Scholarships: Making an impact
Ben Lewis dropped out of college three times before enrolling at Ohio State—twice for financial reasons and again when he joined the Army following 9/11. This May, he’ll achieve his dream of graduating with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace and aeronautical engineering.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for scholarships,” Lewis said. “If people weren’t generous enough to extend scholarships, I wouldn’t have made it through school.”
He’s not the only one. Paying for college is a challenge for many families today–and not just those in lower income brackets. Despite Ohio State’s strong tradition of offering a world-class education at a reasonable price, many students need financial support to achieve their dream of graduating with a Buckeye engineering degree.
Ohio State has the second-lowest tuition among Ohio's public universities with selective admissions and has been named among the 100 best values in higher education by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. Even so, the recession and state funding cuts have placed an ever-increasing burden on students.
Lessening students’ financial burden can also provide the time and flexibility students need in order to obtain a broad, enriching college experience, something donor Sarah Lavash Hebbeler (’07, mechanical engineering) believes is critical.
“I think college is about exploring, learning what you want to do and being exposed to all sorts of new experiences,” she said. “I don’t want people to be limited because the challenging engineering curriculum doesn’t give them time and money to experience all the things you should be experiencing in your life at that age.”
Hebbeler, an R&D engineer at Procter & Gamble, said she benefitted from being able to explore her individual passions as a student. She minored in both German and Italian and was able to put her foreign language skills to use during an internship at P&G in Germany. That experience helped her decide to work in an international company, she said.
She established the Sarah Lavash Women in Engineering Fund to help other Buckeye engineers have the opportunity to find their true passions.
First-generation college student Amanda Broseus, a second-year chemical engineering major, is one of the recipients of Hebbeler’s scholarship. She recently returned from a service learning trip to Haiti, where she put her engineering skills to use installing solar panels on two rural schools, bringing light and electricity to classrooms.
“It gave me a chance to implement what I learned in the classroom, to engage in team-building activities, and it taught me what true problem solving in a pressured environment is,” Broseus said. “I’m thankful to scholarship donors for enhancing my college education and allowing me to engage in learning experiences I can't find in the classroom.”
Ozan Kaya (’03, industrial and systems engineering) believes in the importance of extracurricular activities. Besides being great resume-builders, he said, they also provide students with the opportunity to gain leadership experience, while enhancing their interpersonal and decision-making skills.
Receiving scholarships enabled Kaya to be active in student organizations while at Ohio State. Serving as president of the Ohio State Chapter of the Institute for Industrial Engineers helped him obtain co-ops and internships at an early point in his education, he said, which resulted in even better opportunities down the road. Today he’s a director in Deutsche Bank’s Securities’ Structured Credit group.
Seeing classmates who had to hold jobs to finance their education miss out on those opportunities provided Kaya even more motivation to pay it forward. The goal of his scholarship is to help motivated students get multi-dimensional leadership experience to better prepare them for life after graduation.
“I decided before graduating that I would donate to scholarships. I started in 2008 and have done so every year since,” Kaya said. “It’s very rewarding to see students become more financially free and take advantage of all that Ohio State has to offer—which is a lot.”
Thanks to generous donors like Kaya and Hebbeler, total gift aid awarded to engineering students in 2013, including university and departmental scholarships and grants, surpassed $31 million. That’s a $16 million increase from just five years ago.
But there is still more work to be done. The average loan debt of Ohio State engineering graduates last spring was $26,012. Despite awarding 1,855 scholarships to engineering students from college resources in the 2012-2013 academic year; the average scholarship was just $1,583.
Providing scholarship support for a College of Engineering student is truly the single most impactful way to make a direct difference in a student’s life. It’s a gift that helps ensure that the very brightest students can afford an Ohio State education.
“If we can help students with their education, that’s the right thing to do,” Hebbeler said. “I think we’re in a position to give back and to help people get to the place that we are now, thanks to our time at Ohio State.”
And the impact of scholarships often goes far beyond an individual recipient, as Ben Lewis will attest.
“My family has had to sacrifice a lot since I’ve been back in school. In the beginning, I didn’t know if I was going to make it,” he said. “I was working full-time then, driving a forklift in a factory, and I just knew I had to get a 4.0 and keep my grades really high. So that’s what I did. I got that first scholarship and was like ‘It’s going to work.’”
Lewis wants other students who are struggling to know that if he can do it, so can they. And he wants donors to know what a difference they made in the life of a Buckeye engineer.
Ready to make a difference in the lives of talented, young people?
There are many ways to support talented and deserving students at Ohio State. To make an immediate impact in the lives of Buckeye engineering and architecture students, please consider making a contribution to the College of Engineering Scholarship Fund (302281) or the Knowlton School of Architecture Scholarship Fund (312560).
- Online at https://www.giveto.osu.edu (Direct links to fund #302281 & #312560). You may make a one-time gift online at this site.
- By mail: mail your check (payable to The Ohio State University Foundation) with Fund #302281 or #312560 in the memo line, to: The Ohio State University Foundation, 1480 West Lane Avenue, Columbus, OH 43221
- By Phone: Call (614) 292-2141 and have your credit or debit card information ready.
- Electronically scheduled: To set up an electronic funds transfer, call (614) 292-2141. This method of giving allows you to make a one-time or recurring gift without writing a check.
Written by Candi Clevenger, College of Engineering Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org