When Christine Gneiding of Intra American Metals Inc became chair of the Indiana Chapter’s Scholarship program in 2013, she wanted to make a few changes. She wanted to help the students who hover in the middle of the financial and academic spectrum and may be less likely to receive scholarships than their peers who fall close to each end.
“There’s a whole group of kids who are trying their best to be good students but are competing with the students who get solid A’s,” she says. “This group of students may have parents or guardians who make a little too much to qualify for financial aid. It’s the students in this group who are our targets for the annual scholarship.”
To help those students stand out and receive acknowledgement for their hard work and achievements Gneiding decided to add a new feature to the application. Along with typical elements like grades, GPA, and SAT/ACT scores, applicants must also include the last four years of their extracurricular activities.
“We want to know what they’re doing in addition to school,” Gneiding explains. “Are they participating in clubs or sports teams? Are they doing any volunteer work? Are they working full-time or part-time? What are they doing in their communities? How are they giving back? These activities have become a very important factor in determining who receives the scholarships.”
This year, the chapter awarded four scholarships to students in its annual scholarship program. Each student will receive $2,500 to apply toward tuition in any accredited educational institution designed to meet the requirements for an academic, professional, or occupational degree conferred by a college, university, or other accredited school as listed by the U.S. Department of Education.
Scholarships may be awarded on a continuing basis; however, the applicant must reapply each year for additional scholarship funding. “So, that means over the years we’ve gotten several repeats,” Gneiding says. “This year, two recipients were students who applied and received the scholarship last year. We’ve had several recipients who have received our scholarship two to three years in a row, it’s like our little family.”
Over the years, students have been represented by a broad spectrum of member companies. “We’ve given scholarships to students whose parent or guardian has been employed by our chapter’s largest member companies, and also by small, family-owned firms,” Gneiding notes.
Already deeply involved in ISRI, Gneiding says chairing the scholarship program is one of the most enjoyable activities she does for her chapter. “This is something I love,” she says. “Getting to know the students, getting to call them up when they’re submitting and give them advice on their applications, reminding them that they need to fill out the entire form and get them in on time.”
ISRI members from other chapters have reached out to Gneiding for recommendations on how to run their respective chapter or region’s scholarship program based on the success of Indiana’s. “It’s a testament to our chapter,” she says. “[Members from other chapters] ask us for advice on their scholarship process and what they can do to encourage more applicants each year. As Indiana goes, we’re proud of the scholarship.”
The funds for the scholarship are raised by the chapter’s annual golf tournament. This year the chapter will hold its tournament at the Brickyard Crossing on Sept. 1. “We invite the scholarship recipients and their families to attend the dinner at the golf tournament and meet some of the members,” Gneiding says.
One year, a mother of an awardee approached Gneiding during the dinner with tears of happiness. “She told me she was so appreciative of the scholarship,” Gneiding recalls. “To do that for a family who is on the edge of choosing whether or not to send their children to school, if our scholarship can help give them that push…that’s why we do this.”
Several of the students and their families, especially those who have received the scholarship for several years in a row, have stayed in touch with the Indiana chapter. “They end up becoming long-term members of our chapter,” Gneiding says.
This year’s scholarship winners, along with their sponsoring ISRI/Indiana Chapter member company/location and the school they will attend, are as follows:
- Cassady Coomes, J. Trockman & Sons (Evansville, Ind.); Murray State University
- Makayla Cunningham, Steel Dynamics Inc. (Fort Wayne, Ind.); Indiana University South Bend
- Julian Osselaer, Superior Aluminum Alloys (New Haven, Ind.); Kankakee Community College
- Madison Shrider, Metal Source (Wabash, Ind.); Trine University
There’s always something that surprises Gneiding about the awardees each year. This year, one of the applicants had a story that stood out to the chapter board. “The recipient had been planning to go to the military and decided last minute not to because he was offered a sports package at a local university,” Gneiding says.
In his application, he explained that he decided to take the opportunity to attend college but hadn’t gotten the financials sorted due to the last-minute change in plans. “His story really stood out to everyone on the chapter board,” Gneiding recalls. “It’s those applicants we always look for; we want to give the annual scholarship to students who can really use it.”
Featured photo credit: Joan Kwamboka on Unsplash. Body photo caption: Indiana Chapter members attending annual golf tournament that raises funds for scholarship program. Body photo credit: Christine Gneiding.