January President’s Pen:

We are building more than a building together.  That statement is now our theme for our upcoming Founders’ Dinner on April 18, 2020 but it is more than one event’s byline – it cuts to the heart of our mission at CRSM.  We are on a journey with our students to create real and lasting change in our world.

Several months ago, I heard Dean Kamen speak.  Dean is a serial inventor.  He’s best known for the two-wheeled oddity called the Segway.  During his talk he said, “I’ll probably go to my grave being known only for the Segway.  In reality, it was a lark.  The technology in the Segway including the gyroscope and other innovations was actually developed for a different invention – the iBOT, a highly adaptable wheelchair that can climb stairs, allow the occupant to move around in an upright position instead of always sitting at a lower level than more able people, and generally being able to access both urban and natural spaces previously off-limits.  Kamen also invented a water purification system about the size of a washing machine that operates on little energy and can convert “anything wet” into pure drinking water. Coca Cola is testing units in Africa.  He also invented a prosthetic limb that is lightweight, highly controllable and mimics a natural hand.  During the Q & A period after his talk, one of the audience asked which of his many inventions was he most proud of.  Without hesitation, Kamen answered, “That’s easy.  I started a program and competition called FIRST Robotics to inspire school-aged kids from grade school through college to explore STEM-related fields and develop their curiosity and problem-solving creativity.  It’s now a global phenomenon.  I’m most proud of it because I invented an invention that invents inventors!”  By the way, CRSM’s fledgling robotics team will attend its first competition later this year.

At CRSM, I like to think we are building builders who will build a better world.  Bricks and mortar create the physical space where we can operate but the true learning space at CRSM is something less tangible – it is a collective attitude of faculty, staff, and students that we are all here together to accomplish something much bigger than all of us.  We maintain an environment of respect and care where we all learn, work, try, fail, reflect and try again – developing our talents to better ourselves, but more importantly to better our ability to influence others and positively change our world.  Less than 15% of low-income youth ever complete college and yet, a recent Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce analysis of Current Population Survey shows that, of the 11.6 million new jobs created in the US since 2008, 8.4 million of them (more than 72%) require a Bachelor’s degree or higher.  Furthermore, a person with a Bachelor’s degree annually earns on average 60% more than someone with only a high school diploma.  Clearly, if a young person from a low-income background wants the best chance for finding economic mobility, they should seek a college degree.

With increased income comes the ability to both think and act beyond your personal immediate needs and become someone who can lift up others.  That’s our hope.  That’s who we are and who we want our alumni to become – people who use their gifts to lift up others, people who will become builders building a better world.

Over Christmas break, we hosted over 100 alumni for a holiday party.  I wish you could have been there: young professionals discussing their career paths… college students comparing experiences and talking about their majors… two alumni brought their children!  Their collective story, CRSM’s story is truly entering its second generation.  Teachers, Talent Acquisition Associates, Engineers, Entrepreneurs, Accountants, Marketers, IT Managers, Nurses, Students going on for advanced degrees… the list of job titles mentioned that evening was mindboggling and inspiring.  Over 50% of our alumni who have graduated college are now working at one of our partner companies in the Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP).

As CRSM matures as an institution, as more and more of our alumni graduate college and enter the workplace, we are seeing our dream unfold – they are building a better world for themselves, for others, for all of us.  That dream doesn’t happen in a vacuum. People far beyond the walls of CRSM are part of the equation.  People like YOU.  We need donors, people to give jobs to our students through the CWSP, people who will spread the word about our growing success.  We are building more than a building together. “Together” is the operative word!  Thank you for supporting our students and mission.  Thank you for being part of building real and lasting change – building a better world.  We truly are building more than a building together!