Scholars meet their benefactors

August 30th 2018 was a big day for a select group of new and returning “chalmerister”, those who have received privately funded scholarships, when they got to meet their benefactors and thank them personally at our now traditional scholarship ceremony and afternoon tea.
This year, 14 new students were awarded scholarships from partner companies or individuals who support Chalmers. During the formal part, where Chalmers, the donors and the students all get a chance to give their perspectives, Vice President for education, Maria Knutson Wedel explained that, at Chalmers, we see internationalization, not so much as a separate process but as a natural part in all we do.

The global competition for talent is steadily increasing and the best universities around the world are all looking for ways to attract the best students. There is no doubt that Chalmers offers world class education, we attract highly qualified students with a background at some of the best academic institutions in the world. However, since these excellent students often get very attractive scholarship offers from our competitors, this is not enough. When asked why they decided to come to Chalmers, many of the scholars testify that they wanted to come to Chalmers for the excellent education but that it was the scholarship that made it all possible in the end.

At Chalmers we are fortunate to have industry partners such as Volvo Cars, Volvo Group, and ABB who share our interest in getting global talent to Gothenburg. For them it is a win-win situation where they help students get a great education while at the same time, they move their own international recruitment ground closer. Many of the international scholars get summer and part-time jobs as well as a chance to do their thesis work in these organizations and upon graduation, it is a natural step to move into their first full-time employment.

We also have a loyal group of alumni and friends who support us in many ways, year after year. Sievert Larsson is one of those very loyal friends. For many years, he has supported students from Thailand with scholarships for a master’s degree at Chalmers and for his continuous and very generous support, he was awarded the Chalmers medal of honor earlier this year. When asked about his motivation, he always comes back to his dual loyalties; to his hometown of Gothenburg and Thailand, where his wife came from and how this scholarship allows him to combine the two. His advice to the students is to study hard but make sure to also have some fun. He goes on to talk about how a decision to accept a challenge early in his career proved to be the key to his success and he therefor points out the importance of an open mind and to make good decisions.

Our alumni organization in the United States, U.S. Friends of Chalmers, has been active raising funds to support Chalmers for many years and since 2012, the focus has been on scholarships to support American students coming to Chalmers. This year, thanks to several large individual donations as well as many smaller donations, three American students were lucky enough to get scholarships to come to Chalmers for their master’s degrees.

Testimonials from the awardees show that many of them have been advised by university teachers or colleagues to investigate Chalmers because of our strong profile in their specific fields. It is a humbling experience to take part of the gratitude they feel towards their beneficiaries, most of them testify that getting the scholarship was crucial for them to be able to choose Chalmers. Rarely does it get this obvious just what a difference a donation can make. Many of the students also express an ardent desire to give back to Chalmers in the future, which is, of course exactly what it’s all about!

Before going upstairs for afternoon tea, we listened to Rebecca Gillie, last year’s U.S. Friends of Chalmers scholarship recipient, who got to be the voice for the student group. She is just about to start her second year of the Sound and Vibration master’ program and was just finishing off her summer job at Volvo before returning to the hard studies. Her main piece of advice was to embrace the new and give people a chance even if you don’t always understand at first glance – very good advice for all of us!

To everyone’s amusement William Chalmers paid us a visit during our afternoon tea session in the parlor. It is always mind-blowing to think about how the “real” William Chalmers would feel about Chalmers of today – over 10 000 students from all over the world as well as cutting edge research spanning over many disciplines and with a world-wide network. He would probably be shocked at first, but given some time, he would see that this is totally in line with his motto – Avancez!

Text: Birgitta Rorsman
Photo: Martina Mofidi

Published: Mon 10 Sep 2018.