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Music Student Awarded Prestigious Scholarship

UCR Music Student Awarded Prestigious Scholarship

Pricila Chavez Lara named the Presser Foundation Undergraduate Scholar for 2010-11.

(July 15, 2010)

Pricila Chavez LaraEnlarge

Pricila Chavez Lara

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Pricila Chavez Lara was an infant when her parents bought her first guitar. By age 4 she was learning to play the accordion. By age 10 she was playing piano, accordion, drums and tenor saxophone, and last year she began taking violin and cello lessons at the University of California, Riverside.

Today, the 22-year-old resident of Hemet, Calif., is a junior at UCR, where she has been named the Presser Foundation Undergraduate Scholar for the 2010-11 academic year.

The prestigious Presser Foundation award, which carries a $4,800 scholarship, is presented annually to outstanding music majors in undergraduate music schools at U.S. universities designated by the foundation. UC Riverside’s Department of Music has been a designated school since 2008. The Presser Foundation is one of the few foundations in the United States dedicated solely to the support of music and music education.

Department of Music Chair Deborah Wong said, “Pricila’s professors describe her as driven, dedicated, and determined. She is a fine young musician and she brings a lot to our department. Indeed, she exemplifies the kind of students we have as music majors. She has impressive musical and academic skills, and she has worked very, very hard to get to UCR.”

Lara, born in Baja, Mexico, moved with her family to the United States as a preschooler and is the first in her family to complete middle school, high school (West Valley High School in Hemet) and attend college. She has performed in concert with the UCR Chamber Music Ensembles and the UCR Jazz Ensemble. She has a 4.0 grade point average and wants to pursue orchestral conducting in graduate school and as a career.

Describing herself as “a first generation, low-income, immigrant Hispanic woman” she says, “It’s a great honor to attend UCR. My parents are very proud of me.” She expects to graduate from UCR in 2012.

A full-time student, Lara also works three part-time jobs to supplement the Cal and Pell (need-based) grants she receives. She is a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) mentor at Mt. San Jacinto College, gives private piano and guitar lessons, and is a part-time real estate agent. She also is the youth choir director and pianist at the Apostolic church her family attends in San Jacinto.

Lara plans to use the scholarship to start a community youth orchestra in Hemet, hoping to share her love of classical music with disadvantaged youth and hone her conducting skills.

“I like the complexity of classical music,” she said. “I can’t live without music.”

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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