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Handler Scholarship – Rochester’s Premier Award

Alan and Jane Handler Endowed Scholarship

With a permanently endowed fund, the prestigious Alan and Jane Handler Scholarship is awarded to highly academically qualified students with substantial levels of financial need (as demonstrated on their FAFSA and CSS Profile forms) who have overcome significant obstacles in their lives. Scholars are selected on the basis of academic excellence, outstanding potential to be future leaders, and demonstrated mastery of complex challenges.


An overview of Rochester’s Handler Scholarship, the highest award available for our undergraduates.

The Handler Scholarship is the University’s premier award. Handler students will receive assured, complete financial support (tuition, fees, housing, food, books, personal expenses and transportation), as well as individual and group opportunities, for the duration of the regular four-year academic program.

Scholarship Benefits:

  • A more-than-full-tuition, four-year scholarship to the University of Rochester
  • Individual mentoring and academic support
  • $5,000 in guaranteed funding to support academic or professional enrichment
  • Access to a special alumni network made up of past Handler Scholars

Learn more about scholarship benefits (PDF)

What does it mean to be a Handler Scholar?

  • Set a good example and act as a leader on campus
  • Engage in the community both on campus and in the greater Rochester area
  • Belong to a supportive community of scholars and administrators
  • Pursue your intellectual passions and explore your academic curiosity

Nominate a student



Rich and Martha Handler established the program in 2007 with an ultimate commitment of $25 million. Named in honor of Handler’s parents, this is the largest contribution to student scholarships in the University’s history. Rich and Martha take an active role in the program, developing a strong relationship with the scholars. Rich earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University in 1983 and is the longest serving CEO on Wall Street; he has worked for the Jefferies Financial Group since 1990. In October 2018, the University’s Board of Trustees elected him as Board Chair.


We invite high school and independent counselors, teachers, and community-based organization officials to nominate students for the Handler Scholarship every fall. Nominations will open September 15 and close November 30. Please note, we do not accept nominations from students or parents.

Nominate a student



All University of Rochester first-year applicants are reviewed for the Handler Scholarship simply by submitting an application and completing necessary financial aid documents; no additional materials are required. Application does not have to be submitted as Early Decision.

Ideal candidates:

  • First-year, fall term applicants (transfer and spring applicants are not eligible)
  • Demonstrated academic excellence
  • Potential to be future leaders
  • Resiliency in the face of complex challenges
  • High financial need

Nominate a student

If a student is selected as a Handler Scholarship finalist, they will be invited to a two-part virtual interview event that takes place in early March. All finalists will be eligible to receive other competitive merit scholarships if not ultimately awarded the Handler Scholarship. Handler Scholarship recipients may also be invited to visit River Campus in late spring.

Meet the scholars

Remiah Sundine








Class year: 2021

Hometown: Detroit Lakes, MN
Major(s): Brain and Cognitive Sciences (Concentration: Neurobiology), Psychology, Dance
Extracurriculars: Louvre Performance Ensemble, BCS/NSC Undergraduate Council, Snyder Lab



The Handler scholarship has made it possible for me to attend college. Without this opportunity, I would not have had the resources to attend college to pursue my career interests and attain my personal goals.

I am studying a neurobiology cluster through the brain and cognitive sciences department, in addition to studying psychology and dance. My brain and cognitive sciences major focuses on the neurological mechanisms of behavior. My psychology major looks into why people behave as they do, and I am specifically focusing on motivation. My dance major allows me to creatively express myself and continue developing my artistic mind while sharing my passion.

I hope to enter a PhD program through which I will conduct research on addictions and why some people are more susceptible to forming them and subsequently relapsing.

I would ultimately like to find intervention methods to address the addiction crisis currently facing America. I am interested in finding a way to decrease the likelihood of relapse after rehabilitation programs.

Prajita Shrestha





Class year: 2022
Hometown: Kathmandu, Nepal
Major(s): Public Health (Epidemiology), Business (Accounting)
Extracurriculars: Student Alumni Ambassador, Rochester Rangoli, Medallion Program, international student mentor, research, and teaching assistant


I always knew I wanted to get a college education. But figuring out the logistics of how to actually do it has been a daunting experience for both me and my parents. When I applied Early Decision to Rochester, I wasn’t sure how I would ever be able to afford the school. Having been awarded the Handler Scholarship has really taken the load off me and my parents. Sometimes I think about how many part-time jobs I would have had to take during my school year if I didn’t have the scholarship; just the thought of that scares me.

