“A well-educated population, people who think critically, analytically, and creatively, has the potential to greatly benefit our nation and our world. Our investment in Western STEM scholars is our investment in a better future.”
When Fritz and Elaine Culver met as graduate students at Washington State University, it was clear to Elaine that Fritz had a unique undergraduate experience at Western. During Elaine’s undergraduate career at the large, research-oriented University of California – Davis, many of her classes were taught by teaching assistants, and it was rare for the faculty to even know her name. When Fritz told stories of small classes and professors devoted to teaching, Elaine understood just how exceptional Western was and still is. Now, the couple gives back to the school through the Western STEM Scholarship, where four science, technology, engineering, or mathematics students are awarded financial support.
“Elaine and I want to give back at this stage of life,” said Fritz. “We feel strongly about the importance of education, specifically in STEM fields.”
Elaine added, “A well-educated population, people who think critically, analytically, and creatively, has the potential to greatly benefit our nation and our world. Our investment in Western STEM scholars is our investment in a better future.”
Small Classes and Fritz’s Education
After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in biology with minors in chemistry and math, Fritz took a graduate degree path “largely unrelated” to his undergraduate STEM studies. Still, he thought fondly of his time as a STEM student at Western and held on to the appreciation for the academic foundation Western provided him. The school’s small size was accompanied by small classes taught by engaged and accessible faculty. He found that the personal relationship he fostered with teachers and his classmates alike gave him both an education and an experience he would cherish throughout his life.
“I met students from all over the country with diverse backgrounds and a shared love for Western,” said Fritz. “I can’t remember a class that I didn’t enjoy or derive some benefit from.”
Now, the couple shares their gratitude towards the institution by reconnecting with Western and providing funds to students in need. As Western philanthropists, Elaine and Fritz continue to benefit from their generosity.
Reconnecting at Western
“Our participation in the Western STEM scholarship has enriched our lives in many ways. I have been able to reconnect with Western; we have formed relationships with staff at the Foundation; we have been allowed an active role in establishing scholarship criteria, reviewing applications, and selecting recipients; and we have had many letters and personal conversations with scholarship recipients conveying their gratitude and their aspirations for college and subsequent careers” said Fritz. “You don’t get that kind of satisfaction from buying a Ferrari.”