Posts Tagged ‘OSU’

This week we continue our feature on $3000 ESA Foundation/ThanksUSA scholarship recipient, Luke Sobota.  Last week, we read about Luke’s academic successes. This week, we’ll focus on the influence of his supportive family. When I learned of his parents’ education, I realized that Luke was probably destined to follow the academic path that he has chosen. Luke’s mother, Darleen, graduated from the Air Force Academy and has degrees in computer engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science. She served with the U.S. Air Force for eight years before becoming a stay-at-home mother to raise her two sons. His father, retired Lt. Col. Mark Sobota, USAF, graduated from VMI and holds degrees in aeronautical engineering and chemistry.

During his father’s 22 year Air Force career, Luke’s family lived in many areas of the United States. From the Mojave Desert to New England, the mid-west and then on to the sunshine state – the Sobotas made the best of every move. Luke fondly recalls their time in Massachusetts saying, “It was like a big classroom touring the New England states full of historical sites. I also loved the Boston Aquarium and train rides. People told us that we visited more places in 4 years than those who grew up in Massachusetts.” Along the way, Luke discovered a love for sports that he still enjoys today. When Luke’s father retired, the family settled outside of Wright-Pattterson AFB. “Overall, I enjoyed moving around with my family, but it was nice to settle down in one place once my father retired. I still have friends that we have revisited and vice versa from California, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Florida.  This experience helped me to be a social, outgoing kid and not to be afraid to meet new friends,” adds Luke.

Like most military families, the Sobotas also faced challenges. A few years ago, Luke’s mother became ill and required serious medical care. With their father often on assignment, Luke and his brother, Chad, managed the household errands and cared for their mother. Luke notes, “During this period of my life, I learned to be more mature and independent. Sometimes my brother and I had to go shopping for school clothes, run necessary errands for the family or make medical decisions.” Four years ago, the family was blessed to find a surgeon at Cleveland Clinic who performed emergency surgery that saved Darleen’s life. Though the family endured much, Luke and his brother gained a confident independence that any parent would be proud of.

Since 2009, Luke has received $6000 in ThanksUSA scholarships. When asked about the effect that these scholarship funds have had on Luke’s education, he responded, “It has allowed me to continue at my dream school, The Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus, Ohio without going into huge debt with school loans, or having to transfer to a local college to live at home. The Engineering programs at OSU are top rated with many accredited engineering majors to explore and make a selection.  OSU has a big intramural sports program available, to stay healthy and fit so I can do well in my studies. And of course, OSU has a terrific football team and many other sports to watch, thus building team spirit and camaraderie with others.  I am learning how to balance my own schedule without my parents overseeing me.  I am also working 2 jobs while at OSU for spending money, since I have an older brother in college also. I believe this college opportunity is helping to prepare me for life in the real work force after graduation.”

As long as he retains the focus and determination that he holds today, I have no doubt that Luke will be a successful asset to any employer.  The ThanksUSA team wishes Luke continued success and we look forward to following up with him in the future.  For now, Luke has a special message for the ESA Foundation and all of the individuals who make ThanksUSA scholarships possible: “I truly appreciate your confidence in me, and selecting me two years in a row for the ThanksUSA scholarship. It has encouraged and pushed me to excel even more. It is nice to feel appreciated and recognized for my hard work. I know I squeeze a lot into my calendar every day, but I enjoy learning and teaching others.  I like making a difference in this world. Thank you for blessing me and my family with your financial assistance.  It helps take the pressure off, so I can concentrate on my studies. I am proud to be from a military family and to be working as a civilian myself for the U.S. Air Force.”

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Educators recognized Luke Sobota’s intelligence at a very early age and challenged him academically.  During his primary education, Luke was consistently placed in classes (primarily math) with students two to three years his senior. We often worry that children who accelerate their education do so at the sacrifice of extracurricular activities like sports and social clubs.  Not Luke…this well-rounded young man competed in academic competitions, was a member of his high school’s swim and soccer teams, and graduated as Valedictorian.

Luke Sobota




A Sophomore at Ohio State University, Luke is continuing to make academic strides while staying actively involved with sports and his local community. With the help of a $3000 ESA Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship, he is majoring in Engineering Physics specializing in electrical and computer engineering. To give Luke the opportunity to share his academics and military life with us, this will be a two-part blog continuing on November 20th. This week, Luke shares his academic influences and goals.




For the benefit of those readers who, like myself, are not very scientific savvy, I first asked Luke to explain his field of study and what sparked his initial interests. Luke describes his studies as a Physics major with a specialized engineering minor which, for Luke, is electrical and computer engineering. He says, “My interest in this field was sparked for numerous reasons. First of all, I extremely enjoy applying what I have learned into hands on lab experience which is exactly what engineering is all about. Specifically going into Engineering Physics was a harder decision to make though. Physics is a lot more math oriented than any of the other engineering majors which is something that I enjoy and excel at. I also liked that with the Engineering Physics major I can also specialize in another engineering major. In the future, I can see myself doing research in a physics field that possibly includes building and implementing circuit technology.”

