Student Endowment Fund Spotlight: Sept/Oct

The Sept-Oct Spotlight was written by Mark Spencer, LAC Chair of the 2010 Western District Annual Meeting in San Francisco and our newest Visionary level contributor to the Endowment Fund.  The following is Mark’s article regarding his thoughts about the Student Endowment Fund:

When I heard that I am the newest Visionary contributor to the Endowment Fund I decided to do some homework.  I looked up the word “visionary” to see what the literal meaning might be and found that visionaries imagine what does not yet exist but might “someday.”  I will share with you my ITE vision, and my reasons for contributing to the Endowment Fund.

As an undergraduate student in civil engineering I had a very traditional education, with one traffic engineering course required after several years of other courses.  There was no ITE Student Chapter on my campus.  Early on I came to realize that transportation wasn’t viewed on an equal level as other civil engineering disciplines.  And I knew this was wrong.  My vision includes increasing the awareness of transportation to students as an excellent career path.

I had a summer internship during college that furthered my interest in transportation, and followed that with senior year elective classes in transportation and planning.   Moving on to graduate school inBerkeleyI was introduced to ITE.  I missed a meeting one afternoon and my fellow classmates elected me as the ITE Student Chapter President.  Thus began my ITE career.  Soon after was the 1989 ITE International Annual Meeting inSan Diego.  The local ITE Section covered registration for students but we had to find our own way there and lodging.  As I recall, my I-5 traffic ticket cost more than the gas and motel.  Guess I just couldn’t wait to go to my first Annual Meeting!  However, I quickly learned the value of an Annual Meeting for students, and I applied those lessons years later as the LAC Chair for the 2010 Western District Annual Meeting inSan Francisco.   We had 137 students at the San Francisco Annual Meeting; my vision is that all of them continue their transportation studies and eventually join ITE as professional members.

As I moved on to elected leadership roles in the South San Francisco Bay Chapter and then the San Francisco Bay Area Section, I continued to find ways to engage students at the local level.  I am proud to have been part of the team that originated the STEP mentoring program, and of the many students and junior staff I have mentored.  I was also happy to arrange for students to volunteer their time to work at, and actively participate in, Western District Annual Meetings, which I strongly believe goes part and parcel with subsidies provided to students at Annual Meetings.

We all make choices about if, and how, we contribute our time and money, whether individually or through our employers.  I contribute to the Student Endowment Fund because I know first-hand the value of expanding transportation education, providing opportunities for students, and securing the future of our profession with the best and brightest people.  I contribute because I want to see “someday” come sooner than later.  The Student Endowment Fund was established with the very same goals in mind, to provide a self-sustaining funding source for student initiatives.

I encourage all of us to contribute to the Student Endowment Fund, and I know you will find it as rewarding as I do!