Inside USD

Supporting Students’ Need to Succeed at USD

Friday, April 8, 2011

When Tiara Chapel was in Mississippi and making her decision about going away to college a few years ago, she had two important criteria: to attend college that emphasized a small campus environment and to study engineering.

She found both at the University of San Diego. There’s an emphasis on small class size, faculty that know your name and have flexible office hours, and support. The Industrial and Systems Engineering major interested Chapel among the three disciplines offered. Added into the decision the chance to earn a dual BS/BA degree, combining the technical side and a liberal arts education. The latter is what USD Engineering Programs Director Kathleen Kramer, PhD, said “develops the complete engineer.”

Chapel, who will graduate in May, has certainly achieved that title. Her experiences include active participation in student engineering organizations, involvement in Greek Life, community service by working with middle school students and doing a study abroad trip to Duncans, Jamaica where she and other USD students worked closely with community members on improvement projects.

“My experience here has been very memorable,” Chapel said. “It’s given me the opportunity to grow in three ways: leadership, scholarship and service.”

Chapel (pictured above, second from left) has accomplished a lot at USD, a combination of her hard work, closely working with engineering faculty in an undergraduate program ranked 21st in the nation by U.S. News and World Report and with the motivation instilled by her mother that she could achieve anything she set her mind to do.

Advice and hard work are great, but they’re not the only things college students need to succeed. It takes people and organizations both in and outside USD to provide scholarship support. Chapel, along with Michael Rios, another standout senior engineering student who is working with three classmates on a project to provide solar energy for a Sudan village, spoke on behalf of the Engineering Programs at Thursday’s annual USD Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon.

They shared their stories, explained why USD has been the right place for them and expressed their appreciation for those who have helped provide the opportunities they’ve had in college.

Chapel, a McNair Scholar, was the recipient of the National Science Foundation Engineering Scholarship and a USD Trustee Scholarship. Rios, also a McNair Scholar, received support from the Theresa and Edward O’Toole Scholarship Fund.

University President Mary E. Lyons thanked the many donors in attendance and all who contribute to the university, reminding them that their support “doesn’t just invest in the student, but it’s an investment in all of our futures.”

Ron Fowler, chair of USD’s Board of Trustees, voiced his appreciation for students such as Chapel and Rios who make the university proud. His vision, he said, is for USD to be a “university of difference makers.”

The support that students such as Chapel and Rios receive has been reciprocated through their abilities in the classroom and beyond, but there’s an understanding that goes beyond simply being thankful. Chapel said she wants to provide the same opportunity for another potential student.

“Something I can’t wait to do is to give back to USD for all that it has given me,” Chapel said.

— Ryan T. Blystone

Learn more about USD’s Engineering Programs and how you can support USD students through scholarships or by attending events such as the USD Wine Classic.

Photo courtesy of Nick Abadilla

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