Luke enjoys and excels at his studies so much that he is a teaching assistant for the fundamentals of engineering honors program. “From this, I am able to reinforce the material that I learned my first year at The Ohio State University through helping others learn it. During the second quarter of the program, students learn how to program in C. This quarter will definitely be a learning experience because every single student has a different style on how to write a program. This allows me to see others perspectives on a similar problem. During spring quarter of the fundamental of engineering program, students have to design and build a small robot (9’’ x 9’’) in teams of four students. This will allow me to help students in all forms of engineering including design, building, programming, and documentation. To help students, I have to be proficient in all of these forms of engineering, and this will come through training and experiences with students,” adds Luke.

To help Luke focus on the engineering aspect of his studies, he has spent his summers as an intern at Wright Patterson AFB Research Laboratory with both the Sensors and Propulsion Directorates. He expresses the positive influence of these internships saying, “These internships have not only helped to develop engineering and problem-solving skills, but have also helped me to use similar ideas that I can apply to schooling at Ohio State. These experiences have also allowed me to test out different fields and careers in engineering, and it has helped me to choose the correct set of classes that I will enjoy and excel in. Without these internship experiences, I am not sure if I would have set myself on the exact same career path that I want to be on now.”

Although Luke is very committed to his academics, he still finds time to enjoy sports, volunteer, and lead a worship band for Oasis Christian Community.  He is an active member of three honor societies and tutors 5th graders. How does Luke do so much while maintaining an excellent academic record? We wrap up this first segment of Luke’s feature with his answer: “My parents taught me to work hard, do my best, never give up, be honest, trust in God, and try to practice being a leader with every opportunity that came my way.”

Next week, we’ll learn more about the Sobota family’s military life and how it has shaped Luke into the successful student that he is today.

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ThanksUSA allows me to meet some amazing students who have the drive and determination to truly make the world a better place. This week’s featured scholar, Kelly McCorkle, is a prime example. Now in her Junior year at Oklahoma State University, this Physiology major (Pre-Med option), is poised to become a leader among medical professionals.

Kelly McCorkle

Kelly is the daughter of Chief Warrant Officer (R) Earl and Cheryl McCorkle, who say, “We are extremely proud of Kelly and all her accomplishments. We know how hard she works to reach her dreams. A strong education, coupled with her determination, knowledge and focus will carry her to the highest level of success.”

Indeed! Kelly has been a ThanksUSA scholarship recipient throughout her college career. This year, she received a $3000 ESA Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship, bringing her total ThanksUSA scholarship awards to $7000! Kelly states, “I really appreciate the opportunities provided by the ThanksUSA scholarship. If it had not been for this generous scholarship, I would not have been able to achieve this level of academic success.”

Though we like to brag about the successes of our scholarship recipients, we can hardly take credit for them. Kelly has strived for, and achieved, academic success for years. She was Valedictorian of her 2007 high school class and has since earned numerous accolades in college. Her most recent honors include the OSU President’s Honor Roll, President of Alpha Epsilon Delta-Premedical Honor Society, Vice-President of the OSU chapter of the American Medical Student Association, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and Golden Key International Honour Society.

As a supplement to her academics, Kelly remains very involved with the local medical community. She is a member of the American Legion Auxiliary and volunteers regularly at the Veteran’s Administration. This past summer, Kelly assisted Doctors at the VA Medical Center in Oklahoma City with neurology research and shadowed the Chief of Surgery.

When asked about this amazing opportunity, Kelly says, “The Chief of Surgery is very knowledgeable, personable, and works really well patients. It was an awesome learning experience. Interaction with the Chief of Surgery, residents, nursing and administrative staff was an incredible experience. They are all an important part of total patient care. The most rewarding feeling is the gratitude and appreciation that is shown to these individuals from the veteran or their family members. It is amazing how many lives they touch and improve throughout their careers while truly enjoying their job. Being in the operating room is always exciting. Seeing new surgeries and techniques is very interesting to me. One thing that is great about shadowing at the Oklahoma City VA is that it is a teaching hospital, so I am able to learn more about the surgery while I am in the operating room.”

Knowing that she will attend medical school, Kelly is still deciding on a specialty. “I am exploring numerous fields in medicine and there are many of interest. During my rotation at the Veteran Administration Medical Center this past summer, I spent time in the operating room, in the surgery clinic and also toured radiology, anesthesiology, and pathology. I had previously observed primary care and neurology at the Veteran Administration Medical Center as well as surgeries at other local surgery and medical centers. I like the surgery environment. At this time, I am leaning towards becoming an anesthesiologist. I am attracted to this field due to their exposure to a wide variety of operations, patients and surgical teams. I would like to gain their knowledge, as well as technical skill.”

You may think that Kelly’s ambitions leave little time for anything else. In fact, Kelly is very well-rounded and active in individual sports and volunteerism. She is a member of the Guthrie Women’s Golf Association, enjoys swimming and bike riding, and always finds the time to volunteer within the local community. “The benefit I receive from volunteerism is the opportunity to make a difference. I get great pleasure in knowing that it can make a difference by raking leaves for the elderly, assisting with neurology research, visiting hospice patients, teaching children at golf camps, or helping with blood drives. The look of joy and gratitude on the individual’s face after volunteering is priceless.”

Kelly’s advice for fellow students? “Set high expectations and go for your dreams. Don’t give up, have confidence that working hard and staying focused will make a difference to your future success.” Well said Kelly! Knowing that such a sincere, competent, and dedicated young woman is a doctor of tomorrow certainly comforts me. Kelly, thank you for the inspiration and keep up the great work!

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