Tier One Scholars: In Their Own Words

When the University of Houston (UH) became a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university, it was a turning point for the institution. In the same way, receiving a Tier One Scholarship is a turning point in a talented student’s life.

Your gift attracts these bright, driven individuals to UH, and empowers them to whole-heartedly pursue their studies and campus activities. In addition to tuition and two years of on-campus room and board, Tier One Scholars benefit from stipends for undergraduate research and study abroad, enhancing their academic and professional pursuits as well as providing an irreplaceable cultural education in and beyond one of our nation’s largest, most diverse cities.

Each Tier One Scholar has unique interests and talents, but they have two things in common: one, as high-achieving students, they typically have competitive offers from multiple colleges, and two, the Tier One Scholarship was a major reason they chose UH. But don’t take our word for it — let our Tier One Scholars and alumni tell you!

sophia ewens

Sophia Ewens (’16): I am an out-of-state student from rural Wisconsin who, in high school, dreamed of exploring a new, metropolitan part of the country during my college career. The Tier One Scholarship made that dream financially possible. I cannot thank the donors enough for making this scholarship my reality; they have handed me my future on a silver platter.

Omar Ali (’16): I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunities the Tier One Scholarship provides. From teaching as an Organic Chemistry facilitator to working as an RA, UH has allowed me to continually challenge myself. My time as a Cougar has instilled within me a lifelong passion for learning, leading, and helping others. After graduating, I plan on attending medical school, and giving back to my community as a physician. I am particularly interested in global health, and how we can improve the quality of life for millions of people worldwide. For many — including me — a world class college education would not have been possible without the generosity and kindness of Tier One donors. Thank you to all the donors who have given me and so many others this amazing opportunity!


Thomas Hsu (’17): UH is a leading university in research and energy, and here I have access to the best of both worlds. The scholarship program has introduced me to some wonderful students and people who I am sure will be my friends for a very long time. I have seen what my peers have done with the support of the scholarship, and I believe it attracts talent to our UH community.

Abigail Zinecker (’16): The Tier One Scholarship not only permitted me to focus on my studies without worrying about financial restrictions of college, it also brought me to UH and gave me opportunities that would not have been open to me elsewhere. After attending graduate school for Aerospace Engineering, I hope to work in the Houston space industry. I cannot give enough thanks to the Tier One donors for helping me find my passions and letting them thrive.

Cara Riffe (’16): Thanks to the Tier One research stipend, I was able to start gaining hands-on research experience in a neuroscience laboratory my freshman year! Since then, I’ve been awarded two additional research stipends, received an Outstanding Poster award at UH’s 2013 Undergraduate Research Day, and spent a summer at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis researching Alzheimer’s Disease. I’ve also gone scuba-diving in the Galapagos Islands with fellow Coogs, and cheered on the UH football team as a member of the Cougar Dolls dance team. Nowhere else could I have such a well-rounded and fulfilling college experience.

Update: Your gift can go to the Cougar Community Endowed Scholarship fund, or you can create your own named endowment that will attract top students to UH for generations to come. For more information call Amy Leggio at 713-743-7450 or email amleggio@central.uh.edu.