Students Show Gratitude at Scholarship Recognition Luncheon

School of Computing and Engineering
Engineering student Kelsey Knoche addressed a crowd at the Annual Donor and Student Scholarship Recognition Luncheon.

School of Computing and Engineering Grows Steadily

When Kelsey Knoche was a child, she knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up: U.S. soccer star Mia Hamm.

It’s funny how things change.

When Knoche told that story at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Computing and Engineering annual donor and student scholarship recognition luncheon, it received nods and laughter.

Knoche, one of the SCE’s most active and engaged students, smiled at the crowd from behind a microphone in the Student Union’s multipurpose room.

“I didn’t grow up wanting to be an engineer,” she said. “I never took apart my Gameboy or played with Legos. So when it came time to decide what I wanted to do in college, I didn’t even think about engineering.”

Luckily, her parents and teachers did. Thanks to their advice, Knoche gave engineering a try.

Her anecdote appeared to strike a chord with some of her peers — particularly young women, who are often not encouraged to enter the STEM fields. But Knoche is proof that a little encouragement, and the generosity of scholarship donors, can push a student in the right direction.

Knoche is this year’s recipient of the Kristin Jane Loeffelholz Memorial Scholarship in Engineering. She is also a peer mentor, the Vice President of the SCE’s Society of Women Engineers, and President of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society, among other accomplishments.

Although she enjoys being involved, Knoche knows she can’t do it without financial support. So do the other students who spent their lunch hour thanking the people who have helped ease the financial burden of college.

As the donors and scholars shared a meal, Kevin Truman, dean of the SCE, also shared his thanks.

As Truman looked over the crowd, he noted that over the past few years, the size of the scholar/donor luncheon has grown steadily, along with the SCE itself. In the past year, the school has grown by 11 percent, and by more than 30 percent in the last three years. That growth will help prepare more of the region’s workforce for careers in the growing STEM fields.

“Without your generosity, we couldn’t educate some of what I consider to be the best and brightest students in the Kansas City region, the nation, and the world,” Truman said.

If students like Knoche have their way, the SCE will keep growing, and keep thriving. As a peer mentor, Knoche encourages new and incoming engineering students.

After all, she remembers what that first year was like. She worried it would be too hard, that she wouldn’t be smart enough, and that she wouldn’t fit in. Nowadays, she can dismiss those fears.

“I love that engineering is difficult, because it keeps things fun and interesting. I shouldn’t have been worried about not being smart enough, because it isn’t about how smart you are; it’s about how hard you’re willing to work. Even though I think there is a stereotype about engineers, I should have looked at that as an opportunity, not a hindrance,” Knoche said.

Together, the students, faculty, staff and scholarship donors, are putting people into careers of the future.

“We really want to impact Kansas City, and we want to make a real impact on your companies, and every scholarship helps us do that,” Truman said.

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