Q&A: How the Chow Scholarship is shaping the futures of two outstanding OHIO students

At Ohio University's College of Arts and Sciences, two remarkable seniors, Aanya Datta '24 and Lucas Fernandes Esteves Fonseca '24, are navigating their academic journeys with poise and progress, thanks to the Edward and Charlotte Chow Scholarship.

April 26, 2024


This award, established by Edward C. Chow '71, MS '72 and Charlotte Chow '72 in 2020, not only alleviates financial burdens but also fosters  connections between the scholars and their benefactors, enhancing their educational experience in unexpected ways.

“We are incredibly proud to see how the Edward and Charlotte Chow Scholarship has facilitated not just academic success, but also meaningful community engagement in its recipients. Our aim has always been to support the dreams of hardworking international students and to encourage their personal growth. Seeing students like Aanya and Lucas flourish reaffirms our commitment to this goal,” the Chows said. “We strongly believe that the continuing presence on campus of international students from different parts of the world, particularly at the undergraduate level, is important for the education and development of all students, including Ohio and other American students.”

Aanya, a psychology major with a minor in community and public health, hails from Calcutta, India, and stands as the first in her family to pursue higher education abroad. Her journey to OHIO was driven by a desire for robust research opportunities and a supportive community, aspects she felt the University would provide. Overcoming the challenges of starting college during the COVID-19 pandemic, Aanya has flourished, from being a Margaret Boyd Scholar and global ambassador for international admissions, employed as a research assistant in two labs on campus, as well as a LINKS peer mentor and serving on the Experiential Learning Student Advisory Board. She has also been awarded several accolades in her time at OHIO, including the Charles J. Ping International Leadership Award in both 2022 and 2023 and this year's Outstanding Senior Leader Award.

Lucas brings a unique perspective from Brazil, merging his love for mathematics and computer science with a double major. His academic path at Ohio University was significantly eased by the Chow scholarship, which not only covered a substantial part of his tuition but also helped him engage with his field. Lucas is particularly excited about the possibilities within data science, especially its applications in sports analytics.

Aanya and Lucas agreed to answer questions for OHIO News about the highlights of their experiences at college so far.

Aanya Datta '24

Aanya Datta '24

Lucas Fernandes Esteves Fonseca ’24

Lucas Fernandes Esteves Fonseca ’24

Q: Can you share a little bit about your background and what led you to choose Ohio University?

A: I am an international student from Calcutta, India. I'm the first my family to move abroad for higher education. I chose OHIO because one, there were so many opportunities to get involved within the campus community, even as a freshman. And I really liked the sound of that, because coming into a completely new area, or in a completely unique environment, you kind of want to find those areas for yourself. So I was really interested in all the opportunities available. And it seemed like freshmen were getting engaged in research, and you didn't need to have prior experience for that. So that was something that interested me as well.

Q: What has been your favorite course so far in the College of Arts and Sciences and why?

A: My favorite course is physiological psychology, because it brought together like anatomy and physiology, anatomy and psychology together. And for me, that was really interesting, because I never thought of seeing psychology through that lens. And being involved in it showed me how much more I could do with my psych degree, and really expanded my horizons.

I chose OHIO because... there were so many opportunities to get involved within the campus community, even as a freshman.

Aanya Datta '24

Q: What challenges have you overcome during your University career?

A: So I started college in 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, and I was still in India when I started college. So I started my entire first year, virtual on a 10-plus hour time difference. And it was a time where we still hadn't gone to like asynchronous learning, we're still very much attending zoom meetings for class. And for me, that meant attending class at 2 a.m.! So for an entire year, I completely flipped my existence cycle in a way, like I was just, I did all these classes from so far away, and had no physical contact with anybody and had to acclimatize to this climate, without really knowing what it looked like.

Q: What advice do you have for other international students who are coming to campus post-pandemic?

