Recently, five UCLA freshmen got to have an on-set visit with the cast, crew, producers and writers of “The Big Bang Theory” at the Warner Bros studio. That sounds awesome. It’s good to see a show that deals with scientific themes give back to the science community. Especially because these people looked up to the Big Bang Theory cast when they were younger.
“Mayim Bialik is so nice. She’s so cute. She’s a neuroscientist!”
“I just shook Johnny Galecki’s hand — the guy who has been inspiring me since seventh grade!”
These freshmen were the latest recipients of scholarships to UCLA from the Big Bang Theory Scholarship Endowment. Now in its second year of supporting low-income students who are pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These amazing folks are Mia Shannon Reyes, majoring in aerospace engineering; Mateen Ul Hassan, a physics major; Steven La, a math major; Amy Shao, a neuroscience major like Bialik; and Jonathan Shi Jr., majoring in pre-microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics.
The endowment has already raised more than $4 million, with an initial donation from the Chuck Lorre Family Foundation. Plus gifts from nearly 50 people associated with the show. Donations came from all the lead actors, including Bialik, who earned her Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA; Johnny Galecki; Jim Parsons; Kaley Cuoco; Simon Helberg; Kunal Nayyar; and Melissa Rauch. Gifts also came from executive producers Bill Prady and Steven Molaro, crew members, Warner Bros. Television, CBS, other corporate partners and UCLA physics Professor David Saltzberg, the show’s own science consultant.
“A toast to the 2016 UCLA Big Bang scholars. Congratulations!” Lorre said. “And just because, here’s something for you. … I’m gonna ruin the surprise; they’re iPads.”
The scholarship will support five new UCLA science students each new school year. 52% of UCLA students receive need-based scholarships, grants or other aid; 39% of undergraduates are receiving Pell Grants from low-income families. Almost one-third of UCLA graduates have parents who didn’t graduate from a four-year college or university.
Picture taken from: https://conferences.pa.ucla.edu/dm16/
“These are the people who could potentially be the next innovators and the next research discovery pioneers, and all of that happens at a place like UCLA,” Bialik said. “Imagine if someone literally could not afford to go to UCLA. … We get to contribute to a pool that increases the probability that someone will be able to have that experience.”
One of this year’s scholars was in that exact position. Two days before the deadline to get into UCLA — her “dream school” — Reyes was pressured to take a more affordable road. Then she got word that she had received the UCLA Big Bang Theory scholarship. Now she’s living on the Westwood campus and majoring in aerospace engineering (the same field as that of the Howard Wolowitz character on the show).
“I always wanted to go here,” said Reyes of UCLA, and who has long been inspired by the show. “I still watch the show, and that was all I watched in middle school. In middle school, I still wanted to be a writer, and the show was one of the things that inspired me to go into engineering.”
This article will be continued in a part 2. Also, the information was taken from http://newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/ucla-students-get-a-big-kick-out-of-being-big-bang-scholars.