Scholarships and fellowships support students and help them to achieve their educational goals.
Peyton Strickland, a May 2020 aerospace engineering and mechanics alumnus from Pelham, Alabama, was one of the many students depending on scholarship funding to attend The University of Alabama. After life circumstances took a toll on family finances, the amount of scholarship money offered by institutions played a major role in where he chose to attend college.
“My family was going through a rough time during the end of my time in high school,” Peyton said. “I knew I was going to have to pay for school and other expenses.”
With help from UA recruiter Christy Hudgens, Peyton secured the Engineering Leadership Scholarship, Supply Store Book Scholarship, Parker-Haun Endowed Scholarship and Presidential Scholarship.
Scholarships are important because they make college affordable. Too many gifted students from less affluent areas would not be able to attend prestigious universities, such as The University of Alabama, if scholarships did not exist.
– Peyton Strickland
Even though he still had to work during college, the amount of time he spent on the job was greatly reduced by scholarship money that offset many of his expenses. Working fewer hours, Peyton was able to devote more time to studying, undergraduate research and student organizations he may have otherwise missed had he not received scholarships.
While working on his undergraduate degree, Peyton participated in research with Dr. Semih Olcmen. He was president of the UA chapter of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, vice president of aerospace honor society Sigma Gamma Tau, propulsion team lead for ARES VI in the Alabama Rocketry Association and participated in Student Government Association.
“These organizations provided me with the hands-on technical and leadership skills needed to succeed in the workplace,” Peyton said. “Furthermore, they provided me with friends to share my triumphs and downfalls with as we faced the challenges associated with college together.”
Peyton also participated in UA’s Accelerated Master’s Program, which allowed him to simultaneously work on a bachelor’s and master’s degree. In graduate school, his education was primarily funded by a graduate teaching assistantship through the aerospace engineering and mechanics department and the REACH for the Future Alumni Scholarship. He graduated with his master’s in December 2020.
All these experiences made possible through scholarships have paid off. Among other recognitions, Peyton was named the 2020 National Alumni Association Outstanding Senior and 2020 Outstanding Senior of the UA College of Engineering. While at UA, he secured five engineering internships and graduated with his dream job at United Launch Alliance in the Propulsion Test Engineering Group in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
“The research and extracurricular activities I was able to participate in because of these scholarships allowed me to set myself apart from other potential internship and job applicants,” Peyton said. “These scholarships helped me reach my dream sooner than I would have been able to otherwise.”