Kate Allen

Sometimes, even when we have a destination in mind, the journey can be unpredictable.

I fell in love with Biology when I was in fifth grade. I’ve always learned better by doing hands-on work and, until that point, I had really only been learning about the life sciences in books. Once I had the opportunity to dissect a sheep’s lung, everything finally clicked for me. I was able to see first-hand how the respiratory system works, and I was hooked! All of the dissections and laboratory experiments I’ve performed since then have only deepened my love of Biology.

After graduating from high school, I knew I was looking for a school that could provide a research-university experience while still being small enough for me to build relationships with faculty—and my fellow students. For that reason, Lawrence Tech was the perfect fit!

I arrived on campus excited to continue my journey but faced a number of challenges. Transitioning to college can be tough, even for students like me who are passionate about their majors and have an enthusiasm for learning. I struggled academically my first year, to the point that I feared I might have to drop out. Glen Bauer, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, supported me when I was feeling hopeless; he saw potential in me and, without hesitation, wrote a letter of recommendation that allowed me to continue receiving financial aid. Slowly, but surely, I improved my GPA and got back on track; now, months before graduating with a degree in the field I love, I am so grateful that I was given a second chance at my future.

My hands-on theory and practice education at Lawrence Tech really prepared me for my career. Participating in professional organizations like the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and American Chemical Society also gave me the opportunity to network and expand my knowledge in my field.

Pursuing my love of Biology has been a dream come true, and I owe it to my amazing professors and the LTU alumni and friends who fund the scholarships I was fortunate to receive. As the oldest of three children, I always knew I had to set a great example for my siblings, and my parents instilled in me early the importance of education. Like many other students I know, I could not have attended Lawrence Tech without financial aid.

So to those who have made a contribution to Lawrence Tech: thank you! Your support means so much to me and to every LTU student following their dreams.

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Noah Balanda

When I was a kid, I was completely obsessed with the Star Wars films. I must have watched them over 100 times and learned everything I could about them and how they were made. I spent hours making stop-motion movies with my Legos. And when Jurassic Park came out, my love for movies grew even deeper. From a young age, I knew I was passionate about film production.

But the path I followed to arrive at my current major, Media Communication, had some detours.

Soccer and basketball were always a big part of my life growing up. My father is a professor at another university in Michigan, and I had an opportunity to walk onto their basketball team and attend tuition-free. But after being offered a soccer scholarship at LTU and visiting campus, I knew it was where I belonged.

After a year in another area of study, I felt like I was losing my way. I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing, and I also was having a hard time financially. I took a year off to reevaluate what I really wanted to do and met with Jody Gaber, director of the media communication program at LTU. She’s spent more than 20 years in the film industry, and she made me realize that I could have a career doing something I truly loved.

The hands-on experience I’ve gotten at Lawrence Tech has been invaluable; I get to work in the university’s marketing department helping to produce real content, and I’m a media assistant for the media communication program. I also am a teaching assistant in the College of Arts and Sciences and tutor fellow students. Helping others learn has definitely deepened my own understanding.

I have grown so much in the time I’ve been at LTU, academically and personally, and it would not have been possible without the scholarships I receive. As one of four kids in the family, I felt it was important that I did well in school and take some of the financial burden off my parents. I am beyond grateful for the opportunities I’ve had because of generous support from LTU alumni and friends!

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Austin Curtis

Austin was destined to be an Engineer. As a kid, he was always taking things apart and putting them back together again. Studying at Lawrence Tech was a goal that seemed out of reach because he didn’t know how he and his mother could afford it. But, with the help of scholarships, Austin has had the opportunity to pursue his dreams at LTU!

See his story: 

Alex Gruber

I chose my major because I have always been very passionate and curious about living things, and molecular and cellular biology allows me to explore life at the smallest level. I hope to apply the knowledge that I learn here to graduate school and use it to become a physician assistant.

My mother is the reason I am interested in this path. She is an x-ray technician and has always tried her best to pass on any information she knew about the medical profession to me. As a child I was a bit of a hooligan and broke many bones, which allowed me to get a great look at her work in the medical field: taking x-rays, putting on and removing casts, removing stitches, and even draining fluid out of my uncle’s knee post-surgery.

Both my father and brother are alumni of Lawrence Tech and told me about the great experiences they had with the school. The hands-on approach the school takes along with the small class sizes were big influences in my decision to attend Lawrence Tech. What really sealed the deal for me was a phone conversation I had with Dr. Anthony Sky [former chair of the department of Natural Sciences] before committing to Lawrence Tech. I was initially uneasy of coming to a traditional “engineering school” as a biology major, but Dr. Sky called me after I emailed him and answered every question and concern I had about the school. All the information he provided me with was more than enough to make me see LTU was right for me.

The opportunity to play college lacrosse while furthering my academic career at a great school was icing on the cake! Since coming to Lawrence Tech I have been involved in Student Government as well as the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Serving as the Vice President of Public Relations within Student Government has allowed me to network with students and faculty alike on campus.

After graduating from Lawrence Tech I plan to enroll in a physician assistant master’s program at another university. I feel that Lawrence Tech has prepared me well for this not only with an excellent academic background, but also by helping me to understand what requirements I must fulfill and advising me the best strategies to accomplish my goals. The opportunities I’ve been given at Lawrence Tech will help me immensely in accomplishing my goals as well, through the numerous scholarships I’ve been granted.

