The evening started off with attendees at each table reading an icebreaker question and sharing their answers with the group. Guests shared who at their table had lived farthest from Tucson (Systems and Industrial Engineering Department Head Young-Jun Son lived in South Korea) and who had met the most interesting person (first-year biomedical engineering student Melissa Gofredo met Neil Armstrong) for example.
“Every one of you impacts the success of our college, and I am grateful for all of you,” said David W. Hahn, the college’s Craig M. Berge Dean, in his opening remarks. “I am happy to have this opportunity to celebrate our donors who are making this possible, and our hard-working and resilient students.”
The night honored 345 students who received 155 College of Engineering philanthropic scholarships, including the Gary W. Harper Mechanical Engineering Scholarship. Harper, who earned his BS in mechanical engineering in 1971, won the Bear Down Award in 2003, and received the Alumni Achievement Award in 2015, shared insight from his successful 40-year career in the utility industry.
“My mother and father met at the UA, so the UA is part of the reason I’m here at all,” he said. “Scholarships helped my parents pay their way through, and to pay it forward, as Dean Hahn said, that’s what we’re doing with that scholarship today.”
He established a scholarship in 2019 to support students, after years of being involved with the Alumni Association. He encouraged current students to give back their time, talents and treasure someday once they are able.
“The education I received provided me that foundation to have a really wonderful career in the electric utility industry,” he said. “The campus environment, the things that you can do on this campus, give you opportunities to develop yourselves, your leadership skills, and frankly have a good time.”
Gabbi Hansen, a senior graduating with honors in chemical engineering, and with minors in chemistry and mathematics, was the student speaker and the recipient of the William Loerpabel Scholarship. The Arizona Ambassador and Tau Beta Pi member also earned her hairstyling license between high school and college. She said she chose chemical engineering because it offered a way to combine her strength in STEM with her passion for the cosmetics industry. After graduation, Hansen will attend Manhattan College’s School of Engineering to earn her master’s in chemical engineering, with an emphasis in cosmetic engineering.
“The scholarships I have been awarded have allowed me to devote time to create an amazing college experience: I grew more confident in myself as I excelled in my classes while balancing various clubs,” said Hansen, who previously received the Conrad Fraps Scholarship, the Sulzer Scholarship and the Gene E. and Marylyn Schumann Tobey Scholarship. “These donors and scholarships have motivated me to persevere, as I know others chose to invest in my education and believed in me, so I wanted to make them proud.”
In a true show of Wildcat sprit and pride, the evening’s speakers joked about keeping their speeches short so attendees could catch the NCAA tournament basketball game later in the evening (the Wildcats lost to the Houston Cougars, 72-60).
“Behind each scholarship and each award, there is a story of generosity and giving back, and of opportunity and promise for the future,” Hahn said. “Thank you to Gary and Gabbi for sharing their inspiring stories with us. Thank you again to our donors, faculty, advisers and other staff members for your commitment to our students. And congratulations once again to our scholarship awardees.”
View a photo gallery of the reception.