Challenge match helps gifts grow

Mary Helmick (BSME ’86) has always been fascinated by the way things work, so when it came time to choose a college major, she was drawn to mechanical engineering. The hands-on nature of the discipline appealed to her, and Purdue was a good choice based on its reputation and an environment that supported women in engineering, Helmick recalls.

Mary HelmickThere was one catch—the Illinois resident needed help with tuition. A scholarship paved the way. She also got additional support by working her freshman year in the university’s financial aid office, through support from loans, and from money earned in her five semesters of co-op work with S & C Electric in Chicago.

She never forgot the gift of the scholarship.

After graduation, Helmick took a job in the auto industry. Four years later, she joined Texas Instruments and has been there ever since. A quality manager for the DLP® Products division, Helmick says she wanted to give someone the opportunity to get the same education she did. She is especially aware of how important the support is in the current economic environment.

“The economy makes it even more of a challenge for a lot of people to be able to afford college. When I was attending Purdue, even just the small scholarship that I got as a freshman was the difference between being able to attend Purdue and not being able to. Given the current economic situation, I think a lot of students face the same problems,” she says.

Helmick’s $12,500 gift to support a mechanical engineering scholarship allowed her to take advantage of the University’s Presidential and Trustees Scholarship Endowment Challenge. Her gift was matched by Texas Instruments, bringing the total to $25,000. Gifts of $25,000 or more given as part of the challenge are then matched 1:1 by the University.

The matching program accelerated what Helmick had been planning to do for quite awhile. “It’s a huge help, because it looked like I wouldn’t have been able set up this scholarship until the distant future or maybe even posthumously. Because of the matching at Purdue and TI, I was able to achieve this goal a lot sooner,” she says.

For Helmick, the challenge match is a satisfying way to both give back and invest in the future.

“There are so many challenges in the world that I believe future ME students will help solve. It would be great if scholarship students could help solve future energy problems, assuring everyone has access to clean water and safe food, just to name a few,” she says.