I’m grateful to have received the Presidential Scholarship (awarded to incoming freshman with a GPA above 3.8 and an ACT score over 30), LTU Competitive Scholarship (awarded to incoming freshman after an academic competition on LTU’s campus), Alumni Legacy Scholarship, and an athletic scholarship for men’s lacrosse. This outstanding help in the financial aid department will have saved my family and me over $100,000 by the time I graduate in the spring of 2017. This is invaluable to me as the typical cost of a physician assistant graduate program is between $65,000 and $76,000. The generous amount of scholarships I was awarded also allows me to gain valuable experience in preparation for PA school in the form of volunteering in the emergency room at St. John Providence Hospital right here in Southfield.

I would thank each and every donor personally if I could for the contributions that they have made to Lawrence Tech. Without them and their generous gifts it would not be possible for me to attend this school on the scholarships that I do, meaning I would not have to freedom to play college lacrosse and participate in the many extracurricular activities that I do. Furthermore, their contributions support the cutting edge technology and excellent professors that provide me with the quality education that I am receiving.

Without the generosity of our donors, many of the great minds that attend this school might not have chosen Lawrence Tech. The contributions not only fund scholarships but also help to build excellent facilities and bring in professors with great knowledge of their field that truly care about their students. Almost every professor I’ve had here was willing to go the extra mile to help me with any questions I might have had. I look forward to a time when I can give back to the school that has given me so much.

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Darius Lewis

When I was younger, I really thought I’d be an architect. My twin brother and I used to build cities out of cardboard, Q-tips, and our mother’s hair pins. I was attracted to design but, as I got older, I began to set my sights on law school.

But when I heard that General Motors was looking for interns my senior year, everything would change.

I’ve always loved cars so I knew I had to jump at the opportunity to get a glimpse into the automotive industry. Through that internship, I discovered a passion for engineering; although designing how things looked was one of my interests early on, I realized that what I really wanted to do was make things work. One of my mentors at GM recommended I look into Lawrence Tech—and the rest is history.

Even though I knew LTU was the school for me, it took me a couple semesters to find the major that was right for me. Everything clicked when I settled on Engineering Technology and working with the amazing faculty in the department gave me the confidence to get engaged outside the classroom and become more active on campus.

Professors like Holly Helterhoff taught me to value my individuality and to overcome my stage fright. Being a part of organizations like Student Government, the National Society for Black Engineers, and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity helped me put those lessons to use and become a leader.

I have grown so much in the three years I’ve been at LTU, academically and personally, and it would not have been possible without the scholarships I receive. My mother always stressed the importance of getting a good education and my hard work paid off when I received the Horldt Bihler Endowed Scholarship and the W. Bernard White Education Foundation Scholarship. I am beyond grateful for the opportunities I’ve had because of support from alumni and other LTU donors!

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My favorite subject growing up was always art; I was most drawn to fashion, interior design, and architecture. My father was an architect, and, when I was younger, he would often take me to work with him. I remember being inspired by the work I saw, even at a very young age. I saw how design could evoke an emotional response and solve problems. For me, no other career path was ever an option.

I have two uncles who attended and loved Lawrence Tech, so they encouraged me to take a tour. I spent my first two years at a university overseas, and I was impressed with LTU’s program when I visited. I would have the opportunity to work with faculty who have industry experience and with my peers in a more collaborative studio environment. 

Three years later, I am so glad I made the decision to come to LTU. Being a part of the American Institute of Architecture Students chapter, and serving as president, gave me a number of opportunities to learn from my peers, network with professionals, and develop my leadership skills. My senior year, I was one of only 10 students accepted into the Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure program, which allows me to get hands-on experience with firms in the area as I work toward finishing my degree.

But what I’m most thankful for is the chance to use my knowledge to help others. Through a directed study program, I developed a workshop that teaches high school students about architecture and design. I brought the workshop to a high school in Detroit in 2016, showing inner-city students how design can have a positive impact in their communities, and I hope to continue educating kids around the state.

None of this would have been possible without the scholarships I receive. As the oldest of four children, I definitely feel a bit of pressure to set a good example, and it was important to me that I did well in school in order to take some of the financial burden off my parents.  I am beyond grateful for the opportunities I’ve had because of support from alumni and friends!

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Garrett Vonk

Math and science were always my strengths growing up. I found that I especially excelled in chemistry, so, when it came time to head off to college and choose a career path, that seemed like the most logical choice. But after my first semester, it felt like something was missing. I had come to Lawrence Tech for the small-school environment that would allow me to build close relationships with my professors and my peers—and I realized that what I really wanted was a major that gave me more interaction, more collaboration, and a chance to help others.

My best friend, Max, happened to be a business administration major at LTU, and he really encouraged me to consider it. After meeting with Director of Business Programs Mina Jena, I knew I found the right fit.

In just my first two years, I’ve had a lot of great opportunities and grown so much. I serve as a first year mentor to freshman students, which I find very rewarding, and I’ve been able to take advantage of a hands-on Speechcraft workshop that has helped me develop my public speaking skills. I even get to watch the College’s new stock ticker every day and keep up on a hobby I’ve had since I was a kid—the stock market.

But just this semester, I’ve gotten to be a part of something really exciting. Max and I helped start a Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) chapter at Lawrence Tech, with the goal to enhance the education of students with interests in marketing, management, and entrepreneurship. In February, we traveled to Grand Rapids to participate in the Collegiate DECA State Conference. Despite tough competition, we brought home trophies in nearly every event we competed in. Now, we have the chance to represent LTU in the international competition!

Support from alumni like you makes all of this possible. The scholarships I receive help me focus on getting a great Theory and Practice education, instead of how I’m going to pay for it. I know so many other students who simply would not be able to attend LTU without scholarship support.

Donor support funds the scholarships that keep bright minds in the classroom and the academic and technological resources that unlock their potential. Thank you to everyone who has helped make Lawrence Tech the amazing university it is today!

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