An Investment Worth Making

Donor-Scholar Luncheon Highlights Impact of Scholarships for Engineering Students

Just one week after the groundbreaking of the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center, the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering had one more thing to celebrate on Friday, Sept. 28. Scholarship opportunities and student success. Donors from top Kansas City technology and engineering firms and UMKC faculty, staff and students, gathered in Pierson Auditorium to shed light on the impact scholarships have on students’ education experiences.


“Today tells an important story. It is a story of education, partnership and progress. The enrollment in our School of Computing and Engineering has more than doubled in the past decade, and that momentum has shown no sign of slowing down.”

– Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal



Another notable story that rings true for scholarship recipient Mary Okafor is that completing college would not have been possible without the help of scholarships.

Okafor, a Nigeria native and junior mechanical engineering student with minors in mathematics and chemistry, had just completed her freshman year when her country’s exchange rates changed and her family could no longer afford to pay for her education.

Okafor took on two on-campus jobs and applied for several scholarships, including the School of Computing and Engineering scholarships. Okafor is a current recipient of the Doris Markham Swinney Scholarship, funded by long-time SCE staff member Debby Dilks in memory of her mother and to show her support of future female engineers.


“Because of the scholarships I have received, I get to have more focus in school and still be involved knowing that there are people donating their generosity to make sure students like me have an education.”

– Mary Okafor, president of the National Society of Black Engineers at UMKC, student ambassador for the School of Computing and Engineering


Guests had a chance to see student and faculty-led project demonstrations as they arrived to the event. The School of Computing and Engineering is home to several award-winning student teams and is widely known for its drone technology.


Donors Help Close the Gap:

·   78 percent of undergraduate SCE students remain in Kansas City to live and work

·   The School of Computing and Engineering’s female enrollment is four percent higher than the national average of women in STEM

·   The School of Computing and Engineering’s has a three percent higher representation than national average of underrepresented minorities in STEM

·   Enrollment for first-time engineering freshmen is at an all-time high


“When it comes to recruitment and retention, it’s not enough to have wonderful advisors, dedicated community outreach and brilliant faculty. For many young people, it comes down to one thing: ‘is there enough money in my bank account to enroll in class for the coming semester?’”

– Kevin Truman, School of Computing and Engineering dean



When student Molly Gilstrap was growing up, she had a lot of family responsibilities that made getting a job and saving for school rather difficult. Though her parents have always supported her dreams, they can’t help her pay for college. She knew that would be solely her responsibility, thus she spent many late nights in high school applying for every scholarship she could find. Today Gilstrap is a recipient of the Dean’s High Achievement Award, a four-year scholarship awarded to high achieving students in civil engineering, computer science or information technology.


“I want to change the field of computer science to make it welcoming and inclusive to everyone. I want to encourage kids at a young age and build their confidence so they know they can succeed in fields like computer science and engineering, and I want them to know that no matter their parents’ income, there are people out there that will support you.”

– Molly Gilstrap, junior computer science major, Honors Diversity and Inclusion board member, student ambassador for School of Computing and Engineering


More than 90 percent of UMKC freshmen and 85 percent of transfer students receive some combination of scholarships, grants, loans and work-study jobs. The School of Computing and Engineering alone offers more than $150,000 in departmental scholarships. To learn more about scholarship opportunities, visit the UMKC Financial Aid and Scholarships page online.

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