Interview with Christine Franklin of The Thomas and Lillian Ma Scholarship

What does higher education mean to your family?

Higher education was very important to my grandparents. They were great advocates of their children achieving their dreams of becoming professionals in physics, engineering, business, and pharmacy. My grandparents also set aside money for each of their 10 grandchildren to attend college, allowing us to pursue our passions in traditional and non-traditional fields. Our successes in life are due, in large part, to the education we received through the UC system. Multiple members of my family went on to pursue advanced degrees.

What is the importance of providing scholarships for first-generation college students?

My grandparents purchased a liquor store after immigrating from Hong Kong. It was a family affair, with my mom and aunt working at the store when they weren’t at school or studying. My family understands the trials and tribulations of being first-generation immigrants and college students, but with Thomas and Lillian’s foresight and support, we have been able to lead fairly successful lives. To honor their legacy we wanted to do our part to help others starting out in a new country and/or pursuing a college degree to accomplish their goals.

What’s the most rewarding thing about managing your family’s scholarship?

It’s been eye-opening to read about the difficult circumstances that the majority of applicants have overcome or continue to face. Despite those setbacks and challenges, they continue to be optimistic, make positive contributions to society, excel in college, and pursue their dreams. I am inspired by every application that I have had the pleasure to review. Being part of the selection process has made me appreciate my grandparents even more for laying the groundwork that has enabled my family to be in a position to give back and help relieve some of the burdens our scholarship recipients face in pursuit of their ultimate goals.