FEATURE — Winter 2004


Scholarships: A Financial Bridge to Student Success

Among the first class of Enterprise Scholars are Amber Phillips (left), an anthropology and English double major in Arts & Sciences with a minor in art, and Felix Lui, a biology major in Arts & Sciences, who is also seeking a master's degree in education. Phillips' future aspirations include mission work and becoming a professor; Lui is an aspiring physician.

To ensure that the University remains open to all the best students, the Campaign set about raising $175 million to add to the endowment for scholarships. Helping surpass this goal, and assisting some of the most talented students on campus, was a generous gift of $25 million by the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation.

by Eileen P. Duggan

More than 80 enterprising Washington University students are reveling in an unexpected opportunity presented by a scholarship program endowed through the Campaign for Washington University.

Take Felix Hing Lui, a junior undergraduate biology major also seeking a master's degree in education in May 2007. Lui is working on an honors thesis in the lab of Jeff McKinney, instructor in pediatrics and molecular microbiology, in the School of Medicine's Department of Infectious Diseases. His mission is to characterize a new strain of salmonella.

"I am proud to be part of not only a great institution, but an excellent intellectual community," says Lui, who graduated in the top 3 percent of his high-school class in Honolulu. "The academics at Washington University have challenged me, and the professors have designed their lectures and exams to focus on learning how to problem-solve and how to employ the new insights we've gained toward real-world applications."

An aspiring physician, Lui has a part-time job in a different research lab at the medical school's McDonnell Pediatric Research Building. During high school, his after-school activities included conducting research at the University of Hawaii and working for three years at hospitals.

Washington University was able to attract this outstanding student by awarding the Enterprise Scholarship. "It was an offer I couldn't turn down," says Lui, "and I definitely am glad about my decision to come here."

The Jack C. Taylor family initiated the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Scholarships with a $25 million gift to the endowment—the largest gift for undergraduate scholarships in Washington University's history. Enterprise founder Jack Taylor is an alumnus and an emeritus trustee of the University. Andrew C. Taylor, chairman and chief executive of the company, also has been a University trustee.

"This scholarship is an example of the generosity of our friends and of the support for our students," says James E. McLeod, vice chancellor for students and dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. "From time to time, there are gifts or events that enable us to raise the level of our effort and to be much more effective, and this has been one of them."

"Enterprise Rent-A-Car is THE reason I am at Washington U.," says Andrea Rooks. "… It feels good to know that they … want to do whatever they can to help us through our University experiences."

Each year, approximately 30 exceptional students are selected based on criteria including financial need, academic merit, leadership, and commitment to community service. These talented students represent 29 states and Puerto Rico, and they are enrolled across disciplines in the College of Arts & Sciences and the Schools of Architecture, Art, Business, and Engineering & Applied Science. Ten percent of the scholarships are awarded to St. Louis–area high-school graduates and community-college transfer students.

Amber Phillips of St. Charles, Missouri, is a junior anthropology and English double major, with a minor in art. An accomplished artist who once contributed a drawing that raised $12,000 for El Salvadoran earthquake victims, she always thought she would become an artist. But two years of college have inspired her to consider becoming a professor. After volunteering as a tutor of various subjects one night a week in the Each One Teach One program, she became interested in joining Teach for America some day and possibly doing mission work in South America and Africa.

A resident adviser this year, Phillips previously worked in an office at the School of Medicine and worked for the Performing Arts Department backstage, on props, scene design, and costumes.

Phillips loves her classes and the incredible people she's met, she says. But her "fabulous" Washington U. experience almost didn't happen because of financial constraints. "Right before I had to tell the University I couldn't come, I was notified that I had received the Enterprise Scholarship—and was thus able to fulfill my dreams of attending this college," she says.

The Taylor family and their generosity "have influenced my life tremendously by making it possible for me to come here," says Phillips, "and I will always be grateful."

The Enterprise Scholars are further cheered to find the stealth scholarship comes with personal attention from Enterprise Rent-A-Car. The Taylors and other company executives join the students for an annual dinner as well as ongoing activities such as invitations to Cardinal baseball games and tours of Enterprise's world headquarters in Clayton, Missouri.

The 26 inaugural Enterprise Scholars, who entered as freshmen in fall 2002, are now juniors in the Class of 2006. Along with Felix Lui and Amber Phillips, the five following members of that first class—Kelli Grim, Edison Hong, Juan Narvaez, Andrea Rooks, and Karl Zelik—reflect how crucial student support is, and how receiving the Enterprise Scholarship has made all the difference in their education and career plans.

Kelli Grim is a biology major with an anthropology minor, both in Arts & Sciences. Hoping to attend medical school, she chose Washington University because of its many research opportunities for undergraduates.

Kelli Grim, a biology major and anthropology minor in Arts & Sciences, aspires to attend medical school. She chose Washington University because of the many opportunities to conduct research as an undergraduate. Grim even got a head start in research prior to her freshman year when she participated in the University's prefreshman Biology Summer Scholars Program in Arts & Sciences.

Since last summer, she has been working in the genetics laboratory of Sarah Elgin, professor of biology.

