors of opportunities. It increases my motivation not only in my academics, but also in every aspect of my life.

Jokob Thomas

2011 Robert D. & Margaret A. Wark Memorial Scholarship Recipient

Biography: Jakob Thomas is an international student from Berlin, Germany who transferred to UCLA from Santa Monica College in Fall 2010. He is a 3rd year Economics major and Political Science minor. Before he decided to pursue an academic degree in the United States, Jakob spent 18 months working for KPMG Europe LLP, an experience, which gave him considerable insight into the world of corporate business. Equipped with this experience, and the skills he obtained through his work as research assistant for the UCLA Economics Department, he was able to secure an internship at the Los Angeles office of Senator Dianne Feinstein, and a position as senior editor for the Undergraduate Journal of Economics at UCLA ( HYPERLINK “”

Future Plans: During this Fall 2011 quarter, Jakob will intern as a research analyst for the Milken Institute in Santa Monica, an independent economics and public policy think tank. There, he will work with the Institute’s financial markets research group. Shortly after completing his B.A. in Economics at UCLA, Jakob plans to move to England, where his initial goal will be to gather more professional experience working in London’s financial sector. Subsequently, he will pursue a Ph.D. at the London School of Economics (LSE) with a focus on international banking and international finance regulation.

What does the scholarship mean to me?: Receiving this year’s Robert D. & Margaret A. Wark Memorial Scholarship award is a true honor. Especially in times of economic uncertainty and ever increasing costs of education, this scholarship is an invaluable help to master my respective financial difficulties. In true economist’s spirit, I can’t help to think that this scholarship also holds a value beyond its nominal one since it releases me of the burden of lingering debt, and the associated interest I would have faced with an equally high student loan amount. Furthermore, aside from the tremendous financial support associated with this scholarship, I also appreciate this award as a special form of recognition of the work I have been investing in my education. With these things in mind, I would like to extend my earnest gratitude and appreciation to the Wark Family for their generosity and support of my educational goals.

Kyungjin Lee

2011 Professor Harry Simons Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship for the Study of Accounting Recipient

Biography: Kyungjin Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea. Kyungjin was fourteen years old when she read a book about Warren Buffet, which led her to an interest in business and investments. When she was seventeen, she decided to come to the United States on her own as an exchange student. She had a tough time because of the cultural and language barriers; however, she used every endeavor to succeed. As a result, she earned the Highest Honor Roll when she graduated from high school. After high school, Kyungjin entered Santa Barbara City College so that she may transfer to UCLA, which was her dream school. Now in her senior year at UCLA, Kyungjin is pursuing a major in Business Economics and a minor in Accounting. Last summer, she interned at the Hilton Hotel in Korea, and learned a lot about making contracts, analyzing financial statements, and performing marketing strategies. Kyungjin continues to strive for her best to achieve her goals in life.

Future Plans: After graduation, Kyungjin looks forward to going on a tour in Europe to see more of the world. She will then return to the U.S. to attain her CPA license, while working at an audit or consulting company. After a few years of work experience, she hopes to go back to Korea and enter graduate school to earn an MBA. One day, she hopes to start up her own accounting business, and establish a scholarship foundation to help students who are ready to pursue the career of their dreams.

What does the scholarship mean to me?: I am so honored to be one of the recipients of the Professor Harry Simons Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship for the Study of Accounting. This scholarship will ease the financial burden on me and my parents, and allow me to fully focus on studies. I will also have more time to participate in extracurricular activities, and career related workshops for my senior year of college. Once again, I offer my sincerest thanks for this generous support.

Ramin Lalezari

2011 Robert D. & Margaret A. Wark Memorial Scholarship Recipient

Biography: Ramin Lalezari is a fourth year Business Economics major at UCLA. Ramin grew up in West Los Angeles and graduated from Palisades Charter High School. While attending UCLA, Ramin has served on the school USAC committees for the Internal Vice President’s office and the General Representative 3’s office. He is currently managing a campus organization that he co-founded called the Green Workshop, with the mission to increase awareness about sustainability for the younger generation.

Future Plans: This year, Ramin will complete his B.A. in Business Economics at UCLA. After graduation, Ramin hopes to pursue an MD/MBA joint degree program to unify his interests in both business and medicine. This will contribute towards his long term goal of entering the sector of health management. During the transition from undergraduate to graduate school, he will be pursuing an internship that will expose him to this field.

What does the scholarship mean to me?: I owe my sincerest gratitude to both the Wark family and the UCLA Economics Department for selecting me to receive this honor. The scholarship will be of great help to me in these tough economic times in the wake of rising tuition costs. The easing of the financial burden of school will help me devote my time and energy towards my academic goals. The Wark family’s decision to invest in education has surely inspired me to aspire to one day do the same. Their incredible generosity will truly assist in the realization of my dreams, and it means the world to have their support.

