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Forging a strong community for women engineers
As one of only 12 women students in the entire College of Engineering when she began her metallurgy studies at Ohio State in 1969, there simply wasn’t a community of female peers for Carrie Gordon ’74, ’79 to turn to for support.
“When I think back to those times, there was definitely a different dynamic when there was more than one woman in a class versus me being the only one,” she said. “If you increase the number of women—and I’m so amazed at the number there now—it’s better for everybody.”
Inspired by how the female engineering community has since flourished across the college, Carrie and her husband Skip vowed to do whatever they could to support it and enable women to pursue their academic dreams.
The Gordons established the Carrie Maykuth Gordon Scholarship in 2006 to support diversity and women studying materials science and engineering. By creating an endowed fund, Carrie and Skip ensured their gift keeps on giving as the principal is invested and only a percentage of the investment income is spent annually. Establishing it was much easier than expected, they said, thanks to matching funds from Carrie’s employer and the ability to spread payments over several years.
“What we love about the Ohio State giving process is that you don’t have to be a rock star or a billionaire to make a difference,” Carrie explained.
She and Skip also made an estate gift to support the endowment, maximizing their investment in future generations of students.
Still, the Gordons wanted to do more to help students now while their endowment continues to grow. In 2014, they created a current use scholarship fund—where all dollars are spent directly on student aid within an academic year.
Carrie and Skip enjoy the opportunity to witness the impact of their giving.
“Knowing your money goes to a specific student is important,” Skip said. “This way we actually get to meet the students and understand what great students they are and what they’re doing.”
Nicolette Voltaggio ’17 is one of 33 recipients of the Gordon scholarship funds since 2006. The scholarship enabled her to meet her goal of graduating in four years, even while financing her education herself.
“That extra support meant I was able to dedicate more time to my volunteer work and studies,” Nicolette said. “Having that financial burden lifted off was just such a gift.”
Nicolette was even more touched to receive the scholarship from someone she considers a role model. After hearing Carrie speak at a department brunch in 2015, Nicolette was so inspired by Carrie’s passion for supporting female engineers that she began volunteering with the Society for Women Engineers and Women in Engineering. She hopes to continue to follow Carrie’s footsteps in the future.
“I hope that as I go on in my career I can give back to the department and people that really shaped who I am as a person and as an engineer,” Nicolette said.
Carrie and Skip treasure their connection to recipients like Nicolette who they call a “window into the future.” Their generosity is no less illuminating, providing windows of opportunity for women engineering students of today and tomorrow.
by Candi Clevenger, College of Engineering Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org