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As an out-of-state student, senior Hector Maldonado Perez has often faced a difficult choice: take the time to study for challenging biomedical engineering courses or pick up an extra shift at work to manage the next tuition payment. With the goal of easing this financial burden, Perez applied to the School of Engineering’s Alumni-Industry Scholars Program.

Students accepted into the program are awarded scholarships covering the cost of books and tuition for their junior and senior years, as well as mentorships with Rutgers alumni and internships in the field to round out their résumés. In the process, the program is fueling a culture that emphasizes networking, mentoring, and giving.

As an Alumni-Industry Scholar, Perez was matched with mentor and donor Kevin Bailey GSNB’83,’87 and an internship at his biopharmaceutical company, New York-based Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. For Bailey, participation is a two-way street. “So many of Rutgers’ students have had to fend for themselves,” he says, “and I wanted to help them find and take on positions of responsibility in the industry.” In return, he says, he is adding to his team a bright student with a proven record of achievement. For Perez, the impact goes way beyond valuable financial and professional support. “It’s the feeling that alumni who came before us are looking out for those of us who are passionate about what we do,” he says.

The program’s ultimate goal is to accept every qualified student who applies, but this is possible only through active participation—via time and funding—by current and future alumni. In an effort to jump-start such participation, founding donor Robert Beardsley ENG’68 and his wife, Valerie Beardsley, recently issued a challenge in which they matched, dollar for dollar, alumni donations toward scholarships for the Alumni-Industry Scholars Program. The challenge raised more than $876,000, and gifts for engineering scholarships during the challenge period more than doubled. Bailey is one of several alumni who donated to this recent campaign, demonstrating the combined impact of private philanthropy, thoughtful networking, and a sustained connection with Rutgers after graduation.

Perez already has plans to continue the cycle of giving back. “Someone believed in me as a student,” he says, “and I want to pass along the same hope that you don’t need to be limited from achieving your best because you’re limited on funding.”

— Melissa Kvidahl

Originally published in Rutgers alumni magazine.

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