I am doing a dual degree in public health and accounting. Since I am still figuring out what I am really passionate about, my majors are bound to change. But that’s the beauty of being a Rochester student: the flexible curriculum really does allow me to explore fields that otherwise I wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn.

Giving back to the community has always been one of my biggest priorities, the same as Rochester’s. But since coming to Rochester, my value for giving back to the community has intensified, whether it be through community-engaged classes that I took my first year or as a part of a globalized community within the University. I want to take this value forward in life to hopefully establishing a scholarship fund for girls in rural Nepal. My parents have always been an advocate for education for all and the same idea is embedded in the way Rochester functions. Being able to provide the next generation with the gift of education is one of the milestones I aspire to hit as I go on a lifelong journey to give back to my community.

Antony Alvarado





Class year: 2022
Hometown: Wilmington (Los Angeles), California
Major(s): Neuroscience/Biochemistry
Extracurriculars: Agape Christian Fellowship Bible study leader, research student in the Mar Noble Laboratory doing brain cancer research, ResLife D’Lion, StrongART volunteer painting pediatric radiation masks


Being a Handler Scholar has given me the chance of opportunity and freedom. As a student from a single parent household and cancer patient, the opportunity to be a Handler Scholar has allowed me to relieve the financial stress of my undergraduate degree from both myself and my mom, as well as focusing my family’s resources on supporting my medical needs. The Handler Scholarship has given me the opportunity to experience life outside of Los Angeles, an experience I would have never had if I had not received the scholarship. The Handler Scholarship has also connected me with a family of people with diverse backgrounds and interests, where we are not all of the same background or discipline. The Handler Scholarship has also provided me access to non-university affiliate opportunities as programs recognize the selectivity and value of the scholarship, and see the degree to which the University and Handler Scholar team invests in me, and they too then wish to invest in providing opportunities for development.

At the University, I am interested in studying both neuroscience and biochemistry as a means to develop a better understanding of how brain cancer treatments are developed. This interest is personal to me as I have been battling brain cancer since 2010. I am also taking part in innovative research just across the street in Dr. Mark Noble’s lab, which does research in Glioblastoma and other related cancers, including my own kind. My time at the University is allowing me to see my entire future career as a pediatric neurosurgeon unfold as my interests flow from the lecture hall to bench side to bedside, in the treatment of cancer patients like myself.

After Rochester, I plan to return to Los Angeles and earn and complete the MD/PhD program at UCLA, where my own neurosurgeon completed some of his surgical training. Through the MD/PhD program, I hope to focus my PhD on neuro-oncology and my MD in pediatric neurosurgery so that I may have my one neuro-oncology lab accompanied with my neurosurgical practice.

Michael Lin





Class year: 2021
Hometown: Queens NYC
Major(s): Business Marketing, Creative Writing
Extracurriculars: Sigma Chi Fraternity, Gamma Pi Chapter, Photography Club

The Handler Scholarship has given me the opportunity to grow myself personally and professionally without having to burden my family with debt or worry about debt myself. The Handler Scholarship community is there for us not only when we need guidance, but also to encourage us to be ever better, even when it’s hard to convince oneself to do so.

I am studying business marketing and creative writing. I have also taken about 20 credits related in digital media studies. I am currently a news assistant at University Communications where I can polish some of my skills in writing and communications.

One way or another I plan to tell stories. It’s what I have been working towards my whole life. I’ve always been interested in the art of storytelling, whether it’s for culture or for profit. I would like to work in marketing after Rochester but ultimately it would be great to be able to wake up surrounded by nature and finally write a novel or collection of poetry.

I hope in my writing and storytelling that I can inspire someone the way my teachers have for me. As the world starts devoting more and more of its time to STEM, we leave behind the humanities, but that doesn’t have to be the case. It may be unspecific now, but at some point, I hope my writing will contribute to the revitalization of the humanities.

