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Florence Stewart Scholarship Helps Recipient Toward His Dream

Bulgantamir Jargalmaa is working his way through college as a restaurant server while carrying a full course load. His mother, Jagdora, goes between two jobs to help support him and his studies. So, when a letter came in the mail notifying him that he was the recipient of a generous scholarship, they both felt as if a huge burden had been lifted from their shoulders.

“I could just see the relief of stress and pure happiness in her eyes,” Jargalmaa says of his mother, who is a certified nursing assistant and manager of a dry cleaning business. “She started smiling and laughing. It was phenomenal.”

Last year, Jargalmaa, now a rising junior at Thomas Jefferson University, was awarded the Florence Stewart Scholarship, which supports international students, especially those from Asia, who have demonstrated dedication to their studies. The endowed fund was started by Liong Keng Kwee, ’68, in 2010, who named the scholarship in honor of Florence Stewart, a local host “mom” for international students.  

The $10,000 scholarship is helping the health science major/psychology minor, who was born in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, toward his dream of becoming a physical therapist.

He says he was inspired to seek a career in PT at a young age when he learned firsthand the benefits of the specialty.  

Following a car crash in which he was seriously injured when he was 6 years old, Jargalmaa came to America for surgery, ongoing medical care, and rehabilitation. He, his mother, and brother settled in the Philadelphia area.

“After my surgeries, the PT staff was fantastic,” he says. “They were really inspiring. I just fell in love with it.”

As his interest in PT grew, his mother suggested applying to Jefferson.

“I didn’t know anything about Jefferson, but I looked further into it and I realized there were a lot of great programs,” he says. After meeting with professors, staff, and other students, he was convinced Jefferson was where he wanted to be—the place that would help him achieve his goals.

It’s heartwarming to realize that there are alumni who are helping students through mentoring and financial support.

Bulgantamir Jargalmaa ’22

Receiving the scholarship, he says, has made all the difference in the world.

“It’s heartwarming to realize that there are alumni who are helping students through mentoring and financial support,” he says, noting the particular importance of scholarships for minorities.

“Scholarships like these makes it feel like we’re being seen, like we’re being heard, like our need for aid is recognized,” he says.

The ongoing crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a particular need for scholarships, as it has put increased financial burdens on students and parents.

Jargalmaa says that he plans to someday repay the generosity. “As an alumnus, after I graduate and get established in my own businesses, I definitely want to contribute back.”

For now, he’s just grateful that his mother can finally relax a little.

“It’s helped her a lot,” he says of the financial aid. “Now she can have some time for herself.”