At Elgin Community College, there is an unwavering feeling that students can do anything.
But often, those considering college — and even currently enrolled students — are uncertain about what to study or how to afford it. Some of the uncertainty stems from not having exposure to a particular career or field of study. And so, with the support of the Motorola Solutions Foundation, the ECC Foundation is helping to change that.
The Motorola Solutions Foundation is the charitable and philanthropic arm of Motorola Solutions, committed to diversifying the workforce and creating opportunities for up-and-coming innovators in technology and engineering. Since 2017, the organization has awarded more than $170,000 to the ECC Foundation to champion student scholarships. The Motorola Solutions Foundation Scholars Program at ECC supports 20 women and minority students pursuing degrees in public safety, engineering, and technology.
“Motorola Solutions sees value in our students, especially those who may not ordinarily look at engineering and technology as a career choice,” said Susan Taylor-Demming, executive director of institutional advancement and the ECC Foundation. “They are helping students realize their worth, supporting them academically and financially, and allowing them to see the breadth of opportunity the industry provides.”
For Motorola Solutions, the partnership is a win-win. Innovation has been at the core of the company’s 95-year history, and it aims to inspire and cultivate future engineers and inventors by supporting organizations that foster new thinking in education. “We want to nurture the next generation to continue innovating and pushing the boundaries of technology and possibility. And for innovation to benefit everyone positively, we need individuals from all walks of life, with different lived experiences, to contribute to it,” said Karem Pérez, executive director of the Motorola Solutions Foundation.
For Taylor-Demming, the best part of awarding this scholarship is the student-employee interaction. Scholarship winners tour the Motorola Solutions facility in Elgin and meet with employees. “The chance for students to talk to employees in the field they want to pursue is extremely gratifying, and there’s nothing like it,” said Taylor-Demming.
Students also find this experience rewarding. ECC graduate Kathryn Chappel is now studying at the Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The scholarship helped her worry less and perform better, and with it, she got into her top-choice school. “The Motorola Solutions Scholarship allowed me to focus more on academics and getting good grades and less on paying for school. I really enjoy my classes, and I got involved in the school by joining the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society,” said Chappel.
Scholarship funds directly support students’ tuition and college expenses, such as books, lab fees, transportation, and food insecurity. The connection forged between students and Motorola Solutions is a wealth of opportunity. “What we hope students take away from their grant tenure is the feeling that they can accomplish anything and a desire to pay it forward at some point,” said Pérez. For the ECC Foundation, it’s a great partnership — and for the community, this partnership strengthens students' interest in and access to these fields. “We believe a thriving community is one in which each person has a chance to reach their full potential," said Pérez.
Read the entire fall 2023 issue of Impact magazine online here.