Chinedu Terry-Daniel Ifemeje
Giving Back and Paying it Forward
EMU student and Product Development Engineer intern at Intel, Chinedu Terry-Daniel Ifemeje
When Chinedu Terry-Daniel Ifemeje was growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, the notion of giving back was as foreign as the idea that he’d someday graduate from Eastern Michigan University. That was probably equally true when he came to the US in 2016 and laterenrolled at Washtenaw Community College (WCC) where he excelled in his math and science courses. Transitioning to a 4-year institution seemed an impossibility, though, especially for a student who’d be required to pay international student tuition – often twice the cost of in-state tuition or more at most universities.
Fortunately, through a chance meeting with EMU recruiter, Dan Medrow, who came to WCC, Chinedu learned that all EMU students – not just Michiganians – pay in-state, affordable tuition. “In-state tuition goes to everyone at EMU?” Chinedu remembers asking Dan. “Where do I sign?” That led to his enrolling in EMU’s GameAbove College of Engineering Technology and embarking on what became a stellar academic career.
Any concern Chinedu felt in finding himself an Eagle was minimized when he learned that numerous scholarships were available to qualified students, the only stipulation being a willingness to spend time completing the application. That seemed a worthwhile investment and led to not only his first academic scholarship award, but at least repeated every year since. “I was very touched by that,” Chinedu recalls. “The first scholarship I received was one of about $500. It may not seem like a large amount to some people, but to an international student, it is. Plus, I was a stranger coming from another institution (WCC) and I was receiving other people’s money throughout my undergrad, so the idea of giving back became important to me.”
Funding a scholarship is a commitment more often made by financially comfortable donors, typically in mid- or later stages of their careers and lives, than by undergraduate students, so when Chinedu approached EMU Foundation staff his request was clearly unusual. How does an undergrad of modest means even do that? “I was fortunate to get an internship over the summer that increased my earnings and that put me in a good financial position to start this scholarship fund,” he reports. “But in all honesty, even without the internship, I most likely would've still found a way because there are students out there that need the money.”
Chinedu’s scholarship is jointly named after one of his professors, Moderick Greenfield. “He saw that I had potential when others didn't, and he took the risk to mentor and trust me even though I was a complete stranger to him. I will always be grateful to him for this and it’s my hope that this scholarship will in turn inspire other faculty members to engage in an active role to aid in the development of their students."
“If I can help even one student out,” Chinedu adds, “that can go a long way in providing themoptions and opportunities that they would’ve never had without the scholarship. We have to pass it down to future generations, just as previous generations have onto us. I have a responsibility to future EMU students and it is one that I do not take lightly. It is my hope that establishing this scholarship fund is a way for me to perform this duty properly, especially as I’ll soon be an alumnus of EMU’s GameAbove College of Engineering and Technology.”
Now as a Teaching Assistant at EMU’s School of Engineering and Computer Science department and a Product Development Engineer intern at Intel, Chinedu’s future reflects bright promise, just as does his legacy of a scholarship that will positively impact generations of EMU students to come.