Missouri S&T received great news in June: the E. Eugene Carter Foundation had awarded the university a $100,000 grant to fund five $20,000 scholarships. But there was a unique requirement. Instead of providing tuition assistance, the scholarships would be awarded
When the first Carter Opportunity Scholarships are awarded at S&T this year, they will go to Hispanic female undergraduates majoring in engineering who have taken out a direct subsidized federal loan to fund their undergraduate degrees. The scholarships will be awarded after the recipients graduate — to help pay off their student loans.
“Missouri S&T is grateful, honored and excited by this grant funding, not only because it rewards the persistence that leads to graduation, but also because it encourages young women to pursue careers in engineering,” says Chancellor Cheryl B. Schrader. “The E. Eugene Carter Foundation is making a difference by rewarding newly minted engineers with student loan relief at a critical juncture in their lives as young professionals.”
The scholarships mark the foundation’s first grant to S&T – a gift inspired by foundation trustee John Aldridge, whose father, Don Aldridge, earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Rolla in 1970.
The E. Eugene Carter Foundation was established by E. Eugene Carter, a Kansas native who earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. in industrial administration at Carnegie Mellon University, with the financial support of a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and Ford Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Award. He went on to serve as a faculty member at Harvard Business School, MIT’s Sloan School of Management, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland at College Park, where he retired as a professor and associate dean.
Carter credits his father and wife as the inspiration for the Carter Opportunity Scholarships. His father was a civil engineer and his wife, Rita Rodriguez, is a Cuban refugee and first-generation college graduate who earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Puerto Rico and an MBA and
Ph.D. at New York University Graduate School of Business. An expert in international business, Rodriguez taught finance at Harvard Business School and the University of Illinois at Chicago until her presidential appointment in 1982 as a director of the U.S. Export-Import Bank. She held this leadership position until 1999 and now serves as a director for several international corporations.
Rodriguez’s achievements as an immigrant fuel the foundation’s mission. “We help individuals from culturally diverse households use their talents and unique perspectives to build successful careers and a stronger future for us all,” says foundation chair E. Eugene Carter.
Carter Opportunity Scholarship grants are awarded to accredited engineering schools with the stipulation that the funding support female students who are of Hispanic descent, demonstrate financial need by qualifying for subsidized federal student loans, and have a minimum of sophomore status in a full-time course of study leading to an undergraduate degree in engineering. Recipients must complete the undergraduate degree program within six years and demonstrate an interest in peer tutoring. There are no GPA requirements.
“This generous gift will strengthen our efforts to recruit and retain talented Hispanic females,” says Cecilia Elmore, Missouri S&T’s director of student diversity, outreach and women’s program. “This kind of encouragement can only help us reach out to more students to help make their dreams come true.”
Other engineering schools that have been awarded Carter Opportunity Scholarships include Arizona State University, Florida State University, Kansas State University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northern Illinois University, California State University at Fresno and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. The scholarships are renewable in the hope that an increasing number of young, Hispanic women will choose to pursue careers in engineering.
“Each of us has something to offer,” says Jane O’Neil, vice chair of the foundation. “In our case, we are working on assisting young people and, ultimately, our society. Enhancing economic opportunity, promoting personal and professional productivity, a helping hand – these are the values we want to act on and model for others through the Carter Opportunity Scholarships.”