Future gift empowers students, shapes lives

When Jesse Kasim, a senior in biomedical engineering at the U of M, spoke at the University of Minnesota Foundation's annual Heritage Society dinner in June, he wanted to thank a special donor he will never know.

"I'm standing here today because years ago, a woman named Marjorie McClain made a decision to honor her father's life by establishing a scholarship with a future gift," he told the audience. "That decision changed my life and will continue to impact the lives of students like me for future generations." Marjorie McClain established the Jorgenson-McClain Scholarship with a provision in her will.

Kasim is a recipient of both the Jorgenson-McClain and Bentson scholarships. That financial support has allowed him to pursue his research and volunteer interests while earning his degree, making him a more competitive medical school applicant.

Besides serving as an officer for Engineers Without Borders, he has volunteered at a county hospital to observe and assist with clinical research, and he has worked in an engineering lab under the mentorship of U of M biomedical engineering professor David Odde. Thanks to scholarship support, he was able to use his summer job earnings to travel to Uganda, where he helped to repair a rainwater harvesting system and supply clean water to more than 200 impoverished families.

"By my estimate, I spend almost 30 hours a week volunteering, whether at the lab, the hospital, or with a student group," Kasim said. "That's more than a thousand hours a year. That's a thousand hours I would have needed to spend working to pay my tuition, if not for the Bentson Scholarship and the Jorgenson-McClain Scholarship."

Kasim thanked Heritage Society guests for their generous giving: "It's not only relieving financial stress," he said, "it's shaping lives and empowering students like me to do their best to go on and shape the lives of others."

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