The PMMI (Association for Packaging and Professing Technologies) Foundation and the Garvey Corporation have awarded School of Engineering sophomore packaging major Jesse Amponsah the 2020 Mark C. Garvey Scholarship.
“We recommended Jesse to PMMI for this scholarship this year,” says Hae Chang Gea, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and director of the Packaging Engineering Program. “This is the first time one of our students received the Mark C. Garvey Scholarship from PMMI. He is an outstanding student and although he is only a sophomore, he has demonstrated excellent leadership in many ways.”
Amponsah is honored to receive the coveted $5,000 scholarship. “It has greatly impacted my family and me, alleviating a financial burden and allowing me to focus on my academics,” he says. “This award means a lot to me. It means that my hard work and work ethic are being noticed and all the struggles and failures I’ve been through were not in vain. It means there are people and organizations willing to help me succeed – and I could not be any more grateful for this award.”
He was initially attracted to the SoE packaging program because of the opportunities it offers in the food industry. Initially, he says he wanted to learn how food can sustain such rich nutrients for long periods of time. “However, as I’ve been gaining more insight in the packaging program, I’ve found myself more interested in the sustainability of packaging with food and other products.”
Since his freshman year, Amponsah has had a work-study job in the Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships’ (OCLCP) food pantry, which stores and distributes long shelf-life foods to needy students and local residents. Even while working remotely, he says he “appreciates being in a place where I am able to help out and give back to the community – while also learning more about sustainability and how it can apply to the field of packaging.” He adds that “my OCLCP co-workers are like a second family to me – I love them.”
While Amponsah acknowledges that remote learning has posed a unique set of challenges, he is quick to identify its benefits. “Now, I have access to my coursework at any time and on any day. We have the flexibility to go at our own pace to learn the material, while meeting class curricular timelines,” he says.
Amponsah hasn’t let the pandemic interfere with his extra-curricular life. As an alto saxophone player with the Rutgers Marching Scarlet Knights Band, he has been able to perform in shows such as the NFL’s Monday Night Football Dallas Cowboys vs New York Giants Halftime Show.
He also enjoys taking part in the Minority Engineering Education Task (MEET), Rutgers Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers.
PMMI supports packaging education at U.S. colleges, universities, and technical schools. “They have been one of our best sponsors for many years,” notes Gea. “In addition to providing scholarships to our students annually, they also sponsor our students’ attendance at conferences, and other activities related to our program every year.”