Who will make tomorrow better?

"Good things come to those who work hard, and to those who take opportunities."

Jordyn Castor smiling in a crowd

Who will make tomorrow better?

"Good things come to those who work hard, and to those who take opportunities."

Jordyn Castor (’15, Engineering) has never let anything stop her from living life to the fullest.

Lifesaving acts performed at her birth in a neonatal intensive care unit left her completely blind. These events set in motion an unforeseen chain of events that would shape Jordyn’s life—and inevitably, to have a positive impact on the lives of others.

Receiving a computer in second grade changed Jordyn’s whole world. At 12 years old, she wrote her first program.

Now, armed with an MSU computer engineering degree, Jordyn is driving the creation of accessibility tools and advances for adults and children at Apple, Inc.’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.

A recent Mashable.com feature notes “this blind Apple engineer is transforming the tech world at only 22.” She is behind the accessibility of Apple’s Swift Playgrounds, an intro-to-coding program geared toward children and a tool long lacking for visually impaired users.

And while Jordyn’s ambitions began early in life, her hopes and plans for the future grew exponentially at Michigan State, thanks to the generosity of many.

As a student, Jordyn utilized MSU’s donor-supported Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD) on a regular basis. There she received critical help, from textbooks hand-converted to Braille to assistance with navigating the campus and career advice.

“I can’t drive a car or fly a plane, but there is so much I CAN do,” Jordyn says. “Good things come to those who work hard and to those who take opportunities. Life is short and precious.”

In her time at MSU, Jordyn worked hard to qualify for merit-based scholarships, which made a clear difference for her. Without them, she would not have been able to achieve her goals, which included completing a summer internship on Wall Street.

“Donors made a huge difference in my academic life,” Jordyn says. “There would have been no way that I would have had the opportunities that I’ve been given without the help of scholarships.”

Full-ride scholarships: A difference maker

While donor-created scholarships vary in scope, endowed, full-ride scholarships help students take the fullest advantage of unique opportunities.

These scholarships—which typically cover tuition and housing, and other costs—free students from the burden of employment, which in turn allows them to devote more time to their studies, take on leadership roles, pursue additional academic areas or take part in extracurricular activities.

Full-ride scholarships also attract high-achieving, diverse students. Each year, between 1,200 and 1,500 high school seniors—invited based on exemplary academic credentials—sit for the Alumni Distinguished Scholar test at MSU. Only 20 are ultimately selected to receive full-ride scholarships. There are just a handful of other full-ride scholarship programs at MSU.

Jennifer Andrews, a 2015 College of Engineering graduate, chose MSU over offers from MIT and Princeton, in part because of the STARR Charitable Foundation scholarship which provided her with four years of full support. While a student, she pursued a very demanding materials science engineering program but also studied Russian. At graduation, she joined an elite leadership program with Emerson Electric Engineers in Romania.

“I could never have foreseen four years from the day I entered MSU, that I would be walking out and heading to Romania and places unknown,” she says. “Their (donor) support has completely enabled that. Because without it, I would not be here.”

Making tomorrow better

Every day, Spartans are making an impact in their communities across the state and around the world. The assurance that future generations of Spartans are as strong and prepared as the last lies with scholarship and fellowship support.

To learn more about the people who are paving the way for future generations of Spartans, read about alumnus Shashi Gupta, who, together with his wife Margaret, recently made a $2.5 million gift that created the Gupta Values Scholarship program.

For more information on making a gift to support scholarships and fellowships, contact Senior Director of Development Jennifer Bertram at bertram9@msu.edu or call (517) 432-7330.

Author: Sarah Wardell