Living the Royal Neighbors Mission

Scholarship recipient Allison Cashman

When my dad realized how creative and smart his little girl’s brain was, compared to every other fourth grader, he turned to me and said, “Allison, you should be an engineer.” My instant response was, “But Dad, I hate trains.” And that was that. My profession was decided.

I went to girls engineering camps, and my dad set up lunches with his engineering friends. The joke about not liking trains would be my dad’s longest, proudest joke to tell. Adults would raise their eyebrows when I’d tell them that I was going to be an engineer. I was excited to be the minority in a male-dominated field of work.

Slowly I became unsure. I felt like I was missing out on a world of exploring professions. I knew I was good at math and liked to design and build things. I heard about Humanitarian Engineering, where I could help people with my ideas. That sparked an interest in me, considering I’d been going on mission trips for the past four years to Guatemala to help the less fortunate.

My dad told me to look into Industrial Design –something I had never heard of before. I immediately fell in love. It is a mix of computer design and hands-on building. It’s real-world problem solving and product design for every product that ever exists. I can make current products in our world better or even create new things to help those less fortunate than I. I can make it whatever I want it to be, and I am excited to see where that takes me.

Specifically, I would like to take a humanitarian edge to my future career. I have joined the Humanitarian Engineering Scholars Program while studying Industrial Design at The Ohio State University. I have been very blessed in my life to be able to serve others in underdeveloped countries, and I would like to continue to do anything in my power to help them. I would love to design products to improve the quality of life for those whose help is not within reach. I also plan to further my education in Spanish, to ensure my ability to extend my arms out to those in Central or South America.

To me, a scholarship means opportunity. It means fellowship. It signifies the community’s willingness to support one another and emphasize the value of education. My collegiate path is not going to be easy, but I am so excited to apply it to the world, changing one life at a time. In Guatemala, children at The Jungle School value every second of their education because they know how lucky they are to receive it. With that mindset, I want to pursue my own higher education while not taking anything for granted.

So, sorry, Dad, I’m not going to be an engineer. I have bigger plans. I’m going to make a difference.

Thanks to the Royal Neighbors of America scholarship, I am still pursuing my design degree, with the weight of tuition lifted from my shoulders. I have finished my Humanitarian Program and was recently nominated to be the president of OSU’s chapter of the Industrial Designers Society of America organization. I feel like an empowered leader and a strong woman.


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