Top U.S. University Offers First-Ever Surf Scholarship - Stab Mag
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Surf scholarship recipient Makena Burke earns her wage. Photo: Blair Austin

Top U.S. University Offers First-Ever Surf Scholarship

Did we mention UCSD sits atop California’s best beachie?

news // Jun 16, 2022
Words by Michael Ciaramella
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The University of California San Diego was recently named America’s 14th best university by Forbes, a publication that clearly does not have its priorities straight.

On top of its industry-leading research in neuroscience, oceanography, and other smart-people fields, UCSD is clearly the best surfing university in the world*, which oughta count for something.

Sitting directly atop La Jolla’s Blacks Beach — one of the most consistent and, on its day, best waves in the continental U.S. — UCSD has gone above and beyond to support surfers and the surf industry in recent decades. This is the place where the first algae-based blanks were born. Scripps Institute of Oceanography — a UCSD offshoot — has become one of the most revered ocean study centers on earth. Best of all, UCSD built an on-campus shaping studio and created a class where students can shape their own surfboard from scratch.

Did we mention Blacks is walking-distance from campus? Former UCSD student Eric Snortum indulges. Photo: Blair Austin

From these surf-based investments comes a list of highly impressive alumni. We’re talking iconic surfboard shaper Rusty Preisendorfer, former Surfer Mag EIC and thick-water enthusiast Evan ‘Dave’ Slater, and PhD graduate Cliff Kapono, who continues to make the world a better place through surfing (you might remember Cliff’s appearance in The Pick-Up).

There are also lesser-known figures like Dr. Max Hoshino, who after winning a national title for UCSD, became one of the top orthopedic surgeons in the country and went on to reconstruct Kelly Slater’s foot after he broke it at J-Bay, and Jared Lang, a former UCSD surf team captain who became an actual rocket scientist at NASA.

Big Brain Energy.

In an effort to encourage the next wave of surfer-scholars to join their ranks, UCSD recently awarded on student a surf-based scholarship. As far as we’re aware, they’re the first global university to offer such a thing.

Makena Burke, a pre-med student and shit-hot surfer from Ventura, CA, recently received $5,000 toward her UCSD education on the condition that she competes for the school’s surf team. In its 54-year history, the UCSD surf team has earned seven team national titles, making it the winningest sports org at the university.

Led by coach Tyler Callaway, the team will compete at this year’s national final on June 18th at Salt Creek. Makena is a favorite it win. If so, we vote that she gets a full ride.

Learn more about the UCSD Surf Team here.

*As a UCSD alum, your author may be biased.

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