UC Riverside

Scholarship Stories: Melissa Owraghi

Melissa Owraghi

Melissa Owraghi's aspiration to become a cancer researcher and to one day contribute to new, more effective treatments is more than just an abstract dream.

The need for continued cancer research hits very close to home, as Owraghi's mother was recently treated for breast cancer. Now cancer free, she continues to be monitored closely by her doctors.

At first, a career in cancer research "was just a thought," Owraghi said. "Then my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She told me, "'this might be a sign for you to go into the field.'"

Owraghi came to UCR in 2002 as a transfer student from Riverside Community College (RCC), where she was a Riverside Scholar. A much-needed financial boost came in the form of the Charles Sherman Hoyt, Jr. Memorial Endowed Scholarship, which was established at UCR more than 25 years ago.

"During my last year at RCC, my family and I were worried about being able to afford the fees to attend UCR," said Owraghi. "My family and I were incredibly excited and grateful for such a blessing."

Owraghi has taken advantage of just about every opportunity at UCR to pursue her goal of becoming a cancer researcher. In the summer of 2004, she was awarded a Dean's Fellowship from the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, which enabled her to spend the summer conducting research.

"The experience," Owraghi said, "was invaluable."

"I was fascinated by the course material, but did not understand how this could help us find treatments for disease. The laboratory experience helped me apply the knowledge I received in the classroom."

Upon completing her bachelor's degree in biological science in December 2004, Owraghi enrolled in the Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Cell, Molecular and Developmental Biology at UCR. She is currently working in the lab of Dr. Morris Maduro, doing research in embryonic development in the nematode C. elegans, with an anticipated graduation date of Fall 2009.

Melissa Owraghi

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