Engineering Visionary Scholarship Initiative
About the Engineering Visionary Scholarships
The Grainger College of Engineering is committed to ensuring that, when students graduate, they are prepared to take a leadership role in our increasingly global, interconnected and technologically sophisticated society. In this time of unprecedented need, the Engineering Visionary Scholarship Initiative is an essential vehicle to recruit and retain the world’s best young engineers.
These large renewable scholarships provide an affordable Illinois education to some of the brightest and most highly motivated students. Launched in 2013 with a $30 million gift from the Grainger Foundation and supported by more than 1,800 visionaries, more than 40 percent of scholarships awarded to students in The Grainger College of Engineering today are Engineering Visionary Scholarships.
Scholarships work. They bring amazing engineers to Illinois.
Even though Engineering is a top-ranked program, we are losing some of the best and brightest students because we are not able to offer the same scholarships as other universities. For many families, scholarships often are the deciding factor.
- Our students have told us that cost is the top reason they decline admission to Illinois.
- The highest-achieving students accept admission 15 percent of the time. If offered our largest scholarship — the Engineering Visionary Scholarship — that acceptance rate jumps to 68 percent.
- Scholarships significantly impact a student’s enrollment decision. Studies indicate that students are seeking $10,000-15,000 per year in scholarship support.
- In 2016, the College awarded $4.3 million in scholarships to undergraduate students. Although this is a large number, it only serves about 11 percent of our student population.
Investing in the Next Generation
Life-changing scholarships are an expensive yet worthwhile proposition, and we know not everyone can afford to establish a scholarship like this on their own. This is how we know this scholarship works for all involved:
- We have raised $52 million of our $100 million dollar goal thanks to the help from our generous alumni and friends.
- Support is greater in numbers. More than 1,800 donors have given to this initiative.
- This initiative has created more than 500 additional scholarships for our most deserving undergraduate students.
- We have increased the number of scholarships the College awards on an annual basis by 40 percent.
Meet EVS Scholarship Recipients
Vongai Tizora chose to enroll in the Bioengineering program “because I am pre-med, and traditional pre-med majors like biology, chemistry and biochemistry didn’t appeal to me, but Bioengineering certainly did. Bioengineering is exciting for me because I’ll be able to innovate and change the way in which we develop solutions to the biological problems of the world. The Jump Simulation Center of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine being housed here on campus also interested me a great deal. Being surrounded by such extraordinary resources and students is a great source of motivation and inspiration for me.”
“My goal is to become a physician with a background in bioengineering. Through accomplishing this goal, I will be able to provide third world countries and low-income communities affordable, efficient and effective health care,” she said. “Because I am the daughter of two Zimbabwean immigrants, I have witnessed firsthand how great the demand for these services are throughout the world. With my donors believing in me and what I have to offer, I will be able to give back to the larger world.”
Tizora has become an integral member of the community at Illinois. She’s a member of the National Society of Black Engineers, where she serves as vice president of the Junior Executive Board. She also holds a chair in Recruitment and Marketing for the American Medical Student Association. Her favorite course so far is Frontiers of Cancer Research offered through the Cancer Scholars program. “The class has exposed me to cancer research and the precautions we are taking to help win the fight against cancer,” she said.
Lauren Ladehoff chose to attend The Grainger College of Engineering because it “has an extremely prestigious engineering program and an extensive alumni network,” and receiving the Engineering Visionary Scholarship made it affordable for her and her family. As a Bioengineering student, she is involved in both research and student organizations on campus.
“I am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to study at the University of Illinois,” she said, “and I am excited to continue learning in order to achieve my long-term goal to go to medical school.”
Ladehoff is a member of Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society, and Theta Tau, a professional engineering fraternity. She also has volunteered with the Chemistry REACT Program, introducing younger children to principles of chemistry and encouraging their interest in and exploration of the sciences. She said she “loves” her bioengineering laboratory course, because it “prepares me for future research positions.”
Ladehoff is honored to be a recipient of the Engineering Visionary Scholarship, as its generous financial support “will allow me to study abroad in Spain ...” she said, “which I am extremely excited for because, without this scholarship, I would have been less likely to attend.” She also said she is thankful for the financial support and looks forward to attending medical school in the future.
With the EVS support, Nicole Johnson is encouraged to study harder because she knows there is a donor who believes in her and supports her. Receiving a scholarship helped solidify her choice to pursue her degree at Illinois. She said Illinois was a great option for her because of the wonderful program and opportunities available.
“I know that when I graduate, I will donate money to the University, because receiving a scholarship was a very proud moment for me,” she said. “I want to be able to provide that for others.”
As a student in the Department of Bioengineering at Illinois, Johnson is pursuing the biomechanics track and a minor in Spanish. She also is involved in the Society of Women Engineers and serves as committee chair for SWE’s Little Sisters Weekend. In her free time, Johnson enjoys participating in the Illinois Taekwondo Club and loves to relax in her hammock while enjoying a book on the Bardeen Quad.
After graduation, Johnson plans to pursue a combined M.D.and Ph.D. in biophysics before opening her own private practice. She feels grateful to receive an Engineering Visionary Scholarship, because it helps her achieve her dreams. Without it, she said she and her family would most likely not be able to afford to send her to the University of Illinois.
Melina Megaridis chose to pursue her degree in Bioengineering because she wants to make an impact on the world by helping create biomedical devices that improve everyday life.
“I want to make my impact on the world by working for a company that creates biomedical devices,” she said, “and help people who have trouble just living life every day.”
Receiving a scholarship was the most significant factor in Megaridis’s decision to enroll in The Grainger College of Engineering. Although the program is fantastic, tuition is expensive and scholarships helped offset the cost of attendance. Scholarships also take some of the worries off of her and her family, allowing her to focus on school and not worry as much about finances.
As a member of the Cancer Scholars program, Megaridis can pursue her interest in cancer research through real-world problem solving. She also works in Professor Dar’s Noise Biology Lab with cell and tissue cultures.
Megaridis said she is honored to be a recipient of an Engineering Visionary Scholarship, as it has opened up opportunities for her to grow and study bioengineering.