"The lab researches how packaging of DNA can cause the silencing of genes or what mechanisms turn genes on and off," she says. "For medical school, I think a strong background in genetics is crucial. Working in the lab has given me hands-on experience to complement my learning in class.

"Ultimately, I am interested in learning why African Americans are disproportionately affected by certain conditions such as hypertension or high blood pressure, and how that relates to genetics—discovering what's genetic and what's possibly environmental."

Outside the classroom, Grim is the secretary of the Black Pre-Medical Society and a member of Chimes junior honorary, as well as the honorary's community service co-chair. She also works with a group that mentors young girls in the greater St. Louis area, to promote positive self-image and body awareness.

Grim, who is from Clinton, Mississippi, says that she owes everything to Enterprise. "I would not have been able to attend this University if I wouldn't have received such financial assistance. And another great thing is that we [Enterprise Scholars] get together for special events, and this has created a great community among all the scholars."

Edison Hong, a chemistry and accounting major in the College of Arts & Sciences and the Olin School of Business, credits the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Scholarship as "the financial bridge that helped me to attend this university."

Hong also was given an internship last summer at one of Enterprise's New Jersey branches. In the position equivalent to a management trainee, he learned customer-service evaluation techniques, wrote rental contracts, and learned about the company's fiscal policies. The camaraderie among branch employees made him feel like part of the team, Hong says.

"As an intern at Enterprise, I was given a lot of responsibilities and tasks that I personally did not expect to receive," he says. "They treated me like a full-time employee and really gave me the tools so that I could continue a career with them after college. I got to see everything a manager gets to see."

An award-winning graduate of the Academy for Business and Computer Technology in Hackensack, New Jersey, Hong is exploring career options that include teaching chemistry or starting a career in accounting while he studies chemistry in graduate school.

Hong is a residential adviser, president of the Korean Students Association, a member of the Social Justice Center, and co-chair of the culture committee of the Congress of the South 40.

Juan Narvaez, an electrical engineering major with minors in math and physics, is pursuing a career in engineering system design.

Juan Narvaez (left) is an electrical engineering major in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, with minors in math and physics, who is pursuing a career in engineering system design. Karl Zelik is a biomedical engineering major, who aspires to become a researcher working with artificial organs, prosthetics, and other biomedical assist devices.

"I enjoy creating new inventions and working to improve current designs," says St. Louisan Narvaez, who graduated as valedictorian of his Lutheran North High School class. "Originally, I had considered becoming a chemical engineer, but circuits are much more intriguing to me, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to explore different options here in labs and classes."

During high school, he researched genetic diseases and DNA at the School of Medicine through the University's Students and Teachers as Research Scientists (STARS) program. He also received the Washington University Book Award and the William Danforth "I Dare You" Leadership Award for outstanding leadership and character.

Still, Narvaez says, "Without the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Scholarship, I certainly would have had to attend a different college, because I would not have been able to afford the tuition here."

When not exploring circuits, he enjoys competitive cycling, taking part in the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) activities, and working in the Campus Bookstore.

Edison Hong (left) is a chemistry major in Arts & Sciences and an accounting major in the Olin School of Business, who is exploring career options including teaching chemistry. Andrea Rooks is working on a double major in marketing and international business at Olin, along with minors in French and political science in Arts & Sciences; she hopes to parlay her education into a marketing job with an international firm.

Andrea Rooks is working on a double major in marketing and international business at the Olin School of Business, with minors in French and political science in Arts & Sciences. She is a teaching assistant for Spanish 101 at the University and teaches her own subsection twice a week. In her spare time, she is an active officer of the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) and works as a reading tutor at Delmar-Harvard Elementary School.

Half-American and half-Argentine, Rooks started high school in Buenos Aires before moving to Muscat, Oman, where she graduated from the American British Academy. Through various high-school projects, she also has traveled to Vietnam, Paris, and the interior of Oman.

Rooks hopes to parlay her multinational background and her love of travel into a marketing position with a major international firm, one in which she can use her Spanish, French, and Portuguese language skills.

"Enterprise Rent-A-Car is THE reason I am at Washington U.," says Rooks. "One of my favorite things about being an Enterprise Scholar is the way they treat us. The Enterprise employees don't just see us as another of the company's community service projects. It feels good to know that they sincerely care about us and want to do whatever they can to help us through our University experiences."

Karl Zelik, a biomedical engineering major from Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania, spent last summer as a research assistant at Carnegie Mellon University. There he studied the residual stress of pyrolytic carbon discs, which are used in mechanical heart valves, and assisted with stent research. His career plans include working as a researcher with artificial organs, prosthetics, and other biomedical assist devices.

Zelik complements his studies in the School of Engineering & Applied Science with play as captain of the varsity track and field team. He is an academic mentor and a member of the National Society of Black Engineers.

After being awarded a John B. Ervin Scholarship during the recruitment process, Zelik was tempted by more attractive offers from other schools. "At that point, because of financial concerns, I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I would be attending a different school, even though Washington U. was my first choice," says Zelik. Calling the University to inform administrators of his dilemma, he learned about the Enterprise Scholarship. "Without this scholarship, I am certain I would not be at this university today; I am extremely grateful."

Eileen P. Duggan is a free-lance writer based in St. Louis.