TS WORLD-CLASS FACULTY AND
—AND ENABLE THEM TO STAY.
uan Gomez had one semester to go until he earned
a Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering at
Cornell. Then he ran out of money to pay for school.
Asking his parents for financial help was not an
option. The child of a seamstress and a subcontractor
who had emigrated from Colombia, Gomez grew up in a
two-bedroom, government-subsidized apartment with seven
relatives. He was the first in his family to graduate from college.
He had paid the yearly $60,000 Ph.D. bill with fellowships,
scholarships and by working during his spare time as a
teaching assistant (TA).
As his last semester approached, he looked for additional
TA positions. No luck. He asked the Graduate School, the
Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and
his adviser for funding. But they were under financial stress as
“I was very worried,” Gomez says. “I wasn’t sure what
would happen to me for that semester.” He began planning to
take a leave of absence and move back home with his parents.
Two weeks before the semester began, the college awarded
Gomez a John C. ’48 and Jane B. Colman Graduate Fellowship.
It paid for tuition and living expenses, allowing him to finish
his research in the Laboratory for Intelligent Machine Systems
in the modeling and simulation of unsteady aerodynamics in
flapping wings. Gomez earned his Ph.D. in August 2015.
“I cannot properly express in words my gratitude for
receiving aid from the Colman Fund… Your generosity in
supporting graduate education is immeasurable to our college.
From the sincerest part of my heart, thank you,” Gomez wrote
to his benefactors.
Gomez is not a singular case. Most graduate students
depend on fellowships to fund their education. Cornell
Engineering has been aggressively providing as much funding
as it can to lure the best students to Cornell and enable them to
stay. “The good news is we’re incredibly strong and we have
an incredible reputation, so we get the best students,” said June
Losurdo, interim assistant dean, Cornell Engineering Alumni
Affairs and Development. “But the recruitment environment is
becoming more competitive than ever.”
The college is now looking especially to individual donors
to provide this crucial funding, Losurdo said. “I want people to
Juan Gomez, Ph.D. ’ 15, was able to earn his degree in mechanical and
aerospace engineering thanks to a Colman Graduate Fellowship.