What's in your backpack?

What's in your backpack?

“An Engineers Without Borders water bottle,” says Samantha Ehrenberg, ’14, a mechanical engineering major.

As a freshman, she spent two weeks in Guatemala helping install a water filtration device the group had designed. “We had built a model of it, but in Guatemala, everything took longer than we thought,” she says. “We overcame all the hurdles, and it’s been working ever since.”

Ehrenberg enjoyed her hands-on learning experience with Engineers Without Borders so much that she became president her junior year. Her summers have been busy, too. Last summer, she did sustainable energy research abroad at the University of Botswana and worked as an intern at San Diego–based Solar Turbines.

None of it would have been possible without an eagle-eyed admissions officer who wondered why Ehrenberg had abandoned her online application to the U of M. Both parents had lost their jobs in the recession, and she couldn’t afford the $60 application fee. “I got a call from the admissions officer, and she offered a fee waiver,” she says.

Once Ehrenberg was accepted, support from the Iron Range Merit Scholarship and the Lee S. Whitson Scholarship allowed her to pursue her extracurricular passions. 

“When people ask what scholarships have meant to me, the answer is simple,” she says. “Everything.” 
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Reprinted with permission from Giving to the U of M. Photo credit: Liz Banfield