A Conversation With Camille Bryan ’20

When Camille Bryan ’20 graduated, her parents, Louise and John Bryan, established a scholarship at LMU. But, in an unusual twist, they asked their daughter to name the scholarship and define its criteria. Camille named it the Bianca Red Arrow Memorial Scholarship for her late friend and classmate Bianca Red Arrow, who passed away suddenly in her sophomore year in fall 2017. Bryan is a graduate student at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in Monterey, California, and lives in Washington, D.C. She was interviewed by Editor Joseph Wakelee-Lynch.

When your parents set up the scholarship, they allowed you to define its criteria. Did that surprise you?

I didn’t know what went into defining a scholarship, but I wasn’t surprised. My parents have always talked to me about the necessity of giving back to the places, the foundations, groups and people that have built you, loved you and helped you grow. This is the first very large step in doing so.

Why did you name it for Bianca Red Arrow?

We bonded over being new freshman together in the fall of 2016, a politically volatile time for the country. Bianca was the embodiment of adventure, joy, light and love. She made a lasting impact on my college and life experience. As much as I’d like the scholarship to be named the Camille Bryan Scholarship for International Relations, there wasn’t any part of me that was not going to name it for Bianca. 

How did you decide on the criteria that a recipient must meet to receive the scholarship?

I felt this scholarship should be a merit scholarship in the International Relations program, because that’s what I majored in. Because the scholarship is named after a friend who died, I didn’t want it to go to someone who didn’t need it or deserve it. The scholarship will always go to someone who is smart, works hard and wants to change the world — someone like Bianca.

Someone may say that a student interested in international politics should attend a university in Washington, D.C., or New York, where most of the players are located. Did you feel geographically limited by studying international politics on the West Coast?

Even though L.A. is not known as a federal government hub, people are deeply invested in the issues. Los Angeles is one of the greatest cities in the world, and when I found that LMU had just started an International Relations program I felt it was the perfect place.

Were there any professors in particular who were mentors to you?

Tom Plate, who is the Distinguished Scholar of Asian and Pacific Studies in the LMU Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, is one. I interned for him with the Asia Media International magazine and took a couple of his classes. We read “On China,” by Henry Kissinger, which is a book I still have and impacted my political thought greatly. Professor Plate wrote my letter of recommendation to get into grad school. Also Jodi Finkel, professor of international relations and political science in BCLA, was influential. She taught my Introduction to Comparative Politics class, which was an incredibly difficult class. She also taught my senior seminar class, Comparative Human Rights. They are totally different, but they shaped my political education like nothing else did. 

What do you hope the scholarship will achieve or bring about?

First, the cost of higher education is increasing, but cost shouldn’t be a barrier to going to a good university and achieving success. People need money to go to college, and if I can support that in any way I’d love to. Second, I’d like to support the International Relations program and increase the number of wildly intelligent students who will make it even better. Third, I was blessed to attend LMU on a merit scholarship. When you get a merit scholarship, you have to write a letter to the donor telling them how the scholarship changed you. I remember writing those letters. I look forward to reading that letter and seeing the impact of this scholarship, and to meeting the recipient and explaining who Bianca is and what she did for her family, her friends and LMU.