Weldon School's Inaugural Class Creates Scholarship, Unites Alumni and Students
A simple gesture a decade ago by the inaugural graduating class of Purdue University’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering will leave a lasting legacy on the celebrated program and its global reputation.
Showing how recent graduates can pool their resources and broaden their impact, the BME graduating class of 2007 created a fund as a way to help deserving seniors in the program. Now an endowed scholarship fund that all Purdue BME graduates can help support and grow, the Weldon School Senior Class Scholarship will last in perpetuity for equipping future leaders in the field of biomedical engineering. Contributing to the scholarship has grown into a school tradition.
Arjun Ishwar (BSBME ’07, MSBME ’09), one of about 30 members of that initial graduating class, helped lead the effort to establish the scholarship 10 years ago. He says the funding goes to seniors, because there are very few scholarship opportunities for students at that point in their college careers.
“We wanted to put together something that really reflected a student’s dedication to the field and to the program,” says Ishwar, who is director of business development and strategic marketing at ACell, a regenerative medicine company in Baltimore, Maryland. “This seemed like something we could get our classmates excited about. It’s a way to give back to our school and contribute to future student growth.”
Scholarship recipients must be entering their senior year. They are chosen based on excellence in academics, research and service to the school. The scholars receive $1,500. As of fall 2017, four students have received the award.
Giving Through The Years
Since the scholarship fund was launched, alumni from succeeding classes have contributed to it, greatly expanding the ability of the program to benefit students.
“The Weldon School Senior Class Scholarship is a great way for graduating classes to help foster the continued success of future students. Giving back sets an example of the importance to continue to grow a program that allowed so many to achieve their educational, and ultimately, professional, dreams,” says Ben Winski (BSBME ’12), now a senior consultant at West Monroe Partners, a technology business consulting firm in Chicago. “Being able to give back to the senior scholarship with my graduating classmates was a great honor.”
Recent graduate Dana Jablonski (BSBME ’17) is now a product development engineer at Applied Medical, a medical technology company in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. She views donating time and resources to future students as a duty to be taken seriously.
“It is our responsibility as alumni to continue the growth and success of the program,” she says. “The senior scholarship is a great way to give back to a student who has gone above and beyond in their time at Purdue. As you go through college, obtaining more scholarships becomes increasingly difficult, and this is our chance to reward students for all their hard work both in and out of the classroom.
“Giving back, whether it be through monetary means, volunteering or mentoring, is a cornerstone of the Weldon School,” Jablonski says.
“This seemed like something we could get our classmates excited about. It’s a way to give back to our school and contribute to future student growth.”
“Since our program is so young, it’s really essential that our young alumni contribute their time and support.”
Time And Talents
Those involved with the senior scholarship fund also give their time and talents. Alumni have been featured speakers at the annual BME senior banquet, and some have provided learning opportunities for Purdue students. That is key, says George Wodicka, the Dane A. Miller Head of the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. Alumni networking with current students is especially important in the field of medical device design — a strength for the Weldon School.
“Since our program is so young, it’s really essential that our young alumni contribute their time and support — and keep in contact with our current students. A number of our alumni have returned on different occasions to connect students with their companies and to give students design projects,” Wodicka says. “As we develop biomedical technology and devices, more and more we are seeing them applied in the global health arena. These alumni, through experiences and scholarships, provide students valuable opportunities to work on those projects.”
Wodicka says that the first graduating class stands out in his mind for its spirit and dedication to the school.
“The class of 2007 was a great, entrepreneurial group. They have had a significant influence on the program,” Wodicka says. “It was very forward-thinking of this group to start the Weldon School Senior Class Scholarship at its graduation point — and to continue making contributions. This gift keeps them more involved with our school.”
The gift also keeps alumni thinking about each other. Some stay in touch as they organize the scholarship fund; many take part in the annual tailgate before a Purdue home football game. Ishwar says there is also talk of building even stronger connections through social media groups to simplify communication among fellow alumni.
“If you look at where people in our class have gone, what they’re doing and how they’ve grown, it will be pretty exciting to keep connected,” he says.
With a solid base of funding and more alumni giving every year, the Weldon School Senior Class Scholarship will benefit accomplished and dedicated students for years to come.
“The senior scholarship is a great way to give back to a student who has gone above and beyond in their time at Purdue.”
“Giving back sets an example of the importance to continue to grow a program that allowed so many to achieve their educational, and ultimately, professional dreams.”
To support the Senior Class Scholarship or other initiatives in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, contact Brian Knoy, director of development, at 765-494-6241 or firstname.lastname@example.org.