Scholarship Winners: Where are They Now?

Scholarship Winners: Where are They Now?

Jun 01, 2020

Western is proud to offer scholarships for members pursuing an education beyond high school. We are taking this opportunity to check in with previous winners of our scholarship.

Jonathan Meyer | 2005 winner

What was your major in college?
Mechanical engineering with a minor in mathematics

Where did you attend?
Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) for my Bachelors of Science degree, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities for my doctorate degree.

Was this always your career choice?
I enjoyed playing with LEGOs when I was young, and enjoyed math and science in school, so I knew I wanted to go into a field that could combine these interests.

What led you to this career choice?
When I was a junior in high school, my physics teacher asked if I ever considered majoring in engineering. Before then I never really thought about it, but thought it could be a perfect fit with my interests. After visiting MSOE with my family, I knew it was the right college for me. I was interested in robotics and wasn’t sure which engineering field to major in, so they recommended mechanical engineering because it covers a breadth of topics – from mechanical design to thermodynamics to controls.

What are you doing now?
I am a controls systems engineer for a hydraulics company, designing and implementing software and controls for off-highway equipment, including construction machinery, agricultural machinery, and material handlers. I also teach an evening course in electronics at The Ohio State University.

What led you here?
After graduating from MSOE, I attended graduate school to pursue my Ph.D. I had courses in fluid power during college, and the University of Minnesota was just starting a research center in fluid power, so I knew that would be a perfect fit for my interests. My research focus was in optimizing the control strategy for hydraulic hybrid vehicles. During this time, I was also a teaching assistant and an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas.

What has been your hardest transition since graduating?
The hardest transition for me was getting used to an 8 to 5 work day. In school your day is more flexible because you only have to attend classes and meetings when they’re scheduled. In the work force, the day is much more rigid with a fixed schedule.

What has been surprisingly easy?
What has been surprisingly easy for me is enjoying my job. Being my first full-time job, I wasn’t really sure what to expect or if I would like it. But I work with a great group of co-workers who can make even the worst days fun and are there to answer any questions I have. Also, working on a variety of different machines keeps every day different. Some days I have to be working at my desk, and other days I am working on machines, which helps with the variety.

How did school prepare you for the future?
Even though I learned a lot of knowledge in my classes that I used after I graduated, school best prepared me by learning how to find resources and research topics I didn’t learn in class. This was especially true in graduate school where you define your own project and have to research how to solve it. Sometimes I come across a problem I have not seen before and don’t know how to solve, but I know how to research it and learn how to solve it.

How did your involvement with the lodge prepare you for the future?
The lodge often volunteered for various events throughout the community. This taught me that there is more to life than just going to school and getting a job, but we should also be involved in the community and help those in need. Even though it was just a small time commitment, it made a big impact on the community. The lodge also helped me by providing financial support for my college education, for which I am extremely grateful.
Are you still involved in the lodge or other volunteer activities?
After graduating, I moved to Ohio for my job, which unfortunately does not currently have any active lodges. However, I have continued to volunteer for various community activities. Some of these include helping at church socials and festivals, participating in bowl-a-thons for Junior Achievement, and walking in various charity walks.

What are your plans in the next 5-10 years?
I just had my first son in November, so I am looking forward to watching him grow up and see the young man he becomes. I have also enjoyed teaching since I was a tutor in college, so I hope my job will allow me to continue to teach evening classes, or maybe even become a full-time professor at a college.

How would you like to continue the fraternalism (being of service to others) in your career/life?
I would like to continue volunteering for activities with my church. It is always nice to know that you are appreciated and helping the community with an event that wouldn’t be possible without volunteers. I also play the saxophone for the local community band and participate in concerts for the community throughout the year. Finally, I would like to get involved with getting high school students involved in more STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) activities. As the world becomes more technological, more people will be needed in these fields. I hope I can show them that it’s not only something that will be needed in the future, but it can also be fun!

Do you have any words of wisdom for new graduates?
Don’t get discouraged if life does not go exactly as you planned it. Instead, you have to take what life gives you and make the best of it. Later on you might realize it was actually a blessing in disguise. When I graduated I didn’t plan on moving to Ohio for a job, but it was all that was available at the time. I ended up meeting my wife here and now have a son. Even though I was reluctant to move to an unfamiliar place where I didn’t know anyone, it all turned out for the best in the end.

Shari Spilinek | 2010 winner

What was your major in college?
Business Administration with Finance emphasis and Accounting minor.

Where did you attend?
The University of NE-Kearny.

Was this always your career choice?
Yes.

What led you to this career choice?
My love of numbers. Math was one of my favorite subjects in high school and I loved the accounting classes I was able to take while in high school.

What are you doing now?
I am assistant vice president and loan officer at Henderson State Bank in Greeley, NE.

What led you here?
The biggest thing is that it’s a small town close to home and family.

What has been your hardest transition since graduating?
I would say the hardest thing has been adjusting to not having summers off to be around my family farm. I still try to make it back as much as possible to help out.

What has been surprisingly easy?
I am not the most outgoing, but it has been much easier than I expected to make friends in a new town where I knew few people. I joined a town women’s league volleyball team and that helped significantly.

How did school prepare you for the future?
College taught me that it would take hard work to be successful in any facet of life. In addition, it taught me that anything was possible as long as you are willing to put the hard work into making those goals a reality.

How did your involvement with the lodge prepare you for the future?
My involvement taught me leadership skills and the importance of community service.

Are you still involved in the lodge or other volunteer activities?
Yes.

What are your plans in the next 5-10 years?
My biggest goal for the future is to continue to grow both as an individual and professionally.

How would you like to continue the fraternalism (being of service to others) in your career/life?
My parents taught me from a very young age the importance of helping others and I plan to continue to serve others whenever I see a need as I have in the past.

Do you have any words of wisdom for new graduates?
I would say one of the most important things is to get involved in organization on campus. There are numerous options out there and the organizations you join can help out later on when looking for jobs. The people you surround yourself with say more about you than anything. Something I was told early on that continues to hold true today, is that it’s not so much what you know, it’s who you know.



Tags:
Category: Fraternal

Darcy Hilton

Member Programs Coordinator


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