The Polaris Student Shop signage on the wall.

UMN College of Science and Engineering names inaugural Polaris Scholars

Gift from global powersports company supports project-based learning and scholarships for diverse students

When Kiana Vang learned that she received one of the new Polaris scholarships at the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering, she cried. Her tears of joy came not just for herself, but for future recipients.

“I am a first-generation Hmong-American woman, and the first in my family to pursue an engineering degree,” said Vang, a computer engineering senior. “Because of this generous gift, I am now able to finish my last mile of school without having to worry about how I'm going to pay for tuition. I am also grateful to know that this isn't a one-time award and that many others will have the financial support they need to either start, continue, or finish their academic career.”

Vang’s scholarship is part of a recent gift from Polaris Inc. to support CSE students in diverse and underrepresented communities. As a part of the donation, the company has designated $50,000 annually towards scholarships and project-based learning experiences through the recently launched Polaris Scholars program.

The Polaris donation, which will be distributed over the next five years, builds upon its previous gifts to the University of Minnesota—placing the Medina, Minnesota–based company among its Driven fundraising campaign’s major corporate donors.

The 2020-21 Polaris Scholars are:

Ngote Agborenow, Electrical Engineering, Class of 2022
“This scholarship took a huge load off my shoulders. My job, which was my source of income and a means to pay my tuition, laid me off and I could barely pay for my tuition and books. I am so grateful to have been selected and I promise to continue standing tall.”

Abdullahi Abdullahi, Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2022
Member of UMN Formula SAE, Tesla Works, and National Society of Black Engineers
“This scholarship means a lot to me—that I have a lot of support, and I will always have people to thank for my journey and sharing this accomplishment with.”

Emily Chak, Mechanical Engineering (ME), Class of 2021; master’s degree in ME spring 2022
“This scholarship allows me to be involved in clubs such as Innovative Engineers and the UMN Climb Team, as well as pursue other passions such as mountain biking. For that, I am more than grateful for this financial relief.”

Beau Carlson, Computer Engineering, Class of 2021
“To me, this scholarship means I can now graduate! With the recent disaster due to COVID, my family and I were reaching the point where I was choosing between my health and my education. Fortunately, with this scholarship, I no longer had to make this decision.”

Aaron Hailu

Grace Klesczewski, Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2022
Member of the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, and She is ME
“Getting this scholarship means a lot to my family and me. Polaris’ generous scholarship will help me so much financially, and it is very encouraging that they have invested in my future.”

Connor Teel, Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2021
“This scholarship has helped reduce some of the financial stress that college imposes on students, and it has also allowed me to focus more on my studies and coursework. I am so grateful to have received such a generous gift from Polaris, especially amidst a global pandemic that has made life difficult for all.” 

Daniel Valdez, Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2021
“Receiving this scholarship comes in a time where finances have been a large concern of mine, especially during Covid-19. This scholarship means I can work my part-time job less and engage myself more freely in extracurricular activities.”

Kiana Vang, Computer Engineering, Class of 2021
Participant in the Louis Stokes North Star STEM Alliance and SciTechMN programs
“Once I'm established in this field, I cannot wait to pay this forward. I cannot wait to invest in the education of STEM scholars at the elementary to high-school level within the North Minneapolis community I come from.”

Ahmed Yousuf, Computer Engineering, Class of 2021
“Getting the scholarship is immensely helpful. In the short term, it provides immediate financial relief and allows me to concentrate more on my studies without having to increase work hours. In the long term, I am able to save thousands in interest or fees due to having to take out loans.”

Learn more about the $1 million Polaris gift to the University of Minnesota at CSE News.

About Polaris

As the global leader in powersports, Polaris Inc. (NYSE: PII) pioneers product breakthroughs and enriching experiences and services that have invited people to discover the joy of being outdoors since our founding in 1954. With annual 2019 sales of $6.8 billion, Polaris’ high-quality product line-up includes the Polaris RANGER, RZR and GENERAL side-by-side off-road vehicles; Sportsman all-terrain off-road vehicles; Indian Motorcycle mid-size and heavyweight motorcycles; Slingshot moto-roadsters; snowmobiles; and deck, cruiser and pontoon boats, including industry-leading Bennington pontoons. For more information, visit the Polaris website.