First Ascent Scholars celebrated this year’s graduates in red carpet style, complete with a formal dinner, unique stoles, and even a mini-gold statue. Surrounded by a community of peers, family, mentors, donors, and staff, each spoke words of gratitude and offered advice to their fellow scholars.

Graduate Salmoon Masih offered the following advice to his fellow cohorts:


“Welcome, you have been given a great opportunity. Use it well, use the resources, engage, and experience. The sky’s the limit; it really is.”


“You’ve got a few years left. Know or start to know what you’re passionate about, but don’t forget you’re still pretty fresh. Enjoy these years!”


“As we seniors leave you with the reins. Set an example, be a resource, a good peer mentor, and ensure the bar’s high.”


“The journey wouldn’t be possible or the same if it wasn’t for this cohort. I’d like to say congratulations and thank you for allowing a Pakistani immigrant to fully be immersed in the American college experience. I’m excited to see where you all go, and I’ll always be rooting for you.”

The Eccles school congratulates our 2021-22 First Ascent Scholar graduates:

  • Ulises Amaton, Marketing
  • Veronica Aponte, Marketing, and International Studies
  • Jeebika Dahal, Operations & Supply Chain, and Pre-Medicine
  • Chimalli Hernandez, Urban Ecology
  • Chris James, Quantitative Analysis of Markets and Organizations
  • Desange Kuenihira, Criminology, and Health, Society, & Policy
  • Salmoon Masih, Management
  • Ashley Jimenez Mendoza, Political Science, and Quantitative Analysis of Markets and Organizations
  • Fredrick Okongo, Finance
  • Andrea Cazares Rosas, Information Systems
  • Miguel Saldivar, Operations & Supply Chain

The First Ascent Scholars Program cultivates, encourages, and enables academically focused students with significant financial need to attend the Eccles School and connect with the University of Utah, local, and global community while reaching their full academic potential. For more information, visit Eccles.Link/first-ascent.

  • Looking for something specific?