Students, Donors Connect at Annual Scholarship Banquet

Last semester, more than 600 students in the LSU College of Engineering received a financial scholarship. Last week, they were able to meet the people that made it possible.

Nearly 180 students and donors attended the College’s annual scholarship banquet, held Tuesday, Feb.2, in the LSU Student Union Cotillion Ballroom. Guests listened to a panel of students and donors discuss the impact of their awards before connecting over dinner.

“In the fall 2015 semester, the College awarded a total of $823,500 in scholarships to 633 current students, and that number is only going to rise this spring,” said Judy Wornat, the College’s interim dean, in her opening remarks. “Those are grand statistics, but perhaps what’s even more impressive is to think that for each of those scholarships, there was a special person supporting it and a special student receiving it.”

“Tonight is an opportunity to connect, to put a face to your awards and to build relationships with one another,” she continued. “Tonight is a time to celebrate.”

Among those celebrating was Kat Niedbalski, a mechanical engineering senior who spoke on the panel about receiving the Karl German Memorial scholarship.

“The scholarship means I can take the time I was spending at work and transfer it to other things,” she said. “I can study and work harder in school, I can do extracurricular activities and be involved.”

John Sgourakis, electrical engineering senior, agreed, adding that the financial support not only enables his academic and personal development, but it’s also boosted his confidence.

“Everything we do is an investment,” he said. “Someone thinks my future is worth investing in, and that’s encouraging and inspiring.”

But students were not the only ones expressing gratitude. Don Ray George, a petroleum engineering alum and owner of Don Ray George & Associates, a petroleum engineering consulting firm, spoke on the panel about his contribution to the Don Ray George College of Engineering President’s scholarship, said donors, too, feel fortunate.

“Why is it important to give back?” he asked. “I wouldn’t be standing here if someone didn’t give to me. I wouldn’t have 50 years in the industry. I wouldn’t have a successful career.”

Scholarship recipients have proved they are successful in their studies, he said, and he encouraged them to continue on that path as they enter their careers. And once they’re established engineers, he urged them to pay it forward.

After all, he concluded: “The real beneficiary of giving is not the person getting; it’s the donor.”


For more information, contact Erica Pater at (225)578-8408 or You can also tune in to our college Scholarship Twitter Chat on Friday, February 12, 2016 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Follow @LSUEngineering#LSUCOEchat to join the conversation!