Paying it forward: Alumni Association awards scholarships to local graduates

Published June 26, 2019
ERDC Alumni Association

Winners of the ERDC Alumni Association Scholarship, Christopher Green, Abigail Wallace, and Claire Jamison, pose with Deputy Director Dr. Beth Fleming and Commander COL Ivan Beckman after receiving their awards on June 21, 2019.

VICKSBURG, Miss. (June 21, 2019) – To Bill Martin, it feels like yesterday that he was heading off to college and starting the journey to begin his career. After decades of working at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Martin now finds himself as the president of the ERDC Alumni Association, a group of retirees that recently handed out scholarships to help jump start the educations of local high-school graduates.

“It feels great to be able to do this,” Martin said after the scholarships were presented on June 21. “I was a lab director, so this is right up my alley.”

“We need good, solid scientists and engineers, not only at ERDC, but across our nation,” COL Ivan Beckman told the winners. “We’re very proud of you, and we need you guys to come back to ERDC and work here.”

The scholarship is a new initiative of the ERDC Alumni Association, which was formed in 2016 with a motto of “pay it forward.” The group worked with Castle Club to host the Mad Scientist 5K race held on station in September 2018, and enough funds were raised to give out four scholarships.

“I thought applying could be a good opportunity for me,” said Christopher Green, the son of the USACE Reachback Operation Center’s Chris Green and a summer student in the Information Technology Laboratory who was awarded $1,000 from the group. “I can’t believe high school is over, but I’m ready for this next step.”

Abigail Wallace, who works as a student in the Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory, applied at the urging of her father, Dr. Rob Wallace, a technical director in the ITL.

“Maybe I’ll end up in this Alumni Association one day,” Wallace said with a laugh. “I’m grateful to them.”

“I was so excited when I received this, getting that acceptance letter feels great,” said Claire Jamison, another winner and the niece of an ERDC employee.

In the fall, Green will be off to Mississippi State University to study computer science, Wallace to Brigham Young University for civil engineering, Jamison to Louisiana Tech University for biological sciences, and Mattie Derivaux to the University of Mississippi for civil engineering. And while they’re studying, the ERDC Alumni Association will be hard at work paying it forward to raise more scholarship money for the next batch of students.