 Eduardo Peralta-Herrera





Class Year: 2023
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Major(s): Cell and Developmental Biology, maybe Spanish
Extracurriculars: Circle K, MAPS (Minority Association of Pre-med Students)

The Handler Scholarship has allowed me to take opportunities that I would not have even been aware of otherwise. Being from Los Angeles, my idea of college was always the UCs or the Cal States and I had never considered going out of state for my education. This scholarship has allowed me to explore the world beyond what I knew and I still sometimes forget I’m in New York! Being so far away from home has allowed me to stay grounded and focused on my career goals. Without this scholarship, I wouldn’t just be stressed about classes and grades, I’d also be preoccupied with the financial side of college and I’m so grateful that that burden has been lifted already. I am grateful to all the people who made this possible because in the end, it’s only helping me become a better person.

Here in Rochester, I am studying cell and developmental biology on a pre-med track. I am also attempting to complete a double major or minor in Spanish. I want to study biology to get a solid foundation in medicine to hopefully apply and get into medical school. My minor/major in Spanish is something that I am pursuing in order to get a better grip on my Latino culture and maybe teach it in the future. I am also planning to cluster in economics, as I have always been interested in business administration, so much so that I even considered majoring in that for a while. I hope to be able to engage in research soon to explore that field of medicine and hopefully get a clearer idea of my goals in medicine.

My plans after Rochester are to attend medical school, hopefully in California. There, I hope to get a great education so I can specialize in orthopedics and become a surgeon. I hope to go back to Los Angeles so I can take care of my family and go through the rest of my medical education alongside with them. My alternate goals if medical school doesn’t pan out, are to get into a graduate program for biology so that I can teach it at the high school or college level and hopefully help shape future medical students.

I hope to use my education from Rochester to become an orthopedic surgeon and alleviate the pain of many people who like my mom, suffer from arthritis or other related issues. I know what it’s like to have to deal with illnesses like these and I know how much of a burden it can be on a family both mentally, emotionally, and financially and I believe that being able to heal people so that they can live normally would change their whole life. My family has unfortunately been unable to receive quick, necessary healthcare because of our financial situation and I want to change that reality for other people as well.

Brendon Tran





Class year: 2022
Hometown: Dunellen, NJ
Major(s): Neuroscience, Public Health (Health, Behavior, and Society)
Extracurriculars: SA Government, 2022 Class Council, GlobeMed, Rice Crew, Ballet Performance Group, Academic Review Committee, Gender Waiver Review Committee

The Handler Scholarship has allowed me the opportunity to be the first in my family to get a degree. Before this scholarship, my only option post high school was the military since I could not afford to go anywhere else. The biggest thing is that it has taken a huge burden off of my mom’s shoulders and helped me realize my self worth. The scholarship told me that my hard work has paid off and that my determination will not go unnoticed. It has allowed me to pursue my passions and help me develop connections and a whole network of people who care about me. This scholarship has been the biggest positive change in my life and in which I am forever grateful for the opportunities presented to me.

I am pre-med currently studying neuroscience at the University of Rochester. I hope to do a double degree with public health, and if not, then minor in public health, specifically health, behavior, and society. I am also intending on clustering in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies. I want to be able to expand upon my own beliefs and ideologies, and be able to see from perspectives other than my own. I also conducted a small research project last year that investigated and analyzed gun control in the Rochester community, specifically on our campus and was able to interview the President of the University, students, and faculty members. I was then invited to present my research paper at a conference at MCC to local members of the community.

After Rochester, I plan to utilize my degree(s) to pursue peer health advocacy. I intend to combine what I’ve learned in medicine with social activism, and travel to communities (outside of the US) to do research, educate, and advocate for minority communities (POC, low-income, first-generation, LGBTQIA+, etc.) in terms of health. I want to be able to help communities that are at risk and don’t have sufficient medical resources or aren’t properly informed. I want to work globally/internationally and be able to reach out to more than just the environment I grew up in, so that I can constantly learn about the world and the lives of others around me.

I plan to use my Rochester education to make my community and the world ever better by improving health care in communities that can’t easily access it. Specifically with my degree in neuroscience, I want to do research and explore mental disorders and neurological diseases and end the stigma behind mental illnesses in minority communities. I firmly believe that the lack of insurance or a healthcare plan should not cost you your life or your mental health, and those in impoverished/minority communities are the most at risk due to the inequality they experience from a failed societal system. I want to be able to improve healthcare, public policy, and just overall become an advocate for people who are like me: LGBTQ+, low-income, first-generation of an immigrant family, and a POC.

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