Why Is the MSCI Scholarship So Important?
Alyssa Alay-Ay remembers her mother, Kloeckner Metals Finance Director Marietta Alay-Ay, talking about MSCI’s scholarship program well before the family was considering what school Alyssa would attend for her undergraduate studies.
“I’ve always known that I would apply for the MSCI scholarship,” Alyssa said in an interview with MSCI’s Edge. “My mom is a huge advocate for the program.”
Indeed, Marietta not only shared the opportunity with her daughter, according to Kloeckner Metals writer Sara Montijo (and Alyssa), she has urged coworkers to look into the program, which provides financial support to the children of MSCI member company employees.
While her mom was the genesis for her interest in the scholarship, Alyssa fully embraced the opportunity. With parents who grew up in the Philippines – and grandparents, cousins and other family who still live there – Alyssa said she felt applying was a way to honor her parents’ sacrifices and the opportunities they gave her. “It is such a privilege to get an education in the United States,” Alyssa said. “I wanted to try to lower the cost of my education for my family.”
The $3,000 scholarship from MSCI’s Mid-South Chapter has helped offset tuition at the University of Georgia where Alyssa now is completing her freshman year.
Alyssa applied for the scholarship through MSCI’s Mid-South Chapter last spring, as she was finishing high school at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The application asked Alyssa to answer the question, “How has metal affected your life?” Alyssa said it was her visits to the Philippines every two years that helped her answer the prompt. Steel, she said, offered a unique lens into the differences between infrastructure in her parents’ native country and Alyssa’s home in Forsyth County, Ga.
Even at her young age, Alyssa is acutely aware of the challenges her cousins and other students in the Philippines face. When she learned that a library in her father’s village was struggling to stock their shelves with books, Alyssa gathered donations from her school and community to send to the village. “At my elementary school, I could just go get a book for free. We had access to everything, from water to food to qualified teachers,” Alyssa said. “In some countries, schoolchildren don’t even have pencils.”
While in high school, Alyssa worked to improve educational opportunities in her own community as well. She was a tutor at both Next Generation Focus, an organization that reaches low-income children by providing food, school supplies and tutoring, and at Kumon.
It was these experiences that have provided the foundation for the path Alyssa wants to take after graduating from the University of Georgia. “I love working with children, so I want to become a pediatrician or a family practice doctor,” she explained.
In addition to studying biology, Alyssa is pre-med and is pursuing a business minor so she can someday open her own practice. “Business knowledge will be important no matter what pathway I take,” said Alyssa. “It’s knowledge for the real world.”
While Alyssa is interested in pursuing options like Doctors without Borders that would allow her to practice medicine across the globe in communities where there is a significant need, she ultimately wants to settle in her home state of Georgia to serve families and children there.
Most MSCI chapters have opened their 2021 scholarship application process. (Click here for chapter specific information.) Alyssa said she would urge families and students from MSCI member companies to look into the opportunities. “We are really fortunate and what we can learn can be of such great value to our communities,” said Alyssa. “High school students should apply for any scholarship they’re eligible for, and MSCI’s program is a great place to start.”
The History of the MSCI Scholarship Program
MSCI’s Scholarship Program was started by the Florida Chapter in 2002. Since then, nearly all of MSCI’s 30 chapters have implemented a scholarship program and, over the last two decades, MSCI has awarded nearly 4,000 scholarships and grants totaling almost $8.4 million. Alyssa Alay-Ay was one of 17 students in the Mid-South Chapter awarded the 2020 MSCI scholarship.
The program provides peace of mind to students and parents within the industrial metals community, particularly in times of economic uncertainty.
Click here to hear more about the program from past recipients.
How to Support the MSCI Scholarship Program
MSCI members can contact their local chapter to make a personal or company donation to their chapter’s scholarship program. The public also may contribute to the scholarship program through MSCI’s nonprofit foundation. Click here for more information.
In March 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was threatening to take hold in North America, the following note, along with a check, arrived at MSCI headquarters: “Please accept this direct donation to the MSCI Scholarship Fund as we are very grateful that a number of our employees’ children over the years have benefited from the program. What a great way to help our younger generations continue their education and carry-on through life with pride, knowledge and sense of purpose in the world.”
Because of the efforts of MSCI’s generous member companies, hundreds of students in the industrial metals community will be able to continue their education this fall. Donate or apply: www.msci.org/scholarships