A: Yeah, it can be really scary. Before I say anything, I want to acknowledge that like, it is really scary to pack up your entire life, and move to a campus where you barely know one person, but we've done it, you are doing it, which means part of you is brave is capable of that. To believe in yourself is the biggest thing ever. Never be scared of entering a room where you may be the only international student, or be the only person you know; there will be many rooms you enter where people might not look like you, people might not speak like you, they might not share the same background as you. But by entering that room, you provide everyone as an opportunity to learn more about you and uplift your community at the same time. Just be confident in yourself--you made it this far.

Q: What has been the most unexpected benefit of receiving this scholarship?

A: I think the relationship that I got to build with Mr. And Mrs. Chow. I feel like I said this before, like I feel like I there's too many opportunities to connect with your scholarship donors, which can sometimes be like a void. But I think I've met with Mr. Chow at least three times at this point. And it feels very rewarding to be able to tell a person that has helped you so significantly in your journey, that this is how exactly we're utilizing benefits that we're getting basically from them. I really like to focus on the fact that I got to build relationships with this person that was an international student that knows what I'm going through, in some capacity can understand what I've went through because they're the ones they were one themselves. And then just feeling that gratitude when you get to meet them, I think is very special to me. That's the unexpected benefit.

Q: What are your professional aspirations after graduation?

A: I’m going to go ahead and get my master’s in public health with a focus in social and behavioral sciences, I hope to work with the aging community. And I want to do so by getting my Ph.D. in the same field. And essentially, I want to work in researching the different socio-economic factors that impact people’s ability to age or age well.

Lucas Fernandes Esteves Fonseca ’24

Q: Can you share a little about your background and what led you to choose Ohio University?

A: I'm originally from Brazil, and after I graduated high school, I wanted to go for college in the United States. I was applying to many schools, mostly in the Midwest and in balancing my interest for each school and financial aid I received, I chose OU.

Q: What has been your favorite course so far in the College of Arts and Sciences, and why?

A: My favorite course in the College of Arts and Sciences was MATH4600 Intro to Numerical Analysis. I enjoyed it because I felt like it brings together much mathematical background into real application using programming. Also, the instructor was really good and definitely a factor in me enjoying the course.

Q: How has the Chow Scholarship impacted your studies and college experience?

A: The Chow scholarship helped me a lot. It covered a good amount of my tuition and Mr. Chow also communicated with OU so the scholarship value would be increased, which was very impactful. The scholarship was a crucial factor in pushing me through undergrad.

Q: What emerging trends or innovations in your field excite you the most?

A: Data Science, which is the field of Mathematics that I am most interested, is growing a lot as a whole, since it's a newer field. It's great to see that OU is making more classes available regarding Data Science in the past few semesters, and there is a broad range of applications and research of this field that are undiscovered. A personal interest of mine is the application of Data Science on sports, which is still very primitive.

Q: What advice would you give to other students pursuing your majors?

A: Don't let your major be the biggest source of stress. Enjoy what you are doing and leave time for you to be social, get around community as well as dedicate to studies.

Enjoy what you are doing and leave time for you to be social, get around community as well as dedicate to studies.

Lucas Fernandes Esteves Fonseca ’24

Q: What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned outside the classroom?

A: Whenever you have an issue, bring to someone who would be able to help you solve this issue. Every organization, group, service has people working behind them and communicating with those people is key to solve conflicts.

Q: How do you envision the skills and knowledge you are acquiring at Ohio University will help you in your future career?

A: The skills I learned in my undergraduate curriculum will strongly support my career, as I plan to be working on research and having this core knowledge will be a game-changer in the future. I enjoyed a lot presenting my capstone seminar. I had a big group of friends, and people I've worked with in research and group assignments attend it and it was very fulfilling being able to present a topic I'm interested in to other people. I hope as I further my career in research I can contribute to valuable progress in whatever field I'm researching into. I've done research in Applied Mathematics for bioinformatics and had a great time doing so, and I know that I can use this skills in many other fields.

If you are interested in learning how you can support OHIO students with a scholarship, please contact University Advancement at 740-593-2636 or e-mail giving@ohio.edu.