Chengappa Kodira

2011 Patricia and Harry L. Bruce Endowed Scholarship Recipient

Biography: Chengappa Kodira is a third-year Business-Economics student from Davis, California, a small suburb of Sacramento. At Davis Senior High School, Chengappa excelled in the classroom and was also a decorated soccer player. At UCLA, Chengappa has gained experience working at the Anderson School of Management and also interning for Senator Barbara Boxer and KPMG. Currently, he is looking forward to beginning an internship program with Merrill Lynch. Chengappa is also actively involved the student-led consulting group Bruin Consulting Solutions, the UCLA Mock Trial Program, and the Undergraduate Business Society.

Future Plans: This year, Chengappa plans on securing an internship in either the financial consulting or banking industries. After graduating with a B.A. in Business-Economics, Chengappa plans on pursuing either consulting or banking for full-time employment. Chengappa is receiving advice from many of his mentors, including investment bankers and financial executives, in order to better plan his career path to accomplish his career goals. After gaining substantial work experience, Chengappa plans to pursue a Masters of Business Administration and eventually become a CFO or president of a firm.

What does the scholarship mean to me?: I am truly honored to receive the Patricia and Harry L. Bruce Endowed Scholarship for the 2011-2012 school year. I am thankful for this scholarship for recognizing both my dedication to extracurricular activities and academic pursuits. More importantly, this scholarship lightens the financial burden placed upon myself and my family, and gives me further motivation to remain focused on my career goals. I would like to sincerely thank both Mrs. Patricia Bruce and Mr. Harry L. Bruce for their financial assistance and support of my future educational endeavors.

Melanie (Mini) Johnson

2011 The Ralph and Shirley Shapiro Scholarship Recipient

Biography: Melanie (Mimi) Johnson is a fourth-year student pursuing a double major in Business-Economics and Psychology, with a minor in Accounting. Mimi grew up in Redondo Beach, which made it very easy for her to decide that she wanted to stay in beautiful Southern California. Mimi is an active participant and committee leader in the Alumni Scholars Club, Student Accounting Society, Beta Alpha Psi Accounting Honors Society, and Psi Chi Psychology Honors Society. She enjoys community service and continues her work with students with special needs on campus. In her free time, Mimi loves spending time with friends and family, traveling surfing, swimming, running, and relaxing at the beach.

Future Plans: Mimi intends to work full-time after graduation with a public accounting firm and hopes to earn her CPA license and continue a career in public or private accounting. She is looking into earning her Masters in Business Administration or a Juris Doctor degree in the future.

What does the scholarship mean to me?: I am truly honored to be awarded the Ralph and Shirley Shapiro Scholarship. This scholarship is greatly appreciated. It will allow me to continue to devote my time in finishing a top notch education at UCLA. With less pressure to finance my education, I will be able to focus more on academics, research, and community service in my final year. Furthermore, I will be able to continue to take advantage of the numerous career-oriented workshops and events on campus that help me cultivate the skills necessary to achieve my professional goals. Additionally, I will relieve the burden on my parents and embark on the path to financial independence. This award recognizes my past achievements and encourages me to continue my hard work and dedication to my studies and activities. I would like to thank the donors of the Ralph and Shirley Shapiro Scholarship for providing me with this opportunity.

Dennis Drent

2011 Professor Harry Simons Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship for the Study of Accounting Recipient

Biography: Dennis Drent Jr. is a third year student pursuing a Business-Economics major with minors in Accounting and Mathematics. Dennis grew up all over the United States, spending several years in Woodland Hills, Texas, Ohio, and Orange County, where he graduated from Esperanza High School at the top of his class. While attending UCLA, Dennis has become a member of the Executive Training Committee for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, where his main responsibilities include filing tax returns and training other volunteers how to file. Dennis is also a member of the Student Accounting Society, and enjoys working on campus for the UCLA Anderson School as a Senior Clerk for the Executive MBA Program. When he can, Dennis relaxes by jumping rope, playing basketball, spending time with family and friends, and watching SportsCenter.

Future Plans: Dennis plans to intern for a major public accounting firm the summer before his fourth year, and is determined to earn his CPA license within one year of graduating. After reaching a managerial position at an accounting firm, he plans to enroll in a top MBA program and focus on entrepreneurial studies. Dennis’ ultimate career goal is to find his niche in the global business world and start a successful company as founder and CEO.

What does the scholarship mean to me?: I receive the Professor Harry Simons Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship for the Study of Accounting award with extreme gratitude and appreciation. I feel very fortunate to be recognized for my hard work and pursuit of my passion in the field of public accounting. This award greatly alleviates the financial burden of getting an education at such a renowned university. I hope to one day be able to affect the lives of future accountants by contributing a similar gift to UCLA’s Economics Department. Once again, I thank the donors of the Professor Harry Simons Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship for the Study of Accounting for their generosity.

