Students Describe How Scholarships Made Their Dreams Possible

Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science Celebrates Donors of Student Scholarships

Oct.15, 2012


A high SAT score, an entrepreneurial spirit and ambition are not enough for many students who must work summer jobs, serve in paid internships and earn scholarships to make it through college.

From left: Ericsson representatives included Paul Miesse, vice president of human resources, staffing director Jennifer Bonicelli, Henry Bright, scholarship recipient and intern, Michael Mirsky, scholarship recipient and Sara Farinacci, university relations program manager.


"The heart and soul of what our nation needs to stay great are young men and women who maybe do not have everything handed to them on a silver platter, but are smart, hardworking and ready to go tackle the world,” UT Dallas President David E. Daniel told the audience at a breakfast for donors and scholarship recipients in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

“That is the kind of student we have here, and that is the kind of student you are supporting with your scholarship.”

As scholarship recipients and donors mingled at the breakfast, Henry Bright shared his story. The electrical engineering senior is a two-time recipient of a $2,500 scholarship from Ericsson, a leading provider of communications technology and services.

Bright, who has an expertise in solving computer problems, ran his own company to support himself while earning his associate’s degree. With that degree under his belt, he assembled and tested pulsed neutron sources. He then decided to pursue his undergraduate degree.

Last semester, Bright, a married father, took an internship at Ericsson as his only paid employment because the position complemented his education. Scholarships enabled him to focus on his classes and labs.

“Meeting the people who helped fund the scholarship and learning the story behind it has given me a sense of hope that women who follow me will also be enabled to pursue and remain in these challenging fields.”

                       Lily Lorkowski,
                      scholarship recipient

“The scholarship money helped our budget go further,” he said. “There wasn’t as much nail biting and financial squeezing and scrimping.”

Without the scholarships, Bright’s education could have been derailed.

“I would have reached a point in the semester where I would have had to drop a class or let homework go because I had to get a part time job,” he said.

Lily Lorkowski, who earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and is now finishing her master’s degree, also worked during college. Her scholarship, provided by Lennox International specifically for women in engineering, helped her with tuition and was also a source of inspiration.

“Meeting the people who helped fund the scholarship and learning the story behind it has given me a sense of hope that women who follow me will also be enabled to pursue and remain in these challenging fields,” she said. “It was an enlightening experience. I hope that future recipients are also able to meet the people from Lennox and learn the story behind the scholarship.”

While Bright, Lorkowski and others thanked the donors, from individuals to international organizations, company leaders spoke of the reciprocal nature of their support.

Paul Miesse, vice president of human resources and organization at Ericsson North America, addressed the audience. The UT Dallas doctoral student’s son and daughter both graduated with bachelor’s degrees from the University.

Miesse spoke of the relationship between UT Dallas and the company, which has provided scholarships, sponsored robotic competitions and mentored students.

“We’re not doing that purely out of good nature, we’re also doing this because we think we will get something out of it in the long run,” Miesse said. “This is a major, world-class university that competes and provides resources.”

Mark W. Spong, dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Last year, Ericsson employed many UT Dallas interns and hired more than 120 University alumni in the local offices.

“We think this group, the Jonsson School, has done a wonderful job of developing a very diverse population, very technologically savvy population, one that is relevant to our business and our industry,” Miesse said.

Raytheon, a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world, also employs numerous interns from the University and employs more than 120 UT Dallas graduates in their local office.

“I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet and interact with the Raytheon scholarship recipients,” said Audrey Kostrzewa, engineering director-one ¬†at Raytheon. “The discussions with these students regarding their career plans and their ambitions on how to apply their education to solve challenging problems were invigorating and reminded me of why I pursued engineering myself.”

She said the Jonsson School’s plans for the future show its continued commitment to staying connected to local engineering and technology companies.

“It is these connections that allow Raytheon to attract and retain a highly motivated and skilled workforce,” she said.

Dr. Mark W. Spong, dean of the Jonsson School and holder of two endowed chairs, the Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering and the Excellence in Education Chair, noted that scholarships are an increasingly important part of what helps UT Dallas students contribute to the local and national economy.

“As state support declines, we need to find ways to supplement what students have to cover in their out of pocket expenses. Scholarships are one answer,” he said. “I’m optimistic about our future and pleased that you’re here to help our students achieve their goals, and in turn create jobs for the metropolitan area and the country.”