Doug Differt STEM Scholarship

Jean Donald Charles

Three Inver engineering majors receive $1,500 scholarships in fall semester 2017

Three students in the Engineering program at Inver Hills Community College each received a $1,500 Doug Differt STEM Scholarship in fall semester 2017. The recipients are Aizhi Zhuo, Jean Donald Charles and Xijun Tan.
Students enrolled in STEM programs receive priority consideration for the scholarship. Preference is given to students with an engineering or transportation focus. Criteria used for the selection process are academic achievement, financial need, life circumstances, career goals, recommendations and honors, and campus and/or community service and leadership.

More about Doug Differt…

For more than 50 years, Douglas H. Differt, P.E., has worked to keep Minnesotans on the road through his leadership and civil engineering skills in the public and private sectors. Doug’s managerial expertise as a professional engineer is matched only by his drive, passion for community service, and a natural ability to define and solve the complex challenges presented by modern transportation.
As MnDOT deputy commissioner and chief engineer under two governors, Rudy Perpich and Tim Pawlenty, Doug was responsible for making sure massive construction projects as well as critical maintenance programs ran like clockwork.
Because mentoring and community service are at the heart of his lifework, Doug knows the next generation of students must be given their chance to help make the world a better place to live.
“I came in when we first built the Interstate Highway System under President Eisenhower,” he said. “Our job now is to make sure we have an educational system that can prepare students for the future so that they can maintain and improve on what we built.”

Doug Differt STEM Scholarship recipients

Aizhi Zhuo

Aizhi Zhuo
Aizhi Zhuo
Residence:Minneapolis, Minnesota
Area of study: Engineering Fundamentals A.A.S.
Graduating: May 2019
Before Inver Hills: I grew up in China and worked in a kindergarten program for seven years. I realized I needed to go back to college to reach my goal of being a valuable person in society. I came to America with my husband in 2015 due to my mother-in-law’s health issues, and decided to make a life change to stay in America. I earned a GED degree through Prior Lake Community Education. We have overcome many obstacles such as establishing residency, finding jobs and supporting children.
Goals after Inver Hills: After talking to an Inver Hills advisor many times, I changed my degree from education to civil engineering. My goal is to earn an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree with an Emphasis in Math at Inver Hills and then transfer to the University of Minnesota to earn a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.
What it means to receive a scholarship: We lived with my mother-in-law for several months until we found jobs, however, they are lower wage jobs. Both my husband and I are attending college. In order to attend college, I bought a car so now I have a car loan. I work part-time. I believe a scholarship will make an incredible difference in my education life because it will lighten my burden and allow me to focus on my studies and reach my goal.

Jean Donald Charles

Jean Donald Charles
Jean Donald Charles
Residence: Lakeland, Minnesota
Area of study: Engineering Fundamentals A.A.S.
Graduating: May 2018
Before Inver Hills: I grew up in Haiti and took advantage of every educational opportunity that could prepare me for an engineering major. When I was very young, my parents were separated and my mother was not able to care for us, so throughout my teen years I went to school and took care of my younger siblings. I did not grow up around money, so I chose to invest my time in education because I knew it was my way out.
Goals after Inver Hills: My goal is to work hard, earn good grades and graduate with a B.A. in Civil Engineering. I witnessed the 2012 earthquake that destroyed most of the building in the capital city of Haiti. That unfortunate event pushed me further toward my passion of becoming a civil engineer.
What it means to receive a scholarship: I am an international student and therefore am not eligible for FAFSA or financial aid. I work 18–20 hours a week at Lancer Hospitality on campus, but I am not financially secure. I am dependent on my sponsor for paying my living expenses, transportation, medical insurance, etc. My parents both live in Haiti and would never have been able to pay for my schooling. In other words, a scholarship helps immensely.

You can learn more about Donald by “International Student Spotlight” on Inver Hills News.

Xijun Tan

Xijun Tan
Xijun Tan
Residence: Eagan, Minnesota
Area of study: Engineering Fundamentals A.A.S.
Graduating: May 2018
Before Inver Hills: I came to the United States as an international student. I had trouble adjusting because of my language. I used to spend a lot of time studying the lecture notes after class because I have to get great grades for my parents and my future.
Goals after Inver Hills: My academic goal is to study at Inver Hills for two years then transfer to the University of Minnesota as a mechanical engineering student. My career goal is to be a mechanical engineer. (Note: Xijun has been accepted to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, to study Mechanical Engineering. He starts fall semester 2018.)
What it means to receive a scholarship: As an international student, I receive no federal or state grants, and I’m only allowed to work on campus. The scholarship will allow me to buy books on time and buy lunch so that I can stay on campus to work and study.

To learn more about the Doug Differt STEM Scholarship and the Inver Hills Foundation, contact:

Michelle Boe, JD
Interim Executive Director of Foundation
Inver Hills Community College and Dakota County Technical College
Inver Hills Office: 651-450-3519
DCTC Office: 651-423-8236
Chris Hinrichs
Foundation Development Associate

To learn more about the Engineering program at Inver Hills, contact:

Joan Z. Carter, PE
Engineering Faculty

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