Karen Chuang

2011 The Donald Edward Bragg & Diane Sims Bragg Scholarship Recipient

Biography: Karen Chuang is a fourth year honors student at UCLA, double majoring in Business Economics and World Arts and Cultures. She is a Director for UCLA’s NSU Modern Hip-Hop Dance Team and a member of the sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta. While attending UCLA, Karen pursued a professional dance career. Some of her most recent credits include Glee, Ellen, and Oprah. She was also a principal dancer for Willow Smith in such projects as the Whip My Hair video, Justin Bieber’s My World tour, and the White House Easter Egg Roll where she met President Obama. In addition to dancing, Karen hosts for the Disney Channel show, Disney 365. Currently, Karen is the VIP/PR Assistant at Versace USA, Inc. In her free time she enjoys yoga, going to farmer’s markets, and reading art blogs. Karen’s greatest inspirations in life are her friends, her older brother Vincent, and most importantly, her parents.

Future Plans: After graduating, Karen plans to continue living her dream of dancing and working in the entertainment industry. Eventually, she intends on attending business school in either the United States or Europe. Her ultimate goal is to combine her passion for dance and her education from UCLA into a career. Karen hopes to spearhead a dance lifestyle brand and organization to generate greater public appreciation for the art form.

What does the scholarship mean to me?: It is an incredible honor to be the 2011-2012 recipient of the Donald Edward Bragg and Diane Sims Bragg Scholarship. The Bragg family’s generosity allows me to continue pursuing my passions inside and outside the academic setting. This scholarship lessens the burden of financing both my education and my outside dance training. And more importantly, the award recognizes my scholastic and extracurricular achievements. It encourages me to remain dedicated to my varied commitments and future career goals. I want to sincerely thank the donors of this scholarship as well as the Bragg family for enriching my undergraduate experience.

Kenneth Choo

2011 Professor Harry Simons Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship for the Study of Accounting Recipient

Biography: Kenneth Choo was born the third child of Ronald and Heasook Choo on July 5, 1991. As a child, he loved to play video games, talk history with his father, and try to impress his teachers with his wit. He played basketball but was never very good because of his physical constitution. He picked up snowboarding at an early age, visited the beach whenever he could, and always enjoyed the company of friends and family. He laughed readily, ate seldom, and enjoyed getting in trouble at times. Although rather smart, he was stubborn, prideful, and frank. He was also a bit closed minded, unaware of the sheer magnitude of knowledge he did not possess. After entering UCLA, walking its great campus, and absorbing the knowledge of its fine professors, one could say Kenneth Choo had a renaissance of the mind, a real awakening of the spirit. Those who have known him all his life have said he has undergone a transformation in the time he has attended UCLA, rendering him into a different person than from his youth age. He now enjoys lifting weights, CrossFit, and rock climbing. He is very much interested in the same things he ridiculed as a boy, such as musicals and classical performances. He lives unafraid of embarrassment, is not as stubborn, nor as prideful, but just as much outspoken. Kenneth says, “Life is easier when you enjoy more things,” an adage he now lives his life by. He is a proud UCLA student and eager to make a difference in this world for the better.

Future Plans: Kenneth Choo has a clear focus on the future. In these volatile times that are filled with uncertainty, it is increasingly important for Kenneth to strengthen resolve, and push forward with renewed vigor. Kenneth is planning on interning the summer of 2012 at either KPMG or another accounting/consulting firm. Travelling remains to be important to him. Having had a taste of it on a study abroad semester in Seoul, South Korea, he is quite eager to explore unknown lands with unknown possibilities, hopefully before he is too old to enjoy it. Kenneth’s ultimate goal is to land in a profession that requires long hours, extreme dedication, stressful nights, and nice suits. On top of these difficult prerequisites, having a career in finance that would accommodate travelling, make tangible differences in the lives of others, especially the less fortunate, and challenge him to utilize all of the tools he has gained from years of study and life would be ideal. Kenneth plans on moving forward into the darkness with purpose, yet never forgetting to smell the roses along the way.

What does the scholarship mean to me?: I would first like to say thank you very much to the donors of the Professor Harry Simons Endowed Scholarship for the Study of Accounting. This scholarship not only means less hours at work and more hours in the library, but has come at a much needed time. My parents have been so kind as to put me through college and I can finally say thank you to them in a form other than Hallmark cards. Receiving this scholarship has made my time studying abroad in Korea so much more enjoyable. It has helped to ease some of the financial burden, and has allowed me to explore more of the city and the country with less guilt. On another note, receiving this scholarship has been a great boost to my esteem. I am one student among thousands, trying to find my way through college and through this world. Knowing that there are people out there who now know my story and believe in me enough to grant me such a prestigious distinction, has given me much hope for the future. This scholarship has affirmed my passion for finance and accounting, and has reassured me the reasons I want to go into this field. More than just money, this scholarship has given me the confidence to pursue my dreams heartily. Thank you for stoking the embers of my desires into flames.