Bertha Kalm Scholarship Recipients 2023-2024

Congratulations to the Bertha Kalm Scholarship recipients of 2023-2024! We asked them what drives their passion to make a difference. Read their inspiring response.

   Recipients                                     Response

juan smiling

Juan Carlos Aguirre 

M.A. Applied Anthropology


"As a first-generation U.S.-born, Queer, Méjicano living in the Central Valley of California, I often
felt out of place or like I did not belong. The lack of belonging stemmed from an internal
struggle to navigate my identity and a lack of access to opportunities readily available to my
heterosexual and White counterparts. My struggle with belonging continued into adulthood
when the emotional turmoil of a positive HIV diagnosis pushed me from recreational drug use
into a full-blown addiction. Since getting sober in 2018, I have made significant progress in
turning my life around and have come to understand that, despite the obstacles and the lack of
access I've faced throughout my life, I reap benefits and opportunities that others do not. For
example, I have opportunity because I was born in the United States, I have privilege because I
am a cisgender man, and I possess privilege because I am an addict in recovery. As a result, I
have pledged to do my part to improve humanity by proactively and purposefully urging
organizations and spaces to be more inclusive of people of different backgrounds, identities,
and experiences. As I work toward completing my Master’s in Applied Anthropology, I center
my research and personal learning on JEDI (justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion) to create a
world that works for everyone!"

Pranav Seetharaman

Pranav Seetharaman

M.S. Physics '24


"Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to teach at the middle school, high school and college level. I’ve watched students grow in their understanding of science and of themselves. Simultaneously, I’ve engaged in direct work with
people in my community through developing algorithms for activists and helping
unhoused people gain access to food and clothing. Through all these experiences, I’ve learned something fundamental about myself: I want to spend
my life improving the lives of others. Whether this is through education, or direct action, I want to foster a community where people can live their lives to the
fullest. My aim is to pursue a career studying physics at the highest level, helping better understand the universe around us. I hope to continue using the skills I’ve developed through my physics career to ensure that the people around me are
fulfilled in their needs and encouraged to pursue their passions."

skyler smiling in a side profile

Skyler Trezona 

M.S. Occupational Therapy '24


"Throughout my life, I have sought out opportunities to learn from people who have different
backgrounds than me. I love listening to new perspectives. Through my early work experiences
supporting individuals’ needs, I realized the power in community and investing in goals beyond
oneself. Scrutinizing community engagement has led me to understand the complex
relationship between the self and society. Ultimately, my experiences have directed metowards the profession of occupational therapy. As an occupational therapist, I will empower
people to independently access activities and engage and contribute to their community.
I will transform what I have learned about individualized care and community participation into
client-centered, holistic, and culturally responsive healthcare practice. Without being able to
manage one’s health, one cannot access their greatest potential. Through facilitating activities
of daily living and building healthy routines, an occupational therapist can help people tap into
their strengths and ultimately impact the communities they are passionate about."

Dalila Cardenas Castrejon

Dalila Cardenas Castrejon

M.S. Biotechnology


“The driving force behind my passion to make a difference lies in my unwavering commitment
to helping individuals afflicted by incurable diseases. As a biotechnology engineer and stem cell
researcher, I bear the responsibility of seeking alternative treatments and enhancing the quality
of life for these individuals. Witnessing the lack of knowledge surrounding stem cells and their
potential applications has illuminated the tremendous opportunities to discover the long-
awaited solutions. The stories of patients who have lost hope and find themselves consumed by
despair only strengthen my resolve. I firmly believe that innovations in technology and research
hold the key to unlocking these alternative treatments. Yet, there exist formidable obstacles
such as biases and inadequate funding that impede our progress in this noble pursuit. This
serves as a constant motivation for me to drive the necessary changes and ensure that we
approach these challenges with the right strategies. Beyond my dedication to finding solutions,
I aspire to be a role model for women, encouraging them to pursue their dreams and excel in
STEM fields. It is of great importance to me to showcase the immense potential of Mexicans to
actively collaborate and contribute to groundbreaking research. Together, we can create a
lasting impact in the lives of those most in need.”