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Hazel Anne Escusa dreams of earning her PhD. With the assistance of a $3000 Stephen Curry/ThanksUSA Scholarship, Hazel has begun her academic journey at the University of California: Berkeley where she is studying molecular and cellular biology. When stressed about tuition costs or a heavy study load, she reminds herself of the thousands of people that she may one day help because of her education.

Hazel Escusa (middle) with her proud family

Until she experienced high school biology and chemistry classes, Hazel found the sciences quite dull. Now, a few months into her freshman year of studies, Hazel proudly declares herself a ‘Science Nerd’ saying, “When the professor speaks about biology, I can feel my heart beat quickly with excitement.”

In addition to pursuing the major of molecular and cellular biology, Hazel has selected a study emphasis of immunology and pathogenesis. She is quite excited to explore these fields and conduct research which could  lead to the advanced treatment of autoimmune diseases. After completing her undergraduate studies, Hazel plans to begin a career of helping people by first joining the military, possibly the Navy or Air Force.

It may seem odd coming from someone who plans to join the service, but for a time in her life, Hazel resented military life. “I completely despised being a military child,” says Hazel. But all of that changed when her father, Chief Petty Officer Ernesto Escusa Jr, US Navy, received orders to Japan. At the time, Hazel was in her sophomore year of high school and wanted to graduate from the same school. It was a very difficult decision for the entire family, but the Escusas compromised and Hazel graduated as the 2011 Valedictorian of Channel Islands High School.

The experience was tough on Hazel, but she learned a great deal saying, “It taught me that my parents really did love me because they accepted being thousands of miles apart just so I could pursue my dreams.”

Hazel also learned to stay focused on her academic goals and has great advice for new college students, “Join organizations!” Hazel has already joined the Philipino Academic Student Services and American Medical Student Association-Berkeley Paramedical Chapter, volunteers through Rotaract and Youth IMPACT, and interns with Maganda Magazine.

“It gives me a busy schedule, but I think being involved on campus actually makes me stay focused. For instance, if I want to participate in an event, I know that I have to complete my homework and study first. It also helps me to be less homesick,” reports Hazel.

The ThanksUSA team is very impressed with Hazel’s passion for academic excellence. We hope that she continues to embrace her scientific studies with excitement and we look forward to seeing her achieve academic success! We leave you this week with a few words from Hazel:

“As a recipient of the Stephen Curry/ThanksUSA Scholarship, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for your support of the ThanksUSA Scholarship Program and its students. I can better focus on my school work knowing that my parents don’t have to work extra hours, or that I don’t have a big loan to pay back when I graduate from college. Thank You!”


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