The date was May 14, 1992. A traffic engineering intern for the City of West Hollywood, California, boarded a shuttle bus at Oakland Airport destined for the 44th California Symposium on Transportation Issues at the Oakland Airport Hilton. He was excited about the opportunity to immerse himself in traffic engineering for two days, but was very nervous because he didn’t know a single person there.
By chance, also on board was a veteran of traffic engineering conferences who knew what nervous interns looked like. He quickly determined that they were going to the same conference and took the intern under his wing. He introduced the intern to many of his peers, gave career coaching advice including “in 5 years you can name your own salary,” and followed up at every opportunity. In short, he took a personal interest in that intern’s career before that intern had even made up his mind to join the profession.
Needless to say, the intern chose to become a traffic engineer after that conference and this year he became the largest contributor to date to the District’s Student Endowment Fund with a contribution of almost $15,000.
Who are these generous and kind men? The intern: John Kerenyi who has been fortunate enough to “name his salary” several times over the years. The mentor: Zaki Mustafa, founder of the Student Endowment Fund.
When asked about the motivation behind his generous donation, John commented that “Traffic engineers’ best recruiting tool is getting engineering students to attend their functions so that they can see the uniqueness of the profession firsthand. How many students leave engineering because they never find their calling? The Endowment is the best way to expose students to a profession they might otherwise never know about.”
Although the District is already halfway to its goal of raising $500,000 for the Student Endowment Fund, there is still a long way to go. Zaki and John challenge all readers to contribute at any level to make the Endowment Fund a reality so that the next generation of transportation engineers can see the profession firsthand.
Please visit http://westernite.org/endowment-fund to learn more about the fund and how to contribute