Nina Uchida
I was thrilled to receive such a generous scholarship that covered virtually all of my tuition, but I was even more grateful that the Clark School provides such generous support to transfer students overall.

UMD degree: B.S. in Chemical Engineering, graduating Spring 2018

Born in Tokyo and raised on the West Coast, chemical engineering student Nina Uchida took an unconventional route to the A. James Clark School of Engineering—but her surprise connection back to its eponym makes her feel as though she's come full circle.

After graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in Japanese, Uchida moved back to her home country, working in the journalism and education industries for nearly a decade. Upon deciding she wasn’t satisfied with the career options that lay ahead, she moved to Maryland—where her mother grew up and still resides—to go back to school.

Uchida chose engineering because she wanted technically challenging coursework that would set her up for employment success. After earning her associate’s degree at Maryland’s Anne Arundel Community College, she decided to enroll at the University of Maryland—a choice only reinforced when she received news that she had been awarded an A. James Clark Opportunity Scholarship for Transfer Students.

“I am grateful that the Clark School provides such generous support to transfer students,” says Uchida. “We come from different personal and academic backgrounds than typical college students, and opportunities like this really make us feel welcomed and appreciated by the community here.”

Uchida was having lunch with her mother when she found out about her A. James Clark Opportunity Scholarship—and was floored to learn that her grandmother was friends with alumnus and beneficiary A. James Clark and his wife, Alice.

“To find out that my family had a connection back to Mr. Clark himself was a complete surprise! It really made me feel like my journey had led me to the university,” she says.

Now in her senior year at UMD, Uchida says that her scholarship—and others funded by Building Together: An Investment for Maryland—gives students from diverse socioeconomic and academic backgrounds access to an education that may be otherwise out of reach. “Thinking outside the box is an important part of engineering, and I believe that a more diverse pool of qualified engineers will bring greater innovation to the institutions that tackle the world's problems,” she says.

Learn more about Building Together: An Investment for Maryland by visiting

By Kathrin Havrilla
Image: Al Santos