José Flores Velázquez Memorial Cal-Bridge Scholarship
The José Flores Velázquez Memorial Cal-Bridge Scholarship Fund honors the life of José Flores Velázquez, a promising UC Irvine PhD student in astrophysics and Cal-Bridge Scholar who was tragically killed last year in a senseless, unprovoked shooting while delivering gifts for a friend's baby shower. The baby's father, José's friend, was also killed.
About the Scholarship
The scholarship fund will benefit students like José at CSU campuses across the state who have a similar dream of obtaining a PhD in physics or astronomy. The initial focus of the scholarship will be on students who do not currently qualify for aid under the terms of the NSF grant that funds Cal-Bridge, namely students who are AB540 eligible. Every dollar donated will help such students support themselves as they pursue their dreams.
The Cal-Bridge program is a partnership between the University of California and the California State University systems with the mission of creating opportunities for traditionally underrepresented groups to participate and advance in physics and astronomy, and of increasing their numbers in PhD programs in those fields. In six years, a total of 99 scholars have been selected: 70% are underrepresented minorities (URM) and 44% are women, including 22% URM women. Of the 33 scholars who have graduated with a BS and applied to graduate school, 27 (82%) have matriculated to a PhD program. Another 25 scholars are applying to PhD programs this year.
José graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics. He matriculated that fall to the UC Irvine (UCI) astrophysics PhD program where he was thriving and progressing towards his degree. José was a gifted student and astronomer and the field will be sadly deprived of the contributions he would have made. Upon his death, UCI posthumously awarded him a Master of Science degree.
José became a Cal-Bridge Scholar in 2016 and received financial and other support from the program to help him pursue his dream of obtaining a PhD in astrophysics. As José wrote in his Cal-Bridge biography:
"In the fall of 2016 I received the NSF funded Cal-Bridge scholarship which funds me up to $10,000 for the school year. This program was great because it allowed me to quit my job as a McDonald's manager and focus on my studies. Cal-Bridge also offered the support of mentors who tremendously helped me with REU, graduate school, and NSF-GRFP applications....As a first generation Latinx student pursuing a PhD, having a support network who look like me, understand and have gone through a similar path was a huge bonus. Thanks to these students and their support, my current department at UCI feels like I am home. Today, I am committed to obtain my PhD and eventually become a tenured astronomy professor at a top university."
The photo above shows José (center) surrounded by some of his fellow UCI Cal-Bridge Scholars.