The Park Scholarships program is marking 25 years

Salam Ibrahim

Salam Ibrahim

A Scholarship for Service

Park Scholarships at a Glance

  • Named for the late Roy H. Park, a 1931 NC State alumnus, the charitable Park Foundation has committed nearly $145 million to support the Park Scholarships program since launching it with an initial grant in 1996.
  • Recipients have access to enrichment activities including leadership training, grants for undergraduate research and study abroad and access to a large, successful alumni network.

NC State’s Park Scholarships program welcomed its 25th class to campus this fall. Of the 41 students in the class of 2024, 20 announced plans to study in the College of Engineering. In most years, more Park Scholars study in COE than any other college.

Salam Ibrahim is scheduled to graduate in 2021 with a degree in industrial engineering.

Favorite class at NC State? ISE 520 introduces methods used to improve the performance of health care delivery systems with emphasis on patient care cost, access and quality. I particularly enjoy learning about healthcare policy and the fundamentals of scheduling, staffing and productivity in health systems.

Favorite Park experience so far? My favorite experience has been applying for a Park Enrichment Grant to study renewable energy in Iceland. I spent my time there taking classes on geothermal energy and hydropower systems. As a group, we also visited one of the largest geothermal plants in the world, hiked the Icelandic highlands and explored the effects of climate change on glaciers.

What types of service activities have you participated in through the program? My sophomore year I went on an Alternative Service Break trip to Alaska. I loved it so much that I led a trip to Rutherfordton, NC, where we teamed up with a volunteer group called the Women Roofers who repair and replace roofs for those in need.

Terrell RussellTerrell Russell graduated in 2001 with B.S. degrees in computer engineering and in information technology and service organizations. He earned a master’s degree in computer networking in 2003.

What have you been up to since graduation? After seven years at NC State, and a “student sabbatical” starting my own company and figuring out the next steps, I spent another seven years getting a Ph.D. in information and library science at UNC-Chapel Hill. After graduation, I took a job with the Renaissance Computing Institute working on iRODS, an open source data management platform, and am now the chief technologist.

What has receiving a Park Scholarship done for your life and career? I was in the first class of Park Scholars in fall 1996 and had an amazing opportunity to shape what the scholarship program has become today. Knowing we were building something we hoped would last a very long time and having an impact on the University and beyond gave me a sense of purpose.

Shannon PinnellShannon Pinnell is scheduled to graduate in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a minor in biological sciences.

Who is your mentor in the Park program? I have been with my current mentor, Dr. Alyson Wilson (associate vice chancellor for national security and special research initiatives), for the past two years — she has been a key part of my time at NC State and in guiding me through research, graduate school applications, funding applications, balancing extracurriculars and life in general.

Tell us about the air-quality monitoring startup that you are involved with. The current standard of air quality monitoring is placing one $100,000 air quality monitor in an area the size of Raleigh. This method is inaccessible to the majority of community organizations due to the high cost but also only provides data from one location, making it difficult to understand how plumes are moving or where sources may be. Scivir is using modified long-range technology to create a network that does not need power or satellite internet access, is cost-accessible and can take many measurements over a small area to see trends.

What have you learned about leadership through the program? The Park Scholarships program has significantly shaped my view of leadership. Hearing the viewpoints and experiences of public leaders, especially those who work in tech, has helped me understand that leadership is not a set of actions or a checklist but more a mindset.

Calvin PhelpsCalvin Phelps graduated in 2009 with a degree in aerospace engineering.

What have you been up to since graduation? Directly after graduation I went to Cornell University, obtaining my master’s degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in engineering management. Since grad school I’ve worked for Pratt & Whitney in design, test and production for jet engine components and am now supporting maintenance, repair and overhaul operations for our fleets in Asia.

How did being a Park Scholar enhance your NC State experience? Being a Park Scholar gave me an invaluable community of both students and faculty members while I was at NC State, with the learning labs in particular (both as an attendee and mentor) serving as important capstones for my time there.


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