Spirit Strong First Generation Scholar Program

The Spirit Strong Scholar Program is a year-long academic success program for freshmen who are first generation and have limited income. Through academic success and professional development workshops, peer and professional mentoring, tutoring, and social events, the Spirit Strong Scholar Program can help you develop skills and habits for personal and professional growth and success. Spirit Strong Scholars also have the opportunity to earn up to $1,500 in scholarships for the 2020-2021 academic year.

To learn more about the Spirit Strong Scholar Program, check out the Q&A section below. If you have questions, please contact Jason Bosch, Director of Student Engagement and Scholarships, at jason.bosch@wichita.edu.

If you are interested in being a Spirit Strong Scholar for the 2020-2021 academic year, apply by July 26. You can apply at the link on the right side of this page.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for the Spirit Strong Scholar Program, you must:

    • Be a first year, first time freshman in Fall 2020 with a declared College of Engineering major.
    • Be a first generation college student, meaning your parent(s) or guardian(s) did not graduate from a four-year college or university.
    • Have limited income as determined by the FAFSA (students who are not eligible for federal financial aid may submit a financial need statement in place of filing a FAFSA).
    • Enroll in and plan to complete at least 12 credit hours in both the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters.
    • Commit to participating in Spirit Strong Scholar Program activities during the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters.
What is the selection process?

Spirit Strong Scholars are selected through an application process. We encourage any student who meets the eligibility criteria to apply. From the applications we receive, up to 25 students will be selected to be Spirit Strong Scholars for the 2020-2021 academic year.

One of the criteria to be eligible for the program is that students must have limited income. This will be determined by your FAFSA results. If you have not yet filed a FAFSA for the 2020-2021 year, please do so ASAP so we can determine your financial need. To begin your FAFSA, visit www.fafsa.gov and click the Start Here button. 

If you are not eligible to file a FAFSA, there is a space on the Spirit Strong Scholar Program application for you to type a financial need statement so you can be considered for the program.

Applications are due by July 26. All applicants will be notfied via email by July 31 indicating whether they have been selected for the program.

Students not selected for this program are encouraged to join our ACE Mentoring Program, which offers several of the same benefits and resources as the Spirit Strong Scholar Program.

What does the program entail?

Spirit Strong Scholars participate in a retreat, academic success and professional development workshops, tutoring, and social events throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. Additionally, scholars will receive peer mentoring from a current College of Engineering major and professional mentoring from a practicing engineer at Spirit AeroSystems.

Spirit Strong Scholars Retreat

All scholars selected for the program will participate in a kick-off retreat on Saturday, August 22, tenatively scheduled for 9:00am - 3:00pm on the Wichita State campus. The retreat will include teambuilding activities, a special orientation to the College of Engineering, and free lunch.

Academic Success & Professional Development Workshops

Scholars will participate in five 1.5-hour workshops throughout the academic year. Workshops will focus on topics such as setting and achieving goals, identifying ways to use your natural strengths to be successful, financial management, and career planning. Specific dates and times will be set closer to the start of the academic year.

Peer & Professional Mentoring

Spirit Strong Scholars will be paired with two mentors. One mentor will be a current College of Engineering major, and the second will be a practicing engineer at Spirit AeroSystems. These mentors can provide advice, support, and encouragement as you navigate your first year at Wichita State.

GEEKS Tutoring Sessions

The College of Engineering has a free, drop-in tutoring center called GEEKS. Scholars will be required to spend at least two hours per week in GEEKS, either studying or receiving tutoring, throughout the fall and spring semesters. If GEEKS tutoring is provided virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, scholars will be required to spend at least two hours per week receiving virtual tutoring.

Social Events

We will host social events during the fall and spring semesters that scholars are encouraged to attend. In the spring, we will also have a special tour of Spirit AeroSystems.

How can I earn up to $1,500 in scholarships?

Students selected to be Spirit Strong Scholars will automatically receive a $750 scholarship for the Fall 2020 semester. Scholars who meet the following criteria will earn an additional $750 scholarship for the Spring 2021 semester:

  • Participate in program activities in the fall,
  • Are committed to continuing the program in the spring, and
  • Earn at least a 2.50 WSU GPA for the Fall 2020 semester.
What other resources are available to me at WSU?

Wichita State has many resources available beyond the College of Engineering to support both first generation and limited income students. We encourage you to check out these opportunities. Let us know if you would like help getting connected with any of these resources.

Meet The Spirit Strong Mentors!

Spirit Strong Mentors provide support, guidance, and assistance to Spirit Strong Scholars throughout their first year at Wichita State. All of our mentors are first generation college students, so they understand the opportunities and challenges of being the first in their families to earn college degrees. Each scholar will be paired with one of our mentors, but all of the mentors will be here to support you along the way!


