Supporting scholarships the Scarlet and Gray way

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A college degree is one of the best investments an individual can make toward their personal and professional success. But for many, the possibility of taking on massive amounts of debt can make the experience seem out of reach. Fortunately, generous College of Engineering alumni are answering the call to help future Buckeyes create vibrant futures.

Recognizing the obstacles that student debt creates for the leaders of tomorrow, The Ohio State University is taking action toward a bold goal: helping students earn a bachelor’s degree debt-free. Launched in the fall of 2022, the Scarlet & Gray Advantage (SGA) program offers eligible undergraduate students at any Ohio State campus a path forward to achieve their educational dreams.

Over the next decade through the SGA program, Ohio State aims to raise at least $800 million to expand undergraduate scholarships. To kickstart the effort, the university committed $50 million to match any donor commitments that met the university threshold to establish a new endowed scholarship.

“Not only do scholarships help make higher education accessible to students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, they also provide financial assistance to students by reducing the burden of educational expenses and minimizing student loan debt,” said Kelly M. Zamaripa, scholarships program manager for the College of Engineering. “With financial concerns alleviated, scholarship recipients can better manage their time, concentrate on their studies and are more likely to complete their degrees.”

Hannah Spangle
For aerospace engineering student Hannah Spangle, the Doug Ball Endowed Aerospace Scholarship is an invaluable source of support. 

Since engineers are natural problem solvers, College of Engineering alumni from across Buckeye Nation are paying forward to empower future generations to achieve their educational and personal dreams. More than $2.1 million has been pledged to 17 existing endowed college scholarship funds as part of the SGA matching program. In addition, 30 new scholarship endowments were created with nearly $3.8 million in donor gifts. These gifts, together with university matching funds, will add approximately $12 million in endowment principal for scholarships. When fully funded, these endowments will generate more than half a million dollars in additional scholarship support for Buckeye engineering students each year.

That support has been life-changing for electrical and computer engineering major Fernando Ramirez Ornelas.

“My parents, who lived in Mexico for half of their lives, were only able to achieve the highest level of middle school because that is as far as their education allowed where we lived,” he said. “My being able to say that I am a first-generation college student who is on my way to earning a bachelor’s degree feels like the highest honor I can give to them.”

Because of the support he has received through the Everett L. Shaffstall Engineering Scholarship Fund, Ramirez Ornelas has been able to concentrate on his studies rather than worrying about how to pay for school. 

“This has been the biggest blessing I could have received. It allowed me to focus more on my academic career and I will never take that for granted,” he said.

For aerospace engineering student Hannah Spangle, the financial assistance she has received from the Doug Ball Endowed Aerospace Scholarship Fund has been an invaluable source of support to not only her, but her entire family. Thanks to her donor’s generosity, the aspiring astronaut’s dreams can soar.

“I have a twin brother who also attends college, so my family has had a lot of financial burden with funding the academic career of two children attending university at the same time,” said Spangle, who works as a teaching assistant for the Department of Engineering Education to help offset tuition costs. “To be able to receive any amount of financial support is a blessing for me and my family, and I am very grateful.”

In addition to lifting financial burdens, many scholarships come with benefits such as mentorship programs or networking events, which can be invaluable for personal and professional development, and open doors to future career opportunities. Scholarships can also serve as a form of encouragement for aspiring Buckeye engineers—the feeling that someone believes in them and their ability to be successful.

“Growing up, there were no engineers in my family and throughout high school I struggled with self-doubt. This made tackling something like chemical engineering seem like an insurmountable challenge,” said student Emily Grace Riggle, who received the Daniel ('78) and Ellen ('79) Coombs Chemical Engineering Endowed Scholarship. Thanks to encouragement from her high school chemistry teacher and the support of her donor, she’s now able to flourish in the pursuit of her goal.

Recently, Riggle spent a spring and summer in Clinton, Iowa, completing a co-op with LyondellBasell, which helped affirm her decision to study chemical engineering while also equipping her with practical industry experience. Wanting to provide her peers with the same sense of community and support she has received, Riggle works with first-year engineering students as an undergraduate teaching assistant for the Fundamentals of Engineering for Honors program. She also participates in various student organizations such as Phi Sigma Rho, Buckeye Solar Racing and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

“I owe so much of my progress to the network of support and encouragement I’ve found at Ohio State, and I am profoundly thankful for the opportunity to receive scholarship support,” she said. “Someday, I hope to be able to support fellow Buckeyes with the same degree of generosity that I have received.”

This article originally appeared in Forward 2022-23, the college’s annual philanthropy report. Read the full issue.

by Meggie Biss, College of Engineering Communications | biss.11@osu.edu

Categories: GivingStudents