Alumna’s scholarship gift honors mother, inspires generosity
UO senior Fan Zhang received the UO’s first
Cha Scholarship, funded by a gift from Priscilla
Cha Chou and her husband Sunlin.
Photograph by Michael McDermott.
Five words that describe a Chinese woman born nearly a century ago also apply to the first UO student to benefit from her legacy.
Fan Zhang, a business major from northern China, is the first Cha Scholar, a new award funded by a gift from Priscilla and Sunlin Chou as a tribute to Priscilla’s 95-year-old mother, Mrs. Liu Bie Ju Cha.
Priscilla, who earned two degrees from the UO in the early 1970s, describes her mother as “independent, competitive, hardworking, compassionate, and generous.”
Fan maintains a nearly perfect 3.94 GPA while holding down three jobs. She said being associated with a person as extraordinary as Mrs. Cha through the scholarship is a special honor.
On a practical level, the award allows her to spend less time working to pay for school.
“My goal is to reduce the cost for my parents as much as I can, but having several jobs is tiring,” Fan said. “This scholarship will give me more hours to put toward my investment group and activities that are valuable to my future career.”
Fan grew up in Zibo, population about 4.5 million, expecting to earn her way through college. Fortunately, she qualified for work-study, which funds her job in Knight Library. Eager to contribute more, she also hired on as a controller in the ASUO business office and became a tutor.
On top of her studies and her paid jobs, Fan wants to create opportunities for other students. She is a cofounder and a vice president of the new UO chapter of the international Financial Management Association, which launches this fall.
She looks forward to meeting the Chous and learning more about her scholarship’s inspiring namesake, whose formal schooling ended at fourth grade.
“Despite her limited education, my mother learned to speak and read English, was well-versed in multiple Chinese dialects, and composed many Chinese poems,” Priscilla said. “She married young, had seven children, survived World War II, and helped build a successful global business enterprise from scratch after leaving China.”
Mrs. Cha expected each of her children to complete at least one college degree. Priscilla, a software engineer, received scholarships while working toward her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from UO.
Fan intends to follow the Chous’ example of giving back as soon as possible.
“I want to thank them for their generosity,” she said. “Their gift not only helps relieve financial stress but also it recognizes academic achievement. In the future, I want to use my money to help students have the energy to focus on academic achievement.”
Fan’s master plan centers on her passion for dogs. About 10 years ago, one of her puppies died from a condition that she later learned was treatable. After she finishes at the UO, she plans to work for a few years, get an MBA, and return to China to found her own brand of pet products and chain of full-service pet stores. Ultimately, she hopes to help standardize veterinary care throughout her home country.
More than 100 students met the qualifications for the Cha Scholarship. With help from alumni and friends, the UO can provide more scholarships. Find out how you can contribute at giving.uoregon.edu/GlobalOregon.
Story by Melody Ward Leslie ’79