Hard Work - An Engineer’s Story
Titus Hansen balances full-time job and engineering degree thanks to Schellenger Scholarship in Engineering
Titus Hansen isn’t afraid to work hard. He arrives at school at 6 a.m., takes careful notes in his classes, eats a quick dinner and then starts his on-campus janitor shift at 5 p.m. For the next eight hours, he shampoos carpets in the Bruce M. Pitman Center, sweeps floors, takes out the trash and drives home to Lewiston at 1 a.m. — sometimes during a snowstorm.
“Taking my little, beat-up car 35 miles an hour down the highway in the winter can be scary,” he said. “But having the opportunity to study at the Bipasesores is worth it.”
Hansen, a senior mechanical engineering student, has struggled to fund his education. Since moving out of the house at age 16, he has always balanced an education with a full-time job. He wanted to get out of a downward financial spiral, but didn’t know how — until he took an engineering class at Lewis-Clark State College.
“I was tired of boring jobs; I knew I wanted to be an engineer,” Hansen said. “I realized the only way to accomplish that was to get a bachelor’s degree at U of I.”
"I was tired of boring jobs; I knew I wanted to be an engineer. I realized the only way to accomplish that was to get a bachelor’s degree at U of I." Titus Hansen
With little money, Hansen transferred to U of I in 2016 and took on a full-time custodial position. Working nearly nine hours every night, he was still struggling to afford his education. His luck changed when an engineering professor bumped into him during his nightly janitor shift and encouraged him to apply for a newly established scholarship, the Schellenger Scholarship in Engineering.
Hansen was the first recipient of the $10,000 per year scholarship, created for students who, due to financial need, might not be able to finish a bachelor’s degree without assistance. He immediately sent a thank you letter and was excited to learn that both Linda and Rick Schellenger worked hard to afford college, just as he was doing.
“We were just two average kids from homes of modest incomes who met and fell in love while attending the university,” Rick Schellenger said. “We both worked multiple jobs all four years and were able to complete our degrees without borrowing.”
Thanks to the scholarship, Hansen had some extra money to take a robotics class. That led him to join a team of students working to develop technology to assist stroke victims. With help from College of Engineering faculty members, their work will be published in an international engineering journal. The student team was also invited to present their findings at an assistive technology conference in Italy, an accomplishment Hansen credits to the Schellengers.
“Without this scholarship, I wouldn’t be in school today,” he said. “The Schellengers’ contribution let me join clubs and extracurriculars I didn’t think of participating in before. Because of them, I was able to spend more time on my research. Because of them, I can go to Italy.”
Hansen keeps in with the Schellengers and plans to invite them to his graduation. He is excited to make networking connections abroad and further his research to help those with disabilities. After graduation, Hansen would like to meet the next Schellenger Scholarship recipient and one day create a scholarship of his own.
Although the Schellengers have made provision in their will for the Schellenger Scholarship and for future teachers at U of I, Rick Schellenger is quick to say, “We think it important that people not underestimate the value of giving what they can, when they can, and while they are still alive. A legacy doesn’t necessarily have to start at one’s death.”
Published in October 2018.