Students share the impact of scholarships during 21st annual luncheon

Posted: April 28, 2022

Futures in the making was the theme of the College of Engineering’s 21st Annual Scholarship Luncheon on April 2, 2022, a yearly tradition that celebrates scholarship donors and their student recipients.

Scholarship Luncheon student speakers pose with Dean Howard
The featured speakers at the luncheon were (from left) Ben Lewan, Ami Kanu, Didi Kanu, Dean Ayanna Howard, Robert Pafford and Lily Des Rosiers

“When we think about futures in the making and scholarships, there's really two meanings. The first is the students’ future and the lives that are made possible because of the generous donations from our donors,” said emcee Lisa Abrams, associate chair for undergraduate studies and learning infrastructure in the Department of Engineering Education. “The second meaning is about the future these engineers and architects are helping make not only for themselves, but for all of us. Ohio State students are preparing to lead and innovate in ways that will shape not only the future of Ohio, but of the world.”

Nearly 300 students, donors, faculty and staff attended the event, which was held in person for the first time since 2019 at the Ohio Union.

The luncheon featured remarks by Dean Ayanna Howard and stories from five student speakers who shared how scholarships are enabling them to engineer brighter futures for themselves and others.

Electrical and computer engineering major Robert Pafford shared his experience as part of Ohio State’s Underwater Robotics Team and the challenges he faced while designing a new microcontroller for the team’s newest robot. The interdisciplinary team competes in the annual international AUVSI RoboSub competition with their custom autonomous underwater vehicle.

“This experience has taught me innumerable lessons about engineering and design I would have not been able to learn without Underwater Robotics or Ohio State,” Pafford said. “Being a scholarship recipient has helped me attend Ohio State and has given me these great opportunities to get practical engineering experience before going out into the workforce.”

While being involved in the National Society of Black Engineers, Undergraduate Student Government’s Black Caucus, African Youth League and undergraduate research, chemical engineering major Didi Kanu was able to launch the Minority Collegiate Outreach and Support Team (MCOST).

MCOST provides racial and ethnic minority students in 9-12th grade with collegiate mentors who instill positive attitudes towards academic achievement, self-advocacy, STEAM exploration and college preparation. Kanu’s twin sister Ami, a neuroscience major who also spoke at the luncheon, and their friends founded the organization to help encourage youth to pursue higher education.

In partnership with Columbus City Schools’ East High, MCOST provides after-school workshops on completing college applications, finding scholarships, time management skills and more.

“Thank you to my donors and to all the donors for your generosity. I'm so grateful for my scholarships and I know the other students are too,” Didi said. “Because of our scholarships, not only am I afforded the opportunity to be part of this amazing Ohio State community, but I'm also able to use my gifts and passions to make a difference in other people's lives on- and off-campus.”

As president of the Baja Buckeyes, mechanical engineering major Ben Lewan leads the team in designing, analyzing, building and testing a four-wheel drive, single-seater, off-road vehicle. He also helps newer members grow professionally and advance in the organization, and connects with sponsors and suppliers.

“This scholarship program has given me the ability to focus on my extracurriculars, like Baja SAE, without having to worry about the financial obligations associated with college,” Lewan said. “From leadership to education and even employment, your support has led to it all, thank you.”

Ben Lewan addresses the crowd.

Environmental engineering major Lily Des Rosiers and her classmates helped increase the productivity and efficiency of Southside Family Farms, a network of urban farms that works to address food insecurities in Columbus and provide a safe haven for the community. They installed sensors to monitor soil quality, added an automated rolling side system to the high tunnel to respond to changing weather conditions, connected the farm to solar power, installed gutter covers, and implemented an automated rainwater collection and watering system.

“This was a really meaningful and impactful experience for me. Not only was I able to gain technical skills in engineering as a sophomore, but I was able to learn how to be an effective community member and partner,” Des Rosiers said. “It can be tough as an engineer to come into a new space and learn about the different complexities of such a tough topic like food insecurity, but through this class I was able to learn how to use humanitarian engineering to approach these sorts of topics and use my skills to make a meaningful impact in communities. Thank you to my scholarship donors, I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to learn and grow in these ways.”

In 2021-2022, more than $4.45 million has been disbursed from donor-funded engineering and architecture scholarships at Ohio State, benefitting over 1,100 students.

“These students represent what our generous donors are feeding into in terms of the next generation. They showcase what our student scholarship recipients represent,” said Dean Ayanna Howard during her closing remarks. “And thanks to Ohio State’s Scarlet and Gray Advantage Program, within 10 years we will have raised enough so that when students graduate, they will graduate without debt, plus be able to take advantage of experiential learning opportunities and work in the fields of their choice without having to worry.”  

To make an immediate impact in the lives of Buckeye engineering and architecture students, please consider contributing to the College of Engineering Scholarship Fund (302281) or the Knowlton School of Architecture Scholarship Fund (312560).

by Candi Clevenger, College of Engineering Communications,

Categories: GivingStudents