Cathy Leong asked me to share my thoughts concerning the Western District Student Endowment Fund and the reasons for my support over the years. I remember going to one of my first District Leadership Breakfast meetings when I was on our Nevada Chapter Board years ago. At that meeting the ITE leadership explained how important it was to support our future transportation leaders. We needed to encourage students to attend our meetings.
Following that meeting a few of us got together and raised the funds through our own personal donations to offer free lunches to the students who attended our local Chapter meetings in Las Vegas. This program has now become an integral part of our Chapter meetings and we routinely have students attend our monthly meetings. Our student members truly benefit from their attendance and contributions.
While on the Intermountain Section Board I saw firsthand how our Section scholarship fund donations were being used to support students to attend our annual section meeting in Jackson, Wyoming through our Section’s Student Scholarship Competition. Over the years, I saw student paper winners present their papers at the meeting and continue to attend year after year following their graduation. I have also seen the enthusiasm that the Montana State University (MSU) ITE Student Chapter has brought to our Section meeting as well as the rest of ITE. They embarked on a goal of establishing a Student Endowment Fund at MSU so that future students would be able to continue to attend ITE meetings and functions. With their determination and fund raising efforts, they were successful in establishing and fully financing their endowment fund. It did not happen overnight, but their commitment over several years of fund raising has lead to their success. Many of these former MSU ITE students have gone on to be our current District Leaders.
A few years ago while serving as Technical Chair for the district I was able to sit in the Western District Board meetings while Rory Grindley was our District President. Rory took on the effort to establish the District’s student initiatives program to further fund and encourage student involvement in ITE. One of these initiatives included a desire to have a District student endowment fund. This program following the success of the MSU initiative was carried forward by Julie Townsend during her District Presidential year and she has continued to be an avid supporter of the fund. Cathy Leong has done and excellent job from Hawaii to maintain the momentum necessary to continue this multi-year fund raising effort to build our District endowment account.
Like others in our District, I look forward to each year’s Annual District meeting to see what Cathy will have for us to encourage our continued support of the endowment. I have ITE Bears, ITE shirts and ITE tattoos to show my personal support. I believe in the future of ITE and I believe in investing in that future by supporting the students who want to be a part of our transportation community. So when you are asked to make a modest donation, remember this is one of the best ways to make sure our students of the future will have a means to attend our meetings and contribute to our profession.