Rianna Hernandez
Aerospace Engineering

My name is Rianna Hernandez and I am from Kansas City Kansas. I am majoring in Aerospace Engineering and minoring in French and Math. I am a part of the WSU Rocket Club, where I hold the title of Chair Leader of the Social Media and Outreach Committee. A few of my hobbies include running, organizing, and building rockets!


Adriana Lares
Computer Science

Hi! My name is Adriana Lares and I am currently a senior majoring in Computer Science with a minor in math. I was born and raised in Garden City, KS, but my family is from Mexico and Guatemala! On campus, I am involved in my sorority and serve as an Engineering Senator for WSU's Student Government Association. This summer, I will be participating in undergraduate research on campus and hopefully learn some new languages and skills. Some of my favorite things to do are hang out with friends, travel, and go to concerts. I have currently been to 25 concerts and hopefully I'll be able to go to more once life starts to get back to normal. I also own over 200 books and have traveled to two different countries!


Maria Jimenez
Industrial Engineering

My name is Maria Jimenez and I spent my childhood moving around the United States with my family due to my mother's career as a pipe fitter. I established roots in Southeast Kansas for the duration of my middle and high school years. I've been blessed with a large family, with my immediate family consisting of my three brothers, my sister, and my mom. I am currently majoring in Industrial Engineering and minoring in Spanish at WSU. My involvement beyond the classroom includes participation in various clubs such as Phenomenal Women and Wichita State Community Garden, working campus positions through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Ennovar, and of course attending basketball games during season. Some hobbies I enjoy are playing spikeball, running, baking, attending church, spending time with my family, and photography.


Jordan Glover
Aerospace Engineering

My name is Jordan Glover. I was born and rasied in Kansas City, MO, and attended high school at Center High School. I am currently a sophomore here at WSU majoring in Aerospace Engineering with a possible minor in Math. I am currently involved with the school in many ways that include Engineering Ambassadors, Engineering Council, Black Student Union, Housing and Residence Life staff (RA for Shocker Hall), I work for SEEDS (Science and Engineering Educational Development of Students), and of course, a mentor for the Spirit Strong Scholars. My hobbies include band, weight-lifting, and attending as many car shows as I can! My plan is to graduate within reasonable time and seek great employment that I may one day be able to give back to my community that produced the man I am today.


Erick Robles
Electrical Engineering

Hello! My name is Erick Robles and I was born in El Salvador. I migrated to Garden City, KS, 23 years ago. I am a first generation student majoring in Electrical Engineering and this will be my 4th year at Wichita State University. I have worked just about every type of job. I have worked as a waiter, retail salesman, general labor, and currently a Professional Engineering intern. I am currently in the multi cultural Fraternity SIGMA LAMBDA BETA and part of SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers). I enjoy playing video games, exercising, hanging with friends, singing, and love to play sports. Football is my favorite sport and is what completes my Sundays!


Jose Chacon
Mechanical Engineering

My name is Jose Chacon, I am currently a junior majoring in Mechanical Engineering. I was born and raised in Durango, Mexico, and moved to Wichita in 2009. I am the youngest of my family. I have one older brother and sister. I graduated from Wichita High School North in 2017. Here at WSU I am involved with different organizations like Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity and the Hispanic American Leadership Organization (HALO). These organizations reflect my ideal of serving the community and helping out others. In my free time I like to hang out with my friends, playing soccer if possible. I also enjoy researching different topics that involve the design and manufacturing of vehicles. When I graduate, I would like to focus and work in the automotive industry.


Edgar Madrid
Aerospace Engineering

I am a Hispanic student from Kansas City, Kansas. This is now my second year at Wichita State and I am majoring in Aerospace Engineering and minoring in Math. As a freshman I joined the WSU Rocket Club, where I became the chair for the Launch and Safety Committee. In my spare time, whenever I have some, I am part of a rock band where I play guitar and sing.


Tristan Geddes
Mechanical Engineering

My name is Tristan Geddes. I am majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. I am from Hutchinson, Kansas. I have a twin brother and we are the youngest of nine. He and I are the product of a blended family and we have four brothers and three sisters. In high school I competed in football, wrestling, and track. I am a Transition Mentor for the Office of First Year Programs at Wichita State. I enjoy being around other people that challenge and push me to be the best that I can be.


Jared Welsby
Mechanical Engineering

My name is Jared Welsby and I am a junior at WSU majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Mathematics. I am also a first generation college student. I was born here in Wichita and have lived here my whole life. For high school I attended Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School, participating in BEST Robotics and Science Olympiad most notably. At WSU, I work on campus for NIAR, with plans to continue that for as long as I can. I also plan to join the Formula and Baja SAE teams. Outside of WSU, I love spending time with friends and family, going fishing, going longboarding, and tinkering with with anything I can find, especially cars or electronics.

Sponsored by Spirit AeroSystems, a proud partner of the College of Engineering!

Spirit AeroSystems