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Ross gift provides scholarships for UAH grad engineering students

HUNTSVILLE – Lester Ross Sr., Mary Makima Ross’s husband of more than 40 years, said his late wife was always giving money to the “places where it would do the most good.”

(Contributed/Lester Ross)

For her, supporting education was paramount, and she made sure to impact students for years to come by making a planned gift to the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Mary died in 2021 at the age of 75. Her planned gift of $400,000 to support College of Engineering graduate students is meant to honor the education both she and her husband received at the university.

Mary earned her master’s degree in industrial and systems engineering in 1982; Lester received his doctoral degree in electrical engineering.

The Mary Makima and Lester M. Ross Sr. Scholarship in Engineering fills a much-needed gap for UAH’s graduate engineering students. Graduate scholarships are less common than those for undergraduate students, and they provide the support those students need to focus on their research and complete their degrees.

“Mary’s idea was that education is very important, and it should be supported,” Ross said. “She believed in education, and she believed in giving.”

Dr. Shankar Mahalingam, the dean of the College of Engineering, knows just how impactful the support of graduate students can be.

“The generous gift by Mary Makima and Lester M. Ross Sr. will enable the UAH College of Engineering to recruit and retain outstanding graduate students,” Mahalingham said. “Competition to get the best graduate students is intense, and this scholarship will help engineering faculty to find and engage the most talented students in their research programs.

“We are truly grateful for this opportunity to enhance the numbers of UAH engineering master’s and doctoral degrees.”

This year’s recipients are:

  • Andrew Couch (industrial and systems engineering, ’23)
  • Casey Eaton (systems engineering, ’23)
  • MD Raquibuzzaman (electrical engineering, ’23)
  • Muhammad Usama (civil engineering, ’24)
  • Andrew Walsten (aerospace engineering, ’23)

“The University of Alabama in Huntsville will benefit greatly from the Mary Makima and Lester M. Ross, Sr. Scholarship in Engineering,” said Dr. Jon Hakkila, associate provost of International Services and Academic Integrity and the dean of the Graduate School at UAH. “The gift increases UAH’s competitiveness by providing additional support for top engineering graduate students, thus making the university an even greater destination for prospective graduate education.”

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